It was a simple assignment. Find the man responsible for the bouts of insanity in this wealthy town. With the help of Rinslet, they had found him easily, hiding in a castle in the mountain. The four of them went up together, expecting anything to happen.
They walked through the front door, weapons ready, but nothing happened. They were able to track the man's location with one of Sven's new inventions. He was five floors up, stationary. The issue now was finding their way to him, and the castle was designed as a maze. A staircase only led up one floor, and it wasn't clearly marked where the other staircases were. There was no pattern to how the staircases were laid out.
They explored the castle, expecting booby traps with every step. Nothing happened until the third floor, halfway to their goal.
Train was in the lead, Hades still in its holster. He had confidence in his speed, and so wasn't worried about being caught unarmed by surprise. He would be able to overcome any attacker, he was certain.
Sven was behind him and slightly to Train's right. His foot sank with a tile and his eye widened. The others stopped at his gasp. Sven jumped back to avoid whatever trap he'd set off just as Train stepped towards him to make sure he was okay.
A green gas was shot from a hole in the ceiling, enveloping Train. Train coughed and waved the gas away. It had a nauseating sweet smell to it, and it stuck to his throat and in his nose.
"Train!" the others called out. The gas dissipated, and Train straightened. He glanced around and shrugged.
"I'm alright," he said. The others didn't believe him, but he did seem to be okay. He turned around and started walking again. "Let's keep moving."
He only walked a few steps before he stopped. The others instantly started to worry. Train started shaking.
"Train? Are you okay?" Rinslet asked. He didn't answer. His eyes were fixed on something in front of him that only he could see.
"What do you see Train?" Sven asked, coming up beside his partner. Considering the man they were dealing with, it only made sense that his trap would cause insanity, the same insanity he'd infected the town with.
Train's mouth moved, but no words came out.
"Train?" Sven asked gently, putting a hand on his shoulder.
"It's…my mother," Train said quietly. The others glanced at each other. In the entire time they had known Train, he had never mentioned his family. Not once, even in remorse. Sven had come to assume that Train's family was dead, and didn't mention it. Train didn't seem bothered by it so it wasn't a big deal.
But if just the sight of his mother evoked such a reaction, Sven almost wished he had. Maybe Train would have been able to deal with it better.
"But the insanity doesn't show people, usually," Rinslet said. Sven nodded and his eyes narrowed.
"The reports said the victims were terrified of what they saw," Eve added.
Sven tightened his grip on Train's shoulder. Why would Train be scared of his own mother?
Train no longer heard what they were saying behind him. It was all background noise to him now. It didn't matter. His dead mother was standing before him. But that was impossible. He had seen her die. He knew she was dead. He was absolutely certain that she wasn't coming back to life.
He accepted that. He hadn't even thought of his mother or his father in years. He didn't need them to survive, and their memories only brought pain. He had almost forgotten them, to be honest, with his active life. He had so many new memories that his past was swallowed up by it.
"Train…how could you?" his mother asked. His eyes widened further. The illusion had to talk too? Wasn't it bad enough that he had to see her? Did he really have to hear her as well?
"How could I what?" he asked, responding to the ghost even though he knew it wasn't there. His mother cried silently, hugging herself.
"How could you become the very thing that killed us?" his father said, appearing next to his mother.
"I didn't kill you," Train said.
"How could you know? You've killed so many others…it's disgraceful. I would have thought our deaths meant something to you," his father said. Train shook his head. He could faintly hear the others behind him telling him that this wasn't real.
"Of course you never loved us did you? That's why you forgot about us," his mother sad.
"I didn't forget," Train said. His mother stepped towards him. There was no warmth in her eyes, but Train couldn't look away. People used to say that his eyes looked like his mothers. But he'd never seen her eyes grow as cold as his ever did. Is this what people saw when he looked like that? It was terrifying. He felt like she was going to kill him.
"Yes you did. You use to think of us before you did something. Now you don't ever allow us to cross your mind. Is that because you're worried about what we would say? Are you worried we wouldn't approve of what you've done?" his mother asked. She reached behind her back and pulled out a knife. His father stepped forward as well, a long dagger in his hand.
"You were right to be worried," his father said. He lunged at Train with the dagger. "We're ashamed of what you've become! You're some cold-hearted assassin!"
Train's shaking stopped as he froze with those words. That was what he had feared more than anything else all these years, was that his parents wouldn't approve of the life he led. It was worse, back when he was still with Chronos. That was why he had stopped feeling and just did what he was supposed to. It was so much easier when he didn't worry about what others thought. He'd always thought that his parents would be ashamed of him though, and that thought terrified him. He had depended on their acceptance of him when he was little. What they thought of him used to mean more than anything in the world.
When he lost everything else with their deaths-his home, his few friends, his family-the thought of them just being happy he was alive was all that kept him going. He thought they would like him to know self-defense, so he let Zagine train him. But then the idea of revenge had settled into his soul, and that became all that mattered. By the time he had shot Zagine in that alley, he had stopped doing things based solely on what his parents would have wanted. He still questioned what they would say, but he did what he wanted anyway.
After his first kill as a full number of Chronos, even that stopped. Every now and then he used to wonder what they would say to him if they could see him now, but he had learned that what the dead wanted didn't matter. They were dead. They couldn't do anything.
And no matter how many times he told himself that now, he couldn't stop the pain he felt with his father's words. We're ashamed of what you've become!
He didn't know how to deal with his parents being ashamed of him.
His father's dagger plunged into his shoulder. His mother cried out as she slashed his cheek with her knife. His father pulled the dagger out and stabbed him again. His mother kept swinging her knife, tearing his clothes and creating shallow cuts all over him.
Train just stood there and took it, because he didn't know what else to do. He felt lost and alone, and right now dying seemed like a good option.
Sven couldn't believe his eyes. Train was bleeding, in more and more places as the seconds passed. Nothing was even happening! "Train! Snap out of it!" he yelled.
"What's going on?" Rinslet asked, standing on Train's other side. She didn't understand why Train was suddenly bleeding, or why he was just standing there.
"Fight it Train! Whatever you're seeing, fight it!" Sven yelled. He slapped Train, hoping for some reaction. Train's head jerked to the side, but that was all he did. He didn't even bother to move his head back. A gash appeared across the bridge of his nose. "Come on Train! You're stronger than this!"
"What should we do?" Eve asked, standing in front of Train. She wasn't touching him, but she could see the cuts appearing across his body. It looked like two different weapons had done the damage. And what had he not forgotten? That was the last thing he had said.
"I don't know…most people who are inflicted with physical damage in this insanity die…but we can't let that happen…" Sven muttered.
"If only we could get inside his head," Rinslet said. Eve thought about it. It wasn't a bad idea, but there was no way it would get them anywhere. They needed an antidote, and in the meantime they had to stop Train from getting hurt anymore.
She went up to Train and kicked him in the knee, hard enough that he was forced down to the ground as he grabbed it in pain. With his face that much closer to Eve's, she grabbed both sides of his face and made him look in her eyes.
"Who do you see right now?" she asked him.
"Princess," he replied quietly. She nodded. "Your mother is gone. I scared her away," Eve said. Train's eyes widened and he looked around. "The only people around you are Sven, Rinslet, and I. Do you understand that?"
"Close your eyes," Eve ordered. Train listened to her. "I'm going to move you to the wall."
Train nodded and allowed himself to be led to the wall where he could lean his back against something.
"Keep your eyes closed," Eve said. She was making all of this up as she went along, doing what she thought would benefit him the most. It seemed to be working for the moment. "Sit there and don't move."
She turned to Sven and Rinslet. "Our target has to have an antidote somewhere. You'll have to go on alone and find it," Eve said. Sven frowned. He didn't want to leave Eve essentially on her own, but he didn't see any better options. She was the only one who had gotten through to Train, and if the visions came back he would need her again. Train wasn't any good to them if he couldn't see right, since he wouldn't trust his judgment when they needed it.
"Be careful," Sven said, running down the hallway. Rinslet gave them both one long look before following Sven, clearly not liking this situation.
Eve waited several minutes before trying to talk to Train. He was sitting with his head in his hands, his elbows propped on his knees. Per Eve's instructions, he still had his eyes closed.
"Why do you fear your mother?" Eve asked. Train sighed.
"I don't want to talk about it," he said. Eve shook her head, even though Train couldn't see it.
"Because of what just happened, you must," she said. "Why are you afraid of your mother?"
Train sighed again. "I'm not afraid of her," he said.
"They why is that what you saw, when all the visions were of things people fear?" Eve questioned. Train tightened his fingers in his hair.
"I'm afraid of what my parents would think of me now," he said quietly. Eve remained silent, waiting for him to continue on his own. "When I was a little kid, their approval was all I cared about. I lost that, when they were killed. And eventually, over the next few years, I stopped caring about what they would think of what I was doing. I made myself think they'd be happy as long as I was alive."
"So then why do you fear what they think?" Eve asked. Train took a deep breath.
"I think…it's because I know they wouldn't like it. Deep down, I've always known that they would have rather I died then become such a cold-hearted assassin. I killed a lot of people, Princess. My parents were completely against that. And since I use to rely on their approval too much, I was scared to think that they wouldn't like it."
"But you are no longer an assassin," Eve stated. Train nodded.
"But I still have that legacy. I will always have that past, no matter how far I run from it. That's why I've never denied being the Black Cat. I will always be the Black Cat, until I die."
Eve nodded. Something like this she could understand.
"If you are okay with what is in your past, then why do you fear what your parents would think?" Eve asked. Train took a few minutes to answer.
"I've never come to terms with the fact that it doesn't matter what they think, as long as I'm okay with it," Train said. He opened his eyes and looked up at Eve, smiling. "I get it now. They can think whatever the Hell they want, it doesn't matter to me anymore."
Eve smiled as well. She still didn't understand why they're approval had mattered so much to Train in the first place, but as long as it didn't matter now. His parents were dead, and they weren't coming back. What they thought didn't matter, because Train was still alive.
"Thanks Princess," Train said. He got to his feet, his confidence from earlier overflowing again. He pulled Hades out and twirled it before catching the handle. "Now I've got someone else to thank for getting me past that!"
Eve nodded and they hurried down the hallway after Sven and Rinslet.