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when the sky turns azure, i'll sleep quietly

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The first thing Bam sees when he opens his eyes is blue.

He blinks, his eyes adjusting to the sudden light and stares up at the sky. Something is captivating about the clouds drifting around slowly, calmly. It's relaxing and to be honest, with all the constant battles caused by the seemingly never-ending war, he’s glad to be rewarded with this little break.

He had been lying there, taking a nap for hours now and as he lies on the ground, staring up at the sky, he wonders about what everyone else is doing. Rak was definitely training, Hockney had told him before that he was going to be painting and he knows that Hansung must’ve been making an unnecessary amount of instant coffee that he was going to offer everyone else later. And Khun… ah, Khun. What did he say he was going to do?

He can't seem to remember quite well.

Concern starts to sneak in at the edges of his mind for a moment before he suddenly remembers—Khun was going through the plans for the next floor test.

With relief embracing him, he closes his eyes and enjoys the peace once more.

And it’s quiet again, just like it had been in the beginning. So quiet that it manages to hide itself in this silence for a moment. It was so quiet until it wasn’t anymore because Bam had started to register the sound of something else. Something not quite pleasant.

With confusion swarming his thoughts, Bam sits up, trying to decipher that sound. It's familiar and yet, unfamiliar at the same time. He feels like he should recognize it but he can't quite place it. He knows though, that it brings the feeling of discomfort with it and that's enough reason for Bam to dislike it. The quiet peace from before had been broken, replaced with this daunting sound.

So, he stands up, deciding to look around.

(Bam still doesn't know if he'll ever come to regret that choice.)

Immediately, he’s faced with the back of a head he knows very well. There was no mistaking that shade of blue the other's hair was colored in and now, he was finally able to decipher the sound he kept hearing.

Ah, he isn't in his lighthouse.

Instead, he's sitting on the ground.

But, why?

Bam felt a strange mixture of curiosity and concern fill him as he walks over to the other, reaching out with one hand, intending to pat the other’s shoulder—

—And seconds pass accompanied by nothing but the sound of Khun's muffled sobs.

Bam doesn't know how to react. He doesn't know what to do and what to say, doesn't even know if any of these actions are going to change anything. 

There wasn’t an instruction manual for when you’d end up staring at your own dead body.

So, he stands there, just tiredly looking at his own body, trying to focus on the situation. He can't seem to keep his mind intact.

They are in the middle of a battlefield.

Ah .

He doesn't think too much of the fact that he's dead—it's something explainable—he knew it would happen sooner or later anyway. It's not even painful if he's being honest. He's dead, gone from the world and well, he always knew it was going to happen. Because fate hated him too much because the tower dragged him from the desolated darkness of his cave into the fakely litten world of the tower with promises of unbearable strength and goals that would eat away at his soul.

Death, Bam realizes now that he's staring at his own corpse, is one of my closest companions.

He knows now though, the sound of these broken sobs will haunt him forever.

Bam kneels down beside his closest companion and puts a hand on his back—not that it changes much. 

He doesn't have many regrets regarding his death but this man has to be one of the few ones he does.

As he lets the minutes pass—although time has to be a joke now—in the sound of the other's heartbreaking sobs, a sad curiosity overfalls him.

It's so strange.

He doesn't think he has ever heard Khun cry. Even if the man was at the edge of breaking down, he'd keep it down, almost perfectly erasing any proof of his pain.

So, it's strange to hear those cries and seeing the man so shaken up.

"...I'm sorry..."

He blinks confused for a moment before his brain registers from where the voice comes from.

"I m-messed up… so… badly…"

His eyes widened.

Suddenly, memories of a desperate battle come back to him, filled with loud screaming matches and broken glass shards.

He jumped in front of an incoming attack to keep Khun safe.

Only now, he notices the way the other is cradling his body, hands tightly grabbing on the clothes, desperately holding on as if he was scared that by letting go, he really would lose him forever.

"... Bam…"

He has never heard the other cry.

Khun Aguero Agnis doesn't cry that easily.

And yet, he was crying right now. For him.

For the first time, Bam properly looks at his body and takes in everything—from the large wounds tearing at his skin, covered with blood, to the pale blue hue of his broken skin that's slowly turning into ashen grey.

He stares at his own lifeless face and a dam seems to break in exactly that moment.

It hurts—

—except it doesn't really.

He can register that it should, in fact, hurt. A part of him is seemingly crying out but he just cannot register and process the pain anymore it seems. No matter how much he wants to ache, to feel and taste the bitterness of the situation, he's unable to. He can’t. 

Because he's dead.

And it feels so stupidly different suddenly. He can't pinpoint how and why but he keeps staring at his corpse and at this point, he feels it should be tearing him down.

He can see Khun clutching his body even closer, refusing to let go.

Bam can't comfort him like he wants to. He lays his arms around the other and hugs him but he knows the action goes unnoticed.

Since he's gone from that world now.

It all starts flooding back to him, from the cold cave to the first time he met Rak and Khun to the very last breath he took.

He thinks about Endorsi and Yuri and Urek and Wangnan and Hwaryun—

He wonders if White would eat his soul. He thinks about Evankhell, Hansung, Karaka, and Jinsung—he'll never see them again. Will Karaka even care? He hopes his master wouldn’t be too sad. Evankhell might get mad—ah, he really can't fathom Hansung's reaction

All his friends flash into his mind, their existence properly etching in his memories.

He thinks about Rak.

He thinks about how he's never going to hear the shouts of excitement again and the feeling of security that having a friend as Rak bought. He thinks back to better memories.

And quietly comes the next realization.

He's leaving Khun behind.

Khun, who besides Rak, continually has chased him even when he didn't deserve it. Khun who's been keeping him grounded for such a long time—and he's leaving him behind.

Bam is dead.

He cannot reach the living anymore.

And he wants to feel the terror of that statement, wants to move on through the pain and desires to scream his heart out, giving in to his own tears until he completely breaks down just like Khun did—except he can't.

All that remains is bittersweet hollowness and it creeps up on him, tearing at his soul. He doesn't feel it.

He can't, not with the lack of a body, of reality, anymore.

All he can do is stare at the consequences of his actions and blame himself for leaving Khun behind, but even those feelings are painted dull.

He's reminded of back to the times at the cave and the first few floors, he's just the same as then now.

An empty container.

As he listens to the other cry, he keeps wondering about all his regrets once again.

"There's a lot of things I regret now…," he mutters, closing his eyes.

"For what it's worth, I'm sorry."

"Aguero."


He keeps hearing his voice.

"Khun!"

He doesn't want to stop hearing it because he fears forgetting him. So, he clutches the other's body closer and prays to any deity that will listen.

Give him back.

He doesn't want to think about how cold the body is, he doesn't want to acknowledge the dye of red his clothes were stained in. He doesn't want to think.

He's gone, gone, gone .

Give him back.

His mind replies to the events like a broken recorder and the guilt coiling in his stomach twists and turns and scratches—it wants to get out and leave, it wants to be heard and complain. But the pain, the fear of losing him hurts much more. 

Give him back.

He closes his eyes, too scared to see ashen grey and he bites his lips, too tired to hear his own hollow sobs. He had been crying for hours, cradling the body of someone that wouldn’t respond, repeatedly pleading for forgiveness, begging anything, anyone, to return him, offering himself up—at what price though?

Aguero is still holding a corpse.

And he wants to scream but the weight of his sins is now finally dragging him down, grabbing onto his bones, cracking them, and flowing through his vines, painting them the deepest shade of regret.

He knows it's his fault there's no way he's ever going to forget.

Give him back.

He offers his pleas, his aptitude, his existence but he's drowning over every single mess-up of that day.

His body is so cold.

It's almost as if he's suffocating, all those tears taking his ability to breathe.

Give him back.

He remembers the edges of his smile, the shine of honeyed golden, and the sound of small but bright laughter echoing like bells.

Aguero knows he's shaking but it's so, so cold.

Give him back.

And it all creeps up his whole body through his skin into his veins, the bittersweet regret of holding his best friend's dead body.

"Aguero."

He hears his voice, he hears illusions and he can't take it anymore.

Give him back .

It's burning in the deepest pits of his stomach, the guilt and wrath mixing into something too dark to exist.

He's going to get him back.

And it tears through everything, a resolution that is going to break him.

The tower—no one—has the right to take him away.

He tastes silver poison and feels cuts all over his skin as his tears continue to drop.

"I'll get you back, Bam."

He doesn't fear the emptiness that fills him with every drop of determination.

He doesn't fear the cold that desolately approaches him.

As he holds onto Bam's dead body, Aguero promises the world that he'll pay it back within time.

The sky wears an oddly gorgeous hue of blue.

Almost like it's real.