A more serious story. On a rainy night as Nowaki and Hiroki are walking home, things go horribly wrong. Angst.
On a Rainy Night
"Nowaki, can we stop by the convenience store on the way home?" Hiroki asked, shifting the umbrella from one hand to the other.
Nowaki nodded. "Of course, Hiro-san. What did you need?" His umbrella was slightly smaller, and in a very toned down navy blue. It was professional -- a stark contrast to Hiroki's, which was big and had a panda design. Hiroki was tempted to force Nowaki to trade with him, except the last time he'd done that they'd gotten a lot of girls coming up to them and approaching Nowaki, asking about the cute umbrella. (Hiroki could buy himself a new one, but Nowaki had gotten it for him as a present and somehow there had never been a real reason to toss it.)
All this umbrella talk didn't matter right now anyway; it was too dark to see much. Hiroki's watch read 1:32 a.m. Good thing they'd gone to the bar close to their apartment, or they would have missed the last train.
"Just some water and a couple of snacks."
Nowaki probably wanted them to share an umbrella, Hiroki thought darkly. Well, that wasn't going to happen, especially not when it was pouring like this. He already felt soaked, and that was when he had an entire umbrella to himself. No, under no circumstances would he be seen sharing with Nowaki like some stupid lovey-dovey couple.
"Hey, you two! You got the time?" a man called out to them. He was standing under an awning, trying to stay out of the rain. Hiroki wouldn't have noticed him if he hadn't said anything.
Nowaki checked his watched, then replied, "It's about 1:30 in the morning."
The man sneered a bit. "That late? Shiit, I missed the train. No money for a cab either."
Alarm bells started ringing in Hiroki's head. He grabbed Nowaki's hand and started walking faster, away from the man. Nowaki seemed to agree, because he squeezed Hiroki's hand and easily kept up.
The man followed. "Two guys like you, you look well off. Can't spare some change for a cab?"
As much as Hiroki wanted to turn around and shout -- earn your own damned money, you sleezeball, some of us actually work for a living, get the fuck away from us -- the rational part of him told him that it'd be a lot easier to ignore this. Just until the next street -- it was a main street and the lights would be brighter, with more people around.
"What a buncha cowards! Running away before I even pulled a weapon!"
Shit. Hiroki's pride was starting to slow his steps; even in this rain, it didn't want to put up with shit like this. But Nowaki kept pulling him along. "Just keep going, Hiro-san."
"See, the right time to be scared would be now."
The gunshot was louder than anything Hiroki had ever heard before. He didn't quite recognize it for what it was either, not until the hand holding his tightened and loosened, until it let go completely for Nowaki to stumble forward. Nowaki's navy blue umbrella clattered to the ground. You'll get soaked, Hiroki thought, until he realized that Nowaki was on his knees in a puddle anyway.
A dog barked somewhere. Somebody was screaming in pain, waking the neighbors. Have some respect for others, Hiroki wanted to say, only it was Nowaki shouting and there was blood gushing out of his shoulder and into the puddle.
"N-N-Nowaki..." Hiroki felt drops of rain falling onto him, hard and wet, and he was only glad they were streaming down his face because otherwise he might have to admit that his eyes were starting to blur for completely other reasons. Still, what a shoddy umbrella, that it was letting rain through -- but his hand felt empty, and the panda design was smiling up at him from next to his feet.
"Hoooh, that looks painful, mister."
Something snapped. Hiroki was suddenly flying forward his fist out to kill the man who had dared to intrude on their lives, to injure Nowaki, to--
It shouldn't have surprised him that the man was better than him at fist fighting. Hiroki's own experiences with martial arts were from years ago, and he'd been living a quiet office life since he'd entered university. The man, from the looks of it, got into a fight every other day. His nose was broken in several spots and the punch he threw at Hiroki was strong -- strong enough to knock him flat onto his back.
"Hiro-san!" Nowaki's voice rang out. He was clutching his shoulder, trying to stop the blood with his own hand. That would never work. Shit, no, if he thought like that he'd end up depressing himself. It was going to work just fine.
The man laughed. He goddamned had the audacity to laugh in this situation, to think Nowaki bleeding was amusing!
"You... how dare you hurt Hiro-san! You bastard, you'll regret this!" Nowaki stood up to face the man now, both bloodied hands up in a defensive posture. Hiroki's first thought was that he'd never heard Nowaki cuss before.
Nowaki, shoulder bleeding and hands shaking, rushed at the man. Another shot rang out, one that made Nowaki stumbled into the asphalt with another cry.
"You don't learn, do you?" The man strode over and roughly pulled Nowaki to his knees, using the wounded shoulder to maneuver him. Now Hiroki could see that the second bullet had gone through Nowaki's thigh, blood drawing a trail down his pants.
The gun was aimed at Nowaki's temple.
The rain suddenly turned colder; Hiroki felt chilled down to his very core. There was something completely wrong with this picture.
"All right, now, you there, why don't you hand over all of your cash? A nice salaryman like you, you must have a couple of thousands of yen in there." Rain was streaming down the man's face, but he kept smiling. Smiling like he knew he was going to get what he wanted, the goddamned bastard, and Hiroki wanted to shout and kick the guy, but that gun was right there by Nowaki's head, and Hiroki was sure things would be a lot worse if the gun went off.
"Hiro-san, don't listen to him! Just run away, please!" Nowaki gasped out, his voice tainted with pain and urgency. The man's grip on Nowaki's injured shoulder tightened, eliciting another short cry of pain.
"You a masochist or something? I'd shut up if I were you."
That was enough to make up Hiroki's mind. He stood up slowly, pulled out the wallet out of his own bag. He tried to calculate how much was in it, suddenly glad he'd spent as much as he had at the bar. Maybe 8000 yen were left.
"The other guy's too." The man gestured at Nowaki's messenger bag. Hiroki stumbled forward to comply, his hands shaking. It was just money. Money didn't matter. He could earn more money; Nowaki was hurt and wet and had a gun to his forehead.
He quickly threw the two wallets at the man's feet, hoping it would be enough. Hoping the man wouldn't just kill Nowaki for good measure. He prayed to all gods he could think of, not believing in any but hoping they'd take pity on him anyway if just one did exist.
As if reading his thoughts -- and that was a very terrifying thought -- the man said, "Now, Hiro-san, was it? Tell me why I shouldn't just kill this guy anyway?"
"Don't call him that!" Nowaki shouted, and received a blow to the head as a reward.
"You shut up. I'm talking to Hiro-san over here."
If it would only stop raining. The water was getting everywhere, and Hiroki thought that if it were clear maybe somebody else would hear them, or see them, or something. Instead it was just the three of them in this little triangle, with the man leading the show.
"So, Hiro-san, what would you do to save your buddy's life?"
Hiroki pretended the man hadn't used that affectionate name with him, that it'd been "bastard" or "Kamijou" or even "Hiroki." That was the only thing that was keeping him from flipping out completely. He tried to even his voice as much as possible, to not show fear, when he answered, "Anything. I'd do anything."
"Hiro-san, stop it, please just escape!"
"Shut up, Nowaki! Just shut up!" Stop provoking the man, he didn't say. Would Nowaki be able to read him as easily as he always did?
The man laughed at their exchange. "What, you two fags or something? Gotta put on a brave front for your girlfriend?"
And for once, Hiroki didn't have to deny it, because it would be even worse if he'd shouted out with his usual fervor. He just stared the man in the eye, hoping for some sort of sign, something that would turn this situation in their favor.
"Well then, Hiro-san, why don't you get on your knees and beg. Let's see how much you really love your damsel-in-distress here."
That was all? Hiroki dropped to his knees, lowered his head so low that his forehead touched a puddle. It didn't matter, he was already soaking wet. "Please. I beg you. Let him go." It didn't matter, because what his pride compared to Nowaki's life? "Please."
Laughter echoed around the alley. It rebounded across all the walls, blocked out the steady sound of the rain, surrounded Hiroki. It didn't matter, it didn't matter.
"Good show, Hiro-san. Tonight was fun."
A sharp cry from Nowaki made Hiroki snap his head up. The man had pushed Nowaki face-first into the street, and was now running off. Immediately Hiroki jumped up and rushed to Nowaki's side, pull him back into a sitting position. "Nowaki! Nowaki, are you all right?"
"Ah, Hiro-san... I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I should have--"
"Shut up! I'm... I'm calling an ambulance! You stay alive!"
The bags were within arm's reach, thank god. Hiroki dug through the nearest one until he found the cell-phone, dialed 119. He tried not to panic as he explained to the operator where they were, what had happened. Had to push Nowaki away when he tried to take the phone, saying something about it not being "that" serious, that somebody else probably needed the ambulance more.
As they waited, Nowaki ripped off strips of his own shirt to tie around his wounds. "Hiro-san, can you help me with the shoulder? I don't think I can manage on my own."
"Y-yes, of course. J-just tell me how." Nowaki explained it carefully, asked Hiroki to tie it tighter until the blood was slowed more. Hiroki tried not to look at the open flesh.
"Hiro-san, I'm so sorry." Nowaki started again. If he hadn't been injured, Hiroki would have smacked him.
"Don't fucking say that! It wasn't your fault! That guy was the one who did it!"
"But I should have fought harder! Hiro-san, he made you beg! You're better than that! You're--"
"Nowaki! Don't make me angry!" But he couldn't summon the energy to be angry. He rested his head against Nowaki's good shoulder. "Please. I don't care. I can throw away my stupid pride for you."
They heard the ambulance siren, and soon the tell-tale flashing red lights started reflecting off street windows. Hiroki leaned in to kiss Nowaki once, twice, before the ambulance stopped in front of them. The rain didn't stop during the entirety of their ride to the hospital; the towels the ambulance staff gave him didn't seem to dry him at all. The hot shower he took at the hospital didn't warm him. The drinks from the vending machines tasted of rain.
It wasn't until Nowaki had had the bullets removed, had gotten whatever stitches he needed, had been forced to lie in bed and sleep -- it wasn't until Hiroki had Nowaki's warm hand in his own that Hiroki started to feel warmth creep back into his own heart.
- 119 is the emergency number in Japan (instead of the 911 we have in the US)
- Although it's a lot harder to get a gun in Japan than in the USA, I figure this guy has connections to the Yakuza. So it still makes sense.