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It all happened so fast.

Kaito was walking through Heartland Tower one second, going to a lesser frequented part to harvest old machinery for recycled parts. The next, he was on the floor of his apartment: panicking, screaming, and trying desperately to dial Mizael on his phone.

While the two texted throughout the day (mostly to remind each other to take care of themselves), calling was less common. Calling when Mizael was in class wasn't even thought of, and was strictly for emergencies.

So, as it was, Mizael felt dread the second his phone vibrated in his pocket during his lecture. As he rushed to the hallway, he had a sinking feeling that today the fear he'd had for years would finally meet reality. A fear which, was confirmed a matter of seconds later as he heard the voice of his boyfriend on the other end.

Today was the day that Kaito Tenjo finally snapped.


***

Kaito hadn't ventured to the lower levels of Heartland Tower since the World Duel Carnival. The machinery that slumbered below once used to train Numbers Hunters had long outlived its purpose. Not being one to dwell on the past, Kaito never saw a reason to revisit them. However, there were valuable parts in those machines that could come in handy for a current project. Taking the scraps from something so long neglected was just common sense.

He didn't feel even a remote sense of danger when he took the offer; he'd been perfectly fine since the WDC fiasco had ended. He fully forgave his father for what he had put him through. After all, if there was one thing Kaito valued, it was family. At least, that's what he thought.

Kaito spent all of ten seconds in the old training arena after turning on the lights before his instincts took over and he immediately felt his chest collapse. His fight or flight instinct kicked in before the memories of what he went through did; it wasn't until he'd bolted into the hallway that he truly understood what had even caused his spike in anxiety.

Evil things happened in that room. Torturous acts in the name of Numbers Hunting. Things Kaito tried desperately -- forced himself, even -- to forget about were suddenly resurfacing.

He'd done it for Haruto. That's what he'd told himself all those years ago. It was for Haruto. If, at the end of the day, Haruto felt better, Kaito could put up with all the pain being forced through his body. He could put up with the horrors of ripping one's soul out of them; the guilt of never knowing what happened to them after the fact. He could put up with his suffering if, at the end of the day, his brother would live.

But that was all a lie, wasn't it? As he sat on the floor of the hallway, panting desperately, more memories came through his mind. This time, of all the times Haruto suffered as well.

Of all the times Haruto almost died.

Had Haruto died, what would have happened then? Why would Kaito have to go through all of that? These questions popped up occasionally in Kaito's mind, but he quickly pushed them away for being selfish. Now, it was all he could think about as his breathing got even more staggered, his heart pounding even more. These thoughts continued to cloud his mind until a long, pained scream echoed throughout the lower levels of Heartland Tower.

There was a creeping feeling slowly crawling to the top of his conscience. His father. His father was responsible. His father put them both through their torture -- But wasn't it to help them? -- But both brothers almost died -- But they were family.

They were family. Family didn't do things to hurt each other for no reason. His father loved them, his father loved them, loved them, loved them because they were family. His father was family. Family. You don't hurt family. Not for no good reason. His father loved them and did it so Haruto would get better. He didn't tell Kaito what was going on because it would hurt him. Hurt him more than the training did? Hurt him more than his soul being ripped from his body at the hands of Tron? Hurt him more than those nights in that offi--


Of course the truth would have. Family loved each other. Family did not hurt each other.

These lies Kaito told himself out of assurance for years kept banging back and forth in his head, fighting to get out. His knuckles were bruised from rapidly hitting the floor -- he didn't even know that he had started doing so to begin with -- as they escalated, escalated in volume, louder and louder and louder until he let out another scream.

Then he was on his feet, bolting down the hall, going to Haruto. He needed Haruto and the two of them needed to get out of there. Away from Him. In this moment, Kaito had reverted to being an 18 year old forced into a battle he didn't understand but knew was wrong. Through the distorted funhouse this place he once called home transformed into from his stress, through the confusion of his brother and the objections of the man he once called his father, through the concerned compliancy of Orbital 7, Kaito Tenjo had become an unstoppable force bent on never coming back.

***

"You were right, Mizael. You were right about him," Kaito's voice was elevated and shaking over the phone.

"Where are you, Kaito? Where's Haruto?" Not needing clarification (and knowing he wouldn't get it from Kaito in this mental state even if he did), Mizael was already making his way through campus to get home as soon as possible.

"We're both at the apartment. But I need you. Hurry. I can't do this, Mizael. I can't."

"I'm on my way," Mizael replied gently. "Is Orbital there? I'll be home faster if he can pick me up."

A shout emerged from the other end of the line, with the faint sound of the robot responding weakly to the order. "...He's on his way."

"Good," Mizael responded. "I'll stay on the phone with you the entire time until I get home."

"I can't do this alone." There was a shake to Kaito's voice; it was the first time Mizael had heard legitimate fear from him.

Mizael exited the building he was in, shielding his eyes from the sunlight for a moment. "Don't worry, I'm here with you." His voice was practically a whisper; as serene as he could make it. "Are there any blankets you can wrap yourself in?"

A pause. Some shifting noises; the sound of Kaito struggling to get off the floor and onto their couch. Defeat, followed by the rustle of fabric between Kaito's panicked breaths. Kaito was still on the ground, but at least there was some calming stimulation for him.

"Breathe in as deeply as you can and hold it for a few seconds," Mizael followed up. "Keep doing that until I get home. Is Haruto with you?"

"He's in his room," Kaito answered, slightly calmer now. "He doesn't know what's going on."

"I can't blame him. I don't think you fully knew what was going on, either."

"I'm scared, Mizael."

Mizael's voice lowered as he approached the front gates of his university campus. "I know." He twisted a lock of hair as he looked out, seeing Orbital approaching. "I'm on my way home. I'm with you, Kaito."

The knob of the front door to their apartment slowly turned as Mizael entered to minimize sudden noise that could startle Kaito. Papers and books scattered the living room in a mess from Kaito's episode earlier, but Mizael barely noticed as he made his way to the form lying wrapped in a blanket on the floor.

"Kaito," he whispered, kneeling down next to him. "I'm home."

Drained and depressed from everything he'd been through, Kaito looked up slowly at Mizael as acknowledgment. Mizael took his hand slowly, helping him get to his feet, and finally let him set and rest on the couch. He turned, walking towards their counter and getting something out of a jar before turning back to Kaito.

"Here," Mizael whispered, handing Kaito two pieces of caramel. "Eat these. They always help you when you're stressed, don't they?"

Kaito's lips curled into a small smile as he took the candies, chewing them slowly. He eased into comfort as Mizael's long, warm arms wrapped around his shoulders, murmurs of, "I'm sorry", and, "I love you" being whispered all the while.

Mizael pulled away as Kaito finished the second piece. "I'm going to check on Haruto, okay?"

"Okay," Kaito responded after slight concentration. "I'm going to sleep for a while."

"That's a good idea.” Mizael smiled sadly.

He helped his boyfriend off their couch and into their bedroom and then made his way down the hall.

***

The bed was dressed in clean sheets that night, but neither were expecting to sleep a wink. Kaito was functioning again after a nap and a warm bath, with the help of Mizael and Haruto (whom Mizael tried to explain the situation of Kaito repressing his trauma to the best he could) ordering his favorite foods for him. Through most of the day, though, Kaito found there was very little he was able to say.

The moonlight shone brightly through the sliding door that lead to a balcony in their bedroom; the cool blue sky meeting their red walls and making a faint purple. It was past midnight now as Kaito and Mizael sat upwards in their bed in silence.

It only took Kaito brushing his hand along Mizael's to break that silence.

"Mizael...?"

Mizael looked over, a curious expression on his face. "Yes?"

Kaito's hand started to shake, his voice matching in a whisper. "Can I tell you something I've never told anyone?"

In an instant, a rock had burrowed to the bottom of Mizael's stomach. He'd never heard Kaito's voice so vulnerable; as if he were a child asking the question. Preparing for the worst, he answered. "Of course. You can tell me anything, Kaito."

The seconds Kaito sat on the bed in quiet stammers as he tried to find the words felt like hours. Still, in his determination, he managed to find his voice.

"It happened when I was a Numbers Hunter." He trailed off for a second before soon picking back up. "After Chris left. That demon -- Mr. Heartland -- he called me into his office one night."

Mizael gripped Kaito's hand, knowing where the conversation was going but praying it would go somewhere -- anywhere else.

"He said he knew how alone I was, and he wanted to help," Kaito's voice continued in a dull, hushed monotone. "I knew he was full of shit and told him to fuck off. He didn't like that. He started making threats that he'd do things to Haruto, or convince my father to make my training more extreme if I didn't listen to him." Kaito let out a deep sigh. "That's when he touched me."

Mizael shook as he stared straight at Kaito, his grip tightening on his hand.

"A few nights a week, he'd make me come into his office after training or hunting. He'd usually spend about an hour at a time kissing me and touching my body." Out of shame, Kaito turned away. "I let him. I just kept telling myself, 'this is for Haruto. This is so he won't hurt Haruto.' I was fine with everything he did, because at least he didn't go after my brother. But I never liked it." All of the oxygen seemed to be progressively draining out of the room as Kaito finally finished. "...I'm sorry I never told you. I just wanted to forget it ever happened. I hope you can forgive me."

Mizael was stunned; angry, but also in despair. He couldn't find the voice to do more than mutter, "no," to himself for a few moments. When he was finally able to think coherently, he whispered, "You have nothing to be sorry about."

A puzzled expression came on Kaito's face.

"Kaito," Mizael started, leaning in and holding him as close as if the world around them was about to end. "Kaito, you were sexually abused."

As Kaito strained to process Mizael's statement, the remaining foundation he'd kept throughout the years finally shattered. What started as a small weep all too soon progressively escalated.

The sound of Kaito's wails and cries filled the room long through the night as the two mourned the death of his innocence.