The air is clogged with smoke and gunpowder, the iron tang of blood and the stench of death. If you pause to take a breath, you can hear the moans of the dying, the whimpers of the wounded, sometimes forlorn voices begging for help or calling for family that isn’t here for comfort. It’s funny, isn’t it? Grown men and women crying for their mothers?
No one’s laughing.
You clasp a hand over your side to staunch the blood flow, waiting for the report to come in before you make your move. No one is coming for you; you know that much without having to hear it said. You’re not strong enough. They have more important things to deal with. Tsuna, you know, would come in an instant, but Tsuna is one person, and he cannot be everywhere. He can’t stop Gokudera blowing himself up at the same time as he provides backup for Yamamoto and saves Lambo just when the Bazooka’s effects run out, again. He can’t do all of those at once, and especially not while coming to save you.
A flash of orange, and you jump, startled, and bite your lip before the cry can escape you. There’s no reason to be alarmed, not unless it was followed and the enemy knows your position. The box animal resolves itself into a distinctive form before you, and you know it. Pinguino di cielo.
“Is there a chance?” you whisper. There’s no point asking if it’s clear; there’s no point asking if it’s safe, not when you already know the answer. It will only be safe when the noise of fighting fades away and the battlefield is littered only with corpses.
The penguin inclines its head, and you take a deep breath. You’re good for about five minutes of movement, you guess, five minutes of moving more slowly than usual until the pain and blood loss take over. “…then lead the way.”
It nods again and hovers, almost indecisively, but you know it is simply waiting for the best moment. You pull your legs underneath you until you’re crouching, ready to run given the signal. Not for the first time, you wonder: why are you here? How did everything turn out like this? A few years ago, you were nothing but an ordinary middle-schooler. What brought you to this point? Where did your life go wrong? Who dragged you into this world?
Who? What? Where? Why? How?
II. Because. (Six years ago, in Namimori Middle School, you made one of those so-called life-altering decisions. You said “yes.”)
III. Why not? (There’s no changing the past, and the time for regrets is not now.)