"Chikusa dear, come away from the window. MM will be here shortly, and I would very much like it if her parents didn't see you hunched over the windowpane."
The raven stood and nodded to his mother, smoothing his plain dark blue slacks and black button-up, inwardly cursing the day he was born. "As you wish."
The soft ring of a doorbell sounded and his mother rose to exit the room. "Looks like it doesn't make a difference. Why don't you come down and say hello to your fiancé?"
"Oooohhh Chick-y-poo! How marvelous to see you!~" MM practically threw herself at Chikusa when he answered the door.
Her parents filed in with more dignity, both smiling at their daughter's antics, oblivious to their soon-to-be son-in-law, who endured the abuse in stoic silence.
MM pulled away and held him at arm's length, her short red hair framing a face that could have been pretty, were it not for the fact that the hair was like the feathers on a bird that had just been given a fright, and she grinned, seemingly overjoyed.
But Chikusa could see otherwise. The disgust in her violet-colored eyes was impressive, and he was surprised that she had kept up her act for this long.
Both the groom and brides' parents had been so thrilled to hear of their engagement that none of them bothered to truly pay attention to their offspring.
Chikusa's parents were delighted over MM for few reasons other than she was beautiful and of high class. But her family had fallen on hard times, or so she said, and her parents were content with Chikusa's family being rich and held in high regard.
Chikusa's mother smiled sweetly at her son, "You know dear, I believe that there is a circus in town. Why don't you accompany MM for a night of entertainment?"
MM's mother grinned a bit too broadly, "What a splendid idea! And in the meantime the rest of us can get to know one another, hmm?"
Chikusa sighed. Even without their parents MM still wouldn't let herself falter, and the way she was clinging to his arm was beginning to annoy him.
They had only just arrived at the supposed circus, and Chikusa noticed what seemed to be a large crowd surrounding one of the animal cages.
MM seemed to notice as well and tugged him towards the cage, "Cummon, Chick-y-poo! They probably have a tiger or an alligator in there or something!~"
Chikusa rolled his eyes and went with MM over to the cage.
Chikusa let his eyes wander over the crowd as they approached. Everyone present seemed to be laughing, as if to some unsaid joke, but it wasn't a pleasant sort of laugh. It was…mocking. People were throwing things as well; some were even spitting in the cage's direction.
'What on earth could elicit this kind of reaction from a crowd?'
Before Chikusa could turn his gaze to what was in the cage, MM came to a sudden halt beside him and said contemptuously, "What is that?"
Chikusa finally turned to look, and his eyes went WIDE. Sitting, or, more like laying, on the floor of the cage was what appeared to be a lion.
The only thing was, the lion appeared to be wearing clothes, specifically dark green pants, a shirt, and with an unruly mane of blond hair, furred limbs, clawed paws…and a tail.
Chikusa didn't think his eyes could get any wider. And then the creature raised its… his head. Bright, hostile amber eyes scanned the crowd, and for a moment… everyone was silent. He growled. A low, intimidating sound that vibrated within Chikusa's very bones.
The crowd immediately roared back in anger. One onlooker threw a rock, hitting the creature painfully on the side of the head. He bared long canines and hid his face in his paws once more.
MM snorted, then walked up to the cage and spat between the bars. They walked out of the crowd and MM muttered condescendingly, "Vile BEAST!"
Chikusa's calm demeanor disappeared, and his expression twisted with fury. How could anyone, even MM, be so cold!? Besides, what had the poor creature done to her, to ANYONE, to deserve such treatment!?
Impulsively, he wrenched his arm from her and raised it, as if to strike her. She recoiled, her expression going from confused to frightened to downright vicious in seconds.
Chikusa made a sound akin to the growl of the lion creature, lowered his hand, narrowed his eyes at MM and, frowning deeply, said, "Not unlike yourself, wretch."
In a rage, he spun around and stormed off, leaving MM standing alone.
Chikusa paced back and forth restlessly in front of a window in his dark bedroom.
Lightning flashed, thunder clapped, and rain was whipped against the glass ferociously from the storm outside, mirroring his mood.
Chikusa glanced at the clock. It struck midnight; his frown deepened. The day of his wedding was finally upon him.
He stared out into the heavy rain and inky blackness of the night, and heaved a sigh.
He strode over to his closet and grabbed an old messenger bag, of which he hadn't used in years. He packed up a few of his scant belongings, then zipped the back and settled it over his shoulder and walked to his door, resting his hand on the knob.
With his parents so far away on the other side of the mansion, asleep to boot, they would never hear him leave.
Sighing once more and taking one last look at his room, he then slipped out of the one place that had been his sanctuary for years, for the last time.
After running through the pouring rain at this thoughtless hour of the night, Chikusa felt as if he had been gone for hours already.
Yet as he slowed to a walk as he neared a street light, he found himself in front of the gate of the circus he had been at earlier that day.
The sudden squeaking of rubber soles on the wet ground made Chikusa dive for cover right in the nick of time as an on-duty policeman stepped into sight.
Chikusa held his breath, cursing the stature of the scrawny tree he was currently taking refuge behind, praying silently that the policeman wouldn't see him.
When he passed by Chikusa without so much as a glance in his direction, the raven made sure the coast was clear, then bolted into the circus, hoping to find an empty tent or wagon.
The first one he came across was covered in a heavy green tarp, and he ducked underneath it to see what it was. It was a cage, but it was empty and dark, and the door opened when he unlatched it.
Chikusa heard the ominous squeaking of wet shoes once again and hopped hastily up into the cage, the door clicking softly shut behind him.
He swore under his breath once the policeman had gone away and took off his bag, setting it down and trying to push the door open, but it would not open from the inside.
He huffed in annoyance and was reaching for something in his pocket when a pair of hands wrapped around his neck from behind and long, sharp nails dug viciously into his flesh. He grunted in pain and crashed his elbow into the ribs of whoever was behind him.
Feeling the grip loosen, Chikusa tore free and stumbled a few feet away from his attacker, drawing the knife he had stowed in his pocket.
He reached a hand up to his neck, and it came back wet with warm blood.
There was suddenly a low, predatory growl coming from the opposite end of the cage, and Chikusa could barely make out the shape of what seemed to be a large feline. The animal circled him, forcing him into the middle of the cage, and when it lunged at him, he heard its jaws snap shut just inches from his ear.
He slashed at the creature and it jumped back, but then the wind blew some of the tarp aside and lightning illuminated the cage.
For a few brief seconds, Chikusa saw everything. The dark green clothes, the wild mane and savage claws, the unforgettable scar marring the creature's face, but most of all, the eyes. The amber-colored eyes full of fear and aggression, but, most prominently, sadness.
Not the eyes of an animal, but the eyes of a human.
The creature growled again and lowered himself to the ground, but Chikusa didn't react.
His hand slowly dropped to his side, and once it was there, his fingers' grip on the knife loosened and loosened until the blade fell to the cage floor with a thunk.
Chikusa sank slowly to the ground, ending up in a kneeling position with his arms hanging limp at his sides.
The other had stopped circling him and now Chikusa looked up into those human eyes once more. "You're…a human…"
"What!?" the lion barked raspily.
"You're…a human being…" Chikusa murmured, stricken.
Chikusa shook his head from side-to-side, uncomprehending, "I would have killed…a human being…"
The other's face was suddenly very close to Chikusa's, and he could feel the whoosh of hot breath from his fanged mouth fan across his face as he growled, "I guess that wouldn't be a problem, since you're just like the rest of them!"
Chikusa shook his head, "No, I'm not. If I wanted to harm you, that would still be in my hand, see?"
He pointed to the knife lying a few feet away and the other followed his motion. He turned his head in the knife's direction ever-so-slightly, and then looked back to Chikusa, no other part of him moving aside from his eyes.
Then he growled, realizing the truth of Chikusa's statement, and turned away from him moodily, flicking the tuft of his tail across Chikusa's face in a show of annoyance.
Chikusa jolted in surprise; soon a smile formed on his face, followed by laughter, "You know, you're not that scary up close."
The other stopped and whipped his head around to face Chikusa, growling, "Say that again and I just might eat you!"
Chikusa laughed softly, until the other surged forward and swiped at him.
There wasn't much power behind the swing, and Chikusa caught his wrist easily, then gasped. "These paws…"
"These paws…feel like hands…"
Chikusa released his wrist, instead opting to press his own hand to the others palm to reaffirm what he had said, but the other jerked his hand away, "Hands, paws, what's the difference!? To your kind I'll always be considered a monstrosity!"
The creature turned his back on Chikusa and stalked towards the far end of the cage, tail swishing menacingly.
Chikusa grasped the bars of the cage behind him and was just beginning to slowly pull himself up when the creature seemingly spat something into his paw. Within seconds the fur that covered his limbs disappeared, as did the claws, mane, tail.
Chikusa's grip faltered in his shock, and he was back on the floor, the now blond boy rapidly advancing on him while showing still-sharp canines in a cruel grin.
Chikusa pressed back as far as he could against the bars as the other swooped down, bringing them face-to-face. "What? Now you're afraid of me?"
The words barely registered. Chikusa sat, paralyzed by the now human boy in front of him. Chikusa tried to steady himself, but to no avail. "Y-yes! So?" he managed to stutter out, still trying to regain his composure.
The blond narrowed his amber eyes at Chikusa, then stood and turned his back to him, huffing, "Che, you're the strangest human being I've ever seen."
Chikusa had his head clear enough to the point where he could finally attempt rising once more, and as he gingerly stood up with help from the cage bars he smiled slightly, "Quite honestly, you're the strangest human being I've ever seen."
There was a short, slightly uncomfortable silence following this last statement; Chikusa was the first to dispel it.
"You must be wondering what I'm doing in here…"
"It did cross my mind." the other said irritably, tapping a long, slightly pointed fore-fingernail on one of the bars.
"Well…" Chikusa began, "It's kind of a long story…"
"Make it short!" the other snapped.
Chikusa raised his eyebrows at the outburst, but cleared his throat softly, "Well, I didn't belong somewhere…so I left."
"Left!?" The other whirled around, furious, "How could you have left from a place with your own kind!?"
"My own kind?" Chikusa said incredulously, exasperatedly, "They barely knew me! They were nothing like me!"
"Barely like!?" the other howled. "At least they were barely like you! There isn't a creature on this earth that is anything like me!"
There was another short, contemplative silence between the two, then Chikusa spoke. "Well…I guess that makes you different then, doesn't it?"
The snarl that had begun to make itself known on the others face suddenly vanished, his face completely neutral, before he frowned deeply in frustration.
"OOH YOU'RE RIGHT! But that doesn't make it a good thing!"
Chikusa took half a step closer to him, "But being different is a good thing! There are so many people in this world who can't even accept the fact that they're different, so they conform to a society in which there is no measly bit of individuality. Doesn't that sound like a bore to you?"
The other's frown lessened, but remained. He turned away from Chikusa again, "I'm not familiar with what bored means. Loneliness…sadness…being called…a monster…that is all that I understand…"
He was mumbling, as if to himself, but Chikusa heard him. He was down on his knees and just knelt there, murmuring, "Things a normal person…couldn't relate to."
Chikusa frowned and walked over to him, going down to his level on one knee. "But I do understand! The feelings you are having are the reason why I left! If anyone could ever wholly understand being alone, having no friends, feeling sad all the time…it's me."
The other turned his head slightly, just enough to where he could see Chikusa.
"How can it be?" He murmured, almost to himself again. "How come a human feels this way?"
Chikusa reached out and rested his hand gently on his shoulder. "Because we are human. Humans feel things like this."
The other slapped his hand away and rose quickly, Chikusa following.
He made as if to walk away from him, but stopped short, so they were practically back-to-back. "I'M NO HUMAN!" he raged, "ALL MY LIFE I'VE BEEN CALLED A MONSTER!"
His gaze drifted down, and he closed his eyes tightly.
"Until now…" The short statement shocked him, and his eyes opened as he looked back up at Chikusa.
The raven's gaze fell seemingly to the floor of the cage as he spoke, "Ever since I first saw you, I knew there was something unique about you."
The others breath hitched slightly, "Unique?"
Chikusa nodded, "I couldn't pinpoint it, but now I know." He turned around and looked straight into the others amber-colored eyes. "You're not a monster, nor a human being. You are…your own."
"My…own?" The other repeated breathlessly.
His gaze jumped up to Chikusa's dark eyes, "What?"
"My name's Chikusa. And yours?"
The other blinked rapidly in astonishment, "Ken…"
Chikusa gave a small smile, "Ken…Has a nice ring to it."
There was just silence for a few moments, a comfortable silence, as the two analyzed each others expressions.
Surprisingly it was Ken who spoke first. "I guess you're wondering how you're going to get out of here?"
A thin line formed between Chikusa's eyebrows. "Me? You mean we."
Ken's eyes widened slightly as Chikusa continued, "What, you think I was just going to leave you here?"
When Ken nodded slowly Chikusa set his mouth in a displeased frown. "Like Hell!" He growled with surprising force.
Ken's eyebrows twitched and he couldn't help it when the corners of his mouth began to tug upwards. "Alright, let's see what I can do…"
He got to his feet and rummaged around in his pocket for a moment before bringing forth a different pair of animal teeth.
He fitted them snugly over his own teeth and was covered almost instantly in dark, possibly black, fur. The muscles in his forearms grew immensely, and when he turned his head to Chikusa he grinned, exposing human-like teeth, with the exception of much longer canines.
Chikusa gaped like a fish and reached his hand upwards just to make sure his eyebrows hadn't gone all the way up to his hairline. 'Jesus…'
This was going to take some getting used to; he was looking at a gorilla.
Ken chuckled at his reaction, at least Chikusa thought it was a chuckle.
"Move aside, just incase." Ken rasped.
Chikusa obeyed mindlessly, openly staring. Without warning Ken placed his hands on the bars of the cage and bent a hole in them with ease.
The metal screeched as it gave way and Chikusa stiffened at the sound, his spine going instinctively rigid.
Ken spat the teeth back into his hand, reverting back to his human form, and Chikusa suddenly jumped into action.
He grabbed his bag from where it lay and raced back over to the blond, whispering urgently, "Crap, why didn't I think! Someone probably heard. We have to go, now."
Ken actually looked frightened. He was staring at the bottom edge of the green tarp, being whipped back and forth by the still raging wind and streaming with rainwater. He swallowed.
Chikusa reached out and grasped Ken's hand firmly in his, and when the blond's eyes jerked up to his he gave the hand a reassuring squeeze, nodding once.
Ken's face took on a stoic expression, and in the next instant they had both jumped from the cage together and run off into the blackness of the stormy night.
"Kakimoto? What the heck kind of name is that? I'll call you Kaki-pi instead!" Ken smirked, poking his tongue out of the side of his mouth at the raven.
Chikusa huffed, "It's no worse than Joshima. That sounds almost American."
Ken made a face, scrunching up his nose, and Chikusa chuckled.
It was still dark out, with a couple hours till dawn.
The pair had run right through the night, somewhere along the way making it out of the rainstorm, and they had arrived at one of the nameless towns surrounding the general area of Chikusa's childhood home.
The streets were wide and silent, low buildings lining both curbs, none with lights emanating from within.
It had been eerily quiet all around them, and Ken couldn't stop fidgeting, so Chikusa would occasionally give his hand a gentle squeeze.
All throughout the night never once did they release the others hand. Ken shuddered impulsively once more and Chikusa stroked the back of his hand softly with his thumb, and this time Ken returned the gesture.
Chikusa's breath hitched at the tender touch before he could stop himself, and Ken glanced sideways at him, "You okay Kaki-pi?"
This time it was Chikusa who shuddered, "I'm just tired. And it's been getting colder and colder."
Ken blinked, as if realizing this for the first time, and nodded. "Sorry, I didn't notice. Let's find somewhere to rest for awhile."
Chikusa nodded his appreciation and the two began their search for a suitable resting place. It took a few different streets and numerous let-downs, but just as the sky began to become streaked with the light grey of dawn, Ken guided Chikusa to the first dry alleyway they had come across.
Chikusa sat down against a brick building wall with a weary sigh, gently resting his head on the cold stone.
Ken was shocked when just seconds later the ravens head fell gently onto his shoulder.
He smiled slightly down at Chikusa. 'Wow, he was much more tired than he was letting on…'
For the first time that night Ken forced himself to release Chikusa's hand, only to open the bag he brought with him and take out what looked like it would be the warmest garment.
Ken thought it might have been a jacket, but it was still too dark to tell. All he cared about was that it was warm to the touch and felt fuzzy.
He slipped it onto Chikusa; he laid the messenger bag down on the ground and laid back, resting his head on it.
He brought Chikusa close to him, his body instinctively curling around the ravens, as if in an attempt to protect him or, in this case, warm him.
A still-unconscious Chikusa slid one of his arms under and around Ken's neck and the other underneath his arm, both hands gripping the blonds back as he pressed his face close to Ken's chest.
The blond wrapped his arms in turn around the ravens back, sable-colored hair pressed against his cheek.
Ken blinked owlishly for a moment before he smiled softly.
He nuzzled Chikusa softly, affectionately, and whispered almost silently, "Thank you."
Chikusa pressed up into the caress, and Ken closed his eyes still smiling.
'I don't think I've ever been this happy…And it's all thanks to him.' He sighed contentedly. 'I'll never let you go… You'll never be hurt as long as I'm around… I promise… I…Love…You…'
And then he was asleep.
When Chikusa woke the first thing he noticed was how warm he was. By all rights he should be freezing cold. And he was also pressed against something warm. For rather, somebody.
He glanced up and saw Ken; he smiled and was about to say something along the lines of 'thank you' when his smile faded.
Something was wrong.
Ken was wide awake and frozen as if he were a statue. Chikusa could hear him almost imperceptibly scenting the air, and he bristled, obviously straining to hear something.
"Ken?" Chikusa whispered, almost too softly for even Ken to hear.
The blonds gaze flickered to him for a moment before going back to observing their surroundings, bathed in the golden-orange sunlight of evening.
"Chikusa, when I tell you, get up and run out of this alley that way," Ken jerked his head in the direction opposite of where they came, "I'll be right behind you. Run as fast as you can and don't stop for anything. Do you understand?"
Chikusa nodded, tensing. A few more seconds passed before Ken hissed under his breath, "Now!"
Chikusa leapt to his feet, but he had barely started running when Ken gave him a hard shove, giving him more momentum. He sped down the alleyway and was soon out on the street.
He stayed close to the buildings as he could and then glanced behind him to see how Ken was faring.
His heart practically stopped and he skidded to a halt when he realized Ken wasn't there.
A wave of sickness washed over the raven, but he pushed down the bile that had begun to rise in his throat and instead pounded back the way he had come.
Ken barely knew what hit him. He had just given Chikusa a push, one with so much force that he was actually knocked back a couple of steps from the effort.
That was when the metal collar clamped shut around his neck. Someone jerked backwards on the attached chain and Ken crashed to the ground, gasping for breath.
The chain rattled and a girlish giggle sounded behind him. "Teeheehee~! Great job Mukuro-kun~! You got him~!"
"Kufufu, no effort whatsoever." Ken gasped at the second voice and jerked his head around.
His eyes were met with MM, her plump lips curved upward into a nasty sneer, "Ha~! Stupid animal! Poor baby, did you think you could really get away that easily~?"
But it was the man next to her that made Ken's blood turn to ice.
Tall and lithe, navy blue hair in a ponytail with a shorter fringe sticking up from the back, mismatched blue and red eyes, a cruel smirk. He was the one who held the chain.
Ken's mouth went dry with fear, but if he though he was scared right then, he had another thing coming.
Chikusa suddenly ran back through the alley and Ken couldn't help the scream that tore itself from his throat. "NO!"
Chikusa completely ignored MM, instead choosing to slam into the man holding the chain of the collar, knocking his temporarily off balance.
As soon as he had it back, however, the bluette delivered a vicious blow to the side of Chikusa's head, the force of it throwing Chikusa into the wall of the building behind him.
There was a sickening crack as Chikusa's head connected with the wall, and Mukuro sauntered over to his now limp body, producing a dagger from a sheath at his waist, kneeling beside the raven.
"Oya oya, what a troublesome little puttana."
He brought the dagger to Chikusa's throat and Ken saw red.
He leapt forward faster than any human ever could and sank his long canines into the wrist of the hand holding the dagger.
Mukuro screamed in agony but Ken didn't let go. He shook his head back and forth savagely, like a shark tearing apart its prey, not once loosening his grip, even with Mukuro's anguished shrieks and struggling, even when his mouth filled with flesh and blood and his teeth scraped bone.
If Ken noticed that Mukuro had dropped the chain he didn't care, because in the next moment there was the sound of multiple bones snapping and then the only noise audible was screaming.
Ken released Mukuro's mangled wrist and instead bit violently into his opposite shoulder, biting harder and harder until he was satisfied that his other arm would be rendered useless as well.
He released him permanently and shoved him across the alleyway and as far from Chikusa as he could, spitting gore from his mouth.
MM had shrieked and fled long ago, and now Mukuro followed, still howling in pain.
Ken ripped off the collar, throwing the hindrance from him, and then hovered over Chikusa, face twisted with anguish.
'Is he…? Wait! He's breathing!'
Ken turned Chikusa's head gently, choking out a sob when he saw that his hair was matted with blood.
The blond stroked Chikusa's cheek gently and whispered more to himself than anyone, "Chikusa…"
He released a sound that was a cross between a scream and a roar as the tears in his eyes spilled down his face, and he continued his horrible sound, letting the world know of his anguish.
'This is all my fault! I couldn't protect him! I promised! Oh God Chikusa, please wake up! Please don't die!'
"I LOVE YOU!" Ken shrieked, "I love you Chikusa! Please wake up!"
Ken howled like a wounded animal, but then he just slumped over, burying his face in Chikusa's shoulder and sobbing.
His voice was soft and weak, but Ken's head immediately jerked up at the sound.
He leaned closer to Chikusa and whimpered, "Oh my God, Chikusa! Hold on, I'm going to get you somewhere safe!"
Before he could pull away though, Chikusa, by some inhuman feat, leaned up and captured his lips in a gentle embrace.
Ken stood stock-still as Chikusa kissed him, paying no mind to the blood on his lips. With that last thought, Ken pulled away as the raven relaxed once more onto the ground and whispered with a smile, "I love you too, you know."
Ken shook his head, "No…you don't…You didn't see what I did to…him…I'm nothing but a monster…no one could love me…" Ken whispered.
Chikusa sighed, "Whatever you did, you did it to protect me."
"You don't know that…"
"I do. I trust you, and I know enough to know that you would never hurt me. You said- no, you screamed that you loved me. Why would you do that if you really didn't? The whole damn world can turn around and call me whatever they want, they can call you an animal and a monster, but you won't be to me. Because I love you, and you will always be human to me…"
Ken almost completely choked on his tears.
He bent his head and gently nuzzled Chikusa, whispering shakily, "I don't know what to say…"
Chikusa smiled, wincing slightly. "You can say that you love me again?"
Ken pressed closer to him, "I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you! I'll always love you, no matter what, even if you hate me! Just hang on, you're going to be okay, I won't let you die!"
Chikusa weakly gripped Ken's hand, "I know you won't. I won't ever hate you, I love you too much." He smiled and closed his eyes, and Ken gently picked him up bridal-style, cradling him close to his body.
Ken kissed his forehead, "I'll always protect you. I hope you can forgive me this time. I'll never let you get hurt ever again. I'm going to have to run, but tell me if you want to stop."
Chikusa nodded, actually smiling, "Okay, where are we going?"
Ken choked back his tears, and instead smiled genuinely down at Chikusa, "I don't know, but wherever it is, we'll be together."
Chikusa smiled and closed his eyes, and Ken ran.
Oh my goodness this has taken me foreeeeeeever to write! I kinda lost my inspiration for it halfway through, but then it suddenly came back a couple months later and I finished it in one night! XD I know it can seem a little weird, but I hope it is liked nonetheless :) Read and review please!