Spades didn’t know how much time had passed since then. He couldn’t remember the last interview he held. All he could think about was the way she screamed. The way he watched. The hatred. The chill. The fire.
“You don’t have to change anything.”
Dicro stood in front of his desk, radiating an aura that sickened him. Spades could see the exhaustion in his eyes. His skin was pale, energy pulsating unnaturally.
“Just don’t interfere.”
With what? Spades wanted to say it, he tried to say it, but he couldn’t muster up the strength to do it. He didn’t want to hear the answer. He didn’t want to talk to him. He didn’t want to keep staring at him.
Spades saw himself in world after world. Breathless, angry, hands covered with blood, riddled with guilt that he could only outrun by making another jump. He looked up and saw that same face before him. Cold, empty, built on equal parts doubt and resolve.
It was his fault. He cast that skin long ago, and now Dicro wore it with the same apathy he once did. Spades taught him to kill, to detach, to view life with a safe nonchalance. It wasn’t that Dicro saw this as a game or didn’t know the gravity of his actions. It wasn’t that he had rosy visions of Ignis’ impending future. It wasn’t that he wanted to hurt anyone. Spades understood that, even though he knew no one else would.
He thought back to the day of his Promotion. Like Dicro, everything he knew had been erased. The Test Reality, his fellow Competitors, his Marionette… it still stung to think about. It stung even more now. There was the misery, the grieving, but most agonizingly the question of where to go next. He was born and raised in the Test Reality. It was all he knew. He didn’t have anyone waiting for him. He didn’t have anything else to live for. All he knew was the Competition and the people who suffered alongside him. It would have been better if he was erased with them.
Dicro had made a decision he wouldn’t turn back from until it was too late to save him. By the look on his face it already was. Just as Spades had so long ago, he would dirty his hands time and time again, looking for some solace that was nowhere to be found.
Spades was the lucky one. The rest of Them stopped him, punished him, forced him to have something in his life to keep him grounded. As the years went on, that emptiness got filled. He still had his remorse, but it wasn’t everything. Dicro didn’t have that luxury, and he never would. He was telling him as much right now.
You don’t have to do this. You can just stay here, Dicro. There are people here who care about you. It won’t be the same, and the pain won’t go away, but there’s more left for you than mistake after mistake. There’s more than failure, vengeance, living life as a thing or a concept. There’s a harsh reality to confront, but you don’t have to face it alone. It doesn’t have to be the end.
But he still couldn’t speak.
“I’m telling you first because you helped us.”
He did, didn’t he? Another thing he couldn’t fix, another regret for the pile. At the beginning Dicro had been so optimistic, and not because he needed to be. There was so much potential burning within him that Spades couldn’t help but trust him and Ignis in turn. After all, the situation upset him as well. He had already lived through this before; the last thing he wanted to do was watch Dicro suffer through it just the same.
And yet, that’s exactly what he did. Maybe if he had taken him in before Ignis could – or maybe if he had raised Dicro differently to begin with – none of them would be here, shackled by the unfamiliar sensation of genuine fear.
There was little point mulling over what could have been. He would anyway, of course, but for now all he could do was look up at Dicro, helpless.
“We’ll make a more formal announcement later, but...”
Dicro’s voice trailed off. Spades didn’t say a thing about it. There was a mutual unhappiness, a shared desire for the conversation to end. Dicro didn’t want to justify his actions to come, and Spades didn’t want to acknowledge them. Spades looked down again and Dicro turned away.
Dicro stopped at the doorframe, not looking back. Just say it. Just say anything.
“Take care of yourself.”
Dicro turned his head.
“I am. That’s why I’m doing this.”
He almost left, but stopped himself again. This time he didn’t turn, nor did Spades look up.
“This isn’t your fault, and it isn’t your problem. Like I said, don’t interfere. It’ll be fine.”
With that Dicro left the room, closing the door behind him with a sense of finality. Spades ran his fingers through his hair, vision foggy, mind blurring. There was nothing he could do now. There was nothing any of them could do now. What awaited them was an uncertain future, a tense future, a future Spades could find no comfort in.
He only hoped that Dicro could.
***(surprise! it's an en2rety write taking place immediately after 2gnis and 2cro somehow manage to dispose of 2pine. violently, by the sounds of it! real early-on stuff)