"We're not friends."
"I was only friends with him because I felt bad."
"My brothers a jerk."
This is a world where ajins aren't human. Where they are seen as freaks and science experiments. Where their rights are non-existent.
This is also a world where humans put money before loyalty. Where humans spread rumors without a second thought. Where humans torment a person into killing themselves.
With that in mind, who'd want to be human anyway?
"Kai, move your ass!" Kei yelled behind him, pulling the other teen along through the large expanse of trees. Kai wasn't in the best condition. Their hideout had been found by a bunch of hunters and they almost got shot up. Kai had gotten grazed by one of their bullets when trying to push Kei out of the way like an idiot.
"You gotta give me a second, Kei." Kai panted behind him.
"We don't have a second!" Kei urged his friend along, desperately trying to put as much distance between them and the hunters as possible.
"Just...just one second..." Kei felt them getting slower. He groaned and knelt on the ground.
"Get on my back." He grunted.
"On my back, Kai. We not getting anywhere with you slowing us down." A second later, Kei felt the weight of the blonde boy on his back and lifted himself up, carefully wrapping his arm around Kai's knees before taking of.
Kei wasn't strong or athletic by any means and the weight of the almost-adult on his back was not helping, but his rush of adrenaline spurred him to continue, running blindly through the large forest, no idea where he was heading, but going there anyway.
It wasn't much longer until Kei himself felt he was going to collapse. He set Kai down behind a large boulder and dropped down next to him, panting heavily. His head was pounding from lack of nutrition and the excessive exercise, but he forced himself to grab some rubbing alcohol and bandages from their backpack of supplies and crawled on his knees towards Kai, whose head was pressed against the rock.
He was breathing heavily, more from pain than over exertion, and his eyes were closed. He let out a hiss as the alcohol hit his wound and cracked an eye open to look at Kei as he worked to wrap the bandage around the graze.
"Mmm always knew you'd be a great doctor." Kai slurred.
Kei snorted, "Yeah it's too bad the only hospital room I'll ever be in now is the one I'm being tested in."
Kai shook his head slightly, "Don't say that. You never know, after all."
"Ever the optimist." Kei sighed, "My face has been broadcasted all over the world as an ajin. I'd be shocked if I could even live in a third world country without being recognized."
"We'll figure it out." Kai breathed, then opened both his eyes to stare at Kei. "Together."
Kei finished the bandages and met Kai's gaze. "Yeah, together." It was spoken like a promise. One Kei wasn't entirely sure he'd be able to keep.
Content, Kai closed his eyes once again and completely relaxed against the boulder. Kei couldn't bring himself to fully rest and instead opted for keeping guard. He wasn't sure if those hunters were still looking for him or if they had given up, but he didn't want to take any chances.
Taking a swig of water out of a half empty bottle, Kei forced himself to sit up straight and watched the darkening forest. He listened closely for feet rustling the leaves on the forest floor or the deep, hushed voices of the middle-aged men, but all was still.
It got darker as time passed. Kai was breathing shallowly next to Kei, the chase having taken a lot out of him. Kei watched him sleep, letting his eyes follow the movements of his chest and his ears get used to his slight snoring.
He jumped when a phone began buzzing in the backpack. He looked around into pitch black forest, as if expecting to see someone-or something- but shook his head when he heard no movement and opened the bag.
He stared at the screen of Kai's phone blankly for a second, looking down at his sisters name. 'This is a trap.' He thought to himself. 'She wouldn't bother calling. Someone-the government or something-knew Kai was with me and is using her phone to contact me.'
Kei threw the phone to the side when it stopped buzzing. He needed to destroy it later or eventually someone will be able to track them.
A moment later, the phone began buzzing again, Eri's contact lighting up the screen. 'Don't answer it.' He bit his lip. 'They can track you. They'll know where you are. They'll hurt you. They'll hurt Kai.'
The phone vibrated a few more times and Kei caved in a grabbed it. 'But what if something happened to Eri?' He thought as he pressed the 'accept call' button.
"What?" He bit out, then immediately cringed and looked over at Kai, who was still resting peacefully.
"Ah, I was wondering when you'd answer."
Kei didn't recognize the voice. He didn't expect to, but it wasn't really the voice of someone he imagined worked with the government. "Who are you?" He asked, more quietly this time.
"My name is Mr. Sato. I am an ajin, like you." Kei inhaled a sharp breath.
"Why do you have my sister's phone?"
A chuckle resounded from the other end of the phone, "Don't worry, your sister is fine. We returned her to the hospital where she is continuing her recovery. She's safe."
Kei let out a sigh of relief as the man on the other line continued speaking, "I know it may be a lot to ask at such a bad time, but I was wondering if you'd be willing to meet with me. I believe I can protect you."
"There's no need to answer now. If you choose to take up my offer, then come to this location." Mr. Sato gave the address. "I trust you'll make the right decision, Kei Nagai." With that, the call went dead.
Kei looked down at the black phone screen. Setting the phone gently on the ground, he grabbed a nearby rock and brought it down on the phone with as much force as he could muster. A satisfying crack echoed throughout the relatively quiet forest. With a couple more hits from the rock, the phone was completely destroyed.
Kei looked down at his handiwork, but was startled at a quiet, "Kei?" The ajin whipped around to look at Kai, who was now pushing himself off the rock so he could sit up straight. "What are you doing?" Kai asked, groaning at the pain in his leg.
Kei looked down at the shattered phone, then back at his friend. "I answered a call from Eri on your phone. Now that it's been turned on, so has the tracker. It needed to be destroyed."
"Eri?" Kai furrowed his eyebrows. "What did she want?"
"It wasn't really her." Kei shook his head. "It was some guy. Mr. Sato. He said he was an ajin too, and he wanted to meet with me."
"Well you can't go meet him." Kai said quickly.
"I know that, you idiot." Kei glared at the ground. "But I can't help but think we might be safer if I do."
"Look, we'll talk about it later, okay?" Kei helped Kai off the ground and wrapped his arm around his shoulder, supporting the weight of the taller male. "For now, we have to move. The police will be here soon." Kai said nothing and limped along with Kei, and they began to move.
Kei, though extremely exhausted, pushed through tree branches and bushes alike. Neither of the teens said a word as they continued through the darkened forest. Kei couldn't say how long they'd been walking for, but eventually they came to a road.
A sigh of relief was shared between them as there were no voices or police lights on this particular road. Before they made it onto the road, however, Kai stopped Kei.
"We should follow the road in the morning." He explained. "You need rest, and I need to heal. We wouldn't be able to move fast enough if we're seen."
"Where would we stay?" Kei asked.
Kai scanned their surrounding area, then lifted a hand to point into darkness. "There."
It was barely noticeable in the dark cover of night, but there were three rocks leaning together in a way that made it look like a Teepee not far in front of them. Kei would've probably missed it if it weren't for Kai.
"That works." He breathed and he almost wanted to smile for a moment.
They walked over to the structure. Kai let go of Kei and hobbled over to the far corner before gingerly setting himself down. Kei chose to sit closer to the entrance and let himself sit back and relax, shivering slightly.
"Are you cold?" Kai asked from his corner.
"I'm fine." Kei said. "Go to sleep."
There was some shuffling before something landed in Kei's lap. It was Kai's jacket. "Wha-" Kei started before Kai cut him off.
"Wear it. You deserve it more that I do."
"No I don't." Kei scoffed, throwing the jacket back at the stubborn blond.
"Yes, you do. You saved my life." The jacket landed back in his lap.
"You saved mine too. Your life wouldn't even be in need of saving if you hadn't come with me."
"It was my choice too. If I could go back in time, I'd still choose to help you. Maybe a bit more efficiently. Now put the jacket on and get some rest."
Kei stared down at the black jacket, then at Kai, who had turned his face away from his and was now breathing softly. Kei let out a defeated sigh and shrugged the jacket on. It smelled of musk and sweat and something distinctly Kai.
Kei leaned his head back and closed his eyes, fully relaxing as he slowly drifted into the darkness of his own mind.
Kei woke to the sound of a crackling fire. He opened one eye and saw a small flame at his feet. He jumped, not fully awake yet, and Kai looked up at him from the fire with a raised eyebrow.
"Morning princess." He muttered as he continued adding small sticks to the decently sized fire.
"What-" Kei's voice was hoarse. He cleared his throat. "What are you doing?"
"What does it look like? I'm making a fire."
"Yeah, but why?" Kei's eyes flitted to the opening of the rocks where sunlight was filtering through onto Kai's face, making his eyes looks like melted gold.
Kei flushed slightly at the thought, but Kai didn't seem to notice. "To cook breakfast, of course. You can't exactly expect me to walk all day while suffering from malnutrition."
"I didn't realize we had food that needed cooking."
"Well that, and plus, I was freezing. You were looking a bit blue too, even with the extra layer."
Kei sat closer to the fire, the heat on his cheeks getting stronger. "You could've taken your jacket back, you know."
Kai snorted, "I didn't want to wake you up. You needed to sleep." After a short pause, he added, "Besides, I didn't want you to be colder than you already were."
Kei said nothing and opted for watching the fire instead. Kai unzipped the backpack and pulled out a can of hotdogs and some wooden sticks. He shoved one on each of the stick and handed one to Kei, which he gratefully took.
They roasted their hotdogs over the fire in silence until it was broken by Kai. "We're running low on supplies. If we come across a gas station or something, we should stop and grab some stuff."
"How much money do we have left?" Kei asked, as he began to nibble at his food.
"Not much." Kai closed his eyes, as if he was trying to will strength into his body. "We have to figure out something soon. We can't just run for the rest of our lives."
Kei was quiet for a moment before saying, "We can always go to meet Mr. Sato." Kai's head snapped up as Kei continued. "He told me where to meet him. Today. I think he could help us."
"No way, Kei." Kai shook his head. "I'm not risking it. There is a very high chance of this guy having ill intentions and I don't want to risk losing you and quite possibly my life." The blond boy paused for a moment. "It's better we just figure out how to solve this problem on our own."
Although Kei didn't want to admit it, Kai was right. There was no one in the world that they could trust at that moment but each other.
"Okay." Kei said. "Then lets follow that road today and see where it leads us. Can you walk?"
Using his hands and the wall of the rock as support, Kai pushed himself into his feet. Kei braced himself to catch the other teen if he were to fall, but after some stumbling, he was able to gain balance on both his legs. "I'm good." He told Kei.
Kei nodded and put the fire out. He packed what little belongings they had and returned Kai's jacket to him. He slung the backpack over his shoulder and led Kai out of the rock formation.
The sun burned his eyes as the forest was now lit up with morning light. He squinted at their surroundings and then continued walking in the direction of the road. He was thankful to find that the road was relatively unused. Both boys sat and watched to see if any cars would pass by, but in the hour that they waited, not even a tumbleweed made its way down the road.
The teens began their journey following the road. They stayed close to the forest, in case they needed to take cover if a vehicle happened to pass by, but the unoccupied road remained so as they continued trudge along.
The day gradually got warmer until both boys were sweating in the humid, summer heat. Kei rejected any water he got offered by Kai.
"If I die from dehydration, I'll just revive anyway." He assured the other boy. "You should keep it for yourself."
Still, Kai cast worried glances at him, but Kei's narrowed eyes remained forward, his mind set on finding some other sign of human civilization. Kai wouldn't be able to last much longer. They were going much slower than before and Kai's limp had returned at full force. Soon enough, he wouldn't be able to walk on his own.
"We should take a break." Kei told him, stopping abruptly.
"No, I'm fine." Kai gritted out, trying to push his friend to continue walking.
"Kai, you're practically about to collapse. We're taking a break." Kei's tone left no room for argument, and Kai sighed, defeated. The ajin led him behind some trees where they both sat in relief, having escaped the summer heat for a short while in the shade.
Kei closed his eyes, taking deep breaths in and out. The teen scrunched his eyebrows as he felt he was being watched and opened his eyes just in time to see Kai's own eyes darting away from him. Kei raised an eyebrow but decided not to say anything. They sat in silence for a short while before the Kai finally spoke up.
"Okay, I'm good again. We can continue." Kei put a hand on the blond boy's shoulder as he began to start getting up. He shook his head.
"I know you're eager to find shelter and supplies, but it won't help to push your limits. Especially if we run into someone who recognizes me." Kei shuddered at the thought of the hunters once again. "Rest."
Kai grudgingly relaxed once again, closing his eyes to take a short nap against the tree trunk. Kei sighed and watched the empty road. He too felt his eyelids drooping, but forced them to stay open as the leaves above them rustled from a soft breeze. Only about a half hour later, Kai stirred and his eyes fluttered open.
"How long was I out?" He asked, cracking his neck.
"Only about 30 minutes." Kei said, standing up. He offered a hand to the blond boy, which was gratefully accepted. The teens made their way to the road, both lost in thought.
"Woah!" Kei looked up in shock as an elder woman on a bike fell in front of them. "Stupid kids! Watch where you're going!"
"C'mom Kai, lets go." Kei urged. He couldn't risk being seen. Especially while Kai was with him
"Ow, that hurt." The old woman moaned in pain.
"We can't leave her here, Kei. She's hurt. She might not be able to move."
"You are too! Kai, if I'm recognized, it could be over for us." Kei hissed the last part to the taller boy.
"We have to help her. We should at least take her back to her home." The look Kai gave him made Kei realize he wouldn't be able to say no. His shoulders drooped.
"Fine. You grab her bike and items and I'll carry her."
Kai's smile lit up his face. Kei walked over to the woman and offered his help to which she accepted, climbing onto his back. He huffed, as it was the second person on his back in the last 24 hours, and started walking. Kai was limping slightly behind him with her bike and items.
The woman, introduced as Hanae Yamanaka, directed them to her home. It was in a small town surrounded with fields and forest. Kei assumed she hadn't recognized him and prayed the town didn't get any service.
His prayers were not answered, though, as the woman put a remote on the table as soon as she got back, urging both boys in her home and to the table.
She brought out some water and headed back into the kitchen. The teens exchanged glances before Kei said, "Thank you for inviting us into your home."
"Of course. After all, you did carry me and my things all the way here." She told them, coming back from the kitchen with some food. She set it down and clicked on the television.
'Search for the Ajin, Kei Nagai, is still ongoing. If you see him, please contact your local police station. He was last seen...'
Both Kei and Kai's heads snapped up, and they both braced themselves to run if needed. They watched Ms. Yamanaka's reaction. She shut the TV off and then turned to the two boys. You could hear a pin drop in the silence.
Suddenly, Kai gripped Kei's hand. Kei startled, looking up at Kai whose lip was in between his teeth, as he watched the woman with careful eyes. Kei looked away, blushing. He squeezed Kai's hand in comfort, and both teens prepared to make a break for it.
"I won't do anything rash." Ms. Yamanaka finally spoke. "A man's reason for running is his own." She turned to them and then looked at Kai. "And I imagine you are only helping a friend in need. If you both would like to stay here with me, I would be happy to have you in my home."
Kai's grip on Kei's hand loosened before disappearing all together. Kei immediately missed the warmth of his friends hand, but shook the feeling away, flustered.
"Thank you for the offer Miss, but-" Kai cut him off.
"We appreciate it very much and would be honored to stay in your home."
Ms. Yamanaka nodded, "I will tell you now that I expect help around the house and in the field."
"Of course." Kai answered. "If you don't mind. Kei and I are rather tired. May we turn in for the night?"
"Yes. Let me show you where you'll be sleeping." She led them to a small room and rolled out two mats for them. "There are blankets and pillows in the garage. Get a good nights rest as we have to wake early in the morning." She left the room. Kai left to the garage and appeared a few minutes later with an armful of bedding. As soon as he was in range, Kei elbowed his friend.
"Why the hell did you drag her into this now?" He hissed.
"Kei, we're hungry, tired, and on the verge of death. Well, at least I am. She offered us food and a bed, so I took it."
"And how do we know she's not calling the police right now?" Kei snapped.
"Don't worry, I have a plan if she does."
"Oh yeah? And what is that?"
"If she calls the cops then I'll tell you." Kei scoffed and caught the blanket Kai tossed him. He put it over himself and laid down on the hard mat, wincing as he realized he forgot a pillow, but not wanting to sit back up to get one. Kai chuckled, and Kei felt his head being lifted before a soft pillow took the place of the mat. "You're so stubborn." Kai said, smile in his voice before Kei heard the mat rustle beside him, then silence.
Out of complete exhaustion, Kei drifted off easily, his last thought being that he hadn't brushed his teeth in a while.
Kei woke in the early hours of the morning. He yawned and looked over to the other mat where Kai was still knocked out. Getting up, the teen made his way to the bathroom and turned on the shower. He happily let the warm water spray on him. It had been too long since he had taken a shower. Blood and dirt that had collected over the course of the last few days washed off and Kei winced as multiple cuts and scrapes stung in the presence of warm water.
He scrubbed himself throughly, using the lavender scent soap to wash his body down and the vanilla shampoo to get the dirt out of his hair.
After he finished, he wrapped a towel around his waist and found an unused toothbrush in the medicine cabinet. He brushed his teeth as he studied himself. He had definitely gotten thinner in the last few days. His initial chub had melted off and he was starting to already see his ribs poking through the skin of his stomach.
It was crazy to him how only a few days of minimized meals caused his body to change so drastically.
Kei decided to not dwell on it as he spit out the toothpaste and toweled his hair. He cursed at himself when he realized he forgot to bring a change of clothes. Gathering the towel around his waist, he walked out of the bathroom.
Kai was up. He had been wrapping his wounded leg in fresh bandages and turned at the sound of the bathroom door being opened. "Hey, Ms. Yamanaka left us some-" He cut himself off when he realized Kei was only in a towel and then hot blush spread across his cheeks as his eyes roamed up and down the ajin's figure.
Kei gripped the towel tighter, feeling self conscious. Kai seemed to realize this and averted his eyes. Clearing his throat, he continued speaking, "She left us some fresh clothes." He handed Kei some neatly folded clothes which Kei gratefully took. "She expects to be ready for breakfast in about 30 minutes."
"Okay." Kei nodded and turned back to the bathroom in order to get changed. He closed the door behind him and rested his head against it immediately afterwards. He took a deep breath. Then another. Finally, he let go of the towel around his waist and started to get dressed.
The clothing was simple, just a black t shirt and some blue jeans, but he was thankful for the clean clothes.
He exited the bathroom and Kai got up to go change as well. Kei made his way to the kitchen where Ms. Yamanaka was cooking. He studied the older woman for a short while, not sure exactly what he was looking for, but he didn't find it. "It smells good." He commented.
The older woman jumped at his voice and then scowled when she saw him, shaking her head. "You know, you remind me a lot of my grandson."
"I do?" He asked.
"Indeed. I haven't seen him in a while, but with you and your friend here, I'm feeling a bit nostalgic." Kei hummed in acknowledgement and Ms. Yamanaka continued, "Today you will help me in the field. It will only be a few hours of work and after that, you are free to do whatever you like."
Kei nodded and went to sit at the table. He turned on the tv, switching it to something other than the news. As he watched the cartoon characters run across the screen, he wondered how long it and been since he actually watched tv for entertainment purposes.
Kai came in and sat next to him. He smelled of pine and Kei wondered where he had gotten the soap from. He nodded to the other in greeting and only a few moments later, Ms. Yamanaka came in with breakfast. They ate in relative silence, save for the cartoonish sounds coming from the television. Kei was the first to finish and took his dish to the sink. As he walked back, he heard Ms. Yamanaka say to Kai, "Due to your leg injury, you'll just be cleaning the house today. I left a list for you on the fridge and I will show you where all the cleaning supplies are."
"Thank you, Ms. Yamanaka." Kei waited patiently as the older women showed Kai where everything was before he followed Ms. Yamanaka outside and to the field. With some minor explaining, they had gotten to work straight away, picking the ripened plants and throwing out the rotting ones.
It wasn't hard work, necessarily, but the sun beating down on Kei's back made him sweaty and made his face flush. He felt extremely grateful when Kai came out with some cold water, downing it in a second flat. He let a smile slip at the other teen, who looked surprised for a moment before grinning back. "You just seemed like you needed it."
"Ah, he'll get used to the heat eventually." Ms.
Yamanaka said, patting Kei's sweaty shoulder.
Kei shook his head and thanked Kai before returning to his work in the field. After a few more hours of work, Ms. Yamanaka took the last basket they had filled and waved her hand. "Feel free to go enjoy yourself. I believe we've gotten enough done for today."
Kei knew exactly what he wanted to do.
Walking in the opposite direction of the house, he found himself searching in the forest for a spot far enough away to be secluded. He jumped when a man seemed to pop out of nowhere, a large basket on his back. The man eyed him suspiciously and Kei silently prayed he wouldn't be recognized. After a long moment the man grumbled out, "And who the hell're you?"
Kei's mouth fell open as he stumbled for an answer. He quickly bowed respectfully and said, "My apologies. I am Ms. Yamanaka's grandson."
"Hanae's grandson, huh?" The man came closer to inspect him. "She talks about you quite a lot."
"I'm surprised you came to visit." The man grumbled something about teens these days before saying, "Well be careful out here. One could get easily lost so I would recommend not going in too far."
Kei bowed again, "Thank you, sir."
The man said nothing and continued to where he was going before. Kei watched him leave and when the man was out of site, he tread a little deeper into the forest, finding what seemed like a good spot.
He took a deep breath and began to focus on releasing energy into the forest. He opened his eyes and made a noise of shock as the black ghost loomed over him.
Kei stumbled backwards, almost tripping over himself, but he caught himself and stood up and his full height, which was barely half the height of the dark creature. "What are you?" Kei whispered.
The creature said nothing and instead walked up to one of the many tree trunks. Kei watched with curiosity, but jumped back when the creature began to claw aggressively at the tree, immediately beginning to rip the bark off. "What are you doing?! Stop!"
The creature refused to listen to him. "Stop! Stop!" It repeated like it was mocking him.
"Quit that!" Kei yelled.
"Stop!" The tree fell to the forest floor with a loud thump. The black ghost looked down at the fallen trunk before sluggishly walking over to another tree.
"Would you fucking stop already! What use are you if I can't control you?"
The ghost turned to Kei and stood there for a moment. "I did...nothing...wrong." The creature began to disintegrate into the sky until all that was left in front of Kei was forest.
Sighing, Kei kicked at a stone and began making his way back to Ms. Yamanaka's home. He entered the oven-warmed home and found Kai and Ms. Yamanaka both sitting at the table.
"There you are," Ms. Yamanaka said, "I was beginning to wonder where you were."
"I was only in the forest." Kei assured her. "I thought I'd explore a little."
"You might want to be more careful. You never know what's around here."
'Or who.' Kei thought.
Kei ate dinner in overall silence, too lost in thought to pay attention to his companion's conversation.
After dinner, the two boys took turns taking a shower, then laid down on the sleeping mats. Kei looked up at the ceiling, his eyes beginning to close, but he was snapped out of his sleepiness at the sound of Kai's voice.
Kei heard shuffling and glanced to the side, watching as Kai turned his body to face the ajin. Kei decided to do the same. "What's up?"
"Nothing. I just like looking at your face."
Kei snorted, a slight heat rising to his cheeks. "No, seriously, what's going on?"
"I am being serious." Kai said, offended. "You have a very pleasant face." He paused, "But...I was just wondering, do you really think we're safe here?"
Kei sighed, thinking back to the man in the woods, "I think we will be for a short while. Long enough for you to recover. Then, if something happens, we'll hit the road. Look for somewhere else safe to stay for a little while."
Kai traced patterns on the mat, biting his lip, "You know, it's silly, but I'm kind of scared about what might happen to us."
"That's not silly, Kai. It's normal. That's why if I ever tell you to run, do it, even if I'm not following you. You've already done so much for me, I don't want you suffer anymore. If you get a chance, I want you to be able to live a normal, happy life." Kei took a deep breath. "That's all I ask for you."
Kai was quiet for a short moment before placing his hand over Kei's. "I risk my life for you because I want to live life with you. You were my best friend once upon a time. I'd like to think you still are. Kei, I would never leave you to fight for yourself, ajin or not, because I'd never be able to live with myself if I did that." He squeezed Kei's hand and Kei turned his hand palm side up in order to intertwine their fingers.
They laid like that for a long time in silence. Both boy's breathing evened out until they had fallen asleep, hands still clasped together.
They stayed with Ms. Yamanaka for a few months. Kai kept inside the house for a majority of the time, both to let himself heal and to keep from arousing any suspicion from the town's citizens.
The man in the forest, who Kei had come to know as Mr. Kita, began showing hostility towards Kei, so the ajin took it upon himself to makes amends with the older man by bringing him a bottle of Sake.
It was to no avail, apparently, Kei realized as he heard multiple police sirens heading his way and getting closer.
He stood up in the field and looked around. Everyone else seemed to be curious as to what was happening and stared in the direction of the sirens. Ms. Yamanaka caught Kei's eye and raised an eyebrow.
He turned to the house where he saw Kai peering through the window. Even with only a slight nudge of his head, Kai seemed to understand what he was trying to say and disappeared back into the house.
The police approached and a man with white hair stepped out of one of the vehicles. Kei recognized him from the news. He was one of the officials who specialized in hunting ajins, and more importantly, hunting him.
The man and a dozen other cops began walking through the field, inspecting each person they came across. Kei couldn't move. If he tried to leave, he'd be noticed immediately.
The group got closer. Kei crouched down further into the field as they approached Ms. Yamanaka.
"Hello Miss, we were wondering if you've seen this boy?" The officer speaking held up a picture of what Kei presumed to be of him.
Ms. Yamanaka pretended to inspect the photo. "I don't believe I have. This is quite a small town. We don't get many visitors here."
"Who it that?" The white-haired man asked, looking at Kei.
"Oh, that's my grandson. He's visiting me for the summer."
"You, stand up."
Kei took a deep breath and stood slowly, looking down at his feet.
"Look at me." Kei looked down at his hand where the weed cutter he was using rest in his hand. In a split second decision, he grabbed Ms. Yamanaka (not as roughly as he made it look) and pressed the sharp tool to her neck.
The police had their guns pointed at him in a split second but he managed to stand without shaking. "Shoot me and I kill her." He bit out before whispering a 'sorry' to her.
"It's okay," she whispered back as he made a show of pressing the object closer to her, "it's kind of fun. Like I'm in one of those dramatic cop shows."
Kei didn't have time to say anything back to her before the roar of an engine interrupted him. Everyone around him turned to the noise and the ajin used the distraction to begin running. A split second later, he was dodging bullets, but he crouched down and made his running pattern unpredictable. In front of him, he saw the forest. The roar was now coming from his right.
He turned his head to see none other than Kai on a large black motorcycle, making his way to the edge of the forest, in front of Kei. Kei smiled, picking up his pace, his feet pounding against the field.
Closer and closer until Kai had pulled up right in front of him, slowing down only enough for Kei to jump on the worn leather seat and wrap his arms around the blond.
Kai took off again, this time into the forest. Kei could hear police sirens, but they seemed distant with the wind in his ears and his body pressed against Kai's. His heart pounded in his head and he was breathing heavily, his lips still upturned in a large smile. Suddenly he began to laugh. It must've sounded crazy, especially in a situation like this, but then he felt Kai chuckling slightly as well.
"Why're you laughing?" Kai yelled over the wind. His focus stayed on the bumpy path of the forest as he dodged trees and rocks left and right.
"This was your plan, huh? All those months ago when we had first met Ms. Yamanaka." Kei yelled back.
"Sort of. When I went to get the blankets in the garage, I saw this thing. It was really beat up, so, with permission, I fixed it up. I figured if we ever needed a quick means of escape, this was it."
Kei was still laughing, but quieter now. "You're amazing, Kai."
The sirens had faded into the distance until Kei could barely hear them at all over the motorcycle.
He unconsciously pressed himself closer to Kai as they continued riding. It began to rain softly after a little while. The summer air had become more humid around them.
Eventually, the forest turned into road, although Kei couldn't say when.
The road seemed fairly abandoned. No cars or flashing red and blue lights in sights. Kai slowed down a bit. Enough to allow the rain to hit them both more often.
"Where to now?" Kei asked.
"Somewhere safe. Where I can keep you safe."
"Where I can keep you safe." Kei returned and Kai shook his head with a smile.
"Where we can keep each other safe."
Kei rested his head on the taller teen's back, not caring that his shirt was damp, "Better."
How long they were on the road for, Kei couldn't say. Hours, probably. The rain and stopped and the police probably already have half the country looking for a worn, black motorcycle with two teenage boys on it, one more distinguishable than the other, but Kei couldn't find himself in the mood to care at the moment.
They had barely passed anyone on that road anyway, so being caught was an issue for later.
Eventually Kai slowed to a stop. Kei had been dozing off, but was suddenly at full alert. "Why'd we stop?"
"We're here." Kei gave him a weird look. They weren't anywhere. They had stopped in front of a huge bush of sorts. "It's a corn maze." Kai explained. "Just trust me."
The blond boy led Kei through the winding paths of the maze, often taking hard lefts or turning around suddenly to go somewhere else, leading the motorcycle with him. Finally, they made it to the end where they encountered even more field.
Kei parked the motorcycle at the end of the maze and the two teens walked for a long time until Kei could see a building in the distance. It was a small home. Kei couldn't see much in the darkness except for the porch, which was lit by a dim gas light.
"What is this place?" Kei wondered.
"My aunt lives here." Kai told him. "She's my dad's older sister. I-" Kai paused his walking and so did Kei. "I don't know if she'll accept us. I actually don't know what she'll do, but from what I remember, she's kind and open-minded. I'm hoping we can stay here for a while. If not..." he trailed off.
Suddenly, Kai fully turned to Kei, placing both his hands on the shorter boy's shoulders. "Kei, if all goes to hell, then I feel like I should tell you now."
"Tell me what?"
"Kei," Kai stared into his friend's eyes with urgency, "Kei, I think I like you."
There was silence as Kei took a little while to processed this statement. His brain wasn't cooperating with him as he struggled to find the right words to respond with, but what was he supposed to say?
"You don't have to say anything, Kei. I know it's probably a lot to take in. I just...wanted to get it off my chest. Before anything else happens." Kai seemed disappointed almost, a flustered blush covering his cheeks.
Kei was still recovering from shock as Kai spoke. He didn't know if he could even manage to get a word to come out of his mouth without it sounding like gibberish.
And before he even knew what he was doing, the smaller boy stood slightly on the balls of his feet and pressed his mouth to Kai's.
It was short, barely a peck, but it still put both boys in state of surprise. Kei pulled back, not able to understand what he'd just done.
Kai looked down at him, his blush reaching his ears and Kei could feel his own face heating up as his brain finally caught up with his actions and before he could even think, he stuttered out, "I-I think I like you too!"
And that was probably too loud and his face was probably to red, but Kei had never been good with feelings or people in general.
But the way Kai beamed at him after he completely embarrassed himself like that seemed to make it all worth it.
The blond boy bent down and pressed their lips together again, this time more like a kiss than a peck. Kei let out a small breath of air and tilted his head slightly, causing their lips to slot together pleasantly.
It was soft and light and a bit inexperienced, but it was perfect.
The two pulled away in unison. Kei looked at Kai through half-lidded eyes, feeling as though he was on cloud nine. Kai places his hands against Kei's cheeks and stroked his cheekbones softly, "We'll talk more about this later, I promise, but thank you for accepting my feelings."
Kei wrapped his arms around Kai and pressed himself into the other teen, "Thank you for being with me no matter what I said or how I treated you. You're my angel, Kai."
The blond boy sniffled, returning the embrace. "Together, Kei. That's the promise we made to each other. Not just a few months ago, but when we were kids too. We'd always be together, through thick and thin. I plan to keep that promise until the day I die because you're my best friend and hopefully you'll be more to me one day."
"You won't die, I'll make sure of it." Kei mumbled, determined. "I want us to be more one day too. Whether that's today or tomorrow or next year and there is no way in hell I'm letting you die or be captured before or after then."
Kai laughed slightly, "Right back at you, Nagai."
And with that, the two boys parted. No words were exchanged as they faced the darkened house. With hope in their eyes and love in their hearts, the began walking, hand in hand, spirits intertwined. Together.
For skinny_momo ❤️