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In Your Arms Tonight

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“Do you wanna know what happened?” asked Fugo, breaking the silence in the room. He and Bruno were seated in the living room of Bruno’s modest apartment, the latter reading quietly. Bruno paused his reading and looked up, to see the boy staring at the ground. He had only known Fugo for a few days now, having offered his couch up as a bed until they figured out where the newly formed group would have their home. But even so, Bruno could tell that Fugo had barely managed to choke out that sentence. 

“If you want to talk about it, I am happy to listen,” Bruno replied, bookmarking and setting his novel to the side, turning more to face the blonde boy across the room. Fugo seemed to tense up, but then breathed out heavily and nodded, almost as if to himself.

“I…” Fugo sighed and bit the inside of his cheek, glancing up at the young man in the room with him. His face revealed no disbelief or anger, just patience and genuine reassurance, so Fugo steeled himself and continued. “I beat my professor. With an encyclopedia. I am, er, I guess I was a university student. ‘Earliest admission in the history of the college,’” he recited with a bitter chuckle and matching air quotes. “I was doing research, right, for this paper? And I couldn't find the book I needed, so I was staying late in the library. I… that’s all I was doing. Just looking for a book.”

Bruno nodded slowly, recalling hearing something a few months back about a college professor that had been injured by a student. The papers were fantastical, of course, twisting the story to focus on the school and how deranged a person would have to be to do something like this. He had always thought it was strange that the papers said nothing about why the student had assaulted their professor. Bruno cleared his throat softly and gave his best “what else?” look to Fugo, who had trailed off and was chewing his cheek again.

“Oh, right, s-sorry,” Fugo took another breath and continued, “so I was in the library after hours, looking for this book. And then Mr. Ri- uh, my literature professor, he showed up. And he asked what I was doing, and I told him, but he, um, he didn’t really care, I guess. He t-told me to come to his house, and that he would, um, he would help my grade, which is bullshit anyway because I already had the best grade in his class and he knew it, I already worked so hard to do well in his class,” Fugo paused and clenched his fists, breathing out shakily and sarcastically chuckling. “I guess that's why he started targeting me, he thought I’d do anything to keep my grade. But I couldn’t, I just couldn’t take his l-looks and his words and his goddamn hands anymore, I just couldn’t!” 

Fugo started breathing faster now, his anger bubbling to the surface. This was different from the hot-headedness that Bruno had come to know in the last few days. This anger was being fueled by pain, and fear, and so his rising voice was full of not only hatred but also panic. “He was so fucking persistent, the bastard was showing up in my damn dreams! It was bad enough that he had to say things to me at school, but then he showed up at my house, to have dinner with my parents and talk about how well I was doing in school. He fucking came into my home!” His voice caught on the word home, and tears started to pinprick at the corners of his eyes. “I-I tried to leave, I just wanted to get away from him, I didn’t wanna hurt anyone, I tried so hard to not hurt anyone, but he just wouldn’t let me leave, wouldn’t stop, I asked him and he just wouldn’t stop it. And I just… I was just trying to get him away, I didn’t mean for the book to be that heavy, I just wanted him to stop it…” His breathing was coming out in fast little puffs now, his voice panicked and fists balled tightly in his lap.

“My p-parents, they got me out of jail but after, they just. They just fucking left me. They didn’t ask why I did it, they didn’t tell me they loved me, they didn’t need to. I disgraced their name, that all they need! My mother looked me in the eye and closed the door of my house in my face. My own mother! She left me, she abandoned me! It’s not fucking FAIR!” With the last word, Fugo’s voice broke into a scream, and he punched the arm of the couch he was sitting on, shooting up when that resulted in a loud *crack* filling the air. He turned to Bruno with horror and fear in his eyes, tears starting to properly fall as he hyperventilated, “B-Bruno, Mr. Bucciarati, I’m so, I’m so sorry, I-I’ll fix it, p-please don’t-” 

Bruno was already crossing the room, hesitating right in front of the crying boy. “Pannacotta, I’m not mad, it’s okay. May I touch you?” Fugo sniffled and nodded quickly, attempting to wipe his eyes but being stopped by Bruno pulling him into a tight hug, his face pressed into Bruno’s soft shirt. He stiffened for just a moment, absolutely foreign to this kind of affection, before the final pieces of his wall broke away and he started crying in earnest, his smaller frame shaking violently in Bruno’s arms as the taller man guided them carefully back a few steps to the couch, all the while gently smoothing Fugo’s hair and holding him tight, muttering soft reassurances that he was safe, and that Bruno was not going anywhere. They sat on the couch and cried together, Bruno letting a few tears drip down into the boy’s hair as his heart ached for this poor child and the pain that was emanating off of him in waves, shaking Bruno down to his core with every sob that escaped the lean frame under his hands.

An hour later, once the boy had cried himself to exhaustion, Bruno gently laid him back on the couch, sliding a pillow under his head and spreading a blanket over his small body. Too small, really, to have held the pain and anger that Bruno had just seen with his own eyes. Bruno smiled softly as Fugo curled up under the blanket, and leaned down to leave a soft kiss on his forehead. He would make sure, damn sure, that nobody else ever hurt or abandoned Fugo again.