i won't deny it 'cause you saw what it was @flyingfalconflower12
Chapter 1

They're stuck at the coast. 

Only allowed out once a day, to get food and water and other things they may need.

And there are guards, and they're not allowed to be out past sundown, and weapons that can be found are confiscated, and Apen's just glad he'd hidden the Silver Eye where Melly sleeps under his bed.  No guard would dare go near Melly, especially not when she's around Apen.

Guards standing outside the Novalog disturbs Noah so much that Apen starts to notice new blood seeping through his lower left sleeve.  (It disturbs Apen too, in different ways.  He's used to guards, but not the kind that glare at you if you so much as speak too loudly.  Apen doesn't talk much for a few days afterward.)  He presumes Noah's glad his sister is blind.  He used to think like that, before.

Before he met Velvare in Gallitan.   Before he dropped his knife into the water and Velvare made him promise to never hurt himself again.

After he threw himself off of a bridge, and after Joe pulled him back and Berlyne never looked at him the same way again.

("Haven't you tried that before?"

"I'm not going to hang myself.")

So it's ironic, Apen decides, that he's standing on another bridge, here in Levant, looking over the edge and wondering how, exactly, to make the Sign of the Cross when he's drowning.  He guesses he'll have to do it right as he hits the water, if the shock isn't too much, and if he says the words while he's underwater it'll speed things up anyway.

(He hates himself for thinking these words, but what difference does it make if he hates himself anyway?  Self-harm is unchaste, everything he's doing is sin and cowardice.  He knows God still loves him, but seconds away from judgment he doesn't know if he's going to Purgatory or just straight to Hell.)

(He crosses himself after that.)

Apen closes his eyes.  I guess I should just do it, he thinks.  What's the point in going back if everything's just going to stay the same?  Nobody needs me, anyway.  They have Enel.  He smiles slightly at the thought the Enel could protect anyone, but being Nedarian he supposes that at least weavers will stay away.  Not that weavers would even go this close to the coast.  But without him, Enel will have to learn to grow up someday regardless.

He takes a deep breath.

I guess this is it, he thinks.

"NO!" someone screams, just as he jumps.

And just like that, he's falling, falling, and then--wait.  Is this what drowning feels like?  Apen tries to cross himself, but he can't move his arms.  Pain shoots through his body.  He opens his eyes, and he's hanging in midair, legs dangling over the shimmering water below.  I didn't grab onto the bridge, did I? he thinks, and so he tries to unclench his hands, but then he realizes that someone's holding on to him, not the other way around.

He looks up.

It's Berlyne.

And she looks livid.

"Help me pull you up, you idiot, I can't hold on for much longer," she shouts.

And so he does, because, really, who except Noah wouldn't listen to Berlyne when she's shouting at them with murder in her eyes?

He's curled up on the grass next to the bridge, trying to catch his breath and trying to ignore the pain shooting through his arms every time he moves them because Berlyne had to pick just that moment to grab his hands and probably pull all the muscles in the upper half of his body, when Berlyne starts shouting at him.

"What is wrong with you?" she demands.  Her voice is choked and when Apen peeks up from where he's slumped on the ground he can see tears streaming down her freckled cheeks.  "You said--you said you'd--you said you'd never do that again.  You promised, Apen, you promised us, and look where that ended up!  I thought Catholics weren't supposed to break promises," sobs Berlyne.

"It doesn't matter," Apen mutters.  "You didn't have to pull me up.  It would've been better for all of you if you'd just let me--"

"Let you do what, Apen?"

"...let me die," he whispers.

Berlyne falls to her knees next to him, burying her face in her hands.  "Apen!" she screams.  "Why the hell would it be better if I let you die?  You're basically my brother, Apen!  I would--" Berlyne lets out another choked sob-- "I would die if you left me again."

"But I'm useless.  You have Chara, and Joe, and Idony, and everybody else.  Nobody would even notice if I disappeared."

"I would," retorts Berlyne.  "And so would everyone else."

Apen's eyes are bright blue as he glares back at Berlyne.  "Why does it even matter to you whether I live or die?"

"Because I care about you!" yells Berlyne, and suddenly they both fall silent.

"Liar," says Apen, but there's no substance to the statement, and he turns and crosses himself.  "You don't actually... care about me, do you?"

"Why do you think I saved you?"

"...I don't know."

"Look, Apen," says Berlyne.  "If you... if you'd... succeeded, I would never be able to forgive myself."

"It's not your fault," Apen quickly replies.

"I know.  But I just--I never apologized.  For being mad at you when you left.  I blamed you, even though I knew it wasn't your choice.  And I can't stand the idea of you dying and me knowing I'd never said sorry."

"It's okay," says Apen.

Berlyne shakes her head.  "No, it's not, but thank you."

Apen looks down.  "I'm sorry, too.  I never said goodbye."

"I guess this is just a day of apologies," laughs Berlyne quietly, her dark green eyes brimming with new tears.  Apen offers her his scarf, and she wipes at her face.  "Thanks," she whispers.

Apen nods, a small smile on his lips.

"Now, can you just--can you promise me you won't do this again?"

Apen looks down, hesitant.

"Please?" Berlyne whispers.  "We have to get through this together.  Even if you're right--even if this whole trip didn't matter at all, and we just have to go back--at least we'll have tried.  Together."

"Okay," breathes Apen.  "I promise.  For real, this time."

"Thank you," exclaims Berlyne, and she pulls him into a tight hug.  He smiles, hugging her back, even though he's terrible at hugs, and Berlyne buries her face into his shoulder.  "Thank you," she whispers.  "Thank you."

"You're welcome," says Apen back, smiling, and as they walk back to the Novalog later, hand in hand, when the sun's about to set and they're sure they've missed their guard-imposed curfew, Apen thinks that maybe even if he doesn't care about himself, Berlyne cares about him, and that's all that really matters, isn't it?


(And he cares about Berlyne, he realizes later, as he's lying in his bed and staring up at the ceiling and smiling so wide his face hurts.  She cares about him, and he cares about her, and maybe even if it's not exactly "caring" in the same sense of the word, it's something.) 

(When they wake up in the morning and go to eat breakfast, Apen notices that Berlyne sits a bit closer to him than usual, and he's not exactly sure if she's keeping watch on him or protecting him or whatever else she's doing, but it's another something.  He smiles.)

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