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No Regrets

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Sawamura hauls a body onto his bed and barely resists rubbing the back of his neck to try and alleviate some of the tension he’s holding there.  His hands are caked in mud and blood and he doesn’t want to wipe that all over himself despite it already covering his front. He takes a couple deep breath before setting himself into motion.  He runs a tavern and while it’s mostly visited by the folks from the town down the mountain and a few wandering souls, sometimes it’s remoteness attracts a certain rougher crowd. He’s had to take care of a few wounds in his time as the owner of it.

 

Sawamura’s parents probably wouldn’t even be surprised by him bringing home the bleeding and unconscious stranger.  He was always prone to bringing home strays, though they always tended to be more on the animal variety. He tries to imagine what faces they would make if they had still been alive and their adult son had dragged a wounded stranger through their tavern.  They would yell but ultimately they would end up helping, it was the sort of people they were. The sort of person they raised their son to be.

 

Setting his items down by the bed Sawamura’s fingers trembled slightly before he reached out to remove the heavy cloak covering the majority of the stranger, all except his bare and dirty feet.  Sawamura was only partially surprised by the double wings held down by some sort of leather harness. The stranger was dirty but he looked rather young, not that it mattered much. Sawamura had met creatures who were thousands of years old and looked like children the same way hunched over, wrinkly elderly looking people were actually children.  The universe was a large place after all.

 

“You’re alright now, you’re safe.”  Sawamura said as soothingly as he could when the strangers brows bunched together and he let out a soft noise of distress.  There was a long cut across his abdomen that was the source of all the blood. It looked worse than it was, long but only skin deep and hadn’t cut into any muscle.  Sawamura continued to speak softly, he wasn’t sure if the stranger spoke the same language as him but the tone seemed to be soothing him. It was easy to patch him up but took longer to pull off the dirty and torn rags.  Usually Sawamura wouldn’t take such liberties with anyone who wasn’t awake to consent, but he was wet and shivering and the clothes barely covered much of anything to begin with.

 

Something shiny caught Sawamura’s eye and he turned from grabbing some of his own clean clothes.  He had been so worried about the wound and getting the stranger out of the wet clothes and into something dry that he hadn’t noticed the golden band around his neck.  Sawamura hadn’t traveled very far from home, he had gone into the city for schooling before his parents died and they had left the mountainside space tavern for him to take care of.  But even he knew what a service band looked like. Such an inconspicuous name for something so vile.

 

Sawamura quickly put the clean clothes onto the stranger before pulling blankets on top of him.  The dirtied blanket the stranger had rested on went to the floor but Sawamura had plenty. He carefully used a cloth to clean the strangers dirty face, his eyes catching on the service band once more.

 

The small planet Sawamura had spent his entire life on was considered backwoods, but they were mostly civilized here.  There was a bigger port on the other side of the planet but some travellers stopped by the tavern for some peace and quiet, plus the food wasn’t so bad either.  It wasn’t very busy at the tavern but Sawamura still had never seen a service band in the 25 years he had been alive. He knew they were a thing of the past, had learned about them in school for a brief period before they jumped to the next thing.

 

Service bands were mostly outlawed, though considering some of his regulars belonged to the crew of the Bakeneko and while they never discussed their business outright, Sawamura could guess they weren’t exactly on the up and up.  Even they would cringe away from something as cruel as a service band.

 

Sawamura cleaned himself off in the small bathroom attached to his room, changing out of his dirtied clothes before walking back into his room.  He stared down at the stranger, at the white and black hair that was curling against a strong face now that it was drying.

 

Sawamura didn’t know what to do but he did know one person he could go to.  He pulled out his personal comm unit from the wall, glancing over to make sure the stranger is still sleeping before he types in a familiar number.  He doesn’t let himself think twice as he relays a simple message to Iwaizumi, apologizing and asking if he could stop by the tavern when he had a moment.  Iwaizumi is the local peace officer and they had known each other since they were teenagers. Sawamura feels as if he should add more to the message but he ends it quickly when he feels the back of his neck start to warm and turns back to the stranger in his bed.

 

The stranger is still unconscious and Sawamura chews nervously on his bottom lip as he stares down at him.  His face has smoothed out and he looks more like he’s just resting, some color has even returned to his pale cheeks.  The service band is now hidden by the sweater Sawamura put him in and the two blankets he piled on top of him.

 

An alarm beeps, warning Sawamura that he has ten minutes to open the tavern.  He thinks about hanging an apology on the door, saying a pipe burst or something along those lines but he has bills to pay and the stranger doesn’t look like he’s going anywhere.  Still, Sawamura leans over.

 

“You’re safe to rest here.”  Sawamura tells the stranger, feeling a little silly for doing so.  He walks out of his room and closes the door quietly behind him before heading downstairs.

 

Everything about the old tavern reminds Sawamura of his parents from the hand carved table and chairs to the trim with pretty colored flowers along the ceiling.  They had made this place themselves, built it from the ground up and made it into the thriving business it was today. Sawamura sometimes missed them so much he found it difficult to breath but going about opening the tavern helped, the actions that he did every day drove away the loneliness that sometimes threatened to drown him.

 

Sawamura was warming up the ovens in the back, his father had insisted on ones that actually used fire instead of warming electrically like most modern ones, when he heard the door open and close.  Voices floated in and Sawamura easily picked out the tones of his normal regulars from town.

 

It was easy and comforting to fall into his usual routine.  Going to the bar to grab drinks before checking on the cooking food in the kitchen.  Some of the regulars who had known him since he was little always told him to hire some help and he did have a cook come in during the weekends when it was busier but during the slow weekdays he could handle everything fine on his own.

 

Until the door opened, letting in the howling wind and the constant rain.  The regulars tensed automatically at the newcomers before Sawamura called out a greeting and told the familiar crew of the Bakeneko to sit where they’d like.  It was like he had summoned them by thinking of them earlier.

 

It wasn’t half a minute before the captain of the motley crew found himself near Sawamura, leaning over the bar as Sawamura prepared a drink for the old bookkeeper who always came in for a couple beverages after his shifts.  Sawamura allowed himself a quick glance into amber colored eyes before looking away.

 

“I’ll be with you in a mo’ to take your orders.”  Sawamura said, a bit more gruffly than he usually was with other patrons.  The Bakeneko captain only smirked at Sawamura’s attitude.

 

“Take your time love, I’m in no rush.”  Kuroo propped his head up in his hand, elbow placed on the bar and smirk firmly in place.  Sawamura resisted the urge to do something childish like pour a drink over his ridiculously messy black hair.

 

Kuroo and his crew had been coming to the tavern pretty much since Sawamura inherited it.  Mostly Sawamura didn’t mind. Despite the crews less than savory reputation they were respectful with only a few members being louder than the rest and they had never tried to skip out on a bill before.  They didn’t make a mess and they kept mostly to themselves, which was more than Sawamura could say for their captain.

 

Sawamura would probably treat Kuroo to a friendly but unfriendly attitude if they hadn’t met when they were younger.  Back when Kuroo was all knobby knees with ears and hands too big for the rest of his skinny frame. He worked as a deckboy on a ship come to port, Sawamura had been in the city with his father when the skinny boy had come running past.  Sawamura, without really thinking of the consequences, had grabbed him and hidden him in the cart that held the supplies his dad was buying.

 

Sawamura didn’t really agree with thieving but he knew there were situations where he’d do it if he wasn’t so loved and cared for by his parents.  He knew others weren’t as lucky, knew from Kuroo’s dirty face and hands rubbed raw from hard labor that even if he had a job it didn’t pay well enough to help him put on any weight.  His father had only raised an eyebrow at Sawamura before pushing some warm bread and cheese into his hands, then he had walked off into another store. Sawamura peaked into the cart, handing over the food to a boy with sunken cheeks and large amber colored eyes, and told him to lay low.

 

Impulsivity wasn’t exactly an admirable trait but it was something that Sawamura was prone to bouts to.  Hiding thieving little boys and carting off wounded strangers to his room. He didn’t know if his parents would be proud or worried, perhaps both.

 

For years after that initial interaction where Kuroo didn’t say a single word, they didn't see each other.  Not until Sawamura was left a seemingly too large and too quiet tavern, where every corner and window reminded him of what he had lost.  Kuroo and the crew of the Bakeneko had come barrelling in, asking for drinks and something warm to fill their stomachs.

 

They didn’t show up often, but Kuroo never missed the anniversary of Sawamura’s parents death.  Always staying to share drinks even after the tavern had closed. Sawamura always woke up the next morning, head hurting but his spirit feeling lighter, curled up in bed with the other man.  Sawamura would probably have kicked him off the side of the mountain but they were always dressed.

 

Sawamura would never admit to liking waking up beside what was essentially a pirate captain.

 

Sawamura took orders, the Bakeneko could always be counted on to clear out his kitchen.  Yaku would beg Sawamura to join the crew as their cook, that he couldn’t handle another burnt piece of meat or hard as rock bread.  Fukunaga would use his hands and fingers to talk to Yamamoto, who would throw his head back and laugh. Inuoka would offer to bring food back to Kozume, who always stayed on the ship, and inevitably Shibayama and Lev would run after him, Kai reminding them to bring back the plates.  Kuroo would watch on with too clever amber eyes, those same eyes lingering on Sawamura where ever he was.

 

It was nearing the end of the night and Sawamura was wiping down the bar, smiling as the last of his regulars called out a farewell.  He had momentarily run upstairs throughout the night, checking on his guest to make sure he was still there and breathing regularly. He had received a message back from Iwaizumi, that he would be coming over after his shift ended, when the tavern was closed down.

 

The majority of the Bakeneko had wandered back to their ship.  Sawamura idly wondered when the next time he’d see them would be as he gathered used dishes and walked back to the kitchen.  He gave out a sigh when he realized Kuroo had snuck back, leaning against the counter and stealing a bowl of soup.

 

“You’re going to pay for that.”  Sawamura stated firmly, putting the dishes into the washer.

 

“Oh?”  Kuroo asked, eyebrow raised.

 

“With money.”  Sawamura said, ignoring Kuroo’s exaggerated pout.

 

“So, what has got you all tense and stressed out tonight?”  Kuroo asked casually and Sawamura couldn’t really hide his reaction at the sudden question.  Kuroo was watching him far too closely to try and deny it, but it wasn’t like Sawamura was going to admit to having someone in his bed upstairs.

 

“The usual.”  Sawamura said with a shrug but from the look on Kuroo’s face he clearly wasn’t buying it.

 

Sawamura thanked the stars above when he heard someone else enter the tavern and walked out to greet them.  Sawamura wasn’t usually one to judge looks, the nearby town was full of a rough looking crowd though mostly they were harmless.  But something about the three figures that walked into the tavern made Sawamura tense all over.

 

“Hello,” Sawamura greeted, trying to shake off the foreboding feeling.  “I’m afraid the kitchen is closed for the night but we do still have some hot soup.”  Sawamura went to go get the soup they ordered, nearly running right into Kuroo as he stepped into the kitchen.

 

“That’s not your usual lot, is it?”  Kuroo asked, voice low.

 

“All sorts come through here, some more unsavory than others.”  Sawamura said just as low, using his finger to push Kuroo back so he could get soup for his new patrons.

 

“That hurts.”  Kuroo’s bottom lip juts out and Sawamura finds himself briefly wondering how this man was considered a feared pirate captain.  “I’m only trying to help.” Sawamura snickers as he balances the three bowls in his hands.

 

“I don’t need any of the kind of help you’re offering.”  Sawamura breezes past him and his heart gives a quick drop when he realizes there are only two at the table now.  He places the bowls down carefully before a sound distracts him and he walks over to the swinging door that lead to the stairs and upstairs.  “Excuse me, guests aren’t allowed upstairs.” Sawamura says, catching the third patron half way up the stairs. He turns and grimaces, or smiles, Sawamura isn’t quite sure because his body is insectoid-like, the mandible twitching on his face in a way Sawamura wasn’t familiar enough to read.

 

“Pardon, just looking for the bathroom.”  Sawamura motioned behind him, where the bathroom was clearly marked.  Plus he kept the door to the stairs locked at all times.

 

When Sawamura walked out of the swinging doors he saw Kuroo gathering the few members of his crew that were still in the tavern.  His heart gave a twist as Kuroo gave him a short nod before walking out the door with Yaku and Nobuyuki following him. Sawamura told himself it didn’t matter, that there was no reason for him to want Kuroo’s presence in the tavern.  That he was a distraction and Sawamura could easily handle any problem that arose.

 

None of it helped.  He felt betrayed that Kuroo would note the trouble the new comers presented then would just leave Sawamura to it.  He knew it wasn’t logical and he berated himself silently for it but it was still there, sitting cold and hard inside his chest.

 

Despite his initial hesitation about the new patrons, they ate their soup in relatively silence, paid, and left as quietly as they had come.  Sawamura locked the door behind them with a relieved sigh, feeling like an idiot for making such a big deal out of nothing. He began closing down, the routine of it welcome.

 

A noise startled Sawamura out stacking the chairs and he looked up.  He ran up the stairs, his heart beating loudly in his ears once again before pausing outside the door.  He took a deep, calming breath and reminded himself that whatever it was, he could handle it. He slowly opened the door and wasn’t surprised to see his new guest sitting up in bed.

 

Gold colored eyes, so bright and foreign that Sawamura could even make out in the dim lighting of the room the brilliant coloring, looked at Sawamura.  It was the first time that Sawamura recognized that this stranger was quite a bit bigger than him no matter how wounded they were.

 

“Hello,” Sawamura said, glad his voice didn’t come out as shaky as he felt.  Gold eyes blinked at him before the tension in the room noticeably dropped. “Did you reopen your wound?”  Sawamura asked because the stranger was holding his stomach and there was a growing dark spot on the borrowed sweater.

 

“I know your voice.”  The stranger said, tone surprisingly light for such a large man.  “I heard it in the darkness. You said I was safe.” His eyes darted around the room while Sawamura remained in the doorway.

 

“You are safe here.”  Sawamura said before taking a hesitant step into his own bedroom.  “Can I see the wound on your stomach?” He asked, making sure to keep it a question and not an order.  Gold eyes, heavily lidded in almost a lazy way, looked at him before lifting up the borrowed sweater obediently.

 

Sawamura moved forward slowly, watching for any sign that the stranger might lash out but he just sat still, holding the sweater up and watching Sawamura as he carefully applied more medi-cream to the wound.  It sealed the wound once more and he wrapped it in a new bandage.

 

“My name is Sawamura Daichi and you’re in my tavern.”  Sawamura said, sitting back on his heels as he looked up at the stranger.  He smoothed the sweater back over his stomach, playing with the hem for a moment before giving Sawamura a shy look.

 

“You can call me Bokuto.”  The band must be activated by his full name.

 

“I have a friend coming, he’s going to help you.”  Sawamura put his hands up when he realized Bokuto was panicking.  “I trust him, you can trust him too. I’ve known him for a long time.”  Iwaizumi was rough around the edges but he was soft inside, prone to helping anyone who needed it.  He had been quickly rising up in the ranks of the military before he resigned and took a position in the sleepy little town he had grown up in.  Sawamura never asked what brought him back, he was only glad he decided to come back.

 

“Okay.”  Bokuto breathes out, trusting Sawamura’s call, just like that.  It makes Sawamura feel suddenly weak against him and he fights against himself, scrambling for a way to distract him from that.

 

“Are you hungry?  Or thirsty? I can go-” Sawamura is cut off when Bokuto reaches out, suddenly grabbing his arm and Sawamura inhales sharply at how quick Bokuto is.

 

“Please don’t.”  Bokuto pleads, face so close that Sawamura can catch the different flecks of yellow and browns in his eyes.

 

“You can come with me.”  Sawamura offers, gently removing Bokuto’s hand from his arm.  He hadn’t hurt him, but it was a strong, firm grip. Sawamura was momentarily surprised by how cold Bokuto’s hand was and he wrapped his warmer one around his longer fingers.

 

Bokuto followed Sawamura willingly, his head whipping around to catch sight of everything.  Sawamura found it absurdly adorable if a bit dramatic. There wasn’t much to see, but then again he didn’t know what sort of life Bokuto had led before Sawamura dragged him here.  Sawamura wanted to know what happened to Bokuto, how he came to be here and he knew Iwaizumi would need to know the answer to those questions but he was hesitant to bring up something that could distress Bokuto.

 

There was no more soup left but Sawamura could make cold sandwiches.  He let go of Bokuto once they reached the kitchen and started to pull out some meat and bread before turning to Bokuto.

 

“Do you eat meat?”  Sawamura asked. It was part of his job to be aware of dietary restrictions, he should have asked before.  By the way Bokuto was eyeing the food in Sawamura’s hands he could make a guess at the answer, and assumed it had been a while since Bokuto had eaten.

 

“Yes, meats good.”  Bokuto nodded enthusiastically, pressing against Sawamura’s back as he turned to the counter to prepare a sandwich.  Given Bokuto’s size he would probably eat a couple.  He was also incredibly warm, something that Sawamura was trying hard not to pay a lot of attention to. “Thank you Sawamura, you’re very kind.” Bokuto smiled hesitantly but Sawamura could tell even by the slight smile that when Bokuto really smiled, it would be a blinding thing.

 

“That must be my friend.”  Sawamura said after he had heard a brisk knock on the front door.  He handed the sandwich over to Bokuto before walking through the main dining room to the entrance.

 

Sawamura frowned into the darkness that greeted him when he opened the door, no sign of Iwaizumi anywhere.  Perhaps he had gone around to the back door? But Iwaizumi wasn’t so impatient he wouldn’t wait a moment for Sawamura to answer the door.  Something shifted in the distance and Sawamura heard his name being yelled but it was too late.

 

The tavern came with rudimentary protective shields.  Mostly it was to discourage any fighting from inside or near the outside of the tavern.  Most public buildings had it, even modern houses came standard with them. It was this shield that probably saved Sawamura’s life, though it wasn’t built to withstand a full attack.

 

Sawamura was sent flying backwards.  Slamming into the bar on the opposite side of the room made his breath rush out of him.  Tables were upturned, chairs were broken, and the front door was left hanging from one hinge. Sawamura couldn’t seem to take in a proper breath, his ears felt clogged with cotton, and he was having trouble focusing his sight.

 

Strong but cold hands grabbed at him, forced him up and to the kitchen right before another blast hit the front of the tavern.  The lights flickered before going out completely, the shields dying along with them. Sawamura knew there was something wrong with his hearing but even he could hear the old wood creaking and groaning.  The tavern was purposefully built on the side of the mountain, the docks reaching out into nothingness so ships could easily pull up without having to actually land. The tavern had been made to withstand category one storms, the wooden facade was only meant to look worn and rustic, underneath was hardened steel and metal.

 

With a hard pop Sawamura’s hearing returned to him just in time to hear something break from the upstairs, the sound of heavy booted feet.  Sawamura turned to see Bokuto’s pale and frightened face, his hands were still holding Sawamura up.

 

“Back door, we have to go out the back.”  Sawamura said, his voice raspy. Something was making it difficult for him to get a good breath in and it hurt to exhale and he couldn’t quite move his left shoulder but it was all things he could deal with later.  He pulled Bokuto towards the back door after grabbing a frying pan, ignored the lace of pain from his knee.

 

The back door cracked down the middle, the lacy little curtain his mother had sown to cover the small window turned black, as if burnt.  A figure burst through the door and Sawamura released Bokuto and with a yell pulled from the pit of his stomach, swung the frying pan into the person standing there.  The hit vibrated down Sawamura’s arm and with a grunt he kicked the figure away, grabbing backwards for Bokuto before running out the door.

 

Sawamura had never even raised a hand in violence towards another and now he had walked over a crumbled body of a person he had savagely hit and kicked.  He left that body in the same spot he had played with little toy figures when he was younger, it had been the perfect spot that was out of the way but he could tilt his body one way to see his father in the kitchen and then another to see his mother go from table to table, talking with each guest as if they were lifelong friends.

 

Bokuto grabbed Sawamura, yanking him to the side right before something streaked past them.  Wood and metal exploded behind them and Sawamura’s heart picked up its pace inside his chest, realizing that could have been him.  That could have been his body breaking to pieces from a long distance hit.

 

Sawamura looked up and watched as a familiar motorcycle slammed into the figure that had been aiming their gun at Sawamura once more.  Bokuto hovered over Sawamura’s body as someone ran over to them, the rain covering up their heavy steps.

 

“No, Bokuto, stop.”  Sawamura patted at the larger man, finally gaining his attention.  “That’s my friend, that’s Iwaizumi, he’s safe.” Bokuto finally seemed to understand and allowed Sawamura to finally get up from the mud.  All three of them were soaked, Iwaizumi’s eyes were wide as he finally caught up to them, looking Sawamura up and down but it was too dark to see anything.  Sawamura couldn't tell if his knee, shoulder, or side hurt more but he knew there was no time to fix any of those things.

 

“What the fuck is going on Daichi?”  Iwaizumi asked, hand coming up to cup Sawamura’s face.  Sawamura winced, not remembering how his face had bounced off the floor until right then.  Before Sawamura could respond a ship appeared above them, nearly dropping on top of them. Iwaizumi pulled his gun up, Sawamura hadn’t even seen it in his other hand.

 

“That’s the Bakeneko!”  Sawamura shouted above the rain, shocked.  Were they being attacked by Kuroo and his crew?  Why?

 

“Hurry, get on board!”  A rope was tossed down. The ship started to take on fire but their shields reflected most of them.  The noise was deafening and Sawamura’s heart was in his throat but he pushed Iwaizumi and Bokuto forward.  Both made Sawamura go first and he climbed while trying to ignore the pain his body was in and how slippery the rungs were with the constant rain.  Hands grabbed him, pulling him over the side of the ship.

 

“They are bringing ‘round their ship!”  Someone called as Bokuto was dropped next to Sawamura then a second later Iwaizumi hopped over.

 

“Everyone onboard captain!”  Yaku shouted from next to Sawamura.

 

“Get them below deck.”  Kuroo’s voice cut through the rain before shouting more orders at his crew.  Sawamura was pulled up, not roughly but not exactly gently either. But Sawamura caught something over the side of the ship.

 

Sawamura broke from the hold on him, leaning against the railing of the ship to see his tavern ablaze and crumbling in on itself.  The home and business his parents had worked so hard to build was burning down before his eyes. They had been so proud of it, every childhood memory Sawamura had was attached to that place.  Thirty years of history was burning and falling down the side of the mountain, the only thing he had left of his parents was gone.

 

A light flashed, bright and blinding in the night.  Sawamura watched in horror as his home was cut in half, the top sliding away before falling off the side of the mountain.  He shouted, he wasn’t sure what but nothing would stop the second hit that sent the rest of him crumbling down.

 

Today was the anniversary of their death and it felt like Sawamura was losing them all over again.

 

The ship swung away before shooting up into the sky.  Sawamura could no longer see his home but he knew that didn’t matter since his home was no longer there to see.

 

Sawamura was taken below deck.  Everything passed by in a blur. One moment he was standing on the deck of the Bakeneko, watching the planet he had never left, the only home he had ever known. grow smaller in the distance and the next his eyes were too heavy to hold open and he was falling down.

 

It felt as if Sawamura had blinked and everything was different.  He could hear people speaking but it sounded like it was coming through a long tunnel.  He felt stiff and sore all over but there was something warm surrounding him, his face was buried in it.

 

“-bounty hunters don’t really care about things like that.”  Kuroo’s voice was the first clear thing Sawamura could make out.  It took him another minute before realizing the reason he was so warm was because he was curled up in bed with something pressed against his front.  A faint trilling noise was coming from the person holding him, it was oddly comforting even though Sawamura was still fighting his confusion.

 

“It doesn’t matter if they care about it or not, it’s still illegal and-”  Iwaizumi’s voice was tight with barely concealed anger.

 

“And what?  You don’t work for the military anymore lieutenant, they won’t come to some backwoods planet because some bounty hunters destroyed a pub.”  Kuroo stated simply, cutting Iwaizumi off. Sawamura sucked in a deep breath, his tavern crumbling before his eyes once more.

 

“Sawamura.”  A face with big golden eyes was pushed into his.  “They drugged you.” Bokuto said, sounding angry.

 

“He was hurt and in shock Bo, I keep telling you this.”  Kuroo’s voice said, coming out much softer. “Let him breath.”  Bokuto held Sawamura tighter for a moment before letting out a soft breath and releasing him.  Sawamura sat up slowly and looked around the room. Three pairs of eyes looked back at him with varying levels of concern.

 

“So,” Sawamura looked at each of them.  “Weird day, huh?” He tried for light but fell short.  Iwaizumi sat on the bed, his hand was a warm comfort down the length of Sawamura’s back.

 

“I’m sorry Sawamura, they destroyed your home because of me.”  Bokuto ducked his head, ashamed but it was surprisingly Kuroo who spoke up.

 

“It’s not your fault, it’s mine.”  Kuroo rubbed Bokuto’s head and Sawamura was surprised by the familiarity of the action.  “I was supposed to pick up Bokuto from someone I thought I could trust, but he went turncoat and tried to sell Bokuto back.  I knew who those bounty hunters were when they came into your tavern and I decided to wait to see what they did.” Kuroo met Sawamura’s eyes, accepting full blame and not trying to make excuses for himself.

 

“It’s fine.”  Sawamura said, shocking all three of them.  He tried a smile to ease their worries. “Helping someone, helping Bokuto is way more important than a building.  My parents would never have sacrificed someone for their home. It’s neither of yours fault.” Sawamura reached out to squeeze both Bokuto and Kuroo’s noses, earning a grin from the former and a fake snap of teeth from the latter.  “I am sorry I pulled you into this.” Sawamura turned to Iwaizumi, who was watching everything with clear interest.

 

“I’m not.”  Iwaizumi said with a shrug before nudging his shoulder against Sawamura’s.  “I told you before to call me for anything and I meant it.”

 

“Me too.”  Kuroo said suddenly, practically sitting in Iwaizumi’s lap so he could push into Sawamura’s space.  Iwaizumi gave an annoyed grunt but didn’t dump the lanky man onto the ground. “I meant it when I said I’d help you.”

 

“I’ll protect you.”  Bokuto promised, fingers curling against Sawamura’s.  “Because you saved me and made me feel safe.” He smiled and Sawamura was right, it was blinding.

 

Sawamura knew it wasn’t going to be that easy and the three before him were going to cause him more trouble before the day was done but he couldn’t find himself minding much.  There was a hollow spot in his chest that had been there since his parents had died, it ached and reminded him constantly of how he was missing something, something crucial. This was the first time that the ache had receded, if just a bit.