801rabu: (fic)
[personal profile] 801rabu

Title: MONSTER
Pairing: Ohno/Nino
Rating: M
Genre: Taisho Era AU, drama, angst, romance.
Chapter: 5/5
Word Count: ~8700
Disclaimer: Dudes belong to old geezer Jani, apparently.
Summary: It was just a futile attempt to go on.

Notes: Writing this fic has been a field trip to hell at times. Don’t get me wrong, I’m really invested in this story, and have been writing snippets in millions of paper pieces, phone notes and word documents. But since my English is hardly fluent, giving shape to such a story becomes soooo tiring. Legit, sometimes I’ve spent more than ten minutes debating on which adjective to use (GOD BLESS THESAURUS YAS), and I still haven’t settled for one. But! I’m finally DONE +_+

For any of those still waiting for this real final chapter to be posted, I can only offer you my sincere apologies for being so slow, and my eternal gratitude too of course. The feedback received has been invaluable, and I really hope the end of this fic can make up for the time you’ve been supporting it. Thank you for your comments guys T___T  Also, sorry for addressing chap IV as the last one, I really needed that tragic ending to be left imprinted in the readers’ poor soul for a while before continuing with the story. I never intended for the update to take months to be written, so again, forgive my laziness.



CHAPTER V

If I’m reborn,

I’ll search for you again

*

May, 12th year of Taisho Era (1923)



He’s surrounded by stark, unyielding darkness.

Thick smoke clogs his lungs, threatening to make every breath the last while swirling flames deplete all around him. He glances down then, at his own frayed body, shielded by no clothes at all. A ray of light draws his attention away from his naked form, the sun filtering into the nebulous basement. It happens in the blink of an eye - his limbs cover in fur, his shape changes into something heinous.

Scared, Kazunari looks up, glances at the window again, looking for the shining, the hope. But the all he finds is a shadow clouding it, a horrid image of Satoshi perching against the glass from outside. He’s wounded, covered in blood. His frame obscures the sunlight, brings night upon him. Same old words are spoken.   

I’ll search for you.



He wakes up, disoriented for only a short breath. Distress placates immediately, a wrecking void displacing any other feeling in seconds.

It was the same all over, he should be used to it already. Each time he lay in bed and was lucky enough to catch some sleep, it was only to bring it back. To make him unable to forget about the day he escaped death.

The day he lost him.


*

Surviving is not always prevailing. For life can become something not worth preserving once the important things are gone.

But apparently, it is possible to continue, even if it means performing a blank life, an existence of no value at all. People can go on as wind-up toys, mimicking tin soldiers that seem to be kindled with actual life.

Kazunari felt literally dead though, always hiding from any meaningful contact with any other human being just to spare them the trouble of dealing with a man so broken. Eating sporadically and out of sheer will, maintaining some hygiene only out of habit and in deference to those he crossed paths with. Feeding himself with chemical compounds that would help him sleep, yet ironically, only to be faced with that same torture in dreams.

Oniric images that embodied his crushing feelings of guilt, night after night. Remnants of the fateful morning when he dared hide in the old manor cellar and conserve his sorry, worthless existence.

The dense smoke seemed instilled in his lungs since then, every breath he took reminding him of that day. Months ago though, in those minutes where he thought he would burn along with the building, there was no Satoshi -no Mujina- looking at him thought the window. Instead, he haunted Kazunari in those infernal dreams, chased after him to make him remember what a coward he’d been.

He had promised Satoshi, together or else. He regarded the dreams as a fair punishment for deciding to survive, but when the burden of his unfulfilled vow loomed over him, he could only laugh at the absurdity of it all. He’d failed the only one who had ever loved him to end up living for the sake of it, as a man with no future or goal whatsoever, witness of how time slipped between his barren hands.

He left the sweat-drenched sheets and started a new, pointless day. A replica of the previous and never different from the next, just as everything had been before Minamata. He was back in the city where he was born, the place that would likely see him die after long and meaningless years. Yet, it all seemed foreign to Kazunari, as if he had never belonged there to begin with.

He tried to clear his mind going through the usual morning routine, flee from the depression that devoured his mind by putting on fresh clothes, grooming his hair and preparing a breakfast of sorts. He sipped from a bitter cup of coffee, turned the radio dial to some music station, pretended to be a normal guy with a functional life. But he was not, and the tepid beverage just tasted like ashes. Ashes from which nothing will be re-born. He made that pun on Satoshi’s name now and then. Just to dig into his pain, he supposed.

The cigarette he lit then didn’t sweeten his palate. It was a cheap brand and stood crooked between his lips, the lousy packaging it came from bended into a deformed rumple in the pocket of his pants. It was a nasty flavor, and he endured the taste of each drag just to spite himself, to fill his body with crap to conceal how empty it actually was, to destroy it with outer pollutants that felt better than his own inner poison. Those incessant thoughts and regrets that were dragging him into a bottomless hole, and at times, made him question his ability to discern dream and melancholy from reality.

Because some days… it felt like he were back in the cellar again.


*

Kazunari only has an old yukata on him, the one he usually wore for farming. He couldn’t grab anything else in his dash to the basement. The fire in the upper floors is so intense he cannot see a thing through the narrow windows. Condensed smoke sips down the old frames, turning the air heavy and toxic. The vicious fog sticks to his lungs despite how hard he tries to expel it by coughing, his rib cage burning with each infected breath he takes.

He grabs a ragged comforter from the floor, discarded from the first cleansing he had done, and takes cover underneath it in a sorry attempt to make his breathing easier. He hears the distinct sound of a window glass shattering before he passes out.

When he regains consciousness he is both surprised and disappointed of being alive. As it seems, the windows that had broken under the high temperature of the fire in the first floor had allowed a current of fresh air into the underground quarters, somehow dispelling part of the smoke accumulated around him.

Once assured all villagers had left the place, he takes refuge in the nearby woods. Still limping from the previous night – which seemed so, so far away now- he walks aimlessly. Without an obi sash to hold the precarious yukata robe together, with no footwear at all, he wanders, hoping to get somewhere, anywhere. Always wary, least he be busted by any Minamata habitant he might cross in the forest.

Eventually he makes it to another little village surrounded by lush hills, somewhere where they couldn’t know a thing about him. He’s given more suitable clothes and even a job as laborer for the upcoming harvest, all of it after delivering a very disconsolate yet fake story about having been robbed by some rascals.

With the little money he got from them, he returns to Tokyo. Since the failed reconstruction of the hotel had left him penniless, he gets rid of the family residence with no regrets. With the amount he collects Kazunari rents a rather ordinary apartment instead. And just like that, settled in a working class neighborhood in the suburban area of the city, he tries to go on.


*

But the pain had only grown with time, and many nights he cried till exhaustion. He uttered no sobs anymore, there was no ravaging despair like at the beginning, just silent and monotonous tears that soiled his face in salt each and every night.

It’s said that once you run out of tears the world starts spinning again. But his sorrow hadn’t diminished a single bit so far, and even if those eroding droplets were to stop someday, he was certain he wouldn’t be able to carry on. Maybe because mourning was the only way in which he could hold onto Satoshi’s memory.

Since the day Satoshi had left his world, one only affliction had tormented him. The knowledge of being utter trash, a disgrace of a man unable to commit to his own stated goal and join his one and only love in the afterlife. It was rather pathetic, but he just lacked the backbone to bring forth his own demise. He had considered taking way too many pills, bleeding to death in the bath or jumping to the rails. But he just couldn’t. And somehow, he deemed this incapability a rightful punishment, for it provided him with uncountable ways of self-deprecation.

It had all been his fault, and his life revolved around that very truth, constantly twisting his thoughts and making his existence a hell. He would let himself rot along with their ill-fated love, just because that’s what he deserved for luring Satoshi into him.


*

Ready to face the alien world he lived in, Kazunari left his apartment, his demeanor unenthusiastic. As soon as he reached the end of the hallway, he couldn’t but squint at the omnipresent spring sun, it’s blinding light reflecting in the low buildings, the lustrous imported cars, the recently constructed asphalt road. He often chose to keep the binds of his house down, another manifestation of his inner misery, and stepping outside his cave was similar to a lashing. Steadfast fingers had just lowered the wing of his flat hat when a voice rose from inside the building.

“Ninomiya-san!” called his landlady, unusually distressed. “I don’t intent to pry into your affairs but…”

Kazunari frowned slightly. Ueda-san didn’t belong to that kind of nosy proprietors who spent their lives feeding on the drama of their tenants. She was an austere - if not a bit too harsh - middle aged woman who fancied no chit chatting, which had been the main reason for him to decide moving there. Her current troubled tone was, at least, uncanny.

“There was this… man, here tonight, asking for you.”

That was beyond uncanny. In fact, it was absolutely ludicrous. Kazunari had done all in his hands to erase all trace of his past. He had created a new, blank life here, with no ties with who he had been till then. He had detached himself from the world, he needed no one, and fairly enough, no one needed him. So why would anyone come ask for him, who existed not?

“I would have let him in… but you see… it’s not in my place to judge people yet his- his appearance, Ninomiya-san… he was clearly not a decent man. Those marks he wore must be the result of an ungodly lifestyle. Only trouble can arise from dealing with such people.”

The way she described it, it looked like some felon had come by. He felt a familiar terror rising up his spine. There might still be someone willing to get vengeance on his family, someone who had been capable of finding him despite his efforts. Maybe they had hired a hitman, a low-life punk to erase the last Noguchi alive.

“He claimed to be a childhood friend of yours, from… yes, from Minamata he said”. Kazunari’s stomach dropped violently. The shock almost made his head spin. “But I remember you saying your hometown was near Osaka right?” He nodded faintly, the once innocent lie now making him feel so phony.

“I found him so unsettling Ninomiya-san, couldn’t let such a hideous man in my house, you see, his features… he looked like one of those abject troublemakers that are plaguing our streets, and besides, Kyushu island is known for giving birth to many men who belong to those organizations, isn’t that right?”

Kazunari was not listening anymore. He had understood it wasn’t the Noguchi but him, Kazunari, who they were searching for. He should have known, life had already taught him that as hard as he tried to hide his former self, run away from it, the past would eventually catch him. And from what it looked like, Minamata had just reached his door. The guy asking for him was probably one of the disfigured habitants. The reason for his visit would be, obviously, to take care of what they had left unfinished.

It hadn’t been enough for them, to take Satoshi’s life. If he was the one who changed into a monster, it was actually them who had one dwelling inside. Sometimes he’d played with the idea of stopping such farce of a life to return to Minamata and take as many lives as he could himself, ugly bile of revenge burning in his entrails. But then, he would remember what a boneless man he was, his murderous fantasies fading into nothing.

“I told him, politely, that there was no one by your name here. I wish not to invade my tenants’ privacy, but I need to know he won’t be around, ever again.”

She continued with her Yakuza-wary rambling, but Kazunari just wanted this conversation to end as soon and smoothly as possible, before the terror that had taken hold of him became visible in his features.

“I frequent no such company, you can be assured. It must have been a mistake”, he said with a tight smile that did not fool the wise woman. With a bow, he continued down the street, her eyes still drilling a hole into his back.

It would have been nice, if only he himself could buy those words he’d just blurted. Old tremors came back, along with the feeling of being reduced to some animal that had to be hunted. He could feel them around, aware that he had survived, hiding in the dark and waiting for their chance. Maybe he would soon end like his father, bleeding to death in a Tokyo alley.

Yet, for an instant his fear subsided, replaced by the usual lethargy of defeat. Might they success in their goal, he would not be afflicted. At least they would finally end with what he had not the guts to.


*

The tram had left him at the gates of a shabby looking building. Kazunari was employed at the lab of a nameless chemical supplies factory. His section developed domestic detergents, perfumes, bath scents and such. It was easily the most undemanding and tame job a man could ask for. Suited him fine.

The little contact he bothered engage in with his coworkers was cold and businesslike. He didn’t meddle in their idle chat, nor did he comment on his or their life, ever. So far he’d succeeded in refusing the customary after work drink too, many times. The people at the laboratory didn’t precisely fancy him, and he considered it a well done job.

Sometimes he wondered at his misanthropic behavior though. He went to such lengths, behaved in such an unnecessary shutdown fashion that it made him feel ridiculous, as if he were in a contest on what else he could devise to be cast away. Most of those men must have thought he was out of his mind. They were probably not so wrong.


*


Night had fallen again over the jammed streets. The city never seemed to rest, Kazunari observed, just like himself. Trails of cigarette danced around the tiny room, the bulb of a dull lamp making the flowing cloud barely visible. Sprawled in his futon like a lifeless doll, Kazunari lay as if suspended in time, waiting for dawn to come –wishing for it to never arrive, alternately.

The pattern never ceased to repeat. Hot teardrops that couldn’t warm his heart gushed nonstop, but they were empty, lacking any significance after so many nights of grieving. Still, that was the only proof he needed, the demonstration that no matter how long he lived, he would never recover from such infinite loss.

Satoshi had never really been his. Well, perhaps he had, for a confusing, lust driven night. Nevertheless, he still missed him so much.

The full moon was back again in the sky, but he didn’t bother look at it. The memories it brought were better left untouched. Even so, he perceived a blurry but familiar silhouette out of the corner of his eye.

He had dreamt of it before, imagined the scenario so many times his mind sometimes began to believe it true. That one day, as if brought back by sublime forces, Satoshi would materialize and knock from outside the glass. That he would come back to his side.

Run away. I’ll search for you.

Satoshi’s last words sank into his already mutilated heart. The memories always managed to dig a bit further, sharp enough still to slice into what little was left of him. It came as no surprise that he conjured those mirages, those ensnaring delusions fruit of a strained mind. He certainly expected to go completely nuts one day, if only to spare him all of that persistent and futile hope.

The illusion veiling the moon’s light turned crisper, its confines more defined, more tangible. It was a remembrance of the night he first saw him, when Satoshi startled him in the middle of his sleep, eyes boring into his form from outside the balcony. He still possessed the nonchalance to snort at the sight of such vision - how much easier would it have been if Satoshi, or the Mujina anyway, had killed him then and there.

Nails rapped at the transparent surface. It was a clear-cut sound, a deliberate, snapping thud. It halted Kazunari’s breathing for a second. He stared in full alert from then on.

The chimera wouldn’t dissipate. It always, always did before, if watched with enough scrutiny. There were times when he would stand halfway the window by the time Satoshi’s frame faded into nothingness. Left rooted to the spot, unable to react in any way, he personified the cruel display of how deranged one could become on their yearning for someone gone.

Standing on his feet, tentative steps on the tatami taking him closer to the window, he braced himself for the moment when the hallucination shall disappear, revealing that he was alone. As he had been since, as he would always be.

Light knuckles knocked twice. The figure, the man’s position was shifting, head dipping forward and into the light coming from inside. The skin bathed in unfitting, decaying contrasts. Quivering lips were half parted, a gesture of utter heartbreak in his gaze.

Kazunari stared, paralyzed. Mouth agape, stinging tears blurring his sight, a hole in his chest so vast it threatened to drain him whole.

Satoshi was in front of him. He was back.


*

Still afraid to lose him, to lose it all to another deception, his trembling hand reached for the window clasp. Kazunari opened it with outmost care, making nearly no sound at all, weary of breaking the spell. But the man in front of him was still perched outside his room, crazy eyes looking intently at him, desperately trying to convey feelings that couldn’t be shaped into actual words. Kazunari couldn’t hear those but he knew, because he felt the same.

“Sa- Sato… shi”. The last syllable got stuck in his throat, a miserable whine companion of the half uttered sound. It sprung both Satoshi’s eyes into tears, and he couldn’t stop the rampant shuddering of his chin anymore.

“Told you Kazu… I would find you.”

They were both frozen, like cold marble effigies, unable to elaborate it any further. What could possibly be said in such an entrancing situation? Eventually, Kazunari slid the window further, gesturing the other to come in. Satoshi did so in a heap, but turned his back to Kazunari once inside. Appalled at the lack of elation, Kazunari rounded him, soon to found what Satoshi would have rather kept hidden.

Satoshi had indeed saved his life, but the miracle hadn’t been handed without a cost. His left arm seemed somewhat limp, or at least unable to move as freely as before. His neck was half disfigured, a deep scar breaking the skin from throat to ear.

“When I woke up, as human again…” he tried in a mortified hush. Kazunari’s eyes were wide open, intent on Satoshi’s mouth, senses greedily absorbing the sensations each nuance of his voice provoked in him.

“There was a puddle of blood around me. I was in the woods - guess I managed to escape from them. Wasn’t able… I couldn’t even move. I spent all night lying there, certain that it would be the end. I was so weak… I fainted and awoke again… repeatedly.”

Kazunari cursed their bad timing. He had probably wandered about the same forest that day.

“Next night, I found myself in a cave. The wound was so swollen… my head wasn’t thinking straight. Next days, there was only a terrible- this huge fever clogging my mind. I saw you then, you know? ” he admits with a painful smile. “But not really. It was just the fever. But I needed to see you once again before-… before I was gone. Maybe that wish was the only thing that kept me alive.” His head was downcast, hiding all features, good or bad.

Driven by instinct, Kazunari’s hand reached for the other’s neck, his fingers aching with the need to sooth the patch of skin from which life had almost drained out once. The gesture was tender, affection written across Kazunari’s face, but Satoshi jerked away all the same. The wound didn’t throb anymore, but he was perfectly aware of how his appearance had changed, how people looked at him.

And yet, Kazunari had always been anything but conventional. Not the slightest sign of discomfort shook over him when looking at Satoshi. He tried again, askance in his eyes. Satoshi finally nodded, holding on, tense and so very still as Kazunari traced the dent with veneration, trying to no avail to heal the pain he must have suffered. Satoshi resumed his narration, the rumble of his voice travelling down Kazunari’s fingertips.

“Once I was more or less cured I started searching for you. I went back to your house. There was nothing left. I thought you among its ashes.” He took a moment to collect himself. He followed, his brow knitted in an effort to remain tough. “I kept faith. As stupid as it seemed, I devoted myself to fulfill my promise. I would search for you, no matter what.” He smiled finally, because he had proven himself right after all, Kazunari had fled the arson, he was alive and right in front of him. Satoshi had always thought him smart enough to escape from those savages.

“It was a useless task during night. I couldn’t make full use of my abilities, follow your smell… eventually I lost track of your whereabouts, even in Mujina form. Guess you had long left the village in the mountains. I… I guessed you would have returned to your place, here in the city. So I… borrowed some clothes for the trip.”

Kazunari examined his choice of stolen garments. They seemed pretty out-fashioned for the trends in Tokyo, but at least they were yōfuku, or western-like. He recalled Satoshi’s spiteful words from last summer, when he accused the other of dressing him like a buffoon.

“I sneaked into a ship by night, which was some pretty risk to take indeed. I wasn’t even sure it would take me any closer to you, or if it would make it to shore before sunset.” He grinned to himself. All the bets he’d placed along the way hadn’t been in vain.

“Sometimes, I followed the road here only to wake up further away, the Mujina roaming as it pleased. But you’re not gonna believe it… the nearer I got to Tokyo the less that happened. In fact, many nights I became human again to find the Mujina had come much closer to the city. Guess it sort of smelt you?” he said, not hiding his own bewilderment at the mere thought. It made him feel like a creepy stalker.

“My progress towards this place could only be done as a human, and even so, I’ve never been into people’s cities… searching for you was an almost absurd task for someone with my lack of skills. I rounded your family’s house during several nights till its residents caught me staring through the window. There was a young woman sitting at the dinner table. She was beautiful, classy… for a moment I thought…”

Kazunari’s chest tightened. Never. That would never have happened. He hoped Satoshi knew as much.

“I only had till dawn to run as far away as possible from the city, so that only got me a few hours to seek. Feels like I’ve walked for years in this jungle of houses, of… madness. I would ask to people that wouldn’t even look at me. Other times… I have been beaten, laughed at…” he drew a humorless cackle that dug into Kazunari’s sensitive state of mind. “This place is a mess.”

“But one day, I eavesdropped your name at a soba stand. They were badmouthing about some creep called Ninomiya. The things they said… it suited your personality quite well.”

“It’s not something I have earned without dedication. Glad to know those morons hate me back.” Satoshi laughs, a touch of admiration gleaming in his eyes. If only he could detach himself from people’s bashing as easily.

“I followed one of them home, but that got me nothing, and I was afraid to cause trouble if I asked about you. You already seemed isolated enough. So I kept tailing them each night, trying to find where they met with you. Finally, I spotted a clue in their white coats, a label on them. Sankaku… so I asked for it to some bystanders.” Kazunari made a face. He hated the place with a passion. It was a fascinating ride though, getting to know about Satoshi’s quest for him. It resembled one of those detective stories he liked to read as a kid, and it made his heart swell, amazed at the colossal perseverance he had put in it.

“There was this guard at the factory, He’s been the only one who spoke to me. He doesn’t like you, either, and of course knows nothing about your life or where you live. I couldn’t return and meet you at the factory during day. It was so frustrating.”

Satoshi sighed and looked at Kazunari, his expression solemn, as if telling him that he couldn’t even imagine how discouraging it had been. Being so damn near yet unable to reach him. They paused for a bit, gazing into each other’s faces, their breathing uneven. They knew, the could feel it… the hug, the long awaited kiss playing in their minds.

But the gesture, the ultimate manifestation of their longing never took place. After all, how had their circumstances change in the time they were apart? What was supposed to happen from then on?

“I can’t stay much longer.”

“I know.”

“This place is pretty far from the nearest uninhabited zone.”

“I know.”

“I can’t stay here with you. Not tonight… not-”

“Ever. I know.” That last bit came out in rather grated words.

There was an uneasy, somber silence following. As if there was nothing else to be discussed.

“So you’re leaving? That’s what you saying?”

“I’m saying I must leave. Whether you come with me or not… is not in my place to decide.” In fact, during his search for Kazunari, he had been about to give up more than once. Who knew if Kazunari had begun a new life, and if that were the case, who was he, coming back from unwanted memories, to ask him to share his future with a shapeshifter?

Kazunari exhaled, his nostrils flaring with anger. He had hold onto his breath till then, hoping not to be crushed by Satoshi’s response to his accusatory question. He should have known better.

“You piss me off.” Satoshi looked at him, unable to decipher what he meant exactly.

“It’s always the same with you. How can you think I’d stay just the same, living this shit of life after knowing you’re alive? Do you know what these months have been for me?!” He was totally losing his temper, but went on. He considered that spiteful quirk he had as part of his charm. “No of course not, cause you didn’t see me bleeding to death did you! You didn’t lose the only-… you had a purpose, some fucking hope to go on!!” He took a long breath to try and calm himself. It turned out to be worse, for he became much more incisive and keen on hurting Satoshi once his yelling ceased.

“Everything is so simple for you… as expected from-” he stopped the hurtful remark midsentence. The realization that he’d almost insulted Satoshi’s upbringing got him in shock. The venom stored in his resentful soul would never recede.

Satoshi overlooked the malice of a man who thought himself superior. He’d always deemed Kazunari a far more cultivated man than he was, but presented with such unfair belittlement, Satoshi couldn’t but retaliate with a ruffled and yet you only see torment and sacrifice where there is none. He chose not to word his thoughts though, least he irk Kazunari any further. He already knew how cross Kazunari could get when those matters were discussed.

“I told you- I’d come for you,” Satoshi repeated, but only in a lame, half-hearted shot, because he couldn’t exactly grasp what was going on or how to calm the other’s affronted state. The mirthless laugh of Kazunari, deep and full of biting disdain, made his insecurity increase.

“You were on an edifying adventure while I-” he trembled visibly, “I rotted here!” The words came out in wild shrieks, rasping his vocal chords, and followed by a few painful attempts on keeping his emotions at bay, he added, “…hating myself each day cause I didn’t have the guts to reunite with you!!”

Once he’d let it all out, he couldn’t gather the strength to keep the façade, the thundering anger any longer. He simply broke down and fell onto his jumbled futon, hunched over and weeping like a child.

The weight of those last words caused an ugly stir in Satoshi’s stomach. He was revolted at the mere thought of it. Even though he had agreed in some way, he hadn’t actually given it much thought last summer, when Kazunari voiced such a preposterous vow.

“Are you for real? What would you gain in your death?”

“What is there to gain in a life without you? I was alone again. Alone, after having you… is a thousand times harder.” His voice was a whisper, the lament of a man whose drive had run out.

Satoshi could only look at him in sheer empathy. Kazunari had a point. He’d long forgotten, how scared he had been of hurting him when they shared that house. How disgusted he’d felt at himself when finding those bite marks on Kazunari’s neck. But he remembered suddenly… he would have readily ended his existence had he indeed slain Kazunari. And it was not precisely guilt that would have driven him into it, for the main reason was other. He would have rather died than continue living without Kazu.

Satoshi was at a loss of words again, even if his watery eyes spoke for themselves. Couldn’t stay a mere spectator to Kazunari’s tearing display either, to the ominous devastation that had spread around them. Hadn’t he come expecting to be reconciled, united with him again? He lunged for Kazunari and embraced him, almost crushing him under the force of his greedy arms, hushing his tremors and nervous hiccups in fervent caresses. It seemed to relax them both, that first and honest contact, their bodies speaking a language long forgotten, of trust, of melding in the skin of the other and letting all guards down.

They stood like that for a while, laying down eventually, their limbs growing stiff in the uncomfortable position. Not a word was said during long hours. Satoshi just took care of Kazunari’s frail, so frail figure, petting him with loving strokes, showing him none of his suffering had been in vain. That Satoshi had had finally found him, and that he had never intended to leave in empty hands.

“Kazu… hey Kazu. The night will soon be over.”

Uncertainty, stabbing apprehension gripped at Kazunari’s heart. He tensed in a gesture of pain, his tired body still able to reflect his utter fear of separation.

“Hey… I’m not going anywhere without you. We were both quite heated tonight. I would call it nervousness.” He smiles, trying to ease any anxiety his words could arise. “Departure broke us both. But it’s over. The world rejected us long ago. It doesn’t need us. Kazunari… vanish along with me.”

Vanish. The word forced Kazunari’s head to snap, his confused stare boring into Satoshi for the first time in hours. He didn’t quite comprehend his meaning. Satoshi had always been opposed to any idea of suicide.

“You want us to play Romeo and Juliet?” he bit back, acting more like himself again. Noticing that Satoshi couldn’t understand the reference, he cupped the puffy face in his hands and tried to make himself clearer. “You want us to die?”

Satoshi cracked a hearty, loud laughter at that. Kazunari was left rather stunned, aware that he still had lots to learn when it came to Satoshi’s weird behavior.

“Tomorrow night, meet me in the Hachiman Shrine, in Suginami. Pick anything you wanna keep. We’re leaving.”

The where and how died in Kazunari’s mouth as he felt Satoshi’s lips on his. It was a chaste peck, so gentle it seemed not even there, but made him cry again all the same. It was a kiss that tasted like lost opportunities, like glimpses of a future still not in his hands.

“Gotta go.” He stood up, but Kazunari’s fists were still holding into the rough fabric of his pants for dear life. Satoshi proceeded to disentangle every finger, one by one, with extreme care and patience. “See you in a few hours” he told him with a smile, and hopped into the window sill again. “Trust us, please.”

He was gone. No matter what he said, the promise of tomorrow, Kazunari could still feel his heart shrink inside his chest.

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801rabu

November 2016

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