Title: Broken Glass
Author: Chocobo Mushroom
Disclaimers: I do not own Karneval or any of its characters. It would be really sad if I did, because some of my writing isn't even on par with the genius of Karneval.
Warning: This one is less graphic than the last, but it still has some language, and some more mature themes.
A/N: Many thanks to everyone who has supported me in the past few months! Sorry for the delay! More of my thoughts at the bottom. Enjoy!
The weak sun scattered rays of half-hearted light onto the wooden floorboards. A chirping bird began its song just as Gareki's alarm began to blare the morning news. Gareki slapped his arm onto the device, pushing every button until the noise ceased. He threw himself upright and paused, frowned at the wall in front of him, and crumpled back into his sleeping form. He had never slept in, nor been late to work. He wanted to scold himself for thinking about romantics so early in the morning. An uneasy feeling crept up his back. It would be wiser to go to work and be sure of everything first, before jumping to conclusions. He didn't know if Yogi and Akari were actually involved in an affair. Yogi was a carefree, loose guy, and Akari was possessive to say the least. He wasn't even completely sure if Akari was interested. Well, that was a lie. Akari had never done anything other than ask Yogi out to eat, or have a smoke, but the greedy look in his eyes and the demanding tone of his voice made him sure of his intent. Gareki didn't have the confidence or the energy to fight over a guy. He would simply give up before it was too late. Before people were hurt. But hadn't he already gone past the point of no return? No. Yogi and Gareki were... sleeping partners at most. Partners that helped one another to get what needed to be done. They didn't share interests or feelings... Gareki had nothing to fear. His alarm jolted him again at the reaching of this conclusion. He slammed it before Terry McBlabbity made another comment on urbanization in Southeast Asia and pushed himself up to stretch. He breathed deeply. The floorboards strained with his calm footsteps. The birds sang a fast-paced call. The sun grew stronger against his window panes. Reaching a solid resolution was the proper solution.
Gareki stepped into the stark white office floor. He weaved through the cubicles until he sank into his chair and pulled out his laptop. Akari was on an angry call, yelling insults that would have made a grown man cry like a newborn baby.
"...don't show your ugly face around here unless you've finished that bullshit you call quality fucking work." He slammed the plastic receiver down with the fury of a freshly branded bull. He turned to his sleek desk monitor and typed in some fast notes. Gareki didn't stand up to say his greetings, due to his acute attention to a spreadsheet he had just found on his desk. There was a missing date, which skewed the entire chart. Another mistake made his numbers all wrong. He walked up to Akari's desk and hesitated, Akari was leaning away from him, pensive.
"Akari-san, I found a problem with this spreadsheet, can this be redone before being sent off?" Gareki asked, crossing his arms. Akari looked up and blinked.
"A problem? Only one problem? Look at column 13! You've got it mixed up with column 5 for heaven's sake! It's about time for you to fix that up! Stop making baby mistakes!" Akari scolded, clicking his pen angrily in repetition. Gareki held a poker face as he apologized.
"I'll send you the revised copy as soon as possible. I'm sorry for any trouble that I caused." He felt bitter, so degraded, to be yelled at by Akari. If it was anyone else, maybe it wouldn't have hurt as much, but Akari's words were more than enough to push down his self-confidence. He sat still in his seat for a cold five minutes before remembering his resolution. Break-up. Distance. Work. That's what he needed to focus on.
Yogi stretched into his rolling chair. Gareki's heart skipped a beat at the sound of his arrival. Surprise and adrenaline made him want to dash around the building. But he restrained himself from glancing. He typed away at his matrix, trying to fix his errors.
"Ohaiyou, Gareki-san." Yogi sang in a cheery tone. Gareki noted a lack of greeting for Akari. Something was up. He didn't respond, nodding slightly as an indicator of acknowledgment.
He was quiet for several minutes, but then he walked over to lean on Gareki's desk. Yogi was deathly silent.
"Do you need something?" Gareki finally cleared his throat at the still figure. Yogi snapped to attention, as if hesitant. Nervous. He expected for that to be so; his predictions were right. Something must have happened when Yogi went out with Akari, or else Yogi wouldn't be acting so weird. He must have found Akari a better lover, or something like that. Akari had more money, and a sports car. He had a tall figure and build, and a handsome face. His heart dropped. He heard a loud thud from the beating muscle in his chest. Damned annoying thing. Damned annoying everything.
"Ah... Um, do you have that spreadsheet for the invoices?" He tilted his head towards him but didn't smile.
"Um, and, can we talk at break?" He leaned in and whispered quickly, desperately in his ear. Did he want to get rid of him so quickly that he couldn't even wait until the end of the day?
"The spreadsheet isn't really ready yet... Sorry." It was the document that he had messed up on. The one that Akari degraded to garbage. He ignored his second question. He wanted to keep their semi-relationship until the end of the day.
"Yogi, can you crunch some of these sales?" Akari pushed himself up with some papers in hand.
"Ah, can you just scan me those? It's easier for me anyway." Yogi blurted, making Akari freeze in mid-air. He paused and smirked.
"Shouldn't you do that? I am your senior."
"Can you do it? For me?" His voice squeaked as he laughed afterwards. "Aha ha ha..."
"If you insist." He hummed in a deep baritone.
Akari scuffled papers together and scanned them, quiet as the machine whirred. Yogi was relieved to hide behind his cubicle, typing and clicking away at the documents sent to him by Akari. He was being skittish, insecure. Gareki sent him wayward glances, but counted by seconds the time to which he'd tell Yogi it was over. Would he have to transfer? Gareki scratched his head as he double checked the spreadsheet. He sighed and got up, the walk to Akari's desk painfully slow and awkward.
"Here is the revised copy. Would you like to review it again for any more mistakes?"
Akari blew an exasperated sigh.
"This better not happen again. I won't allow foolish men who take this job for granted." Akari knew for a fact that he never intended to do such a thing. Cruel. He clipped it and threw it onto a large mountain of paper. Gareki turned back to his seat.
Time passed slowly. The gray clock on his desk ticked painstakingly, the hand moving in monotonous motion. He enjoyed the down time- if there ever was 'downtime' for his job. It was the time for his thought process to catch up with his emotions. An hour passed. Two. Three. He had reached his everstanding conclusion for Yogi, as well as the answer to life, the question of aliens, and the end of civilization of human kind on Earth as a side note.
Akari's gruff call made him flicker back to attention.
"Hey, make the usual number of copies of this for me, Gareki. I'm going on my break." Akari took out his mug in preparation for his daily 20th coffee. Gareki got up and took the papers from him, walking off to the copier machine. He stuck the paper underneath the screen and punched in the commands. He felt an itching anger at the fact that he'd been reduced to a simple gopher. Why didn't he send one of the other employees to do it? Was it because he wasn't the type to sneak a peak at the contents of the papers? The machine whirred as it spit out copies. Taking them he walked back slowly- quiet voices floated down the hall.
"Have you changed your mind yet?" It was Akari. What was he doing in a private conference room, with the door open? Whoever he was talking to didn't respond.
"You saw how Gareki was reproachful today. He knows exactly what you did, and he doesn't want you back, the whore that you are." He froze. His skin crawled, connecting whoever the person was to someone close to him. He was talking to Yogi, wasn't he? His heart raced in confusion and guilt and anger. What? Was this blackmail, or did Yogi do something with Akari?
"So wouldn't it be better if you simply stayed with me? I would never toss you away as Gareki did with you. I'd keep you for the useless toy you are. You like that don't you?" Gareki's hands were numb. The copies slid from his hands in anger and embarrassment. A toy? What? Did Akari...?
"No. Enough of you bullshit. You know nothing!" A shaky voice.
"Really now? Even though you know it inside and the denial is eating you alive?" Gareki could hear the snide grin Akari had on his face. He felt himself walking closer. The voices grew louder, as if they were approaching as well.
"Never will I settle for you, you monster!" Yogi's voice trembled, having little strength.
"And what can you say about it?" The angry voice of Akari came from the entryway of the room. Yogi came tumbling out into a column behind him in the hallway. Akari strode up and forcefully kissed Yogi.
"Uhh... Nn.. No!" He tried to push him away. Gareki was stunned. Adrenaline made the world swirl. He stepped unsteadily. As if he had been cheated. As if he had been punched in the face. Akari. Yogi. Akari. Yogi. Things were more complicated than he thought. Akari was forcing Yogi even here. And before? All those other times that he drove off with Yogi, did he...?
Akari, hearing his approach, used this as his escape, eased off and glanced at Gareki. He knowingly did all of that, to make him give up Yogi, didn't he? A heated blush and ragged frustration burned through his mind.
"Know your place." The words were mouthed by a sneering smile as Akari left a collapsing Yogi and a broken Gareki in the stark corridor.
With a shaking hand, Gareki picked up his papers. He dropped most of them again, as soon as he picked them up. His head was pounding. He walked slowly past Yogi.
"Tell... Akari-san that I'll be taking the day off." He was ashamed to hear his voice shake a bit.
"Please don't leave me." He whispered.
"If you need...! To call the cops, so be it." Gareki shot him a sharp look. Yogi flinched. He left him to fend for himself, the man that hid all his pains behind a fake smile. A heavy guilt settled over his heart. But he couldn't do it. He couldn't believe it. Honestly he didn't know what to think. He turned and threw the copies into a garbage bin. He grabbed his things in a mindless whirl and was out of the door before anyone could say "Bye!" He felt Akari's piercing stare stabbing him as he left, a low laugh almost audible to Gareki's ears.
His muscle memory carried him zombie-like down the street, through an empty subway, and carried him into his house. Jiki, his neighbor, waved at him, but he was hardly able to throw a glance back at him. And on his couch, he sat down, fell onto his side, and quietly, silently, the well kept tears that he had hid away over the last few weeks finally slid down his cheeks as he fell into a dazed sleep.
It must have been Nights. Days. Weeks, that he felt like he stared and slept on that couch. He didn't know. He didn't care. He stayed on that couch all day and night, and didn't bother going to work. He remembered to get up at one point to change into his pajamas, and take out the scotch, but he would return to the couch again. He had never skipped work for emotional reasons. He was waist deep in horrible, consuming guilt and angry love that he couldn't adjust. Couldn't adapt. And when creatures can't do those things, they don't survive.
He had never even taken a sick day from that stupid job. Now that he thought about it, the days he didn't go could count towards his sick days, if he ever returned. Then again, would he return? He felt pathetic. He should have been the one to save Yogi, yet here he was, waiting for somebody to come and save his sorry ass.
He felt noxious and dead inside, as if his insides had rotted away and he was left as an empty carcass, a broken shell left to fossilize after the vultures and fungi in his life had finished picking away at what they wanted.
He would occasionally take whiskey in shots. And feel worse. Then he'd fall into a fitful sleep. And then get up for his phone and look for Yogi's number. His ID was repeated at least twenty times in a row for his incoming calls. And Gareki would feel sad, and look for his number. He was the ex from long ago who he couldn't remember properly. He couldn't remember the color of his eyes, or the strength of his hand, but he wanted to call. Call and see him. Even if he didn't reply, or the call didn't go through. He wanted to act like he mattered somewhere. But then he'd find Yogi's number right below his name and want to dial that too. Yogi had called so many times after he had disappeared, but he had never personally checked in. He never came to his house at all. Maybe he really didn't want to be with him anyway. But then again, what choice did he have? Akari was probably still... He didn't know. He didn't want to know. Still, he felt a pang of guilt. He snatched the bottle and filled his glass again. His throat burned as the liquid heated his body. And so after tearing out his hair, he would toss his phone away and sleep again, and while he was asleep, his eyes would drip with invisible tears. And after he woke up again, he'd get up for his phone and look for Yogi's number. His ID was repeated at least twenty times in a row for his incoming calls. And Gareki would feel sad, and look for his number...
Jiki came to visit once, perhaps twice. He never kept track of him and his presence, but he would hear a doorbell ring, and then knocks, and then some yelling outside, and finally some writing on his door, before he left or stayed outside, he didn't know. He eventually opened the door to read a note that was taped to his building which read,
"Are you still alive?" and
"Are you still eating?" and below the note, there was always a day's worth of take-out. He would pick it up and put it inside, then take out a pen and write some lip service,
"thanks" or "thank you" in a scribble.
He would go back inside and sit back on his couch. He usually didn't bother eating any of the food, but he would look to his right, and ta-da, a glass of jäger-meister or vodka was waiting for the taking. He would down it in one, as he had become a much more tolerant drinker than before.
One day, or the same one, he really didn't know which, his phone rang off the hook for many hours on end, and so annoyingly, that he took out the battery and the data card of his cell. After 30 minutes, a loud knocking and ringing of his door pursued.
"Gareki, it's me. Open your door, please!" It was Yogi, "Akari... He's chasing me, please, I don't want to go to the cops-" He was suddenly silent. In a quieter voice I heard,
"I think he's coming around the corner..." It was Yogi. His desperate voice made Gareki almost choke on his alcohol. He angrily spluttered and coughed. Gareki wondered if it was some sort of scheme to get him to open the door- but the alarm in his voice made him sure that Yogi was serious. He looked out the window. Akari's sports car was indeed rolling up to the neighborhood. Gareki's heart skipped a beat as he stumbled over to the door and pulled it open, the first time in days since he had last seen Jiki's note- and an eternity since he had seen Yogi. But this Yogi was different. He had tears welled up in his eyes as he barely held his dissheveled self as he entered his flat. His eyes had rings beneath and his frame was an unhealthy thin. Badly hidden scars and marks peeked from under his sleeves and his turtle neck. Gareki shut the door and dead bolted the lock. Yogi wiped his eyes with a rough swipe.
"You look like crap. Are you drunk?" Yogi commented, eyeing Gareki's no-food, only alcohol diet, with limited shower self.
"I have been. And you don't look so good either." Gareki returned, throwing the curtains and trying to close them.
"You haven't been eating, have you? This doesn't look like it's been touched, ha ha..."Yogi pointed to the cold boxes of spoiled food. "And you reek of alcohol. Lots of it." Yogi spluttered, attempting to draw the focus away from himself and on Gareki instead. Gareki looked away and plopped onto the couch. He felt as though his strength was suddenly sapped, the adrenaline rush making him jittery.
"Would you like some? I've always stored these up, but if I don't drink them, there's no use in keeping them." Gareki's hands trembled a bit as he struggled to pour the contents into a tumbler. He silently gave the glass to Yogi, who was now seated across from him in the couch. He hoped that he had mistakenly seen Akari's car, and that Yogi had simply wanted to escape.
An aggressive banging noise came from the door. Gareki jolted from his seat while Yogi froze, solidly gripping the tumbler. Gareki sighed through his nose.
"Yogi, let's go back, shall we?" It was Akari, grumbling through the door. The world was a wild red under Gareki's eyes. He could hardly walk as he headed towards the door.
"Go back to where you came from, Akari."
"Oh, Gareki-kun, so you have Yogi under your wing? You finally said my name without an honorific... I guess you've warmed up to me? I guess Yogi wouldn't mind it if we shared your body...I sure wouldn't." Gareki looked through the hole in the door. The convoluted image of Akari staring right at him sent chills down his spine. Akari's hands were awkwardly behind his back, as if he was hiding something. The suspicion felt heavy in his stomach.
"Make him go away," a whisper came from Yogi. He grit his teeth in anger.
"If you stay near this complex for another 30 seconds, I'm going to call the cops, and make sure you get jailed for life."
"For visiting a friend? I don't think so."
"We aren't on friendly terms anymore. In fact, I quit, so you aren't even my superior." His own heart skipped a beat. He threw it away so easily, it surprised himself.
"Gareki-san..." Yogi shot him a look. He nodded at him.
"Now look here, what's going on between me and Yogi has nothing to do with you."
"You're on my residence as of right now, so it does have to do with me." He backed up to take up his phone and dial Jiki's number.
"Hello? Gareki-san, you're still alive? Hello?"
"Jiki-san, there's a guy who's armed on my floor, outside my door, and he won't go the fuck away. Can you call security and make him run home with his tail between his legs?" Gareki almost heard a grin on the other side of the line.
"Sure can do. But the security won't be necessary." He hoped to hear that. Police and security wouldn't get this bastard away, he already knew.
After he hung up, he immediately heard the opening of a door. The voices were muffled outside, but Gareki heard some arguing, some gun loading, and finally the steps of a heavy guy walking down the stairs. He checked to see if the coast was clear before opening the door to Jiki's grinning face. It was almost terrifying.
"Thank you... What do I owe you?" Gareki said hesitantly.
"Nothing. Here's the gun that I used to scare the crap out of him with. Return her to me later, but keep my baby safe." Gareki bowed low and shut the door.
He stared awkwardly at the floor. He didn't know where to begin. Silence. The tinkle of ice cubes in a glass.
"Does this happen often?" Gareki asked, putting Jiki's gun in a drawer and sitting down again. He shut his eyes and hoped that this was the first and last time Yogi had to go through this kind of ordeal. His heart was pumping. He was able to talk to Yogi again, and he wouldn't let him go this time. Never again. In the end he didn't have the guts to ask for forgiveness... But he wouldn't waste this second chance.
"Oh... um, I guess once or twice before." He said in a quiet voice. Gareki felt a pang that paralyzed his movements. You know that feeling of shock you get when you hear something so surprising or devastating it's like you never even heard it? That's what it was like.
Once or twice meant that it had happened so much that twice seemed like a relatively low number to him. It was already too much. He held his head in his hands.
"It's not your fault." Yogi said softly.
"I could have made sure that you were going out with me. I could have made it clear. I should have made you obviously mine." Gareki looked him in the eyes. Yogi averted his to stare pointlessly at the half closed curtains. The sun peeked over the financial district and lanced shadows onto the floor.
"You shouldn't have quit your job."
"Are you telling me that you're going to keep working under that piece of shit?" Gareki stormed vehemently. He felt his blood pressure rise. Yogi blushed.
"No. I don't know if we're... Because we are now on... more... personal terms, let me tell you straight. You're making a bad decision, and you should quit. Going back would be absolutely fucking crazy." Flustered, Gareki grabbed Yogi by the arms and shook him. Yogi's eyes were wild for a second. A moment of hesitation.
"Um... Yes.. I mean no, I won't go anymore... because we're on more intimate grounds, right?"
Gareki swallowed back his fear. His last ounce of courage. He could only give a curt nod. Yogi stared at him seriously.
"Then does that means we're together?"
And with this, Gareki blushed and nodded stiffly again. Wasn't it obvious?
"Then I can do this?" Yogi said, and leaned in to softly kiss his scowling lips- they quickly melted into an embarrassing kiss, where Yogi took hesitant control. His hands shook as he grabbed him by his collar. Much different than before. Gareki noticed the subtle difference and enveloped him in his arms. He pressed himself against Yogi as they fell back into the couch.
"Oof!" Yogi said, holding his hands about him, pushing the distance between Gareki and himself. Gareki felt a bit hurt, but he hoped that he didn't show it.
"I won't do anything more than kiss you. I don't think I can... do anything else." Gareki murmured, and he leaned in to gently kiss him again, the ravaging desire hidden away in order to protect the one that held him so tightly. He didn't want Yogi to think of him as only wanting of his body. Yogi's spirit had been crushed and it would take time to heal. He kissed him and they talked and laughed and cried until Gareki grew so tired that he began to doze into Yogi's shoulder. Yogi idly played with his hair and hugged him close for an hour, feeling as pathetic and happy as an enamored high school girl, as he watched the orange sun fade to darkness under the high business district buildings before he closed his eyes and fled from the heaven he found himself in, under the sweet warmth of his lover, into a deep sleep. He dreamed a sweet dream, where he lived a fulfilling life with Gareki and spent each day together. Then he realized that he was living the dream, and so he smiled a small true smile, one that wasn't fake and placid. He would never have to use his mask again.
At least, for now.
A/N: So I found that I love happier endings a lot better than angry endings. I'm pretty sure I'll have another chapter, like as happy epilogue of their lives. Probably would be drabble though. What do you guys think? Oh, and sorry for the wait, if there was any anticipation out there... I'm thinking that I might do some DRRR! or Darker Than Black fics, but I've got no main plot ideas yet. But there definitely might be another chapter for this, or why else would I have left such an ambivalent ending?