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nothing ever slows us down

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It’s about one in the morning when Yukio finally pushes open the door to the dormitory. He sighs quietly, removing his shoes and taking a moment to stretch, before he proceeds. The lights are off, so he takes it to mean that Rin’s either asleep or out doing—something, somewhere, and honestly, he should be concerned, at least a little, but he’s so tired he can’t bring himself to care. He doesn’t bother to turn on the lights; he’ll be upstairs in a moment, and it’d be a waste of electricity.

He stifles a yawn, slowly makes his way to the staircase. Grading essays was utterly brutal, and it didn’t get much better when he was called for a meeting right as he began to get into his stride. Usually grading wasn’t too bad—the well written ones were a pleasure to read, and he took perhaps a bit too much joy in correcting bad ones—but he figured the minimal sleep he’d been getting recently hadn’t been helping matters.

He glances at his phone. Tomorrow—today, technically—is a Sunday, so he can afford to slack a bit, right? He can’t remember the last time he slept in until 6 A.M., but he figures it’d be stupid to work until he’s utterly useless. He smiles at the notion of a world where he’s actually well rested (it would never happen, but it was nice to pretend), and, satisfied, turns upward to the stairs.

As he climbs the first step, Yukio stops in his tracks, stalling his breathing and listening intently. Again, he hears it echoing quietly from the dining hall; a strange tapping noise, a muffled hiss, then absolute silence.

His exhaustion forgotten, Yukio retrieves a gun slowly from its holster, and makes his way down the halls, walking slowly and sticking to the walls.

Yukio arrives at the dining hall, and takes only a moment to slow his breathing. He listens intently, can discern noises. There’s definitely something—or could it be someone?—in there.

He hears a faint whisper, then another dull thud, and makes his choice.

Pistol raised, Yukio darts forward, his hand slapping against the wall and smashing the light switches at once. He levels the gun, and then—

There’s a loud crash, and a scream. After a few seconds’ delay, the lights flicker on.

“Shit!”  Shima cries, holding his head in one hand, pounding the ground with his other. The ground is covered in small wooden blocks, scattered across the floor.

Rin is cackling, pointing at him and laughing until he’s crying, trying to wheeze out something mocking before he’s overcome by laughter again. Shiemi’s patting Shima on the back sympathetically, while Konekomaru looks on in concern.

After a few more moments, Rin wipes a tear from his eye, then notices his brother for the first time at the doorway.

“Oh! Hey, Yukio,” Rin says, as though playing Jenga at one in the morning in pitch blackness and utter silence is perfectly normal. “What’s up?”

Yukio lowers his gun, and feels his headache return full-force.

“What are you doing?”

“Game night.” After hearing Suguro’s voice, Yukio glances around. He’s—somewhere, but Yukio can’t see him. Izumo must notice his confusion, because she points with a smug smile over to her left.

There, sitting in a cardboard box crudely labeled STUPID MORON JAIL in red marker, Suguro sits, his knees tucked to his chest and his expression one of blind fury. Yukio must have made a noise of some sort, because Rin shrugs in response.

“He lost at Go Fish and wouldn’t play the punishment game,” he says simply.

“I… see.” What kind of punishment game are you supposed to play after losing at Go Fish, Yukio wants to scream.

“I told you, I didn’t want to wear the fucking tutu!”

“I think it would have been cute,” Shiemi chimes in thoughtfully.

“This is your fault, Izumo,” Suguro says venomously, shooting a glare in her direction. It probably would have been more effective if he hadn’t been perched inside a cardboard box. “Come to game night, you said! It’ll be fun, you said!”

Izumo rolls her eyes. “What’s the fun in playing a game where there’s no risk involved? You’re so uptight.”

“I’m not—!”

Utterly ignoring his protests, Izumo turns to Shima, who’s still lying half-collapsed on the floor. “Shima. You toppled the Jenga tower. And now… it’s your turn to play the punishment game.”

“Just do it,” Shima groans, not lifting his face from the ground. “I don’t care anymore.”

“Dude, the drama’s funny and all, but you lost at Jenga. I think you’ll recover.”

Shima doesn’t reply, just make a noise that sounds almost like a choked sob.

Yukio snaps himself out of his half-asleep trance, tries to ignore the bafflement that he’d thought he was immune to by now, and sighs. “I’m going to bed,” he says wearily. “Nii-san, please try to keep it down.”

“Oh, yeah, sure thing, Yukio,” Rin says noncommittally. It’s not the most reassuring reply, but regardless, Yukio turns to make his way to the staircase.

“To be honest, I’m kind of surprised Okumura-sensei sleeps,” Konekomaru whispers.

“I think ‘bed’ is his codeword for ‘more work at a slightly slower pace,’” Shiemi confides. Yukio pointedly ignores this.

He reaches his room, changes into sweatpants, and lies down in his bed. Removing his glasses and shuffling over in bed, Yukio finally exhales deeply, closing his eyes to slip into unconsciousness.

Ten seconds pass before a strange and inhuman screech comes from the dining hall.

“That’s just inhumane!” cries Rin.

“If you lose, you pay,” Izumo intones solemnly.

Yukio sighs, massages his aching temples, and gets up to slam the door shut as Suguro joins the shouting match.