Well I've finally finished it! Endings are hard to write, you want to wrap things up but not go on and on. I hope I've done it well enough to satisfy all my readers. I've had a wonderful time reading your reviews and it only inspired me to do more. I hope I've entertained you, made you think and made you wary about dark shadows. Now on with the story...
"Saiga! What now?" Kakei was juggling the three lights, wishing he'd brought more powerful ones. "It's still got him! You heard Rikuo, his heart is slowing down! Saiga, what now?"
Rikuo…Rikuo can do it! Saiga had looked away from Kakei's distraught face and up at the ceiling. The windows! There were bright streetlights on the other side of the building. The street they'd come up had been dark but now…
"Rikuo! Break the windows behind you! Do it now!" Saiga yelled and got down and wrapped a strong arm around Kazahaya's waist, instantly he could feel the strength of the shadow as it pulled.
Rikuo didn't question Saiga but turning slightly he looked over his shoulder and stared hard at the windows. They didn't just break; they exploded into tiny pieces and rained down like hail.
Extra bright lights shone down as if catching the foursome in a spotlight. With the new light came screaming – a hollow sound likened to nails on a chalkboard.
Kakei jumped and dropped the flashlights the screaming scared him so. But the shadow's hand let go! Rikuo and Saiga both fell back with Kazahaya in their arms.
"Let's get the fuck out of here!" Saiga yelled. Rikuo turned and gestured for Saiga to put the boy on his back. Saiga did so frowning at the coldness of Kazahaya's skin. Quickly he shrugged out of his jacket, draped it over the boy and gently pushed Rikuo to start him moving. Kakei ran beside the boys making sure Kazahaya didn't slip.
Taking a moment, Saiga dared to approach the fire. It was still screaming and Saiga wanted it to stop, wanted the thing to go away – completely. He held a pipe in his hand and planned to use it to scatter the wood. Somehow, It was connected to the fire. Saiga inched closer but stepped out of the light for a moment. It only needed a moment. Saiga felt something cold slide over his foot and clasp his ankle.
"Ah, hell no!" Panic made him strong and he pulled out of the grasp and back into the light. "Damn." His leg still felt cold but it was burning too. Limping, he carefully approached the fire again staying in the light. Relying on his long reach and the pipe, Saiga knocked the burning pieces of wood apart. The cold concrete floor served to put out the struggling flames. More awful screaming echoed and the room grew a little darker. Saiga noticed the forgotten flashlights and scooped up one and got the hell out of there.
As he ran limping out after his friends, low sounds could still be heard but that was a problem for another day. They had Kazahaya back and that was all that mattered.
The store stayed closed for almost a week. Kazahaya had been hospitalized. Once Rikuo had Kazahaya he didn't stop but ran or trotted all the way back to the car. Kakei was sure Kazahaya would have to go to the hospital as he wiped away blood and bandaged cuts. He got in the back seat with the boy.
Rikuo looked for Saiga wondering what was taking him so long. He leaned in and laid Saiga's coat over the boy and noticed the undone pants. Anger pulsed through him as he zipped and buttoned Kazahaya's pants. The bastards hadn't gotten a chance to rape him but if he woke at the hospital he didn't want Kazahaya to feel any shame.
Rikuo finally heard Saiga coming and closed the backdoor. Saiga was limping. "What happened? Did you fall?"
"No." Saiga got in the car and stated the engine. "It grabbed me too. Hurts like hell."
"What? It hurts?" Kakei looked to Kazahaya's leg. Did he have another injury? Nothing showed through the boy's pants.
"Yeah. It burns but my leg is cold where it touched me." Saiga sped through the city leaving rubber on the streets.
Kakei held Kazahaya's head in his lap as Saiga drove. His eyes had remained open and his expression was a combination of shock and pain. How much hurt had the boy suffered? Kakei wept over his helplessness.
A concussion, a sprained hand/wrist, some fractured ribs, blood loss, something akin to frostbite on his leg and sever shock – those were the reasons the hospital gave for keeping Kazahaya. He also needed stitches in his head and arm. It was the doctor who in the end closed Kazahaya's eyes.
They stayed with him until they were positive he was okay and then they only left long enough to change out of blood stained clothes and grab some food. Saiga also had to be treated but his injures were mild in comparison.
In the bright light of day, Kazahaya still looked awful but he was alive. Bandaged and bruised but alive. The three men stayed with him, talked to him and teased him – waiting for the moment when he would wake fully and know their faces. For the most part he was unconscious.
Days passed and still, he drifted in and out. Kazahaya mumbled words about Hinata, he pleaded to not be raped and cried when he thought he was going to die. They had been so scared when he was missing and now they suffered with him picturing all he had gone through – alone.
Hinata called repeatedly checking on his condition and Kakei assured her he would be fine. He asked that she wait until Kazahaya was released from the hospital before visiting.
On the third evening, Saiga rose silently from his chair, his limp practically gone. He was well enough for what was to come. Rikuo was in a chair, head thrown back, Kakei on a cot beside the bed, both sleeping fitfully. He went to Kazahaya and rested a hand on the boy's chest feeling the steady beat. "I'll be back soon. It's time, I can't wait any longer. You'll be safe from them." Kazahaya's face turned towards him and Saiga ran a finger down the cheek catching a stray tear. "They'll pay."
He found them easily, after all didn't criminals return to the scene of the crime. They were at the warehouse where they'd almost raped Kazahaya. Not inside of course but in the dark alley. Saiga stopped to listen before confronting them. He was uneasy but it had nothing to do with the punks and everything to do with being this close to that building at night.
"What are we doing here Spike?" Ryuu looked around nervously. They'd seen – he didn't know what they'd seen and hanging around here seemed like they were inviting trouble. "That kid can't still be here…alive that is. I don't like it here."
"He's right Spike that kid's long dead by now and I sure as hell ain't going back in there!" Jiro pointed at the building and walked several paces away.
"What, you don't want your lighter? I remember you said your big brother gave that to you." Spike said blowing out smoke. He studied the warehouse. He didn't want to go back inside anymore than Jiro or Ryuu but he couldn't seem to get what he saw out of his head. The sounds that shadow made even now made him shiver in fear. Spike just figured it was curiosity that pulled him back here.
"Fuck the lighter! I'll get a new one, a better one. Look man, I'm outta here. You can hang around 'spook central' if you want to but I'm gone. You coming?" Jiro asked Ryuu.
Ryuu looked at Spike, "You're the boss man but I don't want no part of this shit! We'll hook up you with you later. Let's go get a drink. I hate this place."
Spike was angry; his boys were making decisions without him. He didn't want to be here either but that didn't mean they could mouth off to him. He threw down his cigarette and started after them to beat some sense into them.
"Well, you aren't all total idiots but that won't save you tonight." Saiga stepped out of the shadows. It seemed as if he walked out of a wall, all dressed in black with his shades on. "Too bad you couldn't have thought to leave two friends of mine alone the other night. Oh, and the kid's not dead."
The three guys were visibly shaken by Saiga's appearance. At first they thought it was the shadow coming for them. Ryuu and Jiro actually ran into each other. They looked from Spike to Saiga wondering what was going to happen now.
Spike too at first thought of the shadow but Saiga's body was soon visible and he put on his customary smirk and let his heart slide back down his throat. "So he's alive? Good to know, tell him I'll come calling. He interrupted something special and he needs to make it up to me." Spike lit another cigarette. "Too bad we didn't get 'intimate' the other day; I know he was looking forward to it."
Saiga never let them see just how angry those words made him. He smiled with ice. "Strange, neither he nor she ever mentioned that they were having fun. In fact, she wasn't the least bit interested in the something 'special' you fuckers had in mind for her. As for the kid, you almost broke his arm. He was bleeding to death and you planned on raping him as well." Saiga spoke evenly but any fool could sense he was not a happy man.
"Hey man, we didn't! We didn't rape him! Looks like he got home okay so let's just leave it at that. Okay?" Ryuu suddenly became a smart man and worried for his life.
"Yeah. You're his friend so obviously he made it home, now let us be on our way! We won't go near him." Jiro joined Ryuu's side.
Saiga tilted his head just slightly. "You wanted to fuck him after…Spike, correct? You want me to let you go? You must be high, no."
Spike laughed, this was going to be fun. There was only this guy and three of them. Once they'd beaten his ass then maybe they could continue what they'd started with his friend. "Too late boys, he wants a fight so let's give him one. He can't handle all of us."
"Oh please fight me. I am so in the mood to kick your asses. You deserve a lot worse for what you tried to do to my friends but I'll settle for beating the shit out of you. I'll even let you attack me first." The whole time Saiga had been speaking, his arms were behind his back and in one fist was a length of pipe. The gun was snuggled against his spine but he didn't think he'd need it tonight, to him these three were nothing.
Spike never took his cigarette out of his mouth, thinking it wouldn't be necessary. Jiro and Ryuu looked at each other and shrugged – maybe they had a chance if he was going to let them have a go at him first. Emboldened, they stalked forward.
Jiro hit the ground first. It only took two punches but Saiga felt obliged to give him a swift kick in the ass that sent his head into the wall. One down. Ryuu put up a bit more of a fight but Saiga was faster, not one punch hit him. Using the pipe against the punk's knee had Ryuu on the ground crying but it wasn't enough. Saiga remembered Kazahaya's cracked ribs and kicked Ryuu in the side. Two down.
Spike blinked, how the hell had he done that? Both of his boys were down, one out cold, the other crying. This bastard meant business. Backing up, Spike bent quickly and pulled a knife out of his boot – time to get serious.
"I want you to beg." There was no mistaking the anger in Saiga's voice now. "He begged you stop and you laughed. I won't stop hitting you until you beg me."
Spike was scared now but it was too late to run, he'd just have to cut him first then take off. "I don't think so. I won't beg." Idiotically he taunted Saiga. "He begged all right, begged me to fuck him!" Spike rushed Saiga.
He let him come. Saiga ducked and weaved; he even let the knife get close enough to cut him through his coat – Spike's mistake. Spinning to the side, Saiga brought the pipe down hard against the punk's wrist. Saiga grinned to hear the scream as the bones crunched underneath the pipe. Hits to the face, hits to chest and stomach, Saiga's fists were a blur. He was waiting – waiting for him to beg.
Spike's arm was on fire, he couldn't defend himself. One eye was swelling shut, he could barely stand. Every time he thought he was going to fall, the bastard in shades picked him up and started hitting him all over again. "Stop." Swollen lips forced out the words. "Stop…enough. I…give…up." More punches and he spat out blood. "Please…please stop…hitting me." Tears mingled with blood as his pride was being beaten out of him. He couldn't take anymore. "Please man…stop…please."
Saiga heard but landed one last punch to the man's jaw before stepping back. Breathing hard with emotion, not exertion he watched Spike crumble to the ground, a bloody mess. Three down. "Asshole. It's not over for you; let's see how you like jail." Saiga couldn't resist kicking the jerking body before moving away, straightening his coat. "They're all yours."
A man walked up to Saiga slowly, he'd been waiting and watching Saiga while he worked. "You really worked this one over. He must have really pissed you off. I'll have to call for ambulance you know."
Saiga finally calm again turned to look at his friend, the cop. "He deserved it and worse. Lock'em up and throw away the key."
"Well I'll lock'em up but I don't know how long they'll stay there. Assault on a citizen will only get them a little time." The cop was dressed in plain clothes and he used one foot to see if Jiro was still alive.
"What about arson? I believe if you check inside," Saiga nodded at the building. "You'll find a lighter with one of these guys' prints on it plus some burned wood and other stuff."
"Yeah? Okay, I'll check it out." He started to head inside when Saiga jerked him back by the arm.
"Not at night. Go when there's plenty of light. Never at night, not in the dark. It could mean your life." Saiga's hand was tight around his friend's arm.
He stared at Saiga and felt shivers along his spine. Nodding he looked back over his shoulder at the abandoned building wondering what in the hell could spook Saiga and then figured he didn't want to know. "Sure. Why don't you head on home? You can come in tomorrow and make a formal complaint. What about your friend?"
"No, the kid won't be filing charges, just me. He doesn't need to be bothered with this any more." Saiga tucked his bruised hands into his pockets.
"He gonna be alright?"
"Yes, he will be. I - we'll make sure of it. See, later." Saiga turned and headed for home.
The cop watched Saiga for a while then looked at the men laid out on the ground and was glad Saiga was a friend instead of an enemy.
He went home. Saiga wanted to cleanup before heading back to the hospital. The store and both apartments were quiet and dark – unoccupied for days. Everything was fine but messages were piling up. Hopefully the kid would be coming home soon otherwise the store would continue to sit empty.
Saiga showered and changed clothes. His hands were a mess and he did what he could to clean them up. Feeling somewhat restless he made the bed, none of them had taken the time to straighten up since they went looking for Kazahaya.
As he was leaving to go back to the hospital, instead of going to the car his feet took him up to the boys' place. Indeed, the room was just as they'd left it but there was the new addition of Rikuo's bloody clothes. He'd carried Kazahaya and ended up with a lot of blood on him. The nurses at first thought that he too had been hurt. Turning away from the clothes he went over to Kazahaya's bed. The sheet was still hanging off the bed and the pillow still held the imprint of the boy's head. Sighing Saiga sat down and rubbed his hand over it. Suddenly he was very tired, the fear and anticipation of trouble was now over and all they needed was to bring Kazahaya home to heal. Saiga kicked off his shoes and laid back, his head resting where Kazahaya's had and let himself sleep.
Rikuo heard something and his eyes opened to see the nurse bending over Kazahaya. He sat up quickly.
"Shh, it's all right. I'm just checking on him. It's still early, go back to sleep." She smiled at him as she left. All the nurses were quite impressed with how much the three men cared for the boy, he was never left alone.
Tired Rikuo tried to get comfortable before he noticed Saiga was gone. Maybe he'd just gone to stretch his legs; none of them ever went far. Rikuo didn't dwell on it but closed his eyes, seeking more rest. The next time he woke it was to the smell of coffee. It was Saiga. He was standing before him holding out a cup.
"Thanks." Automatically his eyes went to the bed but his friend was still unconscious.
Saiga went to Kakei's cot and gently ran his hand through the man's hair. He'd missed Kakei, sleeping by his side. As he watched, Kakei smiled softly at his touch and opened sleepy eyes. "Morning."
"Morning." Kakei's eyes asked the question.
"He hasn't woken up yet." Saiga answered and watched Kakei's disappointment before he reached for his glasses and sat up. He accepted the coffee and noticed Saiga's hand. Accusing eyes stared at Saiga's face.
"You went alone. You've already taken care of them haven't you?" Kakei stood, angry but remembered to keep his voice low.
Rikuo began to pay attention and he too noticed the scraped hands of Saiga. Anger filled him. He'd wanted to beat those men into the ground and apparently so had Kakei. "Last night. You must have done it last night while we were sleeping. Damn it, Saiga!" They all looked anxiously at Kazahaya. It was unlikely they would wake him by yelling but they didn't want to cause him any distress. Moving further away from the bed the three had a quieter argument.
"Why? You know we wanted to help, to hurt those who hurt our Kudo-kun."
Saiga looked at both of them, he'd known they were going to be angry but he'd made the right decision for all of them. "Look, it had to be done quickly, before Kudo came home. I want him to feel safe. Besides you two needed to be here in case he woke up. You don't want him waking up alone and afraid do you?" He directed this last at Kakei.
Kakei of course looked to the hospital bed. No he didn't want Kazahaya to be alone and Kakei needed to be there for his own sake.
"What about me? You could have taken me with you!" Kazahaya wasn't a fighter, didn't know how but Rikuo could have taken revenge for him.
"You'd have killed them Rikuo. Both of you would have, hell I had to restrain myself from killing them. There's no way you'd have let them live."
Rikuo blinked. Kill? He wanted to hurt them but kill? "No I wouldn't. Why would you say that?"
"Look at your hands." Saiga noticed they were balled into fists. "You're too angry. Remember how I asked you to break the windows?" At Rikuo's nod, Saiga continued. "You didn't just break them; you shattered them into tiny pieces. The windows exploded with just a simple look from you. If you had faced those men, more than likely you would have done the same to them before your fists ever got near them. You would have shattered their bones, possibly exploded their internal organs Rikuo.
There is no way in the world you could have stopped yourself. Do you think we or Kazahaya would want to know you were walking around with the deaths of three men on your back? No. I took care of it, it's over and done. The bastards are in jail on assault and arson charges – they're gone. Let it go."
Kakei listened in silence knowing that what Saiga had said to be the truth. Kakei did want them dead even now knowing they were behind bars. He could still make it happen, he knew the right people but he would try and let it go. Saiga was right, it was done and the only thing left was taking care of Kazahaya.
Rikuo turned away from Kakei and Saiga. Would he have killed? It was then he remembered the streetlight. He hadn't even been focusing on it when it exploded. A shiver trickled down his spine. He would have killed without really knowing he'd done it…but it would have been for Kazahaya. This time he looked over at the bed. Kazahaya turned his head as if seeking something and Rikuo went to him.
"I don't know what I'd have done. Maybe…maybe I would have killed…for him." Rikuo held the uninjured hand, warming it with his own. "But you've taken the choice away from me – I'll never know."
They left it at that. It was a hard subject with no right answer so they left it alone. The morning was spent quietly. Rikuo and Kakei ate breakfast and Saiga knitted and as the afternoon sun shone into the room Kazahaya finally woke up.
He could hear voices but it was if they were coming from far away. There was also the sound of clicking and paper rattling. Kazahaya slowly became aware of the soreness in his body as he tried to shift to a more comfortable position. He put his weight on his arm and hissed in pain, eyes flying open. "Ahh!"
Light attacked his eyes and a sharp pain flowed through his head. "Oww!" Tears leaked from his eyes and he blinked rapidly. What was going on?
"Kudo-kun, it's okay!"
"Hold still kid!"
Kazahaya did and tried to focus his eyes. A few breaths later he was able to see his friends crowded around his bed…but where was he?
"Kakei-san?" The name croaked from his lips and suddenly there was a straw held at his lips. Kazahaya sipped gratefully.
Saiga was relieved, the kid was finally awake. He pressed the call button for the nurse.
Kazahaya looked at the worried yet pleased expressions on his friends' faces as well as letting his eyes roam the room. A hospital? What had happened to him?
The nurse and a doctor came in the room and pushed the guys out. Waiting in the hall they were all smiling – Kazahaya had finally woken up and he'd recognized them! Saiga put an arm around Kakei and hugged him close. Rikuo leaned back against the wall and covered his face – things were getting better.
The doctor confirmed that. Kazahaya was doing well, another day or two and barring any problems and he could go home. He had some memory loss and they were cautioned to not speak about what happened but to let Kazahaya remember on his own.
Kazahaya was anxious to see Kakei's face again; the doctor wouldn't tell him what happened to him. He knew of his injures but not how he'd gotten them.
"Kakei-san, what happened to me? I know I'm clumsy, did I fall down the stairs or something?"
"No, no, nothing like that. You'll remember it later but for now, aren't you hungry?" Kakei asked smiling, glad to see him awake.
He was but he was disappointed with his lunch of soup and dry toast but he wasn't given the chance to argue for he soon fell back asleep. When Kazahaya next woke the sun was disappearing and long shadows were being cast into the room.
Kazahaya yawned and opened his eyes. At first glace he saw Rikuo and the others watching TV but upon blinking he saw a shadow on his bed and it was moving across the sheet ever closer to his chest.
Hearing the strangled gasp Rikuo, Saiga and Kakei all jumped up to see what was wrong. It didn't take them long to see what had scared Kazahaya so. Rikuo immediately set about turning on all the lights while Kakei and Saiga tried to comfort Kazahaya. Rikuo closed the shades and turned back to the bed.
Kakei sat facing and holding a trembling Kazahaya while Saiga rubbed the boy's back. Rikuo was shook as well. They hadn't forgotten about the shadow – none of them could but had chosen not to speak of it, after all what could they say?
"It came…back. It came back…for me!" Kazahaya's arms held tight to Kakei's waist. He buried his face in Kakei's shoulder. "It came for me…and I was…alone." Kazahaya's voice was a whisper now. "I was alone and it came." He wept.
Kakei's tortured face looked at Saiga who sat just behind Kazahaya. He moved in close and rested his face beside the boy's, talking directly into his ear. "You weren't alone Kazahaya. We came and we saved you. We reached you in time. You are safe now."
Rikuo sat down on the other side of the bed and rubbed a sheet covered leg. "We fought for you Kazahaya and won. We won."
Kazahaya caught his breath, his memory was coming back. The walk, Hinata, those guys…Had he been raped? Suddenly he tried to pull away from Kakei. He wanted a shower, to bathe – he felt dirty. "L-let me go! Don't touch me! I need a bath!" Kakei and Saiga wouldn't let him go. Kazahaya slapped at Kakei's chest, hurting his arm. "Let me go!"
Saiga got it. "Stop! You're hurting yourself. Kazahaya it didn't happen. They didn't touch you – at least not that way. There was no rape! You were not raped!" He said again as Kazahaya stilled.
"But – but I remember…" What had happened? He remembered that before the shadow, Spike, he shivered, Spike had unzipped his pants. "My-my pants…the zipper…" Kazahaya couldn't say anymore. He was engulfed in shame.
Kakei framed his face. "Yes, your pants were undone but that was all. Nothing else happened. You were beaten, yes but that's all." Kakei knew things must be confusing for the boy and wanted to reassure him. "You were helping your friend Hinata, remember?"
Kazahaya wanted to look away but Kakei wouldn't let him. "Hinata…is she okay? Did they…?"
"No, you saved her and she helped us to save you." Kakei explained that she'd run for help and found him then told them where to go and how they arrived before those men had a chance to rape him, before the shadow could take him. "We promised to be there for you and I'm so sorry we were late Kazahaya. It was my fault. I'm sorry. So sorry…"
Lifting his eyes and seeing Kakei's tears stunned Kazahaya. He didn't know what Kakei meant. How could it be his fault? Kazahaya was so tired and wished none of it had ever happened. He didn't want to think about it anymore. Again he wrapped his arms around Kakei and rested his head on the shaking shoulder, seeking and giving comfort.
Saiga knew it would take time for Kazahaya to feel safe again. He laid his own dark head on Kazahaya's shoulder. Rikuo wrapped an arm around Kakei's waist and took hold of Kazahaya's hand.
A nurse came to check on the patient but she backed out quietly as she saw the four crying and holding each other. Obviously these men were very close friends.
Two days later they took him home. It seemed more like a year had passed than a week. Kazahaya had some relief before leaving the hospital; the doctor had confirmed that he hadn't been raped. He was still weak, walked with a limp and somewhat scared of shadows but otherwise he was okay. He needed help getting up the stairs and they immediately put him to bed.
"I don't wanna go to bed!" Kazahaya knew he sounded like a baby and didn't care.
"Tough. You were nodding in the car on the way home." Rikuo said as he once again wrapped an arm around Kazahaya's waist after unlocking the door and escorted him into their apartment. Rikuo stopped again in amazement.
The place had been cleaned top to bottom, it even smelled clean but that wasn't all. The furniture had been rearranged to allow for an air mattress – king sized. Rikuo and Kazahaya looked at each other in confusion.
"Well go on in. Don't act so surprised." Saiga said as he gave them a little push forward. "You didn't really expect we'd leave you alone on your first night back, did you? You worried the hell out us disappearing like that!"
"Yes Kudo-kun. We were extremely worried and well, we just don't want you out of our sight just yet. Besides, this way we'll all be here to help you and not burden Rikuo so much. Alright?" Kakei stood in front of the boy.
Kazahaya bent his head in shame. He knew he'd worried them but not this much. "I'm sorry. I really didn't mean to! I just wanted a …" He stopped when Kakei placed a finger over his lips.
"It's okay. I'm not blaming you. Things just happened…but for tonight and maybe tomorrow we'll spend it all together. Saiga and I will feel better knowing you're safe. Okay?" He lifted the low chin and saw eyes swimming in tears.
Kazahaya nodded. They truly cared for him, treated him like family. He was a bit overwhelmed for words and his body was so very heavy.
They all noticed and got him quickly into bed. They hadn't released Kazahaya till late afternoon and they were all still tired themselves so after a quick meal they called it an early night.
There were still lights on in the apartment, none wanted to sleep in the dark yet and especially did not Kazahaya to wake to darkness and shadows. Kakei stood over Kazahaya's bed and ran a hand through the boy's hair. "I'll do better by you. I promise." Silently he went to the air mattress where Saiga waited for him. "We will, won't we?" He whispered. Saiga just pulled him close as the both stared up at the sleeping boy.
Saiga and Rikuo opened the store while Kakei stayed with Kazahaya. He still slept most of the time but soon was allowed a special visitor – Hinata.
She cried when she first saw him, couldn't help it. There was no hiding the fading bruises, stitches and splinted wrist. Hinata had been scared for his life and waiting to hear from Kakei had nearly driven her insane. Carefully she hugged him and kissed his cheek.
"Thank you for saving me Kazahaya-san." Hinata looked at him closely and laid a hand against his cheek. "And I'm sorry you were hurt. I went for help as quickly as I could." She felt guilty he got hurt helping her but Kazahaya and Kakei reassured her it wasn't her fault.
"You're okay right? Then that's all that matters." Kazahaya smiled. "Maybe you can stay with me for a while and give Kakei-san a break?"
She was delight to help out, determined to do all she could to take care of him and cheer him while he was laid up. She was the light Kazahaya needed, the others too were happy to have her around, in some ways she was a female Kazahaya and always had them laughing.
It was over dinner one night that Kazahaya finally asked the question. They were about done eating and the room was blazing with light. They used more lamps than they used to.
"What was it?" Kazahaya was playing with his food and looking down at the table. "What is that shadow? Is it…Death? Why is it after me?" He tried to keep his voice steady but it didn't work.
"I don't know. I don't have any idea what that thing is," Kakei looked straight at him. "But I don't think it's after you. You just happened to be in that warehouse, Kazahaya. It, I think lives there and you went in there trying to hide. Maybe It didn't like people in It's home and decided to go on the attack."
Saiga hoped Kakei was right. He remembered that hellish touch and rubbed a hand down his leg now healed leg. Nothing like this had happened before and he didn't know what to make of it.
Rikuo didn't even like thinking about the thing. He figured it would be awhile before any of them trusted the shadows completely. Kazahaya's leg still held the imprint of that shadow's touch and continued to need help getting up and down the stairs.
Kazahaya was still worried. "But before, here in the store – a shadow came for me then too! How do you know it won't come again!" He got up and started pacing or tried to since his leg suddenly felt very painful.
"Kid that was an ordinary shadow. It was!" He yelled before Kazahaya could protest. "We were there and it was just a regular shadow – a cloud covered the sun for a minute, that's all."
"He's right Kazahaya. That time it was only a shadow. Maybe you saw something different because of your powers and your dream. A premonition maybe?" Rikuo looked from Kazahaya to Kakei who shrugged.
"Could be. I don't think we'll ever fully understand our gifts. We can only use them to the best of our ability." Kakei got up and went to Kazahaya. "I really believe it was just chance that you went into that building and saw It. Just don't go near that place again, I don't plan to. Okay?"
Kazahaya stared into Kakei's face. He wasn't lying his gift told him so. Kazahaya sighed and rested his head against Kakei's shoulder. He felt like a child – a scared, silly child and yet they were all putting up with it. None of them had said a word of complaint.
"I'm sorry. I'll try not to panic so much. It's just…I'll do better, I promise." Kazahaya pulled away and stood up straight. He had to get stronger and learn how to take care of himself better so they wouldn't worry so much about him.
Rikuo grinned at him. "You wouldn't be you if you didn't panic and get hysterical."
"Yeah kid, it's part of your charm and quite funny to watch." Saiga teased.
"Oh shut up!" Kazahaya said then started to laugh and others joined him.
They laughed and carried on like the friends they were. The sounds of laughter did as much to brighten the room as the lights did. They had gotten through the ordeal, through Kazahaya's second bad day but darkness was still a threat.
A couple of blocks away, down a dark alley and inside an abandoned warehouse, rats scurried about looking for food. A tarp lay on the floor and one rat went to investigate it. It sniffed here and there then squealed as something wrapped tight around its body. The other rats took off as their kin was pulled and disappeared into something so black that even their eyes couldn't penetrate. Strange sounds like laughter echoed faintly out the broken windows….
Legally you have ever right to be scared of the dark...