Thoughts of You and Me
By K M B
Disclaimer: not mine.
Written for the springkink prompt Kia/Ray: Half-brothers - "Play me a song."
Musical inspiration: Supergrass, Late In the Day
It was late in the day, the sun sinking like a scoop of orange sherbet in the background of the city, melting all over and turning everything a brilliant shade of gold. For a handful of moments Kia stood on the landing, guitar case familiarly slung across his back, and admired the view. The thought of the sun as something edible, however, made Kia remember just how little he had eaten that day and, stomach rumbling out its disapproval, he turned and ascended the few remaining flights of stairs to the rundown flat he had claimed temporarily as his own. He felt lucky to be alive.
Clair was tucked as safely away as Daisuke could manage in the back room at Shogun's, and for the moment there was peace in the slums. From his vantage point Kia could see the wrecked building where they'd all escaped with barely their lives. Kia was eager to get back to his small, dingy room and make sure what meagre possessions he did own were safe; for example, his father's guitar, graciously bought back for him by Daisuke, someone Kia was still scared to call a true friend. To some it might have sounded materialistic but it wasn't, really, when it was all one had.
The conditions here were the same as everywhere in the slums—a room in name alone, in the simple fact that it had four walls and a floor. The door opened at his touch, something that only alarmed Kia slightly as the lock had been busted forever ago anyway. He heard the gentle, yet slightly amateurish sound of someone strumming a guitar just as he walked into the front room of his flat. Fear raced through Kia; someone had discovered where he had hidden his most prized possession. He recognized the song immediately; it gave him chills. It was coming from the area he'd named as his bedroom, though whether or not that had been the architect's true intention was unclear. Maybe once the building had been great, some one hundred or so years ago; now, it just served as a building that stood, hollowed out by time and by humanity spiraling downward until only the dregs of it remained in a place like this.
The blond head Kia discovered bent, facing away from him, over his—their—father's guitar surprised Kia so much, for a moment he was completely speechless. He stood in the doorway and watched in silence as a particularly difficult part of the song—so familiar to them both, for such different reasons—tripped the intruder up, his fingers fumbling on the strings.
Kia didn't know if he had shifted, or made some sort of sound to alert Ray to his presence, but suddenly wide, dark blue mirror eyes turned and looked at him in shock, as if they couldn't believe what they were seeing. And was Kia seeing things, or were they red-rimmed and puffy, moisture glittering at the corners?
For a moment they just stared at one another, as if time had frozen. Then Kia unhinged his arms from about himself, and took a step into the room. "You really are a terrible guitar player," he said, only half joking. Part of him—the part shoved in the back, the part Kia vowed never to listen to again—whispered What is he doing here if not to take the only thing of Blues that you own? Kia had to admit the thought gave him pause, and he stopped before he reached the mattress Ray was sitting on the edge of.
There hadn't been any need for him to move at all, however. The words acted like a spellbreaker, and suddenly Kia found himself with an armful of little brother as Ray launched himself at him, hugging his midsection fiercely, his head buried against his thin chest. "I thought you were going to die!" The words came out muffled against his shirt, but that didn't mean Kia heard them any less clearly. Stunned, all he could seem to do was hold Ray back, and stare at the discarded guitar on the bed.
After a pregnant moment, Ray's grip only tightened around Kia as he finally raised his head to look his brother in the eyes, and Kia's suspicions were confirmed; if Ray hadn't been crying earlier, he certainly was now. Tears edged the bottom of his eyes, spilling over onto peach-pale cheeks that were smooth, devoid of the plethora of freckles that Kia alone seemed to possess, dusted across the bridge of his nose. "I was so worried about you," Ray said, a tremor in his voice. "After I saw you on television during that vicious mob shoot-out… and the explosion—" Ray couldn't seem to go on any further, and instead buried his face into Kia's shoulder. His body was shaking in what Kia interpreted as relief.
Stunned even further, Kia could only hug his half-brother back, his arms wrapping around Ray's thin shoulders, instinctively laying his cheek against his head. Ray's hair was soft and fragrant, and for a moment Kia closed his eyes and relished the feeling of this, of human contact. It had been too long.
"I had a dream I forgot all about you," Ray began again, his voice soft and low so Kia had to strain to listen. "I used to have them frequently as a kid, but they stopped after a while… but last night… I dreamt that when I woke up I wouldn't even remember what you looked like, so I tried to stay up all night in my dream… and it didn't work. I woke in a panic." Ray's small, teenaged hands feathered over Kia, checking for wounds like a doting mother. For a moment, Kia allowed himself to live that fantasy, then let it go like a trapped butterfly. "And then today, when I saw your face on the news, I was terrified. It was like my dream all over again; I thought you were going to die, and I would have to forget you again…" His words dissolved into more tears, and Kia could do no more than hold Ray close and comfort him as best he could.
"It's okay, I'm still here," Kia whispered against Ray's silky blond curls, soothing them back with one hand in a brotherly gesture that felt alien to Kia, but one he enjoyed nonetheless. The action seemed to have the correct effect on Ray, who sniffled and stood back, finally releasing his hold. He wiped at his face surreptitiously, and Kia pretended not to notice as he bent to pick up his—their—father's guitar. He was having trouble remembering that fact.
"You really think I'm bad at the guitar?" The question, asked so timidly, made Kia's mouth quirk into a smile. It sounded so out-of-place coming from the assured, world-renowned pianist, enough to make Kia answer truthfully.
Shaking his head, he perched on the end of the bed next to his half-brother and strummed the strings familiarly. "No. But you play guitar like a pianist." He reached with one hand and plucked one of Ray's from where they were folded in his lap where he sat, and studied the fingers. "These are delicate, they weren't meant to be calloused by the strings of a guitar."
Ray, a red tinge of embarrassment under the scrutiny flowering across his cheeks, tugged his hand back. He sat cross-legged on the bed, facing Kia, and cocked his head to one side. "Play me a song, then?" he requested. "Show me how it's supposed to be done?" He smiled softly up at Kia, his puffy-eyed face serene.
Kia smiled back without conscious thought, and acquiesced. He couldn't seem to put into words the gratitude he felt at someone actually caring about him, so he instead concentrated on putting it into song—the same song both of the brothers knew by heart, felt with their soul.
And Ray, with his eyes closed and his head on Kia's shoulder, listened and silently said You're Welcome.