Sousuke was dead tired. Physical therapy all morning. Work all afternoon, without as much as a lunch break because he had to run errands. And now he was on his way over to the convenience store before he could go home, because he had the saddening realization that he had absolutely no food at his apartment.
Ah, well, at least it was a fairly nice night outside. The block was dim and quiet, surprisingly. He'd be back home and resting on his couch in five minutes.
The glowing sign of the store was visible just at the end of the block, and Sou picked up his pace a bit as he passed by the alleyway between two apartment buildings because who knew what sketchy shit was there.
But a sound from within said alleyway made him stop.
"P-please! Stop!" Someone was screaming in desperation, and there were some scuffling sounds, but Sousuke could see nothing; it was too dark. Whoever it was released another plea, which this time was cut off. "No, no, plea—mmph."
Then there were screams, clearly muffled by hands, and some thumps, more scuffling, and the sound of multiple zippers.
Without a second thought—Sou bolted down the alley, entering a crime scene occurring under the dim lighting of an unsuspecting apartment owner's window. It was irrational, really, because while Sousuke was strong, he was no match for a potential gang rape, but what was he supposed to do, really?
"Ahhh! Ahhh, stop, please!" the victim's cry came again, and Sousuke recognized the voice at the same moment everything became visible.
Nanase Haruka was on the ground underneath groping hands of three greasy guys looking to be homeless and in their forties.
One of the guys was thrusting behind Nanase; Sousuke could see where he'd half pulled down his underwear, and one held him down roughly as he squirmed and cried. The third was slowly approaching Haru's mouth with intent to force something unwanted down this throat.
Without thinking again, Sousuke screamed, "Hey, motherfuckers! Back the fuck off!" And he dug his phone out and mashed the buttons, prepping to call the cops. "I'll call the cops right now!"
Apparently, that threat in itself was enough to make the men stop. They scrambled away from Nanase, hurriedly righting their clothes and running. Fucking pussies. Not that Sousuke wanted them to persist.
Sousuke dropped his phone, police forgotten, when he was left with the guy he always considered his enemy on the ground at his feet.
Nanase was lying out on the ground, making no effort to try and pull himself up. In fact, the blue eyed swimmer curled into a sort of fetal position there in the dirt, and that allowed Sousuke to notice the blood staining his boxers that were still halfway off, exposing the source of the crimson liquid. Nanase's pants were nowhere to be seen. The small raven was caked in grime and splotches of blood and cum.
There was a time when Sousuke wanted to see Nanase Haruka hurt, but not like this. Good fucking god, not like this. Sousuke felt completely disgusted.
Of course Sousuke had to do something. But where to even start.
Sou swallowed back a sudden urge to vomit and choked out, "Nanase. Yo, Nanase."
Haru flinched at the words, not looking up at the teal-haired man. His entire battered body trembled violently.
"Nanase…" Sou hesitated. What the hell did someone say in this situation? "Where… do you know where your pants are?" He asked, figuring he'd get down to business.
He looked to Haru when the smaller man didn't speak, and found him slowly shaking his head, still lying down, curled up, holding his knees tight to his chest. Okay, then first thing was first, to find Nanase's pants. Hopefully he'd have a phone in his pocket, because now that Sousuke looked down, his was submerged in a dirty puddle.
Spending a few minutes scouring the repulsive alley, Sousuke located Nanase's jeans in a heap about ten feet from where the swimmer still lay, trembling and occasionally making stifled sounds Sousuke was pretty sure were sobs. He didn't blame the guy.
Sousuke returned and crouched down beside Haru, who flinched and squeezed his eyes shut in terror.
"I'm not going to hurt you," Sou tried in what he hoped was a gentle voice. "I found your pants. You want to sit up?"
Haruka made no move to get up, or even open his eyes. Sighing, Sousuke leaned down and gently wrapped his arms around Nanase's broken body and hoisted him into a sitting position, which was apparently painful for the raven. He yelped in pain, and then, as if only suddenly realizing there was someone touching him, he jerked away from Sousuke's grip, with a sound almost like a terrified squeak. Haru scampered away from Sousuke quickly, backing into the wall, and pulling his knees up to his chest again, despite how it made him wince from the pain in his backside. He eyed Sousuke fearfully, with this expression Sousuke had never seen—on anyone. Broken, terrified, hysterical, battered, and confused. A lot like a scared, injured animal that was backed into a corner.
Sousuke was at a total loss. He supposed it made sense that Nanase didn't want to be touched after that. But what the hell was he supposed to do? The stupid water fanatic couldn't just stay in the alleyway forever.
He should probably call for help. Yeah, of course. God, what an idiot; he should've done so sooner.
Nanase's jeans were near his feet, and he searched the pockets, finding a cell phone. "Nanase," he said softly. "I'm calling the police. You need help."
Now Haru made a sound that was a genuine squeak, as Sousuke flipped open his blue phone. Sou looked to the raven haired man and he was shaking his head fervently.
"What do you mean, 'no'? You're hurt…"
"N-n-no c-cops. P-please. 'll b-b-be f-f-f-fine." God, Haruka's voice shook and broke so much the words were hardly audible. It was so incredibly unlike his stupid monotonous tone he usually had, and Sousuke would pay to hear it now, instead of this. This broken Nanase was… was… heartbreaking, to be honest.
"You'll be fine?" Sousuke questioned. "I don't think so. This is serious…"
"PLEASE!" Nanase screamed then, making Sousuke jump. The broken blue-eyed man bit his lip, sawing it back and forth to try and keep from crying. "Please," he choked out with a pained grimace. "J-just please leave the cops out. I… I've had enough… enough of everything for now."
Sousuke froze. Nanase's now bruised lower lip quivered intensely, and he grimaced harder as he lost the fight against his tears and they streaked down his cheeks, leaving perfect trails through the dirt, blood, and semen smeared there. It was silent for a moment.
"Okay," Sousuke relented. "I won't call the cops. But I'm not just leaving you."
Nanase didn't say anything. In fact, he had his eyes closed, leaning heavily on the bricks as tears cascaded silently down his face. Sousuke figured he'd just give him a minute, and flipped the phone he was still holding.
He scrolled down the contact list until he found the one he wanted, and frantically typed out a text message to Makoto.
Tachibana, something really bad has happened to Nanase. You should catch the soonest train to Iwatobi.
Even if Sousuke could drag the shorter swimmer out of this alley, he definitely was not the one to help the black haired male deal with all this. He was not capable of comforting a broken Haruka Nanase, nor did he really want to, if he was truthful.
Of course Tachibana, ever faithful and a total worrier, replied fast.
What? What happened? Is he alright? Why are you with him? Please tell me you're both okay. I'm on my way to a station right now.
Sousuke half-lied, not wanting to freak the big green-eyed man out. Plus, one didn't exactly tell someone about their best friend's near rape in a text message.
It's a long story, too long. But I think he'll be okay. I'm perfectly fine. Awesome, thanks. I just think he's going to need you.
After that, Sousuke put the phone back into his own pocket, since it would likely be safer there, and picked up Haruka's discarded jeans. He approached Haru, who still sat, crying quietly and dropped the pants beside him. "Whenever you're ready, you should get dressed. I… I'll help you if you need it." Sousuke tried hard to not feel awkward at that thought, because it was a realistic possibility, and equally as uncomfortable for Nanase.
After that, Sousuke figured Haruka would decide when he was ready. So he sunk down into a crouch along the opposite wall from the upset raven and waited quietly. He tried to revive his own phone unsuccessfully. He looked out into the thankfully empty street. And then he heart movement.
Nanase was shifting around slowly, wiping his eyes haphazardly and reaching around to pull his boxers up. The action made him wince in pain. He steeled himself then to attempt to stand up. But after multiple attempts that only ended in cries of agony and falling back down onto his already hurt ass, it was apparent Nanase was too weak to haul his body up.
Sousuke moved toward the smaller guy, murmuring softly, "I don't want to freak you out, but you clearly need help. Can I help you?"
Swallowing hard, Haruka nodded, and allowed Sousuke to bend down and pull him up slowly from underneath his arms. Once in a standing position, his raw backside burned with all new pain, and he involuntarily fell, only to have Sousuke catch him and hold him up.
"Okay… I'm sorry, I know you might not want to be touched," Sousuke whispered. "But I have to keep you up. I have to touch you some to help support you. Okay?" Nanase nodded, albeit reluctantly, and then Sousuke realized also. "I'm going to have to help you put your pants back on. Is that okay?"
Haru, already leaning heavily onto Sousuke's chest, surprised the hell out of the taller brunette by turning his head and pressing his face into Sousuke's sweater, either out of fear, embarrassment, or the sheer fact that he was hurting badly, Sousuke wasn't sure. That was unexpected, Sousuke thought, but sighed in relief when he felt Nanase's nod against his chest.
"Okay, here." Sousuke held Haruka's jeans ready for the small swimmer pressed against him. "Just start with your left foot. Lean on me."
Once his feet were properly in, Sousuke left Nanase to pull his jeans up and on by himself, which he managed to do with the taller man there to use as support. But as Haruka tried to fasten the button, his hands shook so violently that he couldn't even come close to getting it correctly.
"Haru," Sousuke whispered, and then was taken aback by his use of Nanase's first name. It was perhaps the first time ever. He let it slide. "Can I help you?"
Haru buried his face into Sou's chest again, whimpering a little, and this time Sousuke could tell he was feeling defeated and embarrassed, and probably a little scared. But the black haired one nodded, so Sousuke gently reached down to swiftly fasten the button and pull up the zipper.
"There," Sousuke whispered, attempting to console his apparent enemy. He had the urge to hug the whimpering male because he was clearly so upset, but quickly dismissed it. "All set. It's okay."
Haruka lifted his head from where he'd buried it in the Samezuka swimmer's sweater. He made to pull away, but quickly realized he needed the support of the tall brunette to stay standing.
"How much pain are you in?" Sousuke asked then. The only response he received was a deep grimace. Sou discarded that question, knowing Haruka was in a lot of pain on all different levels. So he said, "Are you still bleeding?"
Haruka shrugged at that.
"Do you need to go to a hospital?" Sousuke asked, and before Haruka could open his mouth he added, "If I had it my way I'd definitely take you, but I'm going to let you decide what you need. Please don't lie."
Blue eyes looked up at Sousuke's teal green, and Haru grimaced again under the threat of tears. He choked, "No hospital please. I…I j-j-just want t-to go h-home."
Sousuke sighed, feeling reluctant, but he didn't feel like making Nanase do anything else he didn't want to. "Alright."
Haruka surprised Sousuke yet again then, suddenly reaching up and grabbing onto the front of Sousuke's sweater. He looked down at his feet and spoke so softly Sousuke could hardly hear him, and now, even more shocking, Haruka was beginning to sob. "I… It… I-I mean… I know it's…" Haru had to stop and a couple broken hiccups came out. It made Sousuke feel horrible at his very core.
"I-it's far a-a-a-and you p-probably h-ave things to do. And I know y-you d-d-don't really like m-m-me…" The tears poured once more, and this time the freestyle swimmer couldn't stay silent.
Sousuke saw where the shorter male was going with this, and cut him off softly. "I am absolutely accompanying you on the way home. No question about it." Sousuke took a chance and put a hand on Haruka's shoulder, rubbing gently. "So don't worry." Then he took and even bigger chance and pulled one of his sleeves over his hand, and Sousuke reached up and used his sweater to wipe away some of the tears dripping down Haruka's face.
Haruka nodded then, looking relieved—or, as relieved as one could look when they were so battered and upset—and murmured a soft, "Th-thanks, Yamazaki."
"Of course," Sousuke replied. "And Nanase… Ha…Haru… I don't dislike you."
Haruka didn't say anything to that, and Sousuke didn't expect him to anyhow. He wasn't even really sure why he said it. So, he changed the subject by touching Haruka's shoulder again and said, "So, we're gonna get you home. But I'm going to have to help you walk, and I'm going to need to put my arms around you. Is that alright?"
"Yeah," Haruka whispered, though he looked a little afraid.
"I won't hurt you. I promise. If anything hurts, or I do anything wrong, let me know." Sousuke looked down at Nanase with the softest expression he could manage, and the Iwatobi swimmer looked back up at him with guarded blue eyes, and a moment passed. Sou used his sweater once more to more thoroughly dry Haru's teary cheeks and, throwing away any care, he wiped underneath the short male's runny nose too. Sousuke sighed and said, "Okay, let's go."
It was an interesting ordeal figuring out how to walk. Haruka could hardly carry his own weight. He limped and stumbled, leaning heavily on Sousuke. Sousuke kept his arm wrapped securely around Nanase's waist, surprised that the smaller swimmer allowed that. It certainly made things easier, and really, to Sousuke, Haruka was light as long as he used his left arm to hold him up.
Sousuke felt truly bad because every so often, Nanase made little sounds of pain. But slowly, they made it to the train station, with ten minutes to spare before the train to Iwatobi. Now that Sousuke was thinking about it, he was curious as to why Haruka was on the other side of town in the evening in the first place, but of course he wasn't going to ask now.
The two were alone on the platform at first, and Sousuke suggested they sit down, but Haruka said that it would hurt too much, and then Sousuke felt heartbroken again. After a while, some other people began to show up, and then more and more. Haru grew extremely uncomfortable, feeling self-conscious about how torn up he looked, mixed with scared that something, anything bad was going to happen. Sousuke felt it when Haru started to tremble beside him.
Sou looked down at the black-haired man, taking in his wide, frightened eyes and the intense blush. He was looking all around, seeming panicky. A stray tear streaked down his reddening cheek.
"Hey," Sousuke whispered gently into Haru's ear. "Hey, it's okay. No one's looking at you. It's okay."
Haruka only started shaking harder, even as he looked down at the ground. Sousuke panicked, contemplating how to help.
And so slowly, ever so carefully, so that Haruka had the chance to stop it at any point he wanted, Sousuke put both arms around Haru's small body. He turned the sapphire eyed male so that he faced Sousuke's chest and pulled him in, gently hugging him. Haru instinctively buried his face in the front of Sousuke's chest again, as if hiding.
"No one is looking at you, I promise. Okay? I promise, you're fine. You're safe."
They stayed like that for a while, and it took Sousuke all of his self-control not to flip off all the idiotic people that did look at them strangely. But he would never tell Haru that anyone even took any notice. The train came, and Haru didn't remove himself from his spot curled into Sousuke's chest, and for that, Sousuke was actually glad. Let Haru stay where he felt hidden and at least some semblance of safe.
They boarded and the inside of the train was extremely crowded. Even though Haru wasn't looking, he could tell. Sousuke hoped there was a decent spot where the two could stand semi-comfortably, but it just wasn't happening. Haru tensed up with every brush of another person around them, and then, thank goodness, Sousuke spotted some empty seats.
He pulled Haru with him, and they managed to get out of the crowd a little, only to have Haru jump up with a whimper; he just couldn't sit on the metal seat with his injuries.
His cry of distress drew the attention of people, who all turned to stare at the two men curiously. Haru grew panicky again.
"Shh," Sousuke tried to soothe, and, seeing nothing else to do, he pulled Haruka onto his lap, hoping that a softer surface would be okay to sit on. "Is this alright? At least for now, is this okay for you to sit?"
With a whimper, Haru resigned and settled onto Sousuke's lap, turning to hide his face in the crook of the Samezuka student's neck.
"Just try to relax. It's only a short ride," Sou murmured, rubbing his hand up and down Haruka's back in hope of comforting him a bit.
Haru fell silent and still for a bit, and Sousuke figured maybe he'd fallen asleep, which was good. He held Haruka close, idly stroking a hand along the small male's spine, and ignored the stares of people once more.
He took out Haruka's phone, now that Haru was not alert once more and texted Tachibana to come to Haru's place once he got to Iwatobi. It was a long way from Tokyo, but Sousuke knew Haru would need his best friend, because right now Haru definitely needed somebody, whether he knew it himself or not. And that's why Sousuke didn't tell Haruka he'd texted his tall best friend to come, because he didn't want Haruka to tell him not to. Haru needed someone to help him right now, even Sousuke knew that.
He immediately shut the phone and deposited it back into his pocket when Sousuke suddenly felt something wet slide down his neck and into his shirt. Haruka's shoulders shook then, and more drops hit Sousuke's neck, soft and warm, followed by some sniffles.
"Hey," Sousuke practically cooed, having lost all of his usual tendencies with how he treated Nanase by now. He reached a hand up to stroke Haruka's hair softly, which surprisingly made the raven relax a bit now, rather than flinch. "Hey, there's no need to cry. Everything's going to be alright. We're almost there."
Haru didn't respond, only cried a little bit harder, snuggling his face more into Sousuke's shoulder, wetting it with saltwater.
"Does something hurt? Something getting worse?" Sou questioned, confused as to what brought on this new onslaught of tears.
Haruka shook his head, but now he reached up and latched onto Sousuke, arms wrapping around the Samezuka's body, clinging on. Sousuke frowned, confused, brokenhearted, and intrigued all at once, and just hugged the raven back tenderly.
"It's going to be alright, I promise. Shh. Shh, it's okay. It's all okay," Sousuke whispered a mantra to Haru's ear, sacrificing his sweater again to wipe away the tears even as they kept on coming.
Haruka only started to sob.
Luckily, Sousuke only had to sit for two more minutes on the train with an absolutely sobbing Haruka on his lap. When the train stopped at the Iwatobi station, Sousuke nearly carried Haruka out the doors, and once they were on the empty platform, the pair sat on a bench for a few minutes. Haru started to calm down some, enough that Sousuke felt okay to ask,
"Are you ready to go home?" Haruka nodded.
The pair stood once again, resuming their walking strategy from earlier, and slowly hobbled toward Haru's house. They were both incredibly tired.
However, there was one obstacle that no one had considered, and Sousuke sighed and Haru found it in himself to blush when the two males stood at the bottom of the staircase leading up to Haruka's house. With Haru barely even walking, there was no way he was going to be able to climb stairs.
"Haruka," Sousuke looked to the freestyle fanatic carefully. "I… I can carry you up the stairs. If you'll let me." Sousuke really, really hoped he wasn't lying in saying that.
Haruka trembled so hard that Sousuke could see it as well as feel it. He was scared, not even sure of what, exactly. Maybe of feeling helpless and vulnerable again. Trusting someone else to pick him up like a child, during which they could whisk him down the stairs and kill him if they wanted, or carry him away to relive this evening again.
But, this wasn't someone. This was Sousuke. And Sousuke had saved Haruka, whether Haruka liked it or not, and he'd done a lot of really uncharacteristically caring things.
Plus, Haruka really, really wanted to go home.
"Okay," Haru whispered, voice raspy, and Sousuke almost smiled. He wasn't really sure why, because Haru looked petrified.
"Alright, here we go," Sou sighed, and he wrapped one arm around Haruka's waist, and the other went under his knees, the easiest way Sou could think to carry the Iwatobi swimmer.
And Haru turned his head and cuddled into Sousuke's sweater.
Sousuke didn't put Haruka down until they were at Haru's door, and still Nanase had to lean on Sousuke as he unlocked the door. When the two stepped inside, the lights were on already, and a voice shocked them both. Though, in Haruka's case, he jumped nearly a foot in the air and latched onto Sousuke with a terrified yelp.
"Haru? Is that you?" a gentle voice called, and then Tachibana appeared from the kitchen doorway, and he stopped short at the sight of Sousuke and his best friend.
"Ma…Makoto…?" Haru uttered in complete surprise.
Makoto's gentle smile disappeared quickly, and he frowned like the world was coming to an end. "Haru… Oh, Haru, what happened?"
Haruka detached himself from Sousuke and Makoto rushed forward to catch the small swimmer and cradle him in his arms, immediately beginning to shush him as Haru began to cry once more.
Sousuke stood behind in the doorway, uncertain and unsettled. Tachibana was stroking Haruka's hair softly, with a touch that looked incredibly loving, and Sousuke caught his eye over Haruka's shoulder.
"Thank you, Yamazaki," the tall green-eyed man mouthed, and that was about all Sousuke needed as a farewell. He nodded in affirmation, left Haruka's phone on a nearby bookcase, and turned to let himself out.
Even through the door he pulled shut, he could hear it when Haruka dissolved into more loud, violent, sobs.
Sousuke swallowed hard, contemplating what the freaking hell he was even feeling anymore. Reaching no resolved before feeling like he'd been lingering too long on Nanase's porch, he headed down the stairs, in search of a train ticket and a convenience store.