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His eyes open to the sight of his lap, something rather normal in comparison to most other things. Yet, he’s completely out of breath when he wakes, confused, deathly afraid. And when he does look up, the fear and the breathlessness quadruple, but the confusion goes away completely. Zen is sitting, head drooped to his chest. Tied up.

Oh no. Takafumi pulls his wrists up and they don’t budge. He looks down: matching rope and duct tape. Oh no. “Kirishima,” he almost whispers. He fears of someone listening from outside of this bare, echoey warehouse room.

Zen, of course, does not respond. He’s deep asleep.

“Kirishima!” It’s no use. Under his breath, he mutters a curse: “Fuck.” He tugs at the restraints. It’s no longer a mutter. “Fuck!” He tries doing all the things he sees in those action movies: rubbing his wrists together, rubbing his ankles together, shaking the chair back and forth until it falls backward. The rubbing doesn’t seem to want to tear anything and after the first few tries of throwing himself backward, he realizes that the chair is bolted to the ground. And then he’s crying, and although he wants to say it’s out of frustration, he knows that it’s because he feels sad and pathetic and like such an awful boyfriend because somehow he had gotten the only person he cares about into this worse-than-shitty situation and it was his fault exclusively—

“Yokozawa?” Kirishima, finally present, almost mirrors the process Yokozawa went through upon awakening. Upon realizing he’s trapped, Kirishima weakly states a familiar remark: “Fuck.”

Yokozawa wishes he could at least have his hands free to wipe off his face, but that wasn’t the case. Not that he can stop his tears anyway.

“Are you hurt?” Kirishima, somehow cool and collected, hopes to bring comfort to his lover. It was as if he had already given up and accepted the situation. He hadn’t even tried to rock the chair. “It’s gonna be alright, Yokozawa. Just breathe.”

He can’t breathe. “I-I’m just ma-mad. I-I-I’m sorry,” he manages to stammer out. He feels like he’s gonna vomit. Staring at the bolts screwing the chair to the floor, Yokozawa wriggles. Back and forth. The legs don’t break, he doesn’t fall backward and smacks his head on the concrete. He feels useless. “F-Fuck. I hate this. I seriously h-hate this!”

A look of concern, deep and unfortunate. “There’s nothing to be sorry about, Yokozawa. This isn’t your fault.”

Yokozawa feels his chest tighten up, the sort of knot that’s physically visible. He can feel Kirishima see this knot too. That only makes it grow.

“Yokozawa, please look at me,” he stretches his neck out farther as if to make the soundwaves project with meaning, with intensity, “This isn’t your fault.” And then, not an afterthought, but a part of the same statement: “I love you.”

Yokozawa is suddenly overcome with this deep feeling of dread, more dread than he was already experiencing. It was as if the shadow looming over him had turned into the pitch blackness of midnight in the countryside. It was a starless night.

 

This is the last time, isn’t it?

 

“I love you, too.” Yokozawa pulls his hands apart so forcefully he fears his wrists may break. “I love you.”

Kirishima smiles a distant, distant smile. “I’m glad.”

“Enough with that.”

The pair turns their heads at a remarkable speed, one so quick it’s a wonder that their necks didn’t snap. A man in a ski mask, sweatshirt, and sweatpants has somehow appeared in front of the closed doorway. A man with a stature they almost immediately recognized from the dive bar. The straight dive bar. The guy in the corner that they were chatting about to pass time over drinks. The one with the hunchback, Yokozawa once commented and Kirishima laughed at and touched Yokozawa’s back and let it linger there, just for a while. Yes, that guy.

Dread like a starless night.

He carries two tripods with him and takes no time to begin setting them up. He places one down next to Yokozawa and faces the camera toward Kirishima, vice versa. The red lights of each blink out of synchronization; an odd strobing effect. He then paces over to Yokozawa— unbreakingly silent and well-behaved all of a sudden, but still crying— and grabs him by the chin, yanking his head up. The man turns it like you would when viewing an expensive object, or perhaps studying an apple for bruises or blemishes.

Kirishima does not want to speak up, for he fears for his and his lover’s lives, but his body wants to do so instinctively. He almost can’t control it, the overprotective spirit inside of him not caring about context nor safety. Almost. He has to physically swallow to keep his disapproval hidden. He stares at the red blinking light, not the camera lens. He winces.

 

“You’re not a bad catch, huh?” His teeth are yellow and perfectly straight. He smells like chloroform, a smell that Yokozawa can now certainly distinguish thanks to the night’s earlier events. He wishes he wasn’t able to distinguish it. He wants to think it simply a sweetish, musty scent. He no longer can.

The man spits in his face, a thick, tobacco spit, and then walks away. But, not to Kirishima as he should have. To a meter away from Kirishima.

When the hunchback pulls the pistol from his pocket, Yokozawa knows he should close his eyes. It wasn’t an instinct out of fear, but of survival. After this, after seeing this, Yokozawa wouldn’t be alive. Not like he used to be. His brain tells him this and he simply doesn’t obey. There’s no reason to disobey, yet he does. No good reason.

So Yokozawa’s eardrums pop, and so do Kirishima’s, although his do literally. It occurs to him at this moment— what a stupid thought to have at that moment; what a ridiculous and stupid and distracting thought; a disgusting thought— that he has never heard gunfire in real life. He knows now, it makes one’s eardrums pop. It shatters Kirishima’s skull, too. It sprays his brain matter on the concrete floor as well— another thing that made Yokozawa ridiculously go “wow, that’s something new,” like all of this wasn’t something new, like the synapses in his own brain had gone haywire and he simply couldn’t register that his partner was dead and would not be coming back ever and that he would be alone for a very long time and be non-functional for perhaps a much longer time, until his own death, and he would convince himself that he was getting better until then and be conscious that his belief was a lie and yet continue telling himself this belief in order to survive, but he would have survived much easier if he just closed his fucking eyes.

The murderer goes to the camera next to Yokozawa as he wails inhumanely and shakes his body back and forth praying that the legs would eventually break and he’d be free in some way. The hunchback adjusts the shot of the now-corpse, panning the shot downward and zooming. He makes note of the brains, dipping down before returning to Kirishima’s crumpled, caring face. He slides the gun back into his pocket, sighs contently, and then leaves the room.

This time, Yokozawa can hear the door shut, despite the ringing in his ears, despite his own crying, despite the worst type of sensory overload he’s ever experienced. He hears it close, lock, and exhale.