|[May. 22nd, 2014|05:27 am]|
The air smelled of blood and sweat and antiseptic, lingering curry, grassy tea. Too familiar, from too many days and nights spent crammed in a bunker like this, binding up injuries and waiting for new orders that would send them out to kill or die. |
They hadn't always waited alone. There were always dark corners, narrow closets, space enough for a frantic tumble, vicious with adrenaline and relief. We're alive, we made it through. And then, later, bar bathrooms and hotels and bedrooms after other missions, the bad ones, the ones where not everyone came back, or came back whole.
Some of those missions had been worse than this one, but not many.
He bent over the pump and tried to force his mind away. Maybe he could make an excuse for ten minutes alone in the bathroom, later. Or maybe he could just have some damn self-control for once in his life, hole up and hold out until he could get home and find someone with warm hands and an eye-crinkling smile. It wasn't like his own blistered right hand and the cold air against his skin would do much good for him right now—
"Are you okay?" Raidou asked, quite near.
Ryouma stopped pumping.
His blisters burned. One of them had burst. He closed his hand tighter on the long handle of the pump, but the pain had stopped helping. He couldn't think of anything flippant, or angry, or strong to say. Only: "What would you do if I weren't?"
"Ask what you need," Raidou said.
As if it were just that simple. Ryouma closed his eyes. "What if I told you that I strangled a woman in front of her husband, and I did it slow? And when her daughter saw what I'd done, I cut her throat. And we made the man listen to his son being murdered, and then I rotted his belly open and Kakashi tore out his heart. And then we robbed him, and set his house on fire."
His voice was shaking. He stopped. Opened his eyes, crouched, and scooped a handful of water from the basin. He drank, and splashed his face. Staring at the packed-dirt wall, he said, "When I came back from a bad mission, in the war or after, first thing I used to do was go looking for sex. Rough or gentle or anything, I didn't care. So long's I wasn't alone. So long's I could forget what I'd done and just remember—" He broke off. Water dripped from his hands.
Cloth rustled behind him. The shift of weight, long limbs folding up. Raidou, sitting down. Saying, very steadily: "Would that help you now?"
Ryouma watched another droplet of water hit the basin, and the concentric rings spreading out. "I wish it could."
"But I don't want to get kicked off the team. Or for you to leave. I don't want to mess things up any more than I already have. We've got this one thing, it's going to be good, and if I screwed it up by screwing around—"
He thought of Genma. Make a medic of you soon enough.
Katsuko, laughing. I love you, and I'll protect you.
Kakashi. That was perfect.
He closed his eyes again. "So. I'm not getting it. So let's pretend I'm okay for a little while longer."