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ehi, non lo fare.

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“ahh~! [benvenuto] italy! we have landed and arrived safely!” 

tsukasa let out a sigh of relief and joy rolled up into one. he was practically glowing, holding his arms out as he took in the italian air.

“you don’t need to announce that everytime we come here, tsukasa-chan.” arashi joined his side, suitcase full of her luggage in one hand. “hurry up ritsu-chan, i don’t want to spend another minute in this airport!” 

from behind them, ritsu let out a yawn. he hauled his own luggage along with him, walking along until he reached his unit mate’s side. “sorry~, ‘m just not suited to airplanes.” 

“that’s why i told you to sleep while we were on the flight, silly. surely it wasn’t worth staying up to watch italian soap operas with us.” she chalked it up to ritsu’s sheer curiosity rather than him actually being interested in the show itself, unable to ignore the way arashi would gasp and tsukasa would mumble “how scandalous…” everytime they were hit with a new plot twist.

ritsu hardly took her words to heart, mumbling something to himself about napping in the taxi instead. she tutted at him, though arashi already knew it was futile. “your hair’s a mess, ritsu-chan. come here.” 

arashi tried her best to smoothen the vampire’s hair down, ritsu being too sleepy to bat her hand away. tsukasa peeked over her shoulders, blinking curiously at his senpais. 

“i don’t get it. ritsu-senpai looks the same as he always does?” 

“that’s because you don’t understand preserving your looks like i do, tsukasa-chan. really, you should’ve come to my cosmetics class when i gave you the chance, it would’ve taught you a lot!” 

tsukasa frowned, “no thank you. if i had gone, i feared it would put me on the same level as sena-senpai.” he had the audacity to look repulsed at the mere thought of such a comparison, much to the amusement of arashi and ritsu (now slightly more awake at the interaction), “i sincerely had to refuse for that reason, my apologies narukami-senpai.” 

“fufu~ i can’t fault you on it if that’s the reason but i would like you to come with me to one still. you looked so pretty when we did that collab with love liner. it’d be a waste to not use that pretty face of yours again, right ritsu-chan~?” 

the laugh ritsu let out was a drowsy one, cracking a knowing smile at arashi despite his sleepiness, “sounds like nacchan just wants to use suuchan as a practice dummy~” she threw her hands up in surrender, cheeky you got me expression written all over her face. 

their visits to florence were a rarity strictly speaking, but they’d been here enough times to not feel entirely out of place here. knights had been granted a few days of respite by their management so the most logical thing to do in their leader’s and the two third years’ eyes was to go and visit izumi and leo abroad. “we haven’t seen you both in ages, plus we have a lot of achievements to celebrate, do we not?” had been the agreed upon excuse, with the two graduates agreeing rather easily to hosting their core knights for the time being. leo had been beyond excited in their shared group chat, his keysmashed answers testament to that. izumi had complained somewhat, before helping tsukasa buy their plane tickets, trying to make everything perfect for their arrival.

speaking of which-

“oi!” their conversation came to a pause, glancing in the direction of the shout, “how long are you brats gonna keep me standing around for? seriously, i came here because you wanted an escort.” 

izumi’s aggravation brought back a nice sense of normality for them all. the model was stood by himself, arms folded and slight exhaustion written on his face. despite that, he still made sure to look picture-perfect as always. hair combed back, izumi stood clad in a navy button down t-shirt, purposely popping down the top button to expose skin, matching it with black jeans, cropped at his ankles. his usual shaded sunglasses rested on top of his hair, izumi’s piercing blue eyes on full display, narrowing in their direction.

“our apologies, sena-senpai.” tsukasa wheeled his suitcase over to izumi, spring in his step as he did so, “florence is just a truly beautiful place to be, [marvelous] in every way!” the redhead’s eyes practically sparkled as he spoke. they’d visited izumi and leo in florence a few times by now, tsukasa’s excitement never once dwindling. 

izumi sighed, though with a smile this time around. “you never change, do you kasa-kun...whatever. how was the flight? you all look...like different levels of the how was P.E. today meme morisawa sent me.” 

"the flight was good. we just spent it watching italian dramas, didn't we?" tsukasa nodded in agreement, arashi grinning, "we'll be able to start talking in italian like you soon enough." izumi chuckled at the thought, unable to take it seriously considering how stupid his lovers sounded mimicing his italian.

"sure, sure. what about you, kuma-kun? you look...the most dead here."

ritsu let out another yawn, lazy smile in izumi’s direction, “secchan, my favourite human pillow...well, after maa-kun.” he plodded over to the silver haired boy, falling gracefully into his arms and leaning his weight onto izumi, “mhm, you’re still as comfy as ever.”

“g-get off me, geez! we’re in public, you know!” izumi spluttered out, making no effort to actually push the ebony haired boy off of him. with a resigned sigh, he glanced over to arashi and tsukasa, “tell me, which one of you is responsible for keeping this one up on the plane then.” 

in unison, the king and queen of knights pointed directly at ritsu. “they’re pointing at me, aren’t they?” izumi nodded, “rude. we’ve been in italy for 5 minutes and i’m already being bullied...if only tsukippi was here to be mad on my behalf.” he huddled closer to izumi, smiling when the other boy instinctively wrapped his arms around him to hold him.

“i was wondering about that. did leo-senpai not come here with you, sena-senpai?” 

izumi shook his head, “i’ve literally just come here from a photoshoot gig, so i haven’t seen that guy since yesterday morning." he shrugged nonchalantly, "he's still waiting for us at the apartment, as far as i know."

the others accepted that easily, nodding in understanding. izumi’s modelling career had been fairly stagnant when he first moved to florence, subject of...a few sleepless nights and concerned conversations between the knights still in japan. things were definitely looking up for him a lot more now though, connections through leo and his other graduates serving him pretty well in the modelling industry abroad.

“mhm, it’s been so long since we’ve seen tsukippi~” 

“fufu, you’re right. sometimes, i can still hear his voice…” 

with an incredulous cry, tsukasa frowned at his unit mates, “please don’t imply leo-senpai is deceased! he sent us all a [message] yesterday to inform us he is very much alive.” after saying that, tsukasa’s expression shifted to one of self-amusement, “then again, leo-senpai is the type who would annoy you even from the grave.” 

they could all agree with that, the thought of leo as a ghost haunting them persistently an extremely vivid image. the phantom of the composer would annoy them 24/7, loud wahahaha~☆ laughter rhythming in their ears even from beyond the grave. either that, or they’d be made to chase their ghost boyfriend around town trying to get him to stay put for once. still, it wasn’t a thought that sounded half bad to any of them, used to leo’s antics by now. 

“i wanna hurry up and see him then, secchan.” ritsu mumbled, before letting out a yawn. izumi finally pushed the vampire off of him, ritsu taking to lean on the top of his suitcase instead. the model muttered something under his breath, how insatiable his partners were, how they were always like this whenever they came to florence. 

“yes, ritsu-senpai is right. we are in your care, sena-senpai~” tsukasa was much more courteous with his words, though he did add in a hushed tone, “also...i fear if we dawdle any longer, it will be [detrimental] to ritsu-senpai’s health.” ritsu gave their youngest a lazy smile, appreciating the concern. he also couldn’t help but revel in the slight coddling whenever it came his way too, basking in it with pleasure. 

the words from their king were enough for izumi to give a curt nod, “it can’t be helped then”  falling from his lips.

“right, let's go then. i’ll leave you behind if you aren’t quick.” izumi turned on his heels, making his way to the airport exit. the younger knights gathered up their luggage, following behind him with laughter. 

 

⇢ ⚔️ ⇠

 

the taxi journey allowed them to catch up somewhat, if only for a short while. 

“would you look at that, florence is as beautiful as ever~” arashi hummed, glancing out of the window for a moment before shifting her attention to izumi, “have you gotten any better at exploring the city? it’d be a waste to live here and not actually go out, after all.”

“what do you take me for, naru-kun. how else do you think i’ve gotten so good at the local language?” he smiled, pride in his words as he spoke, “you see the street over...there? i go there pretty regularly, since they sell clothes in my kind of style."

arashi nodded earnestly at his response, izumi filing away in his mind that he definitely had to share more of his tales around florence with his girlfriend. she seemed ready to ask more but at that point, ritsu stirred from his place on her lap. 

“oh dear, did we wake you up ritsu-chan? forgive your noisy onee-chan this once.” 

“mhm? not at all, nacchan and secchan are nice background noise.” he waved off her concerns, stretching his arms as far as they could go upwards in this taxi. ritsu’s expression still showed obvious signs of drowsiness, but he simply wiped any lingering exhaustion from his eyes with a yawn, “‘m just gonna sleep more at secchan and tsukippi’s place. it’s uncomfortable in here.”

“i was wondering how you were managing, ritsu-senpai. narukami-senpai’s thighs are certainly comfortable, but the [position] you were in was a little...it did not look nice at all.” 

ritsu grinned, his turn to be prideful as he stated, “you underestimate me suuchan. i can sleep anywhere!” 

“no, that’s not something to be proud of when we kept finding you asleep on the fucking floor at yumenosaki?” izumi scolded him, although that fact only seemed to make ritsu look more pleased with himself and his penchant for dozing off wherever he could. as much as his fellow knights chided him for it, it was something ritsu joked about rather than detested largely about himself.

(plus, he got free piggybacks from it a lot so who was he to complain?)

“what about you izumi-chan? you’re so far away that we never get to hear what you’re up to~!” 

“my modelling career is taking off, i’d say. i’m getting jobs left, right and center over here.” izumi folded his arms, not bothering to hide his grin, full of well-deserved pride. 

"of course you'd say that." tsukasa stated, izumi glaring at their mouthy junior. he seemed ready to say more before tsukasa's gaze travelled to the view out of his window, eyes widening in fascination, "the bakeries! ah, i just saw a confectionary shop too…! is this [heaven]? ahh…!" 

he pointed out all these places, eliciting a hum of acknowledgement from ritsu opposite him. "we'll check them out if you want, suuchan. a day around florence sounds pretty fun~" tsukasa's face broke out into a smile as his hands met ritsu's, bundling them up close to his face as he asked “seriously? you're the best ritsu-senpai!!!”

arashi and izumi were left to watch the exchange in amusement. 

“going around florence together would be fun.” arashi smiled, “do you think leo-kun would mind?”

“nah. that guy’s all about exploring, honestly. the amount of times he’s dragged me out because his inspiration is suddenly calling...i can’t catch a break, naru-kun.” he let out a mock exasperated sigh, arashi laughing at his fake pain.

“that’s leo-kun for you, huh. fufu, it’s good to hear he’s enjoying himself out here too.” 

“yeah. he sucks up languages like a sponge, you know. leo-kun’s italian skills are weirdly not shit so i don’t have to do much talking for him.” izumi definitely considered that a win, grinning to himself. thanks to madara’s influence during...the mess that was their second year, leo had practically been around the world already, finding it easy to cling onto the local language as a result.

“haa...now i wanna hear tsukippi’s italian accent. secchan’s is already really sexy so his has gotta be the same~” 

izumi raised his brow at ritsu, though he didn’t refute his claims. “sexy? ...what are you talking about.”

tsukasa nodded methodically in agreement. “ritsu-senpai is correct. there’s something quite, [sensual] about your [italian.] it is no wonder why our fans always ask you to speak it at our fan meetings.” there was no trace of sarcasm in their youngest’s voice, much to izumi’s surprise. he felt his cheeks heating up, though he tried to scoff his embarrassment off. 

“that’s, well of course it’s sexy. it’s me, duh.” he laughed, shaking his head. “italian just suits me perfectly. come il cacio sui maccheroni, you know?” 

he received a mixed response of mock swooning (ritsu and arashi) and pleased applause (tsukasa), though he couldn’t hide his embarrassment anymore. izumi found his head in his hands, not wanting his partners to see just how hot his face had become as he stumbled out a “s-stop that, seriously.” 

“[amazing] sena-senpai! i really felt my heart skip a beat!” 

“i know, right? our izumi-chan’s frustratingly sexy when he wants to be. i’m ready to be ravished when we get home by this izumi-chan if anyone else is on board~?”

tsukasa nodded enthusiastically, joined shortly after by ritsu’s low hum of “thirded. italian secchan ruin me any day of the week.” he was going to kill his lovers the second they stepped out of the car. izumi made a mental note to tip their poor driver big time. 

it was going to be a long taxi ride. izumi just hoped leo was having fun back at their apartment...more fun than what he was having to endure, anyway. 

 

⇢ ⚔️ ⇠

 

izumi attempted to phone leo as they reach the door of their shared apartment.  “if he’s not decent by the time we get in…” he muttered to himself, phone to his ear. it wasn’t a big deal by any means if he wasn’t, the five of them having seen each other in various displays of undress countless times. their sex life was still wildly consistent, even if they were all able to meet less and less nowadays. izumi’s actions seemed more like formality, if anything.

“does leo-kun usually walk around your apartment naked or something?” 

“fufu. it’s definitely a tsukippi-like thing to do…” ritsu chuckled, expression less sleepy than it had been in the taxi. arashi and tsukasa laughed with him, agreeing with the sentiment. leo was definitely an eccentric person, running ahead at speeds they once struggled to keep up with. it was the sort of behavior they were used to by now, even if it became frustrating at times.

as the laughter fizzled out, their gazes travelled back to izumi. 

“izumi-chan? what’s wrong?” the phone was still being held up to his ear, izumi clutching it tightly in his hand. he hadn’t spoken a word yet, only indication that something was off being the shift in expression, slight frown on his features. 

slowly, he lifted the phone down, gaze wary. “he isn’t picking up.” 

by itself, that fact wasn’t anything to worry about. it was such a trivial thing that the other knights could only laugh, not fazed in the slightest.

“that’s it? i’d be more surprised if leo-kun did pick up, you know.” 

“knowing leo-senpai, he’s probably lost his phone again. there is no need to frown, sena-senpai.” tsukasa smiled. ritsu and arashi nodded at that, aware of how frequently leo misplaced or forgot about his phone. it was an action their king had scolded him over and over for, considering how they were countries apart now and how it was crucial for them to hear from leo every once in a while. of course, some of his lectures were bound to fall on deaf ears...this was tsukinaga leo they were thinking about.

izumi seemed to think about tsukasa’s dismissal for a few seconds, expression not entirely believing but unable to argue against it. it was definitely a leo thing to do. 

still…

he glanced back at the screen, photo of leo being reflected back at him. he’d taken it on leo’s behalf, his boyfriend posing in front of the leaning tower of pisa when they’d gone sightseeing together. it was a typical tourist photo, leo making it look like he was, indeed, leaning against the structure. if it was anyone else, izumi would’ve rolled his eyes (in fact, he had rolled his eyes at leo when he thrusted the phone he thankfully hadn’t lost yet into izumi’s hands, excitedly asking for a photo) but seeing that carefree smile stretched across leo’s face, italian sunlight hitting him just right, cheeks practically glowing, was a sight izumi felt truly lucky to behold.  

it was a genuine smile. leo had more smiles and more love in his heart than the world saw sunny days. he’d sworn to protect that innocent love nestled in his boyfriend’s being, doing everything he could to make sure that smile of his never faded away, and giving leo his own beautiful smiles in return. izumi was still left to worry though, terrified feelings locked in his own heart and pushed down for no-one to acknowledge. 

was it really just those feelings of his slowly being dredged back up to the surface? he kept his eyes trained on the leo smiling wide in front of the tower of pisa, not a trace of sadness in his expression. 

he hadn’t that seen that bright demeanor of his boyfriend’s in person in over a day, granted.

“secchan~?” ritsu’s voice pulled izumi from his thoughts, the vampire blinking curiously at the graduate, “it’s fine if tsukippi’s running rampant. just hurry up and open the door, i wanna collapse already.” 

“this is why i told you to sleep on the airplane!” arashi pouted, punctuating her words with a pointed finger, manicured nails almost mocking ritsu. izumi sighed at the familiar scene in front of him, worries eased if only for a moment as he muttered out a yeah yeah i’m opening the door now.

key in its hole, izumi gave it a quick turn before the opening click made itself known. he opened the door, beckoning the rest of his unit mates in with him as he walked in.

“i’m home, leo-kun!! the others are here too, though they’re much less important so?”

that was what izumi called out, his voice loud enough to reverberate through their small apartment.

there was no response. 

izumi turned the front door light switch on, noting that he was now able to see leo’s shoes were in the same place as they usually were. their eccentric boyfriend had to have been here somewhere.

arashi frowned, “that’s weird. usually leo-kun’s always the first to greet us...unless he’s sleeping in?” the look izumi gave her shut down that theory immediately. leo’s body clock was one he didn’t try to make much sense of (afterall, the ginger haired boy would make a point to sleep beside him and snuggle whenever izumi wanted it so who was he to complain?) but he wouldn’t just fall asleep knowing the rest of knights were to be reunited. 

it didn’t make sense to him. glancing around, he could tell ritsu and arashi were feeling the same.

“...um? i don’t entirely understand the tense [atmosphere] but leo-senpai might just be composing?” gaze flickering between his senpais, tsukasa interjected warily. perhaps it was due to the concerned demeanor izumi had been building up since they’d entered, but tsukasa didn’t quite understand the fuss. “that is the sort of person he is...though i imagine the best option would for us to look for leo-senpai, no?” 

tsukasa’s rationality in the face of his worried and bickering seniors was a trait izumi had come to respect. he wouldn’t say it aloud of course, but the redhead had gotten so used to the bullshit that was knights drama so quickly, his words seemed almost like authority.

as expected of our new king.

izumi let out a sigh, “yeah...yeah, you’re right.” he wiped the sweat threatening to form on his forehead, relieved if only for a moment. 

stalking towards their bedroom door, izumi knocked once. twice. 

“leo-kun?? wake up, we have company!” no response. he knocked again, more fervently this time. arashi, ritsu and tsukasa stood behind him, primarily just excited at the prospect of knights being reunited after so long. izumi felt the same way, though there was something nagging inside of him the longer he didn’t get any sort of response from leo. no sleepy yell of “5 more minutes!”, none of him telling izumi to clear off because he was mid-masterpiece (and had a deadline to hit)-

just...radio silence.

fuck this izumi thought to himself, finally making the conscious decision to push the door open himself. if leo wanted to ignore him and be left unbothered, he shouldn’t have left the door unlocked! 

he burst into the room, the rest of knights filing in afterwards. 

“leo-kun, seriously get u-” 

izumi and leo’s bedroom was the same as it had always been. the lights were off, but the telltale shape of the double bed propped up against the wall was still familiar to the group. the shelves izumi and leo had put up together still held several trinkets and fake plants on them, displayed in such a way that the room was somewhat minimalistic, but very them.

their bed was undisturbed, no telltale leo-shaped lump to indicate the other male was asleep as the others had believed. he surveyed the room, not a thing out of place, looking around for some sort of sign of leo, anything, anything at all-

and then izumi’s heart sank.

“...leo-kun.”

slumped over in the corner of the bedroom sat leo, or rather what looked to be a husk of the usually ecstatic composer. he sat with his legs bunched up beneath him on the floor, hands firmly gripping his knees. his face was obscured by the darkness, but the way his body shivered, wracked with what could be either sleepiness or tears was unmissable.

he wasn’t sure how long leo had been like this. he was fine when izumi had last seen him, right? yeah, izumi was certain of that. leo had reassured him that he’d be fine alone, that it wouldn’t be for long because “everyone else is gonna be here tomorrow too, right? i’m gonna get to kiss all of my knights, so stop being such a worrywart sena~!” and izumi was perfectly fine with that, both of them more than capable of being apart for a day. 

...so what the hell had happened here?

izumi chanced a step forward, noticing a notebook in front of leo as his eyes became more adjusted to the darkness. it looked as if he’d scribbled notes all over the open pages, an unintelligible cacophony being left in its wake. whilst he couldn’t see a pen anywhere on leo’s person like this, the majority of what was reflected back on once plain white sheets looked to be from a black biro.

although.

there were certain parts of the page that weren’t colored in the same way as the pen scribbles. the color was a lot darker, blotted here and there as izumi looked closer, blood running cold as it began to hit him full force exactly what he was witnessing. 

“‘s not…” in a quiet voice, leo spoke, although clearly not aimed at any of them. by the looks of it, the graduate had yet to acknowledge their presence entirely, “not enough...it’s not enough-” 

it all happened in slow motion. leo lifted his hand up, the appendage being brought up to his mouth. if one could have a moment flash right before their eyes, izumi figured it would be right about now, images of the ginger-haired boy in their second year of school locking himself away in his room, screaming and throwing shit at whoever tried to get close to him. he had no choice but to back away when things got that bad, the guilt whenever the memories popped up in his nightmares immeasurable. izumi wasn’t about to make the same mistake twice.

“not again-!” 

those were the words that left his mouth as he made his way to leo, dropping to his knees in front of him. he didn’t stop to think as he grabbed his boyfriend’s wrists, guiding them away from his mouth and pulling them to his chest. as he did so, he noted the dried blood already coating parts of his hands, scars from years ago that’d been reopened with deep bite marks. 

“leo-kun, leo-kun, please.” it was then leo seemed to acknowledge his presence...somewhat. he let out a loud whimper at being restrained all of a sudden, trying to pull his hands out of izumi’s grasp with flurried desperation. he was looking up at izumi, but he wasn’t truly looking at izumi, likely too far-gone to properly tell who was in front of him in the first place - he recognised that far-away look in his eyes all too well.

“no, no, nononononono-!” spilled from leo’s mouth, slinking further back against the wall in an attempt to get away from izumi. his expression and behaviour was that of a small animal backed into a corner by a much larger predator. it was a painful expression for izumi to see, a sickening feeling in the pit of his stomach expanding all at once. regardless of his own discomfort, giving up wasn’t an option. he pushed his fear down, steadfast determination taking over.

izumi held on tight, refusing to let their boyfriend hurt himself anymore. even if leo was furiously resisting it, flailing in something akin to fear, this was the least izumi could do. 

though, maybe that was just the guilt talking. it always was when leo got like this. 

“get off me, get off me! i, i said i could do it, i’m, ‘m gonna make a masterpiece i promise so-” the words were frantic, jumbled nature not like the leo they usually knew.

“if i let go of you, you’ll hurt yourself again leo-kun so i can’t just let you do that!” letting go was the equivalent of a death sentence in izumi’s mind. leo had already hurt himself enough to draw blood - who knew how much worse he could make his wounds?

leo wasn’t pleased by that response, or was it just the fact izumi’s grip was getting stronger? he couldn’t say. what he could say was that leo’s thrashing got worse, desperately refusing izumi’s touch. 

“i promised i was g’nna compose, i promised i promised so get off me!” leo spat out, ignoring izumi’s concern entirely. “‘dunno you, you’re just here to shout at me l-like everyone else so fuck off! leave me alone!”

“it’s me leo-kun, sena. your sena, remember?” he spoke, his own voice shaking. “y-you, you know me. i just need you to listen to me, please-”

“don’t touch me, don’t touch me get off getoff!!!” leo screamed, kicking his legs out. leo was flailing, shrieking in his grasp the longer and tighter izumi held on. he hadn’t reacted in the way he’d been hoping when izumi tried to remind him who he was, izumi having no fucking clue where to go from here other than...away.

izumi sat back, putting his hands up in hesitant surrender. leo didn’t want him. he was making things so much worse than they already were which he hadn’t even thought fucking possible, but it was. his own body ran cold at the notion of being incapable of doing anything else. 

before...before he’d have to give up when things got this bad, didn’t he? leo would be inconsolable, chances of him accidentally hurting himself and izumi way too much of a risk for him to stick around. sena izumi was a coward. he’d say his sorries to leo’s parents, poor ruka who would always without fail give him that look full of hope whenever he showed up, before leaving the tsukinaga household. 

izumi could feel himself beginning to tear up. the quiet, gentle hum of voices behind him reminding him that his other partners were here and witnessing all of this is what stopped him. an almost inaudible, “right. give me a moment” is all he was able to gleam from that conversation before he was joined on the floor. 

“leo-chan, it’s naru.” arashi got down on her knees beside him, taking leo’s hands in her own, “we’re not here to force you to compose, okay? can you look at me, honey?” she traced leo’s scarred knuckles with her thumbs, voice soothing despite her previous startle at the situation unfolding before their eyes. 

she sat patiently, leo slowly but surely locking eyes with her. arashi gave him a sad smile, not ceasing her actions on his hands. he blinked uncertainly at her, not quite trusting her, but also not trying to move away from her immediately. 

that was enough for arashi to continue, “thank you, leo-chan. you’ve gotten yourself into a bit of a state, haven’t you?” she lowered her voice as she continued, speaking in a direct tone, “it's okay, you've done enough now. you don’t need to force yourself to compose, honey.” using the bits and pieces she managed to pick up from izumi and leo’s conversation (if you could even call it that), she tried her best to console their boyfriend, even if it wasn’t her usual strong point.

“do...you recognise who i am right now?” leo didn’t respond, arashi pursing her lips into a straight line, “that’s alright. i’m not here to hurt you, none of us are. i’m your girlfriend, leo-chan, narukami arashi. izumi-chan, your sena, is your boyfriend. we just want to help you, nothing else. if you want me to stop, let go of you, i will.”

she was patient in her actions. arashi had always been highly non-confrontational, a watcher from the sidelines for better or worse, so she didn’t see it fit to force leo into anything. leo didn’t release his hands from her grasp, prompting arashi to continue.

“we’re in your apartment, leo-chan. yours and izumi-chan’s, specifically. you both moved here after graduation, but you still visit japan whenever knights need you, or when inspiration calls for it. do you remember that?” she spoke softly, recalling what would’ve been obvious to everyone else in the room, but the better part of her judgement telling her that leo needed to hear it. 

“you’re not our ou-sama anymore, but that doesn’t mean we only want you to compose for us. you’re family to us, leo-chan. we love you, i love you very much, honey. whatever time you’re recalling, you aren’t there anymore. i promise.” 

leo was quiet, gaze shifting nervously between arashi and izumi. he hadn’t made any movement to indicate he acknowledged ritsu and tsukasa, standing awkwardly behind them, left to survey the situation cautiously. 

“naru…?” he finally spoke, throat hoarse from sobbing and screaming both at himself and izumi, small spark of recognition in his glazed over green eyes, “i...i can’t hear it. the music, i can’t hear it, w-why...why can’t i hear it?” his body began to shudder and shake again, minute tremors noticeable as arashi shared a concerned glance with izumi, the silver-haired boy not quite knowing how to respond either. 

“i don’t know, leo-chan. i don’t know.” she answered honestly, “but i do know that you’re not in the right state of mind to compose.” 

the words didn’t seem to reach leo’s ears, the boy focusing his gaze back onto the notebook beneath him again. arashi kept her hold on his hands, noting a certain dampness as she stroked his knuckles. not averting her eyes from their boyfriend, mostly afraid of what he might do if she did, she spoke, “tsukasa-chan, ritsu-chan. can one of you get some sort of first-aid kit here? izumi-chan, you do have one in the house, right?” izumi nodded absent-mindedly, before the words sunk in properly as he mumbled out a quiet “yeah. in the kitchen.”

“i...i will go and get [first aid.]” tsukasa stated, less of an offer and more resigning himself to a role he knew he could carry out. he stepped away hesitantly, leaving the room as quietly as he could muster as not to cause disturbance. they couldn’t blame their junior at all, this scene far more than he’d ever expected to see from someone like leo. 

tsukasa...was still in the dark about the truth of the war, nobody wanting to break the illusion he had of eichi as his perfect older brother figure. as far as he was concerned, their previous king had crumbled due to actions carried out by izumi, further backed up by the guilt his senpai carried with him constantly. 

it wasn’t their illusion to break. not when everything was going so well for them considering how proudly knights stood in ES. 

“nacchan.” ritsu bent down to her level, angling himself far away enough not to set leo any further on the edge, “tsukippi, he’s dissociating.” 

arashi nodded slowly, seeming to have gotten the same impression as well, ritsu giving a concrete name to it all. “he knows izumi-chan and i are here, right? leo-chan, can you look up at me?” 

leo did just that, wary eyes flickering back up to meet arashi’s. she gave him a smile, quiet “thank you” falling from her lips. his glances between izumi and arashi were still nervous, unsure coupled with his shaking hands, but as she had said, he seemed to acknowledge their existence enough not to shoo either of them away. 

“is...is it worth giving him something to help?” she asked, “you’re being awfully quiet izumi-chan. a bit of help would be appreciated, no?” 

“y-yeah, sorry. i’m...sorry.” izumi looked like a deer in the headlights for a moment, a little taken aback before responding to her question, “giving him something might help, maybe.” he wasn’t too sure himself, but any ideas she had to bring their leo back to them, he readily accepted. arashi offered him a sad smile in gratitude, understanding his attitude as one of helplessness rather than disillusionment. 

“okay, that’s a good place to start then.” 

she said those words, but wasn’t quite sure what to do herself. as it stood, she had nothing on hand with her, their suitcases abandoned in the hallway without a second thought. she could leave leo here with izumi and ritsu whilst she went to look for something, but her thumping heart stopped that. arashi didn’t want leo out of her sight like this, nagging fear of the unknown plaguing her chest. 

the door reopened, tsukasa’s voice quiet in the already silent room “i have brought the [first aid].” 

“thanks tsukasa-chan. i’m sorry to ask again, would you mind getting some ice from the kitchen too?”

“ah, i put some in this glass of water...if that is of use? i was not sure if leo-san had drank anything recently so i just thought…” tsukasa’s words trailed off. their junior taking so long to find the first aid kit was something that’d been pushed to the back of their mind due to the situation at hand, presuming tsukasa likely needed a moment to himself. whilst that was still more than likely true, his train of thought had come in handy in this case.

ritsu waved him over, the redhead passing the first aid kit to izumi, and the glass of cold water to ritsu. 

“here, nacchan. get him to drink this.” she thanked her ebony-haired boy, gently letting go of one of leo’s hands to hold onto the water. 

“leo-chan, can you drink this for me? it’s just water.” she held it up to him, watching leo survey it slowly. she didn’t force it into his hands, patient as he hesitantly grasped it in his now free hand. leo stared at it for a few moments, no one quite able to pinpoint what was going on in their boyfriend’s mind as he did so. he glanced back upward at arashi, her offering him a gentle smile as to not push him any more. 

he lifted the cup to his lips, taking a purposefully slow sip before pulling a face. “‘s cold.” as he said that, his demeanour seemed to relax slightly, content with the knowledge that they really had just handed him water. leo took another sip, and another, eventually being able to drink down at least half of the glass before handing it back to arashi. 

“thank you for drinking it, leo-chan. onee-chan’s super grateful. can you tell me how you’re feeling now?” 

a pause, leo taking a moment to process her words. 

“still...still can’t hear ‘nything.” the words were quiet, his hands still somewhat shaky, “i don’t get it...what’s wrong with me? naru, sena? you, y-you know right? everything’s gone silent and i-i, i dunno what to do…!” that instability that reared its head before was seeping back into his voice, resulting in what they all saw next.

izumi had known leo for almost 4 years now. he’d seen the ginger-haired boy at his best, singing his heart out on stage and pouring his love into whoever would accept it, and at his worst, sobbing underneath his bedsheets and clawing at the skin on his arms.

he had seen leo cry before. his other partners had not, not like this anyway. 

leo brought his knees up to his chest, body beginning to wrack with broken sobs. pressing his face into the fabric of his tracksuit bottoms, leo shielded his face from their eyes, though it didn’t do anything to change what they were all witnessing. 

body held tightly against himself, leo cried. some sobs were muffled, others were not. nobody moved to do or say anything.

the tears ceased after a few minutes, leo having cried himself to complete exhaustion. he lifted his head back up slowly, gaze fixated on his knees as he blinked blearily.

“tsukippi, hey.” ritsu perched himself beside izumi, capturing leo’s attention. wordlessly, he took the first-aid kit out of the model’s hands, grasping it in his own as he spoke, gentle yet serious in tone, “this is ritsu. you remember me, right? suuchan’s, tsukasa is here too. it’s only the five of us in here, yeah?” 

leo nodded slowly, “rittsu...and suo is also here?” he glanced upwards, seeming to acknowledge tsukasa standing hesitantly behind his senpais for the first time. rather than be surprised, he took the information quite easily, reactions a lot more complacent than before. whether that was through arashi’s actions or leo tiring himself out, it was hard to say.

“yeah, it’s just us tsukippi. it might not seem like it to you, but you’re doing well responding to us all.” he smiled for a moment, before letting his gaze fall down to leo’s hands, still holding on tightly to arashi’s. “is it okay for me to clean up your hands? i’ll be as quick as i can manage, i swear that to you.”

“my...hands.” he looked downwards before focusing his attention onto ritsu again, “why?”

“...you’re hurt, tsukippi. it’ll only hurt more if it isn’t treated, is all.” ritsu kept his responses short, clear enough as not to confuse leo any further. arashi cradled leo’s hands in her own, patient as they waited for a response.

leo seemed to think about it for a moment, lips parting as he whispered, “‘kay.” gently, arashi let go of her boyfriend’s hands, allowing ritsu to take control of the situation. the vampire raised his brows at just how badly scarred and bitten the back of leo’s hands truly were, but said nothing more about it. 

the room was silent. ritsu gathered what he needed from the first aid kit, knowledge on injuries like this more abundant that he’d ever want to admit. he glanced back up at leo, the composer’s gaze on his notepad again. when ritsu ended up meeting arashi’s eyes, she could only offer up a sad smile. from his place behind them, tsukasa had moved in a little closer, standing beside arashi with bated breath. 

ritsu was clear as he spoke “this is gonna sting for a moment tsukippi. i’m sorry.” 

he began to dab at the scarred skin with the antiseptic wipes he’d fished out of the kit, whispering small apologies as leo winced at the sensation. “ow, ow!" the vampire had no choice but to be laborious in his actions, not wanting to run the risk of leo hurting himself further. 

leo wasn’t bleeding anymore thankfully, though the bite marks were clear as day. ritsu did all that he could to clean them, dried blood staining wipes leaving marks that’d scab in its wake. the pained moans had stopped by this point too, though in the darkness, ritsu swore he could make out leo’s eyes beginning to water, the composer biting down on his lip, but it hardly seemed appropriate to call it out again. 

“done. i need to bandage you up now, so if you could take off your jacket, this’ll be a lot quicker.” he received a small nod in response. he let go of leo temporarily to allow the ginger-haired boy to shrug his jacket off, letting it land in his lap. there was no hesitation in taking it off, yet he seemed reluctant to have the jacket leave his side as things were now. ritsu didn’t question it, though his focus was solely on leo now, unable to note the flicker of recognition that sparked through arashi’s eyes as she got a proper look at what leo had been shielding himself with. 

leo’s arms were...not a blank slate either. scratches littered pale skin, red marks from his forearms up to where skin met short-sleeves. ritsu was thankful all of these looked superficial, nothing a day or so wouldn’t immediately clear up without a trace, though the fact they were there and this abundant in the first place wasn’t something he could just ignore. from the deep intake of breath on all of his sides, it was clear the rest of knights shared in that sentiment. 

ritsu took one of leo’s hands back in his own, using his other hand to bandage the ginger-haired boy up. leo didn’t resist, giving up his control entirely to ritsu.

rinse and repeat. he took hold of leo’s other hand, wrapping gauze and dressing over it. 

“i’m done tsukippi.” he whispered, placing leo’s hands down gently in his lap. “it’s over now.” 

leo studied the bandages wrapping his hands, movements slow and fatigued. it took a minute or so for him to seem satisfied, enough to nod in affirmation to ritsu’s words.

“i…” leo began to speak, gaze downcast, “i’m tired.” 

his voice was raspy, any more conversation with him seeming impossible for now. arashi was the first to nod, taking leo’s hands in hers again. “mhm, let’s get you to bed, honey.” she helped him up, their boyfriend not resisting in the slightest. he stood with noticeable lethargy, trying to blink the exhaustion out of his eyes enough for arashi to lead him to the bed he shared with izumi. 

tsukasa followed behind, placing the jacket leo had abandoned on the bedside table. he made sure to fold it up, not wanting to cause their boyfriend any further distress. his awkward movements had become more subdued, having adjusted to the situation a little more.

arashi pulled back the sheets on izumi and leo’s shared bed, manicured hands fiddling with the plushness of the duvet as she whispered out, “alright, that should be it.” 

without much of a word, leo got in. he settled himself in the middle of the bed, rolling over onto his side. the room may have still been dark, but it wasn’t difficult to tell that the light in their former king’s eyes had been extinguished for now. 

his back to her, arashi climbed in after leo. her hands reached for the elastic tying his hair in its usual style, pulling it free as gently as she could muster. leo didn’t say anything, but hummed drowsily to show his content at the action. a small victory, of course, but one that saw arashi’s features genuinely soften in gratitude. 

“suo.” leo held out his arms to tsukasa, saying nothing more as he looked up warily at the youngest of his lovers. of course, words weren’t needed for the redhead to know what he wanted. even if a part of him still felt sordidly, sordidly out of place in this situation, if he could help at all like this then he would take it easily.

he slipped into the bed beside leo, allowing the older boy to fall into his arms immediately. leo pressed his face against tsukasa’s chest, likely to leave tear stains that’d be discarded when nightfall came, but by how quickly his body went limp in tsukasa’s arms, leo had already fallen asleep. tsukasa’s hand stroked his back slowly, stopping only when arashi whispered something to him in a hushed tone.

“secchan.” 

izumi glanced up at ritsu, wincing at the glare his ebony-haired boyfriend was giving him. it was a look ritsu rarely gave to his partners, anger reflected in those red eyes. izumi stood paralysed as ritsu spoke at him, voice lowered as not to disturb their other partners, “i was thinking. before, when we entered the room, you said not again, didn’t you? either i misheard you, or you’ve been purposely keeping this shit about tsukippi private from us for...how long i wonder.”

“...” 

“i don’t get you sometimes, i really don’t.” a sharp intake of breath, “how many times have we all promised to be more honest with each other? i get asking you to change overnight isn’t possible for anyone, not sincerely anyway. with you secchan...sometimes i wonder if you’re even trying.”

that hurt. “the hell? i am though?! how can you say something like that to me when you know it’s as fucking far from the truth as anything?” 

“far from the truth, sure.” the way ritsu snorted as he said that saw izumi clenching his fists, hurt turning into frustration at being accused of not trying. in his mind, it was the same thing as being told he didn’t care about their relationship, that the vow they swore to each other in the aftermath of requiem meant nothing to him. 

“oh fuck off kuma-kun. it is. you can be as pissed off at me as you want, i get it but don’t try that bullshit with me. i am honest with you all.”

“yep. you’re always so honest with us, unless it concerns tsukippi, right? i forgot yours and leo’s relationship is so different from the one you have with us, right~?” izumi froze, ritsu chuckling bitterly. it...must’ve been something on the vampire’s mind for a while, he realised, “you get so fussy when nacchan doesn’t open up, when suuchan won’t let us in, but somehow you and tsukippi get to be exempt from that? i don’t get it.” 

“i’ve never said that, don’t...don’t put words in my mouth. you act like you know everything about me, but you don’t, not if you’re gonna stand there and pretend i try to isolate mine and leo-kun’s problems on purpose when that’s never been the case. i, it’s difficult because we’re in a different country to you guys but that doesn’t mean i’ve stopped trying, so?”

“then why didn’t you tell us about this, secchan.” 

it wasn’t a question. ritsu’s expression was cold enough not to warrant any attempt for an answer. izumi wasn’t quite sure how to answer either way, a litany of excuses bouncing around in his mind, the model unable to voice any of them into coherent sentences. he doubted ritsu would listen at this point anyway, the vampire done arguing about it. 

“...ritsu-senpai, sena-senpai, that’s enough.” tsukasa’s voice was quiet, yet it cut through the uncomfortable silence permeating throughout the room. the uncertainty he’d held throughout this situation had been abandoned, low tone carrying the serious weight one would expect from their king. it held no room for debate. 

leo hadn’t stirred in his grasp, thankfully exhausted enough to sleep through his boyfriends’ heated confrontation. 

arashi turned over to face them, her own expression sombre as she spoke, “come, sleep boys. we can talk about it when leo-kun wakes up so...just leave it, okay?” izumi noted the way her voice wavered, guilty feeling inside only increasing. as strong as she was, arguments were not something their girlfriend could handle. he knew that, he knew all of this was going to end this shittily and yet, and yet-

“‘kay.” 

that was all ritsu said, not sparing his partners a glance as he walked to the other side of the bed, motioning for tsukasa to give him enough space to hop in. their junior did just that, letting ritsu lay down on one end of the bed beside him. he didn’t wrap an arm around tsukasa like usual, simply closing his eyes as soon as he got settled.

wordlessly, izumi did the same, heading to the other side of the bed beside arashi. he refused eye contact with her, not wanting to have to make out her disappointed expression in the dimness of the room. 

“izumi-chan-” 

he laid down with his back to her, to all of them. 

izumi closed his eyes, for there was nothing else left for him to say.

 

⇢ ⚔️ ⇠

 

izumi couldn’t sleep. 

he’d laid down pliantly, a few minutes in hearing the familiar hums of sleep from ritsu, shortly followed by tsukasa and then arashi. he supposed he understood, plane ride already exhausting them all, of course this was added stress on another level. seeing his unit mates fall asleep beside him wasn’t enough to lull him into sleep with them though, and after what felt like an eternity of just laying there, he decidedly had enough.

trying not to disturb his partners, izumi got up, sliding out of bed. 

he couldn’t be in here anymore. 

steps quiet, he left the bedroom, letting his legs carry him to the living room. 

izumi found himself opening the doors of their apartment balcony, stepping out and letting out a sigh of relief when the cold air hit him. he really needed fresh air right about now. 

he made his way to the balcony’s railings, lifting his elbows up and balancing his arms on the rails. he’d been lying down for a lot longer than he thought...either that, or the ordeal with leo truly had lasted as long as it felt. izumi wasn’t sure. what he was sure of that it must’ve been the evening, judging by the mandarin orange hues of the sky (funny. it reminded him of leo’s hair color) and the lack of people outside. he stared at what did remain: the few people running home, returning from work, small shops beginning to shut for the day, the cars rushing back through the streets.

he’d fucked up today. he fucked up badly. izumi was painfully aware of that. 

they’d fought with each other before, that wasn’t new. in a relationship of five people, individualists nonetheless, it was inevitable they’d have disagreements. he knew that...but even so, the words ritsu had hit him with replayed in izumi’s mind.

you’re always so honest with us, unless it concerns tsukippi, right? i forgot yours and leo’s relationship is so different from the one you have with us, right~?

was that really true? he and leo shared their own history with each other, one that arashi and ritsu were both partly witness to. of course, there was a lot they weren’t aware of, bumps in the road that had been so big, izumi and leo had done all that they could to cover them up. some things are best left behind in order for one to move on, izumi had always thought, thinking leo was of the same mindset. it’d worked for them so far, hadn’t it?

...well, clearly not anymore.

(izumi had to wonder if it had even worked to begin with.)

“fuck...what’s wrong with me?”

he put his head in his hands, sighing to himself. so annoying! he hated overthinking things like this. it’d be easier to just talk to ritsu himself, right? that sounded for the best - talk everything out with ritsu when his boyfriend woke up (that is, if he even wanted to talk to izumi) and work it all out like that.

...though, he had to wonder if arashi and tsukasa felt the same as the vampire did.

“...izumi-chan?” speak of the devil and she will appear. arashi stood at the balcony door, glancing at him wearily. “what are you doing out here?” she was methodical with her words, refusing to take another step forward until she received some sort of response from izumi.  the panicked concern on her features pulled at izumi’s heartstrings, the expression not suiting his beautiful girlfriend at all.

“i just needed some fresh air.” he paused, meeting her eyes. “i’m not going to do anything stupid, naru-kun.” 

the worry on arashi’s face seemed to die down a bit at that. she joined him on the balcony, standing beside him as she too leaned against the railings. 

“you didn’t manage to sleep at all, did you?” arashi frowned at him, though there wasn’t any visible judgement in it. sometimes, he forgot just how easily she was able to read him. he averted his gaze, the action enough of an answer to arashi. “...i understand. a lot happened today.”

“don’t. i don’t need your pity.” izumi huffed. “you don’t understand because you weren’t the one who fucked up. i did. i...i fucked up, naru-kun.” 

arashi’s frown didn’t waver. she moved herself closer to izumi, standing almost directly beside him. “i’m not pitying you.” or so she said. her stance softened, arashi bringing her chin to rest against her folded arms. she kept her eyes on izumi, even as he looked elsewhere.

“i...fuck, i need to know. what kuma-kun said in there about leo-kun and i’s relationship...do you feel the same?” the curse of arashi being able to read him almost immediately went both ways. there was a flicker of recognition in her purple eyes, one he couldn’t ignore. even if her response wasn’t given straight away, izumi already had his answer. he felt his heart sink even deeper in his chest.

she pursed her lips into a straight line. “mhm, to an extent.” arashi finally got out, the models eyes meeting each other once again. “you already knew that though, didn’t you?” izumi must’ve pulled a face at that, indicated some kind of confusion as arashi narrowed her eyes at him. “requiem, izumi-chan. i...think it’s always been a little like what ritsu-chan said, though today was the straw that broke the camel’s back, you could say.”

“yeah, i...i get that.” he nodded weakly. he hadn’t forgotten what they discussed during requiem, the way their younger partners chided him and leo for talking amongst themselves as if it wasn’t a burden for all of knights to carry together and lessen. arashi’s expression seemed to soften again, if only for a moment.

“...is this a regular thing?” she didn’t specify what this was, though izumi knew. he hesitated before shaking his head. 

“it’s...not really. i can count on hand the times leo’s reverted back to that.” another pause. “leo-kun’s an adult, he can take care of himself. he’s his usual self most of the time, i promise.”

“but you understand why ritsu-chan’s upset, don’t you? i know i am.” 

izumi blinked up at her, confused as to why she would ask something he thought was obvious. “because i didn’t warn you about leo-kun being like this?” he watched as arashi’s grip around the railings tightened, her knuckles seeming to turn white. she simply stared at him for a moment, searching for something in his expression before her hands began to shake.

“...you’re being serious.” her gaze lacked judgement, though he knew she wasn’t happy by his answer either. she let go of the railing, hands balling up into fists. “you didn’t tell us leo-kun was capable of hurting himself. we had to find that all out ourselves, out of pure coincidence.” she stood a step back from the edge of the balcony, turning herself to face izumi. 

“i know. i fucked up naru-kun, i know that-”

“you don’t! you’re not even letting me finish!” anger. that was an expression he didn’t think he’d seen on his girlfriend in a while. it was something she actively suppressed around most of the people she interacted with, including her partners. the shock of her raising her voice was enough for izumi to stand up straight, letting go of the railing to mirror arashi’s stance opposite him.

“you don’t get it at all, izumi-chan! it isn’t that we’re mad you didn’t tell us before, it’s that you didn’t even trust ritsu-chan, tsukasa-chan or i enough to even tell us at all!” her fists shook, though her sharp gaze didn’t waver. 

“i do trust you! we...we trust you three. leo-kun and i not telling you guys had nothing to do with whether or not we trust you!”

“what are we supposed to think though?! this isn’t something you just hide from the people you swore an oath to, people who trusted you enough to swear it back!” izumi winced at that. if arashi picked up on it, she didn’t show any signs of it. “what would you have done if leo-kun was in a worse state than today? that, t-that we would have to phone an ambulance for our boyfriend and watch this all go public whether we like it or not?!”

it wouldn’t ever get to that point he wanted to say, but he couldn’t. he had a pretty good idea of leo’s limits, his rocky mindset when his breakdowns came. arashi didn’t. ritsu, tsukasa...they didn’t know at all. 

“do you know how much that hurts to think about? leo-kun being bombarded by the press, newdi doing absolutely nothing to help him...everyone’s eyes would be on us in the worst way, and we’d be left with no way to shield leo-kun or prove our allegiance to him anymore.” he hated the thought. “what would you have expect us to do in that situation? just, j-just watch leo-kun’s mental state get worse, watch him break apart?!” 

“i can’t lose someone i love again, izumi-chan! i...i just can’t.”

in that moment, the woman stood before him resembled that of arashi at the end of her first year. from the tears in her eyes she couldn’t blink away, the trembling of her fists balled up at her sides - it reminded him too much of the beloved junior who had crumbled behind closed doors to him when her first love had gone to a place her desperate hands could no longer reach.

“oh naru-kun.” he held his arms out, taking a step closer to her. izumi couldn’t stand to see any of his juniors cry, especially not arashi. as much as he considered her a shitty brat, she was his shitty brat to care about, to make sure nobody else but him and her boyfriends saw her break apart. he had sworn to make sure nobody ever hurt her on his watch after what happened to yuu-kun...though he supposed he’d hurt them both enough to fail at that. he pulled her towards his chest, not surprised when she immediately ducked her head down into his shirt, holding onto the fabric tightly. izumi wordlessly wrapped his arms around her, the world around them seemingly going silent. 

“...you’re an idiot, izumi-chan.” he was. with a mumbled i’m sorry, he continued to hold his grasp on arashi’s form, feeling her shudder with the aftershock of her anger and sadness. 

he wasn’t sure how long they stood out there for. arashi’s muffled sobs were all that could be heard from the balcony. izumi stroked small circles into her back, not wishing to break the silence or upset arashi any further. 

“you can let go of me now. ‘m alright.” arashi managed to get out when her tears had died down. izumi was reluctant to let her go, but ultimately did without issue. her make-up had smudged a bit, leaving a small make-up stain on izumi’s shirt where her face had been. 

“you aren’t going to lose leo-kun, naru-kun.” he spoke before she had a chance to say anything else, wanting to address the aforementioned elephant in the room as quickly as possible. she averted her gaze, though that didn’t stop izumi. “...you aren’t going to lose any of us. we have a lot to talk over, right? there’s no way we’d leave you just like that.” 

“can you blame me for being scared though?” his expression softened. izumi couldn’t say he knew the person arashi lost that well, but the aftermath was so volatile that he was worried arashi would break - his junior had gotten so good at putting up a mask in front of everyone else, he feared no-one else would notice his beloved jewel stone slowly chipping away. 

“i’m sorry, naru-kun.”

“i know.” arashi wiped her remaining tears with her arm, offering up izumi a smile when she was done. it was a little rough around the edges, but so genuinely arashi narukami-esque. “you can prove how much you trust us by talking to us, okay? when leo-kun wakes up, that is.” he nodded. arashi was pleased to hear it, chuckling a bit to herself. 

izumi extended his arm out to his girlfriend, feeling his heartbeat calm down when arashi laced her hand in his. “let’s go back in?” 

 

⇢ ⚔️ ⇠

 

“mhm…” arashi and izumi had made their way back inside, running into tsukasa when they stepped into the kitchen. the redhead had his back to them, glass of water held firmly in one of his hands as he let out a sigh. he turned around, eyes widening as he acknowledged his partners’ presence in the room. “a-ah, sena-senpai and narukami-senpai?! you...haven’t been here the whole time, have you?”

“who knows? what sort of embarrassing things are you doing in my apartment, kasa-kun?” izumi laughed light-heartedly. tsukasa pouted, putting down his glass on the kitchen counter and giving them his full attention. he noted his junior’s obvious bedhead, expression still weary with slight exhaustion. 

with a groan, tsukasa muttered “i’m not doing anything weird. i would appreciate it if you didn’t attempt to [slander] me.” 

“fufu~ teasing you is a little fun though, tsukasa-chan. plus, you’re cute even when you’ve just woken up!” arashi spoke with a smile, though she lowered her voice as she asked “...how is leo-chan doing? is he awake yet?” ah. so that answered that. he’d still been fast asleep when arashi came to find him. presumably, ritsu was in the same state.

(or he’d left.

no. ritsu was mad at him, but he’d never leave just like that. izumi knew him better than that.)

tsukasa’s gaze flickered between arashi and izumi as he mulled over his answer. in the end, he decided on “yes, leo-san is awake.” izumi’s eyes widened, not quite knowing how to take that information. “ritsu-senpai is talking to him right now. i...needed a break, i think.” 

arashi nodded. “mhm. is it alright if i leave you both to talk?” she turned to izumi, meeting his gaze. “izumi-chan and i already spoke but i think tsukasa-chan deserves some explanation too, right?” izumi returned her nod, receiving a warm smile in response. tsukasa glanced between them both, expression curious but having no complaints. with a wave, arashi left the room, eager to assess the situation with leo and ritsu.

izumi let out a sigh. it was just him and tsukasa in the kitchen now, alone. 

“it’s good to see you in higher spirits, sena-senpai.” tsukasa beat him to the punch, taking the opportunity to talk first. “i know you didn’t get a lot of sleep but you seem...a lot calmer now.” izumi nodded, mumbling out a thank you in agreement. 

tsukasa was different to him and arashi, in the fact he wore most of his emotions on his sleeve. there was a lot he kept internalised in the hopes he wasn’t looked down upon (or, under the stupid belief he didn’t need help) but for the most part, he was an honest kid. that’s why izumi found himself being rather stumped when he met tsukasa’s gaze, finding no trace of anger or frustration in his lilac eyes. 

“yeah. i, uh...i spoke to naru-kun. she helped me realise a lot and it calmed me down.” tsukasa nodded, his expression seeming to soften. izumi took a step closer to their youngest, wanting to face him as best as he could as his face fell. “i’m sorry you had to see all of that today, kasa-kun. we’re so used to wanting to look cool in front of you that when it all goes wrong, it really does go to shit, huh.”

tsukasa tilted his head, vaguely curious at izumi’s last confession. he didn’t voice this, instead opting to stay silent and let izumi continue. 

“everything you saw today with leo-kun, that isn’t the first time it’s happened. i...should’ve told you all, but i know for you especially, this is new.” a pause. “leo-kun...has issues still, from before. this uh...this is the big one, when he gets like this. i’m sorry, kasa-kun. the fact you had to see that, the fact i didn’t tell you. fuck, the fact it happened in the first place...i know you’re our king, but to me, you’ll always be someone i want to protect to some capacity, so i’m sorry.”

he hoped the words came out as earnest as he felt them to be. izumi couldn’t be sure. what he wanted to make sure that tsukasa was alright, and knew just how much he valued the outspoken redhead. all that he could really do now was wait for his youngest boyfriend to respond.

after a few moments of silence, tsukasa let out a purposeful cough. 

“sena-senpai, please lift your head up.” izumi found himself wincing at tsukasa’s tone. there was an air of authority to it, one that he didn’t wish to resist from their king at such a crucial time. when he met tsukasa’s gaze, the redhead had left him surprised once again. he didn’t look pissed off at him to any degree - if anything, his expression softened once he noticed izumi’s face. “s-sorry. sena...sena-san. i wanted to get rid of that pitiful [expression] of yours. is...it alright i come closer to you?” 

“...what the hell, you’re being so cautious, brat.” izumi mumbled. he closed the gap between him and tsukasa himself. 

“my apologies. i’m not trying to chastise you, i promise. i’d like you to hear me out.” 

he couldn’t help but chuckle at that, the sound low as it travelled to tsukasa’s ears. “sure, why not. naru-kun had her go, so say what you need.” 

tsukasa didn’t speak, not right away anyway. the redhead frowned, the pout both cute and concerning to see on their king. 

“this isn’t me having my go, sena-san.” tsukasa kept his voice level. “i...i’m not angry at you. please don’t give me that look.” 

“what look? this is just my face, kasa-kun.”

“i mean that look. the guilty one, as if you expect me to lay into you. when i say i’m not angry at you, i mean that, sena-san.” he brought one of his hands to izumi’s shoulder, laying it flat. it was an action reminiscent of judgement - izumi had done the same to calm tsukasa down, reassuring him that knights would win and for them to rely on his senpais more. “my feelings on today are not the same as narukami-senpai’s or ritsu-senpai’s. at least...i don’t think they are. i’ve more or less understood the situation by now though.”

izumi narrowed his eyes, unsure where tsukasa was going with this. 

the redhead continued, “i admit i was scared today. seeing leo-san like that was...shocking. i haven’t ever had the [experience] of someone breaking down before my eyes, so there wasn’t much i could do to help you all. i thought...for someone who reveres himself as a king, i...did nothing to lend my [lovers] aid.”

“that...wasn’t your fault though, kasa-kun. we...i didn’t prepare you for the possibility you were gonna see leo-kun like that.” he looked downcast, the dull pain of guilt blossoming in his chest once again. tsukasa was silent. 

a small hum in affirmation. tsukasa seemed to realise something, or rather confirm something with himself.

“you place too much blame onto yourself, sena-san.” 

he brought his head back up, eyes widening as he met tsukasa’s gaze. 

“i’m not going to stand here and say ritsu-senpai and narukami-senpai’s feelings aren’t valid, but you seem rather upset with yourself when it comes to leo-san, even before ritsu-senpai...said what he did.” tsukasa lowered his voice as he continued, biting the inside of his cheek a little. “...you’re blaming yourself for leo-san’s pain, even now. i...i don’t like seeing this side of you.” 

“that’s…!” 

tsukasa held his hand up, silencing izumi almost instantly. king’s authority. “i don’t want to talk at you...i’m just worried. i understand that you and leo-san have [history], things that i cannot even begin to understand, but surely, whatever you did is not terrible enough that you can’t forgive yourself?” 

he wanted to stop tsukasa in his tracks, tell him yes, of course it’s that bad. you don’t know the half of it!

as if sensing this, tsukasa frowned. “leo-san does not place any [blame] on you, does he? he’s...actually rather vocal about things being everyone’s fault but yours. i have to ask, if he no longer blames you...then why are you holding onto that [blame] alone? what are you trying to prove, sena-san?”

it wasn’t the first time tsukasa had left him speechless, and it certainly wouldn’t be the last. even with his limited knowledge on what izumi was blaming himself for in the first place, tsukasa was hitting him with a truth he hadn’t ever stopped to consider. 

he found himself deflating, the thoughts mulling around his head multiplying tenfold.

“...kasa-kun.” 

“the day you let us love you without doubting yourself will be a happy one...but until then, we’ll all still be here.” tsukasa’s frown was replaced with a smile, small yet hopeful. “that is what i swore to you, both as a knight and as a king. i wouldn’t go back on that. none of us would when we are so tightly entangled together now.” 

a knock on the kitchen door, despite it already being opened.

izumi and tsukasa both turned their attention to the noise, eyes settling on ritsu standing there. his expression wasn’t clear, the vampire simply letting his gaze flicker between his boyfriends as he spoke.

“tsukippi’s up. he’s wondering where you both are.” 

tsukasa dropped his hands. “i...oh. thank you for telling us, senpai.” ritsu gave him a shrug. the redhead turned his attention back to izumi, eyebrows quirked upwards in curiosity. “are you ready to go?” 

he glanced up at ritsu. his boyfriend’s face still gave nothing away, though he supposed he was just happy that ritsu was here, talking at him once again. there was a lot he wished to say, a lot he wished to hear from ritsu, though he could wait until afterwards. tsukasa had given him...a lot to think about, after all. 

“yeah. let’s go see leo-kun.”

he needed to see that leo was alright.

 

⇢ ⚔️ ⇠

 

“sena?” that was the first thing he heard when he rounded their bedroom door, following ritsu in. “ah, and suo too~?” 

much to his surprise, leo was sat up on their bed, drowsy smile on his face lacking any sort of falsehood. his nap had definitely done him good. 

“leo-kun...hey.” 

arashi sat beside leo, presumably the culprit behind leo’s now braided hair. her eyes were devoid of the tears that had previously been welling up in them. she seemed much calmer, much to izumi’s gratitude. she glanced up at him with a smile. he returned it in kind.

leo waved them all over. there was enough space on the bed for all of them to sit on it comfortably. seeing the ginger-haired boy’s smile after so long was enough to have izumi’s heart pounding, the sight almost bringing him to tears. of course, they all made their way over, joining leo and arashi without issue.

“haha...knights, altogether again. feels nice, doesn’t it?” leo chuckled. it was clear he was still sleepy, though the lack of spark in his words led izumi to believe it was more emotionally tired than having anything to do with the sleep he’d gotten. the model couldn’t be surprised at all. he sat facing leo, sitting with his legs crossed pliantly. tsukasa placed himself beside leo, whilst ritsu sat next to izumi. he hoped the latter was a good sign. 

izumi nodded. “mhm. it’s been ages since we’ve seen each other.” a pause. refusal to not address the very blatant elephant in the room. “how are you doing?” 

leo blinked up at him, thinking for a moment before smiling once again. “worrying about us all, that’s my sena~” he brought an arm up to his face, using his now bandaged arm to wipe the sleep out of his eyes. “nhh...i’m fine though! i’ve locked the leo up from before so now i’m free!” that was music to izumi’s ears. judging by the smiles on his partners’ expressions, it was clear he wasn’t the only one feeling that way.

“tsukippi’s been chatting to me since he woke up.” 

a nod, “yep! rittsu’s good company! i do like it better when it’s all of us though. speaking of...what happened when i was like, losing it? you all sorta look kinda sad, and i honestly don’t really remember a lot of what happened, haha.” his smile grew sheepish, though by the way his gaze flickered between ritsu and izumi, leo had likely been clued into the fact something had happened between them. 

“we argued.”

ritsu and izumi confessed in unison. leo frowned.

“...about me, right? rittsu sorta told me some stuff before. we spoke a little.” leo averted his gaze to arashi and tsukasa beside him, eyebrows quirked upwards. “did you guys get to speak to sena?” when both of them gave him the affirmative, the composer seemed to relax. “that’s good then. that makes this easier, kinda~?”

leo let out a small cough, before his expression grew sullen. “i wanna apologise to you all first though. i’m not sure what triggered me today, but it sorta spiralled and i just...lost it, aha. i can’t even remember you guys arriving. it’s all a big, leo-sized blur! it’s ‘cos of that, i don’t know what i said or did other than...yeah.” he glanced down at his bandaged arms, at the reopened scars on his hands. “i never wanted you to see that side of me.” 

leo glanced back up, his gaze flickering between ritsu, arashi and tsukasa as he spoke. 

“i say that, but hiding it from you three was also pretty crappy of me, aha. i don’t what sena’s told you but nobody’s really seen me at my worst since i left knights. it’s...not a time i wanna remember that much, but you guys deserve to know that i still get like that sometimes. naru, rittsu, suo…’m sorry for keeping it from you.” 

by the looks of it, leo must’ve already spoken separately with ritsu and arashi about what’d occurred. the two of them simply nodded along to his words, whispering back it’s okay when he was finished. tsukasa lifted his hand, gently rubbing circles into leo’s back. things were okay on his part too. this was his moment to apologise, izumi realised. heart beating out of his chest, he began to speak.

“...mhm. i fucked up with that too. i apologised to naru-kun and kasa-kun, but you’re the one who i owe an apology to, first and foremost.” izumi met ritsu’s gaze. “you were right to be pissed off at me. this...was a fucking huge thing to hide from you, from naru-kun and kasa-kun.”

ritsu’s expression didn’t change. izumi continued.

“leo-kun and i have a lot of honestly, shitty history together. there’s a lot i hate remembering...i know he’s the same.” leo nodded. neither of them wanted to dredge up the memory of their second year. “i should’ve told you about this though. it’s not really a secret that we’ve all had our...moments, but this is a big one. kasa-kun made me realise that i’m still dealing with a fuck ton of guilt about this...a lot of things really, but i ought to be talking to you guys about that. i’m sorry, kuma-kun.”

the room was silent. izumi had said his piece. his other partners remained quiet, allowing for the vampire to take the floor when he felt it appropriate.

“...alright. it’s alright.” the first words ritsu spoke. his voice was quiet, though earnest. he took a deep breath before speaking again, glowing red eyes meeting izumi’s blues. 

“i know you’re sorry secchan. i appreciate the apology. i...shouldn’t have lashed out at you then and there either. at the time, all i saw was red and i just...snapped. i’m sorry about that. nacchan, suu-chan, i’m sorry you had to see that.” he bit his lip, sharp fangs threatening to break skin. “it’s not like i don’t understand where you’re coming from when you didn’t tell us...it’s just been on my mind for a while. today was the breaking point.”

ritsu gazed downcast, a rare show of vulnerability in front of his partners. 

“i was scared. you all mean everything to me.” ritsu fiddled with the cuff of his sleeve, thumb scratching at nothing in the fabric. “we’re make a strong team, i know that but...i couldn’t help but think that i’d ignored the signs again when they were right in front of me. it made me feel shitty, secchan.”

he thought about the sakuma ritsu he crossed paths with in his second year. the vampire rarely came to class, skipped ‘chess’ practice in favor of sleeping in the school infirmary. whenever izumi did catch a glimpse of him, it was just that. he sunk away into the darkness, standing back and watching life go on around him whilst he stood stationary. ritsu stood back, hidden away and unable to do a thing as students fell, chess fell apart-

...and his own brother being forcibly taken away from him, so much so that ritsu was left to lash out to regain some semblance of control.

(their little makeshift group had been through too much traumatic shit, izumi mused. tsukasa truly had grabbed their hands and pulled his seniors from the bleak darkness back into the light purely out of his own merciful devotion.)

“of course i was pissed that you didn’t tell us about tsukippi’s self-destructive tendencies. it’s the sort of thing i thought we were close enough to talk to each other about.” 

izumi nodded, “i know. i’m sorry i made you feel like i didn’t trust you. the same goes to you, naru-kun, kasa-kun.” their king and their queen both returned his nod. “it was never an issue of not trusting you guys. i...i just didn’t want to hurt you guys.”

“it hurts more that you didn’t say anything...i get it though, i guess. i’d find it hard to open up to anyone about what i have with maa-kun.” a shrug, as ritsu tried a smile. “it wouldn’t hurt for you two to lean on us more though. if the shit we’ve been through hasn’t broken us apart yet, then i don’t think anything can~”

agreeing, their queen chimed in. “if you think that’s enough to break us apart, you’re both rather stupid.” arashi chuckled, hand covering her amused smile. “we’re stronger than you think, aren’t we?” 

tsukasa nodded, his smile mirroring his senior’s. “of course. please, do not look down on us sena-san, leo-san. we are knights because we’re strong enough to fight. our [armor] is secure enough for us to survive battle after battle with other units, with each other.” he interlaced his hand in leo’s resting against the bedsheets, settling his gaze on izumi as he did so. “anything that can hurt us, i want to face together.” 

“god, someone’s taken those kingly speeches on stage to heart~” ritsu hummed, chuckling at how quickly tsukasa’s cheeks reddened. “mhm, you’re right though. knights may be a group of individualists, but we’re more than just a group of people now, aren’t we? whatever it is, no matter how painful, we’re all capable enough to shoulder the burden together.”

we’re more than just a group of people now.

“yeah. you’re right about that. i’m sorry for ever doubting you guys, seriously.” he brought his arm up to wrap it around ritsu’s shoulder, the weight in his chest dissipating when ritsu immediately melted into his grasp. izumi let out a sigh. “what would we do without you all?”

leo laughed, “me and sena would be pretty fucked if it was just the two of us!” his expression softened. “...i’m thankful i’ve been alive long enough to fall in love with all of you. there isn’t anything i wouldn’t do to keep each one of you safe and happy, so...i’m sorry about today. i wanna tell you all everything! every little thing about me, i entrust to you! ...so, i’d like to do that for real. even the ugly parts of me.”

“there’s nothing ugly about you though, tsukippi.”

“exactly. we’re like one of those annoyingly sexy couples, us five.” 

the room filled up with leo’s laughter. it was like the sun had risen again, the light in the sky restored to shine down on all that were in its presence. there was distinct joy in those green eyes, a spark that he’d so dearly missed when they first entered the apartment. leo looked alive. 

“we are, we are! ah...i never got to tell you all how much i missed having you here! i mean...sena’s beauty is great to see everyday. do you wanna see all the songs i’ve written about him? there’s a lot but it’s sena!”

izumi lifted his up, waving it frantically towards leo. “ok, no. that’s way too embarrassing, leo-kun-”

“no, hang on. i’m curious.” screw thinking he had made up with ritsu. the vampire clearly still had it out for him. he glanced up at izumi, flashing his fangs as he grinned playfully at him. “what sorta things do you write about secchan~? i wanna know what you both get up to in italy.” 

“...i’d criticise your blatant [attitude], but after hearing sena-san speak italian in the taxi...i, too, would be weak to his beauty.” tsukasa sighed. arashi chimed in with her agreement, looking at the older model wistfully in memory of his italian. terrible. his partners were terrible. he watched as leo’s eyes widened, sitting up as he smiled wide in izumi’s direction.

“sena’s italian!!! you’re right!!! it’s really sexy, like i have to stop myself from jumping him whenever we go out.” leo nodded fervently, braided hair bobbing along with him. “i’m not safe in japan with you lot and i’m even less safe here with sena! what’s a guy supposed to do, tell me~” he shook his hands, taking arashi and tsukasa’s arms with him as he jolted them from side to side. izumi noted how much more alive his two juniors seemed to be too, basking in the sunlight that was tsukinaga leo. 

“e-eh? i don’t know- leo-san stop shaking me!” 

“fufu, someone’s got their energy back.” arashi laughed, swaying in time with leo’s movements. “we’ve missed you, leo-chan. you and izumi-chan both.” leo came to a slow halt, mulling over arashi’s words with a hum.

after a few moments of self-deliberation, leo’s eyes lit up. “i missed you all too! we should do something, rewrite the memories of today with a happier melody, something so great that it could rival wagner’s bridal march!” 

izumi half-expected leo to suggest a shotgun wedding, though he was thankful ritsu quickly chimed in with his own suggestion.

“hmm...on the way here, we passed a bakery suu-chan wanted to check out. i’d like to walk around florence too, see the lives that tsukippi and secchan get to live everyday.” 

tsukasa’s eyes practically sparkled at the mention of the bakery, though he tried (and failed miserably) to reel it in. “[yes!] the bakery looked...very good. the sweet stores too...i love the treats you send over to japan but to try it for myself in person would truly be [heaven.]” 

“as for me, i’d love to see the clothes stores, and take some photos too! knights socials are pretty barren at the moment so our princesses appreciate any crumb of content, fufu.” 

leo nodded, taking on his partners’ ideas in kind. his gaze settled on izumi, eyebrows quirked up in a mixture of excitement and curiosity. “sounds like a plan for tomorrow, depending on how sena feels about going~?” 

it wasn’t like he had any objections, though getting to see his boyfriends and his girlfriend all look at him with shared expressions of hope, puppy-dog eyes all around was amusing to him. it was also enough to whittle down what little was left of his rationale. 

ritsu’s head bumped against izumi’s chest, forcing the model to glance down at the ebony-haired boy. he reminded him equally like a puppy, pouting a little as he whispered “we’d get to hear tsukippi’s italian accent in action too. think of the possibilities, secchan!”

a sigh, followed by a light-hearted chuckle.

“i guess we’re going out for a florence day trip tomorrow then.”