Tenma groaned and pulled the blankets over his ears. The feather comforter didn't do anything to dampen the alternations of doorbell chimes and poundings on the door. When the person on the other side didn't seem to be giving up after a few minutes, Tenma threw the blankets off and got to his feet. "Yes, yes. I'm coming." He muttered in Japanese. He remembered to throw on his robe before stumbling out from the bedroom. The doorbell and pounding continued all through the trek down the stairs, across the living room, and into the hallway.
He placed the palm of his hand against the door and drew a deep breath. Old memories surfaced in his mind with old warnings: look through the peephole first, always make sure the door chain is on…He was so tired he'd almost welcome someone trying to kill him. If someone was trying to kill him he was pretty damn sure they wouldn't wake up the neighbors first. "Please don't be bad news." But what else could it be to have someone so desperate to get his attention in the dead of night? Taking a breath, he decided it was a lot like tearing off a band-aid: the quicker the better.
"Thank god I got you up, sir…Doctor. Doctor sir." A young man Tenma had never seen before babbled up at him.
"Hello…" Tenma stammered, trying to rub the exhaustion out of his eyes.
"Yes, sir. Audwin, sir. Er…Doctor…"
Tenma yawned. "So why are you…Good lord!" Tenma eye's widened as he saw that Audwin was supporting another man whose arm was slung over his shoulders. Audwin looked to be practically carrying the man, which was probably why he was kneeling.
"Is he alright? What happened?" Tenma was on his knees in an instant, doctor's instincts driving the sleep-fog from his mind.
"Nothing bad! He just…I didn't know what to do so I took him home. Nothing's ever happened like this before, so I don't know…Is he going to kill me?"
Eventually, Tenma thought bitterly to himself, reaching out for the man draped across Audwin. "Is it one of his migraines? Was he rubbing his temple a lot today? Problems with his vision?"
"Well he had problems with his vision later on. Not to mention trouble walking…"
"Where did he get this bruise?!"
"He walked into a door."
Audwin shifted the man off his shoulders. "Well, I think he thought it was open at the time…"
Tenma lightly traced the bruise on the man's cheek. "Come on. Let's get you in and get your medicine. Why you don't carry it with you…"
"'s not a migane."
"Migane?" Tenma asked gathering the younger man into his arms. "One…two…three…" He hoisted him into a standing up position, knees protesting. Getting old…
"He said it's not a migraine." Audwin translated, backing away slowly.
Tenma shot him an irritated glance. "If it's not a migraine then…"
"Mm…Kenzo…" The man murmured wrapping both arms around Tenma and burying his face in his neck.
"Good lord." Tenma quickly gripped the younger man around the waist to keep him from sliding down. "Is he drunk?!"
Audwin shrugged and took another step backwards.
"Can that happen?!"
"Yes." Johan replied, his breath hot on Tenma's neck.
"What am I supposed to do with him?"
"You're the doctor, sir. I mean doctor. You're the doctor, Doctor, sir!"
"Stop saluting me." Tenma sighed, dragging Johan into the house.
"Really, is he going to kill me?" Audwin asked plaintively. Tenma sighed. Took a breath, held it to calm himself and let it out. "No. You helped him. Why would he kill you?" When Audwin still didn't look entirely convinced, he added "I'll talk to him." He shut the door.
Johan was aware enough now to try to help Tenma with helping him walk. It didn't stop them from crashing into walls and furniture. Johan wasn't going to be the only one with bruises in the morning. When they made it to the living room, Tenma let go of Johan and pushed him onto the couch. He landed on it with a jolt. "Don't do that." He groaned, pressing a hand to his mouth and leaning his head down between his knees.
"Don't get sick here." Tenma snapped. He turned on his heels and stalked into the kitchen. Johan hadn't moved when he came back into the living room, his head was lowered, blond hair obscuring his face. He placed a bowl on the glass coffee table. The forceful clacking sound made Johan wince. "I brought this too. I thought you might need it." He threw a wet wash towel beside the bowl.
Johan looked up and brushed the hair from his face. It immediately fell back into lank snarls. He brushed it back again, this time keeping his hand clenched in it to keep it in place. "Bowl?"
"For when you get sick. I don't think you're going to make it to the bathroom in your condition."
Johan stared at the bowl blankly. Tenma sighed. "Good night, Johan."
"I'm going to bed. Back to bed. Good night."
Tenma jumped when Johan caught him by the wrist. Even inebriated he could still move quickly when he wanted to. The grip wasn't tight enough to be painful, but firm enough that Tenma would have to struggle to get free. He tried to relax the muscles in his arm. Johan pulled him closer. He leaned his forehead against Tenma's forearm. "Are you mad at me?"
"I'm annoyed at you." He felt Johan nod. "Let me go to bed, Johan."
"'m sorry." Johan turned Tenma's wrist over and kissed his pulse point. "Night." Letting go, he flopped over onto his side, bringing an arm over his eyes.
Tenma held his hand up and stared at his wrist for a moment. He lowered it with a sigh. "I'll leave the stair light on for you."
"Don't." The harshness of Johan's voice made Tenma wince.
When Johan said nothing else, he inched forward toward the couch.
"No light? I thought it wasn't a migraine?"
Tenma put a hand on his shoulder. "Johan? Look at me." Johan jerked his arm away from his face. "Do you have a migraine?"
Johan slowly nodded.
Tenma made a tsking sound and smoothed back the sweat dampened blond hair.
Johan placed his hand over Tenma's, pressing it to his forehead. "No medicine." He dragged Tenma's hand over his eyes, eyelashes tickling his palm, before pulling it to rest on his cheek. "I'm due, but they make me naus…nasheou..."
Johan nodded, leaning into Tenma's hand. "Since I already feel nau…sick. 's not a good idea."
"All right. Wait. Did you say 'due'? Did you take a pill earlier today?"
Johan opened one eye and looked up at Tenma.
"You did." Tenma groaned. "Then you had some drinks. Johan." He leaned over him, long black hair brushing against a too pale cheek. "You can't take that medicine and then mix it with alcohol. It'll make you drunk ten times faster than normal."
"That 'splains it, then. Thought it was weird."
"Feel sorry for me?"
Pulling back, he nodded. "I do."
Johan let go of his hand. "Go to bed, doctor. I'll sleep it off here." He turned over onto his side.
Tenma looked down at him, thinking he looked rather pitiful. He had never seen Johan look pitiful before, not even crumpled in the rain with a bullet in his brain. "Sit up."
"Sit up." He repeated, snatching up the washcloth.
Grumbling, Johan complied. Tenma sat down on the couch. Putting a hand on Johan's shoulder he eased him back down so his head was resting in his lap.
"Hm." He began to dab the sweat from Johan's face.
Johan rolled over onto his back and looked up at him.
"Stop staring at me." He draped the cloth over Johan's face. Johan wadded it up and tossed it on the floor.
"Johan." Tenma scolded.
"Shh. Just stay there." He reached up and brushed Tenma's cheek with the back of his hand. "You're beautiful."
"I'm drunk. But you're still beautiful."
"Shouldn't you say I'm handsome?"
Johan didn't reply. He kept running his knuckles across Tenma's cheekbone.
Tenma began to stroke his hair. "You should try to get some sleep."
"You're the best thing that's ever happened to me." The desperate outburst made Tenma pause, then he continued combing his fingers through the sweaty blond hair.
"Why do you say that?"
"Because you are. I had nothing until I met you. It was the best day of my life."
Tenma's fingers ghosted over the scar tissue in his scalp. "You had Nina…Anna. You weren't alone before me, Johan."
"She left me."
Tenma stopped again. "Are you angry at her for it?"
He felt Johan slowly shake his head no. "I wanted to give her the world. Only the world I made for her, it didn't have room in it for me."
"Go to sleep, Johan."
"Then I met you. You were so pretty."
"You were in a coma. You didn't see me."
"Did too. You didn't know I was awake. Yours was the first voice I heard. You were the first thing I saw. I knew I'd do anything for you." Johan smiled beatifically up at him. Angels have that kind of smile. So do demons when they're showing you the way to hell. Tenma repressed a shudder.
"Go to sleep."
"I scare you."
"I fell in love with you at first sight." Again the desperate tone in his voice. As if everything hinged on being able to convince Tenma of that fact.
"You were in a coma. And you were only a little boy at the time."
"Still fell in love. Still wanted you."
"Wanted me for what? You were twelve."
"It started off silly. I was twelve you know. Wanted to build you a little garden. Would keep you there with me forever…with Anna…we'd be happy. I thought the three of us would be so happy together. Only us three in the world." He drifted into silence. He was quiet for so long Tenma thought he must have fallen asleep.
"Silly boy." He tapped him lightly between his brows. "You thought I was something like a cat? When did you notice that I was a man?"
"When I was fifteen."
Tenma bit his lip to keep back the startled yelp. He was still awake after all. "Fifteen?" Tenma struggled to steady his voice.
"Yes. I saw you again. I was in Düsseldorf and you were on your way to work. You'd gotten prettier."
Johan ignored the correction. "And I started thinking."
"Started thinking about what?"
"That there was more I could do with you than playing in a garden." He traced Tenma's lips with his finger. "Things we wouldn't have to share with Anna."
"So you hit puberty around fifteen."
Tenma sighed and leaned his head back. "Do you always get so talkative when you're drunk?"
"Never been drunk before. So don't know. Annoyed?"
"Amused. You're kind of nice like this. Open. Cuddly."
"Just a little bit."
"Only you would dare call me that." He didn't look particularly put out.
"Johan? Honestly. Why me?"
"I fell in love."
"But why me?"
"Almost all my life I saw that hellish landscape. I thought Anna could see it too. But the world she saw and the world I saw were different. Then when I was shot, the first time, I was in that landscape. Alone. So lonely. I thought, so this is how it's going to be. Monsters are always alone in the end, aren't they? Then I saw you, I heard your voice. I had never felt kindness before. Not in my world. I wanted it. I wanted to keep you there with me forever."
He clenched the front of Tenma's robe in his fist. "I know I'm cruel to you. I know you wouldn't be here if I didn't force you to be. But you were the only good thing I ever saw clearly in my world. How could I let it go? How could I go back to that place alone again after knowing someone else could see it, could share it with me?"
"I know. You're never going to let me go. I know that. Now calm down."
"Don't hate me. Just…don't hate me." He was gripping the neck of Tenma's robe so tightly his hand was shaking.
"Hush. I don't hate you. I couldn't hate you. Not completely."
"Why not?" Johan's voice was sharp, demanding.
"The part of me that could feel like that, that could hate like that…I think it died that night."
Tenma's fingertips stroked the second area of scar tissue on Johan's scalp, the one close to his temple.
"It's like a fairytale isn't it? Like one of those that man would write." Johan spat out the word 'man'.
"The fair princess stumbles into the monster's den from his world. The monster falls in love with him and thus will never allow him to go back to his world, to his home."
"Being drunk is no excuse for confusing pronouns. Or call me a prince at least. If this were a fairytale, wouldn't a handsome prince, er…hero come to save me…I mean the princess…the prince."
Johan smiled his smile, the one that was all coldness and teeth. "Not if that man wrote it."
They lapsed into silence, both lost in their thoughts.
"Hm?" Johan rubbed his cheek against Tenma's knee.
"I really don't hate you. Sometimes I almost…I could…Almost."
Johan made a sound halfway between a snarl and a laugh. "Almost what, Kenzo? You almost love me? The monster imprisons the princess, steals him away from the world and all he loves and all that love him, and in the end the princess falls in love with the monster? Not even that man would write that ending. Getting a case of Stockholm Syndrome, my dear doctor?" He laughed again, cruel and bitter. Tenma was silent, withdrawing his hand from where it had tangled in Johan's hair. He gently began to try to ease himself out from him.
"I think you're feeling better now. Your speech isn't as slurred and you seem to be thinking clearly again. I'm going to go sleep in the bedroom. Call me if you need…"
Johan sat up and pulled him back down onto the couch. "Say it then." Johan's fingers were digging into his shoulders. More bruises for the morning.
"Say what?" He kept his voice soft, soothing.
"You know what." Each word was spat out.
Tenma turned his face away, angled his chin down so his hair hid his face.
"You're hurting me."
"See? Not even you are that much of a saint. Go to bed." He loosened his grip on his shoulders, let them slide down until they were gently cupping his biceps.
Tenma mumbled to the back of the couch.
"What? Kenzo, I didn't catch that." Johan pulled the dark strands of hair from Tenma's face, cupped the thin chin, and forced the pale face to look at him. "What did you say?"
"I said…"Tenma closed his eyes, swallowed, then resolutely forced them open again, forced them to look into Johan's. "I do. You don't have to believe me, but I couldn't…There's no way I could let myself live like this if some small part of me didn't…Not and stay sane."
Johan's eyes had turned that strange shade of inhuman blue. His face was a perfect mask, no emotion marred its surface.
Tenma sighed, shrugged out of Johan's grasp, and stood up. "I'll see you in the…"
"Can't you even say it once?"
"Just once. Say it to me just once." Johan's eyes were still that eerie color, but there was something desperate in them now, something beseeching and Tenma had never been good at walking away from those who needed something from him.
Tenma leaned down and kissed him on the forehead. "I love you, Johan. Not all the time. Not willingly. But right now, I do love you."
Johan closed his eyes. Sighed. Opened them again. "Can I sleep with you tonight?"
Tenma raised an eyebrow. They usually always shared a bed. He had never asked if Tenma wanted him there before. "If you can make it up the stairs."
Johan got unsteadily to his feet. "I can."
"All right then." Tenma tucked himself under Johan's arm and began to unobtrusively help him maneuver around the living room obstacle course.
"Hm?" Strong fingers were brushing through his hair, kneading the spot where his skull met his neck. Tenma purred and arched into the caress, was rewarded with an amused chuckle.
"No." Tenma sleepily protested, snuggling against Johan's bare chest.
He felt the other's heartbeat against his cheek, ran his fingers along ribs and muscle as Johan's fingers combed through his hair. Petting him. He still thinks I'm like a cat, doesn't he? He thought with a sigh.
"Not too heavy?" He asked, more out of politeness then real concern.
"You weigh nothing at all."
Johan only laughed. He ran his fingers through Tenma's hair, untangling the strands, scratching his scalp gently.
Tenma was almost asleep when Johan spoke again. "Even if the princess loved the monster…" It was said so softly, he doubted he would have heard it if he hadn't had his ear pressed against Johan's chest. "the monster wouldn't stop being a monster. He'd wake up the next day, get out of the bed they shared, and go on doing his monstery things. He'd have to. Nothing changes."
Monstery things? Johan must still be a little bit drunk, Tenma mused sleepily.
"So what's the point then? If nothing changes, why is it important if he…she… loves him or not."
Fingers drifted from his hair to trail along his shoulder blades, down his spine. Tenma relaxed into the touch. Tried not to think about anything but the sensations of soothing fingers against his flesh.
He was drifting off when Johan finally answered. "It makes me happy."