- A ‘Clover’ fanfiction written by RinoaDestiny; all characters and rights are CLAMP’s. -
He heard of the death soon after. Closed his eyes behind his visor, took a deep breath, and shuffling the papers into a folder, tried to resume his work. Tried to get from military base to home, letting his mind work auto-pilot for him. Tried to forget with Ran’s offer of tea and the caught heat between their bodies later that night. Tried to sleep but his words bounce back, rolling to a stop in his brain and he knew, if other words hadn’t been exchanged, that tonight would be a very different night.
The lights shine outside but when he looks, all he sees is the possibility of blood.
“You can’t be serious,” Gingetsu stated, tightening his jaw. The faintest hint of a raised silver brow was the only other indicator that something bothered him. Something being what he’d just been asked – commanded, rather – to do. Otherwise, he stood straight, unflinching; ice and marble and soldier incarnate. It was times like these when the visor shielded his eyes, giving him only numbers and grids and a myriad of other technological advances and he was grateful for it.
Still, Wizard Shuu was a master of reading him and he had to be careful. The Council didn’t look very kindly upon Clovers questioning their judgment, especially for one in the armed forces trained to total compliance. Unfailing obedience. Unsteady ground, and for a Two-Leaf, extremely dangerous. Even more so since the Three-Leaf was with him and he swallowed imperceptibly, keeping his sight on the shriveled old man as one faces an opponent.
“I would not have expected such a reaction from you, Lieutenant Colonel. Still, you are a product of the Clover Leaf Project. As such, perhaps that’s to be expected. Yet,” and the tone in the ancient voice sharpened, “an assignment has been given to you. That’s to eliminate the One-Leaf Clover, Oruha.”
His resulting silence was deadly. He could almost hear the minutes ticking off in his head, clockwork spinning. Whatever he said next had to be tempered with caution. There was no need to die, here in this room, because of attachments to the past.
He’d known of her, perhaps, when they were children.
“Shuu, you cannot ask this of me.” His voice was mild, tightly kept under control. “I would comply if it was an enemy but the One-Leaf means us no harm.”
“The One-Leaf,” Wizard Shuu replied back, curtly, “has gotten in contact somehow with the Four-Leaf. You should know, Gingetsu, what matter of security breach that is. Kou tried to hide the matter from the rest of the Council but I found out. Instead of creating chaos and catastrophe, we can resolve it simply by removing the One-Leaf.”
“And in the name of security, you’ll weed out the unwanted. I suppose when my time is up and I’m of no more use, detonating the bomb will resolve all issues concerning me.”
A sharp inhalation of breath pierced the air. “Dangerous words, Lieutenant Colonel. Fay Ryuu and that Three-Leaf must have changed you. Years ago, you would not have said that.”
He kept silent. Gingetsu knew how his childhood and adolescence shaped him, turning him into an emotional barricade. Growing up, knowing that his father feared him and that his mother unwillingly released him into the hands of scientists and doctors was a wound that never truly healed. They’d asked him questions, made him complete tests, and when the results came back, forever branded him with the tattoo on his wrist. Military camp followed, marching him towards his path as a Commander of the Secret Colors Battalion and he couldn’t say no. Lost his ability to; created to become efficient and impersonal.
“I will ask you once more, Lieutenant Colonel Gingetsu. You have been assigned the task of eliminating a named target. Will you undertake this mission?”
“No.” It’s like a death knell but Gingetsu looked at the Wizard from behind his visor, already accepting the cost. “I’m not the one to complete this task. The assignment must go to someone else.” He couldn’t – would not – take up arms against one of his own. A fellow Clover. It gave him the mental image of killing Ran with his own hands...
Don’t. Stop. Never go there. Never think about it.
“So be it, Lieutenant Colonel Gingetsu. Someone else will be given your assignment, commencing on the date of birth. However...” The sudden change of inflection carried the potency of a hidden threat behind the other man’s bearings; Gingetsu grew wary. “Whatever you do, this is classified information and as such, must be kept secret from Fay Ryuu and the Three-Leaf. I trust you have mastered dissembling and I should hope that your affection for them hasn’t altered your discipline as of late, Gingetsu.”
A veiled warning. The controls ticking in his head. Reminding him not to step out of line. About what might happen, should this information leak to sources not deemed appropriate...
“I take it I’m dismissed, then?”
“We are finished. Dismissed, Lieutenant Colonel.”
He left then, gripping his sword; the hilt biting into the palm of his hand. He walked back, under the rain – like that one time about a year ago – and started shuffling the pieces and words into something else. Started pretending that nothing troubled him, so that Ran wouldn’t know. Even if he’d asked, he wouldn’t be obligated to explain.
For the first time in a long while, the walk back home seemed endless.
In about a week’s time, he was summoned again – this time via his visor display interface – and Shuu offered him a different assignment. Not an assassination. Not even leading his forces into any one of the distant countries that harried them. Something simple but tedious. He took it without complaint, thinking about the other task he’d relegated to someone else. Thought about Kazuhiko Fay Ryuu and the woman who sang at the livehouse. Oruha. One-Leaf Clover. Her birthday coming up and it was then that Gingetsu realized he couldn’t be there.
Did not want to see her die.
Bought flowers and a bottle of champagne as an early gift. Had an excuse ready, because Ryuu was so obvious in spilling details out and he did have that training orientation and paperwork slated exactly on that day. Knew why he did that and the knowledge did nothing to lessen the weight in his heart.
But on the day he went there, carrying his early presents, the soldier looked and saw how happy the other man was. Thought about Ran – their days and nights interwoven; silver and dark blue entangled, lost in heat – and he could only wish them the best for the few days they had left. Oruha sang on stage, her voice releasing skeins of dreams that would never be and Gingetsu wondered how she could carry on, knowing death drew near. A bomb in his head; a countdown of years; an eternity enclosed and the memory of a song lingering, perhaps, once the minutes slipped away like fine grains of sand in an old hourglass.
Somehow, he’d managed by the time she reached him, to reply to Ryuu as if nothing ever happened. As if Wizard Shuu’s initial summons was a bad dream from which he’d awoken. Yet, with that clover on her chest, it reminded him once more of their fate and the taste of smoke turned to bitterness and ashes in his mouth.
A spring in her step. “You came!”
He was ready.
“Your birthday is coming up. I’ll be on assignment then...so I thought I’d make it an early celebration.”
AUTHOR’S NOTE: When I first read Vol. 3, Gingetsu’s statement to Oruha didn’t strike me as fascinating or strange, until a later re-read. I started to wonder why he missed out on attending the livehouse with Kazuhiko on her birthday and then pondered what assignment that could be. That led me in conjectures and circles and with the rumor of Barus’s (Bol's) involvement (which I tackled in an earlier fic, with plenty of mistakes because of lack of Vol. 3 at the time); I kept on trying to figure out what was going on. Why did the Council, supposedly, hire Barus if rumor ran true? Why not one of their people?
That was when it hit me that Shuu pulls some pretty powerful strings and that Wizard seems to keep Gingetsu on hold for certain situations. What if – in the most extreme of situations – that was the assignment offered to the Two-Leaf? What if it was further means of maintaining control and to test Gingetsu’s loyalty? Then, the question would be: “How would Gingetsu react?” Tried not to make him OOC in this one but considering he and Oruha were probably in the program the same time as children, I can see him resisting Shuu even with some disbelief. Gingetsu is only human, after all.
It would be like the Council to do that, considering what Shuu did to Kazuhiko later on.