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Affection

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You caught him trying to bandage himself up in the bathroom. Really, he was as hopeless as ever.

“Go wait outside.”

Reiji flinched, the running water from the tap drowned out your approaching footsteps. Instead of turning around, he stared at you from the mirror. He was still in his own thoughts, not quite broken out of them yet.

You opened the door wider than the inches it was open before as you stepped inside. It was cramped with two people. The water was still running.

You repeated your words with a turn of your head, gesturing towards the door. Once his eyes focused, his face slipped into that smile you knew was coming.

“Heya, kiddo. I was just…” It was his turn to nod at his hands. Half of the bandage he applied was already soaked and the other half didn’t even seem to be covering what it was supposed to.

Truly, a lost cause.

“Out.” You had to keep a stern expression. He wasn’t getting out of this one. You weren’t going to leave him any room to. “I’ll be out in a second.”

The smile faltered and he knew you were serious. He turned his eyes downward as he passed you and then you were alone. The water was still running.

Turning towards the sink, you looked at the mess he made. There were various sizes of bandages scattered across the vanity. Some were opened, their packaging laying not too far away. Cloth bandages were laying unrolled not too far from the others. A pair of scissors lay beside them. There was a tube of ointment to ward off infection. The cap was off and there were smudges of the medication on the tube due to clumsy handling.

The sink was tinged pink. You washed your hands with soap, scrubbing them clean for a few minutes. You then used the running water to wash away any reminder of the blood before shutting the water off. The bathroom felt eerie without the background noise. The silence was nearly overwhelming enough to make you turn the water back on.

You ignored it. The ever present buzz was a distraction.

The strewn about supplies looked stark on the white counter. Fallen drops of blood bloomed and offered the only colour for your eyes to see. You grabbed the cloth, scissors, a towel, some bandages, and the tube. A little bit of everything, really. You knew he wasn’t that injured and it was for precaution only but still.

Reiji was sitting at the table when you emerged from the bathroom. You set all the supplies down, laid it out plain to see. Then you sat next to him and extended your hands.

He hesitated before overlaying his hands with yours. You gripped his firmly to stop the shaking. He still wasn’t looking at you. You could work with that for now.

The palms of his hands were fine, no issues there. It was his knuckles that caught your attention when you turned his hands over. The parts that hadn’t been covered yet were bright red and bruised. They looked sore, the right more so than the left.

It seems your first task was to remove the attempts Reiji made to patch himself up. Then, you had to apply the bandages properly. Lastly, you had to get him talking. As you ran through your mental checklist, you sighed at the third one. Might as well start now.

As your hands went to gently prying the freshly applied bandages off, your mind went through possible conversation starters.

“What were you thinking?” was too aggressive. You didn’t want to belittle him.

“Why weren’t you more careful?” was pointless. This was after the fact.

“Why didn’t you tell anyone?” wasn’t… right. At least, not right away.

The air remained still as you peeled off the last one. It was saturated with water, offering little resistance to your fingers. It came off easy. You got a good look at his injuries.

“Does it hurt?” You asked him, your quick fingers already holding the towel and dabbing away. The area had to be dry before anything would stick. When Reiji flinched again, you got your answer.

“Sorry.” Was he apologizing because he moved? Or because he got caught? Either way, at least he was talking.

“For?” You looked up at him, your hands stilled. He wasn’t looking at you but rather, his hands. Perhaps your question came out a bit too harshly. Reiji didn’t look up.

“Just, you know…” He was mumbling his words, you could barely hear them. His body was hunched forward, shoulders drawn in. Whatever he must be feeling right now, you thought, must be strong enough to have him act in such a way.

Letting him be, your hands continued. You picked up the tube and wiped it off on the towel. It had to be washed anyways. Taking a swirl of medication on your forefinger, you rubbed it lightly across the knuckles of his right hand. That one was more damaged so you applied a leisurely amount. The smell of it was enough for you to wrinkle your nose.

His hands had stopped shaking but were limp now. That was fine, it was easier to take care of him like this anyways. Body then mind, wasn’t it?

You had trouble picking the packaging off an individually wrapped band-aid so you opted for a cloth wrapping instead. It would be more visible but provide better cover. Taking his hand, you wrapped the cloth around once, twice, and cut it before it became a third time. You tied it to stay in place and switched hands.

“How does it feel?” You watched as he worked his hand. The cloth pulled taunt when he made his hand into a fist and loose when he stretched his fingers out. For the first time since you found him, he gave you a smile.

“It feels good. Doesn’t sting anymore.” He was looking at you now too. His gray eyes didn’t blink when you stared back.

A sigh passed through you, one of gratefulness. You held out your hands again and he gave you his left one in return. You went through the motions again and the cloth was around his hand soon enough.

“Let me clean up,” were your words. Collecting all the medical supplies in your arms, you stood and made one trip to the bathroom. You planned to quickly put everything away and head back out to check on Reiji when you heard a door open and then quickly shut close. It rattled the walls.

Dropping everything on the counter, you ran back out to an empty space. You called out his name tentatively, as if he would pop out from somewhere after messing with you. When you got no response, your legs brought you over to the door. You nearly tore it open and poked your head out. He wasn’t anywhere to be seen.

Disheartened, you went back inside.

Your phone vibrated in your back pocket. Unsurprisingly, it was a message from Reiji.

“Thank you.”

You read his message out loud. So he did give you the slip. You sighed again, running your hand through your hair. Really, what were you going to do with him? Your only choice was to get it out of him later. You headed back into the bathroom to finish cleaning up.