"Can you feel this?"
"Mhm." Misaki nodded as Nowaki kept touching his toes.
After writing a few more notes down in his journal he set it aside and moved so he was sitting next to him. "You haven't lost any feeling or mobility, so that's good. Your heartbeat and breathing seems to be fine too." he smiled at Misaki, "You are very lucky."
"Well, you are a very good doctor. If it weren't for you I don't think I'd be here right now."
" I'm just doing my job."
"Still, thank you. Akihiko told me you were working very hard." Misaki paused for a moment. "Are you a doctor in this kingdom?"
"Hm? Oh, no, I'm not. I'm just tagging along with Hiroki." he said, motioning behind him and towards the door. "I work in the Kingdom closer to the shore." He smiled at Misaki after shutting his notebook, "Well, I'm positive that you will make a full recovery. You just need to rest for a few days to fully recover."
"That's good though I'm not sure if we can stay here for long. Me and Akihiko should get going soon…" Misaki said with a frown.
Hesitating a moment, Nowaki looked to the door then back at Misaki. It really wasn't his business but he was intrigued nonetheless. "Um, if you don't mind me asking…what exactly happened? You seem to be running from something..."
"Well...it's a long story."
"I've got time." he chuckled. "That is if you are willing to share."
Misaki thinks for a moment, debating on whether or not he should discuss it. Eventually he does nod, letting out a sigh, "Where do I begin?"
"On the run? What do you mean on the run?"
Akihiko leaned against the railing, looking over the backyard. Hiroki was standing angrily by his side, arms crossed and fuming, "As in, my father isn't going to let any of us back into the castle without punishment. We can't go back."
"I know that. Still I never thought you of all people would...well, nevermind. I could imagine you doing this. It's not like you haven't run away from the castle before." Hiroki shook his head, frowning as he looked at him, "You've put yourself in a very bad place Akihiko. Worse than I think you realize."
"We're still in danger, I know that."
"No!" he scoffed, straightening up, "It's not just you two! What about the other's? Your brother? Hell, the future of your father's lineage is in danger. Though I guess you can't blame him that both of his sons fell for the same cross dressing peasant." Hiroki grumbled.
"Says the one dating the orphaned doctor."
"Hey, I didn't mean it like that."
"I know, I know." he said, running a hand through his hair, "All of us are in a lot of danger. Even you two. I wouldn't have come here if Misaki wasn't…"
"I don't blame you for that. He was in danger. If you didn't come here then I don't think he'd be awake right now." Seeing Akihiko frown he put a hand on his shoulder, "But he's alright now. Nowaki will make sure of that."
"He's a smart doctor. The best I've seen, actually. You sure he wouldn't be interested in working for a royal family?"
"I'm sure, he said he doesn't want to be exclusive to a few people. Even if it would pay him generously." Hiroki chuckled, "Says he wants to help as many as he can. Money doesn't matter to him."
"How selfless. No wonder you like him."
"A big change from you!" he joked, nudging his shoulder and getting a smile out of the other.
"Hmm, I will admit I am a bit selfish."
"You can have your moments." Still, Hiroki knew it wasn't entirely true. Akihiko was more possessive than anything. He cared about those around him and would do whatever he could to help. Which is why he ended up in this situation in the first place. Hiroki's smile faded and he looked out toward the forest. "...What are you going to do next, Akihiko?"
At that the prince frowned, looking down at the snow. "...We need to leave the Kingdom. The sooner the better. My father's power only stretches so far. If we can get outside of the Kingdom's borders we'll be out of his control."
"If we go to a kingdom where he has no influence then we'll be fine."
"Akihiko, it's not that easy." He shook his head, "What will you do for money? Food? Where will you live? Your father has a lot of connections, allies and trading aside. Finding a place where he doesn't have influence is going to be hard and...well…" he sighed, "Are you willing to be on the run for a long time? Well, maybe you are but Misaki?"
The silence was answer enough. It really was a tough spot. There was no easy way out of this and to be honest, he didn't know if there would be a way out where someone didn't get hurt. That was the last thing Akihiko want. Hiroki put his hand on his shoulder and was about to say something till he heard the door behind them open.
Both turned to see Nowaki standing there, "I'm done checking on Misaki. He's doing well and I expect him to make a quick recovery." he said, talking to Akihiko. When the other nodded he continued, "He's awake and you can go and talk to him if you'd like." Nowaki stepped aside and let the Prince pass, nodding at the 'thank you' Akihiko said before leaving. Once he was gone Nowaki looked back at Hiroki, raising a brow. "What were you talking about?"
The older man scoffed, "It's not nice to be nosy. We were only talking about what happened. Didn't get to catch the full story when he first got here."
"Mhm. There wasn't any time. Not with the problem at hand." Nowaki walked over to him and put a hand on the railing, "It sure is a mess of a situation."
"How do you know?
"Misaki told me. How he ended up in the competition, the secret, the escape…" Nowai shook his head, "They've been working hard to stay together."
"Being royalty tends to make things unnecessarily difficult."
"Remind you of anyone?" Nowaki asked, moving closer to him.
"I'm not royalty."
"But you are nobility."
The brunette scoffed but looked over at him, eyes a bit tender despite his frown, "I guess so. The risks run a lot higher with those two though. There's much more weight to Akihiko's name than my own."
There was a moment of silence then. Nowaki looked over the snowy landscape, thinking about how calm everything was after the blizzard. A fresh blanket of snow was left in place of the dangerous storm, making it look like it never happened in the first place. He walked over to Hiroki and draped an arm around his shoulders, pulling him close to his chest to keep him warm. "What do you think will happen? To them?" he asked, rubbing his shoulder with his thumb.
For once Hiroki didn't complain about the contact. Instead he leaned against the other, the warmth a nice escape from the biting cold. "...I don't know." he answered honestly. Hiroki shook his head, worry visible on his face, "I don't know."
Misaki was thankful for the bath and was glad when Nowaki had one made for him. 'It can't be too hot because your body is still recovering but tepid water should be fine!' he had said which didn't matter much to Misaki. The grime and dirt from his travels had made him desperate for a bath either way. As long as he could get clean he was fine with it. However when Akihiko had walked in on the half naked Misaki he insisted he stay in the same room. It had taken a lot of pushing and arguing, well yelling on Misaki's end, till the two ended up where they were now. Misaki huffed as he begrudgingly washed himself while Akihiko sat near the tub. Still he didn't find himself that bothered with it.
"How do you feel?" Akihiko asked, breaking Misaki's train of thought.
"Better. It feels nice to finally get clean."
"You missed a spot." he noted, giving a playful smirk as watched him.
"Don't rush me, old man. I'm trying to enjoy this." With a huff, Misaki turned his head away from him definitely. The sound of Akihiko moving made Misaki look back though, "Huh? Usagi what are you-"
"Let me wash your hair." he said, already rolling up his sleeves.
"I'm not a kid. I can wash myself."
"That may be true but it would make the bath more enjoyable, no?"
Misaki opened his mouth to argue but instead he closed it and nodded, shifting so he was in a better position, "Whatever." he grumbled.
After getting behind Misaki he grabbed the small bowl near the tub and began to get Misaki's hair wet. Once he was satisfied he used the shampoo and began to wash, running his fingers through Misaki's brown locks, "Your hair is getting really long." he noted.
"I'm not surprised, I haven't cut it in months."
"It grew fast."
"That's why it's so annoying! It's too much to manage. I usually never let it get this long in the first place."
"I like it. It's soft." Akihiko hummed.
Keeping his head down, he rolled his eyes, "You're not the one who has to live with it."
Akihiko massaged Misaki's scalp, smiling as Misaki's shoulders relaxed at the touch. They fell silent after a moment. Akihiko's gaze softened as he washed the other's hair. It was a moment of peace that Akihiko knew would not last. Any amount of peace would be scarce while on the run. They would be constantly in danger, having to live on the edge till they found a safe place to settle. And even then, there would always be that looming danger over their heads. The fear that one day they'd be found…
The hands in Misaki's hair stopped and he waited a second before lifting his head a little, the movement snapping Akihiko out of his trance. "Usagi? What's wrong?"
"Nothing. Just thinking."
Akihiko chuckled and gently guided Misaki's head back so he could rinse it off. "It's not important." The pout he received made him chuckle a bit. "Close your eyes." He put a hand over Misaki's forehead so the water didn't fall on his face as he began to rinse the suds from his hair.
Still not willing to let it go he continued to push the subject even as he did as he was told. "You can tell me, y'know." he said, eyebrows furrowed a bit in annoyance. "You always push me to tell you things anyways. I think it's only fair you tell me." he huffed.
"Hmm, I guess you're right."
"I know I'm right!" Once the last of the shampoo was gone Akihiko pulled his hands back and Misaki straightened up, turning to look back at him. Akihiko wore a look of concern and he frowned a bit but remained silent, looking at him expectantly.
After a moment Akihiko spoke, "Misaki...is this alright?"
"What do you mean?"
"All of this...the running away, the hiding, the trouble...are you fine with this?" Misaki looked confused so Akihiko continued. "I never asked if you wanted to run away. I couldn't, not in the state you were in. It was out of impulse that all of us ran. Back then it seemed like the best thing to do but now I'm not so sure. Especially since you never got a say. So, Misaki, are you alright with this? Please, tell me what you are thinking."
Akihiko was met with silence at first. Not out of anger or hesitation but surprise. If he was being honest, Misaki hadn't thought about his current situation. Or at least not in depth. In the dungeon he didn't know how he was going to get out. The only thing he got was a vague promise from Haruhiko that he would be saved. And even then Misaki had his doubts and worries. After that he was unconscious so there was that. But now he was at a crossroads. He knew that Akihiko would do whatever Misaki wanted, whether he liked it or not. Despite being pushy he knew that when it came to times like this it was all up to him. The pressure was a lot to take in so for a while Misaki sat there, eyes downcast as he thought.
Eventually Misaki looked up at Akihiko, "I'm...not sure what's going to happen in the future. I don't know how long or far we have to run till we're safe. Hell, I don't even know if we'd ever be safe but," His expression softened. "I don't hate how things turned out. I know that there weren't many choices to begin with but...I still want to be with you. No matter what." The last part made Misaki turn a bit red and he looked away, "B-Besides, if I didn't want things to be complicated I would have left way earlier, right?"
There was a wave of relief that went through Akihiko and he couldn't help but lean over and kiss Misaki. He was met with the usual tenseness before Misaki relaxed into the kiss. When he pulled away Akihiko smiled, "I won't let you go. I promise, I'll find a way for us to be together. No matter the cost."
The red in Misaki's cheeks only darkened but he didn't pull away as Akihiko cupped his cheek, rubbing his thumb over the damp skin, "I know you will." That's what I'm worried about.
Haruhiko kept his hands clasped around his mug as he warmed himself near the fire. The bar on the edge of town, as run down as it was, provided a good enough shelter from the storm. Luckily no one knew who he was though he assumed that was because he looked like hell. His royal clothes had either been lost in the scuffle or ripped up but that was for the best really. He knew his father would send a search party soon, seeing as the storm had passed. Looks like it was his time to go.
After tossing a few coins onto the table he headed outside, a slight limp in his step. He walked to the stable near by where his horses were kept. Two horses but only one person. He frowned for a moment before he pushed the memory aside and got on one of the horses and led the other next to him.
Where Akihiko went he wasn't certain but he had an idea and that was all he had to go on at the moment. If he was wrong, he didn't know where else to go. If he was right, he wasn't sure what he would find. Would they be alright? Would Misaki be alright? Although he didn't like it, he had to have faith in his brother for managing to succeed. Otherwise all of this was for nothing.
((A/N: Hey guys! Thanks for all the support and I hope you all enjoyed this chapter! Like I said before, there will be a few more chapters though not a lot more. This story will reach an end soon so don't worry the suspense won't be too much. We'll find out our characters fate soon. The next update will be April 12th at 7pm PDT so keep an eye out for that! Hope you guys have a good week!))