Cutscene: In the Dark of the Night
He was tired. Tired in a way that he had seldom been before. Drained, exhausted, pushed to the limits of his endurance. His hands, normally so deft and dexterous fumbled with the keys in the lock of his own door. He cursed himself silently, as he slid the key. The door opening into his silent flat.
That’s when he knew something was wrong.
It was entirely silent, no Akari. No cats. Nothing but echoing silence and shadows greeted him. Emptiness. The door sounded unnaturally loud as it closed behind him, his relocking of it a decidedly hollow gesture. Something was here besides what should be here. Something that has scared the echoing house into stillness. As if it were waiting for the other shoe to drop. Dark eyes, weary with the events of the night turned towards the stove where a electric kettle still gave off a faint bit of steam.
The sound of the streets below snuck in through a crack in the door to the balcony, something he hadn’t left open when he left that evening. Like a hound sensing prey he turned his attention towards that intrusion, was it deliberate? His eyes, blurred with pain and fatigue focused through the pane to see a kettle and two cups set out on the table. His mouth suddenly dry he turned his attention to the door. His legs carrying him there in short steps as he drew on the last vestiges of pride and strength he had left. He would not collapse like some new babe in arms in the presence of what could be an enemy. He couldn’t even allow himself that comfort should it be a friend. However there is a sneaking suspicion on who...or what...it might be.
The door opened easily enough at his touch, with those same halting steps he made his way to the small table and two comfortable chairs that fit on the little square bit of concrete. It was a fantastic view at least, the lights of Port Island spread out below him. He could pick out places he had come to know, but it wasn’t the view that brought him out here. He could feel a presence, close now. One hand reached into coat, fingers grasping the hilt of the dagger there.
“I’m not here to kill you.” The voice was familiar as it was his own, though laced with mocking amusement. There was a subtle timbre that was different, a calculating and cold undertone.
“Why should I trust you?” His own voice sounded hollow and weak in response, syllables cracking as he attempted to inject defiance into the tone. He knew how weak he much sound, how pathetic.
“Because you know me, Seiichi.” The shadows unfolded on the opposite side of the little patio. A figure dressed similarly, though the suit from a different time. The lines of his familiar face somehow harsher, the look in his red eyes more calculating and without a hint of mercy. “You /are/ me. If I had wanted to kill you, I wouldn’t have set out tea now would I?”
“I suppose you wouldn’t.” He can tell the truth in that, even when it comes from his own lips.
“Sit, drink, I’m not here to end you. Even though it would be easy with how weak you are. No, Seiichi. I’m here to help you, to educate you, because someone must.” His own Shadow smiled, the sharp lines of the expression casting an almost demonic air about him as he leaned against the side of the balcony. “I’m not like the rest of my kin you know. I know I have only a finite amount of time in this world. Why not do something productive with it. Right?”
Seiichi made no response to that, simply sinking down in one of the two chairs. He was too tired to argue. Too tired to trade words with the blacker half of his soul. He would not give the other the satisfaction of responding. He was in no shape to attempt to kill his darker half. Set was only the softest whisper in his mind.
That seemed to suit the Shadow just fine.
“I know what happened tonight,” His voice sounded both disappointed and regretful. “Don’t look so surprised. You should know what you could do with a proper network of spies. It is a sad thing though. You try so very hard and just what does it get you in the end?” He paused, letting his double think on that very question. “Has it made any of them trust you? Has it made any of them, your ‘friends’, even her...any of them believe in you? All the trouble, all the difficulty, everything you’ve built up could be ruined because you did the right thing and what did you get out of it?”
The Shadow didn’t have to say it.
The mistrust in the room had been palpable. A few spoke out in his defense, though even those that did spoke out against their better judgement. Some had been outwardly murderous, most threatening. Part of him was honestly surprised that he did not die on the floor. He was sure that if there was not an attack, then some of them might have tried. They would have been argued down, but as a matter of principle. Not due to any care of his own well being. In the end only Naomi seemed to believe in him.
And that got her fed to the lions.
One hand reached out to curl his fingers around the tea cup. He had poured while his other self was talking. Cradling the ceramic in long fingers he remained silent. Remained quiet as he sat. He could refute the logic in the others words, he could throw it back into its face. The words would be as hollow as the victory over the Nazis at the estate.
“You're doing the right thing brought you nothing in the end, in fact the only one that ultimately believed you would was the Duchess herself.” There was a dark chuckle at that. “Deliciously ironic don’t you think? That the only one that knew what you would do, who trusted you to do something good, was the one that was plotting against you. Do any of them really know you? Do any of them care too? Do any of them deserve too?”
The Shadow paused again, seeing if there was an effect to those words. Seiichi might have been carved from stone for all the reaction he gave.
A slight smile played across the Shadow’s face. Vicious, cruel. His voice dropped to a more intimate level. As if imparting a secret known only to a very few. A secret of great worth.
“She’ll leave you as well you know.”
That brought a reaction, a tick just around the eye. Almost unnoticeable unless someone knew what to look for. That smile turned satisfied, the vicious and unmerciful part remained but the satisfaction grew with every moment. Every trick or twitch.
“No matter how much she may love you, it won’t stop her duty. No matter how great her passion, it won’t overcome her guilt. Staying close to her would only make you both miserable. It would make for a wonderful tragic play wouldn’t it?” He pauses for a moment, but only a moment before the insidious whispering continued. “You could fix that though couldn’t you. You know how. You have the resources if you ask for them. A quiet amount of pressure here, and simple few whispered words there. It would be so easy wouldn’t it? Some phone calls and then you both could be hap--”
The voice was harder, the pitch a lower growl. Where pride and faith could not give him strength, anger found the power. White hot it roiled about his mind as he turned a burning hard gaze on his Shadow.
“I promise. If you continue we will find out if I still have the strength left to end you right here and now.”
The Shadow smiled back, the look mocking. The tone matched that look as he moved. “Well we wouldn’t want that now would we. The game isn’t quite over, and that can’t happen until the proper finale.” The Shadow turned, starting back inside. “You’ll remember my words though, my twin. In the dark of the night you’ll hear them repeat. Because you know...” That serpentine smile threads its way back into his face. “...I’m right.”
He paused standing, facing towards the apartment as Seiichi faced the vista of Port Island.
“You can’t win this game without me.”
The Shadow disappeared back inside the flat, and Seiichi heard the door close and lock behind him. Again he was alone, with only the shadows and the lights of the city for company. Anger drained out of him slowly, dripping out like sand though a hourglass. Leaving him empty once more. He said nothing, simply trying to clear his mind of what just happened. Of the words that his Shadow left, prowling like monsters in the dark. Waiting for his guard to be down to strike.
‘You can’t win this game without me.’
He hurled the cooling teacup off the balcony.