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Not in That Way

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Rin wakes up with a heavy floral taste in the back of his mouth, one he can only barely place. The taste settles on his tongue, reminding him of when he was younger, when his father told him flowers were edible and he took a huge bite of the carnations at the front of the altar at the church. Father Fujimoto made fun of him for weeks after that incident, and the taste makes his heart falter in his chest at the memory of his dad. He sits up slowly,  rubbing his eyes as he looks down and finds his sheets covered in anemone and lilac petals, his brother openly staring at him from across the room. There's a heaviness in Rin’s chest that wasn’t there last night, like something has settled at the very bottom of his lungs. His throat tickles like there are still petals lodged in there, and there probably is. Rin tries to take a deep breath, coughs, and then begins to cry because he’s realized what’s happened.

“...fuck…” It’s punctuated with a coughing fit. Hanahaki disease, he’s literally going to die of a broken heart. Then he realizes he’ll probably be stuck living with it. He’s healed from things similar to this before, holes in his lungs from Nauhaus’ ghouls earlier in the year healing in mere minutes. He’s going to heal around the roots in his lungs, suffocating in an endless loop. Smothering the plant with the flesh of his lungs, seeds resown, new growth. Suffocating over and over again.  Suddenly Rin is panicking, something he has been doing a lot of lately. The other exwires have been dancing around him as of late, terrified of him. Rin can’t go to them for advice like he might have before. He has no one but Yukio to get him through this, and Rin’s supposed to be the older brother. He can’t keep laying all his burdens on his brother’s shoulders. Yukio is already stressed as it is. Rin feels like a failure of a brother.

“Do you want to stay home?” Yukio’s voice shakes as he talks to his brother. The sound knocks Rin out of his personal pity party. It would be so easy to lock himself up in his room, coughing up petals and flowers and wallowing in his own pity, but Rin has never been good at sitting still for very long.

“Aren’t we leavin for Kyoto today?” There’s another cough, punctuated by a small gagging noise as more petals flutter out of Rin’s mouth, blood coated and covered in saliva. Kuro moves to bat at a few falling through the air, completely oblivious to Rin’s sudden illness.

“Anemone and lilac, know what they mean?” Yukio’s eyes are soft as he moves towards his brother, brushing his hair out of his face, “Anticipation and first love. Who are they for?” Yukio know’s Rin has never been very sociable, it has to be one of the exwires in his class, the ones who are terrified of him. It fits, another meaning for anemone is being forsaken. Yukio wants to be angry for his brother, but Rin was always the more emotional twin, Yukio doesn’t have the energy for it.

“Suguro.” Rin can’t even look at his brother, afraid of what he’ll say to him. He ignores the fact that Yukio completely changed the subject.

“A good choice, but still, it is a two hour long train ride. Will you be okay for that long? ” Yukio knows his brother will do something reckless, he’s nervous about meeting up with them later, especially with this added development.

“I’ll wear a face mask and bring a bag. Maybe I can give them to them and confess.” Rin smiles at his poor joke. Yukio just frowns at him, worried. Using Rin’s blankets, he wipes away at the blood staining the corner of Rin’s mouth.

“Just be careful okay? I worry.”

“You always worry, I’ll be fine.” Rin stands, and quickly gets dizzy, stumbling slightly as he takes in a deep breath. He can almost feel the flowers in his lungs growing, it makes him want to cry all over again. This stupid unrequited love is going to kill him. Yukio slips a small book on flower meanings into his bag while he isn’t looking.

Rin coughs the whole way to the train station, Shura glances at him one too many times and he snaps. He’s fidgety, tense and full of energy he didn’t get to burn off in his usual morning run. He can feel all of the excess energy making him itchy, making him panicked.

“What!” He doesn’t mean to yell at her, but he does anyway. He flinches at his actions, an apology halfway out of his mouth before Shura raises her hand to his face, picking away a few petals that were sticking out of his surgical like mask.

“You’re shitty at hiding this. Just confess already before it gets too far.” She’s wetting a handkerchief and rubbing at the blood in the corner of his mouth.

“Shut up.” Rin nudges her as they head onto the train. The atmosphere is heavy, Shura tells him to take a hint and sit in the front, so he does. He still feels like he’s going to vibrate out of his skin, trying to settle himself by reading the tour guide Shura gave him yesterday. Kuro wraps himself tight around Rin’s neck, probably for comfort as the atmosphere stays tense. Then Rin’s classmates show up, and Rin’s heart squeezes in his chest. Shiemi can’t even look at him, scurrying by him. Konekomaru physically flinches away from him, and Rin can hear Shima’s not so whisper at him about subtlety. Bon is possibly the worst, he looks at Rin with utter disgust, like he wants to hit him. It makes his chest hurt. He can feel the petals clogging up his throat again, but he can’t cough until everything is settled. He wants to hide it from everyone, lest he look pathetic. He swallows them down, wincing at the feeling. Izumo, however, sits next to him.

“You’re not scared of me?” He’s scared of what she’ll say, voice wavering.

“Of course not! Plenty of exorcists have half demon blood! And I’m not a coward who’d say things like ‘I want to defeat satan!’ or ‘We’re friends!’ and then turn my back! You’re still you!” She grumbles at him, scooting closer as if she can sense his insecurity. Izumo’s loud tone startles Kuro off Rin’s shoulder and under his seat, bristling at the sudden noise.

“Eyebrows! You’re actually cheering me on!”

“Eyebrows! Is that an insult? My name is Izumo Kamiki!” Izumo looks flustered, frowning at him with a furrowed brow.

“Thank you, Izumo!”

“Don’t address me so friendly like! As I said, I just hate cowards!” She gets even more flustered at the lack of honorifics. It’s at this point Suguro stands up, grinding his teeth.

“You’ve got some nerve! Who are you calling a coward!” Bon is yelling through his teeth, ready to lunge across the seat and fight Izumo for the second time this year.

“What would you call yourselves then? Alienating a teammate just because of his heritage.” Izumo turns in her seat to growl at Bon, hands shaking.

“You bitch!” Suguro leans forward, but is snatched back by Shura, who looks angry enough to kill the whole train.

“All of you,” Her voice is roughened by sleep, “get the Baryon punishment.”

They are seated in the walkway of the train between the seats, baryons heavy on their laps.  A punishment they are getting because of Izumo and Bon’s argument, again. An argument Rin was in the middle of, again.

“Y’all need to learn to cooperate,” Shura says, punctuating her words with a yawn, “cool off here until we get to Kyoto, understand? And don’t you dare wake me again!” As soon as she leaves Konekomaru gets worked up, scared with her absence.

“If she leaves who is here to keep Rin in check! What if something happens and he attacks one of us?” Konekomaru’s voice is shaking in fear and Rin wants to physically flinch.

“Shut up, he never attacked us before did he? You’re an idiot!” Izumo sneers at Konekomaru.

“You just don’t stop runnin your mouth do ya!” Bon glares at her.

“Rin hasn’t changed! Just because now you know about him doesn’t suddenly mean he’s some monster out to get you!” Izumo looks ready to punch Bon again, and Rin wishes they would stop talking as if he wasn’t in the room. Then the baryon incident happens and Rin gets a headache. The baryon sitting in Konekomaru’s lap attacks Shiemi, and Rin is tired of everything. Shima and Bon try to lift it off of Shiemi with no results, so he tries. Rin’s shaky, scared he’ll cough petals all over Shiemi and reveal himself because he’s an idiot. He takes a deep breath, plants his feet firmly on the ground, and lifts. He tries too at least. The baryon doesn’t budge, and all that pent up energy is still vibrating under his skin. Rin tries again, using his flames for an added push and hoping he is controlling them well enough for Shiemi to be safe. He was able to rein them in before, he can do it again. He can feel himself lifting the baryon off Shiemi when he’s yanked back by someone, and the baryon goes flying. Seats on the train catch fire, blue flames bright and angry. This is when Rin’s headache starts.

Everyone is attempting to yell over one another. Bon is yelling at him, Konekomaru is panicking, Izumo is trying to put out the seats that caught fire, and Shiemi is trying to talk over Bon and failing. Rin’s already sick, he doesn’t need this nonsense, but here he is. Bon has him tight by the collar, face close. Rin wouldn’t really mind this if Bon wasn’t yelling his lungs out at him.

“Bon, I had everything under control!” He can feel something at the back of his throat, something bigger than all of the petals from earlier. He tries and fails to swallow it back down. Rin has a hand wrapped around Bon’s wrist, the one connected to the hand grasping his collar so tightly. His skin tingles and he curses himself for being so gay at that moment.

“Yeah, under control! You burnt those seats to a fucking crisp!” Rin isn’t going to mention how it was Bon’s fault for making him lose hold of the baryon.

“Have some faith in me damn it!” Rin is worked up again, still itching in his own skin and his throat horse. This damn thing in his windpipe won’t fucking stay down, he’s going to have to excuse himself soon, less he wants to puke up a whole fucking bouquet in front of his classmates.

“How fucking could I! People die from those flames! My temple! My grandfather! Shima’s grandfather and older brother! Konekomaru’s father! They all died from those flames sixteen years ago! How am I supposed to have faith when so many close to me died!” Bon’s grip on him loosens. Rin feels his face scrunching into a sneer. He is so sick of being compared to his father, he can feel his control of his flames slipping.

“What the fuck does that have to do with me! I am not   Satan!” He can’t even call that being his father, his real father died that night. Out of the corner of his eye he can catch Konekomaru panicking, then running and separating them, yelling about something frantically.

“Stop! If you hurt Bon we would never be able to show our faces around the temple ever again!” Konekomaru is speaking a mile a minute, and Rin’s headache is getting worse. The thing in his throat is getting worse . He can almost feel his gag reflex kicking in. He’s going to puke.

In the end it’s Shima who notices the baryon, and Shura who takes it out. It’s while she’s talking he takes the opportunity to excuse himself to the small restroom on the train. Once in the bathroom the thing that’s been itching up his throat almost takes years to come up. In the sink there’s a large yellow carnation, surrounded by anemone and lilac petals. There’s blood dripping down his chin and smattering the sink. He remembers the book he watched Yukio place in his bag while he thought that Rin wasn’t looking. Rin scrambles for it, digging through his stuff to find it. Eventually he does, and he flips pages until he finds it.

Carnation - Yellow:  You have disappointed me, Rejection .

He highlights the meaning, numbly fishing the carnation out of the sink and washing down the other petals, scrubbing at his face and hands while he’s in there. He doesn’t really know what he expected. For Suguro to return his feelings? That would require a miracle and a half. His chest hurts and he wants to cry; he didn’t even attempt to confess. Rin knows it’s petty, but he hands the flower and the book to Shura.

“Should I still confess?” Shura is a shocked, grossed out by the slimy crumpled flower on a napkin in her lap. She can’t help but feel bad for the kid when she reads the meaning, tossing the flower in the trash.

Izumo is still sitting in the same spot when Rin gets back to the train car. He doesn’t know why he expected her to move. Everyone else has, the other students a few rows back farther than they were before. He feels that pang in his chest, and has the urge to cough. Izumo tuts at him as he sits, fingers reaching towards his hair and checking to make sure the others didn’t notice.

“You have petals in your hair, is that what the mask is for?” She points to the little mask he wore onto the train, dangling forgotten at his throat. A few petals were still stuck in it, a majority of them falling into the sink when he hacked out the yellow monstrosity of a flower.

“Yeah, it isn’t doing me much good.” He smiles shyly at her, leaning heavily in his seat.

“Who’re they for, if I may ask?” Izumo looks at him, “I can keep a secret, and it’s not as if anyone is jumping to know your love life.”

“Except you.” Izumo flushes at Rin's response, face crinkling as she bares her teeth.

“I’m just curious that's all! Shut up!” She crosses her arm and frowns heavily at him, leaning in at him from across the center chair that Kuro was resting on. Rin has the urge to laugh at her, reminded of when he and Yukio were younger and Yukio couldn’t remember a spelling word. It’s that nostalgia that makes him tell her, Izumo and his brother were almost too alike. Rin leans forward a bit to meet her halfway.

“It’s Bon.” He lowers his voice, head pressed against hers. Rin realizes he’s shaking a bit, afraid of someone overhearing.

“You’re an idiot,” Izumo makes a disgusted face at him while she lifts the arm rests from the center seat, “I don’t know what you see in him. Gross. You do however, look worn out. Take a nap, we still have an hour and a half till kyoto.” Izumo looks out the window while she pats her right leg. Rin takes up her offer, flopping down with his head almost in her lap. It takes him awhile to fall asleep, his chest so unnaturally heavy with flowers for someone who will probably hate him for the rest of his long existence.