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[personal profile] caffeine_buzz
Title: Even in the Dark
Fandom: K Project
Rating: K+
Pairings/Warnings: Sarumi.
Summary: In the immediate aftermath of the Ashinaka High Incident, Fushimi does paperwork, Yata mourns, and the world is not so small.
Notes: Regarding the Homra tattoo, So from what I understand, according to the director of the anime everyone still has their Homra tattoos even after Mikoto's death. But in episode 13 it pretty clearly disappears from Fushimi's chest when the lights rise into the air, so for lack of other information I'm going with the idea that it disappeared briefly and then reappeared on everyone once the lights faded away.

The first thing Fushimi did after returning to Scepter 4 headquarters was sit down at his computer and begin the paperwork.

The rest of Scepter 4’s main force stood awkwardly around their computers, looking tired and relieved and maybe a bit bewildered by everything that had happened. The Blue King walked straight into his office without a word, hands still covered in blood, and Lieutenant Awashima stared after him for a long moment before turning and telling the others that they were dismissed for the rest of the night.

A weary cheer went up among the ranks and Awashima disappeared somewhere when Fushimi wasn’t looking. It wasn’t like he cared in any case. He had paperwork to finish, after all. He stared blankly at the screen, trying to figure out how exactly he was supposed to properly word the death of the Red King so that it worked within official bounds. His chest itched.

Homra’s mark was still there, torn and burned as always but clear. He’d thought for a moment there on the bridge that he was free of it finally — that when it rose into the air and filled the night with glowing red that it was gone, his and everyone else’s, faded away with the last vestige of Mikoto’s kingship. But when he’d finally looked down it was still there, still burnt into him, still sharp and painful.

He didn’t understand why his mark had returned. If the rest of Homra still had theirs that was fine, that was nothing to him. But there was no point in his wrecked mark still remaining on his skin, a mark he had no need for. If Suoh Mikoto thought he was doing Fushimi a kindness then the Red King truly was the biggest moron of them all.

Fushimi ignored the urge to tear at his burned skin until it bled and continued to type, paying no attention to the darkening sky or the equally darkening room. At some point he was aware of Awashima reappearing in the doorway, staring down at him as if he was a misbehaving child who she had no idea quite what to do with. Fushimi didn’t so much as look at her.

“You can go back to the dorms too, Fushimi-kun.”

“I’m not finished with my work yet, ma’am,” Fushimi replied mechanically, a slight hint of mockery in his voice. “That’s what I’m supposed to do, isn’t it?”

“Fushimi-kun.” Awashima touched his shoulder and gave him what he supposed she thought was an empathetic look. “You can go now. Everyone else has gone.”

“The Captain’s still here.” He didn’t actually know that but Fushimi said it with certainty anyway. He hadn’t seen Munakata exit his office once since they’d returned. He supposed Munakata was probably inside, locking his bloodied sword away and washing his hands over and over as if he could erase away the blood he’d spilled, as if he could wash away the life of the person he’d killed.

Fushimi didn’t really remember the first time he’d killed someone. He could dimly recall blood and the feeling of steel slicing through skin and bone and above all the knowledge of his own power, that even someone like him who couldn’t fight back at all against the things that dragged him down could still tear through a simple life with only a knife and desperate instinct for survival.

“Fushimi.” Awashima’s tone was sharp and lined with an almost fond exasperation that made him clench his teeth.

“I”ll leave when I’m finished.”

Awashima remained silent for a long moment and then the hand removed itself from his shoulder.

“Lock up when you leave.”

She was gone and she turned the lights off behind her, leaving Fushimi with only the dim light of his computer for comfort.

The snow was still falling outside and Fushimi deleted the single line of text he had written on the screen and rewrote it again.

The Red King, Suoh Mikoto, is dead.

It was a simple statement of the facts. Suoh Mikoto was dead. Suoh Mikoto and Totsuka Tatara both and Homra shattered and fragmented and he didn't care.

“I actually kind of like you, Saru-kun.”

“You’re fine the way you are, Fushimi.”

“Tch.” Fushimi clicked his tongue and deleted the line again. He raised his head slightly, staring at the closed door. He could imagine Munakata sitting silently at his desk, staring at red hands. Imagined the sword that had pierced Mikoto’s heart lying forgotten in a corner, still bloody. No, not that, but instead displayed in a case, clean from the blood, shiny and untouched and Munakata’s hands and clothes were still covered in blood. Imagined hands pink from scrubbing and a shining sword with a bloodied rag lying beside it. White and red, skin, blood, snow and ash and lights in the sky and the blue glow from a single computer screen, and his burn ached and itched like it was on fire.

The Red King, Suoh Mikoto, is dead.

Fushimi’s hands strayed down to his own sword, clean from blood. Ridiculous. He should be the one with the red hands, like always. He hadn’t even tasted a single drop of Misaki’s blood.

“Don’t you even care anymore?”

Colorless tears streaming down Yata’s face as he chanted, fist in the air, the rest of Homra yelling in time with him. Red lights in the air, glowing against a black sky, and Scepter 4 cheering the return of their king and his bloodied hands, and turning to walk away in the snow while Fushimi stood there on the bridge, silent, separate from all of them. That cheer did not belong to him. The red that had left him was only an unwelcome remnant of something that should have been forgotten and was not meant for him. That farewell was not meant for him, anymore than Scepter 4’s own cheer was. Nothing of that was meant for him.

Nothing left for him but a wound that didn’t heal, a single line of text on a computer screen and a mark that was a weight, not a kindness.

Misaki. Fushimi bit his lip and finally his hand reached up and sliced across the burn. It didn’t hurt enough and he knew that even with Mikoto gone he could still pull out that red and scald it again, burn it deeper and deeper and mark his skin all over with black and red, and even then he wouldn’t be satisfied.

The Red King, Suoh Mikoto, is dead and there was no way to defeat that image in Yata’s mind. Fushimi should be happy with Mikoto dead but all he could think was that nothing would overcome this now, that larger than life figure who drew Yata’s eyes to him so readily. Even if Fushimi tore himself apart, even if Fushimi got to feel that sword in his chest or the gunshot wound to the gut he would never, ever be able to overcome Mikoto’s ghost.

The screen was irritating him so Fushimi simply drew his sword and destroyed it, not caring about the trouble he was bound to be in once morning came and Awashima saw what he had done. It didn’t matter. It was irritating. It was easier to destroy it than shut it down.

That had always been his choice anyway, to break what he couldn’t find the energy to mend. He had no hands for healing.

He stood there stupidly in front of the broken computer, sheathing his sword. There was blood dripping down his hand but he didn’t remember cutting it. Fushimi brought the hand up to his face and licked at the blood but it didn’t taste like anything but dust in his mouth. Fushimi let his hand fall limply back down to his side.

There was a soft creaking sound and Munakata’s door opened just a crack, as if in invitation. Fushimi almost wanted to accept it, just to see if it was the Captain wanting to talk or perhaps simply wanting Fushimi to stab him in turn.

Or Fushimi could try to kill the Blue King no matter the case, and perhaps Munakata would one more time do someone the favor of killing him.

Fushimi turned without a second glance and left the room.

It was still snowing outside when he stepped out and Fushimi realized he’d left his blue coat lying over the chair back inside headquarters. An open door and a broken computer flashed through his mind and Fushimi clicked his tongue and began to walk away. The dorms were in the other direction but that was no matter. He felt heavy and tired but his eyes couldn’t close.

There was a red flame wavering his chest but Fushimi smothered it, and was cold.

The snow had gotten deeper since he’d been outside last and it crunched beneath his feet. His breath blew from his lips in small white puffs and his hands felt numb at his sides. The sky above him was full of blue-black clouds and everything seemed quiet and still.

He walked away from Scepter 4, eyes one the ground, not quite sure where he was going. His legs felt numb and his head felt fuzzy. There was a tingling pain in the tips of his fingers and he blew on his hands to warm them. It didn’t work but he refused to try and summon a flame.

Lights finally stopped his feet and Fushimi’s face twisted into a scowl as he realized that he had walked all the way into the city, straight to the doorstep of bar Homra. He moved backwards, melting into the shadows, and couldn’t stop himself from looking in the brightly lit windows.

They were all awake there, somehow. Kusanagi looked worn down as he leaned back against the bar, a drink that was surely just one of many in his hand. The rest of Homra’s team were sprawled out everywhere, on benches and stools and Anna sitting ramrod straight on the sofa that Mikoto had always been lounging on. Someone had dragged a TV from somewhere and the light from the screen cast a soft glow over everything.

Yata was sitting at the bar, shoulders hunched, right beside the exact stool that Fushimi knew so well, the one he had always been perched on by himself as he stared backwards and waited for Misaki to notice. The irony made his lips curl.

Fushimi wondered if Yata was crying and the thought made him laugh. Of course Yata would be crying. Yata had been crying at the bridge, hadn’t he? Yata had loved Mikoto more than anything. It only made sense, that a person like Yata would cry.

Fushimi wondered if Yata had ever cried for him and felt sick at himself for thinking it.

Don’t think of him. Think of me. I’m the one you hate, remember? I’m the one who betrayed you. Fushimi wanted to bang on the windows and scream until his throat was sore. He was right here, right here, so close to Misaki, and all Misaki was ever going to see was a dead man’s back.

Lights were on in Homra’s bar and Yata was sitting on a stool surrounded by ghosts, and the only one he would never see was Fushimi’s.

What did I do wrong? His chest hurt and Fushimi felt a knife slide itself into his hands. He wondered what would happen if he just threw all his power at Homra right now, here, alone, on the evening of their king’s death. Could he burn the place down? Fushimi’s tongue slid hungrily over his teeth. Burn all of them inside like matchsticks, leave no blood, no bone, no ash, nothing but Misaki, and then maybe he would be the only thing left for Misaki to look at.

And even then, even then, he could never destroy Mikoto’s ghost, and so he’d lost.

Fushimi felt the fight drain out of him and the knife fell into the snow. He stared down at it dully, all of the sudden feeling all the cold he’d refused to feel before. His clothes were wet with falling snow and he realized he was shivering.

He’d never liked things too hot or too cold. Snow was annoying. Fire was annoying. Everything was a bother, even breathing. His chest itched and burned, and his face felt numb.

Perhaps he should have taken Munakata’s offer of the open door and asked him what it was like to destroy the only thing you loved.

Fushimi felt a laugh bubble in his throat, blood from a wound, and his fists clenched. Worthless. There was no point to all this and no point to that bar in front of him either, to that warmth and that camaraderie and that grieving. He was outside the window and on the other side of the door and he always would be. His king was dead and his king was mourning, and he was here in the snow, alone. He was here, alone, and no one was looking his way or thinking about him at all.

He was still a small thing, looked down upon, unable to overcome anything at all.

Fushimi remembered days and days sitting at that stool at the bar, the stool that was always open for him because everyone else sat in the center in a circle and talked and laughed, and sometimes even Totsuka would forget he was there (not that Fushimi cared, because a gaze that would go to anyone was not a gaze he would treasure and a kind smile offered to everyone was nothing to believe in if it could be offered even to him) and Fushimi would always be there, alone in the world. Warmth was not for him. Mikoto was the blazing sun and the rest of Homra rotated like planets around him. Fushimi wasn’t even in that orbit and never could be. His orbit was only complete when Misaki was looking, and Misaki hadn’t looked in a long long time.

Homra wasn’t warm. Scepter 4 wasn’t warm. There was nowhere Fushimi could feel the sun, except when he burned his own skin.

Inside the bar Anna suddenly looked up, getting to her feet and moving towards the window. Irritation swelled and burst and Fushimi turned and walked away.

He didn’t know where he was going until he was standing in front of the door to Yata’s apartment, snow frosting in his hair. The door was closed and locked and he didn’t have a key, not to this apartment.

Munakata’s door was open and Fushimi knew he could have gone inside and they might have talked. Bar Homra was bright and he knew that on this one night he could have walked in and they might have welcomed him.

Yata’s door was locked and Fushimi crumpled to the ground in front of it, and the snow fell.

The lights hurt Yata's eyes and he rested his head dully on the edge of the bar. The ice in the glass of water in front of him had long since melted and the water was warm and tasteless going down his throat. Nearly everyone else in the bar had taken the opportunity to get stinking drunk. Yata had asked, but Kusanagi had only looked at him blearily and stated that he wasn't drunk enough to serve alcohol to kids and so Yata had been given a glass of water, same as Anna. Somehow the comparison had set his teeth on edge but he wasn't going to argue with Kusanagi, not on tonight of all nights.

Someone had pulled out a TV and Totsuka's videos and they were playing on an endless loop, fuzzy background noise to the bright lights and too-warm air. Yata sat alone at the bar, the rest of Homra's members strewn about across the room. Kamamoto was fast asleep beside the couch where Anna sat, a thin line of drool running down his chin. Kusanagi sat still and silent in the far corner behind the bar nursing his second glass of wine (or what he said was his second glass of wine, but Yata was certain he'd seen that cup refilled more than twice). Anna was staring at the television with unblinking fascination and Yata idly followed her gaze.

It was an old one, from soon after Anna had joined Homra. There were having some kind of party and it made Yata's throat feel tight, seeing all of them happy and smiling, completely carefree.

The camera swung and Yata's frown deepened as the picture changed to Fushimi, sitting in a corner of the bar and glaring at the person behind the camera. The Fushimi onscreen muttered something Yata couldn't hear over the din of the bar and the camera swung away, back to brighter subjects.

Saru... Yata didn't even have the energy to feel angry, not today. He sighed heavily and his eyes slid away from the television to focus back on Anna. Her eyes were fixated on the TV and there were photos clutched tightly in her white hands, as if she was trying to absorb every memory and moment of Mikoto and Totsuka in any way she could. He didn't know how she could still look so awake, when it was so late and so much had happened and his own head was pounding like a drum.

Yata turned back to the television screen. The picture onscreen showed himself, Kamamoto and Mikoto talking about something. Yata leaned his head on his arm and found his eye drawn to the corner of the screen. The bar stool that Fushimi had been sitting on just before he'd looked away was empty now. A small, deeply buried part of Yata was disturbed a little by how neither himself nor the Yata in the video had managed to notice when Fushimi had left.

Stupid monkey. Yata reached for his drink and ended up knocking over the cup, water spilling down the side of the bar and soaking through his sleeves. He groaned and his head dangled down miserably against his chest.

He probably doesn't even care, Yata thought petulantly. Asshole's probably -- probably sitting at his fancy-ass computer in his fancy-ass government headquarters with his stupid--


His head pounded again and Yata clenched his fists. It really wasn't fair. Fushimi couldn't even stay loyal to one king, so why was his the one still alive?

Mikoto-san... It made his chest hurt, thinking about it. How could Mikoto die? Mikoto was his hero. Heroes weren't supposed to die.

And Yata hadn't even been there to see it. Sure, he'd been following orders and it wasn't like Mikoto couldn't handle himself, but still. Yata had always wanted to be useful to him, but now, when the chips were down and Mikoto was facing the Blue King alone, where was Yata? Tossed over Kamamoto's shoulder like he was no better than--than the shitty monkey.

The lights were burning his eyes, yellow and red, and in the corner of the bar he could see Kusanagi take another long slow drink.

There was the sound of ruffling skirts as Anna suddenly got to her feet and walked over to the window with a strangely purposeful stride. She stared outside, unblinking, gaze focused on something in the distance. Yata raised his head to look but all he could see outside was darkness and snow.

“Anna, you’ll catch cold,” Kusanagi said mildly, the words slightly slurred. Yata wondered how many more drinks it would be before he could convince Kusanagi to give him some alcohol and if he’d still be awake by the time that limit was reached. If he was going to taste his first drink, this seemed the perfect occasion.

Something touched his hand and he looked up to see Anna staring at him.

“Misaki.” Her voice was as clear as her eyes and Yata wondered again how she could manage it, when she had to be hurting so much more than he was. “Go home.”

“Eh?” Yata stared blankly down at her and she stared steadily back.

“You should go home.”

“I-I’m fine,” Yata said nervously, pulling away. “I was just going to stay here tonight with everyone else, since…”

“No.” Anna took his hand again and tugged slightly. Yata obligingly slid off the stool. “You should go home before it gets colder.”

“Ah…but…” Yata deflated a little. Kusanagi, watching them both with a blurry-eyed gaze, tilted his head a bit as if offering him permission. “Why?”

“Because it’s important,” Anna said. Yata sighed, realizing he wasn’t going to get anything more out of her.

“I-I guess I’m going, then,” Yata said awkwardly. He glanced back at the rest of Homra, all asleep or on the way there. Kusanagi managed a strained smile.

“Go on, Yata-chan.” He placed a hand on Anna’s shoulders. “Someone should get a good night’s sleep tonight, at least.”

“Right…” Yata felt a bit deflated as he headed for the door. Anna was still watching him and he thought he saw her relax slightly as he went out the door, as if she had been worried about something.

The snow had not stopped falling and in his mind’s eye Yata could still see the small red lights rising into the sky.

Mikoto-san. It was more of a sigh than anything else. What am I supposed to do now?

His foot brushed against something hard half-buried in the snow and Yata paused, reaching down to retrieve it.

A knife, freezing cold and far too familiar.

“Saruhiko?” The word came out of his mouth unbidden and before he knew it Yata was already looking around for him. There was no one around and he felt stupid for speaking. Maybe he left it here some other time, when we were fighting…?

His fingers played idly with the knife. It felt cold against his fingers and Yata brought a bit of the red inside of him forward, warming his body despite the chill of the winter. The slow warmth spreading through him made him feel more at ease, somehow, as if Mikoto was still watching over him. Yata nearly let the knife fall to the ground and then stopped, sticking it in his pocket instead. He could throw it back at the stupid monkey some other time when they saw each other again.

“Don’t you even care anymore?” His own words echoed back at him and Yata sighed. There was no point in dwelling on it, not tonight. Kusanagi was right. He should go home, get some sleep.

The streets were nearly empty and Yata held his hands up by his face, letting his breath blow warm on them. It felt almost as if he was walking in a dream, like he might wake up any minute and he’d be back at the bar, Mikoto lying on the couch in the corner and Totsuka leaning by the wall and teasing Yata for falling asleep…and Saruhiko there too, sitting on a stool all alone and this time Yata would keep an eye on him when he walked away and would grab his arm and pull him back, make sure he stayed…

There was a dark shape huddled in front of his apartment door and Yata froze.

Fushimi was there, skin white, a thin layer of snow frosting in his hair, eyes closed and blue coat nowhere to be seen.

“S…Saruhiko?” Yata approached him cautiously, not sure if this was some kind of trick or not. He’d like to think that Fushimi wouldn’t do such a thing, wouldn’t come attack him on the night of Mikoto’s death, but he’d long ago accepted that this was a Fushimi he didn’t know anymore.

Fushimi didn’t answer, body slumped down in a way that made ice grab at Yata’s heart.

“H-hey, Saru! What the hell are you doing here, huh? Get away from my place!” Yata summoned all his irritation and snapped at him, but Fushimi didn’t move.

Don’t be dead. The words cut through his mind like a knife and Yata couldn’t stop himself from reaching for Fushimi and moving in close, pushing the hair away from Fushimi’s eyes and pressing a hand to his cheek.

Fushimi made a soft mumbling sound and Yata relaxed slightly. Saruhiko’s body was ice cold to the touch and his skin was far too pale and tinged with just enough blue to make Yata concerned but he was definitely, definitely alive.

“Come on, wake up,” Yata muttered, shaking Fushimi slightly. One cold blue eye slid open and stared up blankly at him for just a moment before closing again. Yata stood there in front of his apartment door, at a loss.

“You idiot,” Yata murmured bitterly as he slid one of Fushimi’s arms around his shoulders, supporting Fushimi’s dead weight as he began to unlock the door. It occurred to him that Fushimi felt far too light leaning against him and he wondered if any of the bastards at Scepter 4 had actually made an effort at curbing Saruhiko’s notoriously terrible eating habits. “What the hell do you think you’re doing out here, huh? You know you suck at dealing with the cold.”

Fushimi had never been good in the cold, because he said it gave him headaches. He couldn’t handle hot summers either and had always gotten dizzy in gym class and Yata had been the one to help him to the nurse’s office. He remembered thinking once that it seemed as if Fushimi’s body was the kind that old people would refer to as frail and he’d wondered if that was why Saruhiko’s personality was all thorns and knives, because it was the only way to fight back against those words.

“Ah…” Fushimi made a soft noise and Yata tried to maneuver him down onto a chair.

“What the hell did you think you were doing out there?” Yata muttered irritably. “You should be back with your king, you know? On a night like this…”

Back with your king, and Yata’s heart dropped. He bit his lip and shoved Fushimi as roughly as he could manage.

“Get up, monkey. You’re not staying here all night, okay?” Fushimi shifted slightly and his eyes slid open to meet Yata’s.

Fushimi’s eyes were cold and dull and a chill ran down Yata’s spine. He swallowed and managed a scowl.

“Are you awake now?”

“Mmm.” Fushimi didn’t sound awake but he nodded. He didn’t even seem to have quite realized where he was or who he was talking to. Yata felt another small spike of panic — first he’d lost Totsuka-san and then Mikoto-san and now Saruhiko too, and that was the one person he’d never dreamed of losing, even after everything — and he tried his best to remember who he was talking to. They were enemies now. Fushimi had been the one to say it, so many times. They weren’t comrades.

They weren’t friends.

“You can warm up and then get out of here,” Yata told him and Fushimi nodded faintly but didn’t move. With a sigh Yata helped him up and half-dragged him into the bathroom. He left Fushimi leaning heavily against the sink as he turned on the water in the shower, making it as warm as he could and then shoved Fushimi vaguely in the shower’s direction. For a second he wondered if he’d actually have to pull Fushimi bodily into the shower on his own, but after a moment of swaying on his feet Fushimi nodded and began to unbutton his shirt. Yata backed out of the room and closed the door behind him.

Yata felt stupid standing there in front of the bathroom door so he returned to the living room and threw himself wearily into a chair. His head hurt and he was suddenly glad Kusanagi hadn’t let him have any alcohol.

“You should go home.”

Anna’s words rang in his head and Yata found his gaze drawn to the bathroom door. Had she known? Was that why she’d sent him here? With the state Fushimi had been in, if Yata hadn’t come back, if he’d spent the night at the bar, then by morning Saruhiko might have been…

Might have been….

It was hard, telling himself not to care. He was too tired to do it now, not after everything. The world was too complicated right now, too wide and hollow without Mikoto in it. Yata didn’t even know what he’d be doing tomorrow, how could he keep himself in check tonight? He wanted to just throw himself onto his bed and sleep but he didn’t want to leave Fushimi alone in the apartment.

Yata wasn’t sure if that was because he was afraid of being attacked in his sleep or of Saruhiko leaving again, this time without a word.

Yata groaned softly and rested his head in his hands. He couldn’t deal with this. Not tonight. Not after Mikoto.

His head hurt and his eyes burned, and Yata didn’t know what to do.

The water was warm and it made his skin hurt. Fushimi sat with his knees close to his chest on the far end of the shower, one hand scratching mechanically at the burn mark on his chest as water splashed against him. The cold was seeping away from him, leaving him feeling hollow and empty.

He was at Yata’s apartment, in Yata’s shower. He wasn’t really sure how he’d ended up here. He vaguely remembered leaving Scepter 4’s headquarters — Munakata’s door was open, and Fushimi had use for that sword that had pierced Suoh Mikoto’s heart — and then standing in front of bar Homra in the snow. After that things got fuzzy in his head but he knew things had been very cold, and then Yata had been there.

He had been all alone in a wide, wide world and Yata had been there, just like he’d been there that time long ago.

Fushimi clenched his teeth, fingers digging into the burn. It was bleeding again and he didn’t care. There was a cut on his hand from when he’d destroyed his computer — he might regret that tomorrow, if tomorrow ever came — and it stung under the hot water of the shower. He felt too tired to stand and lower the temperature.

Yata was right on the other side of the door and even without looking Fushimi knew, Fushimi knew, he was thinking about Mikoto. Grieving Mikoto, missing Mikoto. Thinking only about the Mikoto who was dead and not a bit about the person still alive.

I was always by your side and that wasn’t ever enough.

He didn’t know if he was crying or not, but his face hurt and he dug into the wound again.

Even with his glasses off he could see that the unfamiliar room was painted in Yata’s colors. The towel would be hanging half off the rack and slightly wet, tossed haphazardly in the right direction but not on the floor because Yata had always complained about Fushimi leaving his on the floor. There was only one toothbrush in the cup by the sink.

Fushimi slowly uncurled, rising on unsteady feet. His legs didn’t want to hold him and he fell awkwardly onto the floor of the shower, a tangle of bruises and pale naked limbs.

What else was he supposed to do now? So many times he’d thought that everything would be easier if Mikoto was dead. He’d imagined how sweet it would feel to do it himself, knives slicing through blood and bone, finally being the one who looked down instead of being looked down upon. It was a ridiculous fantasy, he knew that, because he could never touch a king, not with his weak hands. He was still too small a thing even now, no different than middle school, something so small that could never do anything to the power that dominated so thoroughly, and certainly not alone. No wonder Misaki had left. No wonder ‘I can do anything if I’m with Saruhiko’ had turned into ‘I can do anything if Mikoto-san’s there.’

The Red King, Suoh Mikoto is dead and it wasn’t as if Fushimi cared. That person had never cared about him, after all — “And that’s good, you’re fine the way you are, Fushimi” and it was never a kindness — and so it didn’t matter. If Mikoto had cared, he wouldn’t have stolen it.

If Mikoto had cared, he wouldn’t have taken away the only thing Fushimi had that was his, the only thing he’d ever been afraid of losing.

But Mikoto didn’t think about things like that. Mikoto was someone who gathered people to him without even trying so having another person beside him was like nothing, just another wolf in the pack. Not like Fushimi, who pushed people away. Even if he didn’t want to, even if he tried to make them like him, it had never been of any use. Fushimi had always been alone. He had always been someone who others didn’t like, someone who no one looked at or went along with. Even Totsuka, a person with no strength at all, had been able to gather those around him. Even Totsuka could surely have done something great, with other people nearby.

And now Totsuka was dead and Mikoto was dead, and they were still smothering him. Fushimi didn’t even know how he could still breathe with the weight of those ghosts pulling him down.

The hot water pounded against his skin and Fushimi felt numb with cold.

“Misaki.” It was a whisper of a word, a strangled choke, and even he couldn’t hear it over the sound of the shower. Even so he waited, waited to see if anyone would come when he called.

The room was wide and empty still, and he spoke with a voice no one could hear.

The sound of the bathroom door opening shook Yata out of the half-dozing state he’d been in and he sat up a little straighter in his chair as Fushimi weaved into view.

His skin was still slightly flushed from the shower and his hair was wet and plastered against his head, looking so much like the old Saruhiko that it made Yata’s chest hurt. He had only barely dressed himself, no waistcoat and his shirt half undone and sticking to his wet skin, pants only just zipped up and no belt, wet socks and missing boots but still with his saber by his side. With the shirt unbuttoned his chest was clear to see and Yata’s eyes were inexorably drawn to the mark there, the angry red scar that he knew in the back of his mind should have healed long ago and hadn’t.

“Hmmph. Took you long enough, monkey.” Yata smothered his own feelings quickly as he stood, crossing his arms. “I thought you might have drowned by now.”

“It’s so hard to get warm in a place like this,” Fushimi drawled slowly. “It’s such a small little apartment. Can’t afford anything better? Ah, that’s right, you don’t get paid for being a street punk, do you? It’s sad, the way leeches on society have to live.”

“Who the fuck are you calling a leech, bureaucrat?” Yata insisted. This was better, Fushimi acting like an asshole and not like something crumpled and broken in the snow. This way it was easier to hate him instead of desperately missing him, and so it was better. “Anyway, if you’re not going to die now then get the fuck out of my place. Don’t you have shit to do at your work?”

“Not really,” Fushimi said with an idle shrug, leaning haphazardly against a chair. “Oh, wait, that’s right, I have paperwork to do.” He looked Yata full in the face then and gave a slow, cruel smile. “I have to write up all about the sad, pathetic death of Suoh Mikoto.”

It was a stab in the chest and Yata felt fire swirling inside him. He knew he was glowing red but he was too upset to care and Fushimi’s smile grew even wider.

“Don’t you even say his name,” Yata warned. “You fucking traitor.”

“What’s wrong, Mi-sa-ki?” Fushimi taunted. He was hanging limply against the chair now, body language loose and easy as if he wasn’t the least bit threatened by the angry aura pouring off Yata in waves. “Did I strike a nerve? I don’t know what the problem is. There’s nothing left to betray, right? Your precious Homra is dead, just like Mikoto.”

“Shut up!” Yata grabbed him roughly. Fushimi’s shirt was wet and there were droplets of water still visible on his skin. The burn was still there too, streaked with red. “Don’t you fucking talk about Homra! We’re—we’re not—”

“Of course you are,” Fushimi said cruelly, seeming to savor every word. “You’re dead, Misaki. No blood, no bone. No ash. Just…” He snapped his fingers. “Gone. Without your king, you’re nothing now. Not even family.” There was a deep, deep disdain in the last word.

“You don’t even know what you’re talking about!” Yata growled. “We’re not like you fucking paper-pushers. Homra’s bonds are--”

“Bonds?” Fushimi mocked. “That’s almost cute, Misaki. You still believe in those things.”

“You…” Yata pushed him roughly away. Fushimi uncharacteristically stumbled, falling against the chair like a rag doll, but Yata barely noticed. “Just…just get the hell out of here, monkey. I’m not doing this tonight. Not…not….”

“Not after his death?” There was nothing in Fushimi’s voice now, no pleasure, no cruelty. His eyes were flat and dull, his face bloodless. “Are you still staring at that ghost, Misaki?”

“What are you talking—” Yata started and didn’t even get the rest of the words out of his mouth before Fushimi was on him, moving faster than Yata could even see. Suddenly he found himself pressed against the wall, the blade of a knife cold against his skin. “S-Saru, what--”

“You keep talking about him,” Fushimi breathed coldly. “Mikoto-san, Mikoto-san. I really can’t stand it, seeing you whimpering like a dog. It’s so pathetic, Misaki. He’s dead. You don’t need to think about him anymore.”

“You-you wouldn’t understand, would you, monkey?” Yata said. “You don’t care about anything except your damn power.”

“That’s right.” Fushimi smiled like a gaping wound, far too wide, and Yata suddenly found that his hands had gone cold. “I don’t care about anything, Misaki. I told you, right? All I care about…” —the knife ran along the skin by Yata’s collar, slicing a thin red line there as it went, and Yata flinched -- “is blood and flesh.”

Fushimi smiled again and Yata’s breath caught in his throat.

Even after everything, every fight, every drop of each other’s blood they’d spilled, he’d never really been able to let go of it, never really been able to stop the small part of him that insisted that Fushimi could still come back.

Until this moment, it had never even crossed Yata’s mind that Fushimi could kill him.

The knife abruptly removed itself and Fushimi backed away, weaving oddly as he stepped backwards.

“Were you afraid?” Fushimi asked in tones of deep amusement. “What’s wrong, Misaki? Don’t you want to go join your precious Mikoto-san?”

“Fuck you.” Yata tried to regain his composure. “I should’ve let you freeze to death out there.”

“And you didn’t.” Yata thought maybe he was hearing things because he could almost swear that there was genuine regret in that voice now and the thought made his whole body seize uncomfortably. “You’re so stupid, Misaki. We’re enemies. You don’t save your enemies.”

“Yeah, well, I was feeling generous,” Yata stated. “Mikoto-san would’ve done it, even for a guy like you who doesn’t deserve it.”

Fushimi’s fingers seemed to dig into his palms at Mikoto’s name.

“That’s all you keep saying,” he hissed. “Learn more words, you idiot. Mikoto-san, Mikoto-san. What did Suoh Mikoto ever do that was worth anything? Just a thug, really. A worthless person. He almost killed us all, you know. His stupid search for revenge almost got you killed. How’s that for your precious bonds? If the Captain hadn’t run a sword through his gut your precious Mikoto-san would just be another Kagutsu Crater and all of us — you, me, even Anna — we’d all be just another pile of corpses to his name. Such a hero.”

“You wouldn’t understand,” Yata muttered darkly. “You probably didn’t even care when you heard about Totsuka-san, did you, monkey?”

He could have sworn that Fushimi’s eyes wavered for the briefest of moments before the ice covered them again and Fushimi laughed.

“Totsuka-san? I never liked him, either.” Fushimi shrugged. “Wasn’t it inevitable? That person was chasing death from the beginning. Being so naive and being close to a person like Mikoto…it’s amazing he was the first person from Homra to die. If you’d grow up and stop believing in little kids’ tales like heroes you’d understand. But I suppose it’s useless to talk about the adult world to someone who can’t do anything all day but hang around a seedy bar with a group of losers, playing at being kings.”

“It’s not a kids’ tale,” Yata stated, absolute conviction in his voice. “I…I thought you understood it too. But I guess I should’ve known better. A guy who doesn’t want to be saved can’t understand what it’s like to have a real hero come along.”

“Doesn’t…want…?” Fushimi started shaking slightly and it took Yata a moment to realize he was laughing again. Fushimi looked up at Yata and there was such emptiness in his smile that Yata suddenly found himself unable to speak. “You really don’t understand anything, do you, Misaki? Even though I’m right here…”

Fushimi’s legs suddenly seemed to give out from under him and he collapsed into a heap on the ground.

“H-hey, Saru! Saru!”

The sound of Yata’s voice made Fushimi open his eyes. He was lying on the floor of Yata’s apartment and Yata was leaning over him, shaking him.

Did I faint? He didn’t really remember. The world was spinning in front of him, though, and his heart was pounding.

“Come on, you bastard, say something already!”

Ah…so annoying. It was such a bother. Misaki was supposed to hate him and here he was, still worrying. It was annoying. He didn’t want such a thing, a world where they would exchange heated words and then Yata would save him and help him and worry about him, even as every other breath was filled with Mikoto’s name.

That worthless sort of affection…it’s all just useless. Every bit of it. That isn’t what I want.

Yata’s words were slurring in his ears and Fushimi couldn’t understand what he was saying anymore. It sounded a little panicked, though, and that was even worse.

You don’t get to do this. The anger was boiling up inside him. You don’t get to worry about me anymore. If you’re not going to hate me, then what’s the point?

It hurt so much, and he couldn’t even speak. Fushimi’s vision blurred for a moment and then he spotted the hilt of a knife just visible sticking out of Yata’s pocket.


The moment the name came out of Yata’s mouth Fushimi attacked. Yata fell backwards, obviously unprepared, and then Fushimi was lying on top of him, hands grabbing hold of the knife with practiced ease.


“You’re too soft-hearted, Misaki,” Fushimi said coolly. Droplets of water were falling from his wet hair onto Yata’s face. He ran the knife along the cut he’d made earlier and pressed down just so. Small beads of blood bubbled up from beneath the wound.

“The fuck is wrong with you?” Yata managed to choke out.

“You know, I could kill you now,” Fushimi said conversationally. “Then you’d be with your precious Mikoto-san. What do you think? Would that make you happy?”

“As if you know any-fucking-thing about how to make me happy,” Yata said. His eyes were burning with anger and he was looking up at Fushimi in a way that made Fushimi’s heart pound and his skin tingle with a pleasant flushed feeling.

“Just like that,” Fushimi said. “You just need to keep looking at me like that, Misaki.” He played idly with the knife, letting the blade run down Yata’s chest to where the Homra tattoo was still visible. “Hey, Misaki, what do you think? You don’t really need this anymore. Maybe I should just cut it out? Hey, Misaki?” He ran a finger down Yata’s wound. Red blood coated his finger and he brought it to his mouth, idly licking it off.

“You asshole…” Yata was starting to glow red again and Fushimi wondered if they would fight. It might make his blood start to circulate properly again, if they fought.

“I could burn it instead, if you like. We’d match.” Fushimi hummed to himself as he ran the knife lightly over Yata’s tattoo. He felt almost giddy under Yata’s gaze, drunk with something that made all the pounding in his head feel worth it at last.

And then Yata averted his eyes, and Fushimi’s skin went ice cold.

“I can’t believe a bastard like you was even able to have it in the first place,” Yata muttered angrily. “How you ever got any of Mikoto-san’s power--”

“Stop saying his name!” The words tore themselves from Fushimi’s throat and they both froze.

No matter what I do, it will always, always come back to him.

The knife removed itself from Yata’s throat as Fushimi sat up jerkily, like a puppet being pulled up by strings.

“Hey, Misaki…” Fushimi said quietly, bringing the knife up to his own neck. “Watch me to the very end, all right?”

He pressed the knife against his own throat and saw Yata’s eyes grow wider and wider, he was drowning in that gaze and it felt so good, so good…

And then Yata was there, tackling him to the ground. The knife was yanked roughly from his hands as Fushimi fell onto his back, Yata pinning him down bodily. There was water falling into his eyes and Fushimi didn’t know where it was coming from.

Yata’s face was pale and his eyes were shining with something Fushimi couldn’t even recognize. He was breathing hard and his hands were bleeding from where he’d haphazardly grabbed the knife.

“The…the fuck do you think you’re doing?” Yata’s voice was totally raw, barely coherent. Fushimi stared dumbly back at him. “You—you bastard, you can’t—” Yata shook his head. “Not-not after Totsuka-san, not on the same night that Mikoto-san—”

Any flame still burning in Fushimi’s chest was abruptly snuffed out and he stared coldly upwards.

“So any other night is fine?” he sneered. “As long as I don’t sully the memory of Mikoto-san.”

“That’s not what I’m saying, stop putting fucking words into my mouth,” Yata said roughly. “What the hell anyway, doing that in front of me. Are you just playing with me again or something?” Yata’s voice sounded choked and he grabbed Fushimi roughly by the collar, shaking him. “What the fuck kind of trick are you pulling, doing that in front of me? You don’t—” Yata swallowed hard, voice almost breaking, and Fushimi couldn’t understand it at all. “You don’t get to leave me too, not again.”

“Leave you?” Fushimi laughed, because it really was funny. “You’re the one who left, Misaki.”

“What the hell do you mean?” Yata said. “You’re the asshole who--”

“No.” Fushimi sat up slowly, looking Yata in the eye. His head hurt and the room felt stifling all of a sudden. “You left, Misaki. You were the one who broke it, not me.” He laughed again. “Does it surprise you? You’re such a idiot, Misaki, a real moron. Did you really think I was the only traitor here?”

“Don’t give me that ‘idiot’ crap,” Yata said. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. You’re the one who acted like-like everything we had, our friendship, all of it, like it didn’t mean anything. You were supposed to be my best friend, damn it, and then you—you left. And then Totsuka-san left, and Mikoto-san—”

“See, there it is again.” Fushimi shook his head loosely, clicking his tongue. “You don’t get to play that card, Misaki. Not you. Not to me.

“How the hell am I supposed to know anything?!” Yata growled, frustration clear in his voice. “You don’t ever say anything honestly, you know that, you bastard? You just keep saying this crap, I left you, I betrayed you, and then you-you try to do that in front of me and you act like an asshole all the time, like you’re not even the guy I used to know but that one thing hasn’t changed, because you still can’t ever say crap straight out no matter how much I ask you to. You changed when I wasn’t looking and--”

“No.” Fushimi stood, looking down at Yata with cold eyes. So annoying. So annoying. His head hurt again, blood pounding in his ears. How many times do I have to call your name before you look my way? “I didn’t change, Misaki. You just don’t understand me. You never have.”

“Then tell me, damn it!” Yata’s voice was choked, on the verge of tears, and it only made Fushimi’s head hurt worse. “Can’t—can’t you just…” He swallowed and shook his head. “I-I don’t know what the hell I’m supposed to do now. Mikoto-san’s gone. He was the guy who made me feel part of something big, made me feel like I belonged somewhere, and now…now he’s not there anymore and everything’s gone to crap, and you were the one guy I could talk to about stuff like this but you’re--” He shook his head. “I don’t get it. We joined Homra together. Didn’t you care at all about it, Saruhiko? About me and Homra and everyone?”

“No,” Fushimi said simply. Not about Homra. Only you. Always you. “You won’t ever understand, will you Misaki? But I knew that.” He took an unsteady step backwards. “I say it again and again and all you ever hear is him, all you ever look at is him. You said you’d hear no matter where you were, just like an idiot, you just say things because they come into your mind and never think twice about it. It might not have meant anything to you then, but it was the world to me.”

“What?” Yata looked confused and his face was red.

You don’t remember it at all, do you? Fushimi felt cold from the very core of his being but his head felt dizzy, like he might be sick any moment.

“Heroes don’t exist.” Fushimi clenched a fist against his chest. “Heroes die. That’s the way the world works, Misaki. It’s about time you grew up and realized that.”

He lowered his head and stumbled towards the door, one hand resting on the doorknob.

A desperate hand grabbing the tail of his shirt stopped him and he turned. Yata was there behind him, face a wreckage of anger and grief and who knew what else, eyes wide and breathing harsh.

“Saru—” Yata stopped, as if he couldn’t believe he was even saying it. “Saru, don’t--”

Don’t go, and it was utterly ridiculous. How many times did I say it, and you never heard?

“Go back to mourning your precious Mikoto-san,” Fushimi sneered. “The dead won’t ever come back, Misaki. You should stop staring at that person’s ghost and just focus on hating me instead. It will be better for you.”

“What is wrong with you?” Yata demanded, choking back his own sobs. “Damn you, you stupid bastard…why can’t you—why can’t you just talk to me like you used to, why can’t you just tell me--”

“What’s wrong with me?” Fushimi repeated and he could barely hear the words with the way his head was pounding. “You sound like an idiot. Don’t make that face in front of me, it’s disgusting, really gross. It makes me sick. It makes me sick.” His voice was growing manic now and Fushimi’s hands twitched for something, for a knife or a sword — an open door and a broken computer, and the Sword of Damocles falling, falling — and he suddenly felt caged in and surrounded. He pulled roughly away from Yata’s hands.

“Saruhiko…” Yata clenched his fists. “If-if I’m such an idiot or whatever, then what were you even doing here tonight?”

“Eh?” Fushimi paused, momentarily caught off guard, and he clicked his tongue to cover it. “Tch. It just happened that way.”

“Don’t lie to me, damn it!” Yata growled. “You—you’ve always been like this, you always lie to me and don’t tell me shit and act like it’s somehow okay because it’s you and you’re smart, you know everything except how not to be a dick and I fucking hate it. You didn’t just end up here on accident. You were sitting in front of my door and if I hadn’t come back here — if Anna hadn’t told me to come back — you’d be frozen solid by now. You don’t like snow. Why were you even here?”

“I was…” Fushimi had no answer and it was irritating. He didn’t want to have this conversation anymore. You just need to hate me, that’s all. You don’t need to understand me. You don’t need to pity me. Just hate me. “I…”

“Saruhiko.” Yata grabbed his arm. “There’s—there’s still some of the old Saruhiko in there, right? There’s still--”

“No.” Fushimi pulled away again, as if Yata’s touch burned more than the scar on his chest. “Stop clinging to such stupid words. There is no ‘old’ me. This is always what I’ve been. You’re just an idiot who can’t see any further than Homra’s worthless pride, can’t look at anything but Mikoto-san’s back. You care so much? Don’t be ridiculous. You never even noticed I was there. You never have.” Fushimi paused, breathing hard. “You want the truth, Misaki? Fine. I’ll tell you. All of this” — he pulled back his collar, letting Yata see the full extent of his burn — “this is all your fault. I did all this just for you. Not Homra. Not Scepter 4. Just you. Because you were leaving me behind anyway, so I left first. That’s all.”

“Saru…” Yata was staring at him with a stricken expression and Fushimi felt all the fight drain out of him. He leaned limply on the door and began to laugh.

The thing that I want…I can’t get it no matter what, can I?

“I’m leaving,” Fushimi announced, not even looking back at him. “Don’t bother me again, Yata.”

“Saruhiko, don’t--” Yata grabbed for him again and this time Fushimi side-stepped him easily, pulling the door open. A chill wind blew in, biting at his still-damp hair and skin. “I don’t understand. Okay? I’ll admit it. I’m an idiot and I don’t understand. If you just tell me what’s happening…”

It was annoying, so annoying, and Fushimi couldn’t even speak for a moment. Hot and cold — red and blue — rushed through his veins, pounded in his blood and his aching head and sore limbs and suddenly he leaned in and kissed Yata on the mouth.

It was sudden, impulsive, his heart pounding and his chest and mouth too hot as if the touch of Yata’s lips burned like Homra’s fire. He bit down harshly, tasted blood, and Fushimi’s entire body boiled as if the red inside him were rebelling against itself. He thought he could die any minute, right there with his lips pressed against Yata’s and Yata’s blood in his mouth, and finally Fushimi had to pull away before he broke apart into pieces.

It won’t do anything. It won’t mean anything. You still won’t ever see.

As long as Mikoto’s ghost is here, you won’t ever hear me no matter how much I call.

Yata stumbled backwards, staring blankly back at him, and Fushimi wanted to laugh until he couldn’t breathe.

“You really never will understand, will you, Misaki?” Fushimi staggered out into the snow, not looking back.

Yata’s door swung shut behind him, and Fushimi didn’t look back.

Yata stood stock-still int the middle of the room, heart pounding like a drum, like the feet of a dozen Homra members chanting. He was breathing hard and his mouth hurt. He thought his lip might be bleeding — did Saru bite it? — and suddenly his legs gave out from under him and he fell to his knees.

“What—what the hell was that?” Yata choked out. Empty silence answered back.

He didn’t understand it. He didn’t understand any of it.

Yata’s eyes strayed to the corner of the room, where Fushimi’s knife lay abandoned. His palms burned with the memory of the steel biting into them when he grabbed onto the knife, not caring about the pain, not caring about anything but getting it away from Saruhiko.

First Totsuka-san and then Mikoto-san, and how many more things do I have to lose?

It pissed him off. Yata’s fists clenched and blood dripped from his palm. Fushimi who never told him anything, who hid everything behind laughter and mocking and stupid lies, Fushimi who had left without ever explaining properly and left him alone as if everything they’d ever been had never meant anything to him.

Fushimi, who had been here in front of his apartment on the one night Yata hadn’t wanted to be alone, who had—who had—

—who had freaking kissed him, just like that, and hadn’t even said anything more and then just left like that, left again without any explanation at all.

Yata shook his head and turned away from the door as he finally climbed to his feet. No. He couldn’t do this, not tonight. He wasn’t thinking about any of this tonight, not when his head hurt so much and the pain in his chest was so fresh, not when his almost comfortable world had been shattered again. His eyes strayed to the open bathroom door and he suddenly realized that Fushimi hadn’t even put his boots back on before going outside into the snow. Yata felt another spike of irritation. The idiot had gone out into the snow and he wasn’t even dressed, his hair was still wet, and he was definitely going to get a cold this time--

“It may not have meant anything to you then, but it was the world to me,” and Yata remembered.

“You stupid fucking moron.” He didn’t even know who he was saying it to and Yata ran out the door into the chill night air.

“You stupid moron. You stupid, stupid moron,” he chanted as he ran through the snow. He could see Fushimi’s silhouette just ahead of him, weaving slowly through the night, steps slow and sluggish. It occurred to Yata that Fushimi’s senses must have really been dulled by the cold, to not even feel him coming up from behind.

Yata all but slammed into Fushimi, hands wrapping around his waist as they both tumbled to the ground into the snow.

“Yata…? What the hell—” Fushimi was already complaining and Yata’s face felt wet as he hauled Fushimi up by the collar.

“You stupid idiot,” Yata choked out. “You always keep saying that to me, that I’m an idiot, I’m a moron, really stupid, and you, you’re the worst one of all, what the hell, what did you think you stupid…”

“You’re babbling,” Fushimi said darkly. He was shivering slightly and his breath formed clouds in the air in front of Yata’s face. Yata didn’t know if he wanted to hit Fushimi or pull him close.

“You don’t ever say anything,” Yata said. “I told you I’d hear. I’m listening now, all right? So if you just say something, I’ll come. You just have to say it, idiot. If you don’t speak up, how am I supposed to know anything?”

Fushimi’s confused face turned cold and he looked away. Yata wanted to punch him again.

“I did say it,” Fushimi said quietly. “You don’t listen hard enough, Misaki. You were too busy looking up at him, like always, swinging around your pride and boasting like a moron.”

“Then yell louder.” Yata shook him roughly. “Damn it, Saruhiko…what did you think, all this time? What did you think you even were to me?”

“It doesn’t matter,” Fushimi said.

“It does to me!” Yata said. “It always meant something to me. You—you were my best friend, what did you think, that I’d forget you like that--”

“But you did,” Fushimi replied dully, his expression far away. “Even now, you just keep looking at him.” Fushimi’s hands reached up and touched Yata’s for just a moment, pulling Yata’s fingers off his shirt and weakly pushing him away. “You’re supposed to look just at me, Misaki. Anything else…I don’t want it. Such cheap affection, that can be given to anyone and spread thinner and thinner until every amount is the same…I don’t want that. I don’t want anything to do with that. If you’re not going to look only at me, there’s no point to it. I don’t have any need for a larger world, Misaki. I never did.”

“The hell, you’re still lying all over the place,” Yata said. “You don’t care about the Blues at all? You really think your world isn’t any bigger now, monkey?”

Fushimi didn’t reply and that was all the answer Yata needed.

“See? You don’t even believe that, Saru.” Yata leaned forward towards him, reaching for Fushimi’s pale cold hands. He let just a bit of red power out, just enough to warm them both, and Fushimi scowled. Yata stared at him for a moment and then sighed. “You know, Saruhiko…I liked it too, the way we were in the past. You and me. There were lots of good things, when it was just us and we could do anything. But even if the world got bigger, I always figured we would just have to get bigger to match it, you know?”

Fushimi remained silent, eyes intent on Yata’s hands that encircled his.

“I really like Homra,” Yata said at length. “It’s fun and there’s always stuff to do and people to talk to every day. And Mikoto-san…” He bit back the lump forming in his throat. “Mikoto-san was really a hero to me. Someone who came and took me — took us — away and made us part of something.”

“Not us,” Fushimi said coldly. “I don’t need heroes. I’m not a child who believes in those things, Misaki. Don’t talk down to me like one.”

“That’s not what I’m saying, you idiot!” Yata snapped. “I’m saying, that even though I liked having Homra and Mikoto-san, I fucking liked having you just as much!”

A fleeting look of surprise crossed Fushimi’s face and then he averted his eyes, clicking his tongue.

“Don’t just make that stupid tongue noise at me, monkey,” Yata warned. “You do that all the damn time, it’s really irritating after a while you know--”

“Irritating?” Fushimi pulled away from him and stood. “You never understand, do you Misaki? ‘Just as much’? Don’t give me such useless words. If I was happy with that, I would never have left.”

“Aren’t you the one who keeps calling me?” Yata challenged, rising to meet him and reaching for his hand again. “We—you can’t just close off the world again, Saruhiko. Not after all the crap we’ve been through — hell, not after all the shit we went through today even. That world’s not here anymore. I’m saying, it’s about time we make a new one. I’ll have mine over here with Homra and you can have yours with your Blues and even your damn king, and then we’ll have another one here, one with just you and me, and that one, that one, we’ll just share together. I can look at more than one person at a time, Saru, and it shouldn’t fucking matter as long as you’re the one whose hand I keep holding until the end.”

Fushimi stared at him and Yata could see the warring emotions in his face, the coldness and mockery battling with something softer and warmer and genuinely hopeful and impulsively Yata grabbed him and pulled him close in a rough hug. Fushimi shuddered under his touch, trembling with something deeper than cold, and Yata tightened his grip as if he could keep Fushimi from falling apart with his own two hands.

“You dumbass,” Yata muttered into the rumpled fabric of Fushimi’s wet shirt. “If you’d just kept screaming long enough I would’ve come eventually. It meant something to me then too, you know?”

“Misaki.” Fushimi’s hands were shaking as he wrapped them around Yata and Yata didn’t dare look at his face. “Misaki.”

“I’ll even come if you use that name,” Yata said. “So you just need to finally start looking at me too. I don’t want to lose anyone again. You don’t get to leave me again, you stupid monkey, and I won’t leave either. You just need to call for me and trust me.”

Fushimi didn’t answer and his arms tightened around Yata. His whole body was definitely shaking now and Yata carefully pulled back, grabbing for his hand.

“You’re gonna freeze out here,” Yata said, pulling him lightly back towards the apartment. “Come on. You shouldn’t even be out here anyway, you know how you get in the cold.”

“I don’t need to be told that by a shrimp like you,” Fushimi muttered, a shadow of his usual self in his voice, and Yata managed a small hopeful smile.

“Yeah, yeah, I know. Come on, monkey. Let’s go back, okay?”

He tugged on Fushimi’s hand again, and together they walked back through the snow.

The first thing Fushimi thought when he opened his eyes was that his feet were cold.

He blinked slowly, head feeling fuzzy and eyes sore as if he’d been up all night. He stared blankly at the room surrounding him for a long moment before he realized where he was and sat up with a start.

Misaki… He was lying on the floor in Yata’s apartment, a thick blanket tossed over his shoulders. Yata was asleep on the couch next to him, fingers still intertwined with Fushimi’s. Fushimi tugged furtively at his hand, pulling himself free as he got unsteadily to his feet.

The faintest hints of morning sunlight were beginning to peak through the window and the floor felt cold under Fushimi’s bare feet. His socks were lying over the back of the chair where Yata had insisted he lay them the night before when they’d stumbled back to the apartment, his feet half-frozen and soaking wet with snow.

“You’ll catch cold, seriously.” He could still hear the fond irritation in Yata’s voice and it set his teeth on edge. “Come on, I’m gonna get a towel and dry your hair off properly.”

Yata mumbled something in his sleep and rolled over, one arm falling back against his forehead. The Homra tattoo was clear on his chest and Fushimi’s hand reached up almost reflexively to scratch at his own half-destroyed mark.

“And you better put something on that burn. I’m gonna disinfect it at least, okay? You’ve been totally scratching at it all this time, it’s gonna get infected. And another thing, Saru—”

Fushimi stopped in mid-movement. There was a lump forming in his throat that wouldn’t go away.

This wasn’t the world he wanted, he knew that. That world was gone, had been gone for a long time. Their own little world, the small round egg for just the two of them, it had cracked the moment they’d set foot in Homra. Fushimi had shattered the rest of it himself with his own two hands, had slowly and purposefully pulled apart those small spiderweb cracks until the shell splintered in his hands. It had only made sense, then. If it could crack then it could break, and he didn’t want anything that could be broken. If the world was just going to shatter anyway he would destroy it himself before that could happen. He didn’t want something impermanent, something that faded and got swept away, something he was only strong enough to destroy and too weak to save. He had no hands for mending things, so he broke them instead.

That precious world was gone and Fushimi could never put it back together again. He knew that. Fushimi bit his lip hard and willed himself not to scratch at the burn on his chest as he reached for his forgotten boots.

A hand grabbed onto his wrist and Fushimi froze.

“I’m saying it’s about time we make a new one.”

“Mmm…Saru?” Yata rubbed at his eyes sleepily as he sat up, hand warm on Fushimi’s skin. “It’s still early, why’re you already up?”

“I have to go to work.” Fushimi didn’t look at him, couldn’t bring himself to look at him. “Some of us work for a living.”

“Yeah, well, some of us haven’t sold out yet.” Yata yawned again as he got to his feet, hand never leaving Fushimi’s wrist. “I guess I should get up too, I gotta get back to the bar and check on Kusanagi-san and everyone…”

Fushimi clicked his tongue and tried to pull away. Yata seemed to sense his intentions and tightened his grip, standing so that they were facing each other.

“Don’t look at me like that, okay?” Yata reached up with his free hand and pushed some of Fushimi’s hair out of his eyes. “You’re going back to the Blues, right?”

“Tch.” Fushimi looked away. “Not everyone can spend all day doing nothing productive.” He finally pulled away from Yata’s hand and silently finished putting on the rest of his uniform, eyes averted. Yata watched him without a word, eyes unwavering, and the weight of that gaze made Fushimi’s heart pound.

“H-hey. Saru.” There was something strange in Yata’s voice, like he was almost nervous about something.

“What is it n—” Fushimi was cut off abruptly as Yata leaned over and kissed him on the mouth.

Fushimi’s eyes widened in surprise and Yata’s breath caught momentarily, as if even he hadn’t quite expected the gesture but was still somehow satisfied that he’d managed to get one up on Fushimi. Their breath mingled and Fushimi felt warmth building up inside him, not a fire, not this time.

Not a fire but a light, and for the first time in a long while the scar on his chest didn’t pain him at all.

He smirked into Yata’s mouth and bit down slightly, and Yata stumbled back with a yelp of surprise.

“The hell, monkey, did you just bite me again?”

“You just make it so easy, Misaki.” Fushimi licked a bit of blood from his lips and smirked. Yata gave a heavy sigh.

“It’s still bleeding, how am I supposed to explain this to Kusanagi-san and everyone…”

Fushimi shrugged and backed away, fingers straying towards his burn scar with an ease borne of habit.

Yata’s hand wrapping around his stopped him.

“Saruhiko. You’ll come back, right?”

“I’m not going back to Homra.” Even the thought of it made everything in him seize uncomfortably. I won’t go back to that. Even if nothing else were to change, I won’t go back to that.

“Not that. I’m not gonna ask you to do that.” Yata took a deep breath. “I know—I know you wouldn’t go even if I asked you. I get it, all right? I’ve got my world and you’ve got yours. But that’s why you’re coming back here, got it? When your shift is over, you come back here and stay with me.”

“As long as you’re the one whose hand I keep holding until the end,” and even as Fushimi tried to pull back Yata tightened his grip, eyes unwavering.

This wasn’t the world he wanted. It wasn’t that small world for just the two of them, the one he’d treasured more than anything else. But the shattered, broken shell…it wasn’t quite that either.

Misaki was looking just at him, and suddenly the rest of the world didn’t seem to matter much at all.

“I-I mean, someone’s gotta take care of you, right?” Yata muttered, suddenly self-conscious. “Those guys at Scepter 4 don’t know how to do it, that’s for sure. Does anyone there even bother to make sure you remember to eat dinner? And no overtime! None of that staying up all night to finish stuff because I know you do that. I want you right back here on time. I’m gonna make sure you eat properly now and get some actual damn sleep. Maybe you wouldn’t be such a mess if someone made sure you actually took care of yourself and you’re probably gonna get a cold from last night anyway so…so come back here, all right?”

Fushimi stared dumbly down at him for a long moment.

Yata’s world was still there, sharp and red and a place Fushimi couldn’t touch even if he wanted to. And his own world was there too — Awashima’s hand on his shoulder and Munakata’s open door, Akiyama making him a cup of tea and Hidaka helping him with paperwork well into the night, even as he pushed them all away — cooling blue like a deep ocean, a steady course and a bright blade.

And in between, the world for just the two of them, patched together and cracked in places but strong, imperfect and fragile but permanent.

He had no hands for mending things, but that didn’t matter if Yata held tightly to them. Only strong enough to destroy and too weak to save, but if Yata stayed by his side there was nothing they couldn’t fix.

“I’ll be back later.” Fushimi pulled away from Yata at last and rested a hand on the doorknob. “I’ll be back later, all right?”

“I’ll be here.” Yata smiled back at him and the door opened. “I’ve been waiting for a while, you know?”

Sunshine poured into the apartment, illuminating them both, and Fushimi stepped out into the larger world.


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August 2014

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