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Not the peaceful kind of darkness, no, not at all. This was unsettling, uneasy, maybe even evil.


Karamatsu squinted as a beam of light suddenly pierced his eyesight. He tried to move his hands to shield his eyes, but.... something restrained them. His ankles were restrained as well in a similar manner.

What happened last, anyway? He was walking down the street, the empty street, and then... he just suddenly passed out?

Or, maybe someone knocked him out, rather, considering the sharp pain in his head and... this.



"Well, well, look who finally decided to wake up," a gruff man in a suit laughed, his face hardly decipherable due to the dark room, squatting down to look down at Karamatsu, who was tied up and laying on the floor. "You're one unlucky one, aren't you?"

Karamatsu chose not to respond.

"We took the liberty of taking your phone and wallet, but that ain't enough. If you would kindly tell us your house's phone number, we'll give them a call and tell them about how we have you as our 'guest'," the man said with a sly grin.

Karamatsu furrowed his eyebrows, his face forming a scowl. "I'm not telling you anything," he hissed.


A blunt force hit him in the gut, sending him flying backwards and crashing into the wall behind. He grunted and grimaced as he fell back to the floor, the pain in his head worsening, but forced himself to do nothing more.

"Hey, hey, we have a business to run here, you know? Mafia biz and all. And that needs money," the gruff man growled, now standing up. "All we need to do is to ask your family to fork over the cash, and then we'll throw you back out. Fair's fair, ain't it?"

"I don't--"


"Hey, boss," a younger man began as he entered the room, holding up a blue phone. "There's a number labelled 'Home' in the contacts list."

"Oh, good. That saves time," the man stated as he walked over, grabbing the phone out of his subordinate's hand. He dialed the number, putting it on loud speaker.


Karamatsu hoped to God that no one was home. If they answered, that'd just put them in danger.

Please don't pick up, please don't pick up, please don't p--


"Hello? Karamatsu?"

No no no, NO, NO--



"So that's his name, huh?" the man laughed. "Laaaame."

"...Who are you?" Osomatsu hissed from the other side of the phone call.

"Oh, just a guy doing his job. We have your blue guy as a guest over here right now, and if you want him back ya gotta pay up. ¥100,000 is what I'm asking for." The man's eyes turned down to Karamatsu, piercing through his very soul. "Hey, blue guy, you wanna say anything to him?"


The phone was tossed down, landing at Karamatsu's face on the floor. Karamatsu coughed at the dust that was kicked up due to the impact.

"...a-aniki..." Karamatsu began, "i-it's dangerous... don't c-come, aniki... 100,000 yen is a l-lot, y-you know...? y-you could buy s-so much w-with that...."

Karamatsu coughed again. "...o-osomatsu, please... j-just leave me--"


Karamatsu yelled in pain as a boot shoved itself into the side of his gut, crushing him under its weight. He coughed up a thick liquid, the dark red colour of it staining the floor as he choked on it.


"You better cough up the cash if you don't want him killed," the man stated, finally releasing his foot off of Karamatsu and leaving him a panting mess, blood trailing down the side of his mouth.







.... long has he been here..?


His prison smelled like rotten blood now, so that would be at least a couple of hours since the last beating.

He didn't remember what happened after he first coughed up blood, or what Osomatsu's reply was.

Osomatsu shouldn't come. He needs to stay safe.

It's better this way.



Karamatsu instinctively grimaced as the door opened again, light shining back into his prison.

But instead of the suited man, or one of the other ones, there was a thin man with a stubble beard, wearing simple clothes. He seemed kinda old somehow, maybe because of his wrinkles.

"Ah, hey. Karamatsu-san, right?" the older man said as he stepped in.

Karamatsu recoiled in fear, squeezing his eyes shut.

"Whoa, hey, don't worry, I won't hurt you," the older man stated, raising his hands up in defense to the unstated accusation. "I just came to talk."

Karamatsu opened his eyes again, his stare darting around nervously.

"Your brother's Osomatsu-san, right? That guy's pretty good at poker," the man said with a sincere laugh, rubbing the underside of his nose, mimicking the way Osomatsu would. "Or maybe he just cheats at 'em, heck if I know."

Karamatsu paused. " know him?"


"Yeah. Gambling friend of mine, that's him. Now, let me tell you this." The man knelt down to Karamatsu's level. "Osomatsu-san sure as hell doesn't have 100k in his wallet, and neither does the rest of them combined, but he's going to get you out of here no matter what."

Karamatsu blinked. "...what do you mean?"

"...Don't know. That's just what he told me to tell you in our phonecall," the man said, scratching the back of his head. "If anything, he asked for the address of this place, and I told him. It's probably not the best idea for him to bust in, but it seems like that's what he's planning."


Karamatsu's eyes widened instantly. "W-What!? T-That's dangerous! H-He can't...! T-Tell him that he can't..!!"

"Sorry, he said he's coming no matter what. I'd stop him, but I've got guard duty soon and they'll kill me if I skip this one," the man laughed with a sigh. "He's a tough fighter right? I'm sure he'll be fine."



"Hey! Isn't your shift starting soon!?" another man yelled from outside the room.

The older man stood up, grinning sheepishly. "Yeah, yeah, I'll be on my way~"


He left the room, closing the door behind him, leaving Karamatsu in the darkness again.





He didn't remember much of the next one, or the next. All he remembered was pain.


The next few hours of his stay after that were foggy, probably because of the lack of anything. He couldn't see anything, there were nothing but muffled sounds outside, and he couldn't do anything. Heck, he no longer knew what time of day it was. For all he knew he could have been in here for days, weeks. Months. Years.


But if there was any sound that could ring through his prison, it would be something so incredibly loud that it would surpass the seemingly soundproof door and walls.

Such as a gunshot. Many of that, in fact. And they rang through Karamatsu's ears.

What was happening out there? What were they shooting at?

Karamatsu didn't want to think of any answer.


Minutes passed, but the shots continued. He could hear some yells outside his door, maybe even a scream, a shriek--

And then his prison door was slammed open fully, the light rushing in quickly and filling the room.

"Well, here he is. Now get out of here," said a voice in the corridor that he had heard before.

Someone nodded and stepped into the room, coming down to Karamatsu's level. He pulled out a dagger, cutting off the ropes that had bound Karamatsu's hands and ankles.

....wait. that red...

Osomatsu's here?


"Are you alright?" Osomatsu breathed as he scooped up his younger brother in his arms. Osomatsu's clothes were splattered with blood - not his own blood, someone else's blood. "Let's get you out of here."




The next few seconds were a blur to Karamatsu. Seconds? Was it minutes? Maybe even hours? His sense of time had long been distorted. All he knew was that his elder brother got him out of there. Somehow. Somehow? He probably didn't just waltz out.


When he regained his consciousness, he was... lying on a couch in an unlit room. There was an ice pack or two on his stomach and another at the side of his head that was wrapped in bandages. it... safe now?



He flinched when the door opened and the light was switched on and filled the room, squeezing his eyes shut in fear, maybe even whimpering.

Not again, not again, please, not again--


Karamatsu's eyes shot open upon a hand making contact with his head, himself still hyperventilating. His pupils were filled with fear, anxiety, nervousness, uncertainty--

But those emotions began to ease when his eyes met with his one and only older brother, who gave him a kind smile, who had a gentle look in his half-closed eyes.


"Hey, Karamatsu, it's me, it's just me," Osomatsu whispered softly, gently, bringing his hand through the exposed parts of his brother's hair beyond the bandages. "It's okay. You're safe."

Karamatsu released a tight breath of air he didn't know he had been holding in, exhaling it shakily. He slowly reached his hand out, his fingers meeting and interlacing with Osomatsu's, his palm pressing against Osomatsu's warm, warm palm. Karamatsu closed his eyes as he finally let himself relax.



"Everything's okay now, alright?" Osomatsu cooed reassuringly. "You're safe. Everything's alright."

"...y...y-y-you s-saved me..." Karamatsu exhaled before knotting his eyebrows together, giving a concerned stare. "...y-you could h-have g-gotten hurt..."

"I didn't want you to get hurt anymore," Osomatsu stated softly. "'re home now. Everything's okay, everything's gonna be okay, alright?"

"...h-how did... you g-get us out o-of that place? E-Especially w-with all those mafia p-people..."

Osomatsu let out a small, half-hearted laugh. "Oh, those guys...

....I killed them."



Karamatsu blinked.

"...i-i'm not even gonna ask how you did that," Karamatsu sighed.

Osomatsu just laughed it off. "Well, you know me, I'm Osomatsu, right? I'd..." Osomatsu paused for a moment, his smile fading. "...I would do anything for my brothers, including you, Karamatsu. Anything and everything. I... I mean it. I'd kill, and... I'd die for you."

A mixed expression of concern, worry, even fear, immediately formed on Karamatsu's face as he turned his head to face his brother's, his eyes wide open. "...oso...matsu..."


"...well, we'll get to that when we get to that," Osomatsu said cheerfully with a smile, rubbing the underside of his nose casually.

"...d...don't die, osomatsu," Karamatsu breathed shakily, clutching his brother's hand even tighter.

Osomatsu gave no response, instead settling for kissing his brother's forehead. The warm sensation was... gentle.

Karamatsu sighed in relief, with full knowledge that he... that they were safe.


"Are you hungry? I can get you something to eat," Osomatsu stated with a smile.

"A-Ah, I'm not really--"

A stomach's grumble filled the room. Karamatsu's stomach's grumble, rather. That's the sound of someone who hasn't eaten food in at least 24 hours.


Osomatsu chuckled softly before standing up, heading to the door. "Well, I'll bring it over."



Every second that Karamatsu waited for his older brother to come back was excruciating, but as per contract, Osomatsu returned soon after, holding a bowl full of noodles in his hand.

Karamatsu scarfed down the noodles, unaware of how hungry he had been. He might have been eating a little too fast, because Osomatsu had to put a hand on his shoulder and coax him into slowing down.

He sighed in contentment when he was done, putting the bowl aside.


...His older brother's hand suddenly came up to his face, gently touching his cheek. Osomatsu's hand tucked Karamatsu's sideburn behind his ear, remaining silent the entire time as he stared at him.

Osomatsu examined his younger brother's face - it had bruises in various places of the forehead and cheek, and the bandages around Karamatsu's head had a tinge of red. His lip was cut, dried blood stained on it, and his right eye seemed to be slightly swollen.


"...i'm never letting anyone hurt you again," Osomatsu breathed, stroking through his brother's hair. "...never again."



Osomatsu leaned in silently, holding the side of Karamatsu's head with one hand, closing his eyes as his lips made contact with Karamatsu's cheek. Then he rested his forehead against the side of Karamatsu's, sighing.

"...i'll protect you no matter what," he declared, staring down at the couch cushion.

Karamatsu closed his eyes, turning his head towards his brother's.


"....i'm in your hands."