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[May. 22nd, 2014|05:46 am]

The light strengthened. A breeze picked up and began to blow shreds of mist through the hollow. Ryouma shivered. "My butt's getting cold, taichou."

"Oh god, mine too," Raidou said immediately, with such relief that Ryouma suspected he'd only been waiting for Ryouma to cave first. Raidou loosened his arm, paused, and then lifted his hand to the top of Ryouma's head. He rumpled the thick, dry hair with a careful hand. "Think you could sleep?"

"Still don't want to," Ryouma said. He let himself sit a moment longer, then ducked out from under Raidou's hand and levered himself to his feet. "I could try, though. Might be able to, now that I've seen the day." He held out a hand.

Raidou curled loose fingers around Ryouma's wrist, letting Ryouma grip and haul. The blisters on Ryouma's palms protested a little, but once Raidou got his feet under him he immediately pulled back, and Ryouma had to let go.

"C'mon, then," Raidou said. He started back for the hidden door.

They went down again, into the dark and then the familiar sickly flicker of electric lights. The Kiri nin was still in her cell, curled on the mattress with her blanket tugged over her and the empty stew pot discarded by the bars. Ryouma's shadow clone straightened with a weary sway. "Hit my limit," it said, and popped into smoke and emptiness.

Its memories poured in, the tedious watch, the anger. Ryouma rocked back on his heels and caught himself with a hand against the wall. "Should I set another?"

"Ueno's clones can handle it," Raidou said. There was one of them there already. Another, perhaps the one who'd dragged Fukuda's belongings into the passageway to catalogue, came up to take up the abandoned place. Ryouma left them to it.

In the bunkroom, the rest of Team Six slept. Genma was snoring slightly. Ryouma hoped that was normal, and not a sign they'd set the nose wrong after all.

Raidou looked at them for a moment, blinking blurrily. "You want to take Ueno's other side? I can bookend the lieutenant."

Katsuko would probably be warm, and she wouldn't mind the cuddling. But...

"Think I'd rather take the floor," Ryouma said quietly. He bit his wrist on a yawn. "Just in case."

Raidou's weary gaze dragged back. He studied Ryouma for a moment, then nodded. "If that's what you want."

It wasn't, really. But it was better than waking from nightmares to find he'd strangled someone in his sleep, or pressing too close in a half-conscious drowse and wrecking everything he'd fought so hard to win. He nodded back, and Raidou let him be.

They turned the gas burners off, conserving what little fuel remained, and kicked their boots to the wall. Raidou peeled a couple of blankets off Katsuko and tossed them Ryouma's way. He took one more for himself, and then crawled up onto the platform at the lieutenant's back.

Ryouma sorted through the scrolls in his belt-pouch until he found the one that sealed his bedroll inside. The blankets, folded in half along their length, made a better pad than bare dirt, though less than a mattress. He wriggled in with his back to the door and the Kiri-nin's imprisoned threat, curled an arm under his head, and waited for the nightmares to come.

Raidou's voice came instead, soft around the edges of sleep. "Tomorrow will be better."

"You saw the sunrise, taichou," Ryouma reminded him. "It's already today."

Silence, for a moment. "Maybe next week, then."

Ryouma closed his eyes. "I'll hope."

Raidou said, very softly, "Sleep, Ryouma."

When they woke, and the others were around, it would be Tousaki again. But there was still a little warmth in the gentleness of his voice around the personal name, the lingering trace of good memories. An order, but one he believed Ryouma could follow.

Ryouma turned his face against his arm, and tried.
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