of No Return
Pairing: Kurogane x RSyaoran
Warning: Angst. Spoilers.
Disclaimer: CLAMP owns all.
Summary: Dealing with guilt is never easy, especially when both of them are running away.
Notes: This takes place directly after 'Oubliette', so you may want to read it first before proceeding with this one. For everyone who has read and reviewed, thank you so much. Hopefully you'll enjoy this fic as well.
Syaoran had never felt more lost in his life.
And that was saying something. After what had happened in Tokyo, topped with the cold treatment he had subsequently received from the group, he thought that he had made 'lost' a good acquaintance enough.
Obviously he was wrong – Kurogane had proven that much to him.
His face burned at the mere thought of the man and Syaoran rolled over to his side, recoiling from what he could only describe as shame. He wished that the disturbing memories could stop pestering the measly remnant of his sanity and just let him die in peace. There was no way he could live with this mortification, let alone come to terms with it.
And the worst hadn't arrived yet. He hadn't met Kurogane again after that… incident which made him want to dig a hole and hide from the world for the rest of his miserable life.
Syaoran buried his face in the pillow with a groan. Imagining the meeting alone already scared him beyond his wits that going through the entire ordeal concerning his clone once more was actually a less daunting thought. It had felt like a walk in the park compared to this.
No, maybe not so much, but still. He was surprised that the embarrassment hadn't killed him yet.
Or maybe it was a dream, some kind of nightmare conjured by high fever and too much sleep. He couldn't exactly tell where reality had ended and the dream begun – and his fever, while it had ebbed a little, remained a misty obscurity hanging over his brain – but the theory wasn't outside the realm of possibility. In fact, it was a rather plausible explanation, because why else would he allow something like that to happen? The idea that he was having a dream about that was disturbing enough, but it was still vastly better than having the whole deed carried out in reality.
Yes, it must be a dream.
Syaoran would have been able to convince himself if not for Kurogane's vanishing act since early morning.
It wasn't hard to put two and two together, especially seeing how attentive the ninja had been only the day before and suddenly, this out-and-out disappearance. Mokona had been with him the entire day, Fay had come in once or twice to deliver the meal and make some inquiry about his condition, but there was no sign of Kurogane at all. Like, at all. Hours drifted in and out, as well as his waking moments as the day grew old, and there was still no sign of him.
Sighing, Syaoran rolled over again, now facing the window which shone bright gold in the setting sun. The light hurt his eyes, but he welcomed any kind of distraction as long as it could make him stop thinking about the night before. Nothing good would come from it, not when the only thing he could think about was how wonderful the older man's hand had felt on his burning skin.
He couldn't really describe it. Those things he had only ever heard about in passing, through his clone, merely in disjointed whispers and pieces. It had made the other boy blush bright red back then and now Syaoran understood why. Of course. It had felt too good, much too good to possibly be anything but sinful. The way he begged. The way he made those whimpering sounds. The way he squeezed his eyes something more than just humiliation. The way he clung to the ninja as his hips continued their relentless rhythm. And then the way that sharp, crushing wave of pleasure made his entire body convulse, made the air leave his lungs in one violent gush, made him scream.
And they left him vulnerable. Helpless. Like he was in pieces, detached from each other, mere lifeless parts of a broken doll. It was a mistake and what was left of his brain, still thickly hazed by that sickening pleasure, knew it.
But he wanted to see Kurogane. The thought made his insides curl in fright and the reason why he must see the older man completely eluded him, but needs were not something you compromised. And this was need, a dire one, curling around his neck to choke the life out of him. He could hear the desperate voice in his head – pleading, screaming, because if he had to lose the only person who didn't flinch or look away when they saw him, he would go mad.
A few minutes had passed before Syaoran realized that he was shaking, arms wrapped tight around himself, hot tears stinging his eyes.
He was running away.
Anyone could tell that he was running away. Kurogane, being a constant practitioner of the art and artistry of denial, just didn't want to admit it.
It felt like he had been running away forever. Last night had been bad enough, but there were situations which offered no choice but one. He didn't return until sunrise, until he was sufficiently cold and numb from the lashing downpour. The kid was still asleep when he came in, looking so peaceful and utterly without concern in the cradle of oblivion, his chest rising and falling quietly with the rhythm of his breathing. The picture twisted and knotted Kurogane's stomach and it felt so damn hurt that he couldn't look away.
It had been the sound of a door opening somewhere outside that roughly jerked him out of his trance and sent him scrambling toward the second running-away sequence. After mumbling something about getting medicines for both Syaoran and Sakura to Fay's carefully blank face, he was out of the door within seconds.
The town wasn't that far and there really was no reason for him to stay out the entire day, but he did it anyway. It had nothing to do with the kid, of course, or even Fay in that matter. He was only not particularly interested to find out why he did what he did.
Because people in denial would always deny that they were in denial. It was just how the law went.
Fine. Yes. Okay. It was about the kid.
The same one he had jerked off last night.
And yes, it was also why he had found himself spending the whole day in a goddamn bar. Kurogane didn't think he could screw up worse than this.
It all had started with the other Syaoran and this twisted journey they had embarked on. Two adults and two kids, all complete strangers except for the latter pair – and even that was one-sided – traveling together hunting for feathers. It couldn't sound more surreal than that.
It proved to be not as surreal or ridiculous in reality. They were spending days and hours and minutes being together, which didn't exactly allow their unfamiliarity with each other to last. Their first and highest barrier, language, had crumbled instantly with Mokona's aid, and slowly but surely, the rest began to follow. They learned to recognize their respective roles, if only for the sake of making this impossible arrangement work, and before he knew it, he was the protector of the group and the kid's mentor, and this small, dysfunctional family was born.
Well, it could have been a lot worse.
Syaoran was… impossible to dislike. Maybe his I'm-her-knight-in-the-shining-armour tendencies grated on his nerves sometimes, but he generally liked the kid. And as unwilling as he was to admit it, he had enjoyed spending his times with Syaoran. Talking with him, answering his questions, teaching him how to be a real man – just like real fathers would. Or sometimes big brothers. It was an odd balance between them, the thing which had kept them going at difficult times. Because there was no one he would trust with his back more than the boy. Because there were secrets only the two of them could keep. It was a precarious balance, but it worked nevertheless.
And then Tokyo happened.
Kurogane sometimes wondered if they would have been less miserable had the newcomer possessed fewer similarities to the boy he was playing substitute for. The same face, the same voice, the same fucking stubbornness, but he could tell that there was something different. Something more innate than physical qualities or personality traits. It was driving him crazy. This other kid didn't quite fit the equation he had set to keep their balance in check. He didn't know how to look at him, what to think of him.
It still didn't justify what he had done to the boy last night though.
Both of them. He wasn't talking about the hand job only.
Night had long since settled in when he finally gathered enough courage to leave the bar and return home, slightly tipsy from the amount of drink he had gulped down. The trip was uneventful, which was unfortunate because with his current state of mind, a long silent walk was an absolute torture to his sanity. A few monsters would have been able to distract him from the unwanted thoughts but no, they had to choose this night to hide in their fucking hole. It didn't help that the bag of medicine, tightly gripped between his fingers, kept reminding him to the sick boy, and the bed with its white sheet twisted in one hand, and the fact that there were some things that should never, ever be.
After what felt like both an eternity and a flash, flattened together into one highly screwed-up impact, the house stood dark and quiet in front of him, almost dead in the silence of the night. It must be past midnight already. The air felt different on his skin, not comforting but slowly crawling and spreading chill as wind traveled across its intangible surface.
Fay had left the front door unlocked and he pushed it open only to find the inside of the house as dark as the outside. To say that he was relieved would be a total understatement. Kurogane was a man of principle and hated cowardice to the point of disgust, but the relief was so overwhelming that such scruples failed to bother him. Quietly, his feet making only the slightest sound, he went straight to the bedroom he was sharing with Syaoran, steadfastly ignoring the sudden increase of his heartbeat.
Which came to an abrupt stop once he realized that he was looking at an empty bed.
Panic seized him and he rushed to the kitchen, half wishing to see the kid for whatever reason standing in the middle of a broken glass again, but discovered it to be empty. His mind took a sharp turn to many darker scenarios, but before he could act on any of them, the door to the bathroom opened with a definite creak and walked out Syaoran, hair wet, eyes widening at the sight of him.
"Kurogane-san," his name left the boy's mouth in a breathy gasp and the sound instantly wreaked havoc to his equanimity – or what remained of it after the panic attack earlier. At the same time, a needle pricked the inflating balloon of dread in his chest because nothing worse than the kid going to the bathroom actually happened and it left him slightly weak on the knees.
That was until he found another subject to pin his attention to. Namely the less-than-dry state of Syaoran's hair.
Disbelief, anger, horror, caught up faster than the earth-shattering waves of tsunami. "What the hell are you doing?" he demanded, witnessing how the tone of his voice made the boy flinch involuntarily. He seemed to be doing that a lot these days. Especially to Syaoran.
"Never mind," he cut the boy short and dragged him to the bedroom, blood boiling in his veins. The skin under his fingers was cold, colder than it should have been possible because the kid had a fucking fever. The word 'cold' shouldn't even come within a-hundred feet of him.
But it was easier like this. Annoyance had chased off that stupid jumble of misery and concern. He knew his grounds here – it was more familiar, more comfortable to go through all the mechanical haze of wrapping the kid in every piece of clothing he could find and using a towel to dry his hair with festering anger. Syaoran never looked up even once, sitting silently on the edge of the bed with his gaze pinned to the floor. The silence dragged on, almost painful in the field of the unspoken as he tried not to pull away every time those brown locks brushed his fingers.
When Syaoran finally looked at him, there was this determination in his eyes which told Kurogane that he was about to enter what would have to be the most uncomfortable discussion in his life.
"About last night…"
And damn he was right.
Syaoran trailed off, quickly looking down again as the first shade of crimson stole over his face. Kurogane was a fearless warrior and he was damned proud of being one, but at this very moment, he very much wanted to escape from the room. Before the kid could find his courage again and say something that would haunt them both until the end of the world and beyond.
But the thing about being a man of principle was that said principle would never, ever allow him to run away from a battle. Especially when his opponent turned out to be a miserable fifteen-year-old boy with miserable eyes and miserable life and against whom he had committed a mistake with miserable outcomes. He knew that this conversation would end up in the ugliest way possible, but he could not run away. He could NOT run away. Imagine what it would do to the kid.
Kurogane could literally feel how the thought served its purpose and slowly nudged him to a point where he knew he would abandon all reasons and just give up. Guilt had its own conscience and for some unfathomable reasons, his seemed to be the most sensitive when it came to the boy.
The hell with it. He was walking straight to his doom anyway. Might as well be running into it.
"What?" he finally asked, only the barest hint of frustration in his voice.
"It was…" Syaoran began again and then paused, cheeks flaming, and Kurogane felt his heart drop into his stomach. "It… felt incredible. I mean–"
"It was your first time," the ninja growled, resisting an urge to bang his head on the wall. Of course it was the boy's first time. He had been trapped in a glass tube half his fucking life.
"Yes," the admission was a weak, wretched whisper and Kurogane could see that the kid was ashamed of it. "But it was–"
"A mistake," he interrupted, throat constricting around the word. It was a mistake. Nothing but a mistake. He could convince himself that and then perhaps he didn't have to acknowledge that stunned, devastated look in Syaoran's eyes. The look which told him that he had taken more than he should have. The look that twisted and squeezed his heart until it was impossible to feel anything but immense pain.
Somewhere in a distant part of his mind, it made him wonder. The kid had spent most of his time around them being reserved and aloof, never parading his emotions around and keeping them locked tight deep in a secret safe instead. But here they were, free for the entire world to read like an open book, to ridicule, to laugh at. It was almost like he had no control over them anymore, and this disturbed the ninja.
And then it hit him. Hard. Like a huge-ass boulder coming down the hillside.
Shit. Of course.
Last night had been about him succumbing to his darkest desires. And he had done it twice. The hand job wasn't the only tool to destroy he had used. Words. Anger. Sheer desecration of self-control.
Disgust wasn't even close to describe what he felt about himself right now.
Kurogane turned around, murmuring some inaudible excuse to escape from the room. He didn't even know if it was guilt or something else. To run away had always been the easiest choice. It needed nothing but cowardice. He hated cowardice, but adding some more disgusts to the towering pile wouldn't make much difference now.
He heard the rustles of the sheet, and then the sound of bare feet hitting the floor, but before he could figure out what they meant, Syaoran had caught up with him, trapping him in the circle of his arms. It shocked Kurogane so completely that he didn't even flinch, only standing rooted to the floor because the only thing he could feel was those trembling fingers desperately digging into his stomach.
"Don't leave me," the kid's voice was a wretched echo of a whisper – small, frail, shaky, like the whimpers of a scared, helpless animal. "Please."
Kurogane was not an affectionate man. Anything remotely related to affection made him bristle like the brutal epitome of male dignity that he was, but when he felt the kid trembling like that, arms a pair of locks around his waist – as if afraid that he would disappear if they let go even for one second – he realized that things weren't that simple. This was no longer about pride or dislikes. This was something more.
He turned around, pushing Syaoran's arms down and holding them in his hands. The kid was a total mess, eyes red, pleading, begging, unashamed – or maybe just unable to handle anything as complicated as shame at the moment – of the tears running down his face and Kurogane realized that it was him who had reduced the kid into this.
He suddenly felt very sick.
"I'm sorry," Syaoran whispered, raw, hurt, afraid, probably noticing the look on his face. "I'm really sorry. Please don't leave me. Just… please…"
"No one's going to," Kurogane heard himself answering flatly, callously. His entire system seemed to have gone numb and he couldn't do a damn thing about it. "And what the hell are you sorry for?"
"For messing things up," the desperation in the kid's faint voice almost swallowed up everything, as well as the misery in his eyes. "You're angry. Everyone's angry."
"No one's angry," he retorted, his voice suddenly sounding strangled. What the hell was happening to him?
"Shut up," Kurogane snarled and pressed that tears-streaked face to his chest, his fingers digging into damp hair. He couldn't look at it anymore. "Shut up. Just shut up."
A choked sob escaped the kid's mouth. He buried his face deeper and Kurogane didn't let go, not even when he felt the dampness soaking through his shirt. Or when those arms came around his waist again, holding on to him like a fucking lifeline. Or when the sobs turned worse and violently wrecked that small body, so bad that the tremor reverberated in his muscles and made him draw Syaoran closer, tighter, if it was even possible.
He had so much to pay. So much to amend. Some of them were impossible to change, but he knew that he would spend the remaining of his life patching up the rest. Or die trying.
But for the moment, he just wanted to let the boy cry on his chest and hold him and pretend that nothing had broken so utterly beyond repair.
I… made Syaoran cry a lot, didn't I?