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and you got me like, oh

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The last thing Kurapika remembers before dissociating in his own sitting room is the way the sun painted the horizon in smooth peach-coloured tone, only interrupted by slight baby blue, turning into milky lemon yellow. He flinches and falls back into reality when a loud sound of a car horn interrupts his solitude, to discover that it’s already almost too dark outside, not a glimpse of colour behind his windows, except the streetlights that paint the street in ugly greenishly-orange shade.

 

He stands up, uncurling from his position, and turns on the lamp at the farthest table. Still transfixed on the bitter taste of his thoughts on the tip of his tongue, he sits back onto the couch, back bowed downwards, knees pressed tight against his chest, hands wrapped around them. He’d gladly go to bed, but he still has to eat, and the delivery man with his soup is late. Saturday. The evenings tend to be extremely busy.

 

In no time, Kurapika disconnects again, this time staring at the wall, painted in creamy beige. He can’t really say what he’s thinking about, wallowing in humble silence of his isolation, drowning in lazy, gentle sadness that wraps its long cool fingers around his shoulders, kissing the tip of his nose, the apple of his cheeks and brushing his hair. It’s almost motherly, how it treats him these days, when all he does is approach it like an old, beloved friend.

 

After two days in the hospital, countless faces showing up and walking away, Kurapika was let out, neck still holding dark green and purple bruises in a bizarre shape of two enormous intertwined hands. It’s still painful to talk in anything but a whisper so he mostly enjoys roaming around his house, laying in bed or finally reading the books he’s been planning to read for months, eating soup and drinking more tea than he’s ever drunk.

 

He’s has been in many dangerous situations before, he has ugly white scars to prove it, but Kurapika has never been this close do death. The fact both terrifies and lures him, although there certainly would never be a closer view he could get, the next step being a point of no return. Too scared of being damaged before, his heart now doesn’t ache for the forbidden — by himself — it craves. Lips he’s sealed are now speaking louder than thunder of May’s soft and mellow evening, and Kurapika wants, wants, wants to have a chance, just a chance, to turn back time and living a life he wants to live, he , and not the made up little orphan boy who’s lost too much already to go through anything such again. He wants to have things, he wants to take care of them, he wants to be taken care of, to know the real fear of losing, not the illusion of a possibility . Kurapika has been calculating too much to have time for growing out a proper heart, the idea of a proper life as his own person always a line between himself and his reflection. The only memories he treasures are also the ones he’s managed to hate himself for making, like a governess who hits a child’s fingers, aiming at sweets, forever rotting the idea of them for a still young and sequacious mind. He should stop regretting. He should stop being a burden to himself.

 

He’s disgusted to be a man of this sort. A man who almost lost a life that doesn’t deserve to be called one. He used to think vulnerability made him weak — but it’s the lack of it in people’s hearts that makes them wretched and empty. A wreck. Frankenstein’s monster, sawn of colours that don’t exist.

 

He huffs out a breath of disdain, grimacing. The pain, chaining his neck, is still present whenever he forgets to control his breathing and vocal chords. He wonders what’s gonna wear off faster — the bruises or the shackle piercing his throat.

 

Five months ago he, too, wore colour on his neck, but instead of dark aubergine blacks, ugly and revolting, there were soft blotches of hazy pigeon blue, raspberry pink bitemarks and iris-purple veined evidences of popped capillaries, following delicately the lines of his jugular and crowning triumphantly the curve of his collarbones.

 

But before he can long for things he forced himself to let go of, there’s a knock on his door.

 

Finally, his soup.

 

Kurapika shakes his head at himself and gets up, throwing a scarf around his neck and grabbing his wallet. He remembers the face of the first delivery guy he greeted the day before yesterday, damages of his skin on full display. It was amusing.

 

Kurapika snorts and opens the door, still wearing a smile. It drops the second he sees the person standing on his doorstep, into a surprised little oh .

 

It’s odd, seeing Kuroro like this, not in one of his five thousand dollar suits and elegant white shirts. He vaguely wonders if all mafia leaders look like this off-duty, clad in long dark grey coats and cozy scarves, black pants and worn-looking sweaters underneath. His pallid cheeks and the tip of his nose are flushed with cold, and his eyes are wearing an unreadable, profoundly masked look, and Kurapika has no idea what to do with all that. His heart swirls into a vortex, and Kurapika almost bends over double.

 

He will never admit it to anyone, but he’s been carrying a blossoming field of hope he’d come, hidden under all the misery and sobering sight of reality, way too deep inside his chest. But too petrified to comprehend that this, in fact, is reality, he almost forgets to breathe.

 

“I’m sorry for the intrusion,” Kuroro shifts his weight from one foot to another. “Were you expecting someone else?”

 

Kurapika still fails to read the words, drowned in the beautiful grey depth of his irises.

 

“Yeah,” he answers, voice hoarse and scratched, because that’s how he talks these days.

 

Kuroro nods, not an ounce of emotions slipping away to reveal themselves. Kurapika wants to grab his face with both hands and scream at him when he turns to leave.

 

“My soup,” he says instead, sighing. Kuroro turns to look at him once again. “I ordered soup. The delivery guy is kinda late.”

 

He tilts his head a little.

 

“I see.”

 

“The fuck you see,” Kurapika replies weakly, and the momentary look of utter bafflement on Kuroro’s face almost makes him snort, but he chooses to step aside instead. “Come in,” he rasps, shivering. He’s not sure where it comes from, but it’s accompanied by a warm tingle in the pit of his stomach. He doesn’t fight it at all, and it feel great. It feels natural. It feels like a release. “It’s freezing.”

 

Kurapika doesn’t miss the way Kuroro’s eyes get the slightest bit rounder, but he doesn’t catch his gaze. Tugging his scarf off, he goes to stand somewhere in the middle of his sitting room, hands shaking from an oddly satisfying excitement, and bites his lower lip, debating on whether he should call the restaurant he’s ordered the soup from or not. In a few seconds, he decides he doesn’t give a shit, it’s not like he’s hungry anyway. If they forgot his order, that’s okay. He has a few other, slightly more serious problems to deal with.

 

He crosses his arms on his chest and looks up as Kuroro walks into the room.

 

He smells of December, and the blush he’s wearing deepens in the warmth of Kurapika’s house. His eyes, predictably, are immediately drawn under Kurapika’s chin, making the other man regret taking off the scarf. Kuroro’s mask shatters into pieces the next moment though, his eyes now obsidian black and burning with bloodlust, a sight that should not be so endearingly significant. Kurapika almost shivers at the intensity of Kuroro’s rage. His ever composed figure makes his emotions exceptionally delightful to see.

 

“You killed them already,” Kurapika says, shrugging. “There’s nothing else you can do.”

 

“Is that supposed to make me feel better?” Kuroro snarls, cutting the distance between them, and tilts Kurapika’s head to the side by pressing the rib of his bent finger against his chin, touch feather-light and ever gentle. Kurapika wants to lean in and bury his head in the crook of his neck. “They’re healing well.”

 

“I’ll be fine, don’t worry,” Kurapika chuckles, not minding the slight pain in his throat.

 

Kuroro seizes him with a sharp glance and puts his hand away, taking a step back.

 

“I’ve never got a chance to thank you, though,” Kurapika mutters, clenching his own forearms.

 

“Don’t be ridiculous,” Kuroro shakes his head.

 

“I’d be dead if you didn’t come. Thank you.”

 

He would. He really would, there’s no point in denying this, although Kurapika knows Kuroro wants to.

 

“Why did you?”

 

“Come?”

 

“Yeah. I mean,” Kurapika shrugs again, a little nervous. Hella nervous, actually. “You left. Back then .”

 

He needs to hear it. He knows he’s making things complicated, but he needs to hear it. You obviously don’t spend an evening rushing to hell knows where in order to check up on a one night stand, but Kurapika needs to know for sure he’s not the only one going through a mental breakdown over someone this...unsuitable. He’s mentally preparing himself for an apologetic smile and maybe a kiss on the forehead. Instead, he hears a question.

 

“Did you want me to stay?”

 

Kurapika’s heart is beating like a rabbit’s. It seems like he’s not the only one trapped in uncertainty, not the only one who needs reassurance. A statement, as clear as day.

 

“It doesn’t matter. You still left.”

 

“I wasn’t sure you wanted to see me in the morning.”

 

Kuroro’s eyes are sharp, calculating. Kurapika waits. He wonders why does it take him so long to realize Kurapika wouldn’t be asking such questions if he wasn’t intending to hold his heart.

 

Unless, he knows already. Tell me what you need, Kurapika.

 

“Did you want to stay?”

 

Kuroro’s lips break into a smile. His eyes are warm, like the sound of his voice when he calls Kurapika beautiful, and Kurapika does his best to stay where he’s standing and not climb this man like a tree, body aching from splinters and scratches.

 

“I did. I do.”

 

Kurapika swallows the lump in his throat, chest heavy for there is no air there to suck in.

 

“Good,” he whispers, voice barely audible, the sound really pathetic and small, like a hiccup. “Then stay.”

 

He doesn’t hesitate making a step further when Kuroro opens his arms invitingly, crashing their bodies together and wrapping his arms around the Spider’s ribacage, feeling his hands around himself, too. His cold nose hides in Kurapika’s hair, breathing warm on the top of his head, and Kuroro’s heartbeat is a safe, rhythmical anthem under Kurapika’s ear, warm like almost everything else about Kuroro.

 

“You do realize we’re going down with all that, yeah?” he asks, and Kurapika nods, his snort coming off more like a smile.

 

“We’re gonna be fucked.”

 

“Thoroughly.”

 

“You’re gonna end up in prison one day.”

 

“And you’re going to get killed because of me.”

 

“Please,” Kurapika snorts. “I could get killed without your intrusion.”

 

“You also could be the one to put me in prison.”

 

“I could.”

 

“Can we fuck in prison?”

 

“Can we fuck in hell?”

 

Kuroro laughs, chest shaking against the side of Kurapika’s face.

 

“Touché.”

 

“For the love of God, could you stop being pretentious for a minute?”

 

Kuroro inhales slightly, ready to retort with something even more pretentious than touché , Kurapika can feel it coming like he feels the buzz of naïve and lucid excitement all over his body, but the air is then pierced with a gentle sound of the doorbell.

 

***

 

Kurapika can’t quite register the moment when they ended up on the couch, Kuroro’s head in his lap, his fingers caressing soft locks of dark hair as they stare at each other, both not really sure if the situation is, in fact, real, yet leaning into the bittersweet bliss of each other’s company, heads empty.

 

Kurapika is full of soup that came alongside a big slice of raspberry pie as an apology for the delayed arrival. His mind still chanting wrong, he offered it to the criminal, later learning that he likes his tea strong, with three spoonfuls of sugar; that the man, apparently, has absolutely no problem feeling comfortable wherever he is, no hesitancy or bashfulness in the way he moved around Kurapika’s kitchen, helping him with preparations for their small meal; and that he is, indeed, the opposite of tough, effortlessly engaging Kurapika into an airy conversation as they ate and charming his way into Kurapika’s heart yet again as he realized it was a trick for him to find himself relaxed and warm for once, not second guessing his every move, and word, and thought.

 

“You forgot your shirt, by the way.”

 

Kuroro frowns for a moment, but then hums, nodding.

 

“Why...why the hell did you leave shirtless?”

 

“Well,” he shifts a little, breathing out. “I believe it was five in the morning, and I was asleep, but then I heard someone banging at your door, your friends, I assume. I didn’t have much time to dress up properly.”

 

Kurapika’s hand stops.

 

“Wait, what?”

 

He knows that Melody and the others stopped by to check up on him that night, because he wasn’t answering their calls and they thought that he was dead, but they left soon, thinking he wasn’t home.

 

“I thought they’d come in somehow. Didn’t want you to deal with them discovering that we, ah, fucked.”

 

“You were asleep,” Kurapika repeats, more to himself than to Kuroro.

 

“I wake up easily. Stress and stuff.”

 

“Stress?” it makes Kurapika laugh softly in disbelief. “You’re one of the most relaxed people I know.”

 

“My body doesn’t think so, apparently.”

 

Kurapika doesn’t reply, looking at him upside down, hoping his face does not give out that he’s...whipped. Kuroro has a beauty mark on the left side of his forehead and slight circles under his eyes, more like shadows.

 

“I’m sorry, Kurapika.”

 

He arches an eyebrow, perplexed.

 

“For leaving,” Kuroro clarifies. “I thought it would be easier, too. In case you didn’t want anything with me.”

 

“For a thief and a murderer, you’re ridiculously soft.”

 

Kuroro hums, playing with Kurapika’s other, unoccupied hand.

 

“Despite being, of course, devastated,” heat explodes under the apples of his cheeks, although his tone is theatrical, “I appreciated it. Back then I thought it was for the best,” he teases, scrunching his nose a little. “I don’t think I could’ve kicked you out in the morning.”

 

“And what exactly changed?”

 

“Well, you know,” he shrugs, “not much. Almost died. Had stuff figured out.”

 

Kuroro actually laughs at this, crinkles deep in the corners of his eyes.

 

“I’m glad,” he says simply, face literally glowing.

 

“Yeah,” Kurapika agrees unapologetically. “Me too.”

 

He falls asleep too warm and comfortable, a steady breathing caressing his skin somewhere in the center of his chest. The sound of his own laughter, uncharacteristically honest and vivid, is still an echo in his ears. He’s on his side, pressed against the back of the sofa, head on the cushions, while Kuroro’s weight is pleasantly hard on the lower part of his body, head tucked securely under Kurapika’s heart. The Spider’s hands are thrown around his waist, while Kurapika holds him close by the shoulders, body language louder than ever.

 

It seems like Kuroro hears it, because in the morning, when Kurapika wakes up, he’s still there, sitting on his barstool, one leg hanging down as the other one is pressed against his chest, sipping from Kurapika’s least favourite mug and scrolling something on his phone. His hair is slightly disheveled and his pale cheeks are tinted with the softest morning blush. He’s in his underwear and a loose white t-shirt he wore yesterday under his sweater, and Kurapika thinks he could really get used to it. All of it.

 

He’s not terrified anymore, securely wrapped in a blanket he doesn’t remember bringing, and although he knows he’s gotten himself into a mess explicitly risky and questionable, he promises himself he’ll deal with it later. If all the things he wants for himself ought to be a disaster — he’s not interested in preventing himself from having them anymore. The cage he’s built is much more painful to bare than what he’s about to go through, and what he knows for sure now is that he doesn’t have anything to lose, anything to stake, even his own life that can be ripped any minute, any moment. If treating oneself like a living person means haunting recklessly the idea of feeling as much as he can, baring as much as he can, loving as much as he can, he’s willing to do so. He’s already been lacking the common sense of self-preservation, seems like it’s time to make it work for him, too. It’s the lightest he’s felt in what feels like ages.

 

When Kuroro finally senses Kurapika’s eyes on him, he looks up and smiles.