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The Shadow of Your Wings

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            For a good reason it’s sometimes said to those who’ve recently sinned without repenting, ‘don’t leave your window open at night for demons will surely find their way to you’. I am one…who did not listen, my reasons cannot change the facts.

 

[10:30 pm - Top floor of a dense city apartment…]

            A man with brightly red hair dumped his keys into a basket by the entrance to his shared abode and let his apartment door close behind him with a slam. He sighed, he was stressed out and tired. Wandering further into the carpeted apartment after kicking off his shoes the man came around a corner of the entrance’s hallway to find his partner laying belly-down in sleepwear and watching television half-heartedly from their neatly-made twin-sized double bed. This apartment was so small that the bedroom shared space in a single room with the living room. Their kitchen was small too but an open one and the bathroom was just barely big enough with a shower, toilet and sink to fit just one of them at a time. They didn’t have enough money for anything else with average city rent bleeding them dry. Just two rooms and a closet in the entrance hallway. Barely enough space to breathe. “Hey…”

 

            A ginger man, with short fluffy tangerine hair, on the bed lifted his head immediately when he snapped from a trance-like state as he was watching television but he didn’t smile as he saw a familiar face. “Hey.” It was pretty dim in the apartment; their windows were shut but the curtains were back and the dull light of the city lights’ glow plus the flat-screen television was the only thing illuminating the room.

 

            The man just having come into the small apartment was taking off his windbreaker jacket now, standing by the kitchen and laying it down on the edge of the island counter nearest. “Have you been watching TV all day?”

 

            “Renji, please don’t do that…” The man on the bed stretched out his limbs and tucked his face partly behind his arms.

 

            “Don’t do what?”

 

            “Ask me that.”

 

            Renji, the vividly crimson-haired redhead who’d just arrived home, frowned as he stayed by the counter. “It was just a question, Ichigo.” It was a little annoying to be talking over the moderate volume of the television program but the way that Ichigo had responded gave him the answer he’d sought.

 

            A judging question by Ichigo’s perspective. His hazel eyes found the television again.

 

            “Can you turn that off?” Renji prodded.

 

            Ichigo just shook his head and remained as he had been this whole time – seeming very lazy.

 

            “Why not?” Renji sounded mildly like he was complaining as he stood still by the counter where he’d set his thin windbreaker with a hand upon it. It was hard to see what else this man was wearing from work in the dim lighting of the cold room. Their heat had been on the fritz since the first week of autumn; it was definitely not on today, which was a chilly day.

 

            “When was the last time we had sex?” Ichigo condescended in response as he continued staring at the television half-heartedly with his chin supported on the backs of his hands.

 

            Renji frowned harder and started to shake his head a few times. “Don’t do that… I work.” He was busy…and worn out…and really tired… …all of the time.

 

            “So?” Ichigo sniped. He’d been rather unemployed for months now and pretty damn unhappy with everything for most of that while. “You don’t have time to get it up for ten minutes at least once a week?”

 

            Angrily Renji went his separate way from his aggravating partner and started making himself something quick to eat. Macaroni and cheese with a side of thawed vegetables and milk. When Renji was done preparing his meal he looked at Ichigo again, who hadn’t moved at all, still laying uselessly upon the bed. Renji couldn’t give a shit what was on that TV; he stared square at Ichigo. “Do you want food?”

 

            “I’m not hungry.” Unemployed and depressed. Ichigo had lost his appetite mostly around the same time as he’d ‘lost’ his job due to a moral conflict; he’d seen something where he’d last worked that made it impossible to stay focused on work. Shortly after he’d been unfairly reamed by his employer and quit a day later without notice. He couldn’t have stayed there. Ever since then he’d been eating less and thinned out quite a bit.

 

            Renji shook his head. “You need a job.”

 

            “Just stop it. I can’t handle it right now.”

 

            Picking up his plate with utensils and cup Renji sorely wished that he had another room to escape to so that he didn’t have to look at this helpless misery. It wasn’t that he didn’t care but he couldn’t handle it either. “You need to grow up.” They had bills to pay and it felt like forever since Ichigo had claimed that his personal savings were empty and he couldn’t contribute to living expenses any more.

 

            That particular statement, ‘grow up’, would tick just about anyone off, especially someone who was already miserable. “I’m not the one who, as a grown-up in their right mind cheated by fucking the guy down the hall…”

 

            Renji’s face twitched. “Hisagi doesn’t live there anymore, you can let that go. I already apologized.”

 

            “To him…”

 

            “To you! You don’t remember do you?”

 

            Ichigo covered his ears and put his face down on the bed. He didn’t care that Renji had apologized, it just bothered him that it had happened anyway, that was sometime last month – fresh wounds. For reasons only Ichigo would know this also bothered him because he knew that he’d cheated on Renji several times before and after Renji had done the same to him, but Ichigo had gotten away with it… They hadn’t been having sex, sexual urges neglected were too strong and Ichigo had just caved. It felt like ‘losing’ his job had caused all of this. He was so off keel that he couldn’t fix problems anymore.

 

            Annoyed vastly by his partner’s behavior Renji gritted his teeth and took his food into the bathroom and using the sink as a table of sorts and toilet as a chair shut the door before he could say anything he regretted. It was a fucking small space but at least it was private.

 

            Out in the main room Ichigo resumed half-heartedly watching TV once he noticed that Renji had gone off into the bathroom alone. For just a minute Ichigo stared at the closed bathroom door and furiously rubbed away a couple of heavy tears he wished weren’t silently streaking down his cheeks and felt absolutely useless as a man and the same annoyance toward his partner. This evening had been aimless and horrible.

 

 

            In a twin double bed it was impossible to avoid bumping shoulders sometimes between two men even if they slept on their sides and they were both unfortunately annoyed by each other’s presence. They took turns being roused by the other shifting, Renji with his face toward the kitchen and Ichigo with himself turned to look at the curtains and a closed window. Eventually after enough hours and what should have been normal rest broken up into what felt like countless uncomfortable naps the sun was rising and Renji was getting up for work again.

 

            Ichigo was awake but pretending not to be. He felt his partner move the covers and get off of the mattress. He heard more of the shift of covers and the clinks of Renji pulling on his pants and the belt that seldom left the loops except for when the pants went into the wash. He listened to the redhead grumble over a shirt and guessed Renji to be tucking it in when things got quieter.

 

            Renji was ready a full ten minutes before he needed to be and switched off his alarm clock even though he actually knew that Ichigo was awake. Breathing patterns…his partner was bad at faking sleep. Kneeling slightly on the mattress after dressing himself and being careful not to wrinkle his nice clothing a kiss was bestowed on the exposed side of Ichigo’s cheek and shoulder. “Please try to do something today. Not TV, just do something else.”

 

            Ichigo was annoyed that his fake sleep had been had. He stayed quiet, pretending like it was still working and thinking about how much he would enjoy a cigarette right now.

 

            Renji backed off of the bed, leaving Ichigo to peace and pulling on his socks, gathering his wallet and windbreaker jacket from where he’d left them on the counter from yesterday, brushing his teeth and swiping deodorant on at the least then heading for the door where his shoes and jacket went on. The apartment door opened, giving brief sound of the noise in the hallway before shutting again. Even ten minutes early might not be enough to save him from the city traffic and Renji wished he’d gotten up even earlier to have a shower – deodorant would have to suffice. He locked the apartment door behind himself.

 

            Squeezing his eyes shut as he heard the door close again Ichigo tried to actually go to sleep. This situation was hard…being in a depressed pit when the man he kind of loved was always gone as soon as it was dawn. When they’d first gotten together Renji hadn’t needed to work nearly as much because they both had jobs. Now… Now it was so different, and on some level Ichigo wanted the courage to fix himself but he couldn’t get an upper hand while there was nothing in sight to fuel hope. He kind of just wanted to die but at the same time that scared him; Renji didn’t know. For better or worse Ichigo fell to sleep – a real sleep this time, and this time he was unconscious for hours.

 

 

Censored Version:

 

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