Hello and good to see you, reader. Apple Fairy here!

First off I'd like to say this work is probably my darkest story and will contain self-harm, so proceed with caution.

There's also another trigger present, but I fear it will spoil the story, so I wish to keep it unknown for now. Once again, proceed with caution.

Besides that, I sincerely hope I handled the subject matter well enough. Thank you so much for reading.


Growing Pains

Story by Apple Fairy


Your mind goes blank after a while. It goes blank, and then all you can feel is the pain over and over again.

Vicious, unrelenting hits, over and over again. You don't think. You stop thinking altogether, the senses just sort of die down after a point, and all you can do is feel. Basic, primal instinct kind of feel. Like your body registers it, but your mind does not. But it's fine, Kiku thinks, because you don't really need to think. Your body just needs to feel itself getting hurt, you just need to feel the blunt force against skin and bones. But then again, you're not just receiving either, you're hurting in return, trying to hurt him back. Kicking at the ribs, say, or choking him until the eyes roll back in the head. Then, is when you let go, because you're not aiming to kill, no. Just trying to hurt each other, trying to make bruises, trying to make cuts and scrapes and tears.

It's terribly primal and grotesque, and he loves it.

You don't think. You're not supposed to. Kiku compares it to when someone eats a delicious dessert. You take a bite, and then close your eyes. And in that moment, the world falls away, and you savor the taste, try to remember this moment, and then consume more and more until you are satisfied.

Yes. That's what it reminds Kiku of. Right now, he was savoring the taste as he pulled at Arthur's hair and smashed his face into the ground. He does it hard enough to make the boy's ears ring and his nose hurt, but not enough for swelling. No, they can't leave marks; not noticeable ones at least. They've made rules about these moments, and they follow these rules loyally. They can't make any visible marks, no hitting of the face or severe injuries like breaking bones. They don't want people to find out, so they keep it all a secret under long-sleeved clothing.

They also can't tell anyone about these sessions.

In retaliation, Arthur tackles Kiku into the wall, and punches him hard in the stomach, enough to leave Kiku breathless.

It was sublime really.

And then he crouches down, clutching his stomach, and he revels in this feeling. It hurts, his whole body is screaming in pain, and he wants more. And Arthur gives it to him gladly, as he kicks him while he's down, and grabs him by the hair, dragging him up. He slaps him across the face, and Kiku spits out blood.

Slaps are okay because the swelling dies down eventually.

It was a game of give and take, it's something they both wanted. They wanted to get hurt, they wanted to feel the hurt, and they wanted pain because that pain gave them pleasure. They're not perverts, and they're not depressed. They're not bored either. They enjoy the adrenaline rush, they like seeing the bruises. It was something twisted and strange in them, and if you asked them why exactly they liked it, they couldn't really tell you. It's like if someone asked you to explain why you liked certain things; like a favorite book or a favorite food. It's just something you enjoyed, and it's unexplainable, but you like it nonetheless.

Kiku likes the fact that they chose his house specifically to do this. Because he could see his wooden sword by his bedroom door and he ran to grab it, and proceeded to violently beat Arthur with it.

Their school uniforms were getting dirty, and they'll probably clean them later, as they always do. Patch each other up, and then waste the rest of the evening together, studying or talking of this and that, that and this. It's what everyone else believed they were doing when they had these sessions; they were studying, or they were really good friends.

Which wasn't a lie; they really were good friends.

"Kiku! Kiku wait!" Arthur gasped, wheezing for breath, his chest hurting as it rose and fell. He held a hand up weakly, his arm shaking, and Kiku stopped.

"N-No more…" he panted, "No more."

When asked to stop, they will always stop no matter what. That was another one of the rules, and that was one that took the most trust. Besides, they weren't in this to hurt someone. They just wanted the pain really, and they mutually helped one another.

Kiku lowered the sword. His left leg felt numb, and the left side of his stomach was throbbing, his cheek was stinging. He tasted blood in his mouth, and knew he had bit his tongue. He collapsed onto his knees, and took in the pain, closing his eyes, breathing shallow. It was good. So very, very good.

Opening his eyes, he looked at Arthur, a crumpled mess on the floor. He could see blood staining his shirt, on his right shoulder. They'd have to wash that soon, Kiku noted, or else it would never go away.

The noise of their labored breathing filled the room. Something thick and awkward, a moment that took it's time.

Dropping the sword, Kiku began to crawl his way to Arthur. And when he was next to the other's body, Arthur looked up at him, his face flushed and his lip cut. Ah, Kiku frowned; looks like he went too far.

Arthur smiled regardless. A warm smile that showed he was satisfied and happy and content. He reached up with a shaking hand, cupping Kiku's cheek gently.

A comforting touch after their whirlwind of violence.

"Good show, luv."


It had all started with tea.

Kiku Honda was a member of the newspaper club, and had stayed after school to finish a certain article about Asia. Which he was fine with. Kiku liked working long hours, making sure everything was fine and in working order. He found solace in his work, and it was a trait that people admired in him. He was a well-to-do student, somewhat shy but polite nevertheless. People liked him, and he always aimed to please. He was an average student, part of a club, with friends he held dear. Life was normal for him and in working order, but something always felt off.

Like something was missing.

At that moment, however, as the sun was setting outside, and Kiku was proofreading his work, he was missing something else entirely. Kiku was thirsty, and he craved tea. The kind of tea that was green and canned, and available from a vending machine. So he sighed, casting a look out the window. He had some change, and he deserved it. So he decided, sure, he'll take a break and get himself some tea. Leaving the newspaper clubroom, he walked down the silent, orange-dyed halls of the school. Kiku was used to this image of the school, where everyone had gone home and the sun began to set. This wasn't the first time he stayed behind to finish a report. In a distance he could hear the bustling of the city, far off and subtle.

It was a quiet moment, until he heard the screaming.

A scream of pain, something gruff and inelegant. And then the sound of beating, something getting hit, like a sack of flour. Kiku could feel a chill go up his spine, and pinpointing the noise coming from outside, he rushed to a window to see what was going on. What he saw below, behind the school, were two older boys with baseball bats surrounding someone crouched on the ground. The victim was curled up into a ball, whimpering, and Kiku knew this wasn't just something he could ignore.

So, he ran. As fast as he could, down the stairs, through the doors, around the school. His heart was pounding in his chest, panic setting in, yet he ran. When he got there, one of the assailants already had his bat raised above his head, ready to strike, and Kiku, without even thinking, shouted out.

"Stop right there!"

They did, looking surprised to see someone interrupting them. Kiku, unafraid, soldiered on.

"Get out of here, go! Or I'll call the teacher!"

This was a complete lie, for the teachers had left for the day already. But Kiku hoped his bluff would work, and it did. Cussing an obscenity, the two boys ran, and Kiku breathed a sigh of relief. That went easier than he thought it would, and he was grateful for that. He immediately rushed to the victim's side, and nearly gasped seeing who it was.

The student council president, Arthur Kirkland.

For a moment, he thought about him. Well, what hasn't he heard about Arthur Kirkland? It was the usual description, like something ripped out of the cartoons from his home country: He was a serious student from a prestigious family, with good grades, a firm hand in helping run the school, and the kind of student everyone aimed to be.

But not the kind of person. Kiku has heard the rumors and whispers about Arthur; he was stubborn, he was mean, he was unbearable. He was a smart person with a lousy personality, the likes that only the vice president Francis, and his half-brother Alfred could put up with. If he was a character in a manga, Kiku would pin him as the protagonist's love interest that she would then coax him out of his shell and they would live happily ever after.

But that was only comics, and this is reality, and Kiku knew this person would probably be insufferable for the rest of his life. Which was no matter to him because he'd never talked to him before anyway, and only heard rumors about him.

So, with that all in mind, he wasn't surprised to see Arthur was bullied. However, Kiku also wasn't heartless, and kneeled down next to Arthur, reaching out.

"Are you okay-"

Arthur slapped his hand away.

It was a deafening sound, something unexpected for this scenario. Kiku looked at him surprised, his hand slightly stinging. Arthur glared up at him, blood coming from his mouth, a cut above his left eye.

For some reason, Kiku found him beautiful at that moment.

"What did you do that for?! Who said you could interfere?!"

"Wh-wha-?"

Arthur spat then, not at Kiku, but just to spit out blood. What in the world is he saying, Kiku wondered, confused. Did he not appreciate his help? Arthur sat up, struggled to, and glared at Kiku; who was too speechless to say anything, too dumb-founded by this whole bizarre moment.

"You stay out of my business, you understand?" He sneered. When Kiku didn't respond immediately Arthur sighed, frustrated, as if his patience was tried enough. He got up, leaving without even saying goodbye. And Kiku, still sitting there, suddenly felt vulnerable, felt stupid, and the moment from earlier returned. Of an empty school bathed orange, of a lazy afternoon as the sun set. It was quiet again, calm, after the whirlwind of energy of that odd instant.

And it left Kiku's mind reeling.

Why didn't he want me to help him? How rude! He could've at least said thank you. Did he want to be hurt? He didn't mind being bullied? But who would feel like that? What sort of person reacts like that?

His mind was full and jumbled, a mess of questions. His head was pounding, his face red with shame, and he felt stupid sitting there alone. But he didn't want to get up either, because he was feeling strange and didn't want anyone to see him like this. After only a few rude words shot at him, Arthur had left him breathless and confused. Somehow he had that power over him, somehow he had gotten that reaction out of him. Kiku had never felt this way, this vulnerable and left wanting more. Because of that he couldn't tell you what he was feeling; he could only give you the symptoms, not the diagnosis.

Who does he think he is? What sort of person is he? He's not normal.

Kiku wasn't angry, only a bit annoyed, but not angry. He was curious, confused, he wanted more and more and more. It was like he was filled with a sickness and only Arthur could cure that.

Who is he?

I want to know him.

I want to know him.

I want to know him.

The next day he applied for the student council. He knew the medicine would not come for him so he'd go after it himself. When he was accepted and when he introduced himself to everyone, he could see the stoic face of Arthur staring at him. He was all patched up now, no one asking what had happened to him. The whole time he kept his eyes on Kiku though, which is exactly what Kiku wanted. His glare was predator-like and it sent chills up Kiku's spine, as if he had angered a beast. Though it's not as if he wanted to aggravate him, neither was he bitter over how Arthur had treated him. Something had happened behind the school that day and he wanted to know what this sickness was, and wanted to know Arthur.

His life was peaceful, his friends kind, but something was missing. A gaping hole, and nothing quite fit, and somehow that same place was aching with want. It was strange and creepy, this desire, but he didn't care.

Arthur caught his eye. He wanted to know him. And although he didn't know, Kiku was completely smitten in a completely grotesque way.


Somehow, they got closer.

Of course at first Arthur was wary of him. He didn't say anything, didn't threaten him, but he avoided him, cautious. Kiku was expectant of this, but he went on his way. He wouldn't have minded a confrontation back then, yet neither had he been expecting one. Besides, he was kept busy with both the newspaper club and the student council to make one himself anyway. Which was fine, Kiku was good with lots of work, and he enjoyed the people in the council. He adapted to his situation, settled into it quite nicely, and didn't tell anyone the real reason he joined. He waved away questions by saying things like it would look good on his record, and he thought sure why not. People bought this story, which he didn't mind.

Arthur did.

"What's the real reason you're here?"

He looked up at him, confused, wondering where this came from. The two were alone in the office, sorting through paperwork. It was during lunch, Kiku deciding to spend his time there, to finish the work. The sound of soft chatter came from outside the room, energy buzzing through the air. Kiku blinked, fixing his reading glasses.

"I'm sorry?"

"You heard me; what's the real reason you're here? Are you going to blackmail me?"

He couldn't blame him for being paranoid; it must be a worrying situation Kiku put him in. He shook his head.

"No."

"Then are you here to taunt me? What do you want?"

"I wanted to join the student council."

"Don't act so innocent."

Kiku stared at him for a moment. Today Arthur's face was clean of any cuts or bruises or anything of the sort. His cheeks were round, eyebrows thick, eyes a lovely evergreen. Kiku supposed he was handsome, but not breathtakingly so like the way the vice president was. No, Arthur's face had more of a boyish charm, which contrasted more with the kind of personality he had. For a moment Kiku wondered what he could tell him without scaring him off, without putting himself in a worse situation than the one he was in. He couldn't outright blurt out he had fascinated him, had left him breathless and sick. No, this all sounded deranged and messed up, so he re-worded it. For even if it was messed up, he could twist the truth to make it sound complimenting as well.

"I want to learn more about you."

"What? What do you think you're saying?"

"It's the truth. You don't have to believe me. Just know I don't mean you any harm." He shrugged, nonchalant. He expected Arthur to keep glaring at him then. To sneer and turn his head away and drop the subject entirely. Frustrated and without a clear answer, and to continue to be wary around him. However, instead what he did do took Kiku entirely off guard.

He blushed.

Like someone who was shy or nervous (words that had never been used in the same sentence as Arthur's name before), he blushed. It was a completely innocent expression on him, that Kiku couldn't believe it. The horrible, intolerable, hard-headed Arthur was blushing. Kiku's eyebrows rose; he was too shocked to hide the emotion. Arthur looked away, (another cute and uncharacteristic action) and got up. His chair scraping against the floor was a loud, clear sound in the empty room, and for a moment he stayed like that. Kiku waited for his response, too shocked to think of anything to say.

Arthur rushed out of the room, pushed past Kiku's chair, and he slammed the door behind him.

The room was silent, except in Kiku's mind. He could hear a constant thumping sound and it took him awhile to recognize it as his own heartbeat. His cheeks were flushed, his heart pounding, and he placed a hand over his mouth. Embarrassed, smitten, and so very confused.

What sort of moment is this?

He had considered going after him, but the moment was so strange he decided against it. So he continued his work, alone. He had expected to leave as soon as lunch time ended, and to forget that conversation happened (as he was sure Arthur would do the same). What he wasn't expecting was Arthur coming back. Behind him the door slid opened, and thinking it any other member, he turned around. His eyes widened seeing the president, whose face was still red, holding two cans of green tea.

With gusto, he slammed one of the cans in front of Kiku.

Kiku stared at it for a moment, not sure what to do. Arthur sat back in his own seat, without word, and went back to work. As he opened his own can, Kiku chose to speak up, anything to help him get an understanding of this peculiar moment.

"Is…Is this for me?"

"Who else would it be for?"

His response had been gruff and blunt, and Kiku looked back to the can. Was he…was he being nice?

"…Thank you." He muttered, reaching out tenderly for it.

Arthur didn't say anything in response.

Somehow a friendship built from there. Something with an awkward foundation that stood shakily and kept growing and growing. It was a friendship that grew when they found themselves alone. And if Kiku didn't know any better he would say the president went out of his way to make sure they got those chances to be alone.

"Honda, you'll be accompanying me. Let's go."

"It's fine, we can take care of it; you can just head home."

"I'll help you with those files. Let me see."

It almost gave Kiku a sense of pride from this attention, an almost strange satisfaction. And the talking, yes, their conversations: mostly banal, average, simply learning about the other. In a week Kiku learnt Arthur's favorite flavor of tea was Earl Grey, his humor was dry but appreciated, and he had a secret fondness for fairy tales. In a month Arthur knew Kiku's favorite anime, about his dog Pochi, how he disliked the rain for it made his bones ache. The conversations were awkward at first, yet somehow they had grown into a routine of talking, knowing, and enjoying the other.

However, Kiku never found out why Arthur had lashed out at him when they first met. Until one afternoon.

This time he was invited to Arthur's house. Kiku wasn't very good with his Literature class, which Arthur was very good at, and decided to help him with his studies. It wasn't the first time he had been at Arthur's house, but it wasn't at a point where he knew where everything was. Arthur had served him tea (apparently a tradition he stayed true to) and Kiku had dropped the mug that day, for it was too hot to hold. It crashed on the ground, shards sent flying, and tea stained the carpet. Arthur scrambled to help him, and instinctively, Kiku reached to pick up the pieces.

In a split second, he cut his finger on one of the shards.

He felt a squeeze in his heart, a hitch in his breath. Looking at the blood that beaded from his wound, he…he felt a fire. Something hot and dangerous. Now, this wasn't the first time he's got a cut, of course. But…something was different this time. He could feel Arthur still staring at him, but didn't care, reaching out, holding that shard harder. It cut into his palm, and he felt a flutter in this stomach.

Like a beginning, like a thrill, like something sweet and indulgent. Slowly Kiku looked up, and expected Arthur to be casting him a horrified look, maybe confused. Arthur's face was fascination though, and it scared Kiku. Scared him and pleased him.

"I-I'm sorry for the mug-" Kiku began to say.

"Do you mind if I smoke?"

"What?"

Arthur had said this in such a casual tone, Kiku swore he misheard. He knew Arthur smoked, but had never actually seen him do it. (What a delinquent thing for the president to do, but long ago Kiku found out he had that side to him). So as Arthur picked up the pieces of what was once a mug, Kiku muttered it was fine. He didn't mind.

After having disposed of the shards, and after Kiku helped clean the stain, Arthur opened a window, took out a pack from his nightstand, and lit up. His attitude was so strange at that moment; Kiku could feel the electricity in the room, like a calm before the storm. Arthur motioned to his friend's still bleeding hand.

"Want me to get you a plaster for that?"

Kiku shook his head, without thinking. He wanted to keep it. He liked the sting. He didn't know why, but he did, and suddenly he felt like something was growing in him too. Something fearful and good, so very, very good.

Arthur asked him to come closer. Kiku wondered if he would kiss him. So he went to his side, unaware of this moment, confused, and Arthur grabbed his wrist. Not roughly; he did it gently, as if handling glass. They stood there, by Arthur's open window, and with deft movements he turned over Kiku's arm, pushing up the sleeve. Kiku felt his cheeks grow hot, Arthur's fingers sliding against his skin. Those same fingers took the cigarette out of Arthur's mouth and slowly, ever slowly, he pushed the burning end into Kiku's arm.

At first he hissed in pain, confused by this moment, trying to comprehend it. Another part of him wanted more though, reveled in the feeling. That part of him that felt empty began aching again. He felt good. He felt almost ecstatic. The smell of the cigarette filled him, and looking into Arthur's eyes he could see that same fascination and…something like relief?

"Arthur-san?" He breathed his name, grasping for an explanation, wanting more.

"You're just like me." was all Arthur had said. Amazed, and when Kiku had asked what he meant, he had pushed up his own sleeve. His skin was painted with bruises and burns, and all at once Kiku realized what he had felt when he had seen Arthur that day behind the school.

It wasn't obsession. It wasn't admiration. He had been jealous.

Arthur had sparked something in him, made him realize what was missing. It was something completely new to Kiku and he knew it was deranged of him. However when he had asked Arthur about it further, and they talked, he couldn't help but want it still. After a moment, they both sat on Arthur's bed, their schoolbooks left neglected. Slowly Arthur slipped off his shirt, revealing more wounds and bruises.

"Self-harm. I usually just thrash myself. Or burns." He shrugged, taking another drag, the smoke curling in grey swirls between them, "I get tired real quick though, so I began smoking."

His skin of purples and blues reminded Kiku of a canvas. A map of hurt, a painting of aches, he found it absolutely beautiful. He wanted to reach out and touch it, but found it too scandalous a thought, and didn't.

"You don't cut?"

"Takes too long to heal."

It was such a surreal moment. Kiku felt he should be horrified, run out of there and avoid Arthur for the rest of the school year. This was wrong, right? Instead he found himself captivated, and listened to Arthur as he told the story of each bruise. I got this one by bashing myself against my desk. This one is by pressing my arm against the stove. He had such experience, Kiku almost marveled at him. In fact, he envied him. He could still feel the dull ache on his arm where the cigarette burn still pulsed.

Politely, Kiku asked if he could touch them.

Arthur said he could.

Reaching out shyly, he touched his arm, smooth but blemished. He asked why there were no scars. Arthur said he hated leaving evidence. If anyone saw any, they'd throw a fit, have him checked out. Kiku completely understood his reasons, found him the right even if he was wrong. His fingers ran down his arm, and he wanted what he had. He looked up to Arthur who watched him intently, like he could see through him. It sent shivers up his spine, made him ache.

"…May I smoke with you?"

Arthur had to teach Kiku how to smoke because he'd never done it before, and he swallowed it all too fast in the beginning. Sent a series of violent coughs running up his throat, and Arthur casually patted him on the back as if he was comforting a child. They sat on Arthur's bed, the sun setting outside, and Kiku said his wounds were beautiful. Arthur blushed at this, stammered something mean and standoffish. But Kiku could tell he was happy, and wanted to kiss him, but didn't. Instead he took his own cigarette and pushed it into his arm, and hissed once more, focusing on the pain. They spent that afternoon without even one book read, and they talked and talked as they smoked and Kiku took Arthur's pair of scissors and cut into his own arm. He loved it. He loved it so very much.

It was like he'd found himself, felt complete, finally. Hello. I've found you. I'm sorry it took me so long; I just needed someone to help me.

When Kiku returned home that evening, he felt different. Yao greeted him and told him dinner was already ready, and to hurry up before it gets cold. He replied he'd be there in a bit, and although he went through the motions, he'd felt as if he'd just woken up from a dream. His sleeves and bandages covered up the remnants. However, just as he was going to head upstairs to change, he felt his phone vibrate in his pocket. A text. He looked at the screen and felt his heart skip a beat.

See you tomorrow?

Of course Arthur would use correct English in a text; it was just the kind of person he was. Kiku smiled at this message, and told him Of course.


After that, they continued as they were.

"It's getting colder these days."

"You don't like the cold?" Arthur asked, looking up from his book, as they sat in the library. Midterms were coming up and they chose to spend it together. Kiku shook his head.

"I like the cold. I like the wintertime. It's a good time of year." They sat next to each other, speaking in hushed whispers.

"I'm used to the cold, so I wouldn't say I'd hate it." Arthur shrugged. Yes, things were the same as usual. Except.

"Though the long sleeves come in handy." He added. Kiku glanced up from the notes he was writing.

"I hadn't thought of that." He noted, "I suppose I don't do much to my arms."

"Easier access."

"More clean up, though."

Except how they traded their own advice and experiences, how they could expose this part of themselves to each other. Somehow they had found someone like them. At first Kiku was clumsy about it, had a hard time of hiding it.

It began with scissors. Leaving marks on the back of his forearm, parallel lines making a pattern on his skin. Then he tried the box cutter on his torso. Freaked out when he saw how much he bled, fussed to clean it up before any of his siblings would decide to come into his room. That was the biggest issue; the constant fear that someone would find you, and everything would be for naught. It was a constant risk that Kiku disliked, yet Arthur admitted he found a specific thrill in. Kiku could even remember one time his sister had knocked on the bathroom door asking when he'd be done, as he hurriedly changed into his clothes, wounds still bleeding. He breathed in humid air, hair still wet, heart pounding, frightened and alert. He was clearly an amateur, but he grew into it. He stayed himself, with friends he cherished, with work he focused on; the only thing that changed was the skin under his clothes. He loved telling Arthur about what else he'd done, and they bonded over this too. Kiku fancied cutting. Arthur was more inclined to burns. Sometimes they talked about why they did it.

"I'm not depressed." Arthur told him as they sat on the roof, as he smoked again. Kiku sat next to him, only watching, as a gust of wind howled past them. He shivered, and a part of him hoped Arthur would notice, and hold him. But he ignored this part, tried not to think about it too much.

"I'm not either." He agreed, "I just…It brings me joy. That's all. I do not hate myself, neither am I sad."

"I know right?" Arthur turned to look at him. "Like people will assume you're mad for this, right? Well, I'm not. I just like it."

"It's also not out of a perverse desire." Kiku added, sighed, looked up to the cloudy sky. "I don't believe I'm unwell. Everyone has something to satisfy themselves."

"This is ours."

Kiku closed his eyes. Took in these words, placed them right next to his heart. He liked the sentence, the way Arthur said ours. Like they were together in this, like they had something. The wind blew by them, and when Kiku opened his eyes, he saw Arthur staring at him. He returned his gaze, kept it there, and Arthur broke the moment by speaking.

"Have I ever told you how lovely your eyes are?"


Somewhere along the way, after complaining how tired they got hurting themselves and how they wished they had more stamina, one of them had brought up the idea of the mutual beatings. They couldn't remember which one of them it was, but it didn't really matter, because they both liked the idea. So Kiku had invited Arthur to his place when he was sure they would be alone. Had cancelled any plans he might've had, and felt eager for the coming day. When the afternoon finally came, they sat in their uniforms, school bags by the locked door, unsure who should start.

"I've…I've never hit anyone before." Kiku nervously admitted. Arthur laughed timidly, joked to ease the tension.

"It's fine. The closest I've gotten is to hitting that damned Francis, but I've never gotten around to it."

"It's different when it's yourself." Kiku admitted. "This feels almost spiteful."

"Kiku…may I see your wounds?"

Kiku felt himself blush, but nodded, looking downward. He'd seen Arthur's body before, so it was only fair he see his. So shyly he took off his sweater, unbuttoned the shirt. His skin was red, cut up, like an old cutting board. His arms mostly left untouched, mostly burnt. Arthur examined it, eyes sliding over every feature, and Kiku felt like wrapping his arms around himself, and hiding every nook and cranny of his body. Instead he raised a hand, and slapped Arthur across the face.

A deathly silence followed.

It took a moment for Arthur to regain his senses, to realize what this meant. And Kiku watched, as if in slow motion, as Arthur grabbed him by the neck and threw him on his bed, and punched him in the stomach. The wounds he already had ached badly with the hit, the air knocked out of him, and he felt like smiling.

They had broken the ice. Their whirlwind of violence began, grew in power, and in their skirmish they knocked over the lamp on Kiku's desk, messed up the sheets on the bed, tripped over the books on the floor. It was clumsy at first, but then they reached a sort of rhythm. He hits me, I hit back harder. It's okay, he wants this so I need to hurt him, over and over and over. Their minds focused on retaliating, and also on the sheer joy of being hit. It was pure adrenaline, no logical thoughts needed, just acting, protecting, and it was new to them.

And so mind-blowingly good.

It was when Arthur wouldn't stop slamming Kiku's face into the wall was when he begged him to stop, please stop, it's too much. Arthur apologized over and over again for getting carried away, too lost in his fervor, but Kiku told him it's fine, I'm fine. There was an awkward moment after that where Kiku felt his eyes tear up, but didn't cry, because he's never cried in front of anyone.

He'd wound up with a bloody nose, and a new level of pleasure he hadn't reached until then. He gulped, and decided to talk through ragged breath.

"Was it…was it good for you?"

Arthur blushed, and nodded once. His hand was on the left side of his torso, and he crawled towards Kiku, sitting in front of him, but not touching him. He was too scared to touch him, too afraid of his own strength, and what he'd done. Yet so very satisfied, almost euphoric. They were practically glowing.

"K-Kiku…"

"Hm?"

"I'm sorry."

"Why?"

Arthur looked downward, unable to answer. Instead he leaned against his friend's bed, and asked if he could stay the night. Kiku said that was fine. He took a shower in Kiku's bathroom, as Kiku busied himself cleaning their dirtied uniforms. In their moments away from each other, the reflected on what just happened, were still left reeling from the pleasure. And they smiled.

They spent the rest of the evening watching a movie together, something Kiku had been meaning to show Arthur for a while. It was subtle and slow-moving but romantic, and Arthur admitted he had a soft spot for such things. He'd almost consider putting his arm around Kiku when the protagonist had finally confessed his love to his childhood friend. But Arthur was still too scared of touching Kiku, his eyes drawn to the bandage on Kiku's nose, and he didn't.

When they breathed in they could feel their chests ache. When they moved, their wounds screamed. They definitely wanted to do this again.


They didn't see each other as often as it seems. Of course they kept themselves busy in their own social lives. Kiku still spent time with his friends, Feliciano and Ludwig. Arthur was still close (if that's what you'd call it) with Francis and Alfred. They led their own lives, and also kept close to each other. They spoke about this one day.

"Do you think they know?"

On the roof again, as Arthur smoked. Kiku decided to join him, on a whim. He slowly blew it out, watched it curl and float away.

"What do you mean?" Kiku asked. He pressed a hand over his stomach, where a bruise still ached. He forgot how it was like to have an unharmed body; it had been so long. Arthur shrugged next to him, pulling his coat closer to him.

"Our friends. Do you think they know this part of us?"

"I don't think so." Kiku answered, watching the ash fall from his cigarette, "I do believe they would speak to me if they had suspicions. Feliciano-kun is very caring in that regard."

"Sounds like a good friend."

"He is." Kiku looked over to him. Arthur was hunched over, only fitting the image of a punk even more. "And yours? How would they react?"

"Horrified." Arthur told him bluntly. "Horrified, and worried. They don't know. I've made sure they'll never know."

Kiku knew that. He didn't know exactly how long Arthur had been doing this, but he knew it was a long time. He looked forward, snubbing out his cigarette on the ground, not in the mood for it anymore. He was sure he'd suffered enough second-hand smoke seeing as how much Arthur did it, anyway. He blinked and said the first thing that came to mind.

"…I wonder if they really know us, then."

"Huh?"

"I feel like this is a very intimate part of me." Kiku explained, pulling his knees to his chest, resting his chin on them. "Something very personal. If my friends do not know this side of me, then I wonder if they know me that well at all."

Arthur was silent, and Kiku breathed in the smoke. He wondered if Arthur tasted like cigarettes. He'd heard somewhere that kissing a chain smoker was like licking an ashtray. He wanted to see if that was true.

"You can't really blame them, luv. We keep it so hidden, so it's not their fault. It's really our fault for not trusting them. We just don't trust them to understand."

"…You understand."

"I do."

Kiku was quiet for a moment. He wanted his friends and family to know. To understand. But he already knew they wouldn't because he didn't understand it all that much either. He also felt like it was a precious secret between him and Arthur, and he liked that. He bowed his head, black bangs obscuring his view.

"Thank you for understanding."

"Thanks for being someone I can trust."

If you asked Kiku who he thought was the closest thing he had to a kindred spirit, he'd tell you it was Arthur, plain and simple.


Sometimes he wonders if he's been tainted, if he's only doing this because he's been caught in a whirlwind of fascination, and he's been ruined. Sometimes he wonders if he really is insane. He mostly thinks this while he's in the bath, examining the cuts and scabs. He picks at them, and shivers with pleasure. He wonders if he's faking it. He wonders if he's already a goner. But then he closes his eyes and sinks himself into the bath, until the water reaches his chin, letting its warmth comfort him and drowns out the darker thoughts.

He doesn't only like the pain. He also likes the healing, like a reward. He supposed that's where Arthur and he differed. From what he's seen, Arthur is always finding new ways to hurt himself, externally and internally, pushing the limits as far as he can. But Kiku liked the healing, how his body patched itself up, always making sure he was okay no matter what he did to it. It was almost poetic in a way, and he liked it. He wondered if he could confide these thoughts to Arthur. He always thought that; he wanted Arthur to know him.

But he wondered if Arthur cared.


Once, they spoke of love.

"My sister got her first boyfriend."

Arthur looked over at him, eyebrows slightly raised. They were in Arthur's room this time, as Kiku worked on the next article for the newspaper club and Arthur read some manga Kiku had offered him. (Romance as usual; he knew him well at this point).

"Her name's Mei, right? Who's the lucky bloke?"

Kiku breathed in, feeling his left shoulder ache. He wasn't surprised seeing as what they'd just done some time earlier. For now they wore their casual clothes, uniforms swirling around in the wash as usual. While Kiku loved the beatings, what he also loved was the aftermath, the quiet evenings, relaxing, the comfortable feeling he got from being with Arthur. How his wounds ached, and yet he felt completely at home with Arthur. He hoped these moments could last forever.

"I do believe it's your brother."

Arthur looked at him incredulous. "Can't be."

"If you could tell me of someone else named Alfred F. Jones in our school, then it isn't."

Arthur sighed loudly, turning over from where he laid on the ground, eyes facing the ceiling. "And he doesn't even tell me. Idiot."

"Don't be too mad. Mei said he's waiting for the right time."

"You mean a chance to show off and be theatrical as usual."

Kiku chuckled. Arthur found it adorable, but didn't say anything, only admired quietly. Instead, he spoke, "How'd your brother respond? He's strict, isn't he?"

"Yao was a bit surprised at first, and cautioned her. However, she seemed very adamant about her feelings, so he couldn't say anything else. She's very happy with all of this, really." Kiku looked over the article he was editing, striking a red line through a sentence he disapproved of. "I'm happy for her."

"If he hurts her, tell me and I'll take care of him for you."

"I don't think we'll need to worry about that." Kiku chuckled again, eyes scanning the page. "They seem to be very happy together. I think they'll be fine."

Arthur was quiet for a moment, the open book lying on his stomach. He glanced over to Kiku, a gaze Kiku found intimate. He loved it when Arthur looked at him like that, because it wasn't a way friends would look at each other; it was like how a hunter would look at his next kill. He didn't think Arthur knew he stared at him like that, but he didn't mind because it frightened and thrilled him at the same time.

"Have you ever been in love?" He asked, voice hollow, curious, and Kiku almost wanted to say he was now, but didn't. He shook his head. Saying no; sometimes he's had a crush or two, but they were all fruitless and flighty and could never compete with such a heavy word as 'love'. He asked the same question to Arthur, who shrugged.

"Once or twice."

Did it ever last?

"No."

How about now?

"Honestly the idea scares me."

Why?

"Have you seen how love is portrayed? It's terrible, it's wonderful, it's sweet, it's hurtful. It's an emotion that can do so much, that no one shuts up about, and that just frightens me. It's like this disease that won't die out, and it's honestly frightening." He sat up, leaning back on his palms. "There are so many differing viewpoints, and I don't know what to make of it."

"You're a person that thinks too much, Arthur-san."

Arthur cast him a sideways smirk, tilting his head coyly. Like it had been a compliment, and Kiku loved that smirk, fell for that cockiness. He put down his red pen, pushing the work from his lap, the crossed legs.

"Is that not how all great things are?" Kiku proposed, voice chiding, "Everything has its obstacles."

Arthur was quiet for a moment, scooted a bit closer to Kiku, until their hips were barely touching. He wanted to pick him up and carry him to his bed. He wanted to lie in his arms. He wanted to do a lot of things to Kiku, but for now his limbs ached, and he was so tired. They both were, and tentatively he leaned his head on his shoulder. Kiku didn't flinch. He didn't pull away. But he continued talking, despite Arthur's weight irritating a bruise he had on that shoulder, despite the pain.

"I believe love is a beautiful thing. However, it seems to be something very hard to find, and if one is wrong, then one will get hurt. It takes a lot of risk and trust. I wouldn't mind falling in love someday." Kiku confessed, closing his eyes, "But perhaps not now. Not yet."

"…You're very wise."

"Do you think so?" He smiled, "Feliciano-kun says I'm like an old man, sometimes."

"…I trust you."

"I know."

"I risk a lot with you."

"I know. I do as well, with you."

Arthur was quiet for a moment, a moment that confused Kiku. He felt like something happened in that time, unspoken words being said that he couldn't hear. However just as he tried to decipher the silence, Arthur got up from his shoulder, looking at him with that hungry gaze again.

"Do you like ice cream?"

"What?" Kiku looked at him incredulous. The moment had fallen away, after Arthur had helped him up, and they walked to the convenience store together for a snack run. Arthur bought Kiku green tea ice cream, and on the way back they wanted to hold hands, but neither did. They were two souls aching for the other, yet scared, so very scared. So until one of them finally made a move, they continued the abuse, for it was the most intimate connection they had.


One day, Arthur had grabbed hold of the metal fence on the roof. His fingers were intertwined with it, and Kiku watched him, sitting against the wall.

"Say," Arthur spoke, "if I fell from here, how messed up would I get?"

Kiku felt a chill go up his spine, felt his heart beat faster and faster. There was something in Arthur's tone that shook him up, and he got up, grabbing his friend by the shoulder.

"We should head back." He told him. What scared him the most was how Arthur's eyes stayed focused on the ground, like he longed for it, needed it. Looked at it with the same hungry gaze he gave Kiku. When he wouldn't turn around Kiku hugged him, embraced him, heard his quickened heartbeat.

Yet it all felt so wrong.


Maybe it was because he'd been losing sleep. Maybe that's why he misheard; or he wanted to think he'd misheard. Did they really look like that to everyone now? He hadn't noticed, been so oblivious. Carrying the heavy books to the teacher's lounge, Kiku's arms felt strained, but he didn't care, didn't even notice. Beside him Arthur carried his own load, flustered and apologizing for what happened before. Don't listen to that stupid frog, he told him. He says things like that without thinking, I doubt he even thinks in the first place…

But his words fell on deaf ears, as Kiku repeated the words Francis had said in his head, over and over. Just before they had left the student council office, Francis had peeked his head out, had grinned from ear to ear. He'd said it quickly, half-laughing, and the sentence repeated itself over and over in Kiku's head.

Don't take too long now, lovebirds.


Arthur wondered if Kiku ever felt anything.

Kiku and he were eighteen, so surely he had lived a long enough life to feel a wide range of emotions. Some time in his life he must've felt joy or sadness or anger. It was unlikely for some people to be emotionless their whole lives. No, but Arthur knew Kiku felt of course; he would get glimpses of smiles, or notice the furrowing of a brow. But it was all subtle, barely noticeable. Yes, Kiku had emotions. Of course he had never showed this on his face though, not too much, never wearing his heart on his sleeve, but keeping it in, all in and safe. It was something Arthur noticed as he choked Kiku, squeezing harder and harder, as Kiku struggled under his grip. He could feel his heartbeat pulse under his palms, but Kiku's face was stoic.

"You don't look like you're in pain." He whispered, squeezing harder, as Kiku wheezed, throwing his head back. "You never look like you're in pain."

Kiku tried to speak, lips moving, but no breath allowed. Arthur eased the grip a little, wanted to hear his answer, to hear his voice. Kiku looked at him slightly bemused, as if he'd told a bad joke.

"Do you want me to show emotions?"

"I want to know you're feeling something."

Kiku smiled at him, and it made Arthur's heart jump. It always did, for it was a rare sight that he found beautiful. It was then Kiku kicked him in the side, stomped on his chest when he was down and vulnerable.

Arthur didn't mind so much though.

Because Kiku was smiling the whole time he did it.


Arthur told him he first did it as a child because it helped relieved his stress. His brothers were mean, his father strict, and as a child not conditioned to that he broke down. Advanced classes and pressure to succeed could only do so much to a young boy until he finally cracked. One day he just threw himself down the stairs and his mother panicked and he wound up with a sprained ankle and a want for more. It just escalated after that. He liked it when people started to bully him, because when they hit him it meant something. They were envious to the point of rage; bored and cruel. They thought of him, looked at him, hit him, and Arthur loved it and let it happen. The hazing he didn't care so much for, insults he was bored of. But when they beat him he loved it.

He'd long since gotten use to pressure, to passive-aggressive disdain. He'd grown into his role of prestigious student, into what his family wanted him to be. He stopped crying about it because no one cared, and no one could understand.

The self-harm was more of a safety blanket now. Something that made him feel like himself in times of chaos and doubt. It was a habit he couldn't break. It was like a sickness that he couldn't cure himself of. Sometimes he'd try to quit. He always wound up coming back though.

He told Kiku this through a haze of smoke, in his dimly lit bedroom, the window open as usual. Curled up on his bed, so close to making love, but neither made the move. He decided to connect with him with words instead, caress him with intimate stories, exposed his soul, not his skin.

Arthur wondered aloud why he told him this. Snuffed out the cigarette in his ashtray, the one he hid under his bed. He wondered why he told him all that. Sorry. Dreadfully gloomy story, isn't it? So sorry for that. I don't know what came over me.

But Kiku looked at him with half-lidded eyes, and shook his head. His black hair shone, splayed out on the sheets. It's fine, he said. It's fine, just fine.

Arthur turned away from Kiku, placed the ashtray on his bedside table, and asked him why Kiku did it.

What?

Why he did the abuse?

Kiku was quiet. Shrugged.

I don't know.

I'm not quite sure.

He doesn't think he has a reason. He tries to think of one, but he can't think of one.

He just can't.


"I love you!"

With that, they hugged, and he picked her up, twirling her around, her skirts moving with her. The rain soaked them, but they were together and the audience knew that was enough. The music reached its crescendo, and the credits began to roll, and Arthur and Kiku watched on from where they sat on Arthur's bed. This was the fourth romance movie they had watched together, and Arthur could feel himself aching, wanting and lusting so bad right now. He'd had it. He couldn't wait any longer.

The TV screen went black.

Kiku looked beside him, to Arthur who held the remote, finger still on the off button. The room was dark now, dark, their only light source gone.

"Arthur-san?"

All he could hear were his shallow breaths, and Kiku felt scared. Scared and excited.

That's when Arthur kissed him.

Kiku couldn't remember much else after that. It was all bits and pieces; the way he'd been pushed down, Arthur's hand reaching up his shirt, running his fingers over scabs and cuts. His tongue exploring his mouth, their intermingled breath, hot and needing. All these features touching him, prodding and poking, grabbing, squeezing. His hands explored places Kiku didn't want him to, tongue ran over sensitive areas that made Kiku uncomfortable. Frightened and scared, but he wanted it too. It scared him, how badly he wanted it. He didn't even know what belonged to whom anymore, just a mass of awkward limbs grabbing and squeezing, licking and caressing. It was nothing like the fairy tale romance in the movie they just watched, it was all real and brutal desire. Tongues and teeth, and moans. Throughout it all, Kiku could remember clinging to his friend, digging nails into his back, breathing his name over and over.

Arthur.

Arthur.

Arthur.

"Be mine."

Arthur interlaced his fingers with Kiku's, and Kiku looked up to the ceiling, his heart pounding, caught up in the moment.

He closed his eyes. Nodded. Told him yes.

Finally.


No one was surprised when they told them. Feliciano had smiled and hugged Kiku. "I'm so happy for you!" he had said, "You two are perfect for each other!" and Ludwig had smiled warmly, saying this was good, and best wishes. Kiku had taken it all happily, proud of this new title as 'boyfriend', pleased with it all. Arthur had been teased, told "It's about time!" from Alfred, Francis warning him not to chase Kiku away, you finally found someone to put up with you. It was all in good fun, all very harmless. Whenever someone gets with someone they love, the normal thing to do is to give them praise, to be happy for them. And maybe if Arthur and Kiku were different people, things would have been like that, things would have been okay.

But.

"I don't want this to stop."

Arthur looked at him with wide eyes, lowering his tea cup. Kiku looked out the window of the café they were at (their first date, how quaint). He looked back at his boyfriend (boyfriend, what a new title, he'd have to get used to it) face serious, tone hushed.

"You don't want to stop? But…"

"Please don't hold back, now that we're lovers. I…I don't get the same pleasure if it's by myself. Please understand." He lowered his head, looking into the coffee he had barely touched. The steam rose from it, and he focused on this, until Arthur spoke. They didn't need clarification for what he was talking about, they didn't need to discuss it further. They knew each other so well now, it was unspoken yet understood at this point.

"…If you insist. I…I was about to ask the same thing anyway." He confessed, a dash of pink on his cheeks now. And Kiku smiled. And he wanted, he was in love, and it was all very sweet. For a while they were okay, things were okay. Arthur walked Kiku home after school. They held hands when no one was looking. Cast side long glances during meetings. They saw each other when they could, between classes, whenever they weren't busy. And maybe, when the other was feeling adventurous, they would kiss. Chaste kisses, done in the corners of hallways, finished before they could feel anything.

It was all very innocent. Almost bordering on average. The build-up was more exciting than the actual thing. It wasn't as frightening as they thought it would be.

Before they knew it, winter break was approaching. On the last day of school, Arthur kissed Kiku on the roof, longer then he usually would, holding his hands. When they parted, red-faced, he whispered.

"Can I come see you?"

"Of course."

It was a sweet moment, and Kiku buried his face into his boyfriend's chest. It was warm on that chilly roof, and faintly he could hear a heartbeat. He closed his eyes, focused on this, as Arthur kissed the top of his head. Now seemed like the perfect time to say those three little words, such simple and powerful words. But he wanted to save them, for a better time, a more meaningful time, for something grand and indescribable. Until then he looked up at Arthur, and his warm green eyes.

He smiled, and Kiku looked downward, blushing. It was a picture perfect moment, ripped straight out of a trite romantic slice-of-life story.

The only thing that was off, that stood out, was the skin under their clothing, the skin a child at that age shouldn't have.

Kiku was so convinced this was how a romance was supposed to be like.


The first time they decided to hold hands in public was the evening of their fourth date. They were walking back home after watching a movie (something they both agreed had been good, but not particularly amazing) and they passed under street lights, the cold night biting into their bones. It had been done without word, initiated by Kiku. He had first reached out gingerly, and his cold fingers met the same cold of Arthur's. And slowly Arthur accepted, without word, curling his fingers over his, and Kiku could feel his heart skip a beat. They eased into it, skin against skin, and Arthur looked to the sky.

"…Pretty, aren't they?"

"Sorry?"

"The stars tonight. The night sky always seems clearer in the winter."

Kiku was quiet for a moment, deciding on an appropriate response. However, before he could say anything, Arthur looked back to him grinning.

"Hey. Come on."

He tugged on Kiku's hand then, and made them turn down a different street, detouring from the way to Kiku's house. Kiku looked at him confused, yet Arthur was walking too fast for him to stop, and he stumbled after him.

"A-Arthur-san, where—"

"I want to show you something."

Kiku didn't argue the point further, for he could hear the enthusiasm in Arthur's voice. Rarely did he get excited about things, and his eagerness seemed so sincere then, Kiku didn't want to ruin the surprise. Things were going so well, too, so he thought maybe this was a moment to get caught up in, to just go with the flow. Soon, they were going up a different road, and to the side of the street was a stone staircase, leading up a hill. They climbed it together, holding hands the whole while. For some reason Kiku found himself smiling as he watched the back of Arthur's head as they ascended the stairs. He was probably missing his curfew now. Yet he didn't care to check his watch, for the warmth of Arthur's hand was so inviting. It was almost like with each step they took up, his real life obligations and affairs just disappeared with each step. Like he was stepping into a dream, into a different world, something he wasn't meant to think about or shy away from, but a world to just…lose himself in.

Finally, they reached the top, and Kiku's eyes widened at the sight.

It was a view of the whole city, the lights of the town glowing in the dark night. And overhead, the stars were indeed shining; so clear, a crisp image. It was a small place, tucked away, brilliant and special.

"Oh, Arthur-san…this," Kiku looked at him, to his love, "this is beautiful."

Arthur beamed at him, blushing, pleased. He turned his head away, gazed at the horizon of the city, "I used to bring Alfred here all the time when we were kids. Brought our telescope and we searched for the constellations together."

He walked to the railing, Kiku following with him, and the Briton looked up to the stars, moonlight illuminating his face.

"I have fond memories of this place." He smiled a nostalgic smile. Kiku did not ask why he and Alfred didn't do such things anymore; they had grown apart somewhere along the way, and still had a distant relationship. It was strained, but it was healing. It would take time, and he knew that. He knew a lot about him. It all hit him then, what had occurred in the span of four months, just how they got here. How well he knew Arthur, how Arthur knew him. Their bond, the unspoken words, the entwined souls and destinies.

Kiku felt close to Arthur then, felt something strong. He squeezed his hand, and Arthur squeezed back.

"…Thank you for bringing me here."

"You don't need to thank me."

"I just…" Kiku trailed off, unsure of what to say, "…I'm just…I'm very happy now. I really am."

He spoke in whispers, like this was indeed a delicate moment, and it had to be handled carefully. Arthur understood this, and for a moment they were silent, enjoying the scenery and each other. It was a comfy silence, and the air was cold, but their hands were warmed by the other. It was Arthur who broke that silence.

"…We should make out here."

Kiku snapped his head around, eyes wide, blushing. "A-Arthur-san!"

Arthur burst out laughing, shaking his head. "I was just joking! Don't give me that face!"

As he chuckled those words, Kiku felt his face burn, heaving a sigh that appeared in front of him in the frosty air. Without thinking (too charmed by the idea to even consider thinking) he pushed himself against Arthur, chest against chest. Arthur immediately stopped laughing; his own face turned red as well.

"H-Hey, Kiku! W-wait I said I was joking, you don't…"

But when he saw the hunger in Kiku's eyes, felt his heart jump at the sight, he couldn't bear to finish that sentence. Slowly, against a starry background, he leaned down, kissing him. The distant noise of the city filled the air, and the cold pressed in on them. But for that moment, that single moment, they closed their eyes, taking in the warmth, the kiss, this moment, and everything it meant.

What all of this could mean. Something grand and indescribable, frightening but needed. It weighed down on them, and Kiku wrapped his arms around Arthur's neck, wanted whatever this was and wanted it bad.

When they broke apart, their breath clouded between them, and Arthur cast Kiku that intense and predatory gaze again, the one he so loved.

"…You're going to miss your curfew." He whispered, and Kiku smiled as he felt Arthur's arms circle around his waist, pulling him closer.

"I know."

Arthur grinned again, and nuzzled his face into Kiku's neck who grinned in return, at the ticklish feeling he gave him. He looked up to the night sky, examined the stars as Arthur laid kisses on his neck, made love bites where he could.

Kiku wanted them to stay like this forever. Just like this, no changes, no endings, nothing to ruin them as they were now.

He wanted this to last forever.

"Kiku?"

"Hm?"

"I love you."


He wanted to know if Arthur ever thought of him. Like, whenever they weren't together. Would wonder how he's doing, how he was feeling. Would look at something (a teacup, a book) and be reminded of him. Because that's how Kiku felt, constantly wondering, thinking, remembering. When with friends, he thought about him. With family, at the dinner table, he wondered if Arthur would like this. Maybe he could cook for him someday. In the bath, looking at his wounds, he wanted to know if Arthur's ached in the same way, if he felt the same pain. He wanted to tell Arthur about him, his likes, his dislikes, grievances, joys.

He wondered if Arthur ever thought about him.

In a dangerous part of his mind, the one that thought too much, he worried he was being used. He was ruined and only someone to help give Arthur his fix.

He worried he wasn't much to him. That he was something smaller in his heart, and although they were together, there were times he felt like he barely meant anything. There are times he compares himself to others in Arthur's life, feels immature for it, but unconsciously does it anyway. And he gets angry.

When he sees him talking to someone else, he wants to hurt them. He finds no fault with the object of his affection. Thinks things like 'Get away from him', things like 'Stop talking to him'.

He's mine.

It's a scary thought, a part of himself he tries to ignore, pretends it never exists. The most latent and cruel thoughts are sometimes brought to the surface however, and he wants to hurt people who get close to Arthur. He finds himself despising Alfred when he gets Arthur to smile, albeit it is subtle and fleeting. He begins to loathe Francis who is the one who understands Arthur well, a trait obtained from their shared childhood. Although Arthur is awkward with his friendships, it's still there and it is strong. And Kiku wants to hurt his friends, for they bring out a side of Arthur he's never been able to. He's wildly jealous, secretly spiteful, and it's a grotesque and unreasonable side of him. He sees them as obstacles, is angry, and petty and dangerous.

Kiku scares himself at these times.

He tried to turn a deaf ear to these thoughts, wanted to remain oblivious, stupid, and happy. Wanted to stay in his shallow role as 'boyfriend' and pretend things were still 'ok'. However one night, one terrible night, he couldn't stop thinking his scary and self-loathing thoughts, and tossed and turned in his bed. His mind was anxious and full. Without even doubting himself he called Arthur at three in the morning.

"K-Kiku?"

"I'm sorry to trouble you at this time, Arthur-san. Did I wake you?"

"Yeah, but it's fine." He mumbled a little, and Kiku could hear the shuffling of sheets, "What is it, luv? Something wrong?"

He wanted to him to call him love, not because it was an endearment, but because it was true. He wanted him to call him darling, wanted to hear him say sweet words that reassured him he meant something to him. Someone that didn't just indulge Arthur in his self-mutilation, someone that could be considered his lover and not just a cohort. His heart was pounding, and Kiku laid on his side, staring out into the dark room.

"I just…I wanted to hear your voice."

He could feel his face grow hot from this confession, and suspected Arthur's face was the same. He wanted to see him. He wanted to mean something to him.

"I…I see." He coughed, and Kiku worried he'd done something bad then, something irreversible and terrible. Was he being too clingy? Too irrational? His heart was at a delicate place now. Kiku was unsure and scared. For a moment there was only silence, and Kiku feared the worst, felt shameful, until Arthur spoke.

"…I like hearing yours."

"What?"

"I like your voice."

Just like that, all worries faded away, his heart skipped a beat. How sad; he was so easy to please, so easily controlled. They dissolved into meaningless conversation then, Arthur asking about his day, Kiku rambling. They spoke of school, of friends, the student council, of how they were spending their vacation. Such insignificant things, but they talked until the sun rose, and Arthur had laughed when he noticed. Noted how they lost track of time. Kiku smiled on the other end, watched the sun rise from his bedroom window.

"I'm not even sure how I'll stay awake today." Arthur joked.

"I don't either."

But I don't regret it, Arthur added. I liked this.

I did too, Kiku told him.

I like you.

I love you.

But he didn't tell him this.

It felt too much, and he kept the words to himself for now. Kiku realized he truly was in love then, a love full of meaning. In a relationship he'd always wanted. It wasn't fleeting or shallow, it was a love he cherished. Remembering the myth of the red string of fate he guessed at the end of his was Arthur. He was a boy full of love and romantic ideas and he longed for and wanted, and it was all very innocent. It was a temporary fix he got, until he worried again, pushing such worries to the side. He wanted to focus on the good aspects, wanted to be assured this was a healthy admiration, wanted to believe this was okay.

He was so convinced obsession counted as love.


Winter break ended. School was back in session, and everyone got back into their routine as a student. Kiku and Arthur continued dating, and they realized they'd been dating for two months now.

They tried to make love.

Neither can remember how it was brought up. Neither really cares because it was a mutual feeling anyway. They both wanted it, both thought it was about time, and tried to give it a go. There was only so much of the teasing, the yearning they could take. So they talked about it (red-faced, embarrassed, a tad bit lusty) how it would go, who would top, etc. etc. And afterwards they grinned, gripping hands on the school roof. Arthur leaned forward and kissed him, mouth warm and tongue exploring, and Kiku felt the world fall underneath them.

They had missed the school bell, skipped their next period and made out on the roof, giddy and ready. Kiku realized there was something in their kisses that just made him melt, just made him forget, made him happy.

He wondered if the sex would be the same.

So one afternoon, they decided to do it on Arthur's bed, whose family was out, and they were left all alone. They locked the door and dimmed the lights and went at it.

It was fine for a while.

It really was nice for a while.

Warm caresses, caring hands, moans and heated breath. Sweet laughs, a trail of hickeys going downward.

It's just.

He should've known.

They just weren't like that.

They were so close but so far, and it just wasn't supposed to be like that.

Before he knew it, their clothes were tossed carelessly on the floor, and they were utterly exposed to each other. And Kiku began to come down from his high as he examined the body of his lover, the well-toned body littered with bruises and burns. The chest he would've admired, the legs he would've loved, covered in wounds. Before he'd found them beautiful, but now they stuck out like a sore thumb. He tried to ignore it, but it felt off all of a sudden, felt wrong. And as he was being prepped (invasive fingers in him that felt strange and cold) his cuts were hurting, and he felt like he was going to be sick.

But he should be enjoying this, he told himself: this is exactly what I want.

"Kiku?" Arthur breathed, face flushed, "Are you ok?"

Kiku gulped, nodded, tried to appear happy. I'm supposed to be happy, he thought. He mustered a smile, but his stomach felt upset, and he felt disgusted. At what, he wasn't sure. Arthur leaned forward and kissed him, and Kiku accepted it. It was warm, but he felt dizzy and he just wanted to go home.

He felt like screaming.

He felt like crying.

He tried to ignore this sudden irrational feeling, tried to focus on the pleasure, and Arthur lifted Kiku's legs, movements thoughtful. Over and over Kiku tried to think this was ok, that he was going to finally do it with the man he loved, that it was everything he wanted and more. That it would feel wonderful, that this was a perfect and sacred moment, that this was all very romantic and nice, but he couldn't.

He didn't want this. He wanted this to stop, stop, stop.

He didn't want this at all, he wanted to throw up, his wounds were hurting, Arthur's body looked all wrong, something wasn't right, he was scared and frightened and he wanted this to stop. Please stop, just stop leave me alone.

GET OFF LEAVE ME ALONE PLEASE STOP I DON'T WANT THIS GO AWAY STOP STOP STOP STOP

At that moment Arthur thrust in him, and it hurt.

It hurt.

It hurt. It hurt. It hurt.

With each thrust it hurt, sending a wave of pain through him, something that made him whimper. He'd heard that it would hurt for the first time, so he took in the pain for a while. And faintly, it felt a little good; small bursts of pleasure running through his body, subtle but there. He tried to focus on this, tried to calm his frenzied mind, tried to get back into the lovesick haze they had started in. He gasped, heart pounding, and he closed his eyes shut, tried to think this was perfect, this was wonderful.

But then he noticed he was hurting too much. He realized he hated it then, just wanted this to stop.

When he saw the blood on the sheets, was when he began crying.

"Stop!" He yelled, thrust Arthur away, "Please, stop!"

Arthur looked bewildered, but did as he was told, and Kiku got out from underneath him, rushed to the bathroom. He threw up in the toilet, a loud and painful sound, something that sent chills up Arthur's spine. Kiku gasped for breath, the sound awkward and vulgar in his ears. They stayed like that for a moment in the dimly lit bedroom, a heavy air on them, Kiku's shallow breath the only noise. Dread set in Arthur's heart, and he looked down, noticing the small drops of blood. He quickly hurried to Kiku's side, worried and scared. Kiku shrugged him away though, holding himself, the sick smell of his vomit in the air.

"Kiku, Kiku I'm…I'm sorry are you-"

"My wounds."

"What?"

Kiku gulped, a foul taste in his mouth, eyes tearing up. "My wounds opened up."

Arthur looked down, and noticed the bleeding on Kiku's side, his hands covering up the wounds. He was at a loss of what to do, just wanted to make everything ok, and reached out for Kiku. Kiku flinched at his hand on his shoulder though, shaking.

"I'm…I'm sorry, Kiku. I should've noticed, I'm sorry." Arthur tried to explain, "Look, we don't have to do this now. Love? Love, are you ok?"

He could tell he was being sincere. Kiku could tell he felt generally sorry, but for now he didn't care, for now he just wanted to be anywhere but here. He thought it was strange of him to feel this way; didn't he like it when he got hurt? No, but it wasn't that, it wasn't the fact that his wounds opened, it was something else entirely and the pain only amplified the problem. For now, here he was. Crouched over a toilet, his wounds bleeding, naked and scared. This wasn't how it was supposed to be like. This wasn't how his first time was supposed to be like at all. Kiku shook his head.

"I…I should go home."

He felt disgusting. He felt wrong. He felt an almost indescribable mix of repulsion and fear. It was too much all at once and he struggled to get up, his body awkward and aching. He ignored Arthur's look of distress. He ignored the strange feeling in his stomach. He ignored the throbbing cuts. He focused solely on the mechanics of his body, detached himself from the situation, focused only on getting dress and getting out of there. And Arthur tried to ask what was wrong, if he was ok, tried to care for him, but Kiku didn't want that right now, and he didn't want to talk to Arthur then.

He realized what the extent of their relationship was, how far it could go, and he could feel his heart break.

Just as he was pulling his coat on, he felt a hand on his shoulder, and was turned around, staring face to face with Arthur. The green eyes he usually loved looked sad then, a distorted image that only proved more just how wrong this all was. Kiku looked downward, unable to stomach the pathetic look, and took notice that Arthur had at least pulled his pants back on.

Still, however, his wounded chest was laid bare, and Kiku hated the sight of it so much.

"Kiku. Kiku, look at me."

His voice had been so powerful, Kiku had no choice but to comply. Slowly, he met his gaze, and wondered what sort of look he had on his face. Even he couldn't rightly determine his feelings, as slowly, ever slowly he disconnected himself from the situation, tried to block it all out. He could barely make out Arthur's face in the dim light, yet he let him speak. Because honestly, he couldn't trust himself to talk right now, didn't even want to think.

"Are you alright?"

Kiku almost felt like laughing. To ask such a question like that in this delicate moment, he almost wanted to laugh. Instead, he weakly shook his head, tried to respond in ways that felt appropriate. Arthur frowned, grip weakening on Kiku's shoulder. His hand slid down, and softly held Kiku's wrist.

"I'm sorry. Look, next time I promise-"

"Arthur-san."

His tone had been so clear and his voice so weakened, Kiku surprised himself (and surprised Arthur as well, getting his full attention). It felt like he was speaking for the first time, a raw voice in a dream. Or maybe this was all just a nightmare. Kiku shook his head, and gulped.

"Arthur-san, I…I don't believe there will be a next time."

It felt like time stopped. It felt like a blow was dealt, and something had gone horribly, horribly wrong.

Neither spoke.

Some time passed as it all sank in. This moment, those words, what it all meant.

Kiku bowed his head.

"I'm sorry for my behavior. But I…I don't believe I'm ready. I'm sorry."

It was the most polite rejection Arthur had ever heard. Kiku wasn't sure what to expect then, what reaction he would get, but he didn't think Arthur would embrace him. Gently, as if handling glass, and it only served to hurt Kiku's wounds more.

But he didn't mind, because he knew it was the thought that counted. With his back against the bedroom door, he held him back, breathing in his scent.

Feeling his tears on his shirt.

"We don't have to do anything yet," Arthur assured him, voice frail, "Let's just…stay. Like this. Okay?"

Kiku didn't respond. He didn't have to. And they slid down to the floor, sitting and embracing and Kiku forgot who was crying and who the one saying sorry was. It was all a blur.

He forgot what he was apologizing for.

He also didn't care.


There were times he envied them.

He would catch glimpses here and there of their love: the times she waited for him until he was done with sports practice, or times when she baked him sweets. When he would make her laugh. How they held hands when they walked home. He was like sunshine and she was like a flower, she grew in his light, he marveled at her beauty, nurtured and loved her. They needed each other. In a completely innocent and sweet courtship, they needed each other. They'd been dating for a good few months now, and their relationship had blossomed, their love always strong and joyful.

Sometimes he envied them. Sometimes he wished he never knew.

It was the love they told in optimistic movies, in silly fairytales, to young children. It was almost free of conflict, completely normal, mundane and peaceful. And Kiku envied them. Wanted what they had, wanted it bad.

Alfred and Mei were so deeply in love, an almost sharp contrast to what Kiku had.

He mulled over these thoughts as he laid on his bed, on his stomach, textbook open and notes splayed out. He should be studying, but he hadn't even gotten past the first chapter, too distracted. His room was next to his sister's, and he could hear her voice, muffled but apparent as she talked on the phone again. Noting the tone of her voice and the speed of her words, Kiku could already tell she was speaking to Alfred. Happy, elated, annoyingly so.

Kiku tried to focus on the complex words in front of him, eyes scanning the page but it all looked foreign to him. He buried his face in his sheets, closed his eyes, tried to block it out. But her words were so loud, and he envied them.

He considered calling Arthur. He immediately shot down the idea.

Ever since that time (that terrible time, that awkward horrible time) they'd been distant, an uncomfortable air between them. Arthur had been nice enough, but Kiku could tell he was trying too hard, wasn't sure what to do. And Kiku felt numb to the whole debacle, his heart in chaos, his mind blank. He stopped trying to act like things were ok, and he stopped caring. He avoided him, didn't answer his calls, tried not to meet his eyes when they passed each other in the hallway. He knew he was hurting Arthur, but he only did it because he was hurting as well.

He'd done a lot of thinking then, and through the onslaught of his thoughts Mei's happy humming voice buzzed in the background. He returned to those thoughts once more.

It was as if there was a wall. Arthur and Kiku were close that was certain. They were compatible; they were undoubtedly drawn to each other, for better or for worse. And with such circumstance, the logical route was that they become a couple, live happily ever after.

But that's where the wall stood. Yes, they were close, but they could only go so far until things were put to a stop. Their relationship could only go so far, they couldn't live that happy ending, could only see it, but never reach it. Kiku wondered why this was so, what stopped them, why they couldn't be like other couples.

The chipper voice still playing as his background music, Mei's sweet laughter, Kiku wondered if it was because of their personalities. Whereas Alfred and Mei were such optimistic and happy people, Arthur and Kiku were different. Considerate, quiet. Arthur was louder though, still as lousy as before, showing his gentle side to Kiku only. And Kiku was shy and polite, taking time to speak his thoughts, passive. Is that why, Kiku wondered?

No. No that couldn't be it. Because they understood that about each other, grew accustomed to those personalities. Their affection wasn't on display like other couples, but they understood each other and that's what counted.

Then why?

Kiku closed his eyes in frustration, felt like crying. But he didn't cry because he tried to shut out his emotions. He knew if they were released, he would become overwhelmed. He tried to think of a way to release his stress, some sort of outlet, and then he remembered.

His eyes shot open. He dreaded what he had to do, but he knew he couldn't escape either. They'd gotten themselves too far into this mess. The only thing he could do was to continue it, push the limits farther and farther. And as he called him, Kiku realized something but didn't acknowledge it.

He felt himself shaking as he waited for an answer. Maybe he was in withdrawal. Maybe he had expected too much of them. Maybe this was just how it was always supposed to be.

"Hullo?"

"Arthur-san?"

There was a pause on the other line. A shifting of weight.

"Something you need, luv?"

Kiku gulped. His could feel his heart thumping, his body shivering, a feeling of hunger in his soul. He needed this. It had been too long, and he needed this. He wondered why he had tried to stray from it in the first place.

"Do you…" he took in a shuddering breath, "Do you remember the viewing point you showed me? When we saw the stars together?"

"I do."

"Meet me there."

He hung up without confirmation. Kiku hurriedly put on his coat, as he could hear Mei's voice get softer, kinder, and closing his bedroom door behind him, he left that voice behind. He didn't worry about how late it was, he didn't worry about missing dinner, he didn't think about anything. He just needed to get there, fast, needed to meet Arthur now. Needed what he could give him, him and only him.

Kiku mulled on the realization he had made earlier as he traveled the familiar streets, ran as fast as his legs would take him. Finally took notice of it. It all made sense, a bitter understanding. As he climbed those stairs and reached the top he saw Arthur was already there. Bundled up, cheeks rosy, the bright city framing him from behind. It was a beautiful image and Arthur smiled.

Kiku knew why they couldn't be any normal couple. He gave up wanting something sweet and pure, because from the start it had been out of his grasp. He was only just realizing it now. And as he took strong strides to the man he loved, he was growing to accept that reason, crushed his naïve dreams, and raised a fist.

Before Arthur could even greet him, Kiku punched him swiftly in the face.

It was strong. Cruel. Arthur stumbled back, surprised. Before he could even respond though, Kiku hit him again and again, his hits painful and persistent, and no matter how much Arthur screamed at him to stop, tried to hold him back, Kiku would only keep going, wouldn't listen, was something inhuman at that moment. It scared Arthur how strong he was at that moment, the small boy with warm eyes. It frightened him for once, how Kiku hurt him over and over, as he felt his nose bruise, his ribs throb, his heart pound. It was something he wasn't prepared for and that's how Kiku was able to leave twelve bruises on him that night, and gave him a lifetime worth of nightmares from that moment alone. Finally Kiku grabbed Arthur's blond hair, slammed his head against the railing. Wrapped cold hands around his beloved's neck, choked him as Arthur gripped at his hands, tried to tear them off, gasped for breath, began crying.

Kiku felt like laughing then. He was just so happy, he wanted to laugh as softly as his sister had only moments before.

Just as Arthur's grip was going lax, his eyes rolling back, Kiku let go. He slumped down, trying to catch his breath which was the only sound between them, the distant sounds of the city fading into the background. He looked up at Kiku, dazed, scared, and Kiku grabbed his face. Gently.

Kissed him.

It was like time stopped, the world held its breath, and it happened so quickly Arthur didn't even have time to close his eyes. Faintly, Kiku could taste blood from Arthur's cut lip, took in that metallic taste.

They parted, and Kiku looked at him. His gaze was strong, predatory, and it sent shivers up the Briton's spine. Their breath clouded between them, and Arthur could still feel his neck burning from the friction.

"Hurt me."

"What?"

Arthur assumed he'd misheard. Yet Kiku's voice was so sincere as he spoke again, Arthur didn't doubt it. So with a weak and earnest voice, Kiku repeated himself. It was the only thing they could do, could amount to, the peak of their relationship. What he realized, where this was going, what it had always been from the start.

"Please…hurt me."

How far their love could go.

He was quiet for a while. A long while, and Kiku worried he'd have to beg at this point. Of course he wanted more. Of course he wanted something pure and kind. But since the beginning their relationship had been twisted, this whole love affair a little bit off. They were undeniably drawn to each other, but that didn't mean it was a good thing. Sometimes even the most toxic of relationships were still destined for each other. Like gravity, always coming back, never being able to escape. The word that flitted through Kiku's mind at that point was 'addiction' and maybe this is what it was. What it would always be, no way of changing it.

Or maybe it wasn't, perhaps they were just misguided. It was a complicated mess Kiku couldn't bother to sort through, a relationship that hurt and nurtured him. Fulfilling and cruel. Whatever it was, Kiku knew he didn't want to let go though, had found something grand and indescribable, harsh and hurtful, beautiful in its pain. He could very well break it off, try to forget it ever happened. But just like when Arthur had first pushed that cigarette into his arm, he realized something.

He wanted this.

He wanted this so very bad.

Arthur began choking him.

As he slammed Kiku on the ground, and straddled him, he cut off his air. Returned the favor. And Kiku accepted it, gazed at the stars behind his love. His vision began to blur, and he closed his eyes, didn't even struggle under Arthur's hold. He just let it happen, and his heart was pounding, a burst of pleasure shot through him. He smiled. Opening his eyes, he saw Arthur smiling back.

Kiku wondered if this was how it felt like to make love to someone. It all just felt so good, so right, so wonderfully perfect.

It was exactly what they needed. They wondered why they tried to be something else in the first place.


On Monday morning, Feliciano asked Kiku with a worried voice if something happened. Kiku had looked at him confused, asked him what he meant.

He pointed out he had been walking with limp. He asked him if he'd gotten hurt somewhere. Kiku explained he had tripped on the stairs and had a nasty bruise on his ankle. He was fine, though. Thank you for asking.

Feliciano hugged him anyway because he was that kind of person, and Kiku patted his friend's back, appreciative for the concern. Feliciano told him he should be more careful. Kiku said he would be.

After school, as Arthur and Kiku walked back home, hand in hand, he told him to be more careful. Perhaps we've gone too far. We need to be less violent. Arthur apologized for having used the box cutter without even warning Kiku in their last session. He was sorry he twisted the knife in his thigh, and he'll be more careful next time.

He bought him green tea ice cream as an apology.

Kiku forgave him, because to be truthful, he had rather liked it anyway.


Months passed. They went about their lives, their routines, and soon they realized graduation was coming up. They wondered what would happen to them after all this. Arthur considered proposing to him. For now, however, he kept it to himself, and they stayed as they were. The school was buzzing with talks of graduation, of year end goodbyes, of final exams.

As Kiku walked back home from a study session with Feliciano and Ludwig, and walked through his front door, he could hear talking coming from the kitchen. He recognized it as Yao's and Alfred's. Their voices were strong, serious, and Kiku listened in from the entryway.

"I promise I'll take good care of her! I already have a job set up for the summer and a place to live…" Alfred explained, his tone stubborn.

"Yes, but to do it so young?" Kiku recognized this as Yao.

Kiku frowned, focused on their words, tried to decipher what the conversation was about.

"It doesn't matter! I love Mei, and I swear I'll take care of her!"

When Kiku finally realized he could feel his stomach drop.

"I'm going to marry her! Whether you give your consent or not!"

They were…going to get married?

Kiku felt more surprised than anything. He supposed it would make sense seeing as they were all going to graduate soon, and seeing as how close they were. And he could see why Alfred went to Yao about this; their parents were dead, Yao the oldest and taking care of his siblings. Their guardian. Kiku was still left reeling from the information, but was also happy for his little sister.

She deserved it.

However, it also depended on how Yao would respond to this news. There was a heavy silence then as Alfred and Kiku waited for his verdict. Suddenly, Kiku heard his older brother's sigh, a soft chuckle.

"You don't need to be so theatrical about this." He laughed, "You promise you'll take care of her?"

"Of course!"

"You'll make her happy? Never left wanting?"

"I'll do my best to make her happy."

"…Have you told her yet?"

Another silence. Kiku wished he could look into the scene they created now could see Alfred's reaction, but stayed where he was.

"W-Well…not yet…"

"Coming to me first. How polite of you." Before Alfred could respond, Yao kept talking. "She should be at the library right now. Go see her."

"R-Really? You mean it?"

"If you make her cry, I'll make you regret it. Now, go."

Alfred laughed, elated, and Kiku could hear the scraping of the chair on the kitchen floor as he stood up. "I won't, I mean it! Thanks, dad!"

"D-Don't call me dad! Hurry up and go!"

Kiku could hear Alfred laugh again (what a boisterous laugh), and heard more bustling from the kitchen. He realized he could hear footsteps approaching, and was met with Alfred as the excited boy rounded the corner. Before Kiku could think of a response, Alfred hugged him, all smiles and happiness.

"Don't you worry, Kiku, I'm going to take good care of your sister!" He patted him on the shoulder then, and already he was out the door, taking his whirlwind of excitement with him. Kiku blinked, caught off guard by all this information. He heard a clearing of someone's throat then, and turned to see Yao. He wore a soft smile on his face, tired but content.

"Well. That was your future brother-in-law. What do you think of him?"

Kiku smiled a half-smile. "Well," he thought of Alfred, of the kind of impression he gave, the person he was, "he's quite a handful. But…he's an earnest person. I think it'll be fine."

"My same thoughts."

They stayed in a comfortable silence then, and Kiku truly was happy for his sister. It seemed rushed, but it also seemed like things were going to be ok. He wondered what kind of scene they'd make when he would propose to her. He would just rush to her, and get on one knee, do it right there in the library. And she would be surprised, everyone in there would be, but then she'd cry. She'd gladly accept, and hug him, and it would be their happy ending.

Just as everything had been before, their love would be fairytale perfect, exactly as it should be.

"Kiku?"

"Hm?"

Yao motioned to the kitchen, eyes kind.

"I just made some tea. Join me?"

Kiku smiled. "I would like that."


"I can't believe he actually did it."

"So, I can assume he told you beforehand?"

"He announced it at dinner. Nearly gave mum a heart attack."

A laugh. Then, "I'm happy for them though. Mei came back home in tears. She was practically glowing."

"Yeah. They seem like they'll be just fine."

A pause. Kiku shifted his phone to his other hand as he continued writing down notes, his finals next week. He heard an awkward cough on the other end.

"T-To be honest I'm a bit envious of him."

"Oh? Why?"

"To be able to do that without fear. I…I wish I could do that too."

Another pause.

"…Kiku?"

"Yes?"

A holding of breath. Anticipation. Fear.

"…Will you marry me?"

Another pause. Kiku copied down another equation, strangely calm.

"No." he told him curtly, "I will not."


Another day, during another session of wrecking each other, Kiku had tried to run. Without thinking, Arthur pushed him down the stairs.

He didn't mean to, he cried. That wasn't supposed to happen. I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry. He cried this over Kiku, who lay there, looking straight at the ceiling. He wondered why he tried to run. He felt so good now, his heart thumping happily. So why did he run, what spurred that action? He wanted to tell Arthur to stop crying, but instead he said something else.

"I think I've sprained my ankle."

"What?"


He wished he had the ability to stop time now. Or maybe, even better, to rewind it.

At this moment, Kiku wanted it all to just stop, stop, stop. There was a feeling of anxiety in his stomach, a sense of panic, and he wanted to run out of the doctor's office, but he knew he couldn't very well do that with a sprained ankle. So he had no choice but to look straight into the worried faces of his doctor and his older brother, with his ankle exposed to them, the pant leg rolled up revealing the ugly bruises, the harsh red cuts.

Kiku just wanted time to stop. Time to think up an excuse, time to find a way to make it all go away. Kiku wished he could think up something, anything to make them stop looking at him like that. He wanted it to stop. Stop, stop, stop.

He wanted to go back. Go back to where it all began, to prevent this moment from ever happening. He wished he could've gone back to last week, stopped Arthur from cutting into his calf as he had done. No, maybe he could've gone before then. He should've never called Arthur to that stargazing spot. No, better they should've never began the mutual beatings. No, goddammit, Kiku had it all wrong, he knew that. This moment would've never happened if he went further in time, to the first time: if he'd run out of Arthur's room at that first moment, when he had pushed the cigarette into his arm.

Why didn't he run then? At a moment now when he had no escape, he wished he had before.

"Kiku?" Yao's shaky voice, fragile and scared, cut into the awkward air in the doctor's office. He gulped, and Kiku was surprised to see him so small and so weak and so very, very breakable. "Kiku, what is this? Kiku?"

He wanted answers. Of course he wanted answers. Kiku felt his head spin, the bright lights burning into his vision. He wanted time to stop. He wanted to go back in time and do something to prevent this. But he was only human, faulty and helpless, so he only shook his head.

With a voice more steady than he felt, Kiku told him: "I'm sorry."

With that, he unbuttoned his shirt and finally showed his brother the real side of him, the intimate and personal side of him. And when Yao gasped in horror, Kiku knew instantly his world was crumbling around him, and that nothing would ever be the same again.


In the most perverse and insensitive part of his mind, he wondered if he was a princess waiting to be saved.

Kiku looked out his window with hollow eyes, watched the clouds roll by. Ever since the incident in the doctor's office, Kiku had been kept indoors. Today was graduation day, and he wondered how the looks on all his friends' and classmates' faces were like. If he closed his eyes and thought hard enough, he could imagine he was there, graduating with them, smiling and laughing. Feliciano would be crying in happiness, he bet. Would hug him and be laughing. Ludwig would refrain from scolding him because it was a joyous occasion and he might even smile. Kiku thought Ludwig had nice, gentle smiles whenever he showed them. He was sure his sister would be crying and clinging onto Alfred's arm, as people congratulated them. In his daydream, Kiku imagined after taking pictures with his class, his friends, he would go to see Arthur. Who would smile at him, and they might even kiss, and yes, they would get married after graduation and-

And his dream faded away as he heard his phone ringing. Kiku blinked out of it, tried to regain his surroundings, and glanced to his phone on his desk. Its ringtone cut into the deathly silence of his bedroom, and he considered not answering it.

He wasn't sure he could take anymore of Feliciano's concerned voice, his constant questions. Neither of Ludwig's cautious inquiries, restrained worry. He'd already had enough of Yao's guilt-ridden face at home (who felt it must be his fault somehow, for Kiku never told him otherwise) as well as Mei's tears. He was living in such a heavy atmosphere already, he worried he would drown if given any more weight.

Tentatively, Kiku answered the phone.

"H-Hullo?"

Kiku almost felt like bursting out into tears.

"…Arthur-san?"

There was a long pause. It wasn't uncomfortable, rather it felt like to Kiku as if he'd been cast a life line, and he clung to it desperately, waiting however long it took for Arthur to talk again. For in the midst of this muddled and haunted sea, Arthur was a bright and familiar light in all of it.

"…I'm sorry."

"Why?"

Arthur gulped on the other end, and Kiku could hear the distant sounds of laughing and chatter in a distance. He knew Arthur was at school now, but most likely hiding from the festivities to have a chance at this phone call.

"You would be here if it wasn't for me."

"Arthur-san, please, we've gone over this-"

"I know we have. But it's my fault and we both know it."

Kiku didn't speak for a moment. Neither did. Arthur cleared his throat, an awkward and obvious gesture.

"H-How long until you leave?"

"Next week. I…I'm not sure when I'll be able to come back from therapy."

"Kiku…" Arthur hiccupped then, and Kiku worried he was crying, worried he wasn't there to wipe those tears, "Kiku just tell them what happened already! Tell them about us! It doesn't have to be this way! It's not right!"

"Arthur-san, please don't raise your voice."

"How do you expect me not to?!"

Kiku flinched at this, frowned. He sighed deeply, trying to be the reasonable figure to Arthur's frantic behavior. He looked out his window again, looked at his school in the distance, wondered how strange it was that Arthur was so close to him, just a few blocks away, but still out of reach.

He wanted to leave the house, but he could also understand his brother's concern and stayed where he was. How else was a guardian to act when their brother was bruised and aching and wouldn't speak the reason as to why?

(For Kiku assured him it was all self-afflicted, but he never said the reason why he did it in the first place.)

"I can't do that to you." Kiku shook his head, looking away from the window, "I don't want them blaming you for anything. I'll take on this burden myself."

For a long, long time Arthur was quiet. Kiku didn't mind it so much, for Arthur's mere presence comforted him in this isolation, so he cherished it as much as he could. Merely knowing he was in reach now was a soothing thought.

"…Arthur-san?"

"Mm?"

He sounded weakened, barely there.

"You graduated today, yes?"

"With the rest of the lot, yeah."

"I…I never got to ask. What do you plan to do after graduation?"

A shifting of weight. The sounds of footsteps. Kiku guessed he was walking somewhere now, as he talked.

"It's already been planned out for me. Go to a prestigious college, get a business degree, inherit my father's business. My brothers' have shoved the responsibility to me, and somehow father is alright with it all. I'll do exactly as I'm told, I'll just go through the motions, I'll just…"

He paused for a moment, and Kiku heard the sound of a door opening and closing, the sharp sound of a gust of wind.

"…I'll do exactly as I have been these past eighteen years. Be the type of person my father wants me to be. Everyone expects me to be. Nothing will change, Kiku. Nothing is going to change at all."

A frightening silence fell in. Kiku felt his body freeze, an unpleasant chill run up his spine.

"Wh-where are you? Right now?" He asked shakily.

"The roof." Arthur seemed to shrug, voice hollow.

"A-Arthur-san…?"

"You know, Kiku." He went on, not even listening to anything now, saying what he needed to say, talking on and on as if he had no time. Yet casually enough, as if it was scripted. "You were the best thing to happen to me."

With that, Kiku could hear the sound of the chain-link fence shaking, as if grabbed. He felt a feeling of dread hit him, knew exactly where this was going.

"No one understood me like you did. No one could compare to you. I'm happy I found you. I…I'm grateful for our time together."

"Don't jump."

"I mean it; I mean every single bit of it. Thank you. Thank you so-"

"Please don't jump."

Arthur waited. Kiku felt himself get dizzy, wanted to run from this prison, wanted to just make it all stop. How did they get here? How did they get to this point?

"…I feel the same."

Why did it have to be this way?

"You are…You are the most important person to me." Kiku felt a lump form in his throat, pushed it down, spoke with a restrained voice, "I've never connected with someone so well. I've never loved someone so much. You mean so much to me, Arthur. You mean…you mean the world to me."

And for the longest moment, neither spoke.

Kiku could feel his chest rising and lowering, felt acutely aware of his surroundings, this moment double-edged, uncertain. At a point where both of their lives were collapsing, the world held its breath, waited for them, for what would happen next.

"…If this never happened," Arthur spoke, "If none of this ever happened, Kiku, what did you want to do with your life? How did you want to live?"

"I can't imagine a world without you."

"…I see."

It dawned on both of them their options. Either they would continue down this path, and have no choice but to part ways, or they could meet later in life, pick up where they left off; but neither liked that thought for it was obvious what they would have would pale in comparison of what they had now . If only there was some way to preserve them as they were now. If only.

If only.

And it was then the thought struck them.

"What if we just ended this?"

They spoke it in unison, and for a moment both hesitated.

"K-Kiku, did you just say what I think you said?"

"Yes."

He didn't think of backing down. He didn't think of the consequences, he didn't feel regret or sadness, and Kiku looked out his window again, with renewed hope, a chance of escape, a way to run away. He placed a hand against the glass, all too happy to accept their third option.

"Arthur-san," he smiled, "let's just throw it all away."


It was inhuman and completely strange how accepting of the thought he was. Even he acknowledged it, tossed and turned in his bed that night, disgusted with himself but also simultaneously excited at the idea of it. The world had nothing left to offer him, had already showed them the best they could have, so they decided to leave now before it all went downhill. When he gave himself that reason, convinced himself this was the only satisfactory option, he finally accepted it all, hushed the frightened side of him.

For they meant the world to each other. And if they couldn't have each other, then they were done with this world.

They decided to do it in the dead of night, at the school roof. Just jump, and be done with it. It seemed so easy and simple and they loved it. No second guesses, no worries, no reasonable thoughts or guilt to stop them. They were past the breaking point, confused and done and just tired. So very, very tired.

Maybe they were weak. Or maybe they were beyond help. Either way, they made their choice and there was no turning back now.

Kiku crept in the dark hallways of his home, eased down the stairs, step by step. He cast one last glance to his sister's closed bedroom door, tried to hear the soft breathing of Yao. For a moment he wondered what they were dreaming about. He worried about the nightmare they would wake up to.

But it was something he had to do, he knew that. He continued down, in his dark house, took in the look of it for he knew he wouldn't return. He held onto its image, heart pounding like crazy. His ankle ached with each step, every feeling and pain suddenly amplified in that moment, his body acutely aware. It just all felt so surreal to him, like he was dreaming. This was all a dream he was indulging in, and it felt so unreal. He didn't think he was this type of person. He didn't think this would be how it would end. It felt so strange how he got here, and it was all a mess he didn't bother sorting through, and went with the motions.

It was something that other people did, but would never happen to you. It just felt so weird realizing you would be one of many in something so unlike you.

He pushed aside the fluttering, frantic thoughts. He pushed aside anything that would stop him or slow him down. As he opened his front door slowly (so slowly so as to not make any noise) he saw Arthur there, standing under the moonlight, a blue shade cast across his features.

Rushing to him, Kiku embraced the man he loved, the one he hadn't seen face to face in weeks. Without word, Arthur held him back, and for one long moment they stayed like that, soaking in the presence of their lover, and they understood. It was abrupt and sudden, but desperately needed. Kiku took in the scent of Arthur (preserving this in his memory too) the old and wise scent of tea, his warmth, the tall and firm stature. For a second he wondered if there were wounds under his clothes (for Kiku's had been healing, no way to get his fix after the addiction had been discovered) but he brushed it aside. It didn't matter now. A lot didn't matter now. Soon enough nothing would matter to them at all.

"Ready?"

Arthur's voice sounded husky and strangely familiar in the warm night air. Kiku nodded into his chest, and they fell in step together, holding hands, saying nothing. They were oddly calm in all of it, and Kiku thought it was abnormal of him. He should be crying. He should be shaking. He should be full of self-hate and regrets and ugly, muddy emotions that swallowed him up.

But he wasn't. Holding Arthur's hand then, it almost seemed like they were just going for a casual walk, as if it was any other night, as if they were any other couple. Over and over Kiku was aware of all the times he could have the choice to go back, to let go of Arthur's hand and run back home and maybe get cured and be normal.

But he didn't. He kept walking and walking with Arthur's comfy presence by his side.

Above them the stars watched and the world was silent, any human activity put to rest. It was as if it had returned to its simplest state, as if they were the last people on Earth. A surreal feeling settled into their hearts, of being alone and lost yet comforted. The only noises that filled the air were the noises of nature, of crickets chirping, the distant chirp of a bird. Like the air was breathing a sigh of relief, the world resting as well. They walked on a street painted blue by the moonlight, on a street they walked each morning, a route they knew well. They passed by the familiar scenery in its tranquil form, and their footsteps echoed as all their loved ones slept on peaceful and unaware. A moment of harmony before any whirlwind of emotion could shake them.

Kiku supposed that's when the theatrics would settle in. For he thought it would be so much more profound and distressing then this, yet, perhaps such extremities came in after the act. For other's to deal with when they were already gone.

He didn't think of the word 'dead' or any of its variants. It was still too distant a concept and he was trying his best not to overthink at this moment, this wonderful and calming moment.

"Are you cold?"

Kiku didn't look next to him. He shook his head. "No. I'm fine."

"Does your ankle hurt?"

"It's fine."

"I'm sorry."

Kiku wondered how many times Arthur had said that to him already, and just how much more he wanted to say it. He wondered if he would ever care about those two words; at this point they lost all their meaning. At this point they did nothing for him and they never would. Kiku shook his head again.

"As I said," he repeated himself, "it's fine."

When they reached the school building they realized just how different it looked in the backdrop of midnight, just how surreal this image was too. It seemed so much more large and impeding, so much more menacing and dark. They looked at it for a moment. Kiku gulped.

"It will be a long fall." He noticed. Arthur squeezed his hand.

"It will be."

They got in by climbing the fence. Kiku took longer for his injury, but it was Arthur who caught him when he fell into the other side. He hugged his neck for a while and Arthur let him, for he wanted to savior every last moment, and although he offered to carry him, Kiku refused. With shaky breath Kiku explained he needed to carry himself there, despite weak legs. Arthur understood. He always did.

They managed to get in by Arthur kicking in a window, and they walked over broken, glittering glass shards into dark, desolate halls. The moonlight streamed in through the windows, cut into rectangles and curves. They navigated with this and Kiku almost felt like he was in a horror film, like something was watching them, like he was being followed. He stayed close to Arthur, and Arthur held tightly to his hand, for they never broke that connection, kept it as long as they could. He consistently asked him if he was ok, and he consistently assured him he was.

It was so strange. No one knew they were there. No one could stop them. No one was any the wiser and no one could rescue them now. It was a pervasive and freeing thought. It was selfish and soothing and it made them feel safe.

They passed by the glowing vending machines. Kiku paused and examined them; felt a case of déjà vu hit him. Arthur looked back at him, confused.

"You alright, luv?"

Kiku blinked. Focused on their images in the dark, tried to remember a time he'd been in this position before.

"Do you have any change on you?" He asked.

He brought a can of green tea. After all, it had all started with tea. It was only fitting.

He carried the can in the pocket of his jacket, and he could feel its weight as he walked, just as he could feel the throb of his ankle, just as he felt the constant warmth of Arthur's hand. They continued on their journey, their informal pilgrimage, and he studied each detail, each bit of scenery he could see outside the windows. It felt like the end of the world.

They climbed every step carefully, and when Arthur opened the heavy door, a gust of wind hit them. Kiku withstood its force though, and stared out onto the stage of which this scene would play. The stars shone brightly above them, a heavenly pattern against powerful black, a profound white moon shining. The chain linked fence was a simple design in that night, and it almost seemed like a gateway. Beyond that fence was their destination, the end to their journey. Every moment they had shared on that roof replayed in his mind, every intimate conversation, each loving kiss. It was where they had connected. It was where they would part.

First though, Arthur sat against the fence and took out a pack of cigarettes. Kiku took his place next to him, and opened the can. They had agreed to this at least. These things took time. Reflection. Closure.

Kiku tilted his head back and took a sip as he heard the fssh of a lighter, smelled the scent of smoke beginning to burn. He closed his eyes and took in the sweet taste, the metallic of the can on his lips. He could faintly taste lemon and he realized just how wonderful some things could taste if only we took the time to notice.

They sat in understood silence, and Arthur watched the smoke curl into the night air, fly away and fade. He took another breath, his lungs expanded and he felt it fill him in. He released the smoke into the air and watched it dully. He would take his sweet time. He would savor this.

"Do you have any regrets?"

Arthur had been too quick for him. It was a question he had also wanted to ask, but Kiku decided it didn't matter anyway. At this point it didn't matter who said what, because right now they shared the same thoughts and feelings. He shook his head.

"My only regret is that I won't be able to see my sister get married." He explained calmly, "It is a scene I would've liked to see."

"I would've liked to see Alfred finally settle down. He'll take care of her. I assure you."

"You're proud of him."

"I've always been."

Had this been any other night or conversation Kiku knew he wouldn't have admitted that. But this was a time when secrets had to be told, when nothing could be held back. It was a last chance, and when humans are presented with their last chance they are ready to confess to everything, to set all crooked meanings and words straight. There was something in the thought of finality that changed everything, that dispelled all petty fears.

Kiku took another sip. Closed his eyes and breathed in second-hand smoke. Composed his thoughts.

"And you, Arthur-san?"

He was quiet for a long moment.

"I regret a lot of things. Frankly, I don't believe there's a person out there not burdened with regrets." Arthur shrugged, and Kiku knew he would miss this; the analytic side of his love that picked apart all sides of the human mind. It was wise and experienced and it was a curse he would never be cured of. Kiku watched him breathe in again, and blow it out, watched it float away. All actions were so descript then. So final. He couldn't help but notice everything.

"I think what I regret the most is being born." Arthur continued, voice steady and cold, "I regret being myself. I regret not being stronger. I think some of us really aren't meant to be here. We're mistakes. And it's us who has to clean up the mess we are."

"How dark."

"Haven't I always been?"

Kiku chuckled. When he looked back he saw the curve and struggle of a weak smile on Arthur's face.

"Don't…don't get me wrong." Arthur gulped, looking forward, the cigarette between his fingers. He watched the ash fall from it, cleared his throat. "I would've liked to live. I would've loved to live. But it gets so hard sometimes…"

"I understand."

"But you helped that." Arthur spat out, saying things before he could second-guess them, "You helped me. I…I'm sorry."

"For what?"

"For this!" He made a sweeping motion with his arm, the smoke following suit, to the roof as if this meant everything, "God, Kiku, you shouldn't be here!" His voice began to crack, he lost control, he began to shake. "I…I should be doing this by myself. I should've never gotten you caught up in this. You should be watching your sister get married, you should be graduating, and tomorrow morning they should find my body, not ours."

Kiku was silent.

He knew it wouldn't be this easy. He knew one of them would fight back. And somehow he had already known it would be Arthur. (After all, he'd been the one to throw himself down the stairs first, had been the one who crumbled first). Between them Arthur took big gulps of breath, trying to calm himself but there were tears and tears were always so hard to fight. Kiku was silent. He shook his head, resolute, a stern figure that contrasted his love.

"But I want to be with you." He confessed, "If you're going to do this, I want to do this with you."

"But why? You don't have to do this. You can be saved."

"Because you showed me how to live."

Arthur soaked in his steady words, and began to laugh bitterly. Kiku watched as the ashes fell from his cigarette, avoided any gaze Arthur might've been giving him now.

"I showed you how to hurt yourself that's all. That's not…that's not living, Kiku, that's not living at all."

"No," Kiku spoke, voice so assured, "you're wrong."

And that's when Kiku became honest as well, let any shame he would've felt melt away. He was open then, truthful, laying his thoughts and feelings bare in the moonlight, letting Arthur see everything, all the nooks and crannies.

It was time to confess and so he did.

"I'm well aware of what this all means. It's fine. I know what I'm going to do." He looked up to the starry sky, held the can between his hands as if he was cradling it, "I know this was unhealthy, I know this is bad for me. And I know if I go back now I can be cured."

He shook his head, voice suddenly fragile. "But I don't want that.

I don't want to be cured. Everything you've given me, every memory and experience…the world would've never given me that. There was pain, but the happiness was there too. And I was happy, Arthur-san. I still am. If I had never met you, I could've never had that and so…"

Arthur realized he was holding his breath, and he watched as Kiku tilted his head at him. Watched as the corners of his mouth rose, in the most sincere and sweetest smile he had ever seen Kiku give him.

"And so I thank you for everything."

He felt like crying. He didn't, however, he was trying not to for Arthur Kirkland had resisted tears for such a long time. The tears from before had already dried up even and so he choked them down.

"…You can get help, you know. They can help you."

"I know," Kiku assured him, "however I fear in that process they will taint these memories I have and take away this happiness I hold dear. So I don't want it. I wish to stay as I am, right now."

He didn't want anything ruin him as he was now.

Arthur reached over and held his hand. Without word, Kiku squeezed it back. With the moon and stars shining above them, with the subtle and distant sounds of the city behind them, Arthur finished his cigarette, and Kiku finished his tea. The cigarette butt was thrown carelessly on the roof, the empty can left in solitude beside it. The last remnants that stayed behind. It was Arthur who climbed over first, and Kiku followed suit, carefully, sliding down at last until his feet hit the edge. They both looked down to the ground far away, and anyone who could've looked at them then would note the hunger that seemed to be in their eyes as if they both needed it and wanted it badly.

At last, Arthur held him tight. It was Kiku who leaned upwards for a kiss and was given it. It was rough but the intentions were sweet, so that was fine. They parted with shallow breath.

For the last time they said I love you.

They fell.

In the morning they would be found in a pool of their own blood, intermingled, staining their clothes, leaking from their heads. They would find the burns and cuts on Arthur's body and finally piece together the story. They would find the suicide note in Kiku's bedroom that explained and apologized for everything. They would be found clinging to each other as they had been until the very end.

But until then, at that split moment, before impact, they were happy.

For better or for worse, they had been happy. That's what they'd like to believe.


The end. Thanks so much for reading.

There's a lot I can say about this work. It became something more than I originally planned. This really is my most darkest and personal work.

I'd like to say most of all, however, is that I can't really say myself if this is something to be seen as romantic or disgusting, if this work should incite sadness or anger. I only wish to present this story to you, and for the reader to infer their own thoughts on the matter. If I made you feel anything then I think that's enough.

I also apologize if the work was too melodramatic, or if I handled the subject too lightly. If that's the case I greatly apologize.

(What I'd also like to mention in case it wasn't clear enough: these two lie to themselves a lot. I apologize if that didn't come through, but I thought it was important to know).

Once again, thank you so much for reading.

-Apple Fairy