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Combat the dark

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The ship was rocking.

Senku had insisted that they keep at least a lamp nearby, but no one wished to spare the resource on their voyage. So it’s another night. Quiet. Snoring almost everywhere. He counts. And counts. And counts.

I’m getting nowhere, this idiotic anxiety is getting to me.

Ever since Taiju had awakened. He hadn’t had to worry about sleeping alone. Didn’t have to worry about being by himself in the dark. While he wasn’t alone at all, he knew, he still felt that way in his little bunk in the wall.

Senku presses his back to the wood, as if trying to make the Perseus his big spoon. Still, he feels a shiver run down his back.

There’s a noise and he half sits up to look around the void to see what it may be. Nothing. There is nothing. He shifts again, unable to control his heartbeat. It was probably time to walk back on deck again. Where he could sit with the moon and the stars. At least it was bright outside with that. No lights to disturb his crew mates.

But it was like that many nights before. The ones where he got little rest and people assumed it was his brain being much too hard at work the next day. Senku sighs and shifts more to the edge and freezes. Ah. Right.

Tsukasa was now beneath him. Originally the spot had been left empty, some crew feeling sheepish to sleep under him. But Tsukasa had picked the spot before even realizing. And when he had he had shrugged and said it would be okay. Senku is happy they are past the war. Past the conflict. Tsukasa was a good person and to have him on their side was more than relieving.

Tsukasa is on the first bunk, Senku on the second. He only needed to get past him. In this moment he remembered he had originally stuck to the second bunk due to his fear of the dark. It was irrational, yes, but now he feels like he should’ve stuck to his first bunk privilege. With a small listen he deduced Tsukasa was 60% likely to be asleep and 75% likely to wake up due to his natural instincts if he so much as sensed Senku’s presence in whatever stage of sleep he was in.

The scientist takes a deep breath. Slowly extending his foot down to touch the edge of the bunk. Along with the hardness of the edge, there is a soft, ribbon feel there too. His hair. Senku curses Tsukasa’s mane of hair.

He feels around with his tip toe away from the pool of brunette silk. Until he’s able to slowly slip out of his bunk and step down onto the cabin floor. He exhales slow. Well, at least he was able to get down.

Just as he was about to turn and memorize his way to the door, an outstretched hand covers his own. He froze. It’s a warm hand. Warm and rough and strong. It sends a small shiver up his spine, much more than the devils of the darkness would do.

“Where?” That deep whisper shudders in his ear.

Where? He realizes the man is asking where he’s going.

“To pee.” A white lie in his opinion. It wasn’t Tsukasa’s business where he was going. Only his. Still, he knew the regretful lion slayer would only lie awake and wait for him to return safe and sound.

“I don’t think that’s it,” Senku swallows and lowers himself so they may speak quietly. “You wouldn’t have been so careful leaving if it were for that.”

Ah, how had Tsukasa figured him out? Well, he was smart and observant. He hears the other man’s soft laughter.

“Didn’t you go before bedtime too?”

That’s how he knew too? Well, Senku can’t say it’s weird Tsukasa knew this. He had yelled very crudely at that mentalist that he was taking a piss and to stop hurrying him. Gen had acted so fake hurt but couldn’t help but laugh on his way into the cabin.

“Are you, perhaps, afraid of the dark Senku?”

The scientist is quiet. How had Tsukasa even guessed that correctly? There’s nothing that was giving it away was there? Senku made sure never to let anyone notice or hear him leave when it was too much. Yet without any evidence Senku could think of, Tsukasa had guessed correctly.

“It’s okay, I am too.” Tsukasa’s voice sounds so sweet. Senku wonders if he had been awake this whole time, listening to him shift restlessly above him.

“Being afraid of the dark is completely illogical in our current situation.” Senku wonders if he was whispering or if he was half saying his words. Trying to protect his illogical secret despite it already being hard enough.

“Sure, but we’re still afraid.”

It’s then Senku realizes Tsukasa still has hold of his hand. It was being tugged forward. Senku was being asked into the bunk by him.

“What are you doing?”

“Trust me.”

And Senku doesn’t think twice. He climbs into the bunk next to Tsukasa. It’s warm. The lion pelt was so much more cozy spread out to lay on like this. His little knapsack he’d been sleeping in the past few years was well worn, and he needed to give it to Yuzuriha to fix up. But this lion pelt had held well among the fighting man.

“Now what?” Senku looks up despite not being able to see a thing. Tsukasa puts his arm over him and brings him close. Senku gasps at the sudden body to body contact. Tsukasa’s abdomen was soft but firm. Nice and defined. Warm. It plants a seed of warmth under Senku’s cheeks. He opens his mouth for a remark but Tsukasa is already talking.

“Mirai used to be afraid of the dark, so we would sleep like this to ease our fears.”

Senku is quiet. He weighs his options a moment. He could leave this, go outside and never speak of this again. Or he could stay like this, close and surrounded by Tsukasa.

He leans his head against his chest. Well. It was warm here where the night was cold. And Tsukasa was obviously not making fun of him.

“I said I’d protect you.”

“You can’t save people from their own irrationality,” Senku yawns and lets his hands glide slow and testing around Tsukasa’s waist, “not every time at least.”

Tsukasa’s arm feels so secure around him. Like he could face the darkness like this. Together.

“You’re so small.”

“Anyone is compared to you.”

“True.”

It’s quiet for a stretch of time Senku doesn’t bother to count now. The fear of the dark and the rocking of the boat was being washed away by their close breathing. The air down here is different than the upper bunk. It’s comforting. The sound of Tsukasa’s steadying heartbeat was oddly pleasant. Senku shifts as if to get closer.
The scientist feels himself nodding off. Slowly. Slowly.

“Tsukasa.”

“Hm?” The other man sounds like he’s close to falling asleep himself.

“Thank you.”

Tsukasa doesn’t reply verbally. He uses his hand to slowly rub Senku’s back. Like patting a child’s back in comfort as they cry. It was fonder than that though, and Senku won’t admit that he could feel it. It’s odd and endearing and his heart speeds despite his eyelids becoming heavy.

The only thing he had needed all this time was a partner to combat the dark with. That partner being Tsukasa, to Senku at least, was definitely the best choice.