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The Solitude Of The Living

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 ‘Anyway, Kaneki. Enough about ghouls.’

Hide can only smile as his friend pulls a confused face.

‘Which one’s the cute girl you’ve been talking about?’

Hide doesn’t know why he switches the subject from ghouls to Kaneki’s current crush.

Maybe its because he likes watching his best friend’s cheeks become flushed with embarrassment, or the somewhat flustered state he enters at the fact that the subject of his love life has come back into the conversation between them for the third time in the last two days. Maybe it was watching the way that he would raise his voice at him, something that can seem out of character for him, proving that, finally, he was comfortable with subjects that mattered to them and their future.

(Maybe because it made their relationship feel more like a friendship, nothing less, and defiantly nothing more, serving as a reminder of what he had and what he couldn’t reach.)

‘Huh?! Keep it down! And stop looking around…’

Hide pulled a blank face as he innocently looked around the café, point blank ignoring what his friend had just said, and pointed at the first female he came across, which so happened to be their approaching waiter, who now seemed just as flustered as Kaneki, though, it was more him flirting at her than the actual context of the flirting that caused the poor waiter to become so rattled.

Hide only laughed as she walked away, and when Kaneki started to shout at him for being obnoxious, and being banned from the café, something that wasn’t on either of their agenda.

His laugh faded away when he noticed the way that his friend’s attention was no longer on him, but on the woman who just walked into the coffee shop.

She had long purple hair that draped over her head and shoulders almost too perfectly with wired framed that gave her face an almost flawless finish, hiding her blank, colourless eyes behind a panel of glass. Her clothing was not meant to be suggestive, but it was still able to give a good impression about what lied beneath the multiple layers of clothing as it seemed to be just a bit too snug in some particular areas in an accidental way. To top it all off, a soft smile, with glossed lips and a promise of something else.

Hide can't help but hate her at first site.

(If it was because it felt like she was hiding something, or had something that he wanted, he couldn’t be sure off.)

‘She’s way too hot for you. If she took of those glasses off, she’d be something else.’

The words come out of his mouth before he realised it, an impish look filled his face before he could stop it. A look of utter disappointment corrupts Kaneki’s face, as well as an acknowledgement about the situation.

(He shouldn’t have done that.)

He gets up, says he has work, and leaves, saying his goodbyes not only to his best friend but to the waiter he flirted with earlier.

(He shouldn’t have done that.)

(So why did he do it?)

 


 

 

‘No way… And so you guys are going on a date?’

Hide couldn’t help but frown at his own statement, quietly listening to his friend as he went on about the almost perfect girl from the coffee shop, his face brighter than he’s ever seen it, with a smile that could win against a hundred suns and eyes that twinkled more than a thousand stars.

‘Hide… I’m so happy I could die right now.’

Hide could feel the precise moment when his heart breaks.

‘I don’t see what’s so great about a bookstore date but…’

Impish smile, awkward thumbs up.

(He shouldn’t have done that.)

He supports his friend with all of his endeavours, no matter what they were.

(He shouldn’t have done that.)

‘I hope you have fun!’

(He shouldn’t have done that.)

Kaneki’s smile is the tape that put his heart back together scarred broken.

(Why did he do it?)

 


 

 

Hide walked home from work on the night of Kaneki’s date.

Normally he would use his bike, making the trip a lot faster and safer from any of the monsters that made the night go bump, but he had a puncture in the front wheel, leaving him stranded. Usually, it would make him slightly annoy him to be in that situation, making him want to stamp in every little puddle he came across, or sigh unnecessary at any slight inconvenience that he came across.

However, this time, he couldn’t help but get the feeling that he needed to be here tonight, and it was a weird feeling to get. The sudden urge that forced him to take the longest, most roundabout way to get back to the student dorms, where he was currently living during his first year in college.

It was a mostly abandoned route, one that weaved in and out the backstreets of 20th ward, containing the smell of drugs and blood, the hidden crimes of the most peaceful ward of Tokyo. Maybe, when the constructions sites that littered the path were complete there would be more traffic in the area, but for now in the middle of a weeknight, it was quiet. Empty.

A feeling that Hide decided was much too familiar.

He closes his eyes as he continues to walk forward, slowly but surely making his way closer towards his bed, a very inviting item at this very moment in time, content with the feeling of the slight breeze, but not so content with the scent of weed that he knew was going to take more than a few washes to get out.

But maybe he should have been looking where he was going, or maybe he shouldn’t be concentrating on the small shadows in the corner of his eyes that shouldn’t be there, as he not only trips over what seems to be a loose stone, but he manages to bump into some else, cause them to fall with him.

Blinking stupidly from his spot on the cold ground, Hide only smiled sheepishly at the waitress from the coffee shop, his hand reaching to the back of his neck to rub an imaginary injury as he watches her friend help her up from the ground, the smile fading to a confused frown as he watched the pair walk away from him without a word, with only one random thought travelling through his mind.

 


 

 

Careful where you step, as you don’t know where you’ll fall.

 


 

 

He’s about halfway home he reckons when he hears an almighty crash, almost as if a building fell down and crashed onto the ground below.

He acknowledges it, wonders what it was for about five minutes, then moves on.

(He shouldn’t have done that.)

 


 

He’s about five minutes away from his house when he spots Kaneki ahead of him.

His friend is staring down into an alley way with the biggest look of terror etched onto his face, as if he had seen a ghost, or a ghoul, or even something out of one of his books. He had his hands touching his side, as if he had lost his wallet and was looking for it, and paused in one position.

‘Yo, Kaneki!’

Hide frowned behind his smile as he watched the 18-year-old turned to face him, the fear on his face slowly melting into a small look of confusion, repetitively looking down the alley way then back at him before walking towards him, stopping about three feet away from him.

‘Hey, Hide.’

There’s now a look of confliction on his face, his arms hadn’t moved from his side, like it was glued into place or something.

Hide got the strange impression that something was wrong.

He wanted to ask his best friend (and not anything else) what was wrong.

(He should have done that.)

(Why didn't he do that?)

‘What brings you out here then?’

An innocent question, or so Hide thinks. His friend looks back at the alley he was just looking down, the look of fear that once filled his face now fading away into something more akin to sadness, as if mourning something or someone he just lost, before looking back at Hide with a smile corrupted by sadness caused by something akin to death.

‘Um, Rize wanted to be walked home and then she- uhh- I don’t kno- I was just on my way home I suppose, when I saw you.’

His friend stuttered out his story, his hands staying stubbornly by his side while Hide frowned at the words he was hearing.

‘How was the date?’

His friend looks back into the alley, staring at what could have been down there.

‘It was alright, but I get the feeling that she wasn’t my type.’

Hide couldn’t help but feel a flutter in his heart.

‘Can I walk home with you? I don’t want to feel alone right now.’

 And who was Hide to leave his best friend (and only his best friend, nothing more and nothing less) stranded alone in the dark backstreets of 20th ward?

‘Okay, lets go home.’

 


 

 

The walk back to Hide’s dorm was shorter than Hide realised, and was spent with Kaneki seemingly talking about anything and everything, jumping topic to topic like a changing wind, making sure that his opinion was heard, partially drumming into Hide’s head what his thoughts were on every subject. For once, Hide was the one left in the dust when it came to the conversation, only able to nod and put a single thought before his best friend changed the subject.

Not that Hide minded Kaneki being assertive for once, in fact it was rather refreshing to not have to drag words out of his normally shy, quiet friend. Every now and again, his friend would rub his chin, lie about what he was saying, but for some reason, Hide couldn’t stay angry at him long enough to bring his attention to it, for there was a feeling in the back of his head telling him that Kaneki’s white lies wasn’t the biggest problem for them now.

Hide had a feeling that Kaneki was hiding something, something big. He kept touching his side, his hands sometimes ghosting over his shoulder, and at the times when his voice began to falter, and a stutter entered it, he would look behind them to see if they were being followed, if by a normal human or even a monster.

The thought was almost enough to make Hide laugh.

Hide didn’t realise that they had already made it back to his dorm until he realised that Kaneki had stopped walking with him, now a few paces behind him, making him turn around and face his best friend.

‘You okay to go home alone?’

The question makes him feel like a bad friend, as Kaneki already said that he didn’t want to be alone, but his friend only smiles sadly at him as he stands facing the yellow haired boy.

Maybe he should ask what’s up, but the words get clogged in his throat.

‘Don’t worry so much Hide. I’m going to be fine.’

He stills smiles at Hide, so Hide smiles back at him and goes to walk into the dorm.

‘See ya later, Kaneki.’

“Goodbye, Hide.”

 


 

 

(And with that final goodbye, Kaneki disappeared.)

 


 

 

Sighing as he put his keys onto the hallway table, Hide turned on his TV to put on some background noise while he pulled out his phone and started to get rid of the pointless notifications that had popped up during his time away from the WIFI, until he came across a text from a classmate he wouldn’t normally talk to.

 

10:48

Rin-Chan <3: Hey, Hide. I know it may sound weird coming from me, but I just heard about the death on the news. I’m sorry for your loss <3 <3 <3

Rin-Chan <3: I know that Kaneki wasn’t really close to anyone else other than you

Rin-Chan <3: But know you are surrounded by people

 

He felt his stomach drop further than the ground beneath him.

 

‘-nd finally tonight: Two college students, one male and female have been confirmed to be dead during a construction accident. We are able to confirm the name of one of the college students as Kaneki Ken, recognised by a passing high school student who we cannot name due to legal reasons. The police are still looking for relatives of both the colleges stude-’

 

His phone was on the floor, somehow, and it was vibrating due to an incoming call.

He didn’t make any effort to pick up the phone as he watched the news go onto the news.

.

.

.

“Goodbye, Nagachika Hideyoshi.”