Major thanks to DeathBerryHime, my beta, for editing and adding input.

Warnings: Minor drug use, and some strong language. Rating may change.

I don't own Ao no Exorcist


The Happiest Days

A curse escapes one Okumura Rin as he slams his palm down on the top of the old, early-90's lime-yellow tube TV. The old piece of junk seems to taunt him; hell, everything seems to be taunting him ever since he moved into this dingy apartment. He curses the fact that he took more damage than the machinery, which continues to blare static as if to spite him further. Of all things that Osogi could've sent him it had to be the ancient piece of plastic and plasma that's been sitting in a closet for the past fifteen years.

Rin leans back against the rolling chair at his desk, irritation towards not only the TV but his current situation beginning to fester.

He wanted things to go back to how they were.

A mere week ago he'd been working at his part-time job at a small department store near the church. He was getting ready to see his brother off to his new school! If he had known the fate that would await him on his way home that night, he'd have never chosen to leave work early.

Reaching into his pocket, the dark-haired half-demon pulls a pack of what he counts as his "guilty-pleasures" out. If he's inherited anything from Shiro, then it has to be his old habit of pulling a cigarette out whenever he feels stressed or bored. Of course the old man had never approved. He had confiscated his packs and given him a good clout upside the head when he'd discovered Rin's little past-time activity. Not that it did anything to deter him, though. He's never really felt any of the major side-effects of smoking, probably due to his demon genes cancelling out any negative effects. There's a brush of fabric as his tail snakes up and around his body, and with a simple flick, a blue light burst free of the black strands and ignites the nicotine.

Rin inhales sparingly, a steady sense of calm filling him as the addicting drug traverses through his system. He hopes that Yukio won't choose that moment to check up on him, for the bespectacled boy hates his brother smoking, just as much as he did at their father. He's tried explaining to Yukio that it won't harm him like it does to a regular human, but he won't be convinced.

As he finishes the cancer stick, the black-haired teen finally has enough of the static assaulting his sensitive hearing and flicks off the tiny TV. He resolves to try again at a later time or ask his brother to take a look at it if that fails. There's a TV set in the living room that he can use anyhow, so the tube TV is pushed to the back of his mind.

Rin swivels in his seat to snub out his cigarette before pushing himself out of his chair. It's already eight o' clock, and he and Yukio had yet to eat. He might as well make something simple since it was so late, and they start school in the morning. Well, at least he does; Yukio'd already begun the semester. Just the thought makes Rin moody all over again. Before this whole ordeal he never planned on going to high school. He did plan on working until he was of age to move out and then…

Rin frowns as he realizes he's never given much thought to his future. What would he have done if he wasn't being forced to attend True Cross Academy?

"Nii-san?" Yukio's voice pierces Rin's thoughts as he enters the medium-sized living room. "Did you finish unpacking already?"

Blue eyes look up to find the younger male seated at the dining room table, his nose in a book. Rin finds that he can almost laugh at the familiar sight, the nostalgia is so strong.

Nii-san! Come look at what I found!

"Not yet," He answers as he starts towards the kitchen, the image of their childhood dissolving, "And I really don't want to."

Yukio frowns, looking up from his book. "Rin…I know a lot has happened in the past week and high school isn't in your plans, but you should at least seize this opportunity. Not many people get to attend True Cross Academy, civilian or academic." He says.

"Yeah, yeah, I know." Rin grunts as he shuffles to the kitchen stove, "Are you hungry? I can whip us up something quick for dinner." He offers as he turns the knobs to ignite the flames.

Yukio shakes his head. "No, I ate something earlier, thanks." He then wrinkles his nose, "You've been smoking, haven't you Nii-san?" his voice drops several octaves to show his disapproval.

Rin scoffs, "Just one. Like I said before, it won't even affect me."

"You don't completely know that," Yukio argues. "It's a bad habit and you know it, Nii-san. Do you think that father would've wanted you doing that?"

At the mention of the late pastor, Rin feels his grip on the container of seasoning tighten as a rush of pain fills him. But before he can respond the shrill beeping of Yukio's phone breaks the growing tension. Without thinking Rin surges forward to grab the vibrating device off the counter and place it over his ear, much to the owner's chagrin.

"Hello?" Rin asks, ignoring the dirty look his brother shoots him.

"Eh? Rin?" Mephisto Pheles's overly cheery voice drifts through the speaker, grating on the half-demon's already-frazzled nerves. "Is Yukio not around?"

"He's here." Rin glances towards the irate boy. "Why are you calling, clown?"

A laugh answers his question, pounding on his patience like a hammer on nails. "Why to check on my favorite boys, of course!" There's a muffled noise in the background that might be a protest. "It would be rude of me to dump you in an apartment without further thought to your well-being."

It'd been rude of him to dump them in a crappy apartment with no prior warning in the first place, but Rin wisely chooses not to say this. Instead he replies with a dry "Well thanks for your concern."

If Mephisto notices the irritated jab then he ignores it, "But of course! Anything to help out an old friend." He pauses dramatically, ''How do you like the place?"

"It's… great." Rin says slowly. He wants nothing more than to tell the clown how he really feels about it, but he suppresses it due to the glare Yukio is once again sending his way.

"I'm glad you like it," Mephisto continues, oblivious. "Be sure to take the Blue Line to get to school, by the way. I did give you your student passes, right?"

"Yeah," Rin answers, remembering the small envelope containing the two slips of paper that gives them free admission while going to and from the school and the neighboring city. "They came in earlier."

Mephisto gives a pleased hum. "Excellent. And I trust that dearest Yukio has received his uniforms?"

At Yukio's nod, Rin gives an affirmative. "Is that all?" He asks, not really concerned about sounding rude. It's only eight-thirty, but Rin feels like he can sleep for ages.

"Wait! There's this weird-"

A surge of annoyance hits Rin, and he doesn't hesitate to cut the overly-enthusiastic headmaster off with the click of a button. He's had more than enough of Mephisto's nonsense for the day, even if he's only been talking to him for a short while.

"That was rude, Nii-san." Yukio states bluntly as he marches over to pluck his phone out of his sibling's hand.

Rin rolls his eyes before turning back to making the instant ramen, "Well, you weren't the one who had to listen to that clown's irritating voice yammer on and on." he looks over his shoulder at his younger brother who was going towards the door, "Are you sure that you're not hungry? I can make extras."

"I'm fine, Rin." There's a slightly peeved tone that echoes his words. Rin frowns as Yukio enters his room, shutting the door a little too harshly.

Rin is thrown off by the sudden mask that Yukio adorns, and he knows for a fact that his younger brother had neglected to eat that morning. Mouth set to a line, the dark-haired boy adds an extra helping of the instant noodles into the pot; he isn't sure what's wrong with Yukio, but he knows his brother well enough to be able to tell when he's lying.

Although, Rin supposes, it's understandable considering what they've been through in the past week. Though Rin still wishes Yukio will open up more regardless. It seems that there's a rift growing between them ever since the incident that took their adoptive father's life. And Rin can't help but wonder about the possibility that Yukio blames him for what happened on that fateful night. If he does, Rin can't fault him for it. There's so many what-ifs that had ran through the half-demon's mind; what-if he stayed that extra hour at work... What if he'd been able to properly use the kurikara. Then he could have saved Shiro from his untimely demise... what if...

There's a final click from the stove tops as Rin turns the knobs to disable the flames heating the ramen. He scoops a single helping of the instant food into the bowl he's set aside, leaving the larger portion for Yukio, whom he knows will come out to eat eventually. Dignified or not, Yukio is similar to Rin in that aspect; the both of them can't ignore their stomach for too long.

Leaving the counter lamp on for Yukio, Rin made his way to his room and shut the door behind him tightly. He knows he's far too fired up from his and Yukio's short spat to fall asleep right away, so he doesn't hesitate to flick out his tobacco. Yukio's never understood his habit, and if Rin's totally honest with himself, he didn't exactly know why either. All he knew was that it's like a balm on his stressed nerves, and in that moment Rin could forget about his brother's disapproval, his health or the approaching school day... Of course it only lasts for a few, too short (for him) moments; moments that Rin feels like he can trade the entire world for.

Rolling out the hazardous stick, Rin lays back on his back on his bed, blowing tendrils of leftover smoke into the air above him in small, borderless shapes. It wasn't until an hour later he finally succumbed to the pressures of sleep.

Rin's fitful and restless sleep could be chalked up to three things; one, frequent nightmares; two, an unfamiliar bed and finally,the awkward positions he has to assume so to keep from squashing his super-sensitive tail. It takes three tries for Yukio to get his brother out of bed that morning; the first two involving a gentle prodding and a call of his name. The third though was a frustrated whack to the head with his vibrating alarm clock.

An irritated grumble escapes the teen as he pulls himself up and out of the limited comfort of his bed, pain lancing through his head where the clock-turned-weapon had made contact. He presses the off button harder than he should and his eyes nearly bugged out of his head when he saw the time.

It's 7:30; exactly ten minutes before he and Yukio are due to head to the station to catch the last line to True Cross.

The next few minutes are a blur of black and blue as Rin zooms through his usual motions of getting ready at twice the speed. He grabs a long-sleeved purple-shirt with a cartoon flame insignia that doesn't smell too worn and used and his usual black jeans. Luckily for him he's only enrolled in civilian classes, for the advanced academy classes require a strict uniform that has to adhere completely to the dress policy, which means a biweekly washing and daily ironings. Rin snorts at that. He doesn't even wash his clothes once a week, and he'd be expected to go through all of that for appearances sake? Hell, no.

"Nii-san, are you ready yet?" His twin's inquiring and annoyed tone fills the air as the door is pushed halfway open.

Rin's irritation grows to match Yukio's, "I would be if someone got me up on time." He growls back, shoving a stray notebook into his backpack.

"I did... Three times to be exact!" Yukio snaps, patience wearing noticeably thin, "Now come on, Rin. I can't afford to be late!"

A grunt is the only reply he receives as Rin shoves the last of his supplies into his bag before slinging it over one shoulder and followed the younger boy out of the apartment.

Carefully eyeing his brother, Rin couldn't help but notice that it was rather silent. Perhaps it's because Yukio's lost in his own thoughts and doesn't seem inclined to break the quiet, although he himself doesn't want to say anything lest he set his brother off again. Instead, he reminisces about walking to grade school with Yukio.

Rin, wait! You forgot your backpack!

Since he'd been the stronger of the two, physically, Shiro had put him in charge of making sure that he and his little brother got to school and back whenever someone was unable to walk with them. It seemed like a small responsibility now that Rin thought about it, as the school was only a few blocks away, but one that he'd taken so seriously. He'd always been serious when it came to Yukio's safety, even now.

It's alright Yukio, just tell me where the bullies are!

The station closest to their apartment is relatively small, has less people than Rin would have expected. It's a simple place with a solid stone foundation and a small amount of passengers scattered along the brick platform; he and Yukio appeared to be the only students.

Luckily for them, they arrived just in time as the blue line pulled in; and here Yukio freaked about being late. Rin feels his hand itch towards his jean pocket as he stepped on the train, longing for the comfort of a cigarette as a wave of nervousness washes over him. He resists though, partly because of the unamused lecture Yukio will give him and for the flashing "No Smoking" sign hanging prominently over the sliding doors of the monorail. Instead, Rin takes a minute to admire the interior of the train, which is surprisingly clean for a public transportation service.

Rin finds himself standing idly near the window, hanging onto the guard rail while Yukio takes the seat next to him. Fishing in his pocket, Rin yanks out a medium-sized hair clip that he normally keeps handy for his wild and slightly unkempt bangs. While he usually doesn't mind the jagged tips, they do tend to get in the way of seeing the board and reading. He slips a hand through his messy dark-hair, raking up the strands hanging in front of his eyes. Once he has a sizable amount, he closes the teeth around the bundle of chosen hair and smooths the rest back.

Next to him, Yukio's eye twitches as if something is bothering him, but he keeps his nose in the book about herbal it off, Rin turns to stare out of the window at the scenery the train rushes by. In the distance Rin can see the outline of True Cross Academy looming in the distance. It's bigger, way bigger than he ever thought any academy could be. As a matter of fact, the academy looks more like a small town than it does a school, and Rin's not sure how anyone can navigate through it let alone someone with shit direction skills like him. And speaking of directions, Rin has no idea where his classes are located. He can just ask Yukio, but he has no idea if his brother even knows where those classes are.

Sighing, the half-demon reaches into his back pocket to pull out the crumpled piece of paper. Well he might as well try, "Oi,Yukio, I need to know where-"

He's abruptly cut off when Yukio suddenly stands up, face blank and glasses angled carefully so the glare hides his gaze,"Nii-san..." The younger male says calmly. "Come here."

Confused, Rin stares at his brother, "What? Why?" The hell's wrong with him?

"Just do it."

Though skeptical, Rin complies anyway by stepping forward obediently. "I still don't see why." He stops talking when Yukio suddenly reaches up and yanks the clip in his hair out, causing his previously bound bangs to fall back into their usual place. Any protest he's about to make dies in his mouth when Yukio's own hand pushes the hair back, centering the clip just right before closing it.

"It was bothering me with how off-center and crooked it looked." Yukio admits as he straightens his jacket primly, as if he hadn't just near-fawned over his brother.

The train pulls to a stop then, and Rin follows Yukio out, slightly dazed. He's reminded once again of grade school when Yukio was always fixing his tie and hair clips since he could never quite get it perfectly straight.

Hold still, Nii-san, you're tangling it worst by moving.

Nostalgia briefly fills Rin, and he tries not to think of happier days where he and Yukio were still close and Shiro was there to complete the family.

The brief walk to the entrance of the school is once again spent in silence, although it's more because Rin's too busy admiring the view of the water underneath the giant bridge they're crossing. Neither brother says anything until they're directly in front of the looming entrance, students in either uniforms or casual clothes flowing around them.

"The civilian classes are that way. There should be a map around the center. I have academy classes so I'll be going this way." Yukio says as he adjusts the strap of his bag. "Will you be alright, Nii-san?"

Rin pauses for a moment, then nods. "Y-yeah, it'll just take some time getting used to this." He offers what he hopes is a reassuring grin to which Yukio replies with a nod before starting off to his own class.

A curse escapes the older Okumura twin as he realizes that he still has no idea to where to go. So he starts by heading in the direction that Yukio indicated to him. Hopefully it won't be too hard to navigate the place.

It isn't until at least five minutes after the first bell rings that Rin is finally willing to admit that he has absolutely no clue where he is. Instead of continuing on and finding the map that Yukio mentioned, Rin must have taken a wrong turn and ended up farther away from the civilian wing. So much for enhanced senses, Rin thinks as he turns into another hallway that appears almost completely identical to the last ten.

His frustration increases when he realizes he's still nowhere close to his first block, which is Latin, room 3B-CA. Rin is in hallway H2-RA, which appears to be a storage hall. A defeated groan escapes the half-demon, and he leans against the wall and reaches into his pocket. There's no one around, and by the time he actually finds his class (if he even does) then it will most likely be over.

Rin's tail twitches under his long-sleeved shirt and he slides the cigarette underneath and channels a tiny flame into the tip of the furry appendage and lights it up. But before he can enjoy the small pleasure, a sharp pain in his ankle makes him yelp in surprise and drop the cigar. Looking down, the sophomore's disgruntled irritation is quick to change to surprise upon seeing the cause of his mishap.

"A…dog..?" Rin's eyebrows feel like they can lift off his face.

A small woof escapes the scrappy little white mutt as it stares up at him under droopy purple eyelids. A little polka-dot scarf sits around its neck, and a stumpy tail wags idly. Rin's first thought is that the dog is a demon not only because it smells off to him but because just what kind of dog has purple eyelids?

The little beast moves forward once more to tug on his jean pants before starting off in the direction of a random hallway. Rin's mouth twists in slight surprise before he starts after the dog, scooping up his fallen cigarette.

A sharp growl leaves the dog when he attempts to put the cancerous stick back in his mouth. Rin rolls his eyes and put it out,closing it with his thumb and forefinger and tossed it in the nearest bin. "Alright, alright…" he grunts as he does so, shoving his hand back in his pocket and slouching slightly, he trailled after the dog. He wasn't certain where the stupid-looking mutt is leading him, but he at least hoped that someone has sent it as a guide and not for some sort of weird prank. If the latter were the case, Rin would be very pissed.

After another minute of walking and four more hallways, the tiny beast finally halts in front of a heavy, wooden oak door. He barks for extra measure, sitting obediently.

"This is it?" Rin's eye narrow, and he pulls out his schedule to confirm that the room matches the one assigned to his first block. When he finds that it does indeed say 3B-CA, he breathes out in relief, "Fucking finally."

Before Rin enters his first class, another tug on his jeans begs his attention, and he glances down once more to find the dog still staring up at him expectantly. "Uh…thanks, I guess." He says, feeling a tad bit foolish. Or he does until he sees the little slip of paper in the small creature's mouth.

Stooping down, Rin plucks the piece of paper from the dog's grip, briefly confused. When did the dog pick this up? He doesn't get a chance to find out; the dog, seemingly pleased with itself for a job well-done and trots off in the direction of what Rin thinks is the front of the school (for all his shit direction-skills are worth, it's the back). He pays it no more mind as he glances downward and opens the folded note.

But before he can open it, the door swings open and a pretty young woman with red and blonde hair pulled back into a messy knot stands before him, glaring at him, "Yer late." She says sharply, as if she's expecting him (though, Rin supposes, she kind of is).

"I got lost," he says lamely, intimidated greatly by the venomous scowl directed at him.

The woman sneers at his answer, "If ya needed a guide then why didn't ya look at the map at the front?"

Rin feels a surge of irritation. Yukio had told him the same thing, though he has yet to actually see one. "Sorry," he hisses out, though he barely feels apologetic at all. This woman was beginning to grate on his nerves, though he supposes that her annoyance is slightly justified seeing as how he is the one to arrive late.

"Whatever, just get in 'ere." She says after another moment, practically dragging him into the room.

Rin is mildly surprised to find that, despite the prestigious and high-end school he is in, the students here look like any normal run-of-the-mill high school students. Maybe it's due to the lack of uniform codes or the fact that it's mainly for regular middle-class kids, but for a moment Rin feels as if he's in middle school all over again but without the looks of fear, anger, and hate. He's secret pleased by the fact that he doesn't seem out of place amongst the beat-up tennis shoes, raggedy jeans, and headphones.

"Alright brats, sit down and shut up!" The woman barks as they enter the classroom. "You might not be as smart as the academy kids, but you should at least act somewhat intelligent." Her remark garners a few sour faces, but otherwise the students did as they're told. "Sit down next to the idiot with the pink-hair."

Not wanting to be caught in the spotlight any longer, Rin makes his way to where the afore-mentioned idiot sits, which is to the middle-back of the classroom on the right side. The pink-haired boy is currently dozing off, looking every bit like the class slacker apparent in every class. He doesn't budge even when Rin plops noisily in the rickety chair next to him.

"The reason yer all 'ere is to learn Latin, and ye will learn it whether ye want to or not. Name's Kirigakure Shura, if ye don't know already." Shura begins to lecture. It's then that Rin remembers the piece of paper he received from the dog, and he unfolds it from where it'd been crumpled in his hands.

Younger half-brother,

I understand that it may seem difficult for you to fit in at first. After all, you're gangly, temperamental, and you look like a delinquent. But have no fear! True Cross is a wonderful place to start fresh at. I've alerted your teachers about your little backstory (excluding the obvious you-know-what part, of course), so shouldn't be pestered too much. If you have any further questions than feel free to stop by office. Have a great year!

-MP

P.S. If I catch you smoking in my halls again than Satan will be the least of your worries.

Rin's mouth flattens into a thin line as he reads the letter, which is punctuated with a crudely drawn picture of Mephisto's smiling face in red and blue crayon. He really should expect such nonsense from the clown by now. And how had he knows that Rin was smoking? Unless…

"Oi, Okumura! Pay attention!" Shura scolds the sixteen-year old, who's currently leaning into his hand, face blanching and a look of confusion settled on his face.

Latin, as it turns out, is definitely not one of Rin's strong points. Not only does he wrongly butcher almost every passage he's asked to read, but he also manages to fall asleep twice. Either the crazy woman doesn't notice the lazy male next to him doing the exact same thing, or she has it out for him alone. Rin normally doesn't let envy affect him, but at that moment he wishes that Yukio hadn't inherited nearly all of the brains between them. Especially in his cultural studies class, where he answered every question wrong despite having a textbook open in front of him.

His tail tightens around him in response to his frigid emotions, and his stomach growls. It's already halfway through lunch time, as he spent the first half copying the notes he missed while zoning out and sleeping in Chemistry. Not that it really matters anyways since he'd neglected to make any lunch the day before (it had honestly been the farthest thing from his mind).

Another rumble interrupts his thoughts, and Rin leans back on the tree he's been sitting under for the past ten minutes. He silently curses his forgetfulness and reaches into his pocket to yank out the stick that will hopefully keep him satiated until he gets home.

A faint humming makes him freeze, Rin's ears twitch as a light tune fills the air. Eyebrows furrowing, Rin stands up and makes his way to the source of the sound. Hadn't he just been alone? Surely he would notice if someone enters the courtyard, his enhanced smell and hearing ensures that. But if that was true, then who was the pretty blonde girl tending to the patch of blooming plants?

For a moment Rin just watches her, curious. She reminds him of a sunflower almost, and he's content to simply look. At least he is until his traitorous stomach betrays him, and he stumbles a little as the girl spins around to fix him in a deer-in-headlights stare.

"Ah-um," He begins awkwardly, but he's cut off when she abruptly stands, clutching a little green watering can with tiny cartoon elephants printed on it. The sight is so childish, and it almost appears to belong to a preschooler.

Look, Rin, if you water it every day then it'll grow big and tall!

Rin is momentarily frozen by the sight, but is interrupted when a small gasp escapes the girl. The watering can slips from her grip and tumbles to the ground as the blonde whips around and darts for the exit.

Rin remains frozen until the door to the courtyard slams shut, then feels a sharp sense of despair prick him. How many times has someone run from him before? How many times has someone fled from him? The fact that someone still ran, despite that no one knows him or his past, makes the pain worst.

Reaching down, Rin scoops up the forgotten object. Small dents on the body and handle speak of warm memories and the dirt permanently encrusted on the handle symbolizes much use. Rin stares at it for a moment before setting it on the patch of dirt next to where the small buds she'd been tending to are sprouting. Hopefully she'll come back when she notices its absence, it'll be a shame if something that appears so valuable and rich in memories was lost.

The door opens again just as Rin straightens, this time opposite the one the girl ran through. Rin feels a jolt; has the strange girl come back already? He turns slowly, ready to meet with accusing wide green eyes and pointing pale fingers; instead he's met with familiar cobalt blue,"Yukio?"

"Nii-san... there you are." The younger Okumura says, holding the door open behind him. "The lunch bell just rang, and I knew that you'd have trouble finding your next class, so I came to collect you."

Rin casts one more glance back to the solemn-looking watering can, fighting down a bout of sadness. "How did you know where to find me?" he asks as he starts towards his brother.

"Moriyama-san ran by saying something about a strange boy near her garden." Yukio answers, standing to the side to allow Rin to pass him before following.

Choosing to ignore the subtle insult, Rin falls into step next to Yukio. "What classes do I have next, anyways?"

Dark eyebrows come together. "How do you not know? You received a schedule, didn't you?"

Rin's mouth twists into a sheepish grin. "…I kind of lost it in 3rd block…" He admits, not looking his twin in the eyes. He most certainly did not want to explain how he'd managed to drop the piece of paper into a boiling vat of tomato soup during gourmet class.

As expected, Yukio is not amused, "Of course you did." he was mocking him and Rin clicked his tongue equally annoyed,"Seriously Rin, I hope you won't act like this for the exorcist classes; Neither me nor the other teachers will be lenient."

"I know Yuki-other teachers?" Rin stops, almost stumbling as his mind catches up to Yukio's words. "What does that mean?"

Yukio's eyes flash to his bewildered brother. "I never told you? As of Monday, I'm the new Demon studies teacher."

Rin feels oddly numb; his own brother-younger brother he might as well add-will be one of his teachers? "Does…does that mean I have to address you formally?!" He really can't imagine calling someone younger then him sensei.

"Well technically, yes. But you'll most likely disregard that rule, so I have no expectations." Yukio tells him, and he silently agrees. There's no way that he can start calling the other boy formally, not without sending his pride down the river in a brightly colored gift box.

The fact that his brother is already a teacher at sixteen would not sit well with Rin. How can he have gone so long without so much as a single suspicion towards Yukio and the old man's whereabouts? Why did they keep something so vital from him? To think he's been living a lie for the past sixteen years…

"Nii-san?" Yukio asks, stopping in front of a classroom and grabbing his elder brother's arm when he nearly walks passed it. "This is your classroom. You have professor Bouerbon for Demonology. I'll see you last period, my room is at the end of this hallway to the left."

Snapping out of his thoughts, Rin pauses. "What did you say that you teach?" he asks.

"Demon studies. It's like Demonology but more hands-on. I think you'll like it." Yukio says as he begins to head in the direction of his own class room. "Try to be on time though, I'd hate to give my own brother detention."

"I'm not that incompetent," Rin mutters indignantly as he pushes open the classroom door.

The classroom he steps into is larger than any of his civilian ones. It's built like a science lab but with various posters and models of beings that defy the teachings of anything factual. A neat row of two-to-a-seat lab tables fill the middle of the room and an oriental carpet blankets the floor. There are already students filling the desks, so Rin sits at an empty one near the back-right of the room. It's not too far in the front to be noticed, but it also doesn't scream "I'm an outcast, avoid me".

Rin's eyes begin to droop as soon as he sits down and he struggles not to drift off. Why is he so tired? He slept almost half of his classes away save gourmet foods, and he went to bed at a decent time. Now that he thinks about it, it's probably due to the lack of food since he skipped both breakfast and lunch.

The creaking of the chair next to him alerts him of someone occupying the seat next to him, and Rin turns his head just in time to see a short blond boy with the height and stature of a middle-school kid sit down next to him.

The boy's messy light hair and closed eyes give him more of a sleepy look than Rin. "What the hell are you looking at, retard?" The puppet on the left hand of the boy speaks in a high-pitched voice. "Keep gawking like that and this puppet will become a permanent part of you."

Now fully-awake, Rin slowly turns to face the front of the board, where the teacher is starting a lecture in basic, low-class demons. He's way too tired to deal with crap like this, though he honestly shouldn't be surprised at this point. Perhaps his exhaustion is his body's way of telling him that he's done with all this shit.

But despite this, the raven-haired boy is pleasantly surprised to find that the lecture is surprisingly interesting. It seems bizarre to him that he's sitting in a classroom learning about creatures and beings that shouldn't even exist. If someone told him what he'll be doing now a week ago then he'd have turned the other way with a laugh and a good punch to the bastard's face.

The only setback is the amount of work, which exceeds the total of that of his other classes. Rin can only quietly groan when he mentally tallies up the amount of work he has to do tonight. Maybe Yukio'll cut him some slack if he complains enough.

Rin feels a familiar twitch of his jaw which signals a growing need for a cigarette. He'd pull one out right now if that clown hadn't threatened him, and it won't make him late. He briefly debates skipping but tosses that idea aside. It will be stupid of him to skip his own brother's class, especially if he lives with him.

Although, he does take his time entering and setting himself, just for the amusement of irritating his brother, who's currently giving him a sharp glare over the rims of his glasses. "Thank you for joining us, Okumura-kun."

Rin only offers his trademark toothy grin before plopping down in the seat directly in front of Yukio's desk.

Despite Yukio's previous speculation, Rin finds himself utterly bored with his lessons. Maybe it's because he lives with the bespectacled boy, or maybe it's due to the fact that the subject is dull. Whatever the reason Rin knows that he's about to receive an earful about his behavior in class if the stoic façade and poorly hidden scowl is anything to go by.

"Nii-san, didn't I warn you about your behavior?" Yukio asks as they step onto the train that will take them home.

"You only said not to be late." Rin argues weakly.

Yukio adjusts his glasses, the glare temporarily hiding his eyes. Rin really hates it when he does that. "Not sleeping in class should be obvious. Not only do you make yourself look foolish, but you make me look bad as well."

"S'not my fault your voice is boring, Spotty Four-eyes." Rin mumbles as he glances out the window. He doesn't have to look to know that there's an angry flush creeping into his brother's face.

Yukio's mouth thins into a line as he chooses not to respond to the insult. "Just because you don't want to be here doesn't mean you should just give up. At least try before you call it quits!"

Rin doesn't respond, instead choosing to slip his worn ipod (black with a cartoon skull and crossbones sticker courtesy of Shiro for his last birthday) and slips in his earbuds. He turns it to a modern rock single, one that the old man used to hum to while writing his sermons, and turns the volume up just enough to block out the world.

"If you ever feel like hitting something or getting angry, just crank up the volume and listen to some rock, trust me it helps"

From the corner of his eye he can see Yukio sigh in frustration before turning his gaze away. Rin scowls and can't help but feel a little guilty. He doesn't want to tune his brother out, but he feels that if he doesn't get some peace of mind then he'll have a meltdown; literally.

The rest of the ride home is spent in silence, though Rin's head is starting to pound from the volume so he turned the ipod off, but kept the earbuds in to deter further conversation. Once they reach home Rin immediately heads for his room. He wants a quick smoke before Yukio made good on his promise to ensure he'll do his work; meanning endless nagging and threats.

As soon as he's in the safety of his room, Rin allows his tail to uncurl from where it sat around his torso and sighed in satisfaction as he stretched out the kinks. He wastes no time in lighting up his last cigarette, reveling in the immediate sense of calm that fills him. Rin can almost see Yukio's disappointed stare, and he almost wishes that this is the last one he'll ever smoke.

Rin! What in the seven hells do you think you're doing with these?!

Blue eyes squeeze shut at the memory, and his grip on the cigarette tightened for a moment. Rin's tail whips the air behind him, and the teen rubs the hazardous drug out before heading to the door.

These little flashes of memories of Shiro and his childhood are crushing him, making it so that it's hard to breathe, and Rin needs to get out before he suffocates or burst out.

Dinner for the Okumuras is a quiet affair, with the customary before-meal prayer and passing of dishes the only time they speak. Yukio is busy leafing through his lesson plan book, while Rin is trying-and failing-to not reminisce on happier meal times.

Now now, Rin, you must wait for your little brother!

Afterwards, Yukio takes up the duty of doing the dishes, while Rin starts to work on some of his work. They work in silence tillYukio dried the last plate and puts it in its proper place in the cabinet above the sink. By then Rin had sluggishly worked this way through a worksheet of math and a quick reading of World Culture. He doesn't even want to look at Latin, so finds himself moodily glaring at the blank TV screen. As nice as some late night TV sounds, he knows that Yukio will most likely blow his hand off with one of his handguns should he reach towards the remote.

As if sensing his brother's thoughts, Yukio takes a seat in the chair next to the couch he's lounging in front of. The dark brown-haired exorcist eyes his brother after a moment of silence. "How are you doing, Nii-san?" He asks idly, opening his ever-present notebook to scribble something down.

His only answer is a muffled grunt as Rin presses his face into the coffee table.

"Come on, Rin. The sooner you finish the sooner you can sleep." Yukio sighs. "What are you stuck on, anyways?"

Rin lifts his head up enough to answer "Latin," before his head slammed back down, a finger gesturing towards the offending work.

Yukio's eyebrows raise. "Latin?" He picks up the packet of questions off of the antique table. "Nii-san, this is beginner's work!"

"You... You can read it?" Rin turns his head to fix Yukio in a surprised stare.

"Of course I can. I aced Latin and am quite fluent in it." Yukio tells him nonchalantly, and Rin feels a stab towards his pride at his brother's words.

"Then what does it say?" Rin challenges.

"Si vis scire quam attendit.*" Yukio says before tossing the packet so it lands on Rin's resting head. "Read the textbook, Nii-san. It does help." With that being said, the young teacher closes his book with a resounding snap and stands.

"Can't I do this later?!" Rin whines pathetically, swiping the stapled papers off of his head and onto the ground next to him.

"No, because your 'later' is 'not at all'." Yukio says stoically.

He walks toward his room yet stops just as his fingers touch the cold handle. He directs a quick yet sharp glare at his older brother,"Try not to take all night." with his free hand pushes his glasses up, "We do have school tomorrow after all."

The door shut with a soft click and Yukio stood in the middle of his room. He let out a tired breath and his fingers quickly went up to sooth the migrain that was bothering a while ago. His gaze fell to the picture on his desk and unconsciously his hands brought it closer to his face. He remembered that day. It was their first day in kindergarden; he and Rin were wearing their blue blazers and red pants and were laughing so hard. Shiro was laughing as well, having them both closer to his embrace. They had gone for ice-cream later on and had a wonderful day unaware of the troubles that ensued later on.

His thumb caressed the glassy image of his late father, "Otou-san..."

He missed him. He missed his laugh, his voice, his pressence, his antics... He even missed the way he smoked, even if he was totally against him smoking.

(Relax, Yukio! One small puff aint gonna harm me. Papa is young for his age)

He always thought that lung cancer was going to off him. That his father, the Paladin, Fujimoto Shiro would be murdered by those damn nicotine filled sticks... It was a rediculous thought, but it terrified him. Losing his father, his support to this world... As much as a devastating hit it would have been, Yukio had prepared for that possibility. He had canceled every single other, because Shiro was Shiro and he could face everything in his way.

Something warm fell down his cheek and Yukio took a breath, "Don't worry, Otou-san." with determined eyes he faced the smirking face of his father. He had already made up his mind.

"I'll protect Nii-san from now on."


*Latin may be incorrect

Please note that this is also posted on AO3 under a different title and the username Rollamas.