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An Ever-Present Demon

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“What’s your name?” The voice asked. It was gentle and comforting but with a small slice of chill that made a shiver run down Shin’s spine. He immediately tensed, he knew better than to trust these gentle whispers that would usher him into despair and break him again. Not that he wasn’t broken enough at that point

“Leave me alone,” Shin spat out, practically hissing at the unwelcome newcomer, blood dripped from his split-lip onto his shirt. He wanted to wipe it away but knew that it would only smear more, however, he did take care of the metal-tasting liquid that flowed into his mouth. Shin was weird, he rather liked the way his blood tasted but he didn’t like to show it. After all, he didn’t need to be labelled a creep for one more reason.

“Hiyori Sou, what about you?” Couldn’t the guy see that Shin wanted to be left alone? He had no interest in the other’s name and tilted his head away to express that. He wasn't going to answer, especially knowing that he was a guy to be feared. He recognised the green-haired boy standing in front of him, that chilling smile of Sou’s made Shin’s blood curl.

The name had finally clicked, Hiyori Sou was dangerous. He wasn’t someone he should approach, even the dumbest people in their school knew not to pick a fight with the green-haired boy currently standing in front of Shin. That smile on Sou’s face didn’t leave and Shin felt like he was walking on eggshells, one wrong move and he would be dead. If he wasn’t going to die from the bullies then he would die from the other male in front of him.

“Tsukimi Shin,” the teal-haired male was ready to clobber himself. Why hadn’t he given the other a fake name? Just how stupid could one be, then again, he wasn’t in his best state of mind, he had lost quite a bit of blood and he was practically sure that he had suffered brain damage from their bullying.

“Shin… how delightful,” there wasn’t anything delighted about Sou’s features. Instead, Shin could’ve sworn he had seen Sou’s features scrunch up in disgust but when he blinked, Sou’s face was stuck in its perpetual smile. Shin shook his head, after all, what did it matter to him if Sou found his name terrible?

“What do you want from me?” Shin asked. He was too tired and didn’t wish to waste more energy on the one standing in front of him. Shin would admit rather reluctantly that Sou’s reaction had slightly injured his feelings. His body hurt all over and the only he wanted to do at the moment was to go home and never move from the couch anymore. He’d probably bleed all over it but it wasn’t like anyone was going to yell at him for that.

He felt slightly self-conscious as he looked at Sou, the green-haired male looked so crisp whereas he himself looked terrible. He had blood everywhere on his clothes, he could barely move his body from the pain and couldn’t wipe off any of the blood that had accumulated onto his uniform for fear of sullying it even more. He wondered if the concierge would see the blood and come to him to ask to clean it up again. Life truly was unfair in some ways.

“What do you think?” Sou asked, not answering his question. Shin felt his teeth grind together from how annoying the other was being and almost wanted to slap the other or punch him but he restrained himself. More like his own body was restricting him from getting up, his legs felt like they were broken but Shin knew better.

They had gone easy on him today, he was pretty sure he didn’t have any broken bones. He didn’t think he’d had any since the last time they had done so and were forced to pay his medical bills. Nowadays, he was stuck with a softer version of their usual massacre on his body and he was glad for that. It made moving relatively easier. He also never wanted to relive the trauma of getting his dinger crushed under anyone’s boot while he begged for them to stop ever again. Just the thought alone was enough to make him shiver.

“I don’t know, that’s why I’m asking,” something about Sou was too much for Shin to look at. He averted his gaze, too fearful of the other to look at him properly. He heard Sou’s tongue click and heard rustling before he felt Sou’s height drop so that he was practically squatting in front of him, his smile remained despite his tone.

“How rude of you, look at me,” those green-eyes of his held a semblance of warmth as Sou gently tilted Shin’s head back so that he was looking into his eyes. Sou’s grip was tight against his jaw, preventing from turning his head away.

“What do you want from me?” He repeated, just in case the other had forgotten. Shin was starting to feel incredibly small under Sou’s gaze. He desperately wished to avert his eyes but Sou wouldn’t let him, there was something enrapturing about the green-eyed male.

“You look like someone that could interest me. Do tell me, are you getting bullied or did you pick a fight with them?” Shin scoffed, there was no way Sou wasn’t mocking him at that point. Everyone in the school knew that he was getting bullied for his differentiating views on some topics and for his sexuality. Then again, would someone really tell Sou that Shin was getting bullied? Shin figured out that there were chances that he wouldn’t know so he didn’t try to show his anger.

“I picked a fight with them,” Shin sighed. He didn’t want to get pity from Sou, he didn’t need it either. It was rather annoying that some people thought it was important for them to show their concern by babying him… not that he actually minded but he didn’t crave it either.

“You shouldn’t lie to me, you know? Then again, I guess that just adds to your charm, doesn’t it?” Sou asked, his fingers left Shin’s face but even so, Shin didn’t avert his eyes and kept them trailed on Sou’s. There was something that was making his body comply with Sou’s demands.

“What? My charm?” Shin asked in confusion. He didn’t like the way Sou’s eyes lit up with a happy glint as if he had just found the newest addition to whatever collection he owned. Sou was being creepy in more ways than one and Shin didn’t like it one bit.

“... However, don’t you ever dare lie to me ever again,” Sou’s tone was icy and his eyes were piercing as he stared at Shin. He didn’t stop staring at him until the teal-haired boy finally nodded at him weakly. Sou’s tone sent Shin’s nerves on overdrive, he was almost getting ready to defend himself against the oncoming onslaught, but it never came.

“Okay,” Shin replied verbally once he realised that a physical reply wouldn’t be enough for Sou to be satisfied with. His voice trembled, betraying his fear as he tried to put on a brave facade, Sou stared at him for a while before he slowly nodded and the smile returned to his face.

“Very good, now then, should we go get dinner together?” Sou asked. Shin nodded his assent but quickly realised that he wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon, his legs were like jello. They couldn’t support his weight thanks to the harm done to him and he could feel tears brewing up in his eyes at how weak he was.

“Sou,” he called out weakly and judging by Sou’s reaction, Shin must have sounded rather pained because the other turned around quickly and came to his side to help him. Sou knelt down in front of Shin and removed his school bag handing it over to the him since at least, his hands and arms were working fine. Sou carried him on his back for the rest of their way to the ramen shop and gently set him down on a chair.

Shin had been rather surprised, he had always known that he was underweight but he hadn’t expected Sou to be able to lift him up without so much as a grunt. Sou didn’t break a sweat not even when the sun started to set and shone brightly on them. Shin had relaxed onto his back then, making sure to hold their bags tightly as he did. Sou didn’t seem to mind and didn’t bother to start a conversation either.

The owner of the small store greeted them joyfully, ignoring the way Shin looked. The owner and Sou seemed to know each other quite well, entertaining a small conversation while Sou ordered for the both of them. Once he was done, the owner handed him a towel and surprisingly, the green-haired male grabbed it started wiping away the blood on Shin’s face. It was quite sweet if only the smile on Sou’s face would leave.

“Does it still hurt, Shin?” The way the other said his name made Shin’s eyes widen in fear and he nodded slowly. He wasn’t even too sure what he was scared of, Sou seemed to be a decent being and it almost felt like the rest of the school had been overreacting when they had described Sou as something akin to a monster.

“Yes, it does,” he winced as he closed his mouth, the wound on his lips hurt atrociously and the green-eyed boy realised it quickly enough. He didn’t do anything about it however and sat back down on his chair. The owner then brought them a medical kit and Sou started bandaging him up, whispering praises here and there much to Shin’s delight.

“Your food,” the owner didn’t bother saying anything else. He put the food down in front of them and disappeared into the kitchen in the back of the shop, effectively leaving them alone.

“Wow, this is delicious!” Shin’s eyes lit up as he took a bite. His injured lip was burning but he didn’t care, the food was amazing. Shin didn’t see the small dark smile that spread on Sou’s lips and neither did he notice the mischievous glint in the other’s eyes as he ate.

“I’m glad you enjoy it,” Sou answered. His tone was sincere so Shin didn’t question it as they ate. When they were finally done, that’s when Shin had started to panic, because that was when he had realised that his joy would come to an end.

“Uh, do you have any plans after this?” Shin asked. He had no intention to go home at this early hour, he could still go do his homework in a cafe if Sou wasn’t willing to spend more time with him. He watched with anxiety as Sou thought about it and sighed in relief at the green-haired male’s answer.

“No, I don’t. Do you want to go spend some time at an Internet cafe?” Sou’s smile was soft and genuine as he raised his hand in a signing motion for the bill. The owner merely nodded at him before gesturing at him to leave. He nodded before stretching out his hand for Shin to take, the teal-haired boy had accepted it.

“Yes,” Shin had grinned before helping him up. Shin had stopped bleeding at that point and his legs had seemed to regain their strength. It didn’t take long for them to get to their internet cafe and it was Shin’s first time in one.

“Alright, then, the one who wins more rounds by the time our times runs out has to pay for everything,” Sou smiled at him and Shin had agreed without a moment of hesitation.

“Thank you for today,” Shin smiled at the green-haired boy and almost laughed at the shocked expression on his face.

“For what?” Sou asked, confusion clearly written all over his face. Shin had tried to stop his laughter as best as he could and then, he’d laughed out loud.

“For everything,” Shin replied and had nuzzled his face into Sou’s shoulder before his hands had flown to the keyboard and he had entered his account, a grin spreading across his face just by looking at the name and then, people started recognising his username.