He feels weak and sweaty and his whole body shakes as he empties the contents of his stomach in the dark alleyway after the duel. He had reached for the number, just as he had been trained, but Kaito was not fully prepared to witness the soul shattering in his grasp as he claimed his prize, the bright concentration of light splintering like glass and fading like smoke all at the same time. When he looked back at the duelist the man’s eyes had become vacant, Kaito knew he was gone, no longer in that body.
That's when he first starts hearing the voice. He knows whose voice it is. It tells him as much as it curses Kaito for committing his murder, damns him to suffer for what he's done. Kaito keeps expecting to see blood on his hands, sliced open by the fragments of the shattered soul, some kind of physical retribution for what he's done, the life he's ended. There isn’t though.
Part of him doesn't want to face Haruto, once he regains enough strength to walk. He has always associated his brother with all the good in the world, his kind and gentle brother who should hate him for what he’s done. He doesn’t want Haruto to hate him, it would be wrong to taint his delicate happiness with such an ugly emotion.
The voice continues to condemn him as he walks, gets louder and louder. He hurries and by the time he reaches the tower he's in a full out sprint.
The voice is still screaming at him, and he doesn't want Haruto to hear it so he goes to take a shower. He doesn't bother to wash himself, just stands there under the spray. The pounding water drowns out the voice eventually, but it takes time. He uses this quiet to think.
And he decides the price is too high, maybe he shouldn't be going along with this costly plan he doesn't fully understand. Kaito can only trust himself to have Haruto’s best interests in mind, after all. He takes Haruto with him that night to escape, carries him out of bed into the night. The rain pours harder than he can remember since he's been in Heartland, he can barely hear the sounds of their boots sloshing through puddles over the roar of traffic but the voice is even louder rattling in his head you killed me and he runs faster and faster until he can't. They shelter under an overhang on top of a building on the outskirts of the city.
Haruto is terrified, of course he is. Kaito does his best to comfort him, but his reassurance isn't genuine, he's scared out of his mind and Haruto knows. He offers his brother a candy from his pocket, tells him it's magic and will make everything ok and he wants it to be true more than he's ever wanted anything.
Eventually they're found. Faker and Heartland have eyes everywhere in the city, don’t they? Kaito desperately clutches Haruto to his chest but to his horror his brother is ripped away from his arms and Kaito is dragged kicking and screaming to the other side of the roof to watch helplessly as the wary officers slowly approach Haruto, shields in hand, and syringes behind their backs. He screams but the voice is still there and it's louder than anything he can say, wails about how Kaito deserves this and can't he even save his brother for all the anguish he's caused in the name of that very goal?
It terrifies the officers too though, and their electric weapons flash in warning. Kaito doesn't stop, he thrashes and yells at them to get away from Haruto and maybe he's hoping they will electrocute him, maybe that will shock the voice out of his head finally and he can think in peace.
Except it doesn't. Kaito wakes up in the cell he was thrown in the first time he came to the city to search for his brother who had been taken from his home by total strangers without so much as a warning. That time it was eerily silent though, perhaps he would have preferred the company then.
He's told he'll never see his brother again if he tries to leave, reprimanded for being selfish in trying to. Hunting numbers is the only way to save your brother, are you trying to kill him by taking him away from Heartland Tower?
Kaito doesn't want to kill anyone but he has no choice. He either takes the souls or Haruto dies. Either way he's a killer. He can't afford to let it bother him, if he flounders his brother’s life will pay the price. He gains another voice the very night he's released.
Maybe they're ghosts of some kind. Kaito thinks that's what they must be, except aren't ghosts just lost souls? Maybe the souls aren't destroyed, just removed from the bodies in a way that can never be repaired. That's what Kaito thinks.
At least until he starts hearing Chris's voice too. Chris isn't dead, at least Kaito doesn't think he is. Perhaps he is now, and V has replaced him.
But really it's V’s voice he hears every time he's unfortunate enough to catch a glimpse of his reflection in a window or puddle or such.
Do you really think you can defeat Tron or me with your body like this?
Kaito looks like a ghost himself, the way his eyes are sunken in from lack of sleep, and the way his bones protrude in his fingers. Maybe he's already dead and he's just clawing his way through the circles of hell, gaining new voices every night or so, a constant chorus chanting about his sins.
And what has he accomplished? His brother is still sick, still screams, the loudest scream of them all. Kaito hunts, he has to, and hopes he can manage to collect enough voices to drown out his brother’s screams.