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Gasp and Hold My Breath

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  1. Collapse

Nezumi collapses in the water, in the blood, and thinks he’s going to die.

But then he hears a yell, sees the opening – the boy standing there – and there is salvation.



  1. Browse

He browses the store with Rikiga and spots an all too familiar coat in a messy pile.

Everything seizes up and all he sees is red.



  1. Institution

They spare no expense for him; granting him proper education and a gifted title.

Just like all the prodigy students his tender age.

The institute tears him from his carefree existence when they receive note he harbored a fugitive, but he never regrets it.  



  1. Database

It flashes on the screen that he was arrested on the conviction for murder.

Brown haired boy with brown eyes on a picture altered to look more unhinged; disturbed with hatred.

No one believes different.



  1. Society

No. 6 is an ugly blister upon the world, but society does not see the truth.

They think everything is perfect in the parasitic community.



  1. The cost

The cost of living is his dark hair and average eyes.

They are stripped away and replaced by snow white and blood red.



  1. Isolated

Shion is in his own little world.

Always flitting about an idea in-between black and white; best and worst.

Nezumi does not understand his thought process, and leaves him to murmur into the wind.



  1. Severest

The winter nights are cold.

They stay on their respective sides of the bed, but it is only on the severest days does Nezumi wake to find Shion curled tight into his ribs.

Fingers bound between his and peace settling heavily there.



  1. Dice

To Nezumi, Shion is always a risk; a roll of the die.

Playing with fire and a gun with only one bullet in that naïve, innocent way of his.

And in that regard, Shion scares him.



  1. Syndrome

It started as a nervous tic, a way to relieve anxiety, but when Shion pulls his hands away to find white hair clutched in his fingers, Nezumi diligently steps in.



  1. Sensory

His fingers map out the contours of his face in the middle of the night and he thinks how could such a beautiful person stay with me?



  1. Hallucination

Shion watches Nezumi crumple before his eyes, blood splattering against the white wall, and wonders if it is all just a sick hallucination.



  1. Schedule

They create a system together; dog-washing in the day and Nezumi’s stage performance at night.

When they find time, no work present and hours free, they read classics and enjoy hot soup.

Relishing each other’s seemingly short-lived company.



  1. Genesis

It all started on that rainy day.

The glass open, pouring in the storm and the wind whipping through the curtains.

Nezumi never forgets.



  1. 46

In the human body, there is 46 total chromosomes; 23 pairs.

One chromosome from each is inherited from one parent.

Shion glances up from his book to stare hard at Nezumi’s back and wonders almost longingly what 46 chromosomes would look like between them.



  1. Beneficial

“Why am I reading Shakespeare anyway?”

“It is more beneficial for you.”

“In what way?”

“Every way.”



  1. Markedly

His feelings for him only increase significantly, and it is too late when Nezumi notices his error.

He knows it is a flaw that will surely get him killed.



  1. Auditory

“Shion.” Nezumi breaths against his ear in the middle of the night and unconsciously slips an arm around his waist.

Shion has to hide the yelp of surprise that nearly makes it out of his throat when it slips a little lower.



  1. Extensively

He watches Nezumi extensively over the first few weeks.

Learning his quirks; memorizing his habits.

Shion comes up with a list in his head about all the things he finds remotely endearing.



  1. Compelled

Nezumi was compelled to press his lips against Shion’s warm ones.

Not because he wanted to, but because he had to.

Anything to stop the tears rolling down pale cheeks.



  1. Infiltrated

The Correctional Facility was not easy to infiltrate, but when they sprint through the empty halls garbed in doctor robes, Nezumi almost thinks they can make it.



  1. Not Enough

“It wasn’t enough, was it?”

“What was?”

“Destroying the Correctional Facility; you used Safu to get me to help, didn’t you?”

“…Yeah, that’s right, I used her as an excuse… and you fucking fell for it…”



  1. Stage

Nezumi is brilliant on stage; a graceful figure enticing the crowd with dramatic motions and words.

Uttered between lips painted pink.

Shion just never expected him to be dressed like a woman.



  1. Cells

He stitches the wound up on his shoulder and clips the thread with his teeth.

Nezumi looks at him carefully, and Shion turns his brown eyes onto him with a genuine smile.

It’ll take a few weeks to heal, but at least he did a relatively fair job sewing the gap closed.



  1. Polar

They were like opposites.

One bright and innocent – believing in others and thinking in terms of grey.

The other sarcastic and negative – seeing the worst and looking at things only in black and white.

But they cared for each other either way.



  1. Spread

The bees are spreading, and when Nezumi casts a glance at the shining city, all he does is laugh.



  1. Absorption

The West Block no longer existed.

It was absorbed into the former city of No.6, but was never unified.



  1. Intervention

The fist comes crashing painfully into his jaw, and Shion collapses onto the ground in shock.

He sees Nezumi glaring at him, eyes narrowed and lips frowning, and knows what he did was wrong.

He should not have lied to him with a kiss.



  1. Fatal

Shion is Nezumi’s fatal weakness, and though he almost hates the idea, it does not stop him from taking a bullet.



  1. Clot

The blood clots thick and hot in Nezumi’s throat, and for a moment, he cannot breathe.



  1. Production

“What is the theater putting on this time?”

“Same thing as the last few shows.”

“You mean you’re still doing Hamlet?”

“Yeah, now go to sleep and stop being so damn intrusive.”



  1. Brain

The brain was supposed to process information fast, but whenever he sees Shion walk into the room, everything grows sluggish.

He thinks there is something wrong with him.



  1. Blind

Shion blinks his eyes against the setting sun, and is blinded for only a moment.

Not enough to divert his gaze from the slummy sprawl of West Block laid out before him.



  1. Pressure

He feels Nezumi’s hand encircling his slender throat and thinks how easy it would be to apply just the right amount of pressure.



  1. Maturation

They have a quick maturation cycle, and Shion only realizes this when he hears something chewing in his brain; leaving him clawing at the rotting wound on his neck and screaming in terror.



  1. Trade-off

“How about I cook tonight and you organize the books?”

“Not going to happen.”


“Because you never put the right amount of salt in.”



  1. Impact

The impact of the bullet tears the breath out of him; a heat searing against his heart.

A bloody flower blooming on the front of his white shirt.

He dies as he falls.



  1. Fever

It is like a fever takes hold of him.

Legs straddling his waist as he dominates Shion; tangled in the sheets of the bed.

Shion gasps underneath him and tightens his grip in Nezumi’s hair, and the hazy fire pounding against his skull only fades when Nezumi reaches his climax.



  1. Tolerance

Nezumi has more of a tolerance to alcohol than Shion.

He knows this since he was able to drink two more shots of sake before the boy who passed out onto the floor of their shared home even finished one.



  1. Predicted

He watches from the sidelines.

Studying as Shion gets kicked down by a merchant, is nearly shot, and darts away when an opening presents itself.

Nezumi predicted something like this to happen, but what he did not expect was the red-lipped whore throwing herself onto the white-haired boy; he intervenes before she can get more than a kiss in.



  1. Dependence

“He’s mine, so could you hand him over?”

“No wonder his response was so slow; he’s not even into women!”

“…it’s not like tha-“

“It’s exactly like that, and right now he’s madly in love with me so not even the most beautiful girl could seduce him.”

“Little boy, don’t let that man take your morals away… it’d be such a waste.”



  1. Anxiety

He gets weird looks at his hair, his eyes; the scarring a snake, like a chain coiling up and constricting.

The hood of his coat hitches further over his head as he hides in his anxiety.

Only Nezumi is there to draw it back and utter words of encouragement.



  1. Case

Nezumi surprises him with a case of cherry pie.

Nothing too special coming from West Block, but Shion smiles.

It is when he takes the first bite that he notices the tears falling.



  1. Radiate

Shion has a type of glow to him that’s unique.

Warm and bright; way too innocent, naïve, and simple.

But it’s Shion, Nezumi realizes, and he can only appreciate everything about him.

Not just the good, but the bad, too.



  1. Reduction

The theater is cutting a night out of his schedule permanently; something about too many shifts.

Shion does not know the details, and Nezumi comes back grumpy and ruder than normal.

He may not like the change in routine, but Shion discreetly adores it.

Now, they have Friday nights together.



  1. Euphoria

It’s a rush that hits him all at once; leaving him weak in the knees.

He presses a hand against Shion’s chest, slick with sweat, to steady himself and exhales to keep composure.

Nezumi still feels the nauseating ecstasy even as he pulls out and pants words of endearment.

Thanks for the Act, Shion, but what do you think about moving onto Scene Two?



  1. Designer

Nezumi still has the sweater Shion gave him those years ago.

Not anything fancy, but handmade and warm in the winter.

It is too small for him now, and though he cannot fit, he still treasures it fondly; in secret.



  1. Lecture

Inukashi lectures Shion about the nature of Nezumi.

Concerns him over what the man truly is deep down.

They say he is a demon, but Shion does not believe it.

He would never hurt him.




  1. Infant

The brown haired infant coos sweetly at him and reaches for his long locks with grabby hands.

Smiling wide, too wide, and he does not know how to handle the child in his arms.

It makes Nezumi wonder if he would have made a decent father, but the answer is already clear.

He wouldn’t.



  1. Construct

It was a mental construct he could see in his mind’s eye.

The two of them smiling – laughing – in a world without pain; without No. 6’s impossibly high walls.

But it is all torn from his grasp when he wakes in bed – alone and cold.



  1. Stressor

He sees him collapse in the doorway, and Nezumi is off the couch and running to his side.

Pressing a hand to his chest and forehead to feel a fever racing under Shion’s pale skin.

Hugging his unresponsive form to his chest, he lays him in bed and pulls covers up to his throat.

Nezumi weaves his hands into his own hair, pulling harder than Shion did during sex, and sighs wearily.

Stress courses hot up his ribs, and he does not know what is wrong.



  1. Layer

He normally dresses in layers

Long sleeve shirt first; blue sweater; and then his thick red-pink coat.

Nezumi adds scarf onto the list one bitter morning in winter.



  1. Bare

Nezumi’s defenses are never stripped bare.

Always on guard and armed for whatever is to come his way.

But he can never understand how easily Shion slipped through to place a hand on his neck.



  1. Toxic

West Block is a toxic pit of unsightly makeshift buildings filled with the scent of decay and rot.

The drainage from the shining jewel – No. 6 – is drained there regularly.

People, however, still thrive in the wastes like insects, and Shion admires them for their hardiness.




Shion cooks.

Nezumi works.

And he almost thinks they could be like a real married couple.



  1. Sheepish

Shion never asks Nezumi to dance with him directly.

He’s too embarrassed for that, so he uses subtle cues and vague hints.

It is, however, not subtle if Nezumi finds the small note purposely placed on the bed covers.

Dance with me?



  1. Arrow

It is like an arrow ripping through his chest.

Taking his heart with it.

The look Shion gives him is that arrow.



  1. Coma

He wished he was in a coma.

Dead to the world and drifting in a sea of blackness; perhaps dreaming about a different future.

That way he would not have to open his eyes and see Shion’s dull lifeless ones staring back.



  1. Stroke

His fingers settle heavily into the mane of white.

Free hand lingering on the side of Shion’s face and stroking at the red scar across his cheek.

Nezumi leans forward to press his lips on his forehead and smiles against the skin.



  1. Impairment

Impairment, that is what Shion thinks when he looks at himself in the mirror.

Lack of smile; gauntness in his face; and the clothes that sag against his now too skinny frame.

When Nezumi left, he was the trigger – plunging Shion into years of wavering hope and depression.

But he puts on a brave face, wipes away the stray tears, and turns away from the glass.

He is still waiting.