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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.

Chapter Text

Rin gulps down two water bottles when he wakes up as the train stops, throat so unbearably dry and scratchy. He’s popping cough drops like candy in a vicious and fruitless attempt not to cough. The atmosphere had managed to get even heavier, Izumo grabbing his pinky with hers as they stand in the station waiting for their guide. Rin’s grateful for the small gesture of comfort, yet at the same time it irritates him. He shouldn’t be grateful for not being completely outcasted by his team. The bus ride to the temple is almost worse, as if the smaller the space he is forced in with his team the worse everything gets. Rin doesn’t want to be on this trip anymore at this point, he figured it would be a good way to get back to bonding with his team, to clear the air. All it’s doing for him is making him anxious, itching in his own skin and worried he’s going to scare someone else by simply being himself. Izumo almost senses his discomfort, squeezing his pinky with hers and bumping him as they wait to arrive.

Rin expects it to be hard to hide his illness from the others, especially in the temple full of priests. However the temple was already so full of the sick no one was even suspicious. Everyone too busy tending to the wounded or sick from the attack rushing about, to busy to pay attention to an exorcist in training. The first person they see is Bon’s mother, and Rin likes her a lot. Her and Bon are so alike, from the explosive anger to the small mannerisms they share. She’s immediately yelling at Bon for his hair and it makes Rin smile. The inn owned by Bon’s mother is where the wounded are mainly being held. Rin just wants to help, some sort of tasks to distract him from the buzzing under his skin, but the exorcist doctors that have taken over don’t trust him. They try to hide it by coming up with some nonexistent task for him to do, but he can see in their faces they just want him away from their general vicinity.

A man from down the hall calls Rin outside and he’s relieved to be getting out of that room, even if it’s doing nothing.

“Whoa! Watermelons!” He’s distracted by the fruit at first, and suddenly Rin’s cutting watermelon with a priest that reminds him all to much of his father. The priest is tipsy and its apparent on his face, flushed and accented by a goofy smile. Rin has to swallow back the lump at his throat when he thinks about how similar it is to Father Fujimoto.

“What a fishy priest you are,” Rin can’t help the words that tumble out of his mouth, smile soft as he cuts up watermelon, “Just like my pops.” The priest smiles at him, soft and happy. The sheer warmth of everything infecting Rin. It’s been so long since he’s been able to just talk with someone, about something that wasn’t training or cram school studies. He misses simple, casual interactions like this. It’s interrupted by a cough, then another, and then a coughing fit. Petals flutter to the ground and Rin has never been more tired in his life. He’s lucky he’s managed to avoid getting the gross petals on the watermelon he was cutting. There’s new petals added into the squishy pile on the floor, he reminds himself to look  up the type of flower they are later. The priest has decided to ignore the new pile of petals on his lawn, continuing to smile at Rin even though it’s a sadder smile. Rin’s stomach ties itself in knots at the thought of the old man pitying him. He puts his head down, going back to slicing the watermelon.

“You’re such an interesting boy,” The priest almost laughs, “You must be with the exorcists, from the cram school. What’s your name?”

“Rin Okumura.”

“I see! So you’re that…” The priest trails off, scratching the top of his shaved head.

“Oh that reminds me! What about you mister? What’s your name?” Rin nearly forgot his manners, distracted by watermelon and intrusive flowers. He’s putting the first watermelon on trays now, just finishing slicing the fruit.

“Who me?” The priest grins sheepishly, “I’m Ryuji Suguro’s dad.” Rin almost chokes on the slice of watermelon he snagged for himself, lifting the second melon out of the tub of water it’s in. He starts slicing quickly to fill the silence and give himself something to do, focusing on the thunk of the knife as it slices through the fruit and hits wood.

“Seriously?” He coughs, half because of the melon and half because of the hanahaki. The old priest looks proud, smiling heavily at him.

“I’m serious! Don’t we look alike!” Bon’s dad’s laughing, knowing they shared almost no resemblance, but Rin could see it. He could see the similarities around the eyes and in the smile. They both smiled with everything they had, even small grins lighting up a whole room. Their kindness was similar, quiet and soft, something barely noticeable.

“Nah,” Rin says, smiling at Tatsuma Suguro, “I can see it.” The priest’s smile fades, something akin to realization forming on Tatsuma’s face. Rin looks away, plating the second melon.

“So you must be on good terms with Ryuji then?” There’s a suggestive tone in the priest's voice that Rin ignores, unwrapping a few cough drops.

“...we got in a ...spat actually.” The cough drops click against his teeth as he throws them into his mouth. A spat isn’t really the word for what happened on the train, but Rin isn’t about to tell Bon’s dad that he almost got in a fully fledged fist fight with his only son.

“You too huh?” Tatsuma some how manages to smile even wider, face flushing. Rin just smiles back at him, on the edge of laughing at the drunken priest.

“He’s a little hot headed isn’t he?” Rin turns to take the trays of melon, deciding to take it inside before the bugs decide to feast on them. Tatsuma laughs, looking out at the nature surrounding the inn.

“Right you are!” There’s a small chuckle in the priest’s voice.

“But he’s a nice guy,” Rin nudges the door open with his hip, just wide enough for him to slide through when he's done talking, “So I want to make up with him.” Rin wants to do more than make up with Bon, more like make out, but he’ll keep that to himself.

“Good luck.” The response is soft, floating through the sliding door as Rin reenters the inn.

Rin decides to find someone to hand off all this watermelon too, and it’s a mistake. He wanders through the room full of the injured and the doctors shoo him away, so he goes back outside,  He comes across a full on argument, a trio of girls insulting a group of men that appear to be Shima’s brothers. It was a train wreck, insults being flung so fast Rin couldn’t keep up. He couldn’t even open his mouth to get rid of the damned watermelon and get the fuck out of dodge. The cough drops are still melting in his mouth, clacking against his teeth as he stands in pure shock at the behavior of the two families in front of him. Weapons are drawn and Rin took a step back, he was not going to get caught in the crossfire of this fight, getting stuck between Izumo and Bon’s were bad enough. Rin startles and nearly drops all of the melon when Bon yells, he hadn’t even noticed the other exorcist chanting, let alone when the group entered the room. Suguro’s voice is full of authority as he yells at the two groups. Kuro starts batting at the watermelon and Rin nearly decides to just go and find Bon’s mother, ask her where to pass it out. Before he can fully step out of the room one of the girls from earlier steps forward, taking a tray with a small smile. Rin smiles back, passing the other tray amongst the Shima brothers. He hands a slice to Bon with a smile, ignoring the weak glare he gets in return. Whatever talk they have in that room is none of Rin’s business, so he leaves, wandering the grounds determined to find a good trail for his morning run.

In the end the doctors decided it would be best for Rin to do all the heavy lifting, and by the end of the day he’s sore, edges of his mouth red from him wiping the blood from all his petals away. His breathing is ragged, coughing more frequent, it’s getting hard to breathe against all the buildup in his lungs. He just waves it off, he’ll heal, he always does. Rin barely has the energy to help Bon’s mom, he fakes the small smile he graces her with, lifting the boxes with a wobble in his step. Shura takes one look at him, eyebrows furrowed, and dismisses them.

“Good work today everyone! You can take your dinner and head to bed!”  Shura stands up, passing out bento boxes and drinks to everyone before sitting back down.

“Ms. Kirigakure… do you mind if I go out for a bit?” Bon looks nervous as he stands in front of her, bento box on the table next to him.

“Where?” Shura has opened her own dinner, already eating.

“The mountains.”

“The mountains! What for? It’s already dark!” Shura’s staring at Bon as if he'd grown two more heads.

“To see my father.” Bon knows that’s where he is, probably chanting the sutra.

“I can’t let you do that. We’re on a mission, and technically I’m your guardian. If I let you go out and hike through a mountain in the dark and you hurt yourself it's my head! Maybe tomorrow if you have some down time, but do remember we are here on a mission. No more, no less. I’m sorry.” Bon scowls at her, walking out without his food, stomping around the others. Rin tries to chase after him, Bon’s dinner in hand, Miwa and Shima following him.

“Hey Suguro! You left your bento!” Rin catches up fairly easily, his ribs and lungs heavily protesting, “Jeez it’s so dark. You probably haven’t eaten anything either, you shouldn’t forget your food like that.” Rin’s rambling, trying to ignore the itching in his throat. He barely notices Bon turning and glaring at him.

“You’re so fucking noisy!” He snatches the food from rin, stomping off.

“Oh, I made him angry…” Rin’s heart squeezes in his chest and he swallows down the urge to cough again, deciding to focus somewhere else, “Hey Konekomaru! Do you want to eat with me?” Rin is starving for company, itching for a chance to explain himself to his classmates and prove he’s not a threat.

“I’m actually going to go say hi to my family?” Konekomaru is inching away, like Rin will attack him for saying no.

“Oh, that’s important yeah?” Rin smiles at Miwa, and he nods before full on running away. He glances at Shima who looks like he’s about to do the same. It frustrates Rin, who just wants to fix everything.

“Um in that case, can I-”

“God damn it.” Rin doesn’t mean to interrupt Shima, but he’s just so done with the situation, hands scrubbing down his face as he sits down, “Am I that fucking scary?” The outburst is a mistake, all it does is scare Shima into sitting with him.

“No way! And the bento is super good! You made it right?” Shima is feet away from him, and Rin has half a mind to send him away.

“Yeah, I did. Um you’re really far away? You’re seriously scared of me aren’t you?” It makes sense that Shima is scared of Rin, everyone’s been scared of Rin since he was in kindergarten. Shima just nervously laughs in response.

“No! No, no I’m not scared at all! I just, I hate troublesome stuff you know.” Rin deflates inside  before he tries to just brush it off, joke the pain away

“Troublesome stuff? Gosh you’re lame.” He takes a sip of the water bottle he’s been carrying around all day, putting the juice Shura gave him to the side. Rin figures that if he treats it as a normal cold, the coughing might not be as frequent. He’s got an arsenal of cough drops and syrup. The sugar in the juice might irritate his already itchy and scratchy throat, and he’s not going to risk it.

“Excuse me? Did you just call me lame? I am the epitome of cool.” The funny part about this, is that Shima looks genuinely offended by the fact Rin called him lame. Rin can’t help but laugh at him because, god, of all the things to worry about Shima is concerned with being cool .

“Why are you laughing!” Shima is pouting now, and it just makes Rin laugh harder.

“Listen man, I have a list. A chart.” Rin pulls a piece of paper out of his wallet, unfolding it, “On my list you’re about here.”

“Why do you have this! And why am I lower than your damn cat!” Shima’s getting worked up and Rin can’t help but smile mischievously, and decide to mess with him.

“Oh no, you’re not even on the paper.” Shima looks genuinely devastated, and Rin starts laughing again, which turns into a coughing fit he can’t stop.

“You’re horrible!” Shima turns to catch him hacking petals into the dirt, “Hey wait are you okay?” And suddenly it’s not petals that are coming up again, Rin is gagging up full flowers. Anemone, heather, and lilac tearing up his throat on the way up and falling to the ground in a cascade of blood. Shima is yelling, and Rin feels dizzy. He barely notices Shima helping him sit up and wiping the blood from his face.

“What the hell man. Here I thought it would be best to stay away from you, but here I am talking to you normally and helping you out!” Shima flops down into the dirt next to him, and Rin smiles around the water he’s guzzling down to aid the pain in his throat, “Trying not to involve myself with you is just even more troubling! I give up!”

“That’s right, give up. It’s no use!” Rin tries to laugh evilly, but just ends up giggling at himself, causing Shima to laugh at him. Rin nudges him.

“Oh shut up! Yknow what, never mind. Laugh at me all you want.” Rin’s leaning against the rock he was sitting on, unwrapping another handful of cough drops.

“I’m gonna, everyone is way too serious. Especially Bon and Konekomaru as of late.”

“Laammmeeee!” Rin snickers at Shima’s outraged face, shoving the cough drops into his mouth and pushing them around with his tongue.

“Y’know, despite your shitty taste, you’re a pretty good guy Rin.”

“I try.” It’s gotten quieter in the small area they’re sitting in, laughter dying down to a comfortable silence between the two of them.

“I’m sorry about, y'know. That girl doesn’t know what she’s missing. You’re a keeper.” Rin snorts at Shima, glancing off to the side.

“It’s a dude actually.”

“Well then fuck him then! I’ll fight him!”Shima has a determined look on his face, and Rin can’t help but crack up at the thought of Shima trying to fight Bon.

“Y’know what! I take back what I said. You’re a cruel cruel boy Rin.”

“Noooo! Shima thinks I’m mean! Whatever shall I do?” He’s cackling and Shima has pulled him into a headlock, ruffling his hair. Rin falls asleep talking to Shima, awkwardly leaning against the rock they are sitting in front of. Shima just sighs, and carries Rin back inside on his back, ignoring the look Bon gives him as he struggles to get into their sleeping area.  He can’t close the door with his hands holding Rin on his back so he just drops him down into his bed, then turns to close the door.

“What the hell Shima?” It’s Bon, standing in the corner of his room like some weirdo.

“What do you want from me? He’s a cool guy. I wasn’t about to leave him outside. Especially not with…” Something in Shima’s head tells him not to say anything to Suguro about Rin’s illness.

“With what?” Bon looks irritated, so used to being told everything by his friends.

“Nothing, just go to sleep man. I ran into Uwabami on the way here, he says he wants to speak to you tomorrow morning.” Bon squints at him, as if he’s done something immensely suspicious, but starts to get ready for bed anyway. Shima makes eye contact with Izumo, who glances at Rin and then at him, she’s laying down but still manages to be intimidating.

Do you know?

Yeah.

Heather: Lavender - Admiration; Solitude

Chapter Text

Both Shima and Izumo wake up early, earlier than anyone else, with the intent to clean up Rin’s mess for him, to try and relieve some of the load that has to be on Rin’s shoulders. When they both wake up, however, Rin’s already gone. His space clean aside from some spots of blood on Rin’s pillow, Izumo flips it over. Shima checks the clock on the wall to see it’s only six am.

“What the hell man.” Shima is exasperated. He got up so early for nothing. He’s a little loud, Bon grumbles in his sleep.

“Want to go look for him?” Izumo is looking anywhere but Shima, still in pajamas.

“I’ve got time to kill. They probably won’t serve breakfast for a bit. I don’t think anyone else in the inn is awake.” Shima smiles at her, grabbing his day clothes and leaving the room so she can get her clothes and find somewhere to get changed.

Bon himself wakes up at six thirty, ignoring the empty beds, to go and find Uwabami. He ends up being roped into an early morning meeting to find the culprit for the earlier attempt on the right eye. Uwabami says his father is already there, and that’s what truly motivates him to go. They want to get the meeting done before breakfast, Bon imagines it’s because they want to catch his dad before he escapes off to the mountains to chant the sutra. Everyone is seated for a while before the meeting actually starts, Bon awkwardly fidgeting in his seat in response to the uncomfortable silence permeating the room.

“Everyone,” Yaozo coughs, being carried in by Juuzo, his second eldest son, “Thank you for gathering on such short notice.” The whole table is on edge, Yaozo should still be in bed. His presence makes the situation so much more severe. It puts everyone in perspective, and Bon watches the whole table react to the seriousness of the predicament they are in.

“Are you okay? You seem worse than yesterday!” It’s Miwa, seated across from Bon. Bon was too distracted to even know Konekomaru was even there.

“Bon,” Bon snaps out of the haze he didn’t even notice he slipped into to look up at Yaozo Shima, “I’m sorry you have to see me in this state.”

“Don’t apologize.” Bon and his father say it at almost the same time, Bon turns to glare at his father at the head of the table so fast he almost gets whiplash. His father stares back, ignoring it almost.

“Today the heads of the various families, as well as those involved in the previous incident regarding the right eye…” Bon doesn’t mean to tune out his father, but he’s so close to the door and he can hear the people in the hallway better than he can his father.

“Where did he even go? This place isn’t huge!” It’s Shima, and he sounds exasperated.

“Maybe he went outside? He did have a head start on us, I wonder when he woke up.” The other is Izumo, who’s unfazed by the tone in Shima’s voice.

“Do you hear that?” That doesn’t come from the hallway outside of the meeting, but from his father who had stopped mid sentence. In the silence, Bon could hear it, a sort of pitter patter sound, like a cat running. It was getting closer, and the sound echoed in the hallway and Bon’s head. Bap bap bap bapbap bapbapbAP BAPBAPBAPBAP, then a crashing noise and a yelp from Shima outside.

“What the FUCK Rin! Didn’t your parents teach you not to run inside!”

“Language Shima, we are in a place of worship.” Rin’s voice sounded scratchy, like he had a sore throat. Bon’s eyebrow twitch as he stands, turning and throwing open the door to glance out into the hallway. Rin had apparently crashed into Shima running through the halls.

“Oh pops! Where did you go after I cut up all that watermelon yesterday?” Rin is looking past him, and Bon turns to see his father behind him.

“Pops?”

“Rin! Did you find people to give it too?” The words are said almost at the same time and Bon is shocked as his father walks passed him, turning to look at the group of people from the meaning that have gathered in the hallway, “Due to the severity of the situation at hand, I would rather not speak of it while others are here. We will reschedule the meeting. You all are dismissed.” Tatsuma bows, before disappearing down the hallway. Bon and Miwa go to join the group at the end of the hall, Rin helping Shima up.

“Have you guys seen Shura? I have to talk to her.” Rin clears his throat, speaking as if there’s something stuck in it. Izumo just rolls her eyes, turns him, and pushes him forward. Bon is nearly startled by this new friendship they have, or rather anyone besides Shiemi going out of their way to talk to Rin. Rin has always been so, reserved almost. He never ignored anyone or pushed himself away, but Bon can’t think of a single time Rin actively tried to hang out with someone or even start a conversation.

“She’s helping tend to the injured you idiot.”

“Hey asshole!” Rin jumps when Bon addresses him, following him and Izumo down the hall, “Stop running in my house! You’ll break something.”

“Ah sorry, Yukio keeps telling me to stop running inside. Says I’ll hurt myself.” The back of Rin’s neck is all red, Bon wants to touch it and feel the heat under his fingers. The thought comes from nowhere, irritating the hell out of him.

They find Shura rather easily, Shiemi slinking into their group at some point, still in her pajamas. Shura looks up, eyebrows raised at the six students standing before her.

“Hey can you look at my foot?” Rin sits in front of her, placing his right foot into her lap, “More my ankle actually.” Rin has on a pair of ankle socks in a soft pastel yellow color. Bon has no idea why, but they make him angry. Everything about Rin makes him angry, but an exasperated angry, a fond angry. The type of angry you get when a friend tells a bad joke or a family member does something stupid, and he doesn’t know what to do about these new found feelings.

“Why?” Shuras already pushing up the end of Rin’s sweat pants, revealing a nasty scar. The scar goes all the way around Rin’s ankle, thick almost as if his foot had been cut off. It’s pink, irritated, Rin had clearly been scratching.

“This is from when Angel cut off your foot right? And stop scratching!” Shura pinches the skin at the back of Rin’s knee and he flinches. The two almost pointedly ignore the faces on the rest of the students at the fact that Rins foot had been cut off.

“Oh um yeah? It hurts when I run, but today is real bad, I had to stop a few times.”

“I think it healed wrong, Yukio just  lined it back up and wrapped it right?” Shura pokes at the scar, staring at the way his ankle looks and then squeezing it, “Yeah see here? The bones are out of place.”

“Can we set them?” Bon thinks that this whole situation is being talked about too casually. He also thinks the others are being nosy, but that's hypocritical. Shura is lost in thought, staring down at Rin’s ankle.

“Can you reset it?” Rin repeats and coughs into his elbow, it’s nasty and wet sounding, Bon makes a face. This dude should really take better care of himself. On top of it Rin looks almost uncomfortable, being watched like this. He fidgets and Bon wants to sweep him away from all the prying eyes. Obviously because that’s what a nice person would do, not because Bon actually likes Rin.

“I don’t think so, it’s healed in an awkward place. We’re gonna have to cut it off again, then reset it.” Shura picks up a knife that’s sitting next to her for whatever reason, and Rin quickly snatches back his foot. The boy is holding his knee close to his chest.

“Um no?”

“Why not? Suguro can you hold him down?” Shura quickly grabs Rin’s ankle as Bon moves to grab Rin underneath his arms. Rin pulls back his foot, before pressing his back against Bon’s front, sliding under and out of his arms, and ending up across the room. Bon’s skin feels like its burning where Rin brushed against him.

“No one is holding me down because we are not cutting off my foot again,” Rin’s face is red, his voice getting scratchy again and taking on a panicked edge, “It hurts! And where am I gonna heal Shura! People are going to be suspicious! What if I need to grow back a whole new foot!”

“Can you even do that?”  Shura’s voice sounds curious, she stands up quickly, edging slowly towards Rin who looks a lot like a cornered animal.

“I don’t know and we are not about to find out!” And just like that Rin is coughing again, into his hands. Izumo taking quick steps towards him, brushing passed Bon. Almost immediately Bon feels jealous, he doesn’t even notice it. He just knows he’s become very irritated by Izumo’s presence as of late, and there is some annoying pit settling in his stomach.

“Everyone! Breakfast is ready!” His mother pokes her head in at that moment, and Bon has never felt more relieved for the intrusion.

During breakfast Shima sits with Rin, ignoring the outburst from Konekomaru and the look he gets from Bon. He’s noticed that Rin has been almost by himself lately, not even lately. If Rin isn’t with Shiemi or Yukio, he’s by himself.

“Dude when did you even wake up this morning? Izumo and I woke up to help you out with your er, issue, and you were like gone! Poof!”

“I get up around five and I go for a run, I get antsy if I don’t. Wait,” Rin squints at him, leaning close, “Are you sure you’re okay to be talking to me so casually?”

“Yeah! I don’t care too much what the others think!” Shima smiles at Rin, then notices a sound in the distance, “Wait is that?” The noise is all Shima gets before he’s kicked in the back, falling to the ground in pain.

“There he is,” It comes out in a wheeze, “What are you doing out of the blue, Kin-nii?”

“Wasn’t that obviously a flying kick? You idiot.” Two of Shima’s brothers are here, and he’s not sure he’s prepared for the amount of embarrassment about to come.

“Nice to see you looking so lively!” His older brother Juuzo is grinning at him.

“Ugh not you too!” Shima has the extreme urge to roll his eyes.

“What's that ‘ugh’ supposed to mean!” Juuzo crosses his arm, and Rin is about to get whiplash trying to keep up with the three brothers.

“More importantly, how did you get better so soon?”

“I wasn’t hurt too badly to begin with, I’m going back there later today,” Juuzo scans the room, “Oh hey Koneko! Whatcha doin over there? Come eat with us!” Konekomaru jumps, looking at the eldest Shima brother.

“I’m almost done actually!” His voice comes out in a hurry.

“What’s with him?”

“Who’s this dude here?” It’s said in unison, and Shima’s brothers take the time to glare at each other before turning to look at Rin, who has a mouth full of food and is suddenly self conscious.

“This is my friend Rin!” Shima is displaying him almost proudly, and Rin is confused at being called a friend.

“Oh! You’re the kid who was running in the hallway this morning! I’m Juuzo, Shima’s big brother! It’s a pleasure to meet you!” Rin frowns a bit at being remembered for running inside, it’s not the greatest first impression.

“The other one that came in with me is Kinzo, the fourth son of the Shima family, and the biggest fucking idiot,” Rin has the urge to scold Juuzo for his language, “ Renzou is the youngest and you probably know he’s a huge pervert.” Shima meets Rin’s gaze and rolls his eyes, causing Rin to smile.

“Yeah he’s super lame too.”

“Not this again! You’re a horrible person Rin, horrible.” Shima holds a hand to his chest in mock agony, “Oh hey! Do you want to go to the pool with us today actually? Apparently we have the whole day off!” Shima wants Rin to get some sort of interaction with as many people as he can, and gain a lot of friends before they go back to the academy and he’s stuck with just Shima and Izumo again.

“Nah I think I’ll pass.” Rin smiles as he drinks his water. Spending time around others meant more people noticing his issue, as well as a pool meant being shirtless. Which meant he had nowhere to hide his tail.

“Aw come on! We’ll invite some girls!” Rin gives Shima a look, eyebrow raised as he continues to eat.

“Oh yeah,”Shima smiles sheepishly, "forgot about that. but you should still come!”

“You’re really nice for the offer Shima, but I think I’ll just go for another run again maybe, go see what kind of mess Kuro is getting up too. He was gone when I got up this morning.” Rin is really curious to see where his dumb cat keeps going.

“Oh no, we have training.” Rin jumped at the sound of Shura’s voice behind him, nearly dropping his rice. Rin immediately pulled his right leg closer to him, looking up at her suspiciously. Shura just stares right back.

“Did you even train at all yesterday?” She’s leaning over him, a tight grip on his shoulder.

“No, I felt it would be in poor taste.” Practicing his control over the blue flames here, in a place where so many had died. It felt disrespectful.

“Come on,” Shura pulls him up and out of the room, rolling her eyes so hard it almost looks like it hurts, “I’ll find us somewhere quiet, secluded.” Rin waves at the Shimas as he leaves, getting enthusiastic waves back.

Somewhere quiet and secluded ends up being the roof of the inn. Lighting the candles is getting to be tedious, frustrating every time he fails. It doesn’t help that the smoke wafting up irritates his lungs. The roof they are are on is a wreck now, splattered with slimy flowers and petals, blood, and scorch marks. Rin has his hands pressed tightly into his eyes, mouth full of cough drops as he takes a so called break. He’s not getting anywhere and it’s killing him. He takes a shaky breath, throat making a gross wet noise, and tries again. The candles burst into flames and Shura uses the fire extinguisher for what feels like the eightieth time that day. Rin wants to scream into the sky, let the clouds absorb his frustration.

“Maybe the issue is how you’re picturing it,” Shura plops down heavily next to him, “I feel like it should be more like a, a po feeling. A soft pop rather than a huge blaze y’know.” Rin nods, and she ruffles his hair.

“I’m going to check on everyone inside real quick okay? You stay here, practice some more. Remember, po. ” Shura tosses him the extinguisher, scaling down the roof and landing on the dirt with a small thump. Rin follows her down, sticking his head under the faucet and turning it on. It’s too hot for him to me messing around with fire. The coughing hits again, his fourth fit today. They are becoming a little too common, it’s the same with all the whole flowers popping up. There was a new flower after breakfast this morning, after the first coughing fit. Rin hadn’t had the time to look it up then, so he does now. He turns off the faucet, shaking the water out of his hair before pulling the small book Yukio gave him out of his pocket. Rin flips until he finds his flower, and god even the color of the thing means something.

Hyacinth: Purple- Regret, sorrow.

“Leave it to me to have the most emo hanahaki bouquet in history.” Rin sighed. Most people’s bouquets were happy flowers, Roses, Camillas, Aster, the works. So many documentaries that came out when the disease was brand new,  focused on the type of flowers one grew, and they was almost a uniformity in people. His bouquet was just, sad. Rin hears someone in his annoyed musings, closing the book and placing it back in his back pocket. Rin stands, and goes to find the source of the noise. So much for practice.

“Father, mother, esteemed ancestors, I am powerless. What should I do?” Its Konekomaru, bowed before a grave. Rin calls out to him and Konekomaru flinches so severely Rin immediately takes two steps back. However when Konekomaru moves to run away again Rin decides this can’t go on, moving to step in front of the smaller boy as he tries to make a break for it.

“Hold on! What are you running away for? I just want to make up with you!” Rin is angry, and wheezing. He moved far too fast after just hacking up a buckets worth of flowers.

“O-o-okumura-kun! I don’t want you going near Bon ever again! He’s got enough on his plate as it is!” Konekomaru is trying to scold him, and the yelling would be more serious if the boy wasn’t tremble as he did so. Rin gets angry at being told to keep away from Bon as if he’s no more than a common nuisance, but he’s even angrier at Konekomaru trying to change the subject.

‘“I’m not talking about Bon! I’m talking about you!” He raises his voice a little and tries to reign himself in before he explodes, Rin knows what he must look like with the look Konekomaru is giving him. He hates that look, it’s followed him around his whole life.

“I-I have nothing! As you can see, I have no parents or relatives. The Myou Dha people even took care of an orphan like me! I want to repay that debt! The Myou Dha is my home, the only place I can be. And anyone who threatens this temple, this sect, is an enemy to me.” Konekomaru is looking him directly in the eye, right hand in a fist at his side. Rin has never seen the other boy so serious and calm, intimidating even, minus the cast. Suddenly everything clicks into place in Rin’s brain, and he understands Konekomaru a little more in that moment.

“I see! Okay I’ve got it!” Rin’s tail is wagging a bit, he’s just so happy to finally understand some part of the situation, “So if I can get you to stop seeing me as a threat, we can make up and be friends again?” Rin is willing to train until his throat and lungs are raw and screaming if it meant a chance to make up with everyone.

“It’s just like you said! My training isn’t going so well at the moment, I can’t control my flames at all! That’s what’s making you uneasy and I totally get it! I’m going to go back to back to training!” Rin is grinning, bouncing on his feet, “Oh! And by the way, you seem to have a lot of things you cherish and want to protect yeah? So you really aren’t someone who has nothing.” Rin leaves with that, nearly jogging to go back to his training. Konekomaru is dizzy trying to processes Rin’s words.

“I mean Okumura’s a nice guy, I’m sure you’re aware of that.” Shima’s words from when Konekomaru scolded him after breakfast flutter through his mind, and he bites his lip. Of course he knows Rin is a good guy, he’s just too dangerous for Konekomaru to trust.

“Yeaaahhhhh fail!” Shura is lounging on the roof with a can of beer in her hand, watching as Rin tries over and over again to properly light the candles, “You’re suddenly very motivated.”

“I think I understand something now.” Rin coughs a bit but leaves it at that, and Shura is suspicious of his crypticness but won’t question it. She’s just going to sip her beer and watch as he makes candles burst in balls of brilliant blue flames.

Chapter Text

Rin is on his morning run, when something unusual happens, or rather something unusual even for him. He has his usual coughing and hacking fit, but there’s something spongy and gross in with the flowers, almost as if he’s literally coughing up his lungs. Hell he probably is hacking up his lungs. Rin remembers his second, his last, year of middle school. He remembers dissecting pig lungs with Yukio, the way the tissue looked smooth yet spongy at the same time. Rin freaks out, slipping and nearly breaking his neck on a small patch of rocks. He’s dizzy, and notices his flowers are way bloodier than usual, the whites, purples, and pinks almost completely stained with it. It’s splattered all over the pavement and his shoes. The only thought he has is to tell Yukio because he clearly needs a doctor, there is something horribly wrong with what’s going on at the current moment. Rin’s stuck there panicking, staring at the pile of gore and flowers inches from his feet. He’s panicking because the whole thing with his lungs were supposed to be an overdramatic panic-attack induced thought whizzing through his mind, not an actual issue.

“Hey Rin do you know what this says?” He’s made it back and is just sitting down with his breakfast when Shima shoves a book under his nose, apparently arguing with his brothers over the proper pronunciation of a word.

“Nope.” Rin pops the p at the end of the word, not even looking at the book. It was too early for him to try and fry his brain by reading. Or for the headache that would start at the back of his eyes and evolve into a migraine after he tried to read the words in the book.

“You didn’t even look!” Shima is whining at him, reaching across the table to flick at the hairpin keeping Rin’s bangs out of his face.

“I don’t need to, I’m dyslexic. I usually double check all my sh- stuff excuse me, with Yukio. I can’t read that.” Well he could, but it would probably take awhile. He’s only been able to make out the meanings for the flowers by using Yukio’s little notes in the corners, and the font of the book helps. But the book Shima is clutching to his chest has thin, small font.

“Oh! I didn’t know that! Who helps you take notes in class?” Shima  has closed the book and put it away, his brothers whining at the thought of the argument going unresolved.

“Yukio usually gets the notes ahead of time, and we rewrite them together when he gets home. I use the two column method, and a lot of colored pens and highlighters.” Yukio nearly cleared out their local craft store of mildliners after Rin nearly cried because he could finally read his own handwriting.

“Ohhh your notes must be really neat! Can I take a look when we get back?” Shima had half a mind to mimic Rin’s study habits, the other boy has been improving as of late and Shima is tired of having to rely on Bon for studying.

“Oh shush! Enough about school! Do you have more training planned for today Okumura?” Juuzo is standing and popping his back, he has a meeting to go to today, hoping that this will be the time they actually get everything settled.

“I think I do? Yeah, yeah I do. I’m actually going to go and look for Shura now.” He stands up quickly, not eating much of his breakfast. Rin’s still so nauseous after what happened that morning. He needs to talk to her about that, about how he’s going to be some sort of ultimate weapon if he’s dying.

Bon passes Rin on his way back into the inn, watching Rin untie his shoes so he can put them on. Looking at the boy’s feet, Bon decides Rin has no normal socks. The pair he has on now has little aliens and ufos on them. Bon also decides that Rin probably toes out of his shoes and leaves them tied, which annoys him.

“Oh Bon!” Ryuji is snapped out of his sock focused thoughts by Rin calling his name, “Do you need something?” It frustrates Bon, that despite the way everyone has been treating Rin, he’s still so nice to everyone. He wants to hate Rin, but he physically can’t because the boy is too fucking nice.  And don’t even get Bon started on Rin’s smile!

“No.” Bon says it through his teeth, trying to ignore the dumb thoughts in his head. He needs to get to the meeting, Bon has no time for questionable thoughts about Rin’s dimples.

Bon is actually one of the first people there, the others being Uwabami and his eldest daughter. Konekomaru is nearly late to this meeting, rushing in after sleeping late. Juuzo brings Yaozo in and he looks almost worse than before. They should have waited for this, until Yaozo recovered.

“The most high priest could sadly not make it today, something came up.” Yaozo bows and Bon grits his teeth. If Yaozo could be here injured then his father should be here to lead the meeting, to actually do his job.

“While the most high priest may not be at this meeting, he has told me the issue that we need to discuss. The meeting will proceed,” Yaozo Shima takes the time to look at every individual at the table, “Today the heads of the families, as well as the four involved in the incident, are here for no other reason than to unmask the traitor in our midst.” The room explodes into chatter. Everyone outraged at the thought of a traitor, scared at the idea of it.

“Wait hold on!” Someone speaks out, voice wobbling, and one of Uwabami’s daughters takes the outburst as an opportunity.

“Yeah! Is there even proof there is a traitor in our sect? We didn’t even know the left eye existed until mere days ago!” It’s definitely one of the younger sisters, angry at the accusation that Mamushi is possibly a traitor.

“Quiet!” The outburst causes Yaozo to start coughing, Juuzo nearly stands up and moves to help his father, “At the time of the incident the only people present were from the Myou Dha sect.” Yaozo has yet to stop coughing and Juuzo has moved.

“Pops, don’t overwork yourself.” He sounds nervous, and Yaozo’s presence here despite this continues to make Bon angry. Ryuji is in no way mad at Yaozo, it’s at his father. At his father’s blatant neglect of his sect.

“...In addition the only people capable of removing the seal on the eye are from the Myou Dha sect,” Uwabami takes over for Yaozo, “Juuzu, could we have a report on the incidents at the shinbu that day?” Juuzo startles at the mention of his name before bowing to Uwabami.

“Yes of course!” Juuzo Shima takes a deep breath, “That day at the shinbu there was an issue with the Seat of The Priest, and we called in the most high priest. While he was looking at it, Mamushi had some questions for the most high priest. Mainly about the most high priest joining the True Cross Order. He brushed it off and Mamushi got worked up, speaking of the teachings of the sect and properly protecting the right eye. She felt he was abandoning the mission of the sect.” Juuzo glanced at Mamushi, who had her head down, looking at her hands in her lap. He took a sip of his tea, trying to clear his thoughts and finish the report.

“The most high priest apologized, and that is when things got out of hand. The fire for the Seat of the Priest went out of control, and the most high priest ordered us to run  away before trying to tame it. But Mamushi ran forward to protect the eye, but was knocked down by fathers k’rik as he moved to do the same. Mamushi fell to the water and the seal on the eye began to unravel. My father pushed everyone back before resealing the eye.”

“So in other words.” Uwabami looks down at the table, “At the scene near the eye were my three daughters, Juuzo, Chief Yaozo who pitched in to help, and the most high priest who is absent today.” Uwabami takes the time to pull out a folder from the space next to him. In it is information on a True Cross agent who is known as Toudou Saburota.

“I’d like to take note of the fact that the one who is believed to have stolen the left eye from headquarters is former Saishinbu chief, Toudou Saburota.” Uwabami passes around the file, “Juuzo, Mamushi, both of you learned about magic and seals from Saburota at the cram school.”

“What does that have to do with anything?” Juuzo looks confused, leaning forward over the table.

“Are you suspecting me?” Mamushi turns to her father, distraught.

“There isn’t anyone else here with a connection to Toudou and the left eye.”

“No way! Just because he was one of our instructors…” Mamushi looks away from her father and back to her hands, “Shima, you were pretty close to Toudou weren’t you?”

“I just liked his classes! How was that being close to Toudou?” Juuzo is leaning further over the table, looking as if he’d lunge at Mamushi at any moment, “In any case you were the one trying to get close to the eye!”

“That’s because I thought it was in danger!” The two are yelling at eachother for the second time since Bon arrived.

“And what made you think so? The high priest told us to run and you defied his orders!”

“What are you insinuating!?”

“I’m insinuating that your actions were questionable!”

“Father!” Mamushi turns towards Uwabami, “I assure you that damn Shima is trying to push all the suspicion onto me!” Uwabami looks as if he has the biggest migraine ever in creation.

“We are still in the middle of discussion!” The yelling and bickering stops when Uwabami snaps.

“Back then,” Mamushi is quiet for this, as if she’s not sure it should be said, “when the flames of the Seat of the Priest began to dance, it looked as if Tatsuma-sama was manipulating the flames. He was chanting a sutra I’d never heard before..” A pit forms in Bon’s stomach at this news, his father just couldn’t have.

“Yeah,” Juuzu chimes in, equally quiet, “now that you mentioned it, it looked like the most high priest was fanning the flames.” The silence in the room is suffocating, everyone with a solemn face. A few were glaring at Juuzo Shima head on.

“I’m not saying it was Tatsuma-sama! Just that that’s what it looked like!” And with that, the dam breaks. Everyone begins to talk about Bon’s father. It makes him nauseous, that the sect is so quick to turn on his father, on the most high priest.

“In fact, why did he hide the existence of the left eye? Tatsuma-sama I mean.”

“Wouldn’t it be weird if the most high priest didn’t know about the left eye?”

“That is true.”

“You can’t be saying… that Tatsuma-sama and the incident are!?”

“Please stop!” Konekomaru can see the far away look in Bon’s eyes as he stares at the table and decides to stop all of the talking going on at this so called meeting, “Please don’t make such thoughtless statements!”

“You really are too close to Tatsuma-sama.” The priest who says this looks down his nose at Konekomaru.

“More importantly the fact he isn’t here is proof he’s guilty is it not?”

“But he was at the first meeting?”

“What if he sabotaged it on purpose? Holding it when he knew others would still be in the inn and away from the injured?”

“None of you are thinking clearly, you are all speculating.”

“Everyone is too suspicious.”

“Oh then who is it then?” All the squabbling is hurting Bon’s head and he wants to leave the meeting, to go lay back down in the dark, and forget that his father might have conspired to steal the impure king’s right eye.

“Stop!” Its chief Yaozo yelling again, Bon can just barely focus on him with the fuzziness in his head, “We aren’t getting anywhere! I will confer with Uwabami, and in a few days time we will have an audience with the most high priest. We are done for today, you are all dismissed.” Bon’s head is still all fuzzy and it’s getting worse. He knows he’s probably about to sink into his own head and work on autopilot. He presses his hands into his eyes, trying to keep himself grounded and in the present.

“Bon? Are you okay?” Miwa’s voice sounds like Bon is hearing it from underwater, “I wonder what was wrong with everyone, they can’t seriously be suspecting the high priest! There’s no way that's possible!”

“Really?” Bon’s words are slurred, he can’t move his hands from his face, “Everyone's suspicions are pretty plausible, don’t’cha think?”

“I don't…” Miwa is confused, Bon has never questioned his father like this before.

“Enough Miwa!” Bon snaps,then sighs at himself, “Listen, I’m sorry Koneko. I just need to be alone right now okay?” Bon lays his head down on the table. He doesn’t see Miwa leave, and he doesn’t know how long he sits there tracing the lines on the tatami on the floor.

It’s when he’s finally leaving that he sees Juuzo leaving using an order key, and it makes Bon immensely suspicious. He may be feuding with his father, but he isn’t about to let Juuzo get away with pushing all the blame on him. He heads for the underground elevator immediately, running into Kinzo and avoiding looking suspicious himself. Bon nearly collapses at the scene he finds at the Shinbu. The small amount of security they placed there has been wiped out. Bon grits his teeth, and resolves to bring Juuzo to justice. But it’s not Juuzo, it’s Mamushi Hoji, and she is very close to the right eye.

“Just what do you think you are doing Mamushi?” Juuzo looks ready for a fight, braced for Mamushi to attack him. She just glares at him, unmoving.

“So it was you after all. Caught you red handed doing some shady things haven’t I?” Juuzo sounds almost pained by this fact, upset that it is his childhood friend that has a hand in injuring his father and attempting to destroy his home. Bon has moved from the door and is hiding behind a ramp, eavesdropping on the situation. He’s hoping he’s strong enough to stop the situation from escalating.

“I know it seems like I don’t like you more often than not, but I’ve always believed you were the person with the Myou Dha’s interest at heart more than anyone else, so why?” Juuzo’s getting worked up, and Mamushi is still just staring quietly, “Answer me damn it!”

“It’s all to bring the Myou Dha to it’s senses. The true traitor is Tatsuma-sama and the Japanese branch head Mephisto Pheles.” There is something akin to pure anger in Mamushi’s eyes and Bon feels the stone in his stomach from the meeting come back with a vengeance.

“Mephisto and the most high priest? What the hell are you saying!” Juuzo’s grip on his K’rik is so tight his knuckles are stark white against the shining gold.

“Shortly after we enrolled at the cram school eight years ago Toudou-sensei confided in me about the eyes of the impure king, and how the left one belonged to Mephisto! He has been suspicious of Mephisto for a long time and wants to expose his misdeeds, and I decided to help him. Mephisto, most high priest Tatsuma-sama, I’ve done so much research, but there was nothing!” Mamushi has her hands in tight fists at her sides and she’s shaking, it’s like she’s throwing her words at Juuzo, “Until about a week ago. And I discovered that Mephisto Pheles has raised the son of satan in complete secrecy. And Tatsuma-sama let Mephisto seal the boy's powers in Kurikara! In the Myou Dha’s object of worship!” Mamushi’s hands are raised and crossed now, her voice getting louder as she gets angrier.

“What proof do you have!” Juuzo takes a step back, shocked by what he’s heard.

“I have no proof, but soon the truth will come to life.” Mamushi begins to chant, and summons her familiars, “I can no longer trust the higher ups, Toudou and I will seal the eyes somewhere safe. Out of Mephistos reach.” Bon can’t help but relate to her. He’s been suspicious ever since he saw Rin’s flames, since he saw Kurikara.

“Stop this Mamushi! Don’t do such reckless things without thinking first! At least speak with others first!” Juuzo returns to his stance, worried about the naga that are now summoned.

“The higher ups suspect nothing of the most high priest who sold our sect and then wouldn’t even join the order! Not even my father! And your family is the worst of all! Speak with others? They would just tell me I’m thinking too much as if we have time to ignore the problem! I don’t need any of y’all! I will protect the Myou Dha on my own even if it costs my life!” She attacks Juuzo at that moment, and Juuzo moves to defend himself.

“As your childhood friend I can’t let you do this!” Bon jumps from his hiding place at this.

“Juuzo! Mamushi! Stop!” They can’t fight over this, Bon can’t let them fight over this. He moves to stop them when the ceiling becomes to cave in, and suddenly Toudou is there, floating in his shinbu. He greets Juuzo, who just yells back, too focused on Toudou to notice the naga wrapping itself around the right eye. The naga drops the eye into Mamushi’s hands.

“Toudou-sensi is not involved.” That is all Mamushi says before she breaks the seal on the right eye and pushes it into hers. Juuzo is screaming at her, trying to tell her that Toudou is manipulating and deceiving her. Juuzo takes one step toward her and is suddenly being restrained by exorcists that Bon didn’t even know came in. Mamushi is beginning to leave, hand in Toudou’s.

“The one’s who have been deceived are the lot of you.” And with that Mamushi is gone and Ryuji’s head is swimming. He can’t help but be angry at his father. Then he see’s that very man out of the corner of his eye trying to leave the shinbu, and that only stokes his anger. Bon almost pushes through the crowd to get to his father.

“Long time no see, pops.” Ryuji has a firm grip on his father’s robes and a sneer on his face.

“Ryuji! It’s nice to see you! What an interesting haircut!” His father is smiling at him with that dopey grin and Bon wants to shake him, wants to know if he understands what has just happened.

“Where do you think you’re going?” He says it through his teeth, grip on his father tightening.

“Y’know I’d love to stay but I have to go chase after Mamushi!” His father is still smiling, waving his hands back and forth in mock surrender.

“Chase after Mamushi?” Bon grits his teeth and pulls his father closer to him so that he can look down at him properly, “From the very beginning, Mamushi’s betrayal, the sect being in this state, is all your fault!”

Chapter Text

Rin is still training when it happens, and he’s been training for hours. The buildings gutters are full of flower petals, and he’s given up at avoiding getting blood on his shirt at this point. They’ve gone through two whole sacks of candles and Rin is frustrated.

“Damn it! Why can’t I do this!” He stands as the two side candles are completely engulfed in flames and strongly resists the urge to stomp his foot like a toddler, “Why do the candles themselves keep burning!”

“Oh? Ready to give up?” Shura is lounging on the roof, beer in hand and book in front of her.

“No way! I have to do this.” Rin takes a deep, shaky breath, and decides he's struggling because it is hot and he is uncomfortable, “I’m just going to go change and cool off. Why don’t you actually do your job while I'm gone.” Rin slides down from the roof and tries to leave, but all he can think of is everyone's faces.

The Myou Dha is the only place I can be, anyone who threatens that is my enemy.

Followers of my temple died in those flames! They can kill people!

Rin keeps seeing everyone’s scared and angry faces in his mind, and that’s what makes him turn around. He needs to get control of himself. Rin knows he’s never going to get anywhere if he keeps taking this so lightly, if he keeps blaming everything but himself at his lack of control over his flames. He stops to cough when he finally gets back onto the roof, leaning over the gutter so it catches all his flowers.

“I thought you were going to change your shirt?” Shura has an eyebrow raised at him, clearly mocking him.

“I don’t have time for that, I have to do this.” RIn rubs the blood away from his mouth and moves to set back up more candles.

“I called Yukio,” Rin can faintly hear the sound of her turning the pages in her book, “I told him about your... concern . He says they lost Toudou’s trail so he’ll be here sooner than later. He’ll take a look at you then.” Rin just nods before trying again, growling when the candles just combust again.

“I told him you won’t confess. He’s suggesting the surgery.” It’s as if everything stops in that moment, and it is immensely silent. Rin stands to exchange his candles.

“I don’t know if I can do that. All these memories…” Rin takes a deep breath, sitting back down, “He’s involved in my schooling Shura. My exorcist training. I’d lose everything.”

“You’re willing to risk this? The pain, the blood, for memories of a boy who hates your guts and lessons that can be retaught?”

“I mean, yeah I guess.” Rin is staring at his feet, he took off his sneakers when he got back on the roof, the aliens stare at him mockingly. It’s more than that. The surgery means forgetting the friends he’s made, his very first friends. It means losing all the ground he’s gained with his brother and restarting with the relationship they had before.

“What if you die? What if we’ve overestimated your healing and you die?” There’s a raw edge in Shura’s voice, like she’s actually scared for him and it makes his heart hurt.

“Then I’ve saved the vatican some time and effort haven’t I?” Rin has a problem with never taking anything seriously, but this he really can’t take seriously. He can’t dwell on this, it’ll ruin him.

“...Shut up and practice.” The noise picks up again, the sound of Shura turning pages and the rustling of the leaves. Rin finally exchanges his candles and gets back to work.

He finally gets it hours later. Kuro is napping, Shura is nearly done with her book, and the breeze feels more like it’s cooling him down opposed to just pushing hot air at him. Rin’s worked himself up and is calming himself down when he feels something click in the back of his brain. It’s almost as if he’s super focused, and so he tries again, and finally manages it. He nearly falls off the roof when he notices he’s lit both end candles perfectly. No scorch marks on the candles or the roof. Rather no new scorch marks on the roof.

“Oh!” Shura is suddenly right behind him and Rin has Kuro in the air Simba style. He doesn’t think he’ll ever stop yelling.

“I did it!” He coughs a little bit into it but he’s still smiling wide because he finally has some form of control over something in his life.

“You’re finally at the starting line huh!” Shura nudges him, grin just as big as his. She’s secretly so proud of him, this apprentice she sees as a son even if she’s not that much older than him.

“Starting line?” Rin puts Kuro down, watching as his familiar runs across the roof and away from him.

“You’ve gotta learn to manipulate your flames at will kiddo. Being able to simply summon them is the first step.” She pats his shoulder, moving to sit down, she doesn’t get to.

“I’m still so far off…” Rin looks off away from the roof, then squints at something in the distance, “Is that? Is that a fire?” The ground starts shaking at that moment and Rin nearly loses his balance and falls off the roof for the umpteenth time that day.

“Something’s happened at the Branch office, Rin come with me.” Shura’s jumping off the roof and the next thing Rin knows they are running through the little wooded area behind the inn towards the temple’s shinbu.

By the time they get there the eye has already been taken and Toudou has escaped with Mamushi. In fact they get there just in time to see Bon yelling at his dad, and Rin’s chest feels tight. It reminds him too much of his fight with Father Fujimoto. He understands, he almost knows exactly what Bon is going through, and he knows this isn’t the way to go.

“Is what Mamushi said true?” Bon almost sounds like a child, voice weak and cracking. Ryuji’s voice, the whole situation hurts Rin’s chest. It’s all too similar to the night his father died. All he wants to do is pull Bon out of the shinbu and comfort him, get him out of there before Ryuji does something he regrets. But Rin knows that Bon would never willingly go with him anywhere, not alone at least. He actually takes a step forward and Shura grabs his sleeve, shaking her head at him.

“Are you betraying us?” Bon’s grip on his father's robes tightens, his hands shaking.

“Of course not,” Tatsuma Suguro is calm, eyes soft and full of love for his son. He also looks nervous, more nervous than an innocent man should.

“Prove it! Tell us the truth, with everyone here as a witness.” Bon is getting to worked up, face scrunched together as he yells.

“Who is that?” Shura leans close to him, whispering her question at a volume Rin didn’t think was possible.

“Suguro’s dad.” Rin knows it’s more of a mumble that a whisper, words slurring together. He’s nervous, nervous for Bon and his dad. Rin’s fidgeting, bouncing on his feet and picking at his fingers, he knows it’s annoying the people around him.

“The truth…” Bon’s dad looks away, before turning back to face his son, dooming himself with a smile, “That’s a secret. One I can’t even share with you my son. I really wish I could just bury it with me y’know?” Bon’s hands have dropped from his father's robes. Rin can see the judgement that slams into Bon’s head, guilty. Tatsuma looks sheepish, fixing his robes and rubbing the back of his neck.

“What are you talking about at a time like this?” Bon is outraged, his father is joking around during a serious situation and it bothers him. He wants to know why his dad can’t just take things seriously for once in his life.

“Anyway! This isn’t the time for that! We need to find Mamushi.” The grin is still there, almost teasing Bon, “Ryuji be good okay? Listen to your mom and teacher's.”

“Don’t start acting all fatherly now!” Rin flinches at the venom and anger in Bon’s voice, even if it’s not directed at him for once. He doesn’t understand how everyone can stand around quietly while Bon’s relationship with his father falls apart. He’s already slipping off his shoes, ready to run forward. It’s a wonder Shura doesn’t notice.

“Ryuji?”

“If you’re just going to brush this off,” Bon can’t look up from the floor, hands shaking, “I’ll never acknowledge you as my father!” That gets Rin moving, chest feeling like it’s going to collapse. Those words way too similar to the very last thing he said to his father and it stings.

“Pardon me.” Tatsuma turns to leave but Rin breaks through the crowd at that moment, socks sliding on hardwood while he catches the back of Tatsuma’s robes. The priest just can't catch a break today.

“Hold on,” He’s almost wheezing, exerting himself too much in one day, “Aren’t you Suguro’s dad?” Bon’s dad just looks at him like he’s stupid.

“And you!” Rin turns around and just full on decks Bon. He hits Suguro because he’s being a complete idiot.  He feels a little bad for laying Bon out, then remembers what the other was saying and the sympathy leaves.

“What the fuck man!” Rin twitches at the curse.

“I don’t know the details, but you have to listen anyway okay? You have to apologize to your dad while you still can.” Rin didn’t get a chance to apologize to Father Fujimoto, and maybe he’s projecting onto Ryuji but he’s not going to sit there and watch the two drift apart.

“This has nothing to do with you! Shut up!” Bon’s yelling again, all barely caged in rage.

“Don’t brush your father off so nonchalantly! You need to hear him out!” He knows he sounds like a nagging mom, but he’s sick of Bon’s pigheadedness.

“I don’t want to be told that by you,” Bon sneers at him, “Not by you who said he’d defeat satan.” That hurts, and Rin nearly flinches. That monster is not his father.

“Now, Ryuji, Rin, why don’t you two just apologize and make up?” Tatsuma is trying to defuse the situation, wary of the way the two boys are tensed and glaring at each other. Bon sucks his teeth.

“You can just go wherever the hell you like,” Rin jumps at the sudden noise from Bon after a minute of total silence, “Don’t you dare come back!” Rin has no clue who that was directed at, but he’s shaking. He doesn’t know if it’s out of anger or what, but it feels like there’s a buzzing and itching under his skin. Rin closes his eyes and all he can see is Father Fujimoto’s body lying still on the floor of their church, the blood from his face pooling on the hardwood. He goes cold at the image of his dead father sticking around in his head.

“And here I thought you were actually a cool guy.”  Rin explodes, literally, and the shinbu erupts in shouts and yells of outrage. He loses control of his flames for the umpteenth time since he’s found out he has them and charges, ready to hit Bon again. But Ryuji is too fast for him and pulls up seals to protect himself.

“I didn’t choose to be the son of satan!” Rin pushes past the seals, gripping Bon’s shirt, “But you’re different! You’re dad hasn’t done anything wrong! No one looks at you funny because of him! Don’t just toss him aside! He’s important to you, and you’ll regret it. You’ve got to apologize okay? Just apologize to him before you can’t anymore.” Rin’s voice cracks and he’s now one hundred percent sure he’s projecting his own issues onto Bon but it doesn’t matter. He almost blames the pain in his chest on the look Bon’s giving him, but he doesn’t get a chance to figure it out because Juuzo separates them.  Rin takes several steps back, and then there’s a squeeze, like someone has a heavy grip on his lungs. He can feel everything in his lungs coming up, and he swallows it back down. Rin can’t breathe,  he’s torn between sucking in air and hiding his stupid hanahaki. For the first time Rin finds himself hating Bon for the situation he’s put Rin in.

It’s Shura, he can hear her chanting over the ringing in his ears. Eventually it’s too much for him and everything comes up. Rin’s throat burns as he vomits everything he’s been trying to swallow back down, flowers and blood splashing down onto the hardwood in front of him. He still can’t breathe. Soon Rin himself drops, knees and hands hitting the hardwood with a loud cracking noise. He’s holding himself up by his arms, trying to catch his breath. Shura’s still chanting.

“You’ve got to be kidding me.” It’s wheezy, and his lungs constricts again. There in his mess of a hanahaki bouquet are two new flowers, aster and daffodil. He wishes he could choke to death sooner so he wouldn’t have to look at the petals and flowers in the puddle in front of him. There are common hanahaki flowers staring him in the face, right after he outs himself as the most abnormal and uncommon person in the world. He wants to cry, but he knows he can’t here, not in front of all these monks and Bon.

“Renzo stay back! Okumura’s a demon!” Juuzo is yelling as Shima breaks through the crowd, and Rin flinches so hard he nearly slips in his own blood. He’s shaky to begin with, everything burns and he’s losing strength in his arms.  Rin feels boxed in, he can tell everyone is watching him, he can hear everyone mumbling angrily about him. Rin doesn’t see Shima turn to glare at his brother as he keeps walking towards him, he doesn’t see the sneer on Shima’s face.

“Fuck off Juuzo.” Rin’s vision is getting spotty, his head spinning, and he realizes it’s taking too long to suffocate. He can feel Shima’s hands on his face, wiping the blood that’s all down Rin’s chin. Rin leans into the touch, taking the weight off his trembling arms that keep sliding around in his own blood.  Shima is trying to get Rin to focus on him but Rin has tunnel vision and there’s too much going on at once, he can’t focus on anything. If he could get enough air in his lungs he would probably be having a panic attack. Shura’s suddenly too close to him, and he’s still gasping, one hand moving up to claw at his throat. He needs air.

“Rin,” This really isn’t the time for her to chastise him, he slams a hand down on the hardwood, Shima trying to keep his nails from digging into his throat, “Did ya forget the conditions of the discipline trial? If you keep letting your flames get the better of you, you’ll be executed. Calm down.” He can barely hear her, she sounds like she’s trying to speak around a glass of water.  Rin’s still hitting the floor, as if it will miraculously push air into his lungs. He knows that this will end if he provokes her, she’ll strengthen the chant and he’ll finally knock out.

“Fuck...off…hag.” He’s wheezing, coughing out petals and the little air he can get into his lungs with this vice grip around him. Rin’s plan does the trick, and suddenly he’s unconscious.

Shima promptly begins to freak out the second Rin’s head cracks against the hardwood. He yelps, pushing away, and then he notices Rin doesn’t look like he’s breathing. His hands scramble, pressing against Rin’s throat and his wrist, he doesn’t find anything.

“Ms. Kirigakure?” His voice is shakey, hell he’s shaking.

“The idiot is fine, he won’t die from that,” Shura herself doesn’t look to sure of it, “Anyways can someone help me out here!”

“No! Don’t touch him, I’ve got it.” Shima isn’t going to let anyone touch Rin after what just happened, after all the mumbling and fear he heard in the crowd. He just slides Rin onto his back like he did two nights ago, and waits for Shura to finish talking to Tasuma. More accurately he glares holes into Juuzo and Bon while he situates Rin properly. His father looks at him while he asks Shura for an explanation, and Shima puffs himself out and backs up. He’d risk his life for Rin, he knows the boy would do the same. Shima knows Rin deserves none of the shit that's happening to him. He won’t let his father touch Rin.

“By the way, Suguro-sama,” Shima can almost taste the venom in his voice as he turns to follow Shura, “We have a lot to talk about.”

Bon just nods in response, so unused to hearing Shima speak with that type of voice. He focuses on Rin’s socks as they leave, aliens almost laughing at him as they disappear. Then all he can look at is the puddle on the hardwood, flowers stained and blood traveling down the tracks in the wood.

“Those flames…” Juuzo sounds angry next to him, Bon can nearly hear his teeth grinding, “And Shima is friends with him! You let Shima become friends with him!”

“Shh,” Yaozo leans in close to his eldest son, “Don’t focus on that right now, I have a job for you. Follow the most high priest, keep tabs on him but make sure he doesn’t notice.” Juuzo just nods and leaves. Slowly everyone filters out of the Shinbu, and Bon is left staring at the puddle of bloody flowers wilting on the hardwood.

Aster - Symbol of Love: Daintiness

Daffodil - Regard; Unrequited Love

Shima is working up the nerve to question Shura on the chant she used when he hears stomping. They’ve just gotten up from wherever he just put Rin, in a fucking cell where he doesn’t belong. The two are greeted to Yukio, his team trailing meekly behind. Yukio is frantic, grabbing Shura by the shoulders and nearly shaking her.

“What did you do?” Shima is startled because Yukio sounds and looks scared, and the sight is jarring.

“What do you mean four eyes? I did my job!” Shura brushes Yukio’s hands off her shoulders, fixing him with an irritated look. She’s been irritated since they left the Shinbu.

“The vatican sent out a message. They know. They’ve told every exorcist stationed at the head branch and the school that Rin is pending execution! I told you only if he’s gone berserk, not if he loses it a little in his anger!”

“He blew up in front of the whole Kyoto branch! What else was I supposed to do!” The two teachers are in each others faces, yelling. Yukio just puts his head in his hands, not sure what to do.

“They lied to me about the chant,” Shura mumbles it, “They said it would just knock him out painlessly. He was suffocating. He didn’t regain a pulse until we locked him up. They said it wouldn’t hurt. It looked like it hurt a lot.” Shura looks like she’s about to cry and Shima immediately leaves the teachers to themselves, unable to handle crying people. He goes to look for Suguro, who he really wants to punch for being an idiot.

Chapter Text

“Mr.Toudou!” Mamushi hits the ground hard, she has no clue where Toudou has taken them at first, vaguely recognizing it from long ago.

“Mamushi! Are you okay? I guess I did make the burden a little much to carry didn’t I? Let’s take a break, it’d be bad if something happened to you.” Toudou smiles at her, but suddenly everything feels so fake. Toudou’s voice taking on an almost diet-soda sweet edge. That fake overly sweet taste filling her mouth, Mamushi grits her teeth against it. She’s already come this far. She will protect the Myouda.

“No. The sooner we get this cursed thing to a safe place the better.” Mamushi stands, still gritting her teeth. The pain is starting to become to much, her skull throbbing behind her eye.

“Fine then, just a little further.” Toudou grins at her, and it causes a chill to run down her spine. The place they are in is almost made entirely of wood and stone, the corridors taking on an eerie glow as they traverse them.  It’s the Goumado she realizes. Toudou feels around for a while before finding a trap door with a small noise of triumph. The stairs are creaky, it’s everything out of a horror movie and Mamushi finds herself struggling against the urge to turn back.

“There’s the door!” It’s heavily sealed shut, and Mamushi wants to break Toudou’s hands to keep him from touching it. Everything in her screaming that she’s made a mistake, but she knows she hasn’t. She’s seen satan’s son with her own eyes, watched him swing Kurikara on monitors. She will continue to protect her temple, even in fear.

“I never expected there to be a cellar like this under the Goumado.” She’s steeling her voice, fighting off the fear that wants to edge into it.

“Give me the eye.” Toudou turns and faces her, and she quickly gets flustered.

“What? Bu-But you said it would be to much for you!” On instinct her hands goes up to her eye to protect it.

“It’s not much farther. Besides I’m worried about you. I kind of regret bringing a student such as yourself into this. I’m just thinking of your future.” There's that tone again, the saccharin taste filling her mouth again.

“I for one, do not regret it.” Mamushi plucks the eye out, and hands it to Toudou.

“You’re a good kid,” Toudou gives her that fake grin again, “Now let’s open this thing.” Mamushi flinches as the seals burn, the door unlocks with a loud and ominous click.

“This is…” Mamushi’s heart just fell through her stomach to the floor. She messed up.  And her mistake is almost staring her in the face.

“The Impure King,” It's covered in chains and seals a fire burning in front of it, “Your founder, Fukaku, made a contract with the maken Kurikara which was possessed by the fire demon Kurura.He had fought with the Impure King before, but had never been able to severely injure him. By taking both his eyes and sealing them, he was able to suppress the Impure king.  At that moment, Kurura left the Kurikara. This is the secret your sect has been hiding for so long. Closely guarded by generation after generation.” Toudou looks smug.

“Are you kidding me?” Mamushi is shaking in a mix of fear and anger, “The impure king has been under the Goumado for 150 years?! ...Then, the left and the right eyes…” Toudou isn’t facing her but she knows he’s grinning.

“Yeah. If I return these eyes to the King, it will return him to his original form.” Toudou turns to face her, still being immensely fake.

“Toudou, just what the hell are you? What are you planning?”

“Houjou-chan, you are a precious student to me,  and it pains me to have you speak to me in such a way.” Toudou’s smile takes on a sharp edge, “ But you have served your purpose.”

Mamushi begins to back away from him, her heart miraculously back from the floor and dancing in her throat. Juuzo was right, Toudou was using her. How could she be so blind? A bright light makes her look away, and when she looks back Tatsuma Suguro is there.

“Most High Priest!” She has the urge to apologize to him, but remembers she can’t trust him either. The only person she knows she can trust now is Juuzo.

“Mamushi! Everything is going to be okay!” Tatsuma turns and smiles at her with that dopey grin of his, “I’ll keep you safe and bring you back home. The Impure King is a cancer that brings disease to people, and I am tired of it.” Tatsuma pulls out his prayer beads from around his neck, brandishing them like a weapon.

“I’ll end it in this generation, and stop it from passing from the next! I will protect everyone, and I, Tatsuma Suguro, The seventeenth head of the Myouda sect will not forgive those that stand in my way!”

 

“Ah!” Izumo walks into the kitchen to find Shiemi hard at work, “Hey! You’re working today too?!” Izumo has already bathed and is ready to eat dinner and go to bed.

“Izumo!” Shiemi beams at her, hands full of towels, “Yeah! Just wanted to finish this batch of cold-presses!”

“Amazing,” Izumo’s voice is deadpan, “You bounced back in no time. Just like a weed.” She hopes Shiemi can detect her sarcasm, and not return to being dejected.

“Yeah well, I can’t be depressed forever. I’ve got work to do.”

“You’ve finally gone back to being yourself, I’m glad.” Izumo is sincere about that, and she may not be friends with Shiemi fully yet, her friendship with Rin has pulled her out of her shell.

“Back to myself? Did I go somewhere?”” Shiemi is placing the cold presses into the fridge.

“Being optimistic, smiling all the time. Speaking to everyone without a sense of shame. That's the usual you. You’ve been gloomy for a while.”

“Is that how people see me?” Shiemi’s face is flushed, “I’m actually not like that at all! I grew up at home, and wanted to make some friends you see! New friends besides Yuki. And when I learned about the burdens Yukio and Rin were carrying, I realized I was just talking without really getting to know any of you.” Shiemi looks as if she is about to cry, arms around herself.

“And then the whole thing with Amaimon, I realized I was useless when people really needed me y’know? I lost confidence in myself, and ended up flailing in situations even more. And it got so bad I couldn’t even talk to Rin anymore. I feel bad because, well he told me I was his first real friend,” Shiemi’s face got even redder,” But look at me just spilling my guts! Messy! Anyway I’ve got to hang in there! Starting with my specialty, laundry!”

Izumo stared, open mouthed as Shiemi waved a damp towel around, face unbelievably red. Izumo had never thought that she could honestly be someone that other people confided in. She felt cold, disconnected, hell she strived to be those things. But in the past few days both Rin and Shiemi have put their trust in her, have come to her to relieve the metaphorical loads on their backs. It makes her feel fuzzy. It makes her terrified.

“Shiemi! Bon’s injured!” Shima entering the kitchen and yelling pulls Izumo out of her thoughts, “Oh? Izumo you look so pretty in your yukata!” Izumo wants to punch him, hard.

“Moriyama, could  you please get some ice for Bon?” Konekomaru smiles at Shiemi as he sits Bon down at the table.

“What happened?” Shiemi hands the sullen boy one of the cold presses filled with some ice.

“This guy,” Shima points at Bon, “Decided to get worked up and be a dick to his dad. In front of Rin, who as of very recently has no dad!” There’s anger in Shima’s voice that Izumo vows to ask him about later.

“The right eye was taken from the Branch office,” Bon ignores Shima’s previous outburst. Apparently this is news to Konekomaru, who had walked in with the boys.

“No way! You’re joking aren’t you?” Izumo’s face is scrunched up, all that extra security for nothing.

“And, Okumura has been detained.” Bon’s face looks pained, and Izumo knows in that moment that Bon knows about Rin’s hanahaki.

“De-detained!” Konekomaru is still shocked,

“He let out his flames at the branch office, everyone saw them.” Bon won’t meet anyone’s eyes.

“And who’s fault was that?” A twitch of Shima’s eyebrow and Izumo now also knows where that anger in Shima’s voice is coming from. She notices the splotches of blood on Shima’s arms in that moment, he must of changed his shirt. He must have helped Rin. “I carried him out of there and into the cell the branch office needed him to be in. He had a bad fit, and then Shura needed to follow some sort of protocol, a chant of some sort.”

There’s more to it than that, Izumo can hear it in Shima’s voice. Then again maybe she’s paying all too much attention to Shima nowadays, now that they are Rin’s only friends. They feel an obligation to care for him, to help with his situation. Even though Izumo is the only one who really knows who the flowers are for, aside from Yukio. Izumo is worried about this fit, there’s so much blood still stuck on Shima’s forearms and hands. She’s worried about Rin.

“This means Okumura is in trouble…” Konekomaru’s voice is shaking, but he sounds as if he wants to help too. The sudden mood shift from him almost makes Izumo dizzy. Shiemi is next to her, wringing her shaking hands.  Bon is pressing the cold compress too hard against his face, staring at the table while Shima glares at him. They all want to help Rin, but as the silence in the kitchen stretches on it’s obvious they have no clue where to even start.

The quiet in his cell is almost eating Rin alive. He managed to cough up way more flowers when he woke up, throat already raw and hurting. He wasn’t mad at Shura for using the chant by a long shot. He knew it had to be done. But god was he tired, tired of being treated like a wild animal with no brains. Rin may not be the smartest in the least, but god damn it he had some fucking common sense. It’s always been like this since he was a child, people always so wary of him. Making no friends because he had a bad temper and every one believed him to be some sort of delinquent. People talking behind his back, talking about him in front of him as if he wasn’t there. It always stung.

“You calm down yet?” Shura’s voice was honestly welcomed. Rin was about to go insane if he needed to sit in the quiet with his flowers and his thoughts much longer.

“Shura!” He moves forward from his corner of the cell, and Shura looks almost shocked he’s not mad at her. Like she expected him to lash out.

“You okay? I didn’t, the grigori didn’t tell me the chant would do that.” Shura looks pained, and Yukio comes up behind her quietly. Rin is glad to see him if he can be honest. He needs Yukio sometimes. Just to rant too, to say random nonsense too that only Yukio will understand because their twins and Yukio doesn’t need a pulitzer prize level description to get the picture.

“I’m still all shakey and can’t get a good solid breath, but that’s honestly probably just the Hanahaki,” Rin scoots closer to the bars, “And it’s okay. Well I mean it’s not but you were doing your job. I can’t get mad at you for doing your fu- sorry, for doing your job.”

“Can you read this then?” Shura looks relieved and hands him something.

“A letter?” Rin does not want to even attempt to  read this, he has already has a headache and is exhausted to all hell, but he’ll try.

“Suguro’s dad told me to give it to you,” Shura sits down in front of his cell, Yukio dragging over a chair.

“Why’d he write to me?” Rin is already tearing open the envelope.

“I don’t know man. Just read it already.” Rin unfolds it, takes one look at it, and wants to cry. Tatsuma Suguro has horrid handwriting, and it’s messing with Rin’s dyslexia big time. His writing is just, Rin can’t even begin to explain it.

“I can’t read this.” He sighs in frustration.

“Geez! You can’t read a single word? Have you even been practicing?” Shura takes the paper from him, “Geez, the people of the whatchamacallit, the yutori generation!” Rin ignores the fact they are in the same generation, and watches her look at the letter.

“...what the hell? I can’t read this either! No way!”

“Hello pot, my name is kettle!” Rin presses his face against the bars, poking at Shura.

“Give it to me,” Yukio sighs, “Oh! It’s in cursive! I can read it!” They haven’t started teaching Rin to read cursive yet, that was next years goal. The knowledge of Rin’s dyslexia was fairly new, by the time they had found out about it Rin was halfway through his second year of middle school and was already dropping out.

“Even so Rin,” Yukio prods his brother's forehead, “You said you would surpass me! You can’t do that in jail!” And he can’t do it dead either. Something needed to be done, quick.

“Read the letter Yukio! It might be helpful!” Shura is tugging on his chair, trying to tip him over.

Yukio rolls his eyes and sets on to reading. The letter is helpful, just not in the way they need it to be. The letter is old, most likely written around the time of Father Fujimoto’s death. It begins with how Tatsuma Suguro met their father, and well, how their father was a huge asshole to him. Tatsuma’s wife, Bon’s mom, was very sick and Tatsuma was struggling to fulfill his holy obligations while being so worried about her. She was pregnant with Ryuji at the time, so the worry was founded. It took a scolding and a half from his father to get him to continue with his duties, and continue with the Goma ritual. In doing so, he met Shiro Fujimoto, who literally crashed a demon into their ritual and told them he was stealing Kurikara from the Myouda sect. He also threw wood at Tatsuma Suguro and whined about the mountain.

“Wait so father just-” Yukio’s face is so scrunched together it looks painful.

“Keep reading!” Shura and Rin yell in unison, too engrossed in the story to care about the fact Father Fujimoto committed grand theft so casually.

So Tatsuma and Shiro’s first interaction was an honest to god yelling match over the Kurikara, which held a lot of religious significance for the Myouda. Yaozo tried to attack him, but Shiro was already so weak he passed out before Yaozo could even get near him. It was a bad injury, and Tatsuma couldn’t just leave him to the elements even if it was justified. So they took Shiro Fujimoto in, and tended to his injury. It was when Shiro woke that Tatsuma learned he was there on a mission from his superiors in the True Cross Order, and their motives with the sword. Killing children, Tatsuma would not allow it, and attempted to kick Shiro Fujimoto out of his temple. There was a chase, and somehow Shiro ended up curing all of their sick. Including his wife Torako. But his father was strict, and tried to apprehend Fujimoto anyway for even so much as knowing about Kurikara.  His father didn’t care about helping anyone, just about the secrets of the sect. And so Tatsuma gave Shiro the komaken, and helped him escape. He knew Shiro could never actually kill with it, his outrage at their treatment of the sick a sign of it.

It’s during the Blue Night, a few months later, that Tatsuma truly learns just what his father was trying to protect. The secrets were revealed upon his father's death, the service of Kurura. Kurura was never within the sword, he was the head priest’s familiar. Always, and was passed down from generation to generation. Tatsuma inherited him, learning about the Impure King hidden and sealed within the Goumado.  In exchange he needed to keep both, as well as the left eye, secret from everyone.

“‘Okumura, I need you to defeat the Impure King with Kurikara. Please. I know it is an unreasonable request. But if you can find in yourself the compassion that your father had, because I know it is there and I want to depend on it, then you will understand. Thank you for reading this far, Tatsuma Suguro.’”

Chapter Text

“I do feel bad for Suguro’s dad,” Yukio is folding the letter back up, smoothing the creases down with his fingers, “But we have no clue whether your flames are actually useful against the Impure King. We can’t let him use his flames and risk an increase in urgency in his execution.” Shura snatches the letter out of Yukio’s hands as he goes to tear it up. It’s a habit Yukio has, tightening creases before ripping the paper in perfect sections, perfect tears.

“Rin, this letter is addressed to you. What do you wanna do?” He has no clue what he wants to do. Can he even leave? Execution. He didn’t even know there was a motion for  his death in place. Rin can’t think straight, thoughts slowly  swirling and focusing on everything he has yet to do. He’s fucked eight ways to Sunday anyway, Hanahaki ravaging his lungs and the vatican wants his head. He wonders if flowers will sprout out of his neck when the vatican let's Angel take it. Rin shudders at the picture in his head and shakes the thoughts away.

“Shura! What are you doing? Asking him something like that?” Yukio’s freaking out.

“I want to help him, I’m dying anyway so what's the issue?” Rin tries to smile, his face just twitches instead.

“Do you know the situation you’re in?” Yukio’s yelling again, he’s always yelling now a days. Rin supposes that's his fault.

“I technically owe the man my life don’t I? That’s why I want to help if I can. And I’m losing my life anyway? It can’t hurt to try. But that’s me following my own moral code.” Rin is shaking again, or he thinks he is. In reality the tremors in his hands haven’t stopped since Bon started yelling at his own father.

“Forget your morals!” Yukio wants more time. More time to look for techniques online to help his brother read, to watch him cook, to watch him train, to encourage him, to help him. Rin’s been helping Yukio his whole life, and Yukio has done jack shit.

“Got it. Descend from yonder, arriving by his side. ” Shura decides to give Rin back his sword, pulling it from the seal in her chest. Yukio looks like he’s going to have five aneurysms at once.

“Shura what are you doing!”

“If he wants to fight why, honestly, should we stop him? Give me a reason? He’ll die?” Shura looks at Yukio then turns to Rin, “Unsheath the sword.” And now there’s a sword in Rin’s face.  Then Yukio has a grip on the end of Rin’s sword, and now they are fighting over the Kurikara like children.

“You can’t just let him unsheathe his sword and go wild! He literally just went on a rampage last week!” Yukio knows that losing his cool bothered Rin. Rin needs complete control over himself, which is the irony of the whole Son-of-Satan situation. Rin’s so emotional he has no control over his powers, which frustrates him to the point of tears sometimes.

“It’s too late now to be scared!” Shura is glaring up at Yukio, trying to tug the sword out of his hands, “If the Impure King has already been revived then there’s something way more dangerous out there than Rin. Hell Rin on a rampage is still not the most dangerous thing out there, not by a long shot.”

“Plus,” The sword is suddenly in Rin’s face again, Shura won the tug of war, “His flames have proven effective against demons. It’s worth a shot. Unsheath it.”

Rin takes the sword, thoughts still muddled and swirling. Hands still shaking. He takes a deep breath, releases the catch seal, and pulls. Nothing happens. Kurikara stays closed, mocking him. He pulls harder. Then fixes his grip, knuckles turning white and palms hurting. Still nothing. Rin tries again and again, yet the sword stays closed.

“What’s wrong?”

“Rin stop messing around.”

“I don’t get it,” Rin releases the sword and coughs into his arm, shaking away the petals that stick in his elbow ditch, “I can’t do it. I can’t unsheath it at all.”

“In that case, let me do it. Hand it over.” Shura sticks her hand out, she can see Rin getting frustrated, getting worked up.

“No!” Rin hates the idea of anyone but him opening the sword and she knows this, “I can do it myself! It’s probably just jammed! Or the latch is caught!” Excuse after excuse tumbles out of his mouth.

“Rin,” Shura crouches down so that she’s at eye level with him, “You’re scared right? Well that's a given. You were just able to control your flames, and you were so happy. And now you feel like you’re at step one. You let yourself get all caught up in your emotions, and now you’re afraid of yourself. ‘If I unsheath the sword what will happen to me? I might forget myself again. What if I hurt someone this time?’”

“Thats?”

“Hit the bullseye didn’t I?” She didn’t. Shura is only half right. Rin’s so caught up on the fact he’s dying sooner than later he can’t focus on his internal fears.

“You’ve lost confidence in yourself.” That one was true. But Rin barely had confidence in himself to begin with.

“Wait a minute! But the sword is me! It’s different from a familiar.” Rin honestly can’t wrap his head around the situation. All he can think of is Izumo and her familiars, how she tried to save Paku but couldn’t.

“Rin enough, hand back over the sword.” Yukio reaches in for it and Rin pulls back, cradling the sword close to him. He was not going to hand it over. He needed it. Suddenly there was a soft popping sound and the cell block filled with smoke.

“Oh my! Good evening you three!” Mephisto popped out of the smoke clogging up the cell block and Rin’s lungs. Rin tried to cover the lower half of his face with his shirt to keep the smoke from bothering him, it didn’t work. The cell block was silent except for the sounds of his hacking and retching as flowers crawled their way out of his throat.

“...Anyway…” Mephisto did not looked phased by any of the coughing and petals, more like mildly inconvenienced.

“What are you doing here?” It comes out like a growl, Shura stepping in front of Rin’s cage in an attempt to shield him from whatever Mephisto might do.

“How rude! I don’t want to be here either you know! At least some people are kind enough to help you clean up the mess.” Mephisto’s face contorts into a sneer, “One, two, three, the strongest prison.”

Mephisto waves his hand and a large metal object appears out of thin air. It reminds Rin a lot of a furnace, the old ones in every old house’s basement in every horror movie ever. An arm shoots out of the thing and Rin decides it’s probably been pulled out of a horror movie. He snaps a few of the wooden bars on the prison, grabbing them to keep from getting sucked into the damn thing. Mephisto has taken his sword and he feels like he’s going to literal hell. He’s stopped in front of Mephisto and something is scratched onto his forehead with one of Mephisto’s irrationally long nails, he winces against the sting of it, blood trailing down his face.

“The vatican sent me. As I’m sure you all already know due to the message sent out, because the spell was used, Rin Okumura is to be executed. I am to imprison him until the decided date. That seal is to prevent anything drastic if he does break out.” Rin’s head is spinning again, it was so easy to push his execution to the way back of his mind and into a corked bottle when Shura and Yukio were skirting around it. Now he’s being pulled into a prison and a seal has been carved into his forehead. There’s no escaping it. The door shuts behind him and everything's dark, and Rin wants to scream his lungs out.

“This is absurd! You can’t do this!” Yukio’s staring down at the floor, he’s exhausted. He just wants to keep Rin safe, and he can’t fucking do that to save his life. Now his brother is in some metal prison pending execution, and he’s emotionally exhausted.

“Listen, I have no time for jokes.” Mephisto is picking at his nails

“Yukio are you okay?” Shura takes a step towards him and Yukio wants to yell, because no he’s not okay.

“Compared to this, right now our top priority is sending out a crusade to stop the Impure King,” Mephisto sneezes violently.

“How did you know!” Kurikara is thrust at Shura as she turns to advance towards Mephisto. He sneezes again.

“Sorry but can you help me out? Take this?” Shura takes the sword, baffled. She quickly snaps out of it.

“Hey if you know so much than hurry up and help!” She’s waving the sword like an angry mother would wave a broom while yelling at her son.

“Me? No way I hate dirty things. My allergies are already kicking in.” Mephisto blows his nose into a tissue from a box that wasn’t there before. Shura’s eyebrow twitches in irritation.

“What the fu-”

“If the Impure King is revived he’ll grow rapidly in a short period of time. When he’s fully matured Kyoto will be destroyed.” Mephisto is looking at Shura seriously. She glances back at Yukio, but he’s appeared to have checked out. He just nods at her, and she sighs.

“You guys will probably need a lot of help!” Mephisto’s serious demeanor breaks easily, “This basic equipment bag will be a gift from me! I hope it helps, I send you off with a hope for victory!”

Mephisto conjures a bag into Shura’s arms and leaves as quickly and dramatically as he entered, Shura is more confused than she has ever been in her life. Yukio is still checked out.

“Hey wait hold on!” Shura sighs, “Bastard.”

“Anyway let’s do what we can, we need to suppress the Impure King quickly.” Yukio sounds almost robotic, and that worries the crap out of Shura.

 

The exwires are still in the kitchen when Juuzo returns with Mamushi. The only thing cluing them into what has happened being the large amount of noise outside and Bon going to investigate. He ends up dragging Konekomaru and Shima out of the kitchen when he goes to further investigate, fueled by rage.

A crowd has gathered around Mamushi and Juuzo. Mamushi looks more than worse than wear, her right eye bleeding and already sick from the miasma. She’s coughing heavily and looks as though she can’t stand for  much longer. Still she refuses Juuzo’s help.

“Everyone gather round!” Her words are interrupted by coughing, “I have betrayed everyone, but I need you all to listen to what I have to say! Just now Toudou Saburota and I, using the right and left eyes that were stolen, and revived the impure king.”

The crowd around her explodes, some out of fear, most out of anger. Bon has no clue when the temple gained such a mob mentality, it needs to be eradicated.

“What did you say?”

“The Impure King?”

“Wasn’t the demon, the Impure King, eradicated during the Edo period?”

“Unless you’re saying it faked it’s death and was sealed under the mountain!”

“Shut up!” Juuzo’s outburst silents the crowd. Mamushi pats his elbow to show her thanks.

“Right now the priest of this cursed temple, Tatsuma Suguro, is fighting alone!” Bon is shocked by this news. His father, out there fighting such a high class demon by himself. The thought suffocates him, terrifies him. His father has no exorcist training. His father is doomed.

“Please!” Mamushi falls to her knees, pleading for Bon’s father’s life in his place, “ Send him help to defeat the Impure King!”

“What are you uttering without permission!”

“You’re the one who revived him right!”
“Besides what even is the Impure King? How can we defeat him!”
“Enough! Now is not the time for this!” Bon is grateful for Yaozo taking command, he was seconds from yelling at the whole sect, “All exorcists are needed! First and second squads will guard, first squad you will also be our depth.

“Remember the Impure king is a king of rot! You will need to guard against the Miasma!” Uwabami stands to help aid the younger exorcists running out to help. Bon takes the opportunity to approach Mamushi.

“Hojo…”

“Ryuji-sama! I’m so sorry!” Mamushi turns immediately, still seated on the ground.

“Your eye! Shima! Get Moriyama!” Mamushi’s eye is worse up close, blood pouring from it like a fountain.

“Don’t worry about that right now! Please! Hurry and save the priest! I’m so sorry!” Mamushi is crying, and Moriyama is hovering in the hallway from the kitchen, unsure to proceed or not.

“I’ll take her to the medical room.” Juuzo steps forward, wrapping an arm around Mamushi and helping her stand, “I will regroup with the first squad later. Bon, stay with the rest of the kids from the cram school. Koneko, Renzo, keep him safe! If anything happens to Ryuji-sama you won’t get away with it!”

“Hurry,” Mamushi is still coughing, clinging to Juuzo for stability, “Save the priest.”

In the end the exwires are sitting on the floor in that room, unsure of what to do and how to proceed, and that is how Shura finds them. She smiles, her plan will work out perfectly. Or rather, Mephisto’s plan.

“Hey I found you guys! Come over here for a second.” She waves the exwires over, Kurikara and Mephisto’s equipment bag still in her arms. The exwires surround her like ducklings.

“Kirigakure-sensi, how is Rin? Is he okay?” It’s Shiemi who asks, and Shura bites the inside of her lip. She intended to keep the news from them, but now she can’t lie to them. Not with Rin in some sort of maximum strength cell.

“Because of the incident in the Shinbu, Rin has been sentenced to death,” The looks on her students faces break her heart, but she keeps going,  “This is the vatican’s decision and we can not defy it. Suguro, please take care of this.”

Bon looks up from the floor to find Kurikara shoved into his face. He can’t take it. It’s not his anymore. It’s not the temples anymore. He finds himself taking it anyway.

“And here is the letter your father gave Rin. It says inside that Rin is pretty important in the defeat of the impure king, and that guy is just itchin to help. You’ll save him, right?” Shura smiles, and then begins passing out swaths of fabric from the equipment bag to her students, “The only way Rin can save himself is if he redeems himself. Take these camouflage ponchos and sneak down to solitary.”

“Captain Kirigakure! Please hurry up!” Shura sighs at the interruption.

“Anyways I am only a lackey for the Knights Circle, I can’t really do much. I’m begging you guys, make the right decision.” Kirigakure leaves with that, rushing outside to join the fight against the impure king. Bon makes the first move.

“I think Solitary is this way.” He’s rushing to shrug on a poncho. Bon can see Shima whisper something to Izumo, shrugging on a Poncho and running in the direction of their makeshift dorm. Everyone else has pulled on their poncho, and they head down to solitary.

Shima manages to meet them down there, almost causing a scene as they attempt to sneak past the guards quietly. Someone steps on his foot and he can’t help cursing in pain. The guards however, are none the wiser and they pass through with no further incident.

“So nervous!” Shiemi releases the breathe she was holding as they get further away from the guards, still whispering.

“It’s all Koneko’s fault for stepping on my foot!”

“Bear with it Shima.”

“These poncho’s are amazing. A shame we can’t see each other.” Izumo is whispering so low Bon strains to hear her. All this talking worries him nonetheless.

“Shhh! I think we are almost there!”

“Is that the door?” Shima takes down his hood, making him visible. Bon can see he has Rin’s jacket in his arms, along with a t-shirt that looks suspiciously familiar. Izumo does the same and she has Rin’s boots in her hands. Shima must have made a run to get Rin some clothing.

The door to Rin’s cell however, was an issue. It clearly wasn’t there before, Iron sticking out amongst all the wood.

“I am the strongest prison!” They all jump when the door talks, “Unable to be unlocked from the inside  but easily unlocked from the outside! After a riddle!”

“A devil.” Izumo’s eyes are furrowed as she glares at the door.

“Which kind?” Shima nudges her with his elbow before moving to stand behind her just incase.

“A test! Come and challenge me! The strongest prison!”

“A battle can’t be avoided huh?” Bon pulls his prayer beads out of his pocket as Shima brandishes his K’rik.

“DOng,” The door rings, “the correct answer is… I am able to freeze all enemies near me! That is how I got my name!” Shiemi looks around her, her friends frozen in place.

“Why am I the only one left unfrozen then?”
“Because you are not a threat! Weak and weaponless!” Shiemi frowns at the doors response. Then she remembers something.

“But the door can be opened from the outside right?” She places her hand on the handle.

“Yes,” The door answers, “But he can’t come out.”

 

Rin has been running. Just, running. In all honesty, Rin should not be running here. He’s in nothing but socks and the floor is covered in metal gears that shift and stab into his feet, but he needs to. He’s trying to run away from his thoughts because he can’t joke about them. There’s no one to make a joke too, and therefore he’s taking everything way too seriously. Thinking about everything way too much. All the bottles in his head full of thoughts and memories he didn’t want to focus on have been shaken up, foaming and overflowing in his mind.

It’s your fault Father Fujimoto’s dead.

If you hadn’t been such an emotional wreck maybe he’d still be here.

Your nothing but trouble, a mess, a demon child. How could Suguro ever love you?

You deserve to be punished by the Knights circle.You deserve to be executed.

Control of your powers? Please, you could easily hurt someone. Easily kill someone like you killed Father Fujimoto. You could kill Suguro.

You should have been dead from the start, why did Fujimoto even let you live? What are you even living for?

Kill yourself. Kill yourself. Kill yourself.

It’s your fault, kill yourself. You’re dying anyway.

His thoughts keep looping, and he keeps running. Rin imagines he's coughed up buckets full of flowers by now, too focused on his running to breathe properly, choking on petals, stems, and leaves.He almost ran right past Shiemi at first, too lost in his head.

“Rin!” Shiemi reaches out and grabs his wrist, he stops, “I’m here to save you! Kirigakure-sensei told us everything! We know you want to help so we came to bust you out!”

Can you even help them? Probably not.

Useless. Useless. Useless.

“Leave me here.” Rin can’t look her in the eyes, face tilted towards the ground and his eyes screwed shut.

“What?” Shiemi’s grip tightens on his wrist, as if she’s afraid he’ll try and run off. He might.

“I have no control of my flames. None. I’ve been relying on my momentum to do anything but I have no momentum. I’m doing nothing. I’m useless. I got my own fucking father killed and I’m swinging around a flaming sword as if I can actually help people with it instead of just fucking hurting everyone. I’m pathetic. I should just die here.” He still can’t open his eyes, but he feels Shiemi let go of his wrist. He can almost feel her take a step back away from him, the metal gears on the floor clanking together.

“Wha-what are you even talking about! You’re not allowed to say anything like that ever again!” Rin has never genuinely heard Shiemi yell since he’s met her, and he decides it’s not intimidating at all. It reminds him of being scolded by a grandmother, who would scold you and then press a handful of candy into your palm.

“You don’t understand,” Rin finally gets the courage to look Shiemi in the face, smiling slightly to get her to go away, “And you don’t need too.”

“Don’t smile at me! Don’t give me that fake smile and try to push me away!” Shiemi stops her feet, hands clenched into fists, “I want to help you!”

“I don’t deserve it!” Rin explodes again, flames dancing around them, “I’m a fucking monster!”

It doesn’t last long. Soon his flames are fading and he’s coughing. Flowers still clawing their way out of him. He’s a mess, crying into his hands, a puddle of blood and flowers in front of him. Rin knows the look that must be on Shiemi’s face, the look of pity. He doesn’t expect her to run up and hug him, squeezing him tight even though he’s covered in flames.

You’re gonna hurt her. You’re gonna hurt her. Kill her like you did Father.

“Shiemi, it’s dangerous.” Rin tries to pull her arms from around him but she holds fast.

“Shut up!” She pulls away, hands gripping his shoulders, “Look! I’m not hurt anywhere, you did it! So it’s okay.” Shiemi’s voice is soft, like she’s scared of startling him again. She presses her forehead against his, eyes closed and a soft smile upon her face. The peace last for awhile, and then Rin startles back away from her, breaking the soothing contact.

“You’re not scared of me?” Rin’s biting his lip, wringing his hands nervously.

Everyone's scared of you.

“Nope!” Shiemi’s smile is wide and genuine, and Rin wants to cry all over again so he does. Everyone has been so afraid of him for so long, he doesn’t really know what it’s like for someone to actually know him and not be afraid.

Shiemi leads him back to the door, and she trusts him to use his flames to destroy it. He honestly only does it because she trusts him to. Everyone is there when he gets out and it’s overwhelming.

“Everyone came to save me?” He’s hiccuping, on the verge of crying again if he wasn’t so exhausted.

“Of course we did idiot.” Shima is handing him clothes, “I found your jacket. I don’t know where you put all your actual clothes though so I snagged you one of Bons. That one must be pretty gross by now huh?”

Rin smiles so bright at the thought of being able to change Bon doesn’t even object to the smaller boy wearing his shirt. He does nearly have a heart attack when he see’s how it looks on Rin, the shirt two sizes too big and sliding of Rin’s shoulder. The color looks good on Rin too and Bon can’t stop staring until Konekomaru steps on his foot, a grin on the short boys face.

“Aw my favorite socks are ruined.” The alien socks Rin has on are full of holes, splattered in blood and petals. Izumo is holding out his boots and a pair of socks that must have been shoved in them, the socks are also Bons and are plain white. They don’t suit him.

“Shush. I’m sure you can buy a new pair when we get  back.” Izumo is pushing a poncho up over his jacket, which Bon is sure rin doesn’t really need.

“It’s not the same!” Bon can only take so much of this light hearted attitude. His father’s life is at stake. He jabs Rin in the ribs with the Kurikara, holding it out to him.

“...I know I was being irrational when it came to the situation with my father, and I’m sorry.” He starts with that, knowing he was in the wrong, “You were right. And since you need this on the battlefield, tale it.”

“I’m sorry for attacking you…” Rin looks at Suguro as if he has twelve heads as he takes back his sword. Their hands brush together is the trade off and Suguro turns around quickly so Rin can’t see the blush building on his face. Ironically he doesn’t see the shade of tomato Rin turns, or the way he clutches the sword to his chest as Izumo laughs at him quietly.

“I’ll take you to the mountain. After that you can go nuts all you want. I will try my best to fight alongside you.” Suguro is marching them out of solitary like a small platoon of soldiers.

“Suguro…” Rin’s voice is soft, nervous, “Believe in me. I’ve gained solid control of my flames. So I want you to trust me, even though I’m satan’s son.”

“That doesn’t matter! What I can’t forgive about you is the fact you carry your burdens all alone. You shut us out. Who would want to trust you when you never talked to us properly in the first place? You think me being your friend is just a fluke! As if I didn’t decide to be your friend in the first place!”

“Ah! No! No no I never intended to do that!” Rin really doesn’t know how to open up to others well, to do more than just idle small talk. Hell the only reason he opened up to Shima and Izumo is because they found out he was sick. They made the first moves, not him. Open up to the rest of them? That’s going to take a long time. Longer than they may have left.

Chapter Text

They make it out of Solitary easier than Rin expected, the guards running off to aid in the fight against the Impure King. The fight. Rin’s hands are shaking, grip so tight on Kurikara his knuckles are white and his palms are red. He can’t open the sword, he's weak and dying, he’s wasting their time. Rin's face is contorted into the deepest frown anyone in the group had ever seen, shaky and nervous in a way that sets the whole group on edge.

“Hey…” Bon stops the walk up to the mountain, he pulls Rin in close and presses their foreheads together, “It’s okay.”

Rin just nods, eyes closed and mouth trembling. He’s not used to the contact, but he needs it. He takes a deep breath, steeling himself, bottling up the emotions that keep frothing over. Rin’s ignoring the itch in his throat, the coughing fit that is scratching and clawing at his his throat in a fight to escape. He swallows it down, pulling away from Suguro.

“Yeah.” Izumo links her right hand with his left, Shima’s got a finger around the belt loop on his right side, they keep walking. Rin’s flustered but comforted by the contact. They make it to the bottom of the mountain without incident after that.

“What the hell is that!” Shima jumps away from Rin to point at a writhing bubbling mass coming out of the mountain.

“That’s the impure king.” Konekomaru pushes his glasses up his nose, looking more nervous than Rin thinks is physically possible for a human being.

“How’re we supposed to defeat something this huge! Is this the fucking apocalypse!” Shima is waving his arms around like a lunatic and Izumo swats at him, her eye almost taken out by his k’rik.

“It’s practically a fortress on its own.” Bon’s eyebrows are furrowed, face scrunched in concentration.

It’s windy, and Rin’s hair is pushing its way into his eyes. He pats down all his pockets until he finds what he was looking for, the hairpin Bon gave him. His bangs are kind of stuck to his face with the blood from the seal carved onto his forehead but he peels them away anyway, ignoring the sting. Rin keeps telling himself to stop flinching at the little things, he’s been through worse. He successfully, see: messily, puts his bangs up and out of his face.

“What is that?” Izumo reaches up and flicks at the seal on his forehead. It;s a triangle within a circle, three spirals within the triangle and the whole thing with for arrows dissecting it into quarters. It looks so closely to the sigil for protection Paku has on all of her important items, but Izumo can’t be sure.

“Mephisto says it’s some sort of seal. Insurance for if I escaped, I don’t know what it does.” Rin shrugs and keeps walking, not wanting to dwell on it.

“Don’t go too far out without me!” Bon’s phone rings as he tries to keep is classmates in sight, it’s Shura.

“So I take it you’ve gotten Rin out? Good job! Thanks, seriously. For now please look for your father.” Shura sounds out of breath, nearly yelling over the sound of exorcist battling.

“Did something happen to him?” Bon’s panicked, and the group stops. He’s focused on Rin, in Bon’s baggy shirt and white jacket. Dumb boots up to his midcalf bouncing in place, bangs pinned back. Rin’s coughing, hands cupping his mouth and stained red with old blood he keeps wiping off on his black track pants. There are petals fluttering all around and for the first time Bon is jealous, jealous of who the flowers are for. He hears Shura sigh on the other end of the phone.

“Tatsuma isn’t where Mamushi and Shima saw him last. So find him and ask about the letter. Try and stay away from the Impure King. Do not engage it. Don’t be reckless and deliver a situation report after. I will tell you how to proceed from there.” Shura’s voice is soft and stern, a tone Bon has never heard before but Rin has heard hundreds of times.

“Yup. Got it.” Bon hangs up on her and they head out, moving as fast as they can through the brush.

“Wait!” Izumo finds him first, “Is that him?”

Bon’s dad is laying on his back in the thicket, pale and worryingly still. Bon is running forward before he knows it, tripping on roots as he closes the distance between him and his father. Rin’s voice is echoing in his mind, Apologize before you can’t anymore. Bon wants to apologize, he needs to apologize. His chest as heaving as he scrambles back up off the ground and to his father. His father is covered in blood and Bon hunts for a pulse, for something.

“No way…” His mind is getting fuzzy and Bon wants to leave his body again, he pulls himself back together. He can’t do this now.

“I’ll call Kirigakure-sensei.” Konekomaru has his phone out faster than Bon can blink, his fingers slipping over the screen. It’s while they aren’t looking the space above his father burst into flames. A small bird-like demon floating there.

“I am Karura, servant of the Head Priest of the Myou Dha.” It’s voice is soft, high pitched and musical, almost like the tinkling of a bell.

“My father had a familiar?” Bon never knew. But then again, his father never told him much.

“Formally so. But now that the secret has been revealed and that contract has been annulled. I am now fulfilling a private contract I have with Tatsuma Suguro.” Karura glances down, and his father stirs, eyebrows furrowed and gasping. Tatsuma’s eyes are still closed.

“Pops!” Bon stops floating away, never more relieved in his life.

“Ryuji!” Bon helps his father sit up against a tree,”What are all you children doing here?”

“We came to help you.” Bon is smoothing out his father’s robes.

“How reckless.” Tatsuma winces in pain.

“Be careful. Your wounds may be closed but you can’t move just yet.” Karura’s voice is monotone despite his worryful words.

“Is that you Karura! You’re so small! I thought we were both dead.”

“I am a Phoenix. I can merely reincarnate every time I die. Besides we still have the Gouhaen contract. I can’t let you die just like that.” Karura is still talking but his father’s attention has focused on Rin.

“Rin!” Rin jumps at suddenly being addressed, eyes wide and shaking petals from his hand.

“Did you come here after reading my letter?” Tatsuma’s face is pleading, and Rin looks so nervous.

“I read it too,” Bon interrupts, “All of us came here with a rough understanding of the situation. Now you need to tell us everything without keeping any secrets to yourself.”

Tatsuma sighs, and ponders his situation. Here he is, leaning against a tree while children stare him down. His only chance at defeating the Impure King is dying because of his very own son. He sighs again, and resigns himself to answering their questions.

“I understand. I will teach you how to defeat the Impure King.” He takes a deep breath, he really wanted to keep Ryuji very far away from this, “According to the ‘Truth of the Impure King’ passed down only to the head priest, the Impure King will grow to the size of the city. Shortly after a great sporangium will form within it.”

“And that's the sporangium? The round thing on its head?” Bon has seated himself in front of his father, legs crossed.

“Most likely. When that sporangium matures and ruptures, it will release a thick, toxic miasma.It was this that killed those forty thousand people in kyoto a hundred fifty years ago. This time, the death toll won’t be forty thousand. It needs to be prevented.”

“That means we just need to defeat it before the thing ruptures right?” Bon looks hopeful.

“It’s not that simple. The Impure King’s only vital part, it’s heart, lies within the sporangium. Fukaku, the priest who sealed the king the first time, had no choice but to split the heart and seal it.”

“And those were the eyes correct?” Izumo speaks for the first time in a while, “In other words…”

“If the sporangium ruptures, we won’t be able to get to the heart.” Konekomaru finishes for her. Tatsuma nods at him.

“How troublesome.” Ryuji sighs, tired before he even gets the chance to fight.

“Fifteen years ago I,” His father swallows, eyes shifting away from Bon, “I made a contract with Karura to borrow Gouhaen. Gouhaen is a technique that takes the years a person has lived and turns them into flames. A great blaze to be let forth at the end of the person’s life. I thought I could use it as a trump card, use it against the Impure King. However the flame I had, fifteen years, it just stopped the King in it’s tracts. It did nothing. I don’t have much left. I don’t have much time left, I’m going to use it to create a barrier. So that if the sporangium does rupture, the miasma won’t escape. Rin, I need you to use the Kurikara and your flames to burn it’s heart to ashes.”

“I’m sorry I…” Rin can’t focus again. Someone else want’s to give their life for him. He doesn’t deserve it. He doesn’t deserve any of it. Rin can’t even open the sword. Useless.

“No I get it. I’m asking you to put your life on the line.” That’s not it. That’s never it. Everyone is staring at him and Rin can feel his heartbeat pick up in his chest. Bon is glaring at him.   Selfish.

“It’s not that!” There he goes, fucking yelling again. Rin wants to know why he’s always yelling, why he can’t just talk out his issues like a normal human being. Then again, he’s not human. He never was.

“Rin…” Shiemi moves towards him, but he’s too keyed up and it comes off as patronizing. It comes off as pity.

“I can’t even open the fucking sword,” Rin’s hands are hurting with how hard he’s gripping it, “Don’t waste your life and rely on me. I can’t do anything.”

“What the hell!” Bon is yelling, moving to get in his face, but his father holds him back.

“I see. That’s a worry in itself. Even so, I still believe in you.” Tatsuma smiles, and Rin wants to hit something.

“Tatsuma,” Karura’s voice suddenly cuts in, “You’ve lost too much blood. You’re wounds are healed, but you are still close to death. You can’t put up the barrier. If you try, you’ll die for sure.”

“My life isn’t the only one on the line.” Tatsuma growls at Karura, and Bon has never seen his father like this.

“Koneko! You still can’t get ahold of Kirigakure-sensei?” Konekomaru jumps when Bin addresses him, tension high.

“I think the miasma is hindering it, all I could hear was yelling and static.”

“Pops? Isn’t there anything I can do?” Bon wants to help, he can’t let his father shoulder all of this responsibility on his own. He is the next head of the Myou Dha sect. He needs to step up.

“You are Tatsuma’s son. The Gouhaen can be passed down through blood.” Karura turns to him, and now Ryuji has a decision to make.

“No! You can’t do that!” Tatsuma moves in front of Bon, as if to protect him, “He’s a child, you can’t drag Ryuji into this!”

“Is it that I’m a child, or that I’m your child.” Bon is frustrated, “You want Rin to fight. You want Rin to give up his life, he’s younger than I am.” He needs to fight, he needs to help.

“I swore that I would end this obligation with me! That you wouldn’t need to do this!” Tatsuma is yelling at Bon now, unshed tears in his eyes.

“Suguro, I was raised to be a weapon, you weren’t.” Rin steps in, hoping to defuse the argument before it starts.

“Fuck that!” Suguro just rounds onto him,”You’re a fucking person! And what am I doing becoming an exorcist if I’m not going to fight!”

Rin hears Suguro call him a person and it echos in his head. You’re a fucking person. No you’re not. You never were. He never was. The Grigori don’t think he is. The vatican most definitely do not see him as a person. His own father might not have. Rin knows he isn’t. He shakes the thoughts out of his head, trying to put the caps on all of those over flowing bottles. Close the frothing intrusive foam of his self-hating thoughts.

“I’m not gonna let you bear the responsibility by yourself anymore!” Bon has turned back to his father, pleading. Tatsuma chuckles.

“What are you talking about? I did that all on my own.”

“I’m not going to let you do that anymore. You can’t object. I need you, you can’t die here.” Tatsuma is shocked by Bon’s words, stunned into silence.

“Your son is smarter than you are, Tatsuma.” Karura’s monotone voice is really starting to irritate everyone.

“That’s the type of child he is,” Tatsuma sighs, “Which is why I didn’t want to involve him.” Tatsuma flops back against his tree, out of Bon’s way.

“Come,” Karura moves out towards the center of the group, away from Tatsuma and his tree, “I will commence with the succession of the Gouhaen.”

There’s an eerie silence amongst the group. Everyone is silent as Bon steps up to take his father’s mantle, no one is happy about the succession. Rin is nervous. Now he’s wasting Bon’s life for power he doesn’t have. For a job he can’t do. Told you you’d kill him in the end. Mint foam bottled, capped, shoved in the back of his head. He can’t think of this now, he needs to be strong.

“He who is the blood of my current master, Tatsuma Suguro, show proof of your blood.” Bon bites hard at his thumb, blood filling in the space his teeth left as skin is pulled away.

“Indeed, You are the blood of Tatsuma Suguro.” Bon’s hands are on fire, the flames spreading quickly down his arms.

“Ryuji Suguro, you have become the new owner of Gouhaen.” Bon is in awe, mesmerized by the flames coating his body.

“Red flames…” Shima mumbles, he sounds nervous.

“Ryuji,” It’s Bon’s father, beckoning him, “I will teach you the strongest barrier spell. One that is only passed down between head priests. Come here.”

Rin watches as Bon and his dad talk, markings scratched into the dirt, heads close as they whisper back and forth. He feels that too familiar itch in his throat and pulls away from the group, puking up petals behind a tree, Shima rubbing soothing circles into his back. They barely hear Bon yelling but Rin swallows down the rest of his flowers as he moves to help.  Tatsuma has fallen over, no longer able to help.

“Moriyama, Kamiki,” Suguro’s tone is pleading, “Can you stay and protect him?” The two nod and Suguro takes ahold of the reigns, directing their group with ease.

“Shima, Konekomaru. Please go tell Kirigakure-sensei and the rest of the temple what just happened. “

“Bon what about you?” Konekomaru is already moving, eyebrows almost permanently furrowed in worry.

“I’m going to set up the barrier. It needs to be formed with Shokuchi-in at its center. I need to get as close to the Impure King as possible. As close to the sporangium as possible.” Konekomaru stops in his tracks.

“You! You’re saying you’re going in there! That's so reckless!”

“...Bon…” Suguro expected Miwa to get nervous, that’s a given, he never anticipated the look Shima is giving him. It’s serious, solemn. A look he’s never seen on Shima, who is eternally as laid back as possible.

“Bon listen okay. I’ve always kept my mouth shut and listened to you because my parents are a pain in the neck but this time is different. I have to say something. You’re really gonna get yourself killed, y’know.”

“Nah. I’ll protect him.” Rin steps in front of Suguro, trying to reassure Konekomaru and Shima. Of course you’ll protect him, it’ll be Father Fujimoto all over again if you don’t.
“Excuse me? You just admitted you can’t even open the sword!” Bon pinches the back of Rin’s neck while he yells, causing him to fluster.

“I-I can still summon some flames! And more importantly I’m still really strong! That counts for something right?” Bon is leaning in really close, squinting in suspicion, and it’s making Rin even more flustered. He can barely think straight enough, wow what a joke ,  to form a plan.

“Leave it to me okay Konekomaru?” He smiles at the shorter boy, and gets an even stronger look of suspicion.

“Hey what about me?” Shima is indignant, but Rin doesn’t pay attention to him as it appears he’s passed Konekomaru’s test, the short boy running off to follow Bon’s instructions.

“Hold on! Koneko! Don’t regret this later! I’m not gonna listen to you whine!” Shima takes off to follow Konekomaru, yelling into the woods.

“I’m going to leave my pops to y’all okay?”

“Leave it to us!” Shiemi is attempting to heal Tatsuma already, beaming up at Bon, happy to be needed.

“And we’re off!” Bon turns swiftly, starting to march on into the woods.

“Yeah!” Rin turns to follow him.

“Be careful,” It’s quiet and wheezy, “I’m sorry. Ryuji please forgive this worthless father of yours.”

“I really, I liked listening to you chant the sutra,” Bon doesn’t look back at his father, “So no matter what, please don’t die.”

They push on, missing the smile on Tatsuma’s face. Rin pulls up close to Bon, the two walking side by side. Rin nearly trips a few times, not paying attention to his general surroundings as usual. But he can’t not pay attention to the giant, pulsing mass they stumble upon.

“It looks like a fucking building!” Rin is stopped in his tracks, in awe of the size of the thing.

“Damn it, if we don’t get there quick it’ll be bad for us.” The two are startled by the sound of branches cracking to their right. Rin squints into the darkness, smiling when he sees it’s just his cat familiar Kuro.

Rin! Kuro’s high pitched voice echos in his head, but all Bon can hear is a stressed out sounding meow.

“Kuro!” Rin can’t even describe how happy he is to see his cat right now.

Rin you’ve got to run away! This mountain is possessed by Sudama’s monster! Rin tilts his head.

“You mean the Impure King? Can the mountain itself even be possessed?”

“We are going to go and take it down actually.” Rin is shocked Bon even takes the time to talk to Kuro, most people usually end up confused.

That’s crazy! I’m not gonna listen to your stories! Kuro is going nuts, hissing and standing with his back arched.

“Someone has too, it’s dangerous.” Rin is speaking softly, trying to soothe his familiar as best he can.

You’re stupid! You’re an idiot Rin! Why are you always doing the dangerous stuff. Kuro swipes at him. It’s dangerous so I’m coming with you!

“Really! You’re a great cat!” Rin continues to praise and coo at Kuro as he grows in size, “Come on Suguro, Kuro’s gonna give us a ride!”

“A ride! What the literal fuck!” Bon is in shock at what he’s just witnessed. Rin just nods at him, hands folded together and knees bent, ready to give Bon a boost up onto the giant cats back. Suguro eyes Rin cautiously before deciding to just go with it.

“If I fall or die I swear to God I will haunt your ass.” Bon steps up, gripping some of Kuro’s fur to keep his balance.

“You won’t fall!” Rin sounds outraged, boosting Bon up with a huff and his left hand wrapped around the other’s ankle. To Suguro’s surprise he doesn’t fall, he doesn’t even wobble. Rin himself just climbs up, petting Kuro as he goes. Then they are off, Kuro jumping and weaving up the mountain. The ride is bumpy and it’s a  struggle to stay seated.

“I’m gonna die!” Bon is just barely holding on, screaming as they travel. He’s hanging off to one side and is so afraid of falling off. Rin has one hand gripped into Kuro’s fur and the other tight around Bon’s wrist. It’s clear the speed they are going at isn’t good for Rin either, he can barely get enough air as it is due to the hanahaki. But they quickly find out they can’t even land on the King. From there it is crazed hopping in an attempt to find a safe spot to settle.

“It’s not suitable to make a landing here.” Karura pops out near Bon’s shoulder, “We can’t penetrate the barrier like this.”

“We don’t even have time for the chant.” Bom is grinding his teeth, trying to think up a solution.

“Kuro is there a foothold? One close to the Sp- the sporangia?” Rin’s pronunciation is stilted but Bon and Kuro understand what he’s saying immediately.

I’ll look for one! Kuro makes a sharp turn, running along the side of the king.

“This thing is just too big.” Bon is nervous about this, he’s not even sure if he has the mantra one hundred percent memorized.

“Dude it looks kind of like a meat bun. I’m so hungry I still haven’t had dinner.” Rin senses Bon’s nerves and says the first thing that comes to mind, which happens to be his empty stomach.

“How are you so calm! How can you think of that right now! I’m scared to death!”
“Motion sick? Are you scared of falling? I’m not going to let you go y’know.”

“That’s not it you idiot! You can’t even draw your sword right now! You’re just some weird kid carrying a stick! Aren’t you scared?” Rin’s silent after Bon’s tirade, biting at his bottom lip. It would be too hard to explain that he’s not really scared of dying anymore. That he’s sort of anticipating it, but not going out of his way to kill himself. That would be like spitting on Father Fujimoto’s grave.

Rin I found a foothold! There’s a rock below! Kuro dives, and Bon is too busy screaming to realize Rin never answered. Kuro lands harshly on a flat patch of the King, and they bounce in their seats. Rin lets go of Bon’s wrist, hearing him hit the ground with a soft thump.

“Alright, looks like we are having this battle here!” Rin has yet to even get off Kuro’s back.

“You’re not thinking of giving up right?” Bon still looks nervous.

“Nah. No way, not this time,” Rin smiles at Bon, “Didn’t you say you were scared? Everyone's doing their best, so we’ve got to do our best too.”

Rin slides down, dangerously close to Bon again. He’s still smiling slightly while Bon glares at him for even mentioning his fear from earlier. Rin gets an idea while standing there, biting his lip before coming closer, their chests touching. Rin has his hand soft against Bon’s neck and boy are they both nervous.

“Don’t be scared okay?” Rin whispers it. He has to move up onto his tiptoes, planting a soft kiss on Bon’s forehead, then an even softer one on Bon’s cheek. He gets flustered quickly, face heating up as he skitters backwards away from Suguro.

“Yeah! Don’t be afraid! I’ll protect you Princess Suguro! Just focus on setting up the barrier!”

“Who’s a princess? I’ll punch you!” The kiss flies right out of Bon’s mind, he’s too focused on the princess comment. His face red with anger and whatever was lingering from the butterfly soft kisses.

“Because you’re so scared you’re shaking. Such a crude princess, there’s no way I’d wanna be your knight.” Rin’s smiling wide, on the edge of laughing.

“Asshole! If anyone’s a princess it’s you! All dainty and shit. I’m no princess! I’ll prove it to you!” Bon’s grinding his teeth in anger, a habit that he really should stop.

“I’ll leave you to it then.” Rin climbs back onto Kuro’s side, hands shaking on his sword. They are standing in front of Suguro, doing their best to block the path to him.

“We’ll win Suguro.” It’s a sight to see, Rin standing tall and confident, and Bon wants to take a picture of it.

“Let's go Kuro!” Rin takes off with his cat to get further in front of Suguro to prevent any attacks. Bon takes a deep breath to steady himself. He knows Rin isn’t as naive as everyone makes him out to be. Suguro knows Rin isn’t an idiot. He bites his lip and suddenly remembers the kiss that Rin managed to distract him from. His fingers come up to brush up against the cheek Rin kissed, and decides to just believe they’ll win, hunkering down and chanting the mantra for the barrier. He manages to set up the barrier quicker than he thought, shocked it actually went up.

“Wow Suguro you’re really cool!” Rin’s voice carries up to him and Bon’s chest swells, warm from the praise.

Rin stands tall, pacing as he tries to figure out how to attack the sporangium and keep Bon safe at the same time. It’s then that he hears something other than Kuro and the angry, foaming voices in his head. It sounds a lot like Yukio and he gets distracted, turning frantically towards the source of the noise. It’s then the King decides to attack, taking advantage of Rin’s confusion.

“Rin! In front of you!” Rin turns back around wildly, swinging his sword like a baseball bat at the white mass attacking him. It’s then they notice the sporangium is swelling a lot faster than before. Rin clicks his teeth, angry and keyed up.

“Seriously? It feels like the crap around us is moving faster too.”

It keeps surging back bigger every time we beat it!

“Ryuji,” Karura’s voice is loud behind him, “Don’t break your contact with the earth seal. If you move the whole barrier will fail.”

“You don’t need to remind me!” Bon’s getting frustrated, “I won’t break this seal even if I die!”

“Alright princess, don’t get your royal panties in a bunch.”

“Enough with the princess thing!” Rin laughs at Bon’s angry yelling.

“Just focus right now, you can die later.” He’s still trying to force open the sword, hands shaking and it feels like Rin’s about to break his thumb with how hard he’s pushing upwards. He settles for swinging, calling what little of the flames he can summon when the sword isn’t open. But it’s not much, and there are still so many enemies, or rather parts of the enemy, attacking. There’s too much to focus on and one slips past him, right to Bon.

“Okumura!” Rin rushes towards Suguro, swinging his sword and watching the enemy pop into white goo. Quickly after that Kuro is converged upon, swallowed by the white mass. Rin is still trying to open his sword, he hears a soft crack from his thumb. He’s useless. Kuro leaps out of the white masses covering them and Rin sighs in relief.

They just keep coming! I told you this was stupid!

“Yeah…”

“Okumura behind you!” At Bon’s yell Rin turns and brings up his sword to block the attack sneaking up on him. But with that, the Impure King decides to reveal his true form, blowing miasma everywhere. It’s moments like this Rin is glad he’s half demon, he doesn’t need anything clogging up his already full lungs. However Bon is human, and he’s already coughing.

“The heart of the Impure King-” Suguro interrupts himself with his own coughs, body heaving.

“Suguro!” Rin runs toward him even though there is nothing he can do and he knows it. He catches a sight of the King and stops in his tracks, eyes wide and questions of concern dying in his throat. Bon turns around at Rin’s reaction and gasps, afraid.

“Suguro!” Rin is frantic, both hands pushing to open the sword, his knuckles popping. Rin’s thumb is purple, but healing.

“Karura! You need to protect me!” Bon is just as frantic, not ready to die.

“Understood.” Karura dives down and Bon is smothered in protective flames. The Impure King backs away, frightened by the fire it flees.

“We managed to scare away the Impure King for now. But Ryuji you must understand that me protecting you and forming the barrier will use more of your health. You’ll lose strength faster, prepare yourself.”

“Suguro!” Rin is yelling again, finally getting the strength to actually move he starts towards Ryuji again, nervous about all the coughing and panting.

“Are you okay! What did you just do?” Rin skids to a stop in front of Bon, face contorted in worry usually reserved for his younger brother.

“I used a piece of the barrier to protect Ryuji,” Karura answers for him, “If the person creating the barrier falls, then everything is lost. The Impure king may be drawn to life but he is weak and afraid of fire. It should stay away from this place for awhile.”

“I see so-”
“On the other hand, I don’t think this barrier will last another 15 minutes.”

“What? Why?” The worried look that had slid off of Rin’s face was quickly back and worse than before.

“Because I’m reaching my limit, and I think it’s way sooner than 15 minutes.” Bon is wheezing, shaky and sweating as he talks to Rin, “Koneko and Shima couldn’t make it. I hope they are okay.”

“Of course they’re okay!” Rin is yelling, angry and still trying to force the sword open. He gets over taken while distracted, knocked away and covered in white goop. Rin can see Kuro heading towards him.

“Kuro no! Ignore it and protect Bon!” But it’s too late. Kuro has already jumped, and goes down quickly into a bubbling puddle of the white mass.

“You bastard!” He turns to the true form of the King and tries to open the sword, it’s still useless. He’s still useless.

Look at you. You can’t protect anyone. You can’t save anyone. Your father, kuro, Yukio…

You’re pointless. Just kill yourself.

Rin’s stuck staring at the sword in his hands as his mind fills with static. He almost short circuits, the foam of his thoughts bubbling and puddling together into a gross brown color and flowing out of his ears. Or at least he pictures it is. The King is keeping it’s distance, too nervous with all the fire around.

Fling yourself into the gross mass that took Kuro. Or jump down off the King, you’re so high up.

Doing nothing but standing here, pathetic.

“It’s the end.” Bon sounds so tired, “Get away...while the barrier lasts. Get everyone from the temple and evacuate kyoto. Hurry up and go, you’ll need all the time you can get.” Rin’s mind is full of raging foam and static and it takes him awhile to comprehend what Bon is saying to him. To fully understand the sacrifice Suguro is putting on the table.

“Ummmmm what?” Rin tilts his head, eyes far away in a manner that makes Bon genuinely afraid of him, “The kyoto tower. I want to climb it tomorrow. I need you to show us how to get there cause you’re from around here. I heard there’s a bath house and stuff in it even though it's a tower. I want to go and spend time with everyone. That’s why I need kyoto and everyone to be okay. Why I need you to be okay. So let's just win okay?” Stop distracting yourself and actually feel something other than numb you little bitch.

“Why...why…” Bon twitches, “Why the fucking Kyoto tower anyway! It’s so touristy! Kyoto has so many other nice things to see!”

“I don’t really know much about temples so...:” Rin shrugs, fake smile still plastered all over his face. The falseness of it all catches Suguro’s attention, the numb look behind Rin’s eyes, the way his face looks as if it’ll crumble at any moment. Bon starts laughing at the phoniness of it all.

“Hey what happened are you okay?” Rin takes a shaky step forward, still gripping his sword way to hard.

“It's okay. Whatever, I’ll support your false confidence.” Bon wonders how many times He’s seen that look on Rin’s face and took it as real. A lot probably. He’s willing to bet ten bucks he’s seen this sham of a smile more often than the real one.

“We are friends after all.” Suguro says that and it’s like Rin short circuits again, false smile fading and his eyes wide, “I’ll trust you.”

The barrier is suddenly stronger, as if Bon’s strength is renewed and Rin’s breath catches in his throat vision blurry.

He shouldn’t trust you, what can you do? Everyone who trusts you dies.

Why’d Father save you? Why you? Why you, why you, whyyou whyyouwhyouwhyyou?

Rin lets go of his sword for a moment, wiping the sweat of his hands before turning back to the king and renewing his grip.

WHYYOUWHYYOUWHYYOUWHYYOUWHYYOUWHYYOU? WHY ARE YOU ALIVE?

He closes his eyes, so close to tears. It’ll all pointless. Father Fujimoto’s sacrifice is pointless if he can’t do this. Rin needs to do this, he can't continue to disappoint his Father in death. He tugs again, another crack coming from his hands as he tugs. But this time he manages, the sword coming free with such force Rin nearly flings it into the ground, grip so tight all his knuckles pop again. Rin thinks his fingers might be locked that way. He’ll need to flex and stretch them out after this. But not now, he’s too afraid to let go of Kurikara to do that now.

Rin breathes out a sigh of relief and opens his eyes, focused on the Impure king. He digs his feet into the dirt and then pushes forward, rushing at the Impure King. It’s just Rin’s luck that the thing is too big to move quickly. He cuts it clean in half with Kurikara, engulfing it in flames. He's still hyper focused, unable to lose himself in the flames this time. The rushing static of the foam in his mind is gone, and for the first time in what feels like years his head is clear. Everything around him is flaming, a blue haze covering his vision.

There’s chanting, and Shura is there suddenly, taking his place in front of Bon. Bon, who Rin honestly forgot was there.

“Leave Suguro to me! The Impure King isn’t something a normal human being can defeat. We’ll need to rely on you.” Shura grins up at him from her spot next to Suguro, “Didn’t you swear you’d prove to me that Shiro was right to let you live? Now’s the time, prove it.”

You can’t. He wasn't. Shut up. Rin’s flames yell over the foam, brown sludge  evaporated by brilliant blue flames.

“Yeah.” Rin nods and takes off, heading to prove to himself that he actually deserves his life, that he’s useful.

Shura plops down next to Suguro, propping her arm up on her sword.

“Y’know,” She says, taking in Suguro’s sweaty and exhausted form, “The only thing he’s missing is confidence. And well self esteem.” Suguro huffs out a laugh.

“Ain’t that the truth.”

“He needs to find it himself. Or maybe a group of people could help him.” Shura grins slyly at Ryuji, and he smiles back.

Meanwhile Rin is fighting his way to the heart, trying to cut through all the defenses the King has in place. He’s being attacked from all sides and he can not for the life of him find a weak point. He takes to long, and Ryuji passes out, well past his limit. The barrier goes down.

“Suguro!” Rin and Shura yell at the same time, Shura moving to help her student while Rin doubles his efforts. He needs to defeat this thing, and fast. He’s just swinging at this point, hoping to stumble upon a weak point. Hoping to stumble upon the heart. Rin’s struggling when a Demon comes to him. It reminds him of Karura, but the face is different, more human. It’s bigger too, covered in flames.

“You’re painful to watch.” It’s voice is so deep, Rin feels it echo in his chest when the demon talks.

“What are you? A demon?” He stares up at it, ready to attack at a moment's notice. The demon sucks its teeth at him.

“Demon, angel, alcala. It’s all just a name humans give us. Who are you to call me that? Certainly not human if you’re clad in the holy flames. I am the Burning Impurity, Ucchusma. The Impure King has been my enemy for a long time, and that sword belonged to my late master. If you want to defeat the Impure King, I will teach you how to control your flames.”

“I really don’t understand what you’ve said to me, but please help me Uccushma!” He nods at the demon and it possesses Kurikara, their flames mixing together. Ucchusma shrinks to a much smaller form, and all Rin can think of is the snitch from Harry Potter. He only knows about it because Yukio had a huge Harry Potter phase, but looking at the shrunk down demon that’s all he can think of. A piece of sports equipment from a magical game in a fictional book series. It takes Rin a moment to remember that the sword is his heart, and it's fatal if kurikara breaks.

“I have no other choice.” Ucchusma senses his nerves, soothing him and guiding Kurikara and their combined flames. Everything feels too hot suddenly, the flowers in his lungs irritated.

“Please repeat this mantra after me!” They begin to chant together, Rin stumbling over pronunciations.

“With your flames you will be able to burn and purify this whole mountain.” Ucchusma seems smug about it, but Rin is instantly nervous.

“Whoa the whole mountain?! There's too many people here!” Rin hesitates and Ucchusma side eyes him.

“So? That is such a trivial thing. Every person who entered the Impure King’s castle or had contact with its “subordinates” are contaminated. They need to be purified as well, even the smallest speck will be able to revive the King. Let’s go.” Ucchusma is annoyed by Rin’s lack of confidence, and presses forward.

“Wa-wait!” Rin hesitates, and then figures he’s spent too much time hesitating. It’s now or never at this point, and his flames are the only option he has left. He’s just going to have to try to purify the King without burning anyone. He can do it. Can’t he?

“There’s no time to waste, let's go. Chant the mantra.” Rin nods and begins to chant, gathering flames. He points his sword at the Impure King and releases the flames, knocked back by the blast. His sword is lodged into the king, and he’s feeding his flames into it.

“Why are you hesitating?” Ucchusma’s voice echos out of Kurikara, “Put more power into the flames!”

Rin is scared, scared of what happens if he puts so much of himself into the flames. He knows he’ll burn out, but he’s unsure if he’ll lose himself again. Rin doesn’t want to be completely mindless, attacking everything that moves. He puts all of himself into the flames anyway, already exhausted beyond compare and hacking up flowers again. The struggle is minimal, Rin using the thoughts of his friends to fight down the feral mirror of himself. Because that’s not him and Rin knows it. He’s dizzy and swaying on his feet but he can see it’s working. Rin doesn’t think he’s ever been this relieved and happy in his life. The flames recede and Rin is on his knees at the top of the mountain, everything around him clear and calm. Rin smiles, ready to pass out. He doesn’t get the chance, Ucchusma startling him out of his daze.

“Everything has been purified and I am taking my leave,” Ucchusma still looks like the snitch, “I wonder if you are a human or a demon. One day, you will have to chose.” With that foreboding statement, Ucchusma disappears into thin air, the flames on Rin’s sword fading. He quickly stands shaky on his feet.

That’s the scene Suguro wakes up too, Shura nudging him slightly as he sits up. Suguro wakes up to Rin standing tall, he can’t see Rin shaking with how far away he is, sheathing his sword slowly and calmly. The world isn’t over, he isn’t dead.

“Okumura.”

“Rin!” Bon and Shura call out at the same time, rushing towards Rin.

“I did it,” Rin turns towards them with the most ridiculous and scrunched up face either of them have ever seen, “I controlled my flames. It’s still in the works but I finally figured out how to burn what I want to burn.”

Rin’s grinning down at Kurikara, beaming and proud of himself. Bon resists the urge to swoop in and kiss him, to share in the happiness. He wants to tell Rin how proud he is, but that’s not his place. As Rin’s mentor, that job belongs to Shura. She however, is laughing at her student.

“You know it’s not the first time you’ve done that you know? What about the incident with our clothes? Or the candles?" Rin whines, pouting.

“This is different! I did it on purpose this time!”

“You did it on purpose with the candle too!” The two are arguing playfully, a few sentences punctuated with Rin coughing, or Shura yelling. Bon’s worried about how accustomed he is getting to the sound of Rin’s hacking and wheezing when he hears a loud commotion coming from behind him. He turns to see everyone from the temple rushing to meet them, the other exwires leading them forward. Konekomaru and Shima are running at him, Konekomaru practically in tears.

“Koneko! Shima! You’re okay!” Suguro rushes to meet them halfway, ready to embrace and inspect his friends for injuries.

“Okumura! Bon!” Konekomaru reaches them first!

“Konekomaru!” Rin is still beaming, but Bon notices how strained his voice is, how pale the half Demon is, “I did it! I controlled my flames and only burned the Impure king!”
“Yeah! I see…” Shima answers instead of Koneko, noticing something's wrong the same way Bon does, “That was weird. I didn’t know the flames could be...comforting if that's the word.”

“Everyone was purified, even the sick,” Yaozo Shima steps forward, “All because of those flames. What an incredible power, I can’t thank you enough.”

“It’s fine!” Bon and Shima focus in on how shaky Rin is as he rubs at the back of his neck, “Don’t worry about it! It’s really uncomfortable actually, being praised so much.”

“Okumura…’ Konekomaru is actually crying this time, “Thank you! I really hope you can forgive me for my behavior!”

“No!” Rin looks so nervous, “Seriously don’t cry Konekomaru! All is forgiven!” Rin is coughing after that, spitting globs of blood off to the side and choking over flowers. Shima is at his side with Izumo in a heartbeat, giving him water and trying to soothe him.

“Brother!” Yukio’s voice cuts through the murmuring as he runs over to Rin, who instantly straightens up and smiles, rubbing the blood off his chin and pretending to be fine.

“Yukio! You’re okay!”Rin’s smile is blinding, Yukio looks mortified.

“Shura...who broke him out of confinement?” His voice is shaky.

“You see, he apologized. And saved everyone!” Shura was picking at her fingers, looking down at the ground.

“I even managed to control my flames this time Yukio! Did you see!” Rin smiles happily, voice excited and Yukio just full on decks him. Bon jumps forward at the way Rin’s head snaps to the side.

“Don’t be stupid!” Yukio’s voice sounds desperate in a way Bon has never heard before, anxious and fearful, “Don’t you see the situation you’re in!”

“Yeah I do.” Rin’s voice is serious, monotone, as he continues to look at the ground, “I’m satan’s son and I can’t just run away from it anymore. I’ve always been to scared to acknowledge it a...and that was not...good.”

Rin wobbles on his feet, knees hitting the rocky ground as his chest heaves. Rin’s puking, a river of blood and flowers kicking up dust as they spill onto the floor. It doesn’t stop for what feels like an eternity, it was two minutes, and no one can bring themselves to move.

“...Hey…” Rin’s voice is rough and cracking, but faint and floaty at the same time. He looked as if he was struggling to keep his eyes open.

“Those..flowers are ne..wwww…” Rin passes out, hitting the ground heavily.

The shock that held everyone releases them in that moment, Shima and Yukio rushing to get to Rin and lift him off the ground. Bon can’t even move, stuck staring at Rin passed out in a puddle of blood and new pink flowers.

Laurestina -Devoted to you, I die if neglected

Gladiolus - Give Me a Break . . . I'm Really Sincere; Flower of the Gladiators

Chapter Text

LOOK AT THIS NEAT FANART BY TRICKSTERLY CONDUCT

 

Rin wakes up in a bed he doesn’t remember putting himself in. His mouth tastes like blood and Kuro is snoring next to him. Rin takes a minute to acknowledge the wrapping around his familiars waist, biting his lip. Coughing, he sits up, hands full of petals. His mind is the quietest it’s been since Father Fujimoto died. He appreciates the silence for awhile, until the door slides open with a creak.

“Thank God!” Shima breathes out a sigh of relief before scowling, “Hey! You’re fuckin heavy dude, stop passing out everywhere!”

“Sorry?” Rin is confused, but assumes the massive use of his power knocked him out cold.

“But seriously are yo-”

“Rin!” Shiemi all but runs into the room, slamming into Shima from the side and nearly tripping over him, “You're awake! Are you okay?”

“I’m fine Shiemi.” All the yelling has startled Kuro out of his sleep and out of the room. Rin has his arms raised, smiling, sheepish. He coughs once, twice, three times and fills his lap full of flowers. Shiemi frowns.

“Rin-chan. I like you and all, but I’m sorry, I do not have those feelings for you. Please get the surgery!” Shiemi bows heavily, Rin glances above her at Shima, who is trying his hardest not to laugh. Magically all his classmates have appeared, and Izumo’s smile is the widest he’s ever seen.

“Um Shiem-”

“I don’t want to see you suffering for me! It’s bad enough with the Vatican an-”

“SHIEMI!”

“Yes?”

“They aren’t for you.”

“Excuse me?” Shiemi is as red as a tomato, bottom lip shaking as she wrings out her hands. Shima is full out laughing now, leaning on the door frame for support. Izumo elbows him in the stomach, but she herself is shaking with held back laughter.

“The flowers, they aren’t yours.” Rin smiles apologetically, rising to retrieve the waste basket in the corner of his room and dispose of the petals.

“...Oh… So they’re for Kamiki-chan.” Shiemi says this so matter of factly that Rin chokes on his own tongue. Shima is laughing harder, almost falling to his knees. Izumo snorts before joining Shima in peels of laughter.

“No. No oh my god no. “  Rin himself is about ready to laugh, the small smile on his face trembling with almost there laughter.

“I don’t understand.” Shiemi, bless her soul, actually looks confused, “Kamiki-chan is the only other girl you talk too. Is it a girl at your school? Is it Paku-chan?” Rin heaves out a heavy breath, smile widening on his face.

“Just don’t worry about it, okay Shiemi.” Rin sits back down upon his bed and Shiemi nods, resolving to put this conversation behind them.

“Anyway guys we go home in two days,” Shima is recovering from his laughing fit, “Shura says that Rin and Bon absolutely must rest, and that everyone else needs to help the injured if they can. But we have tomorrow off and we can go out if you guys want.”

Rin looks Bon dead in the eye and Bon is already scowling, arms crossed,

“Don’t-”

“Kyoto Tower.”

“I hate you.”

“Kyoto’s so pretty, why would you want to go there?” Konekomaru wrinkles his nose.

“That’s between me and Suguro.” Rin smiles softly, face glowing despite its pallor. Bon’s heart stutters in his chest.

Rin is getting restless being forced into bed by Shima and Izumo. They’ve laid Bon down next to him, Rin has a bucket full of all his petals and full blooms. He gets up to take a walk around the inn and get a drink, simultaneously tired of sitting around and the taste of blood coating his mouth despite him brushing his teeth twice. He runs into Yukio at the vending machines, and Yukio looks run down. His twin is sitting low in his chair, hair and clothes ruffled and messy.

“Still in uniform huh? Have you slept at all?” Rin looks at his brother as he waits for the vending machine to dispense his drink, poking his tongue at his cheek. It’s sore, bruised from where Yukio punched him. He’s shocked he didn’t lose any teeth, “Nice right hook by the way.”

“Yeah, I’m sleepy…” Yukio blinks owlishly at the ceiling, “And thank you.”

“Go sleep in your bed before you fall asleep out here.”

“Nnnnooooo.” Yukio is whining, sinking even lower into his chair and closing his eyes.

“Jeez you’re such a little kid sometimes. You’re so tired because you’re always trying to do the most for everybody. Go on, go get some rest. In a bed .” It’s too late however, Yukio has already fallen asleep in his chair, face scrunched up.

“Whatever,” Rin cracks open his soda, watching Yukio flinch in his sleep, “I have something to tell you later. Don’t run away okay? I love you, get good sleep.”

Rin takes a sip of his drink before sighing and ruffling his brother's hair, deciding to let him nap in the chair. It won’t be his fault when Yukio is all stiff and achy when he gets up. He doesn’t catch his brother’s scrunched up face, or his soft sigh of an ‘I love you too, don’t die yet.’ Rin just sips his drink and goes back to hanging out with Suguro, leaving a water bottle on the arm of Yukio’s chair.

They are all excited when they meet up the next morning to leave, Rin especially. He’s already gone on an extra long run that morning but he’s still keyed up, bouncing from foot to foot. It’s probably his ADHD, but he has no medication to take. He’s not going to school so he’s free to actually have energy and not go through his day like a zombie. Don’t get Rin wrong he loves his medicine and the focus it gives him, he just hates how it makes him. Zombie-like with no appetite. It’s a struggle.

“Hey…” Yukio pokes at his arm, a backpack slung across his back for the two of them, “You wanna sit in the middle with me or the back with Izumo and Shima.”

“Middle.” Rin’s tail is wagging, still bouncing on his feet.

“That means reading. Don’t want you to get out of practice.”

“Fine with me!” Rin smiles, he knows Yukio has the first Harry Potter book for him in the bag. He’s excited to see what his brother loved so much two years earlier.

The group of students all pile into a car, Bon at the wheel and Konekomaru next to him.  It’s apparently Bon’s mother’s. A minivan, as if Bon’s mom was an american PTA mom. Rin snags a window seat, Yukio in the middle to help him with his reading. Shiemi, Izumo and Shima filter into the very back seats.

The group is pulling onto the main road as Yukio pulls the stuff Rin needs out of the backpack. Blue toned lenses, highlighters, the book. Shiemi is watching them with increasing curiosity. A paper bag akin to a barf bag for Rin to cough his petals into goes right into his hands. Rin immediately opens it, coughing as if he’s been holding it back for hours. Yukio goes to hand Rin advil, before remembering it doesn’t work on his twin anymore, frowning at the bottle in his hands.

“What’re the fancy glasses for?” Shiemi is leaning as far forward as she can, only her, Konekomaru, and Yukio the ones with their seatbelts on properly. Konekomaru is fussing at Suguro to fix his.

“It’s to make it easier for Rin to read, sometimes it helps people to read through a color filter. Rin, make sure to highlight any words that are bothering you. We’ll put em up on the wall calender.”

“Words of the day?”

“Mhmm.” Yukio shifts closer to his brother, watching him read. Rin’s brow is furrowed, bottom lip caught between his teeth. As the drive goes on Rin’s fingers get covered in his blue highlighter. It’s when Rin appears to be reading the same line over and over again for fifteen minutes straight Yukio makes him stop, heading the signs of a migraine coming on.

“Take a nap, we still have twenty minutes left in the ride. I brought you sunglasses.” Rin whines as Yukio digs through the bag, procuring said glasses.

“Why sunglasses?” Bon glances up at them in the mirror, fingers tapping against the steering wheel as they wait at a red light.

“Rin sleeps with his eyes open. I hate it.” Yukio forces the glasses over his brother’s eyes, urging the older one to lean on him and sleep away the oncoming migraine.

“That’s so not true!” Shima lunges forward in shock, lurching forward again as the light turns green and Bon continues down the street, “I’ve seen him asleep loads of times with his eyes closed!”

“Going to sleep of your own violation and knocking out cold are not the same thing. I have pictures! I have proof!” Rin manages to fall peacefully asleep already as Yukio shows everyone pictures of Rin sleeping in uncomfortable positions with his eyes wide open.

“That is terrifying I am never sleeping ever again.”

“I dorm with him. I look at that every night.”

“Rest in pieces my guy.” Shima goes to pat Yukio on the shoulder when Bon stops short at another light, face planting into the back of the seat, “ASSHOLE!”

“Bon!” Bon laughs at Shima as Konekomaru scolds him, glancing back in the mirror and getting stuck staring at Rin.  His classmate is already asleep on Yukio, his face half pressed into his brother's chest, lips softly parted and obnoxious glasses slightly skewed on his face. Rin’s shirt is riding up, revealing soft scarred skin and bright green boxer elastic. It’s the cars honking at Bon that startle him out of his daze, the light changed. He makes their turn, ears red and knuckles tight against the wheel.

“We’re here. Gonna park the car for the day and we’ll get around on the shuttle.” Bon’s words are accompanied by the sound of seatbelts unfastening.

“Shima here,” Everyone has gotten out but Rin, who is still asleep, slumped over without Yukio to lean on. Yukio beckons them over before slowly and carefully lifting the glasses off Rin’s face. Glazed over blue eyes stare at the ceiling of the car and Konekomaru literally yells in fear.

“That’s messed up man, how do you know if he’s actually asleep?” Shima is hiding behind Bon, peeking over his shoulder. Yukio shrugs before leaning over and blowing right into Rin’s eye. The older twin doesn’t even blink, hand lashing out and grabbing Yukio’s face in a tight grip.

“I told you to stop that!” Rin blinks several times, eyes watering and tears running down his cheeks, the older boy is whining, “It makes my eyes all watery!”

“Even more so than usual?”

“Fuck you!  I want a new brother!” Bon can’t help but smile, Rin pouting as he rubs away the tear tracks on his face.

They go everywhere but the Kyoto tower first, looking at temples and scenery, eating lots of food. Rin keeps glaring at Shima occasionally. It comes to a head when they finally get to the tower. The group reaches the top and Rin is in awe of the height, smiling as he gets a good picture of Izumo looking out of the windows. He wants to take as many pictures as he can, before he can’t remember any of this. Rin turns to wave Shima over but catches him talking to a boy around their age, pointing at Rin. Rin smacks the back of Shima’s head when he rejoins the group.

“Hey asshole! Stop handing out my number! It’s rude! And that dude was not my type!”

“But Rin-channnnn!” Shima is rubbing the back of his head, pouting, “I just want to help!”

“I don’t need your help!” Rin is whisper yelling as to not cause a scene, but the group notices anyway.

“B-boys!?”

“But he was cute!”

“Rin have you ever even been in a relationship?” Rin baulks at his brother.

“Yes!”

“With who? Did you even talk to anyone in middle school?” Yukio folds his arms over his chest.

“Hey!  It was in our second year, before I dropped out. He confessed before winter break! In the snow!” Rin remembers the boy fondly, soft hands, softer kisses. Mugs full of hot cocoa and legs pressed close. Rin doesn’t think he’s ever laughed that often before, cold ice pops shared in the summer heat, running in the rain after school. They broke up in Yukio’s third year, when the boy found out Rin wasn’t continuing school.

“But who was it?” Yukio seems angry that Rin had dated someone without him knowing, his brother told him everything.

“I’m not telling you!”  The boy wasn’t out, and Rin wasn’t going to out him, he didn’t kiss and tell anyway.

“Then it didn’t happen!” The group watches the argument in silence, Izumo munching on some chips she picked up as she watched the drama unfold. Shiemi nudges her for being insensitive, she keeps eating anyway.

“Just because I didn’t tell y’all about it, means it didn’t happen.” Rin is exasperated, tired of always arguing with Yukio over utter nonsense.

“Prove it!” Yukio thinks for a moment, “Kiss someone!”

Now Rin is prideful, and do literally anything to prove he’s right. Yukio is using this to his advantage, trying to get Rin to kiss Bon and get this hanahaki business over and done with. He doesn’t take into account the fact that Rin would go for Shima instead, someone he’s much more familiar with. Someone he gets along with better.

“Sorry…” Rin is cupping Shima’s face softly before he leans in for the kill, lips soft on Shima’s as he kisses him softly. He separates after a moment, face beet red as he apologizes again and rushes off to a bathroom to freak out slightly in peace. Yukio forgot to take into account how shy Rin is too, rushing after his brother.

“... He doesn’t need help. At all. Wow…” Shima’s a little red too, hand covering his mouth as he looks at the floor. Bon can’t help but feel a little jealous, or a lot jealous.

“Hot.” Izumo’s voice is dripping with sarcasm, “Maybe now you’ll keep your nose out of his love life.”

“Lessoned learned.” Although Shima thinks it’s a lesson begging to be repeated, if he could kiss Rin again.

The twins rejoin the group shortly, Rin with a small keychain of the towers mascot in his hands. The two are quiet, still tense and angry with each other but the rest of the trip goes off without a hitch.

“Hey guys, is it too much if I um, if we could get a group picture here?” Rin is fidgeting, smiling softly as he bites his lip. It’s too cute and Bon wants to squeeze the half-demon in a hug.

“Let’s do what Satan’s son wants.” Its Konekomaru who starts the teasing, slightly bowed at Rin as he teases  him.

“It’s an order from Satan’s son, it can’t be helped.”

“We can’t refuse or Satan’s son will burn us down!”

“You guys are bullies! How long are you going to do that for?”

“It’s be a waste not to use it Rin! Come on!” Shima throws an arm around his shoulders and Rin pouts as the others laugh at him but he still gets his picture, a nice woman taking the picture using his camera. He’s grinning as he looks at it, the smile wide and adorable. Until he see’s the pose all his friends are making in the background.

“Oh my god, is that meant to say Satan? You guys are huge dicks!”

In the end they go home late, Bon pulling out of the lot after dark. Everyone passes out rather quickly, except for Bon who’s driving and Rin who is aggressively playing a game on his phone. Bon keeps glancing back to look at Rin’s concentrating face, bangs back, eyebrows furrowed, and his tongue peeking out from between his teeth. It’s too cute and Bon can’t get enough of it. He wants the image burned into his brain. Or a physical photo of it to keep.

“Hey Suguro,” Bon jumps in his seat when Rin speaks, breaking the silence of the car and the red glow of the stop light over his face, “Thank you for keeping your promise to me.”

Ryuji’s heart stutter stops in his chest at the tone of Rin’s voice. It’s sleepy and warm, but almost sad at the same time. He wants to tell Rin to call him Bon, to call him Ryuji. Bon wants to hear that voice say his first name just as sleepy and warm.

“Don’t mention it, I was happy too. Cause I lo- Cause you’re my friend Okumura.” Bon smiles at Rin in the mirror as he catches his slip up, and watches the other boy’s mouth twitch up into a sleepy excuse for a smile

Chapter Text

They are home for about an hour. Rin is already vomiting blooms into a wastebasket, shaking so hard it’s borderline seizing.  He coughs, thick and wet, blood splattering along the wall. Rin’s eyes are glassy and he’s paler than he has any right to be. Yukio thinks he’s damn near translucent. Rin heaves once, twice, then chokes. He stills and Yukio panics, rushing to his brothers side and feeling for a pulse that isn’t there.  One, two, three, four, five, Rin’s pulse comes back slow. The sob of relief Yukio lets loose is disgusting, he yanks Rin into a hug, ignoring the blood staining his t-shirt.

“I’m booking the surgery.” Yukio’s voice is stern, he’s not budging on this, “I can’t take this anymore.”

“Yukio, we can’t. Six full months of school. I’ll never get that back.” Rin’s voice is hoarse, weak.

“Do you fucking hear yourself Rin? You just fucking died on me okay? Your heart stopped. Fuck school, we have two weeks, I can cram it into you if I need too. But I can’t watch you die trying to hold on to something so fucking unnecessary! It’s only going to get fucking worse from here!” Yukio is crying, shaking his brother lightly. Rin is dizzy and tired, eyes rolling listlessly in his skull. He hasn’t been able to move since they got home.

“...Do it. Then call Kamiki and Shima over.” He has a plan, to help him keep the memories he needs. The things that are too important to ever forget. The things those two won’t let him forget.

Rin shuts his eyes tight and covers his ears as Yukio calls the order hospital, the only ones qualified enough to handle him. He’s been cleared of his execution by the Vatican. Rin gets the feeling that once they get wind of all of this, that might not be the case. He doesn’t hear Yukio get off the phone with the doctor, or hear him call Shima and Izumo.

“They want to see you tomorrow. Surgery is on Thursday.” Yukio’s voice is wavering, and Rin nods. He scoots over in his bed, patting the space next to him. Yukio crawls in, arms tight around his brother.

“I can’t lose you too.” Yukio’s face is buried in Rin’s hair, voice muffled.

“You won’t.” Rin hugs his brother tight, face pressed into his brother’s shoulder. They sit like that until Shima and Izumo arrive. It's hard, Rin realizes, he wants to tell them he's going through with the surgery but the words won't leave his throat.

“I have scheduled Rin’s surgery. It's on Thursday. They're gonna examine him tomorrow at the order and come up with the best course of action.” Yukio says it for him, voice steady, robotic, “I can't watch him do this to himself anymore.”

The two are speechless, staring at Yukio in awe. Shima is floundering, mouth opening and closing like a fishes. He wants to know why Rin is giving up, is choosing to forget the love he was so resolved to keep. Shima clenches his hands into a fist in his lap, knuckles white and his nails digging into his palm, deciding to keep his mouth shut. Izumo is impassive, she knows Rin wouldn’t have agreed to this without reason, without motive.

“It’s getting worse isn’t it?” Izumo glances over at the blood still on the wall, to the yet to be emptied waste basket to the blood down the front of Yukio’s shirt.

“He was dead for five seconds today. It looked as if he was seizing.” Yukio’s voice was still robotic, keeping himself stoic out of self preservation. He can’t have a mental breakdown in front of his students.

“I um, I asked Yukio to call you guys,” Rin’s voice is scratchy, weak, “Because I won’t remember most, if not any, of this year.”

Shima’s lip wobbles, he doesn’t want Rin to forget him. More importantly he doesn’t want Rin to forget the friends he has now. The acceptance he’s just begun to feel. Shima doesn’t want to go back to the Rin who never initiates conversations and hides himself behind a faux smile. But he doesn’t want Rin to suffer either, perpetually dying and coming back.

“I don’t want to forget you guys,” Rin’s voice is cracking, he swallows audibly, “So I want you guys to help me. There’s a lot I can’t forget.”

So Rin tells them his plan, and they start. Pictures and sticky notes coloring the twins walls liberally. Reminders and events that Rin needs to remember. Reminder to record classes. Review herbology Cram School notes daily. Shima and Izumo are your friends, trust them. The red key takes you to the cram school. Father Fujimoto’s death is not your fault. IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT. The pictures from Kyoto clutter the wall Rin’s desk is pushed against, other pictures they didn’t even know he took littering the walls in a mosaic of memories too important to be thrown away. There's pictures on the monastery, of the sunset from the roof of the dorm building, of the stain glass window from their cram classroom. One picture is of Shiemi, petting a sleeping Kuro in her lap, another of the Kyoto trio arguing animatedly of something, a few of Yukio asleep at his desk or teaching, and two of Izumo and Paku knitting from that winter. There are mostly pictures of Kuro, the cat out in the woods or trapped in the blankets of Rin’s bed. He needs to remember his familiar.

“Can I? Can I ask who it is?” Shima is tasked with writing some reminders, orange and pink sticky notes around Rin’s desk, Renzou Shima is the coolest.  Shima says you’re a pretty good guy. Rin's cat keeps batting at them where they're placed low on the wall.

“It’s Suguro.” Izumo answers for Rin, who has headphones in and is too busy organizing his books in order of subjects he struggles with. She has lavender sticky notes, focusing on the area around Rin’s desk. Remember to be kind. You are IMPORTANT. Izumo Kamiki loves you, seriously. Shima’s fist clenches.

“I’ll kill him. I’m gonna break his fucking arm,” Izumo snorts, laughing at Shima, who laughs back, “Funny. Rin did the same thing.”

Yukio has teal sticky notes, placing them in the in between places. Filling the gaps between Izumo and Shima, like he fills the gap in Rin’s life. You are an exorcist. Remember to do the dishes after you cook. I don’t hate you - Yukio. I have faith in you - Yukio. 

It’s during this that Yukio realizes how much Rin stands to forget. He’ll forget the Yukio he knows now, only remembering his younger brother as cold and indifferent, as hating him. Rin won’t remember making friends with Shima and Izumo. Rin will only remember being alone. Yukio’s heart squeezes in his chest as he puts up another sticky note. You aren’t alone anymore.

The job takes most of the day, and by the time they’re done Rin’s side of the room is a collage of colors. Encouragements, reminders, and even math equations on the wall. The sticky notes closest to their window flutter in the breeze, pictures held down with double sided tape.

“Looks like this is it.” Rin is staring out the window, Suguro’s hair clip in his hand and his friends arms wrapped around him. He returns the clip today, along with the clothes he borrowed from Suguro. Rin ran out while they were filling his wall with reminders and bought a whole pack, to stop a repeat of the event that caused him to fall in love with Ryuji in the first place. He also dropped Kuro off at the monastery, needing someone to watch the cat familiar while both Rin and Yukio were at the hospital.

Shima walks with him to the dorm, the dorm Shima shares with Suguro. The walk is tense, Rin’s quiet and Shima is restraining himself from murdering his best friend. Rin is the one to knock, Shima forgot his key in the dorm anyway. He slinks passed Bon when he opens the door, leaving Rin in the doorway with a blue t-shirt in his hands that belongs to the boy killing him slowly.

“I wanted to return this,” Rin handing Suguro the t-shirt, the shirt is promptly thrown onto Suguro’s bed, before reaching into his pocket, “And this.”

Rin presses the hair clip into Ryuji’s hand, tangling their fingers together, the metal biting into both their palms. Rin wants to cry, mourn for everything his giving up. But he’s not going too, so he resolves to stand on his toes, leaning into his friend’s space. That’s all they were, friends. After this week they won’t even be that.

“I’m sorry. Thanks for everything, Ryuji.” It's whispered, even so Rin knows his voice cracked. He presses a soft kiss into Suguro’s cheek, lingering longer than he should. He leaves that way, eyes watering and Suguro standing numbly in the doorway of his own dorm.

“Judging by the spread of the flowers here and here,” A doctor points his fingers at the stems easily seen in Rin’s x-rays, “It’ll be a fourteen hour removal surgery. The flowers have moved passed their point of origin in the lungs and have reached your heart. We may need to do a full transplant. We’ll take a blood sample and have the necessary organs on ice as a precaution.”

Rin has done nothing but nod along the whole checkup, Yukio being the only one to actually ask questions. He can’t get this feeling of foreboding out of his head, like no matter how much he prepares the surgery is still going to be hard.

“One more thing,” The surgeon is young, nervous, “I’m writing a medical journal, on demons. I already have information from sir Mephisto and Amaimon. I was wondering if I could please include your surgery in my research.”

Rin is handed a paper, nothing but legal jargon. What shocks him the most is the fact that he can read the font clearly. Yukio takes it from him anyway, but Rin reads over his shoulder with ease.

“Mr.Okumura told me you’re dyslexic over the phone, so I printed a form that would be easier to read.” The surgeon smiles, and Rin decides why the fuck not, let the dude use his illness in his research. Even if it means his surgery being filmed, which it does. Rin signs easily, signature messy on the paper.

“I’m sorry this really is the last thing and then you boys can be on your way. Rin, would you like to keep the flowers? You won’t remember them, but a lot of hanahaki patients tend to keep them after words.”

“Yes.” He’s spent to long with them to throw them in the trash. What’s a few more weeks, anyway.

Rin spends his remaining days before the surgery with Izumo and Shima. Train rides to the beach and ice pops melting into their hands, making them sticky. The two sleep in his dorm both nights, blankets collected from other rooms, washed, and piled on the floor in a mockery of a bed. Rin wakes up on the day of his surgery tangled in his two best friends, and he smiles. The peace lasts for a moment before he’s scrambling out of the bed and heaving into the garbage in the room. He only gags once before a flood of blood and flowers pours into the trash can, shaking hard again. It doesn’t seem to stop, running down his chin and spilling onto the floor, his vision foggy from blood loss.

“..in? RI-” His hearing is going in and out, the tremors running through his body increasing. He can’t breathe and his chest is tight. Rin swears even after the surgery he’ll still have nightmares of dying.

Rin regains consciousness during the car ride to the hospital, Shura at the wheel. His mouth is dry as hell, but instead of the taste of death he was expecting it’s surprisingly minty. Someone brushed his teeth. He’s in different clothes too, hair brushed and sneakers on his feet, sitting between Izumo and Shima, who are both holding one of his hands each.

“How long was I out?” Rin whispers it into Izumo’s hair, leaning on her fully.

“Fifteen minutes. It was amusing trying to watch Yukio brush your teeth, but please never do that to me ever again.” Izumo is playing with his fingers, face pressed into his collarbone as she whispers back to him. Shima is asleep, head in Rin’s lap and a tight grip on his left hand. Even in his sleep Renzou looks worried for him.

“I want to tell you before I get in there,” Rin’s eyes tear up as he squeezes Izumo’s hands, “I may not remember, but I love you both so much.”

Izumo just nods, knowing the feelings running through Rin at that moment. Outcasted just to make friends, the fear of those friends leaving. She knows it all too well, she presses a kiss at the top of Rin’s hand as she wipes the tears of his cheeks with her free hand.

“If you don’t remember us, we’ll just have to remind you. Silly Okumura.” They smile at each other, lips wobbling as they cry and laugh at the same time, both watching Shima as he sleeps in Rin’s lap.

Rin struggles to separate from his friends and family as he’s pulled to get prepped for surgery. The plastic hospital band itches as his blood is drawn and his blood pressure taken. A nurse comes in with a needle and a small vial of fluid, wiping down his arm with an alcohol wipe.

“This is wolfsbane,” The nurse allows him to read the bottle before she fills the needle, “We are going to use a small dosage to weaken your healing, so that you do not begin to heal during surgery, as well as to lower your immune system. The doctor is worried that your body will burn through the anesthesia before it even takes effect, so this is just a precaution.”

Rin nods, and the needle is pressed into his arm. Immediately his arm burns, the sensation traveling to his body and making him want to claw off his own skin. The anesthesiologist comes in at that moment, placing a face mask onto Rin and releasing his dosage as the nurse helps Rin lay down on the table. Rin closes his eyes, willing the anesthesia to take effect.

“You are aware your brother will be in the operating room correct? As a fellow doctor?” Rin nods, brain sluggish. He’s wheeled into the surgery room, he never passes out. He listens to the doctors talk back and forth, eyes shut.

“Where did you even find a match for his heart and lungs in such a short time?” Yukio sounds skeptical.

“Mephisto donated them himself. One hundred percent match. We’re gonna do a full transplant, easier to remove all the flowers that way.”

“I’m against him keeping them.” Rin feels something cold wiping down his torso, another alcohol wipe.

“Patient's wishes.” The scalpel cuts into the divot between Rin’s collar bone and slices down, and Rin’s eyes snap open as he screams in agony. Why didn’t he pass out?

“The anesthesia isn’t working!” The surgeon is freaking out, staring at Rin’s ribs as his chest heaves. Rin is struggling to breathe in his panic, and the pain.

“Get shura! She can knock him out!” Yukio says this but Rin’s eyes follow him as he runs out of the operating room, arm outstretched to try and stop him from leaving, He doesn’t want to be alone. The blinking red light of a camera recording catches Rin’s eyes, and he tries to focus on that instead of the pain, hands gripping the edges of his operating table so hard he can hear his knuckles pop and crack.

Yukio runs back into the room with Shura in tow, who’s been rushed into sanitized scrubs and surgery gear, only to nearly throw up. Rin is cut open on the table, like a dissection frog in a biology class. His chest is heaving and Shura can see his heart beating, flowers poking out from between his ribs and shuddering with every shallow breath the older twin takes. Rin is staring glassy eyed at the camera, and Shura wants to cry at the pain he’s probably feeling. There’s a constant transfusion hooked up in attempt to keep Rin from bleeding out, but if he stays awake they can’t operate, the longer he stays cut open bleeding out.

“We need you to use the spells. You’re the only person here who can. Please Shura, please put him to sleep.” Yukio is frantic. Shura just pushes past him to Rin, standing up at the head of the table, chanting, middle and pointer finger to her lips and eyes closed.

“Sleep.” Shura presses her fingers to Rin’s forehead and watches in relief as Rin’s eyes slowly shut. She rushes out of there when the nurses pull out the bone saw, she can’t stay to watch any of it, to watch them cut up the boy she considers a son. Even if it's all to save his life.

The surgery goes longer than predicted, almost eighteen hours. Lungs and heart replaced, blooms picked from the inside of Rin’s throat, some going as far as his liver. The inside of his body looked almost like a garden. Yukio punches a male nurse when he equivocates the way Rin looked when he was first cut up to a corpse left in the forest to rot. There are vases full of the flowers picked from the inside of Rin’s body on the windowsill of his recovery room, stems red and full of blood instead of the green of normal, garden grown plants. Yukio takes a deep breath of relief, air filled with the scent of flowers. He holds his still sleeping brother’s hand, pressing it against his chest as he waits for Rin to wake up.

Shima and Izumo can almost feel Yukio’s relief as they sit on the opposite side of Rin’s bed, finessing their way into the room even though visiting hours are only meant for family this soon after a surgery. They don’t know that the anesthesia didn’t work on Rin, or why Shura ran out of the hospital like a bat out of hell with a horrified look in her eyes. The two just know that their friend is asleep, and safe. That everything in that moment, is perfectly okay for once. No one's family is in danger, or is being outed as some demonic being. The storm has passed, all is calm, and they can all breathe easy. 

They fall asleep keeping vigil at Rin’s bedside. Yukio has gone to get coffee, the duo whispering to each other when Yukio left. When he returns Izumo and Shima have their heads pressed close together, one of Izumo’s braids wrapped around Shima’s shoulders somehow. The two are holding hands, Izumo’s lavender polish sticking out against Shima’s tanner skin. His students are in sweatpants, Izumo practically drowning in the hoodie Shima gave her earlier in the day, Shima himself swaddled in one of the spare blankets. Their shoes are under Rin’s bed, legs curled under them on the chair and an open bag of shrimp chips left open between them. Yukio just smiles as he opens his coffee and retakes his seat next to his brother’s bedside.

“Don’t worry, Rin,” Yukio whispers to his sleeping brother, “We’ll keep you safe.”

Chapter Text

Tricksterly-conduct is back at it again with this scene from chapter five and I love it! And them tbh

 

Flowers. His chest is full of flowers. Blood running down in waves as Rin stares at his insides. Lungs heaving and heart beating so hard it’s pushing his lungs through the gap between his ribs, disturbing the flowers. There’s screaming in the room but his vision is so foggy he can’t see who it is. He can’t tell what they’re even yelling about. Rin can’t even move. He can’t move. He can’t-

Rin jerks up out of his bed. No, it’s not his bed. It’s a hospital bed, heart monitor beeping next to him and his wristband making the skin on his wrist itchy. The room is so white it hurts his eyes. Rin doesn’t know the two people sleeping in chairs next to him, he feels like he should. The shrimp chips spilled at their feet ruining the pristine atmosphere of the room. Yukio isn’t in the room. Rin releases the blanket he was gripping in fear, ready to get out of bed to look for his twin when he notices something. His nails are painted, a soft periwinkle color.

“Rin-chan! Shima won’t let me paint his nails? Can I paint yours? Maybe it will help you remember!” The voice is soft, loving. Rin’s memory is hazy and he can only make out her smile, her lavender painted nails gripping his hand and her hair in soft braids. He hears himself agree.

Rin’s head whips around to see the girl in the chair, to see the soft braids in his fuzzy half-baked excuse for a memory. He sees the lavender polish, gripping the tan hand of the boy next to her. Looking at them gives him a migraine.

“Hey, Rin! Do you know how to fold origami?” There’s that tan skin again, a wider whiter smile surrounded by freckles pressed into the boy’s skin by the sun. The boy has some ornate paper in his hands. Rin tells him he never learned even though his father taught him and Yukio when they were very little. Rin lets the boy guide his folds, tan hands on his pale ones, the two folding tiny cats for hours. The girl runs in, milkshakes for all of them.

“Rin?” Rin is yanked out of his memories by his brother, his brother who actually looks worried about him. The last thing he can remember in regards to Yukio, is a gun in his face, intent to shoot in his eyes. Rin looks at him like a deer in headlights. Yukio has a to-go mug full of tea, a cold bottle of water, and some orange juice. He had no clue what Rin would want when he first woke up and just brought all three. He didn’t actually expect Rin to be awake when he got there, and now he's floundering. Yukio rushes to Rin’s bed, putting on the drinks on the bedside table.

“Hey! How are you feeling?” Yukio’s voice is soft, a patience Rin has never heard in it, and he has a small smile on his face. All Rin can see if the muzzle of a gun. His vision is so hazy, but it’s not his vision. It's a memory. Rin's stuck, staring down the muzzle of a gun as coal tar buzz around him. He can't hear his brother over it. Yukio ignores the silence.

“I brought you um, orange juice, some water, and some green tea with lemon and honey. Just the way you like it. You’ve been asleep for over twelve hours and I figured you’d be thirsty...Rin?” Yukio looks up to see his brother blink slowly, once, twice, and then his eyes roll back into his head and Rin starts seizing, his heart monitor losing its mind and beeping erratically.

The commotion wakes Izumo and Shima up just in time for them to be shoved out of the room by doctors. Yukio is pacing, Izumo is anxiously picking at her nail polish, and Shima is going to go insane standing in this hospital any longer. He hasn’t been in his dorm in four days, and he knows Bon is going nuts. Shima won’t be back until Rin is discharged. He’s waiting for the phone calls if he doesn’t have any already. Shima thinks Konekomaru has some inkling of what was happening with Rin.

“I told you this was a mistake.” Shima blinks rapidly several times before rubbing his eyes, staring at Mephisto who just appeared out of thin air. His principal, who is in a sailor moon t-shirt and sweatpants, barefoot in a hospital for christ’s sake.

“He was dying! In front of me!” Yukio is shaking, standing like he’s about to take a swing at Mephisto.

“Demons aren’t so delicate Yukio. His memory is already healing. It’s going to restore itself, and the flowers will come back.”

“Then we’ll do another surgery!” Yukio is yelling, nurses stopping and staring.

“Every time? Yukio, in Gehenna, this? The flowers? It’s common place. Rin’s of age. It’s not a proper courting unless you’ve died at least five times.” Mephisto looks smug, “It’s only ever going to be for one person. So I hope Rin-chan chose wisely.”

Mephisto leaves before Yukio can respond, walking away while the exorcist glares at him angrily, looking for some sort of answer. It makes Yukio anxious, the fact that Rin will be dying over and over for only one person because of some demonic mating ritual.

“Okumura?” Yukio’s head turns quickly to see a nurse fidgeting in front of him. It takes Izumo smacking the back of his neck for him to realize he’s glaring at her.

“Oh um yes?” Yukio turns to face her fully, bowing in apology.

“The doctor has given Rin a dose of Lorazepam to treat Rin’s seizure. We’ll be keeping him monitored the next three days in case of another seizure. We are keeping him for the three days to ensure he does not begin to reject any of his organs. If you need anything don't hesitate to come and get me. I'm Kyoka! Rin's on call nurse!” The nurse shakes Yukio’s hand before heading off down the hall to take care of other patients.

“So they're gonna come back every time, the flowers I mean. There's nothing we can do about it.” Shima is fidgeting in place, cracking his knuckles and scuffing his one foot along the floor, staring down as the navy star pattern of his shoes interrupts the pristine white of the hospital’s linoleum flooring.

“No. I'm gonna do something about it.” Yukio is agitated.

“What?” Izumo is even more agitated, snapping at her best friends twin, “Keep him away from Bon? The other exwires will be suspicious. Make him get the surgery every time? That's no way for him to live Yukio.”

“If it happens again he has to confess,” Shima speaks up. They all look at each other, tired and resigned. Yukio sighs and nods, turning to go back into his brother’s hospital room.

“Rin?” Yukio’s voice is soft again, on the edge of a whisper.

“Hmm?” Rin looks a little out of it like he’s just woken up from a great nap, “My arm burns. Itchy.

“Which arm?” Yukio frowns, walking into the room slowly with Izumo and Shima trailing him like ducklings. He doesn’t want to call the nurse in so soon.

“Right.” That’s the arm with the I.V., the liquid flowing through the tubing is an extremely soft purple, just noticeable against the white of the hospital sheets. Yukio flips the bag over and reads the label, Diluted Wolfsbane, Room 106. Yukio twitches slightly before he remembers the doctor telling him they would be keeping Rin on wolfsbane for the first day or two, to ensure the wound healed with little risk of infection.

“Here, don’t scratch okay,” Yukio places his thumb over the ditch of Rin's elbow and rubs, watching his brother’s eyes slide closed in relief, “Brought you some tea. Green with honey and lemon just the way you like. Want?”

“Three lemon wedges?”

“Yes, three you menace.” Yukio grins as Rin sticks out grabby hands for the to-go mug of tea, handing it to him.

“Mmmm,” Rin smiles, smelling the tea as if he hasn’t had it in months, he probably doesn’t remember, “Who brought the flowers? They’re pretty.”

“I did!” Izumi rushes in, flustered, “I worked at a florist most of the summer break. They let me bring you those. They were gonna wither anyway. No one was buying them.”

“She’s Izumo by the way. Izumo Kamiki. I’m Renzou Shima.  We’re kinda like best friends, but I don’t think you remember us.” Shima fidgets in his spot, watching as Izumo rushes to take her seat, shrimp chips magically cleaned up off the floor. She’s gripping the bottle of orange juice like it’s a stress toy.

“I have friends? And I forgot about them?” Rin looks sad, cradling his tea close to his chest like they’ll steal it.

“You have lots of friends but we’re your favorite!” Shima boasts, grinning, “But you got hurt pretty bad, so we all forgive you for forgetting.”

“Are we? Do I call you guys by your first names?” He looks so confused and Shima wants to ruffle his hair.

“If you want!” Izumo bursts in, “You don’t have too!”

“Yeah take your time!”

“Hey hey Rin! Wanna look at pictures from the last week?!” Izumo is leaning over, phone in hand, ready to show Rin all the pictures from their week long slumber party. Rin nods enthusiastically, scooting closer to his purple-haired friend.

It’s odd, Shima decides three days later when the hospital is taking the stitches out of Rin’s chest. The wound is healed, a scar due to the two days of diluted wolfsbane running through his veins. Rin leaves for his dorm today, leaving white everything for his brightly colored and sticky note filled room. The flowers are stubbornly still alive, not in the least bit wilted or droopy, stems an ominous red still. Rin wants to bring them back to the dorm with him, and the others can’t argue with him.

Their first course of action once they enter the twin’s dorms is to deposit all the flowers into the dining hall. Rin voices his interest in separating them to make the hall look nicer before running up to his room. Izumo trails him, smiling at his face as he takes in all the sticky notes.

“It took a few hours,” She leans against the banister of the stairs behind her, “But the boys and I decided you probably wanted to remember some stuff.

“You guys did this all for me?” Rin’s are teary and his voice sounds strained like he’s going to cry. They can hear Yukio and Shima squabbling downstairs over lunch.

“Of course hun. You’re important to us.” Izumo watches Rin travel around the room, reading sticky notes and staring at pictures.

“I remember her! That’s Shiemi, and that's my cat! Kuro! Where is he?” Rin whirls around, photo in hand.

“At the monastery for now.  Yukio is going to get him tomorrow.” Izumo smiles, “Come on, let's go deal with the morons yelling downstairs.

When they start reteaching Rin he is notably frustrated. He remembers certain things, like Shiemi and Kuro and breaking Yukio’s glasses. But those things certainly aren’t as important as his education, as his cram schooling. Every time he tries to remember his mind fills with static, memories like underdeveloped film. People blacked out like characters he has yet to unlock a character loading screen. It feels like someone is missing entirely, static eating the space they used to be. So he settles for relearning because trying to remember gives him migraines.

Rin’s fine with slowly relearning everything. He doesn’t go back to class until Monday and he can mostly remember Izumo and Renzou now. Rin’s only issue is the nightmares. He keeps dreaming of dying, the images so vivid they couldn’t be anything but memories. They are all so different, he doesn’t know which one is the accident leading to him being in the hospital. Rin doesn’t know that they all are the accident. And sometimes, sometimes the nightmares with Father Fujimoto come back. Sometimes it’s just his father’s corpse staring up at him, blaming him, hating him. Other times it’s his father as Satan, actively blaming him for his death. Mocking him. It’s safe to say Rin hasn’t gotten more than five hours of sleep since returning from the hospital.

Yukio comes home one night, late from a mission. It’s three A.M. and Rin is on the floor of their dorm room, pouring over his cram school notes. Yukio watches as his brother sways in exhaustion, eyes wide and eerily focused. Rin’s biting the skin off his finger anxiously. Kuro is asleep in his lap, oblivious to his owner’s distress.

“Rin? Didn’t you text me and tell me you were going to sleep at eleven?”

“Can’t sleep. Heads all fuzzy. Not right. Keep dying.” Yukio takes in a deep breath at the last comment. Rin remembers. Rin remembers dying for Bon.

“Let’s get you some sleepy time tea and put you to bed huh? Close that come on.” Yukio worriedly wraps a blanket around Rin, plucking the book out of his brother's hands and ushering him downstairs while he panics internally. Kuro shakes himself off after being removed from his spot and winds around their ankles as they sit in the kitchen. Rin is falling asleep over his tea, eyes easing shut before they snap right open again and he glares at the flowers on the island like he knows . Yukio needs to do something.