A/N: Wow, I know I'm a few weeks late here. My apologies, I ended up ridiculously sick the last couple of weeks and had no energy to even move to get my laptop much less get this posted. Anyway! Updates shall continue as promised!
The door to Rui's apartment made a particularly loud bang as it hit the opposing wall. Kakeru winced and wondered if there was a hole left from the doorknob. Rui didn't seem to care as he dragged the dead weight of the unconscious demon into the apartment. Kakeru himself was struggling with Hiroto, who required someone to lean on as he drifted in and out of consciousness.
Rui pulled the demon into his spare room while Kakeru managed to get Hiroto onto the love seat, remembering that he was bit on his back and trying to get him to lay down on his stomach. He got up to shut the front door and remove his shoes as he heard Rui's dull footsteps echo in the too quiet apartment as he moved from the spare room to the bathroom. From the knock of wood against the wall, Kakeru assumed he was searching for the first aid kit.
"Kakeru!" Rui's voice bounced off the walls, clearly agitated but sounding almost frightened. "Is Hiro coherent enough to tell me if he brought anymore of that salve?!"
Kakeru moved back to Hiroto's side, shaking his shoulder gently. "Hiroto-san? That salve that you got from the Wyn, the one that you used to treat my leg last week, do you have any more?"
Hiroto stirred a little, his nose scrunching up in pain and his eyes fluttering half-open. "My bag..." he slurred before closing his eyes again and groaning into the pillow beneath his nose.
Kakeru thought he practically dived for the backpack, sinking to his knees, pulling it open and discovering two small jars of the salve, one full and the other almost empty. "Rui!"
Rui was standing next to him almost an instant later, taking the new jar and walking back to the spare room with fast steps. "Can you take care of Hiro's bite while I'm busy with your demon?!"
The words were a little harsh and Kakeru bit his lip. Rui didn't even wait for a response as he disappeared beyond the doorway. Kakeru sighed, shoving away the feeling of hurt and carefully opened the jar, remembering to shake his head the moment that his head started to feel fuzzy from the smell.
He set the jar onto the coffee table before turning back to Hiroto, whose eyes were closed again. Unsure if he was still conscious or not, he gently shook his shoulder again. "Hey, Hiroto-san? I'm going to take care of you but I need to take off your shirt right now to do so, okay?"
A murmur from Hiroto's throat was the consent he received and with some difficulty, he managed to peel away the blue and black t-shirt from the younger man. He noticed the two long tears on the back of his shirt but that wasn't enough to prepare him for the two puncture wounds on either side of his spine near his shoulders, dragging down to his lower back. Bubbles of something amber in color gathered in the wounds and Kakeru could feel himself starting to gag.
He took a couple of deep breaths, the salve helping to comfort him and keep his control over the nausea. He slowly opened his eyes again and steeled his nerves as he dipped his fingers into the jar and gathered the salve onto his fingers. Carefully, remembering the way that Hiroto treated him, he spread the salve thinly over the wounds, trying to ignore the sticky feeling his fingers came back with as the amber venom of the funeral spider stuck to his fingertips and making them tingle.
As he finished, Hiroto seemed more relaxed, the faint creases in his brow and along the bridge of his nose were gone and his breathing was more even. Kakeru used the back of his hand to feel his forehead and frowned a little. "You still feel too warm..." He muttered quietly to himself before he stood up, heading to the kitchen. He washed his hands four or five times before he used a couple of folded paper towels and wet those with cold water, wringing it out. He walked back to Hiroto and placed the cloth on the back of his neck carefully, receiving a relieved sigh in reply.
He watched Hiroto sleep for a moment longer, making sure he was...well, he wasn't sure, maybe making sure he was still breathing before he decided to save the last bit of the salve and gently closed the small glass jar again.
"Leave it open. You've got a pretty bad cut on your lip."
Kakeru was surprised at himself that he didn't jump from Rui's voice drifting from his left. He glanced up at him as he closed the spare room door as quietly as he could and slid off his shoes, walking slowly to drop them off by the door. Kakeru caught the dark streak in his blond hair, near the left side of his face and remembered then that he had been bleeding as well. "You're hurt too."
Rui paused in his act of setting his shoes down and turned slightly wide eyes to Kakeru, for his part, fidgeted in place and tugged on his fingers, popping each of his knuckles nervously. The blond let out a deep sigh and dropped his shoes by Kakeru's. "I'm sorry. For snapping at you earlier." He stood up and closed the space between them, sitting cross legged in front of him and offering him a hesitant, shaky smile. "Take care of mine if I take care of yours?"
It was almost strange to hear Rui sound unsure about something. Kakeru offered him a small smile, wincing as his lip pulled and pulled the jar of salve to the corner of the coffee table. He opened it again and dipped his fingers in, motioning for Rui to move a little closer with his other hand. "Where did you get hurt?" He asked quietly.
Rui carefully parted his hair on the left near the top of his head. Kakeru managed to hide a grimace at the deep gouge, two to three inches long that was exposed. He shook the surprise aside and carefully spread the salve onto the wound. "How did you get this, Rui?"
The Adam's Apple in Rui's throat bobbed in a strangely mesmerizing way and Kakeru forced himself to not look there but instead at the wound, making sure to cover it fully with the salve. "Protecting Hiro's dumb, injured ass. I got smacked pretty good by one of those spider's legs and I didn't really realize that I had even been hurt until we got out of the basement."
Kakeru nodded in understanding and pulled back, admiring his handiwork for a brief moment. Rui took the opportunity to grab him gently by the chin and brought him to his eye level. A thin eyebrow rose in what looked like amusement. "Why are you blushing?" He asked teasingly as his left hand came back in sight, some of the salve on his first two fingers.
Kakeru lowered his eyes. "I'm not." he muttered and felt his heart give a heavy thump in his chest.
Rui's salve-covered fingers brushed the center of his lip, where it had split and had his teeth marks from his hard landing, the same comforting warm spreading over the injured flesh. The fingers gently went down to the scrape on the bottom of his chin. "And what happened with you?"
"The demon." Rui's hand twitched ever so slightly and Kakeru wasn't sure he would have felt it if it wasn't so close to his face. He resisted the urge to lick his lips, thinking that while the miracle salve was wonderful at healing injuries, it probably wasn't the best thing to eat on accident. "He pushed me out of the way of the one of the spiders. He apologized afterwards and I understand...there really wasn't any time for me to move as it was."
Rui was silent for a long time as he finished covering the scrape on his chin. When he finished, he didn't let go of Kakeru's jaw, a small frown tugging at his lips. "Kakeru," He finally said. "Why did you do something so stupid as let a demon out?"
While the words were accusatory, Rui was careful to make sure his tone was nothing but curious. Kakeru sighed, half of himself not wanting to think back to the events of just an hour ago. "He had been chained up, Rui. He told me he didn't want to die here like this and said he'd help you if I let him out."
"And you believed him?"
In hindsight, yes it was stupid to believe that a demon would agree to help and follow through on said promise. He sighed. "I know...but it worked out."
Rui closed his eyes for a moment, taking a deep breath and exhaling slowly before he stood up. "I'm going to smoke a cigarette outside." He said, his voice low.
"Listen, I'm not angry or anything. More just...I don't want to risk waking up Hiro right now and he hates cigarette smoke." He shifted on his heel and added, "You can join me if you want."
Kakeru remained seated as Rui walked past him and to the balcony door, opening it as quietly as he could and shutting it behind him. He watched as Rui pulled a slightly smashed package of cigarettes and a lighter from his pocket and a moment later, the faintest red light came from the tip of a cigarette resting between his lips.
He ran his hand through his hair, debating if he should join Rui outside or not. He tried to pop his fingers again but when nothing happened, he sighed again and shook his hands out from the abuse he inflicted on them and stood up, heading to the kitchen to fill a glass of water. He carefully took a sip, trying not to let his injured lip rest on the glass before he followed Rui outside.
The blond didn't look over to him as Kakeru slid the door shut behind him. Nor did he look at Kakeru when the other joined him at the railing. He stared intently at the city before him as he rested his chin on his arm, his cigarette dangling from his fingertips.
Kakeru stared out at the city as well, placing the glass of water between his palms and resting both of them on the railing as well. Even though it was almost two in the morning at this point, Tokyo was still alive, still earning it's name as a city that never slept.
How many people realize how lucky they are tonight that they won't be attacked by a wandering demon? Or a Funeral Spider? Or an Underworld Wolf?
It was a depressing thought but Kakeru felt tired and couldn't redirect his thoughts elsewhere. He sighed quietly to himself and reached up to rub at his right eye as it began to itch.
"I always freak out when someone gets hurt."
Rui's voice was quiet. Kakeru wasn't even positive at first that he was actually speaking. He turned his head to glance at him questioningly. Rui refused to look up at him, instead keeping his eyes focused on the city before him.
"I was fifteen." The words that came were sudden. "Hiro wasn't any older. We met during our welcoming ceremony at our high school. We ended up in the same class even. I really didn't think much about him when we first met." he chuckled. "I didn't even think much of Satchan either. But, wouldn't you know, three days later, Hiro and I met up on an assignment."
He paused to roll his cigarette between his thumb and forefinger. "I met the old man about two years before that." He glanced quickly at Kakeru from the corner of his eye before returning his attention to his cigarette. "Nakahara Kazuya was his name. At the time, he was one of the best Spirit Realm Bounty Hunters in the world. I happened to catch him when he was on an assignment and I refused to have my memory removed of the event. Ended up falling in love with the idea of catching demons like some kind of superhero and bugged the hell out of him until he agreed to train me to be a bounty hunter like him."
He let his hand dip out of his vision and focused his attention on some point of light off in the distance. "So at age fifteen, I met Hiro and Satchan in the same class and didn't give a damn about the fact they existed. Three days later, Hiro and I ran into each other on an assignment. It was one of my first solo missions as a Bounty Hunter. Hiro was on his very last assignment as an Agent." He paused for a moment. "An Agent is someone working under a contract with the Spirit Realm. Basically, Hiro entered into a contract with a 'god' at some point in exchange for a favor from them. Think about it as agents are in debt and are making payments with each assignment."
He went to take a drag off his cigarette and found that it had burned down to the filter. With an almost regretful sigh, he tapped off the ash and stubbed the cigarette out on the railing, placing the filter in a plastic cup that was off to the side. "The assignment this time was there was someone eating human organs and we were supposed to track him down before he hurt anyone else. His last target ended up being Satchan. We took care of it pretty easily.
"I couldn't help but think afterwards how great it was that there was someone else who was involved with what I did. Hiro and I started hanging around each other a lot after that. Satchan did too, once he got over the initial shock of all of it. The three of us got to be close friends and Hiro became a Spirit Realm Bounty Hunter like me."
He paused. "Things happened. Literally one day, I was out with Hiro and Satchan and I realized that I liked Hiro more than a friend. I'm sure that by now, you've seen some of his attractive traits."
Kakeru found himself nodding though Rui wasn't looking at him. He only knew Hiroto for a week but he found the other sweet and charismatic even though he seemed to keep people an arm's distance away.
When he looked back to Rui, there was the barest hint of a soft smile on his face. "I tried to hide it but it's Hiro. He caught on pretty fast. We had probably the longest, most unromantic talk of my life about it then decided to try dating." The smile dropped as suddenly as it appeared. "If Hiro has any kind of flaw, it's he'll do anything to make sure people likes him, even if it's agreeing to something he doesn't feel comfortable with."
He sighed pensively. "My parents kicked me out about three months after we started dating. Not because I was dating a boy; I never even got the chance to decide if I wanted to come out of the closet to them. They were more conservative and traditional and I'm just...not. They were positive with the way I dress to the music I listen to and the fact that I was keeping my job as a Spirit Realm Bounty Hunter a secret from them that I was on my way to join the Yakuza. So they kicked me out at sixteen and I got lucky that the old man took pity on me and let me move in with him."
He pressed his lips together for a moment. "He died four months later." He glanced up at Kakeru again, as if trying to see his reaction to it. "That's the real danger with our job, Kakeru. We don't know which assignment is going to be the last one we go on." He looked back to the lights of the city. "I'll spare you the gory details but it was bad. The old man was killed and Satchan ended up in the hospital for a while.
"Hiro and I broke up about a month after. I was a mess and he wasn't any better but we found out in the worse way that we couldn't support each other when only one of us was involved heart and soul. The fighting got the best of us and we broke up."
Rui rested his forehead on his folded arms, staring down at his feet. "I dropped out of school after that. There really wasn't a reason for me to keep going after all, when I was already doing the thing that I was positive I'd be doing for the rest of my life. Took the old man's lessons to heart though and did what I could to hide it. I worked a couple of odd jobs here and there before I ended up at the Kurokasa. I decided that...maybe it was just easier if I didn't let myself get attached to anyone again like I had with the old man and Hiro and Satchan because if they left, it wouldn't hurt."
Kakeru studied him for what felt like hours as he fell silent, recalling when he first came to the small restaurant as the only respondent to the ad that Mr. Kawamura placed for a busser. He looked almost the same, with blond streaks in his dark hair, rows of piercings up his ears and a sarcastic way of speaking that instantly put their boss off. Even then though, Kakeru recalled, he seemed more like a kid that was about to cry but was still trying to put on a brave front.
He turned his attention back to his glass of water, wondering when it became half-empty. "My parents disowned me for being gay."
He didn't know why he admitted it to Rui right then. He also knew he definitely said it out loud as he felt Rui's surprised gaze on him. His skin prickled and a wave of uncomfortable warm came over him but he pressed on. "I was seventeen...so not much older than you. I told my parents a month before I turned eighteen and our relationship became very cold and distant immediately after it. They didn't even come to my graduation ceremony from high school because they were busy packing my things to leave outside of the house with a note saying that I don't exist to them anymore."
The faint pang of hurt that he always felt when his thoughts drifted to his family settled in his stomach. He swallowed tightly and tried to brush the feeling away, focusing on smiling. "I was lucky too, I guess. I was seeing who ended up being my first real long term boyfriend at the time and he and his parents let me stay with them. I started working at the Kurokasa to pay them back for the kindness and acceptance that they showed me. Of course, first love doesn't last and we broke up when I was nineteen. I moved to where I'm living at now, still worked at the Kurokasa but decided to try pushing myself through college. Mostly because it was something my parents always wanted of me. Even though it's not quite the same circumstances...I had similar thoughts about never wanting to care for someone as much as I did with my parents or my first boyfriend. I realized though that I would miss so much in life if I did though and I wouldn't want that."
Silence met the end of his small speech and he could feel his face grow another couple of degrees warmer. Rui was still staring at him but the surprise was gone from his face. In fact, almost every kind of emotion was carefully wiped from his face. Kakeru shifted and finished the last of his water. "I'm sorry, Rui. I shouldn't have been so open about this I guess."
Rui shook his head. "No, I mean, it's fine. I just..." Rui rubbed the back of his neck awkwardly. "I guess I'm just surprised. I really never thought you were anything like me. You just...you seem more like the type of person who would just be so normal it was stereotypical. Only child, a little spoiled by their parents but nice to everyone, eventually going to get married and have two kids..."
Rui chuckled a little and gave him a small smile. "Is it a bad thing that I'm actually happy that I have this one thing in common with you?" He turned back to look out at the city again. "I hate when people I care about get hurt but I think I hate being completely alone even more. It's...comforting just knowing that there's someone else like me."
Kakeru turned his head to look at Rui and lowered his voice a little more. "Rui, are you okay?"
In response, Rui pulled his phone and his pack of cigarettes from his right pocket. "It's almost three in the morning and you look exhausted." He stated in an almost light and conversational tone as the light of the cellphone lit up his face.
Kakeru felt himself frowning, though the reminder of how late it was made him recognize the heavy feeling his head got when he was sleepy. "That wasn't-"
"After something like tonight, I'd also guess that you really don't want to be alone at your place. Since your demon is asleep on my guest bed, you can use mine." Rui glanced at him again from the corner of his eye. "Saturdays are one of the few days you have off from school and work right? So it should be just fine if you sleep in."
"It's fine. I'm going to smoke another cigarette out here then I think I'm going to watch Hiro for a bit and make sure he's okay." He put his cellphone away and instead pulled his lighter out from his left pocket. "I don't want to talk about anything else right now."
The last sentence brought Kakeru up short of another attempt to argue with him. Maybe Rui needs the space to work things out for himself. His own thought was somewhat depressing but he forced another smile to his face. "Okay, if you insist. But I can set up something on the floor so you don't have to give up your bed and I can stay with Hiroto-san if you want-"
Rui's chuckle cut him off this time and Rui straightened, his back popping as he did so and he gave a small, gentle smile that made Kakeru's heart give another strong thump in his chest. He reached over and took the empty glass from his hands. "Kakeru, go to sleep. It's fine."
He found himself nodding and shuffled back to the door, the weight of Rui's eyes on his back the entire time that only lifted when he shut the sliding glass door behind him quietly. Hiroto was sleeping, it looked like in the faint lighting of the room and when Kakeru checked again, whatever fever he developed seemed to have broken. He's right...the salve that the Wyn make is worth more than money. He made a mental note to ask what the actual name was and moved to the restroom to wash the remaining bit of his own from his lip and face.
Once his face was clean, he crept quietly to the last room he hadn't been in, assuming it to be Rui's room. Even in the faint moonlight that streamed in from the open curtains, the stark differences between the room that Kakeru had been using and Rui's room were almost painfully clear. The room was clean and more decorated, with unidentifiable posters on the wall and a bookcase filled with various items. It was organized too, other than a clutter of various papers on the desk underneath the window proper and the down turned red and black covers on his bed which looked far too inviting to ignore.
He left the door open a crack and reached up to take off his glasses. He carefully folded the arms and placed them on the nightstand, placing his phone next to them. With a faint feeling of awkwardness, he slid under the covers and pulled them up to his chin, twisting onto his side, facing the window.
No matter how tired his body was, and it was letting him know that he was beyond the point of exhaustion as he settled into the comfort of the bed, his mind was refusing to let him sleep. Part of it was nagging at him for not staying with Rui. Even though the younger man insisted, he was very obviously not quite alright and it just didn't feel right to leave him alone. The other part was focusing on the past, as it always did when it was brought up.
It had been a while since he even thought about his parents. But they had been out of contact for almost five years now and Kakeru really didn't think it was going to change anytime soon. It didn't quite hurt as much as it used to, when the thought of them would send tears to his eyes. Maybe there would be a chance of reconciliation with them one day but he had grown comfortable with the idea that if it never happened, it would be okay.
It also had been a while since he thought of the Maeda family or of Toru. He made a face but smiled. He and Toru may have broken up but it was amicable as their relationship settled from romantic to more familiar and he was still welcome in the Maeda family home. It had been a while since he had seen Toru, since he was caught up in schoolwork and Toru had been busy with his own life. Maybe he should call him sometime and see how he was doing. It may do his mind some good.
The bed sunk down suddenly and Kakeru was jolted out of his thoughts. An arm draped over his, a smaller hand laying on top of his own. Just as Kakeru was about to turn and thrash about to get away from the mystery person, Rui's tired voice came from behind him. "Let me stay here. Please?"
Kakeru froze, a wave of goosebumps breaking out across his skin as Rui's warm breath hit the back of his neck. "Why?" He whispered quietly.
Rui shifted a little closer, pressing his body closer to his. "Mmm..." He murmured, already sounding like he was drifting off. "If I'm going to have a weak moment, I'd rather be around you."
Kakeru felt himself frowning slightly. A weak moment?
Rui tried to speak again, but it was obvious he already was almost asleep. "I can trust you, right? You won't judge me..."
Something wet hit the back of Kakeru's neck and everything clicked into place. "Rui, are you crying?"
The arm around him tightened slightly, his fingers wrapping around his hand. He didn't give a verbal response and Kakeru felt himself frowning as a well of worry built in his chest. He shifted so he could use his other arm beneath him to come up and rest on top of Rui's. "It's okay if you need to cry."
Rui tensed for a moment behind him before he moved even closer to Kakeru, pressing his face into the back of his shirt and shuddering against him. Kakeru remembered rubbing his thumb against the soft skin on the top of Rui's hand, trying to offer him as much comfort as he would allow. He couldn't remember what happened after though as his body finally relaxed to the point that he fell asleep.