|[May. 22nd, 2014|05:36 am]|
Raidou sounded as if he actually meant it.|
Probably not the part that involved the worst-judged confession in history, but Ryouma'd rather avoid ever doing that again, too. At least he hadn't cried.
Raidou wasn't offering his broad shoulder to weep on again, at any rate, so Ryouma pushed himself off the counter and got back to work searching through the dusty shelves. He found more instant rice, this time of the heat-and-serve variety; several packets of dried mushrooms; an entire box of canned fish. Mackerel, judging by the cartoonish label. More dehydrated curry, canned pickles, a haphazard collection of silver foil packets of mystery meals. He set those aside for Katsuko's breakfast; she'd probably appreciate the surprise.
Dried sweet potato, canned satsumas, canned sausages, a tin of miso, a large jar of shoyu, umeboshi. Sake, hah. He shoved that box of bottles to the back of the shelf again. Maybe by evening Fukuda would die and Kakashi would wake up, and they could celebrate.
He took one of the packets of heat-and-serve rice, a can of sausages, and a tin of pickled burdock root, and retreated. Raidou had tipped his head back to rest against the wall, and the stew simmered peacefully in its pot on the little gas burner at his feet.
Ryouma set his rice down where the burner might radiate a little heat. He found a clean wooden spoon and sank down into a peasant's squat to stir the stew. The burner sputtered fitfully underneath, probably low on fuel. He glanced up, about to ask if Raidou knew where the spare fuel canisters were, and caught sight of Raidou's face.
Raidou's eyes were open, watching: not with any purpose or pleasure, just the idle surveillance of a shinobi aware of his space. All the same, his gaze seemed to have settled somewhere over Ryouma's left shoulder. The straight-carved line of his mouth pulled down at the edge, and the hollows under his eyes were dark with shadows like bruises. The faint, early creases bracketing his mouth had somehow begun to cut deeper.
He'd gone to a bar and taken Ryouma home after a hard mission, once. And this one must have been harder.
Ryouma'd killed a teenager, but Raidou and Katsuko had been sent for children.
He dropped the spoon back in the pot and folded his arms over his knees. "Are you okay?"
Raidou blinked, shook himself, and glanced down. "What?"
Ryouma said, stubbornly, "We talked about me. What about you?"
"Me?" Raidou sounded almost bewildered. He hadn't expected turnabout, obviously, or at least not from Ryouma. Maybe he'd already confessed his sins to the lieutenant and they'd cried in a very manly fashion on each others' shoulders. He scrubbed a broad, bandaged hand over his face and pulled a sideways, sardonic smile that didn't touch the crinkles at the corners of his eyes. "It's been a long day."
That wasn't, quite, a Keep out. Ryouma said, "I can listen."
Raidou dropped his hand, and the smile. His eyes were still tired, beaten-hollow, but they'd warmed a little. "I know you can," he said. "And I appreciate the offer. But you shouldn't have to. It's my job to look out for you. You've already got enough to deal with."
"I don't mind," Ryouma said.
He wasn't quite sure that was true. Whatever had happened in Tsurugahama Port to break Katsuko's collarbone and shadow Raidou's eyes, it'd been clearly been bad. Raidou'd be willing to talk about it, otherwise. And Ryouma didn't need more fuel for his nightmares, but—
Sometimes it helped, to know you weren't the only one.
It'd helped him to talk, a little. Maybe it'd help Raidou, too.