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apitherapy for the weary

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Out of the corner of his eye, Rinne sees a flash of red slipping into the common room. Curiosity piqued, he walks over and looks inside. 

On the couch, Amagi Hiiro is seated next to a blond figure. They’re chatting idly, but he can’t quite make out the conversation nor tell who the other is, but judging from their height and Hiiro’s tone of voice, he suspects it’s a senpai.

The TV lights up and the title screen for a fighting game appears. Hiiro’s back straightens up in excitement. The senpai hands Hiiro a controller and the game begins. Rinne wishes he could see Hiiro’s face, because he’s always loved the way his eyes light up when he’s happy, how despite their matching features, Hiiro has a sparkling innocence that he’s never had. He muses to himself -- he didn’t know that Hiiro knew what a game console was, let alone enjoyed playing them. Smiling in surprise, he leaves the two to their gaming and walks away from the common room.

--

The elevator dings, and Shu steps out. Poised as always, he’s carrying a stack of papers, but stops to nod in greeting. 

“Amagi. I hope you’re not thinking of causing any more trouble,” Shu says.

“Nothing you need to worry about, Shu-kun.” Rinne laughs, drawing out a sigh and small head shake from the other man. Shu looks like he’s about to go off about how unseemly Rinne’s actions have been, but before he can start, Rinne snatches one of his papers off the stack. Upon reading it, he realizes that it’s filled with notes about stage designs - lighting, background, effects, all meticulously detailed. Despite their complexity, the notes are easy to understand, and he can feel Valkyrie’s unique flare through Shu’s precise handwriting and diction. He’s always admired Shu’s ability to envision artistry, and even more so the way he executes his ideals so perfectly on stage. He keeps these thoughts to himself, instead waving the paper around when Shu reaches for it. He teases him for a while longer, then drops the page and dashes into the elevator, hitting the “close door” button. Shu shoots him a look of annoyance but not distaste as the doors close, and responds with a wide smile and wave.

--

Humming, he opens the door to a practice room and finds a small figure hunched over a bag. He knocks loudly on the open door, and Tsukasa flinches, startled.

“Oh, Amagi-san from Kohakun’s unit. I apologize for going overtime, I will be finished cleaning up in a minute.” He bows, and turns back to his bag. Tsukasa’s hair is slick, loose strands clinging onto his face and neck. He shuffles around the room, tossing his towels into his bag, and picks up several empty water bottles. Despite his tired look, Tsukasa is quick and clears the room in no time. He gives one last glance around the room, and heads towards the door. As Tsukasa approaches, Rinne hypothesizes that if Kohaku is easy to tease, then Tsukasa is also easy to tease because they are related (albeit distantly). He leans against the open door and crosses his arms.

“Our Kohaku-chan is always talking about you, y’know? He says all sorts of things about you, and some of the stuff is pretty unexpected for a young master. Well, I guess I shouldn’t force my image of a young master onto you.”

“What? I do not believe that I’ve done anything outrageous, aside from the kidnapping incident. As the leader of Knights and--”

“You sure treat kidnapping lightly, don’t you? Kohaku-chan’s gonna be disappointed to find out that young master Tsukasa regularly takes part in such lawless practices~ Gyahaha! Anyway, all of that was a joke, so don’t worry about it.”

“I-- what?” Tsukasa looks up at Rinne, confused. The initial confusion fades away when he sees the other’s cheeky grin, and is replaced with contempt. “You are every bit as troublesome as I imagined, Amagi-san. I will be taking my leave now, goodbye. Give my regards to Kohakun,” he huffs, and walks away briskly. 

“Oka~y, young master,” Rinne says, closing the door. He ruminates about the similarities between Kohaku and Tsukasa -- their eyes have the same righteousness, the same deep conviction beneath the bright purple surface.

--

He pushes open the cafe door, and a bell jingles. The aromatic smell of coffee fills his nose, and his eyes dart around the shop. When he finds what -- or rather, who, he’s looking for, his eyes light up and he walks over. 

“Welcome to-- oh, it’s just you, Rinne-kun. I’m still on the clock so please don’t cause a fuss,” Niki begs. “Sit wherever you’d like.”

He’s in an accommodating mood, so he lets Niki work without pestering him for a free drink or two. He instead opts for a glass of water, having blown his money on pachinko on the way to the cafe. He takes a seat at the bar and makes idle talk with the employee working behind it, who recognizes Rinne from the plethora of visits he’s made before. The chatter is pleasant but shallow, both of them simply using it as a way to pass the time.

A little while later, Niki calls for him, and they head home together.

---

He lazes on the couch, flipping through channels on the TV. Chopping sounds resonate from the kitchen as Niki makes dinner, humming a tune that sounds vaguely familiar. Nothing catches his eye until a familiar voice rings out from the TV, promoting a new drama series. Long silver hair, golden eyes, and a voice like silk -- Eden’s leader, Ran Nagisa. It’s a short commercial, but the aura Nagisa exudes is more than enough to garner interest in the drama. Rinne doesn’t quite catch the name, having been too focused on Nagisa. He shrugs it off, and lets the TV drone on. Stretching his arms above his head, he turns his attention to the kitchen. Niki is still at work, frying something on the stove. Rinne strides over behind him and blows lightly on his neck.

“Hyah, Rinne-kun!? Stop, you could have made me my pan,” he whines, but Rinne knows that Niki is much more a chef than an idol, and he would never let his beloved food be ruined. Rinne laughs, much to Niki’s chagrin, and is kicked out of the kitchen. “I’m almost done so just sit down and behave!” Niki huffs, turning his attention back to the cooking. 

Soon enough, the two are seated across from each other, and the sound of chopsticks clicking against bowls fills the apartment.

---

Niki is a heavy sleeper, which has become a requirement for being Rinne’s roommate. The latter is showering, curtains drawn but door open, letting out both light and noise from the bathroom. Rinne finishes his shower and quickly wipes himself off, stepping into his sleep wear. Towel in one hand and toothbrush in the other, he stares himself down in the mirror.

Eventually, he finishes and shuts the door to the bathroom, leaving just the fan whirring. The small alarm clock on Niki’s bedside drawer reads 1:42am, and he is sound asleep despite the disturbance. Rinne slips under the covers next to him and stares up at the ceiling. He shifts slightly so he’s facing Niki, but the other has his back to him. Rinne reaches out and plays with his hair, letting it slip between his fingers. 

Since they first met, Niki has always, always tolerated Rinne’s personality. He’s taken care of him, helped him, and supported him through thick and thin. Rinne is thankful for it, of course, but doesn’t fully understand the reason behind it. Niki is a capable guy -- a bit dumb at times, but with his skill, he could easily walk a much different path. But he’s stuck with Crazy:B despite it all, through Rinne’s rampages, whims, and selfish decisions.

And it’s not just Niki. Crazy:B, CosPro, Hiiro -- they’ve all become pillars of support, people he can talk to and count on.

He laughs quietly to himself. Someone like him, who is akin to a stain on the world, who exists to sting others, who ropes innocents into his risky bets, has found so many things that he would not gamble away even if it meant his life. 

Closing his eyes, he falls asleep to the sound of Niki’s soft breathing and the faint buzz of the bathroom fan.