Chapter 2: Turning Saints Into the Sea
Chapter 3: Did You Fall for a Shooting Star?
Daisuke ran towards the far end of the compound, each breath breaking harshly, but not because of his pace. His mind raced. What had Miyako meant when she had said it was Takeru? Not that, Daisuke was quick to assure himself. Takeru had promised; a solemn promise. And a promise meant something, right? It had to. It was the only way the world would, could continue to make sense.
Still, Daisuke could feel the fear churning in his stomach, driving his legs to push harder. Try as he might, Daisuke could see Takeru’s promises for what they were. Silly idealism in a world chock full of cold reality. Reality that all-too-often felt the need to exert its dominance over the world’s would-be optimistics.
Daisuke rounded the final corner only to let out a yelp as he nearly collided with Takenouchi. The older girl immediately wrapped strong arms around him, stilling any further forward motion even as she pulled Daisuke close against herself.
“Stop it, Daisuke,” she insisted, whispering close to his ear even as she held him tight, “It’s okay. Just stop.” Only slowly did he come to realize that he was fighting, clawing really, against her hold. “Stop it,” she repeated, smiling down on Daisuke as she felt his body relax, the wild, almost animalistic hostility of just moments before calming and then ceasing, “Everything’s okay.”
“Jesus!” Miyako came up from behind them both, hands dropping to bent knees even as she struggled to catch her breath, “The kid can run,” she informed Takenouchi between gasping breaths. Takenouchi frowned at the long haired girl before turning her attention back to Daisuke.
“Okay?” she asked, a soothing, almost motherly hand rubbing gentle circles over Daisuke’s back. Daisuke did not answer, could not answer, focused as he was on remaining upright on suddenly wobbly legs, unsure though he was as to if their new onset instability was due to his recent exertion or his even more recent relief. Only when he was certain that he could stand on his own did Daisuke untangle himself from Takenouchi’s comforting embrace, stepping back and shooting Miyako an ugly look in the process. It was a good thing he was not expecting any apologies because all he got for his anger was mystified shrug.
Rolling his eyes in return, he turned back to the more reliable Takenouchi, offering only a single name as his question, “Takeru?”
“There’s nothing to worry about,” she was quick to assure him, “Not really anyway.” Takenouchi smiled in the hopes that it would cover her small retraction. “He and Ken were...” Takenouchi trailed off as she considered her words carefully, “He and Ken were, are just being he and Ken. But everything’s fine. Mimi already went to find Ichijouji-sama. And, regardless, I think things have finally settled down.” Both Takenouchi and Miyako glanced towards the door behind them momentarily before sharing a shrug, “Things have gotten pretty quiet.”
Now, if only quiet meant good. If only Daisuke could bring himself to believe that quiet meant good. But Daisuke’s experience seemed to suggest that quiet rarely, if ever, meant good. Quiet only served to cover things up. In all honesty, Daisuke despised quiet with every fiber of his being.
“But Takeru’s okay,” Daisuke felt the need to confirm.
“Well, yeah,” this time Miyako answered, “Why wouldn’t he be?” All she got for an answer was another dirty look. “What?” Miyako demanded, “I never said he wasn’t!”
Daisuke rolled his eyes yet again, “Whatever,” he shook his head as if he figured that it was useless to even try and explain anything to the long haired girl. He ignored the muttered, “Whatever,” that was her response.
“I’m going in there.” Surely if he said it with enough authority, even Takenouchi would not question him.
“Uh-uh. Nope.” Takenouchi grabbed his arm and jerked him back in her direction, “This has nothing to do with you,” she ignored the withering look Daisuke shot in her direction, “You know what I mean,” she complained.
“Someone has to go in there,” Daisuke rationalized, still tugging ineffectively at her grip.
“Not you,” came the simple answer. Takenouchi was not even looking at him. -Instead her eyes were watching the figure making its way down the hall. Even from a distance, the person was easily identifiable from the eerie way the setting sun glinted off the large frames he wore.
Ichijouji Osamu, the sixth oyabun of the Tokeisou-gumi strode by the three subordinates in the hall without so much as a glance, disappearing into the room in question with no sound other than the slamming of its door.
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Yamato glanced about the room as well as he could, it’s angles appearing askew from where he laid against the rough tatami mats.
“God-damn it,” he sighed. Twelve years of school, three years at university and that really was all he could muster for a first thought.
“God-damn it.” Or a second, for that matter. Yamato struggled up to his knees for what felt like the umpteenth time that day. The least the little bastard could have done was untie me, he thought dryly, tugging at the rope still firmly secured around his wrists. Yamato scooted across the room on his knees, garnering himself more of a mat burn than anything else, but eventually succeeding in making it the few meters to the closest wall, where, with the wall acting as support, he was able to finally push himself to his feet. It was only then, however, standing braced-legged as he was, but by his own effort for the first time in much too long a time, that he realized that his long dead feet were coming back alive via an excruciating case of pins and needles.
“God-damn it!” Despite what his stepmother would say, continuing to repeat it really did make him feel better. Yamato stood perfectly still for as long as he dared, hoping to overcome the painful sensation before his knees gave out from the effort of maintaining the awkward position and he ended back up in a pile on the floor.
After what seemed like an eternity, the feeling slowly began to fade to a slightly more bearable level. Yamato carefully shifted his weight, first to one foot then to the other. It was not pleasant, no, but it was workable. He straightened his body to stand a little taller, tossing loose hair away from his eyes with an impatient shake of his head. The room that the boy, Minamoto, had all but tossed him into appeared nice enough—cleaner than most anywhere else Yamato had stayed recently and with a pleasant view of the currently dormant garden. Yamato paced the perimeter of the small room once before turning his mind back to the problem at hand, namely, the problem of his hands, for in addition to being small and clean, the room was also absolutely empty. There was no hope of finding something in the room that could be used to cut through his ropes. Of course, Yamato thought dryly, he could always wander out and about in search of someone to help. After all, no one had said anything about Yamato having to stay in the room and he had not heard the door lock when Minamoto had left. Still, Yamato did not quite feel up to the challenge of making new friends, just yet.
With a frustrated sigh, Yamato allowed himself to drop onto the cushions lining the seat-high alcove in front of the window. So far, it was safe to say that this was not going to plan. Yamato let out an inelegant huff at the all too obvious mental understatement.
But then, a sudden genius struck. Yamato reached back blindly to gently trace the jutting corner of the alcove with the fingers of his still tied hands. No, no, he hastened to assure the half of his brain already jumping to naysay the would-be brilliant plan, this might just work. Yamato carefully levered himself back into a standing position, forcing his arms apart as best he could in hopes of keeping the binding rope taut while placing his wrists on either side of the theoretically sharp corner. Then, bending his knees a bit he muttered the word, “One,” before straightening suddenly with an even more vocal, “Two!”
“One!” Yamato quickly repeated the process, “Two! One! Two! One! Two!” He could almost swear that the felt heat gathering in the soon to be destroyed bindings as the friction created between them and the wall wore the twiney rope away at what he was sure was its molecular level, “One! Two! One! Two!” Down, up, down, up, faster and faster Yamato moved, expecting the ties to suddenly burst apart at any moment, certain, “One—“ Yamato suddenly caught sight of the red-headed boy that he had first seen under the street lamp the previous evening, Daisuke’s body casually leaning against the now open door, only, instead of eyeing Yamato ugly as he had been before, the boy was clearly fighting the urge to collapse in gleeful laughter.
“Really now,” Daisuke began carefully, unable to stop his grin from showing even as he steadfastly refused to break eye contact with Yamato who still stood frozen in mid-crouch, “I’m pretty sure that that only works in the movies.” Daisuke could not help ending with a small chuckle.
Yamato rose slowly, cursing his pale complexion, more than certain that it was clearly airing his embarrassment at having been caught so unexpectedly.
“Come here,” Daisuke motioned with a crook of his finger in Yamato’s direction. Yamato tried not to show his surprise, but was unable to completely hide the hesitation in his step as the young boy casually pulled a switchblade out of his pocket and flicked it open. “Turn around,” Daisuke smiled at the way Yamato, despite his assumed indifference, was still unmistakably eyeing both him and the knife warily.
“Say what you will,” Yamato began, glancing over his shoulder in a pointless attempt to keep his eyes on the boy even as he turned around, “But I think that it really was working.”
“Mmm-hmm,” Daisuke uttered noncommittally as he eased his knife under the unchanged ropes and with a quick sawing motion, freed Yamato’s hands.
Before Yamato had even turned back around, Daisuke’s knife was already out of sight. “Ow,” Yamato complained as he brought his hands around, his shoulders objecting at his arm’s newfound freedom.
“Let me see,” Daisuke reached out, pulling Yamato’s hands toward himself, Daisuke’s eyes focusing solely on the harsh, red marks left by the rope before Yamato even had a chance to protest his mistake. After a moment’s scrutiny, Daisuke let out a soft hum, running his thumb lightly over one of the marks. Yamato drew back at the unexpected touch, only to have Daisuke jerk Yamato’s wrists closer to his own eyes with even more force, pulling the taller man off balance and causing him to stumble forward a half step.
“Geeze,” Daisuke complained, studying the burn with a nearly palpable sense of annoyance, “I don’t know what you did, but Minamoto really doesn’t like you.”
Yamato shrugged, more flustered by the too-close inspection than by any real soreness in his wrists, “It was the girl that tied me up,” he admitted, almost immediately regretting the humiliating disclosure when he noticed Daisuke’s look of surprise.
“Really? Miyako?” Daisuke asked, dropping one of Yamato’s hands to lay cool fingers against the burn on the opposite wrist. Yamato only shrugged, refusing to make eye contact—something that made Daisuke want to needle him even further, “Pansy.”
“What—“ Yamato began brokenly, running his free hand through his hair in frustration, “It wasn’t really like…” he paused, only then observing Daisuke’s teasing smile, “...that,” he finished half heartedly with a sigh, noticing for the first time the swollen mark on Daisuke's face.
It wasn't until he felt Daisuke impatiently knock his hand away that he realized he had reached up to run the fingers of his free hand over the sore looking mark. Daisuke took a step back dropping Yamato's arm in the process. He frowned at Yamato before calling over his shoulder in what seemed entirely too playful a tone of voice for the amount of anger in his eyes, “Hear that Miyako?” Daisuke left Yamato standing in the middle of the room, ignoring him even as he side-stepped him on his way over towards the window.
“Well, it’s not as if I did it specifically to hurt you,” Miyako groused, surprising Yamato by her sudden appearance in the doorway, white medical chest clutched against her body. Miyako walked into the room and dropped to the floor with a graceless whump before opening up the chest to better riffle through its contents. After a few seconds, she looked up to where Yamato still stood, something akin to utter horror plastered on his face, and motioned rather impatiently for him to join her. Yamato did is best to ignore Daisuke's mirthless chuckle as he nearly tripped over his own feet in his haste to obey the younger woman.
“Closer,” Miyako insisted before Yamato had really even had the chance to sit. As soon as he was within arm’s reach, she grasped his chin, with frown, “This one you can’t blame on me,” she complained, dousing a wad of cotton with more antiseptic than was no doubt necessary and pressing the dripping pad against Yamato’s chin, ignoring his wince. “Hold it there,” she insisted, pulling one of Yamato’s own hands up from his lap to press the cotton against his chin before demanding, “Other hand.”
“Is this really necessary?” Yamato asked, motioning to his chin with his free hand just before Miyako snagged it mid-movement with a frown.
“No one asked for your opinion,” she informed him, laying his free hand on her lap before dousing another bit of cotton and starting to dab that around the rawer edges of the rope burns in what Yamato thought might be her attempt at gentleness. It was not working.
“Ow! That really—“ Yamato began, but with just one raised eyebrow from Miyako, he thought better of it and snapped his mouth shut.
Daisuke shook his head at the little scene playing out on the floor in front of him. Three minutes worth of Miyako's first aid and the older man was already about to cry. Something about the situation actually made Daisuke genuinely want to laugh.
“Careful now,” Daisuke could not help but tease mercilessly, “You wouldn’t want her to hurt you," Daisuke smiled as Yamato's eyes swung in his direction, "again.” Daisuke had to bite his lip to keep from laughing at Yamato's frustrated growl.
“Daisuke!” Miyako reprimanded, bringing Yamato’s head back around with a hand on either side of his face, “Enough!” she hissed over the blond man’s shoulder. Daisuke offered a quick surrender, raising both hands in mock defeat even as he winked in Miyako's direction. That was enough to bring Miyako’s attention to the papers gripped in his left hand.
“What’s that?” Miyako fired directly, nodding in the directed of the papers in question. Daisuke’s eyes darted to the pages in his hand, seemingly surprised at having found himself holding them. He laid the pages on his lap, smoothing them out gently before folding them and easing them into his front hip pocket with a shrug.
Well?” Miyako demanded.
Daisuke allowed his eyes to roll, "None of your business." His tone was light, but something about the way Daisuke refused to actually look her in the eyes bothered Miyako.
"Daisuke!" her exasperated tone seemed to suggest that this was a conversation they had had in the past, many times. Daisuke allowed his head to loll back on his shoulders momentarily before snapping it back up to glare at Miyako through the reflection in the glass.
"None of your business." he enunciated the repeated words carefully, heavily, suggesting he thought that she had not understood the first time.
"Fine." Clearly Miyako was not the least bit fazed by Daisuke’s tone or his oft-mercurial moods, taking them instead as a challenge. She stood suddenly from where she had been sitting in front of Yamato, going so far as to actually take a threatening step in Daisuke's direction. But even she stopped when Daisuke turned from the window, pinning her with a cold dead glare.
Yamato felt himself shudder at Daisuke's tone. Even Miyako, who only moments before had seemed so ready to do just about anything to satisfy her curiosity, even if it meant actually prying the papers in question from Daisuke's hands stopped where she stood, looking away as she let out a worn sigh.
"Fine," she finally seemed to agree, sitting back down. “Whatever.” She gestured flippantly in Daisuke’s direction before reaching again for Yamato's arm, ignoring the all too obvious questions in Yamato’s eyes, but glancing every so often over his shoulder to where she could still make out Daisuke's blank expression eerily ghosting back at her through the window glass.
“Whatever.” Daisuke repeated her own statement back at her a long minute later, his voice dry and uninterested, but something approaching life finally returning to his eyes. “Look, I’ll take care of this,” he motioned to where Yamato still sat, Miyako's attempt at first aid still not much beyond the disinfection stage, "Okay?”
Miyako muttered something that, to Yamato’s ears anyway, sounded like it would be painful but otherwise, did not argue. She threw the cotton ball she had been squeezing in her fist in the bottom of the first aid kit with an annoyed grunt.
"Like you know anything about first aid," Miyako complained as Daisuke stood and walked over to where she was still sitting.
“I know plenty,” Daisuke allowed his face to relax into a small smile that felt gentle, but, nevertheless, did not quite reach his eyes, “You don’t get to be as klutzy as I am without picking up a thing here or there.” Miyako gave a half-hearted huff but still shook her head at the self-depreciating remark.
“Fine,” she eventually conceded, “Have it your way,” she stood, looking down at the blond head in front of her and muttering, “stupid idiot,” before patting Yamato on the head, much as one would a pet dog, “Don’t let him pick on you too much,” she warned, smiling at the soulful eyes turned up at her in surprise at the almost friendly gesture. Apparently Yamato was not convinced that it was safe to talk yet. Miyako chuckled shortly and gave Yamato another comforting pat before walking over to the door. Just at the door’s edge, she turned, and trying one last time, called softly, “Daisuke?” but the boy was clearly not listening, his eyes focused once more on the papers he had pulled back out and started re-reading even as he stood behind Yamato. With an aggravated scowl, Miyako slid the door open, slipping through gracefully before slamming it shut with as much force as she could muster.
Yamato jumped, visibly spooked by the sudden concussive force that seemed to vibrate throughout the small room despite the fact that he had watched Miyako’s movements closely from the moment that he had first heard her call Daisuke’s name in such a pained tone. For his part, if Daisuke had noticed her calling him, or even that she had slammed the door shut, he certainly showed no outward signs. But after several long minutes, Yamato heard him sigh circling around to where Yamato still sat, facing the front of the room. There, Daisuke paused to study Yamato, his eyes focusing on Yamato’s right hand still holding antiseptic soaked cotton to his chin where Miyako had left it, as small smile playing about Daisuke’s lips.
Shaking his head, Daisuke gently reached out to bat the hand away from Yamato’s face. “Really,” he complained, “You blonds are all such fucking idiots.” Yamato frowned. There was something about that phrase that rang painfully familiar. “She was the one that was bullying you, you know,” Yamato was informed, “You really didn’t have to play along.” With that, Daisuke tossed the loose papers he had been holding onto Yamato’s lap and sat down in front of him with a, “Humph.”
Yamato glanced down at his knees. It did not take him long to realize that the papers Daisuke and Miyako had been arguing over just moments before where none other than the letter that Takeru had written to him. “Where did you get that?” Yamato growled, anger breaking through his better senses to color his words dark.
Daisuke smiled at the fighting tone, a real smile, “Your pocket,” he answered honestly with a shrug. “I don’t know who’s dumber," he posited, “Takeru—for mailing it. Or you—for actually bringing it with you.” Daisuke feigned a put upon sigh. “Like I said: you blonds—“
“Yeah, yeah,” Yamato cut him off impatiently, “I know.” Daisuke could not help his light chuckle, taking Yamato’s well sanitized chin in hand carefully and quickly dabbing on some greasy ointment.
“You want a band-aid?” Daisuke questioned seconds later, holding up the thin plastic strip as he motioned toward Yamato's scrape.
“No thanks,” Yamato frowned.
Daisuke shrugged at the grumpy tone, “Good call,” he praised, “Wrist?” Yamato rested one arm in Daisuke’s waiting hand, watching Daisuke work swiftly, ending the job neatly in mere minutes with a clean white bandage. Yamato barely had time to admire the handy work before he was assaulted with the impatient command, “Other one.”
Yamato placed his arm on the proffered hand, “About that letter…” he began carefully.
“Listen,” Daisuke stated plainly, cutting off the explanation Yamato had yet to even fully form in his mind, “I can tell you honestly that the only smart thing to do would be to destroy that,” he gave a pointed look to the letter still sitting in Yamato’s lap, “But seeing as you are related to him I doubt you’re even capable of listening to reason.” Daisuke frowned at the way Yamato’s face all but immediately morphed into a mask that Daisuke knew far too well would mean that he would receive nothing but stubborn refusal.
“I can’t destroy it,” Yamato protested quickly with vehemence. Annoyed by Yamato’s dismissive tone, Daisuke muttered something unintelligible under his breath, pulling the bandage he was wrapping a little tighter than was entirely necessary. Yamato flinched, but otherwise did not risk further angering the boy with a comment.
“Give it to me, then,” Daisuke finally offered with a sigh after several long moments had passed. Daisuke pushed himself back from where he sat and began to replace the contents of the small medicine chest, doing his best not to openly watch Yamato as the blond man studied the letter in his lap, fingering it carefully as he considered the offer.
“Look,” Daisuke explained, clearly exasperated at Yamato's hesitance, “What makes you think you’re going to have any better luck holding on to that thing than you’ve already had?” he paused, waiting for an answer Yamato could not seem to find, “Truth is that there’s nothing in there that I don’t already know,” Daisuke paused again, running a frustrated hand though his hair, “But that might not be the case with the next guy. Understand?” he finished carefully.
“But—“ Yamato still did not seem convinced.
“God-damn it!” Daisuke’s sudden outburst spooked Yamato. He clearly had not expected that, or the way that Daisuke’s fist pounding the tatami would make it jump. “Why’d you even send that fucking thing?” Daisuke demanded, pausing shortly before brushing off some inaudible response with a flick of his wrist, “No. Because you’re a fucking idiot, that’s why.” Daisuke bounded suddenly to his feet, stalking off towards the far window, “Oh really?” he spoke again, only seconds later, “And what did you think he was going to do with it?”
“Umm,” Yamato began carefully, “Daisuke-kun?” It did not quite seem right to be calling the younger man by his given name, but Yamato did not know what other name to use, “wha—“
Yamato stopped mid phrase, startled by the wild look he saw as his eyes locked with Daisuke’s, but even more startled by the way the sudden visual contact seemed to overwhelm the boy, his slighter body crumpling against the window frame, his breath coming only in pained gasps.
“Jesus!” Yamato rushed across the room at Daisuke’s too-sudden collapse, pulling the boy up and onto the window seat, demanding, “What’s all this about? Huh?” Daisuke continued to fight for his breath, drawing his knees up close to his chest and refusing to so much as glance at Yamato who was still using his weight to keep Daisuke pinned to the bench. “You want the letter?” Yamato questioned, desperate for a solution to Daisuke’s sudden attack. He looked across the room to where the letter had fallen to the floor when he had jumped up from where they had been sitting. “Stay here,” he insisted, pressing Daisuke’s shoulders in a reaffirming squeeze, “Just stay here.” Yamato dashed across the short distance, snatching up the letter and hurrying it back to Daisuke, shoving it expectantly just under Daisuke’s nose.
Daisuke stared at the anxiously held out sheaf of papers with an entirely mirthless smile. He seemed to hesitate, his hand hovering a few inches away from the letter until just as Yamato was about to give up and pull it back, at which point Daisuke’s hand suddenly snaked out to snag it, folding it carefully in quarters before shoving it deeply into his front pants’ pocket. “Damn,” he complained to the seemingly empty room behind Yamato, his soft voice raw and his breath still coming in short and raspy gasps, “Now even he thinks I’m crazy.”
Yamato ignored the all-too-obvious insinuation, opting instead to thread a hand through Daisuke’s hair, pulling the still seated boy forward to lean against himself in what he hoped was a comforting, if awkward manner. Yamato sighed with relief a moment later when he felt the boy’s arms move to wrap loosely around his middle, the stiffness in Daisuke’s neck and shoulders relaxing as his head came to rest against Yamato’s chest by its own accord.
“You know,” Yamato admitted softly, taking care not to startle the boy as he tried to run his free hand through Daisuke’s hair in what he hoped was a slow and soothing motion, “You probably won’t believe this, but…” Yamato broke with instincts to hug the boy a little tighter, smiling when he wasn’t pushed away. “Somehow, you kind of remind me of my brother.” Yamato couldn’t help the bitter chuckle and pained smile that forced themselves free, offering his penance instead with another quick squeeze. He felt the boy release a gusty sigh, his shoulders slumping even further forward as his head shook slowly back and forth.
“God,” Daisuke muttered softly to himself.
Such a fucking blond.
Daisuke sighed again at the all-too-painfully obvious statement, “You’re telling me?” Daisuke whispered, his tone fatigued, his eyes darting a quick glance askance to the right.
Apparently even he did not have an answer for that. Sure. Whatever. Daisuke rolled his eyes, gently pushing the taller boy away with an annoyed shake of his head, offering only a slightly aggravated look as explanation to the wordlessly questioning Yamato, who insisted on hovering near him with a vague, sort of mother hen-ish persistence. Daisuke fought the urge to groan. And just how was this supposed to work, his heart begged, the stabbing pain worsening as he once again inadvertently caught sight of those bright blue eyes.
A ghostly sigh seemed to pass through the otherwise still room. God-damn fucking idiot, it complained, a soft hint of worry coloring the otherwise harsh sentiment.