Apr 202007

Title: Sorrow's Choking Grip
Characters: Shiranui Genma, Namiashi Raidou
Rating: M
Warnings: Angst, referenced character death
Notes: I *really* don't know what came over me. I just had a moment and… well … yeah.

Can you look into these eyes
I can not for they are closed
And if I were to open them
Sorrow's choking grip would be my death
— The Dirtheads, "Sorrow's Choking Grip"

"Don't … touch me."

Genma walked into the apartment looking like a stunned animal. The colour seemed to have completely drained from his skin, making the blood on his hands and lips that much more obvious. The ever-present senbon was tucked beneath the shoulder seam of his vest, and his hitai-ate was nowhere to be seen. But Raidou had been expecting this. It was why he was here.

Raising both hands so Genma could see them, Raidou backed up a few steps, ensuring that he wasn't blocking any of the room's exits. "Alright."

The torment and apology in Genma's eyes as he turned his face toward Raidou was almost too much for the latter to bear. His jaw tightened, but he did not move. "I'm sorry," Genma begged, flinching as though he expected Raidou to tear him apart, "I just can't… I mean, he's… This isn't…"

With a final backward glance of stunned terror, Genma fled the room, slamming his bedroom door behind himself. Raidou lowered his hands, retrieved his bottle of sake, and sat down on the couch to watch some cartoons. Hayate had died last night, and Genma, being Genma, had been unable to let the kid go into the ground without seeing him one last time. It wouldn't have been a pretty picture, or a pretty smell. Whoever the other swordsman had been, he'd split the kid open from the shoulder to the hip. The image was probably going to stay with him, too. Hence the sake. It wasn't every day, thank whatever higher powers looked after him, that one found one's best friend's lover bloodily, unquestionably, honourably dead. As he raised the bottle to his lips, the keening started from the other room.

Genma lay on his bed half-dressed, various articles of his clothing, in what was likely to be irreparable disrepair, lay scattered across the room. His hands clutched the sides of his head, as if to hold it together, and something, somewhere, was making a horrible high-pitched howl.

He remembered waking up, yesterday morning, with Hayate wrapped around him. It had been unexpected, but wonderful — he had expected Hayate to spend the night with Yuugao, as he'd been doing more and more often, as of late. 'However much I love you, Genma, you can't have my babies,' Hayate had said once, when they'd fought about his girlfriend. He was absolutely right. Genma was neither capable of having children, nor did he particularly want any. But, yesterday morning had been one more proof that Hayate still loved him, just the same.

And now he lay just beside Hayate's side of the bed, careful not to lay on it, lest he destroy the scent with which he was desperately filling his lungs. When he closed his eyes, he could still feel Hayate's hands on him, his lips beside his ear, but he couldn't make out the words his lover was saying to him, as they were blurred by the inescapable reality of death. Genma's eyes squeezed shut as he tried to ignore that point, to force it away with all the willpower he had left. There was no place in his world — there was no place in him — for Hayate to be dead.

He remembered the first time Hayate had kissed him. It was years ago, now — more years than he'd like to admit. Hayate had been seventeen to his own twenty-three, and they had been duelling at the Hokage's birthday celebration. 'I have a sword. You have a large toothpick. Who the hell do you think is going to win?' the kid had asked, in the arrogance of youth. 'I am,' Genma had replied, leaping back to release a hail of senbon, only one of which struck its mark — the kid really was fast — and Hayate's suddenly nerveless hand had released the sword.

The kid had looked less than pleased, yanking out the senbon and tossing it into the grass as he closed the distance between them. The fight was over, but Genma was expecting one more show of youthful arrogance — some sort of bitter and vicious exit line that he could laugh about later. Instead, Hayate had grabbed him by the front of his vest and kissed him with ice cold lips.

Hayate had always been both freezing cold and feverish, depending on which part of his body one touched. His hands, lips, nose, ass, and, most accursedly, feet were always like ice. But, Genma had loved to be touched by those cold hands, kissed by those icy lips. He'd once told Hayate that if he finally coughed himself to death, one day, it would be awfully hard to tell the difference. Hayate, of course, had punched him in the jaw — in a friendly way — and told him to stop being an idiot, because Genma would be the first to die.

I'm sorry, love. You'll never know how sorry I am that you were wrong.

The room filtered back into his senses. The constant noise was less high-pitched, now, and raspier. He couldn't feel his hands, anymore, or his face. Suddenly he realised that he sound was coming from him, from his own throat, and just like that, it stopped. The blood on his hands was probably sticky, by now, but he couldn't feel it. He reached over and wiped it off on Hayate's side of the sheets. He'd keep as much of his pretty little biohazard as he could. Stifling his tears, he kissed the pillow, just as he'd kissed Hayate's heart in the morgue. The blood would be his reminder.

He licked his lips clean and forced himself to sit up against the dizziness and the last tendrils of crushing despair. He was numb, now, completely unable to feel most of his body except the dull pain in the middle of his chest. Clothes. He would change his clothes. The world felt strange as he walked toward the dresser. It was like he was walking on air — as if there were some peculiar invisible cushion that prevented him from properly making contact with anything.

A few minutes later, he appeared in the living room, dressed all in black, but with his pants unbuttoned. "Rai, my fingers don't work. Fix this for me so we can go to dinner."

Raidou looked up in mild surprise and set down what was left of the bottle of sake. He stood up and turned off the television. "Are you sure you're up for dinner?"

"I'm fucking starving, Rai. Ravenous. Just… nothing with meat in it, you know?" He managed a self-mocking smirk and shook his head.

"Fucking falling apart…" he muttered under his breath.

"Hey, I don't care. You called it; you're buying. That's good enough for me." Raidou reached out and closed Genma's pants.

Genma put on his sad puppy face and bent his knees, to take a few inches off, before grabbing Raidou's shirt. "Oh my god! Rai! You're so meeeean!" He coughed once, for good measure.

And then they both froze. It had been Genma's Hayate impression, which was usually funny. And now it was impossible to tell which of them was more shocked and appalled by it.

Genma looked up and addressed the ceiling. "Kid, I'm going to give you such a spanking when I catch up to you. That was just wrong."

Raidou laughed and grabbed his friend's arm, pulling him toward the door. "Come on. You were going to buy me dinner. The nice thing about the dead is that they're patient."

Opening the door, Raidou pushed Genma through it, and looked back once before closing it. "Goodnight, kid. I'll take care of him."

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