I have no excuse for the delay other than the fact that I'm taking 20 (!) credit hours (and 9 of them are honors credits). Some people may find this to be impossible, and I am starting to agree… So, this is mostly unedited, as I decided that editing it could take several weeks.
Since it's been awhile, here's a recap. Misaki went out with Akihiko, but left his phone in his car. So he began to walk to Akihiko's condo even though it was raining.
So this chapter may be confusing at first, but keep reading and it will be explained. Thank you for reading!
Thunder banged and lightning blazed as great sheets of rain drenched the pavement as though wrath was being released into the sky. People watched the windswept streets flood from behind closed windows. There were those fearless enough to venture into storm's rage that slashed outside of their doors, but they were few and far between.
It wasn't uncommon for some to ignore the standard curfew set after the war began, but tonight most of them opted to stay behind closed doors. The streets and alleyways were completely deserted during these dark hours of the night.
Heavy drops drenched Misaki's clothing and hair, dripping into his eyes, mixing with his tears and preventing the blood on his shoulders from drying. The attack was was sudden, completely unexpected. There was no warning, no way he could have known.
He staggered through the ally, breath quivering, icy wind shaking his body as he looked around for something, anything. An open door, a car, a store.
But there was nothing. No one.
Misaki wanted to be safe and snuggled up in bed, surrounded by the quiet hum of the heater and Takahiro's snoring.
He wanted to pull the blankets up over his hair and escape to dreams of a certain silver-haired man.
He wanted to be back home. Protected. Warm.
Agony ripped through his body, wracking his chest, sending jabs of pain to his ribs and skull. Panic had tears falling down his already drenched cheek in cold streams.
He shouldn't have left his house. He should have waited until morning.
The man tried to knock him out.
Misaki touched the back of his head, wincing as he felt the sensitivity there.
With his arms circled around his chest, he fell back against the brick wall of a closed business and tried to breathe slower.
He'd been surprised on the streets, thrown into the back of a truck and kicked before he could protect himself.
The man's shoes were vicious. Nice, thick, heavy leather, with what was surely some kind of metal toe. He would know; the boot had rammed into his side enough times.
He knew the streets were the only way to get home. But he felt safer in the alleys. The streets were too open, too exposed. His attackers were probably waiting out there for him. He could only hide in the alley like a damn coward.
More than once, he thought about going out and revealing himself. They were going to find him eventually, and when they did there was no way he could defend himself, much less escape. He almost thought that it was better to just get it over with… but his ribs couldn't handle any more abuse at the moment.
A truck's engine rumbled in the distance. It was amazing that the guards who were supposed to be watching the borders didn't hear it. They probably left their stations, not wanting to stand in the storm waiting for some big heist that probably wasn't going to happen. It wasn't surprising; Misaki couldn't really blame them. Or maybe the guards actually were waiting, but the rain masked all noise.
Trembling, he made himself leave the wall and duck into a connecting alleyway. He dashed along, keeping himself close to the soggy length of the building, quickly making way further into the labyrinth of side streets while trying to watch the shadows moving around him.
But even then, Misaki knew that there was no place to hide. They would find him.
Turning into the next alley, he moved quickly along, his chest seizing with fear when lightning raced over the sky and thunder crashed.
A shriek burst out of his throat as he staggered into a trashcan, causing it to clatter loudly to the ground as a figure started appeared against the opposite wall.
Quickly, like a charging brute, it came at him, arms extended. Too dark to see anything other than how large it was, how tall…
Misaki screamed and tumbled backwards, the attacker instantly following. He tried to stay upright, to fend the other man off, but strong hands gripped his shoulders and whipped his arms down.
"Misaki!" The loud growl was severe and harsh. "Misaki! Dammit, stop!"
Misaki knew the voice, but panic ripped through him as he struggled to get away, pain burning his stomach, chest, and legs.
The mud soaking his knees, the filthy stench, and the grime under his palms had him lurching to free himself. He broke out into a run, slipped, but found his footing. The figure was behind him, growling, cursing.
Misaki cried in terror as he rounded a corner.
"Misaki!" it called, angry.
He just ran faster. But then stopped short.
In front of him was a giant brick wall. He was trapped.
He turned back around, prepared to make a break for it, but the man stood at the alley entrance, illuminated by the flashing lightning.
Misaki threw himself into the corner, but strong arms came around him
"Misaki, stop running from me!"
He looked up, breath suspended in his chest, relief flowing through him at the sight of the man above him.
Usagi-san came for him. He would be safe now.
He could only watch as the man's hand lifted and cupped his cheek. It trailed down his face and ran over his chin. Misaki leaned into the heat that the touch brought. It made warm feelings rush through him as a thumb stroked his lips.
"Misaki," he murmured softly. But then, thunder shook the air and the wind pushed against them harder. Akihiko looked up at the pouring sky. "I need to get you out of here. Can you stand?"
Misaki nodded as a hand caught his wrist and began to pull him forward. But Akihiko was moving too quickly, and the boy couldn't keep up. His legs weren't working right and he kept stumbling over rocks and trash.
Akihiko looked behind him and frowned. "Hurry, we need to go faster." His voice was gentle, but laced with urgency.
"I… I'm going… as fast as I can," Misaki struggled to say. Now that the adrenaline in his blood was diminishing, agony was piercing through his ribs and sides.
Without blinking, Akihiko turned around and scooped the boy up so he was lying across his arms. He sprinted forward.
Misaki shrunk down into the arms carrying him, reveling in the warmth and security.
"We're almost there," Akihiko said, as if he could sense Misaki's pain and anxiety. "I won't let anybody touch you. You're safe now."
"I know," Misaki murmured, feeling sleepy, "It's better now." He looked up to see water droplets falling out of Akihiko's hair. The rain was pounding harder now, and the man hunched his shoulders over to protect Misaki from the worst of it.
He just ran faster.
Akihiko gently lowered the boy onto the bed. Misaki was sleeping now, probably tired from the stress and trauma of the last few hours, but Akihiko had to make sure Misaki was all right.
Softly, so as not to hurt or wake the boy, he inched up the shirt hiding Misaki's stomach, but he couldn't get it high enough to see anything, so he tried forcing the fabric up. Misaki cringed and moaned softly when it put pressure on his injured ribs, so Akihiko stopped trying and left it alone.
Sighing, he got a few towels from a nearby closet and scrunched one into Misaki's hair. The pillow was absorbing most of the rainwater, but a lot was still drenching the brown locks. Once it was sufficiently dry, he ran it down over the forehead and then the bridge of Misaki's face.
By then, the towel was completely saturated. He tossed it aside and gently cupped Misaki's cheeks. God, Misaki was so cold. The soft skin of his face was freezing and, upon closer inspection, his lips had an icy blue undertone.
Frantically, he ran his hands further down the body. Every inch of flesh was cold and very wet. The one exception was the side of his chest. It was very hot there, the warmth easily seeping through fabric, indicating a deep bruise.
He took a new towel and dried Misaki's arms, thanking God that he'd had the foresight to remove the boy's jacket before laying him down. He didn't think he'd be able to get it off without waking him up.
Moving down the body, he then untied the shoes and popped them off. The water gathered in the soles splashed out when Akihiko tossed them to the other side of the room.
After that came the socks. After throwing those away too, he held Misaki's feet in his hands and rubbed. The toes were even colder than the rest of him, so he tried to massage some warmth into them. But after several minutes, they still felt the same.
"Misaki…" he mumbled quietly as he unbuttoned the boy's pants. Akihiko began to draw them down his legs, but the boxers underneath slid down too. Quickly, almost wincing, he pulled them back up. As much as he loved Misaki, and as much as he had hungered for him, Akihiko couldn't bring himself to touch or look. It was his fault that the boy was like this… he couldn't exploit Misaki in his current state, especially when he was in such pain. And so, even though the boxers were soaked through, they stayed on.
Suddenly, the pain became too much. Akihiko covered his eyes with his palms as he fell to the ground. It was all his fault. It was all his fault that Misaki was out in the rain, all his fault that Misaki got attacked. He should have done something, should have protected him. But in the end, he didn't protect him, and this was the result.
Wallowing with the pain in his chest, Akihiko almost didn't hear the bed shift next to him.
"Usagi-san," came a faint whisper.
He jerked his head up and reached frantically for Misaki's hand.
"You're awake." That was all he could say. He didn't know the words that would sufficiently make up for everything he'd done.
They sat in awkward silence for several long seconds.
Misaki was the first to speak. "You came for me."
Akihiko gripped the hand tighter, needing some base for him to hold on to, a base that would keep him from breaking down. He looked away, unable to meet Misaki's eyes.
"Not soon enough."
Misaki waited, allowing the comment to dissipate. "I'm cold," he finally said sheepishly, thinking how nice it would be to have Akihiko's warm body tucked in beside him.
"I'll turn the heat up," he responded immediately, getting off the ground.
But Misaki pulled him back down. "No, that's not… what I meant."
Akihiko finally looked him in the eyes, and instantly regretted doing so.
Misaki's huge green eyes stared right at him, almost like they were going right into his soul. He felt a sharp pain sting his heart.
"Misaki… I'm sorry. I told you that you could trust me… I promised you that I'd keep you safe."
"Don't do that. Don't go there." Misaki tried to sound strong, but failed miserably when his voice cracked. "You did keep me safe."
"I did not," Akihiko hissed, angry at himself. "If I had kept you safe, you wouldn't—"
"Are you crying?"
"No," he growled, looking away.
Misaki rubbed a thumb over Akihiko hand. "It's okay, I'm fine."
But the man didn't reply.
"Still a little cold though," Miaski said, praying that Akihiko would get the hint… He couldn't very well say what he wanted. That would be much too embarrassing and forward.
But the man still didn't say anything.
Misaki sighed dramatically. "If only there was someone who could keep me warm…"
Aihiko looked at him. "You would want that? After everything I've done?"
"Just get in," Misaki grumbled, blushing profusely.
"You're injured. I don't want to hurt you further."
"I'll be okay. Please… just keep me warm. I can't feel my feet they're so cold. And my fingers too."
"No, don't Misaki me. I don't want you to check if I'm okay. I'm cold and I need you." Even as he said it, Misaki knew that it was true. Maybe it would last a day, maybe forever, but as of this moment, Misaki knew that he couldn't live without Akihiko beside him. It was irrational and compulsive thinking— after all, he barely even knew Akihiko— but it was true.
"Let me check your ribs first. Please? I'll be gentle."
As Misaki grumbled, Akihiko stood to his full height and softly pulled up the boy's shirt. Again, it got caught between his back and the bed, so Misaki arched his back to allow it to pass. The moment when the fabric slid up, the boy arched up again, this time viciously with a loud and shrieking cry. The bleeding wounds on his side had adhered and dried into his shirt, ripping open when the shirt pulled away.
"Usagi-san, what'd you do?" he managed to gasp out as blood trickled down his side.
The other man stood there shocked, not knowing what to do or what had happened. "No, no," he said in a panic, "I didn't… I don't…" He pawed frantically at the boy's side, almost like he was afraid to touch it, but too afraid not to touch it.
Misaki squeezed his eyes and held his breath for several long seconds, trying to make the pain pass. Eventually, he released the tension in one slow exhale.
He opened his eyes and found Akihiko over by a closet, getting some antiseptic and bandages. When the man turned around and saw Misaki staring, his eyes became full of worry and sadness. But even greater than that— and what scared Misaki the most— was the anxiety and fear etched on his face.
"I'm sorry, Misaki. I didn't mean—"
"Don't go there," Misaki pleaded, "Don't even say it. This, all of this, it's my fault."
"No, no," Akihiko whispered, crawling right up against the side of the bed. "It's not your fault."
Miski looked away, unable to meet the other man's eyes. He didn't want Akihiko to try and take the blame; that would just make them both feel worse.
Silence stretched between them until Akihiko held up the antiseptic. "I should disinfect you."
Misaki looked at it and grimaced, knowing how the alcohol would burn. Slowly, not wanting to watch, he turned his head away and grit his teeth.
He jumped when a warm hand landed on his shoulder. Confused, he glanced back. "Don't worry, Misaki. I'll try not to hurt you."
"Just do it already," Misaki growled, wanting the pain to be over.
Akihiko nodded. After hovering the bottle over his body, he began to spray.
The instant it touched Misaki's flesh, he screamed, loud and high. It wasn't that it hurt that badly. But Misaki's mind and body was spent; it could take no more. It coated his skin in a fine, burning layer of mist, permeating deep into his open wounds. When his body began to seize, the older man reached out to restrain him. The hand, though strong and cold, was surprisingly gentle, calming Misaki until his cries became faint whimpers.
And then, like an extinguished flame, the burning was gone.
Misaki relaxed back on the bed, breathing deeply. He closed his eyes, glad that the ordeal was over. He stayed like that, relishing the cooling after-effects of the spray.
But then, Akihiko's voice brought him back to reality.
"I called your brother."
Misaki stared blankly at Akihiko, waiting for him to say that he was joking, that he would never do something so horrible as calling Takahiro.
A minute passed until Misaki realized that the other man was serious. He groaned, completely horrified. There were few things worse than a worried Takahiro.
"I had to do it, Misaki. It's not like we can just leave him in the dark about this."
"No, we actually can leave him in the dark about this. He didn't need to know."
"How could you tell him?" Miskaki moaned. "He would have been perfectly fine not knowing."
"That's not the point. He's your brother."
Misaki waited a moment to respond, looking at the wall away from Akihiko.
Then, slightly calmer now, he asked, "What'd he say."
"He didn't answer the phone. It's pretty late; he's probably asleep."
Misaki grasped onto the small trail of hope he had left. Tentatively, he asked, "So technically you didn't tell him yet?"
"No, I left a message on his cell right after we got back here."
"Oh," Misaki huffed, deflated.
"Come now, Misaki, you know it's better this way."
The boy just grumbled in response, unwilling to admit that there was even a small chance that Akihiko was right. Akihiko just couldn't understand was Takahiro was like when he was worried about his younger brother. He took overprotective to a whole new level.
Akihiko took a small bottle off the bedside table, distracting Misaki from his thoughts. "Do you want some pain medication?"
"Ah, no, I'm fine," he replied, waving the bottle away. Sure, it hurt, everything hurt, but not too badly. It was worse before. By now, his body was numb and almost unfeeling.
"You should take some. It'll start hurting soon."
"No, thanks," Misaki said. He never liked taking medicine. Swallowing pills always made him gag, and liquid medication burned his throat.
"You really should take some," Akihiko pressed, holding out two pills.
"I said I'm fine."
"No!" he screeched, "I don't want them."
Akihiko dropped his outstretched hard and looked away. "I should take you to the hospital. Actually, I should have taken you there two hours ago."
Misaki didn't reply, feeling a little embarrassed and guilty about yelling.
They stayed like that for a while, neither knowing what to say.
Eventually, Akihiko broke the silence. "You need to rest."
"I don't think I can sleep."
"You're not tired?"
"No, I am."
"Please, just try to rest? For me?"
Misaki nodded and closed his eyes, noticing when the lamp next to him was turned off. He concentrated on keeping his breathing deep and even, but every inhale seemed to pinch his ribs. It didn't hurt badly, but it was enough to distract him.
After a few unsuccessful minutes, Misaki opened his eyes, resigning himself to the fact that he would be getting no sleep tonight.
Akihiko hadn't moved; he was just sitting there by the bed, staring.
"Why don't you try to get some sleep too?"
"I need to watch over you. You know, make sure you don't have a concussion." Akihiko knew that he was lying. Sure, the concussion was part of it, but he also just wanted to look at the boy. Wanted to be close to him. Akihiko needed that right now… After being so close to losing the boy, he didn't want to let Misaki out of his sight.
"Want to get in bed with me?"
Akihiko smiled. A day ago, he would have given his left leg to hear those words come out of Misaki's mouth.
"I probably shouldn't."
"Don't be silly. You can't just sit there all night." He blushed a little. "Besides, I'm still cold."
Akihiko sighed and analyzed the situation. Finally, he stood up to his full height and went to the other side of the bed, ditching his shirt on the way.
The bed dipped slightly when he climbed in. As soon as he pulled the covers over their bodies, Misaki tried to snuggle towards him.
Any other time, Akihiko would have basked in the fact that, for once, Misaki was the one trying to get closer… But when Misaki groaned from the movement, all happy thoughts left his mind.
He reached out a hand to still Misaki. "Don't move, you'll hurt yourself." And then he scootched over next to the boy. Hesitantly, he draped an arm over Misaki, careful not to touch the bruise.
"Seriously now, you should try to get some more rest."
Misaki hummed a reply and tried to inch closer to the man spooning behind him, absorbing his warmth.
For the first time since he had found Misaki in the rain, Akihiko felt at peace. With the small body tucked against him like this, it seemed like everything was the way it should be.
Until now, all of his emotions had been blocked by the worry he had felt for Misaki. But now that Misaki was safe in his arms, other feelings surfaced. The most prominent of which was anger. A deep, hot anger that he had never before felt. He clenched a fist and lowered his eyes. But then, he caught a whiff of Misaki's hair. It smelled nice, a little bit musty smelling, like rainwater tends to do, but nice still the same.
Hesitantly, he kissed the soft skin on the back of Misaki's neck. He waited for the boy to spit out some acidic comment, but no such remark came.
Misaki was already asleep.
This chapter was too dramatic. Sorry, I'll write happier stuff next time. Much happier, if you get my drift… hehehehe….
Oh, and apparently "scootched" isn't a word. But I think it should be, so sorry if my defilement of the English language bothers you. :) But hey, I'm French, so I get some leeway.
Remember, this is largely unedited, so my sentences are choppy and disorganized, but I decided that it wasn't too bad, so I just posted it.
Please review! Thank you!