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Achromatopsia

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The Purge king sat alone on his throne- he could feel his eyelids began to grow heavily, and could feel the seductive lull of his mind begging him to drift off to sleep.

Slowly, the black and white world around him began to blur, and- 

“No.”  

A sudden jolt shot through him, causing him to shudder and to snap back to the world around him.  

He lurched forward, gasping, and clutched his chest. He could feel his heart roar within his ribcage, screaming a silent warning. 

That voice--

It was all too familiar to him. 

Every word it spoke was imbued with malice and hatred. It followed him everywhere-

everywhere, everywhere he went.

Each step, each breath he took he could hear the voice echo within his ears. 

“Tk- Tk- Tk- Tk- Tk.”

A rattling noise echoed across the empty throne room. 

“---h--k!” 

Subaru’s breath got caught in his throat.

Instinctively, the boy jumped up on his throne and curled into a defensive situation. His eyes scoured the dark room for the source of the sound. 

Was the sound caused by an intruder? An assassin, who was sent to kill him? Or, it could be a signal from one assasin to another, to perhaps coordinate their efforts? It could be caused by a trap, designed to bring the intended victim a swift demise?

As the king’s mind raced, the mysterious sound continued. No, it got louder.

It’s getting close. 

Subaru spun around, only to see nothing behind him.

“Tk-Tk-Tk-Tk-Tk-Tk-Tk-Tk-Tk-Tk.”

The cacophony continued, and grew even louder and faster than before.  

Where is it coming from? Subaru looked all around him, and yet the sound seemed to always be behind him. 

If it is an Assassin, the Purge king reasoned, they are surely doing a horrible job at being stealthy.

“TkTkTkTkTkTkTkTkTkTkTkTkTkTkTkTk”

Sweat trickled down his forehead. It was loud. He hated it. Something about it was… off, and infuriated him to no end. The sound was driving the Purge King mad. 

The sound was low and repetitive- a chain, a chain, that is what it must be- dragging against the floor-

In a final desperate attempt to stop the sound, Subaru covered both of his ears and squeezed his eyes shut. He didn’t care anymore whether or not it was an assassin- he would just ‘Return By Death’ and stick by the side of Halibel or Cecilus to ensure they would be dealt with- he just wanted the sound to stop. 

And yet-

“TKTKTKTKTKTKTKTKTKTKTKTKTKTKTKTKTKTKTKTKTK-”

The racket grew even louder to the point that the Purge King could hear it even through his hands. 

A morning star descended upon him, crushing his ribs. Why, Why, it hurts, it hurts, please stop, why won’t you kill me-

His neck itches, and Subaru resists the urge  to pull down his scarf and scratch it. 

Why, Why won’t you stop? He begs the source of the sound. 

The only response he got was the din continuing it’s terrible tune. 

Was this it? Was the sound going to join in the awful voice in the back of his mind, slowly crushing him, suffocating him, gripping onto his soul, never to let go? 

It was at that moment that Subaru realized that he was trembling.

He was afraid. He was afraid of the dark, and masked the world around him. For all he knew, another assassin could be laying in wait, Subaru knew that as the ‘Purge King’, a giant target was painted on his back. 

He was small, and weak, a measly pile of bones that could be killed by practically anybody in this cruel, black and white world. 

He was afraid of the sound, since he didn’t know where it was coming from, nor did he know how to stop it. 

He could feel his coin grow heavy in his pocket, silently begging him to be flipped- 

I have had enough , Subaru decided. He’ll figure out who the culprit is, and then he would swiftly give them a punishment in the soonest possible loop. 

Sh-Shut up or else I’ll f-fucking m-murder you !” 

His panic-filled yell echoed across the dark and empty throne room.  He hated the sound of his voice, how weak, how pathetic he sounded. 

He was the ‘Purge King’--- someone meant to be feared, not pitied. And yet-

“--------”

For that brief moment, silence reigned, causing the king’s dissatisfaction to melt away in an instant. 

Subaru slumped, and sighed in relief. 

And once again, his eyelids grew heavy. 

“Tk--Tk.”

Subaru eye’s shot wide open. The sound was back.

“Tk-Tk-Tk-Tk-”

The anger, fear, and panic that was associated with the sound flared up once again

The chains were back, he was stumbling like a newborn fawn across the mansion floor, the chains were back, his arm was now hanging limp from a chandelier, the chains- 

“Were you not listening to what I just said?” Subaru responded in an eerily calm tone, one befitting of the ‘Purge King’.

“--------”

Once again, the rattling stopped. 

At that moment, Subaru realized the truth of the situation. 

His hand shot up to his mouth.

The culprit, the source of the sound that tormented him so much was--

his teeth. His Teeth were chattering, creating the sound that nearly driven him mad. 

“Tk--Tk.” He pushed his teeth together and replicated the sound to confirm it, to ensure that there was no way to deny the conclusion he had reached.

Once the truth settled in, Subaru’s face went slack. 

“Ku-hah!”

A guffaw leaked out of Subaru’s oxygen-deprived lips.

Laugh. That was the only thing he could do in response to the sheer lunacy of the situation.

Another jolt shot through his body.

It burned- the skin on his neck ached, demanding that he compose himself, ground himself, in this black and white world. 

The noose of temptation tightened around his neck. He squirmed, twisted and turned like a felon who was being hanged- his legs flailed desperately trying to find the floor that had just dropped beneath him, his noose wasn’t tied properly, prolonging his death, extending his suffering-

I’m suffocating, I’m choking- he wanted to scream, but the fear, the paranoia that was slowly suffocating him shut his windpipes, preventing any sound from coming from his mouth.

“You should have jumped.”

  The voice, full of hate, full of malice, whispered in the back of his mind.

“You should have jumped off the cliff and saved them.”  

The voice continued, each word it muttered carved itself into the king’s soul. No matter how hard he scratched at it, they never seemed to go away. 

“I wanted to live, I wanted to live !”   he screamed back, desperately trying to convince the voice- no, himself.

“Why should I give up my life to save the ones who lied to me, tortured me?”  

---God, he sounded so pathetic.  He hated that his voice was trembling as much as he was, he sounded so frightened, so angry. 

He hated how his face scrunched up and how snot trickled nose like he was a scared, little kid throwing a tantrum.

“Would you call what you are doing now living?” 

 The voice responded in an eerily calm tone, one befitting of the ‘Purge King’.

“-----------”

Subaru wanted to say yes. He wanted to say yes, so, so badly. The ‘Purge King’, the ‘Pleiades’ organization, the construction of ‘Pandemonium’-

All of his efforts, his efforts, the horrible sins he had committed, each and every time he used ‘Return by Death’-

It was for one purpose, and one purpose alone.

--- Self-preservation. 

All Natsuki Subaru wanted to do all this time was live . He had died, over and over again, just to guarantee his survival.

“But would you call what you are doing now living?” 

The voice repeated itself.

Subaru had thought that by refusing to jump and running away from the mansion that he had untied the noose that fate had tied around his neck. 

But all along, that same noose that wrapped around his neck the moment Rem died from the Shaman’s curse. 

By refusing to jump, he realized that he had only messed up the noose’s knot, only elongating his suffering, like that felon in the public hanging with messed up noose, squirming helplessly as he tried to ignore the jeers of the rowdy crowd. 

The man who pretended to be the ‘Purge King’ was a dead man walking.

Subaru was already withering away like a corpse by refusing to eat, so he was practically halfway there.

The sound of scratching filled the air. 

Sometimes, when he was arguing with the voice inside his head, his fingers had sneaked down to his collar and rabidly yanked down his scarf, and began to rip and tear into his scarred skin like a pack of half-starved hyenas. 

The burning sensation grew more intense. 

Subaru panted and arched his back, his face pointing towards the ceiling, a thin stream of spit leaking out of his lips. 

It hurt but the pain brought him back, chained him back to reality when he got carried away talking to the voice in the back of his mind.

Eventually, the itch went away, and his famished slowed down and eventually stopped altogether, having had their full. 

He lifted his hands from his neck and rested them on his lap, and studied them carefully. An odd, viscous liquid covered them, giving them a grayish hue. 

If Subaru could see color, he would have realized that his fingers were dyed a deep crimson from his blood. 

Having lost interest, Subaru wiped his blood off on the edges on the black Yukata he was currently wearing. 

“I should really apologise to Puck, ha. It appears that I am falling apart without the company of Emilia.” He said to nobody in particular. 

Earlier that day, he and Puck had got into some disagreement- Puck thought that Subaru was visiting Emilia too often or was not treating her properly- Subaru’s worn-out mind struggled to recollect what exactly had happened, but in the end he had triggered Puck’s overprotective fatherly side and Subaru had been barred from entering her room for the time being. 

At the thought of the Great spirit, Subaru’s mind wandered back to coin within his pocket. He had seen for himself the power of the great spirit was nothing to scoff at. Perhaps, if he somehow managed to isolate the spirit in the middle of the desert and brought Cecilus with him-

Heads.  Subaru reminded himself. The coin landed on heads when you flipped it earlier.  Puck is forgiven of his transgression this time. 

He scooted himself forward, and dangled his feet in front of his throne. He took a deep breath, and-

Slumped, and scooted to the back of the throne his a defiant grunt. 

If he ran back to Puck, his tail in between his legs like some sort of beat-up stray cat, the spirit would know that he was weak, which would go against the entire purpose of the ‘Purge King’. 

Subaru ran a finger across his ever-deepening eyebags. 

“--mmm, Cecilus’ assessment was correct. My eyebags are getting quite deep indeed.” Subaru mused to himself. “It’s quite a shame that I doubt I will be getting any sleep tonight either.” 

--- And thus, the king was stuck in quite the impossible situation. 

If he stayed on his throne, he would be unable to sleep. His dreams were too haunting, and he was too paranoid that he could be attacked in his sleep to even dare to drift off anyways. 

If he went to Puck, he would be conceding his weakness, which was something that Subaru vowed to never do again. 

Any ordinary man would have given in to Puck, but Subaru was anything but ordinary. Within the frail boy, an unshakeable resolve, this madness,  layed, which enabled the rise of ‘Pleiades’ and allowed him to build ‘Pandemonium’. But it also was a weakness, causing him to stay on the throne when he was about to collapse and go insane.

“-----------------”

Had a minute passed? An hour? 5 hours? He could no longer tell.  

Throughout the entire time, however, Subaru managed to stay perfectly alert. His eyes darted around the room, trying his best to spot any intruders. 

The world around him spinned,  the pits under his eyes grew ever deeper, the back of his throat burned, his eyes stung as he had just jumped face first into the ocean, drowning, in a sea of paranoia. A drowning man will clutch at a straw.

A loud creaking noise echoed about the room.

Subaru’s eyes darted to the source of the sound. It was the door, and it was being opened.

An assassin?  

Subaru’s nails dug into the throne, resisting the urge to crawl backwards. While he was terrified of everything, he also did not want to appear weak. The starving boy arched his back and lifted his chin in a  vain attempt to look like a king.

“Are you an enemy or a friend, I wonder?” The king asked, his voice not showing a hint of the turmoil that raged within him. 

“A friend, a friend!” An oddly cheerful voice replied. 

Footsteps echoed throughout the room as Subaru was able to make out more and more of the intruder’s form. 

“To think that you would doubt even me, your harsh words wound me, boss.” 

And there, before Subaru, the speaker revealed themselves- arms crossed, his left cheek puffed out in a childish manner- stood the strongest man in Vollachia, the ‘Blue Lightning’,  Cecilus Segmund. 

_____________________________________

Cecilus was a man of exceptional beauty;  after years of training by the sword, his form had become finely toned, and his long blue hair was tied up in a ponytail, giving him a somewhat feminine look.

While any ordinary person would have taken a bit of time to oogle at his features, Subaru only glanced at the swordsman with disinterest. To him, Cecilus was just a dull black and white blob. 

“What are you doing here in the middle of the night?” Subaru was now immensely grateful that he didn’t freak out- showing weakness to anyone, a subordinate like Cecilus especially, is absolutely unacceptable. 

“Er, I was having a… midnight snack, haha.” Cecilus responded, awkwardly scratching the back of his head with a shy smile. 

The Purge King eyed the ‘Blue Lightning’ skeptically. 

Why would you take a detour in the throne room, then?  

Cecilus was clad in his favorite bright blue and beak pink robes, giving off a relaxed aura that was inappropriate for the situation. Subaru’s eyes wandered to the white sash wrapped around his waist, where a red and blue katana- the ‘Fiend Sword’ Murasame and the ‘Dream Sword’ Masayume respectively-  were sheathed. 

Why did you bring those two swords of power with you?

“Hal-san was worried about you since he said you weren’t by the princess for some odd reason, and my curiosity got the best of me so I decided to check this place out to see if you were there.” The blue-haired man elaborated, as if he could read what was on Subaru’s mind. 

“--------------”

Under normal circumstances, he would bring Subaru a slight sliver of enjoyment due to his childish antics, but Subaru’s paranoia made him hostile to Cecilus. 

Subaru did not relax, for nothing could extinguish the flames of suspicion within him. Not ever since that fated day.

He clearly is here with an alternative motive. What is it?

“Actually, why are you toiling away on your throne instead of sleeping besides the princess?” Cecilus asked, peering at Subaru with childlike curiosity. 

Subaru began to feel his coin grow heavy in his pocket. 

That was the one thing that Subaru hated about Cecilus- unlike everybody else, the swordsman wasn’t scared of the Purge King. He just couldn’t seem to take a damn hint.

“--------------”

Subaru simply ignored him, hoping that Cecilus would lose interest and go away.

“--------------”

He didn’t. He just stood there, looking at Subaru expectantly. In fact, he was getting closer. 

“Puck and I... had a disagreement.” Subaru blurted out. An odd weight lifted off of his chest  when he said that. He didn’t like the feeling.

Subaru couldn’t tell, but his cheeks were tinged ink.

“So Puck was being an overprotective father, and banned you from visiting Emilia, eh?” Cecilus concluded, a bemused smile on his face. “And you’re here because you’re too stubborn to apologize?”

“It was only for the time being.” Subaru said, trying to sound as calm as possible.

His hand slowly snaked down from the grip on the throne to his pocket. God, he he missed the feeling of the coin landing on his thumb-

“--- Do you want me to kill him, boss?” Cecilus said, instinctively reaching for his Katanas, his excitement palpable. 

“When I flipped the coin, it landed on heads.” Subaru responded. “He will get spared for his transgression this time.”

The swordsman slumped, defeated. “Why not just flip the coin until it lands on tails? It’s obvious that you use it just for an excuse for killi--”

Subaru’s blood ran cold. 

The coin, it was the coin’s fault, he had always told himself, like a mother told a fairy tale to a newborn baby to explain the mysterious ways of a cruel world. The sin of murder, the coin was the one who told him what to do, he just carried out the act.

“-ah.” Cecilus’ voice died in his throat as he saw the all too familiar glint of a coin in between the Purge King’s fingers. 

Subaru smiled to himself, shuddering in ecstasy as his pointer finger traced the grooves of the coin he has flipped too many times. He did it a couple of times over, just to distract him from the awful truth Cecilus had just brought up. 

“I’m joking, I’m joking!” Cecilus exclaimed, his hands raised in a defensive position. 

Is he finally… afraid of me? Subaru asked himself, rubbing his thumb on his chin. An odd feeling of pride swelled in his chest. Finally, he was in control. Maybe I should do this more often.  

“I still don’t get why you make such a big deal out of killing. It’s simple, really- just raise your sword and slice their head off, and watch as their head hit the ground.” Cecilus continued, as if the king hadn’t threatened him earlier. 

So he isn’t,  The surge of excitement vanished within Subaru. Even after all of that. Is he a madman? 

Cecilus accompanied his explanation by imitating how he always decapitated those brought to the throne room of the “Purge King” but with an imaginary sword but in slow-motion, almost like a little kid playing a game of pretend.

He even went as far as to whistle to imitate the sound his sword made when swinging through the air, made a squelching sound when the sword cut through the “flesh” for dramatic effect, and finished off the performance with a low “boom” to mime the thud the head would make when it fell on the floor. 

Subaru responded to his performance with only a deadpan stare. 

“So between you two, a battle of sorts is going on?” 

Subaru slumped in his throne, disappointed. “-- A battle of wills. Even though I doubt that the Great Spirit is struggling any.” 

His finger wiggled. Maybe I should flip the coin-

“ My, my. So that’s why you spent the last few hours on that throne?” Cecilus seemed genuinely impressed. “To last this long staying perfectly alert at all times, especially considering how sleep-deprived you are already? Your will is truly iron-clad.  You really are more than just a coward.”

Coward? Subaru froze. I am the ‘Purge King’ , feared across the world for my cruelty, piling bodies one atop the other. Can he tell that it’s all an act. 

He clenched  the coin in his hand, and tightly pressed it against his palm.  Can this guy not read the mood at all? Or is he really that stupid? 

At that moment, Subaru’s resolve hardened. 

He would, if possible, try to kill Cecilus. 

It was simply that, the effort it took to kill, the insufficiency of his preparation to kill, and the trouble brought about after the killing, made it so that killing Cecilus was not worth it, for the time being. 

“But my goodness, the circles under your eyes are getting quite severe already.  I urge you to get more sleep.” Cecilus ran his finger across his eyebags, in an effort to emphasize his point, unaware of the fact that the Purge King was currently  planning his murder.

“I can’t sleep when I am not beside Emilia. Are you suggesting that I surrender? That I should run back towards Puck with my tail in between my legs, like I’m a pathetic, beat up stray dog?” His voice took on an ever so slight shade of anger, but it was enough to make even the bravest men around quake in their boots. 

--- Except for Cecilus, that is.

“ Of course not!” Cecilus said, chuckling. He was scratching the back of his head again. “Instead of Emilia, I was thinking, erm--”

“You should sleep with me,” Cecilus finished with a casual tone, as if he was not offering to share a bed with his boss who also happened to be a mass murderer.

Clink!

Subaru dropped his coin in sheer shock at his proposal.

“Excuse me?”

“You should sleep with me, Boss.” Cecilus repeated, with a perfectly straight face. 

So is this one of Cecilus’ jokes? He is quite the eccentric one. 

“----------”

“Uhah!” Subaru said, an odd smile forming on his face. He slapped his knee, as if he was pleased. “You really are a clown.”

“I know that I am a good looking man. Maybe if you close your eyes and rest your head on my lap, then you can pretend that it is Emilia.” He said, beaming like a first grader who solved his first crossword puzzle. “I know I’m not the smartest, but even I can sometimes come up with a genius plan too, eh?”

He obviously has an alternative motive for wanting to do such a thing. Subare looked at the handsome man with insecure and yet doubting eyes. Perhaps it is to bait me out and then kill me?

To Subaru, the answer to Cecilus' offer was obvious.

“--No.” 

He hated sleeping. More than he hated his dreams, he hated the idea of being vulnerable to ambush while he was asleep. He slept besides Emilia because she was in color, kind and caring, his universal constant, across all of these horrible loops he subjected himself into.

Her heartbeat reminded the drowning man that he was within this mortal realm, and not wherever his dreams and the voice told him he was. 

He could feel it now, slow, yet calming, the warmth of her body. Subaru missed her so, so badly.

Cecilus pouted. “First I was insulted, then I was threatened, and now I am rejected? This is borderline cruelty.” 

“The only one who is being cruel is you, who is pestering me in the middle of the night. Now leave.” Subaru said in an oddly playful tone, and promptly shooed him away with his bony arm.

“I give up, I’ll leave. I’m not the kind of guy who can’t take no for an answer, ” Cecilus said, walking towards the door from the door. “But-” 

Two bright blue flashes  illuminated the room for a brief moment, for the first time since the sun set.  It was so bright that Subaru instinctually shut his eyes and shielded his face.  The cackling of electricity could be heard, as well as the stench of something being burnt.

Dread and anticipation bubbled up within Subaru. What is that fool up to now? He hesitated for a moment, and  opened up his eyes and saw-

“Here! You probably need a pillow and a blanket to make you comfy, boss.” Cecilus was standing in the same place, except holding the aforementioned pillow and blanket. The dim lighting prevented Subaru from making out any more details of what he had brought. 

There’s no way on earth I’m going to actually use them. They’re probably trapped. Or, did Cecilus give me the pillows just so I would fall asleep so he can kill me?

“...Did you just use your ‘Blue Lightning Technique’ just to give me those things as fast as possible?” Subaru covered his mouth with his hand in an attempt to stifle any laughter that threatened to leak out of his mouth. 

“Yep!” Cecilus casually replied, slipping on his zori, wiggling his toes to ensure that it fit just right. 

A cloud of smoke billowed behind him,  with blue bolts of lightning cackling periodically around it, reminding Subaru of a cloud during a thunderstorm that was about to torch a random poor tree with lightning.

Subaru cursed himself for not noticing earlier that he had taken off his Sandals while they were talking, If he did, his use of the ‘Blue Lightning Technique’ wouldn’t have come as too much of a surprise to him. 

“If you destroyed anything while pulling such a foolish stunt, the costs for fixing it will be deducted from your paycheck.” 

“But Boss, you’re being mean~, I’m just trying to help you out here.” Yet again, Cecilus feigned sorrow and pouted. “By the way, Boss, what is a ‘paycheck’? I heard words like salary or wage, but never something like ‘paycheck’ before.”

“It’s… something from my homeland.” Subaru mentioned, refusing to go any more in depth.

“ So it’s the same place where people call Appas’ ‘Apples’?” Cecilus said, raising an eyebrow. “What a bunch of weirdos.” 

Subaru pinched the bridge of his nose and sighed.  “Are you going to give me what you spent all of this effort getting so quickly or not?” He said, gesturing Cecilus to place the items in his hands so he can properly inspect them. 

“As you wish~,” Cecilus said in a sing-song manner, before lifting the pillow and blanket in one hand each and carrying it over to Subaru. 

“Put them in my hand so I-” 

Subaru suddenly felt something warm wrap around him. 

-- An assassin!

It was coiled around his neck, getting tighter and tighter, strangling him, choking him-

“Tk--Tk.”

Fear. 

He felt nothing but fear. Drowning in fear. 

Subaru’s senses were in disarray, as if he was thrown into the middle of the sea- He couldn’t breathe. 

It lit a fire within him , in his lungs, burning, his lungs were about to burst-

His mind kicked into overdrive as the fire coursed throughout his body, giving his frail limbs strength. 

Subaru’s primal survival instincts took over, as he rolled over to his side, and kicked and clawed and tore into the attacker, like a half-starved, rabid stray cat giving some sort of pathetic last stand. He sighed in relief as it landed beside the throne in a crumpled heap. 

What was that? Subaru asked himself, still jittery from the adrenaline coursing through his veins. He stared into the limp form of the intruder, but it was too dark to discern anything significant.

“--------”

Silence reigned the throne room once again for a few moments. 

Cecilus was staring at him, absolutely gobsmacked. 

“--Woah, you really hate blankets, boss?”  His voice cracked, as if he was stifling a laugh. 

“I told you to put it in my hand so I can inspect it.” The ‘Purge King’ replied sternly. “I was taken by surprise, so I reacted accordingly.” 

Something warm brushed against his face-- again. 

Is this some sort of joke? 

He could feel his breathing tubes close off as the hateful voice’s whispers began to grow louder and louder once again. 

Subaru then felt something press against his back, warm and uncomfortable, as if the voice had somehow gained a physical form and now was attempting to flirt with him like a drunk creep would at a party back in his homeland. 

“You’re losing control. First the chattering, and now this?”  

Subaru could feel the chin from a person that did not exist nestled in the crook of his neck. Their hot, humid breath brushed against his ear. Even though it was just a mere moment of contact, the sensation absolutely overwhelmed him, turning the boy into a quivering mess. 

 “How pathetic.”

The voice snarled, slightly curling at the end with a hint of satisfaction. His heart stuttered, before beginning to pick up speed, mimicking the sounds those trains in Subaru’s former, in-color world would make when they left their station.

“Soon, everybody will know how weak you really are-”

Their arm snaked around his frail form, circling around his chest and gently caressing his hipbone, until jumping back up to his face. Sweat began to dribble down his forehead, and Subaru began to find it hard to breathe.

It was warm, warm, warm like Emilia’s lap during all those nights Subaru made the wise choice to visit her. 

Was he afraid? Yes, that’s it. There’s no other possible explanation, Subaru told himself. 

The voice then dropped to a low purr, so quiet that Subaru had to strain to hear what was being said. 

“You like the way he’s touching you, don’t you, Barusu?” 

Subaru’s heart dropped down to his stomach.  He hated it. He hated this, he hated how he had to be tormented in every waking moment, all he wanted was just for all of it to just-

Stop!

Subaru blindly swatted at the source of the warmth,  but his blow simply bounded off of it harmlessly.

“--ghk!” 

--It was Cecilus’ arm. 

His arm was pressed against his face, his other one wrapped around his back, encloaking Subaru with the blanked he was gifted earlier. 

The weird touches he felt this entire time- how much of it was a hallucination, and how much of it was Cecilus? 

To make matters even worse, Cecilus was so close, practically right next to him. The sword’s man’s bare chest, revealed due to the closeness of Cecilus’ garments, was only a few centimeters away. His toned chest slowly heaved in and out, and Subaru could swear that he could hear his heartbeat. 

Subaru silently prayed that the darkness would hide his flushed face. Showing signs of… fear could be interpreted as weakness. 

“--Boss? Jeez,  you’re really out of it right now.”

Subaru quickly snapped back into reality, and quickly realized that his face was nuzzled against Cecilus’ arm. 

The blue-haired man looked down at him with a childish grin. “So, do you want me to stop or not? Because the way you are leaning against my arm is giving me mixed sign-ow!”  

A faint clap echoed throughout the room. Cecilus managed to get on Subaru’s nerves (again), so Subaru had promptly struck him in the arm (again). It didn’t hurt at all, considering that Subaru was built like a scarecrow and that Cecilus was the easily the strongest warrior in Vollachia.  

However, the “Blue Lightning” had a deeply concerning lack of maturity, so the lack of pain didn’t prevent him from pouting and cradling his arm in response, pretending that the feeble blow had actually hurt him.  

The moment Cecilus severed skin to skin contact with his face, Subaru felt an overwhelming sense of relief. And yet, in the back of his mind, he felt a pang of sadness as well. 

Suddenly, Cecilus jerked up, his favorite shit-eating smile slipping back onto his face.

Subaru blinked at him slowly, and stared at him with a deadpan expression. Why did somebody so conveniently overpowered end up with such a shitty personality? Better yet, why did somebody with such a shitty personality end up being so conveniently overpowered?  

Questions such as that where one of the many things that kept Subaru up at night.  

“So you’re mad at me when I try to put a blanket at me, and yet you cling to my arm and look sad when I pull away?” Cecilus asked, tilting his head to the side. “ Are you one of those ‘Tsunderes’ from your homeland?” 

“Don’t.” Subaru replied, covering his face in frustration. 

God, I can’t wait for the day I get to see that bastard bleed out and die in front of my very own eyes. The thought of relishing at Cecilus’ death was the only thing preventing Subaru from screaming. 

“Just don’t.” He continued, too sick and tired of Cecilus to form a coherent sentence. “Say that damn word. Ever again.”

“Whoopsies, looks like I must have upset you real bad, boss.” Cecilus joked, awkwardly rubbing the back of his head.

Now he notices? After all this time? Subaru asked himself, almost delirious. Wow, he really is worse at reading the room than I was when I was back on Earth.

He gave Cecilus a death glare in hopes it would chase him away. 

Unfortunately for Subaru, Cecilus was so used to the act of murder that the bloodlust Subaru directed his way did not even faze him in the slightest. 

“I’m bored,” The swordsman declared. 

Subaru was not liking where this was going. 

Cecilus took a single slow step towards him.

He paused to let the echo reverberate throughout the throne room for dramatic effect. 

“Just what bullshit are you planning now?” Subaru would have facepalmed if he wasn’t so intent on watching the man’s movement. 

He’s planning to murder me. Subaru realized.

Cecilus gasped. “Y-you swore!” He took another step forward, and began to slip off both of his zori. He seemed to try to hide this, but he stuck out his tongue and hobbled around a bit, giving away his facade. 

He’s going for the killing blow. I’m a little shocked he would kill me on my throne in the middle of my palace, but Cecilus was never really one for planning things out.  At least I know when he’s going to betray me in the next  loop. 

Subaru looked at the black-and-white Cecilus dead on. Staring at him like a man about to face his final moments. A man staring down a firing squad. 

When the room lights up with a bright blue flash, Subaru does not even flinch.  

“---------------”

“--------------”

His world is sideways. 

So I looped back to a time when I was asleep?

Subaru blinks, confused. 

But then why am I still in the throne room? 

He feels something shift against his stomach.

“Ack!” He lets out a startled cry. 

“You know, beneath the poor self-hygiene and the scary attitude, you’re kinda cute.” 

--That voice.

------It’s Cecilus.

The swordsman pokes his cheek playfully, causing him to recoil ever so slightly. 

---Ah. 

Subaru swings his legs about. They don’t touch the ground. 

Cecilus is holding me. With one arm. 

Subaru feels his face go slack.

“Boss?” It’s still dark, so Subaru can’t really make out Cecilus’ face. But he was certain that asshole was grinning ear to ear. “You alright?”

“What… are you doing?” The black-haired boy squirms about for extra emphasis. 

“Carrying you, of course.” Cecilus announces proudly. “I thought that was obvious.”

“Where are you carrying me to?” Subaru said a little too quickly. 

He is so, so sick of Cecilus.  Maybe all of those loops were just a waste of time. Subaru wonders. 

“My bedroom.” Cecilus replied, as if that was a perfectly normal thing to say to your mass-murderer boss. 

He definitely wasn’t worth it. Subaru decides for the infinitieth time. 

Subaru digs his claws down his cheeks and groans loudly before grumbling various expletives under his breath about how that answer wasn’t helpful. 

He’s definitely going to take me to his bedroom to kill me. Subaru realized. 

Subaru feels no shock or remorse, he was expecting this kind of betrayal from the blakc-and-white Cecilus anyways.

After his humiliation in front of Cecilus, Subaru had half a mind to end his life himself if Cecilus wasn’t, so he let the man-child have his way. 

“Fine, do what you want with me. I’ll loop anyways, so it’s not like it matters.”

Cecilus perks up at this, and begins to hum a happy tune as he begins to skip towards his bedroom like an excited little girl. 

 He doesn’t hit any of the notes.