Aikawa’s knife calloused fingers skirted around the edge of his wound, pressure light but present, and that easy touch had Risu’s breath caught deep in his throat. He prayed Aikawa didn’t notice how coiled tight his whole body had become at this barest display of apt kindness.
Aikawa laughed from behind him, rich and low in his chest.
“You’re such a baby.”
Risu huffed a laugh and turned his head to stare at the dust accumulating in the corner of his apartment; a vain attempt to redirect his attention away from how the sound and warmth of Aikawa’s voice so close to his ear had them ringing.
It was another assignment gone wrong. The hand off went well, a fairly regular smoke delivery to a decently trustworthy client. The knife to the back of his shoulder was what ended up souring the evening, all things considered. The wound itself didn’t seem too bad; he’s lived and fought with much, much worse, and the pain seemed to melt into a muted burn in the heat of adrenaline. Even still, he was thankful Aikawa was there, and here, right now.
He supposed he had gotten lax, lately, starting to trust more in his own abilities and being able to rely on Aikawa in the times that he didn’t. It was a very foreign feeling. Maybe he had become too blissful in the novelty of it, he figured, while his fingers pulled at the loose string from the threadbare blanket, thrown lazily over the bed they both currently sat. Maybe he had become too blissful, and careless. Aikawa wasn’t even a crosseye and yet still answered every of Risu’s requests to join him on an assignment with a nod and ‘where to?’. Even when Aikawa still urged Risu to step back from the crosseyes, insisting the danger of them, he still never refused, still never tried to guilt him about it, still refused to split the money, still-
“It doesn’t seem to need stitches or anything, guy obviously didn’t know how to wield the damn thing,” Aikawa muttered, seemingly more to himself than to Risu, but it still served to pull Risu from his spiral of self-pity and guilt. Aikawa would be one to criticize someone for not stabbing him well enough.
The bed shifted suddenly, a sign Aikawa was getting up. Risu glanced back.
“Where’d you throw the first aid kit from last time?”
Risu pointed towards the kitchen after a moment's pause to consider. “Lower cabinet, I think.”
Aikawa grunted an affirmation, bundling up the used, bloody towels and throwing them in the general direction of the bathroom as he made his way over. Risu sighed. Maybe he should just throw the damn things out. After time and time of scrubbing blood from them, they were starting to become more red than white.
He watched casually, letting his body relax into his shitty, firm bed, as Aikawa puttered around his kitchen. There was a natural air to it, like Aikawa belonged in his kitchen, and in his apartment, and in his life. The thought of it had his face softening into a subdued smile. The guilt from before could wait until after Aikawa finished nearly tripping on a loose wire.
Aikawa returned soon after, clutching the little white box in one hand triumphantly, waving it around to catch Risu’s eye.
“It’s like you were trying to hide it from me, man,” he laughed, a little twinkle in his eye that Risu was so fond of, before sitting back down behind him. The bed dipped towards Aikawa, and Risu did nothing to fight being pulled subtly closer.
Risu could hear Aikawa poking around the kit, grumbling about the contents of it like usual. Always telling him to splurge just a little more on better products. Risu had found, though, that over time, someone had been slipping in different products, more expensive and of better quality; ones that Risu couldn’t justify spending the money on. Infrequently, but consistent. Risu had asked about it, once, and Aikawa had just shrugged, mouth full of ramen broth; a fairy, or a devil playing a very kind prank, maybe, but definitely not him. Risu let it drop at the time, too busy fumbling for his wallet to slap something on the counter as Aikawa ran out of the shop in another dine and dash, to wonder about his friend’s other character quirks.
Aikawa paused, and Risu caught himself mid-laugh at the memory.
“What’s so funny?” he asked, voice soft, and the sound of the box being clicked shut and a bottle being unscrewed carried itself to him.
“I, well,” Risu began, laugh tapering off and leaving him feeling soft and putty-like. Aikawa hummed as an urge for him to continue.
Making sure not to disturb Aikawa’s little assembly line of ointment and gauze and whatever else on the mattress, Risu turned his body to better face the other. Their eyes caught easily, and Aikawa had his own small smile to match the one on Risu’s face. He gave Risu his full attention.
“I...thank you. For, this, and...going with me today, and...at all. You don’t have to, but-”
Aikawa stopped him with a wave of his hand, using the other to lower the bottle of antiseptic to his lap. He seemed fondly annoyed.
“Risu, you’re my friend. ‘S what I’m here for,” he said, and Risu noted the very brief moment Aikawa broke eye contact then looked back before saying, “I care about you.”
And even though Aikawa has proven it time and time again, through actions and words alike, having it so plainly stated and laid bare had Risu’s heart squeeze tight and hot. Foreign, and alien, was someone caring about him, and him feeling the same, but with Aikawa it felt easy. Even though many aspects of friendship and being close with someone were completely new to him, with Aikawa it never felt out of place, or scary, but there was something sitting deep in his chest that was greedy for more. He wanted all he could get and then some, yet was still thrown for a loop at every time the distance between them grew closer.
Risu looked at the space behind Aikawa instead of at him, not wanting to see what Aikawa saw of his expression reflected back. He nodded, hoping it was smooth. His head felt heavy, and askew.
Aikawa seemed to take a bit to just consider Risu before him, before exhaling a laugh and clapping his uninjured shoulder with the palm of his hand. Risu wondered, and also tried to put out of his mind, just what Aikawa saw before him.
“I mean, we’re partners, right? Makes sense. Now turn back around and help me with your shirt. Unless you want this shit all over it,” and to prove his point, swirled the bottle of liquid with one hand. Blood was enough of a pain to wash out.
Biting back another laugh and rolling his eyes, Risu dutifully did as he was told. Once he was back around, he lifted his one arm, while raising his injured one as much as he dared. Aikawa took the hem and lifted, pulling it up and over in one motion, taking extra care to avoid letting the fabric touch his open wound. Risu could feel Aikawa lean far back from him, and went to glance at him, but his balled-up shirt rocketing to hit the wall in front of him had him cover his mouth with one hand to stifle an ugly snort instead. Hopefully his neighbors weren’t home.
“Did you fucking wind up?”
Risu felt more than saw Aikawa shrug, and he seemed to be struggling to keep his tone even while trying to contain his own laughter. “It’s a talent.”
“Hey, you better watch what you say to the guy with the first aid kit. I’ll put the bacteria back into your ouchie if you’re not nice to me.”
Risu shook his head with a stupid grin. He caught Aikawa smirking from the corner of his eye.
After a second of letting the moment simmer, Aikawa brought a steady hand to the nape of Risu’s neck, and tilted his head to the side for better access to the injury. His hand was warm, and comforting, and Risu had to stop himself from automatically leaning back towards the touch. He felt like jelly where skin met skin.
“Might sting, just tell me if it’s too much, yeah?” and Aikawa’s voice was so close, and intimate. Goosebumps littered his arms. Risu hummed a response, not trusting himself to open his mouth and not say something stupid.
It did sting, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as the stab itself. With Aikawa being so gentle with it, it was hard to find it all that annoying or uncomfortable. Risu more so found himself focusing on the warm breath of Aikawa so close behind him, and the feeling of the frame behind him. Like before, Risu fought to keep his body lax, and his own breathing from stuttering to a stop. The heat from the palm at his neck seemed to spread throughout his entire self.
Aikawa had patched him up plenty of times before, and he had done the same on some occasions. Yet, this time, it felt different. Maybe because they were closer, better friends than all those other times, but it felt like a progression towards something Risu wasn’t just inexperienced with, but completely unaware of. It had him feeling like he was free-falling into a black abyss, and Aikawa stood at the bottom, ready to catch him. He wanted to ask, to affirm any of what he felt, but it was like the moment he said anything, it would be over. And even if he wanted more of this unknown they may be headed towards, he was fine with this, as it was. He was fine with the right now. Yet-
“You’re..good at this,” Risu croaked, his throat feeling dry. Anything to stop himself from tumbling down that train of thought.
Aikawa paused very briefly, then continued applying some lukewarm ointment Risu couldn’t name. If Risu wasn’t so in-tune with him, he may have never even noticed.
“Well, yeah,” he said, but did not elaborate.
Risu chalked it up to another moment of Aikawa’s private personality. It was odd, sometimes, and seemed like it didn’t fit someone as bright and funny and kind as Aikawa, to be so particular with certain details of his life. Yet he never tried to press it, figuring that maybe someday, he’d earn the right to know it all.
Soon, the hand at his neck retreated, along with the warmth it came with. His body felt suddenly chilled, the mildew heavy air in his apartment enclosing on this moment between the two of them. The stinging stopped, but it had become so unnoticeable that it barely even registered.
“‘M gonna wrap it now,” was all Aikawa said before he very gently took Risu’s arm and pulled it out and away from his body, careful to avoid jostling his shoulder. Risu’s brain seemed to fizzle out while Aikawa bandaged and wrapped, and whatever else he may have been doing. The sensations of Aikawa’s hands on him leaving him both incredibly wound up but also so soothed, mind pleasantly humming. Heavy and light, was his body.
Risu was called back to attention as Aikawa secured the bandage, pulled loose around his shoulder. He patted his work once, lightly, then stood. He fumbled everything back into the box, then sealed it tight, and moved to place it back in the kitchen cabinet. Risu let himself unwind, sinking into his bed, feeling so tired and so, so awake. The stab had blurred into a dull pulse, along with most of everything else.
Risu failed to notice Aikawa making his way back to him, his vision seeming to blur and every blink much longer than the last. Aikawa’s face peered at him from above, relaxed and even, and fond. He pulled the blanket from the bed, then ushered Risu to lay down, laying the blanket on top of him. He would’ve joked about Aikawa treating him like a kid, but this felt so new, and raw, and Risu didn’t dare to ruin it.
“Well, I should probably head out,” Aikawa murmured, pulling back from where he was hovering over the bed. His voice sounded strained, and Risu couldn’t place why.
And before he could even process the thought, Risu, through sleep-lidded eyes and curled in the blanket Aikawa wrapped around him, head lulled into honesty, said, “Stay.”
Aikawa’s expression seemed to shutter, and there was a second regret built in Risu’s chest like bile. Like he was about to choke on it. He struggled to sit back up, frantic, for the free fall he was in no longer had someone to catch him at the bottom.
“You, you could take the couch, or-”
Aikawa, completely catching Risu off guard, flung his whole body across the bed with a loud whumph. Legs trapped, Risu stared in disbelief.
“Oh, but, I’m just too tired to even make it there, good sir. I’ll have to lay dead here, forever, if you’d be so kind,” Aikawa said, face so completely enveloped in fabric that it was a struggle to even hear him. Risu bit the inside of his cheek to stop from laughing like he was crazed.
“Just get up and over here,” he snickered, hitting Aikawa’s head with a closed fist. He felt manic.
Aikawa slowly lifted himself from the bed, and when his head was free, their eyes met. Aikawa’s tan face held a very charming pink tone, and he had a very genuine grin twisting his handsome features. His dark eyes seemed to swallow him entirely. Risu’s heart beat so wildly in his chest he wouldn’t be surprised if Aikawa could hear it.
He gingerly scooted over, making room next to him, and freeing the blanket for Aikawa to climb inside. It took a second or two, but Aikawa eventually took an end, and very gently eased himself in. It was a tight squeeze; the bed wasn’t big in the first place and they both weren’t anywhere near small. Taking care to keep his bandage in place, Risu moved to lay on his side, facing Aikawa.
Facing each other, he felt lightheaded. He felt so much in this one instance, his mind a buzz of thoughts, sensations, and feelings. In his drowsy haze, though, the only thing that his head seemed to properly register was just how good he felt, in this moment. And how greedy he was for even more.
Sleep tugged his eyes closed finally, and Risu heard himself say, before he fell asleep next to the most important person in his life, “Goodnight, Aikawa.”
He wasn’t sure, later on, if he had dreamt it, but a feeling not unlike a hand carding it’s way through his hair had him shifting closer to chase it. A near silent laugh. Warm breath fanning it’s way across his nose.