After his last handshake with Naoto, Takemichi woke up in the future, collared and chained to a bed.
He had thought that he had succeeded, that they would get the happy future he had so desperately fought for. The last handshake with Naoto tasted like a promise, his friends' smiles still lingered in front of his face, swearing that in a moment they would meet again. Takemichi had believed them, he was already enjoying the happiness he would find in the future.
Yet here he was, in a stranger's bed, with his neck and wrists bruised and only an oversized white shirt that barely covered his body.
Takemichi thought that fate was really taking a good laugh at him now.
“What’s going on…?” Takemichi thugged the collar with both his hands but it felt like it was made of iron. The chain behind him clicked at the sudden movement, Takemichi could see it was long enough to allow him to reach a small door beside the bed - the bathroom presumptively - but nothing more.
That was when Takemichi realised that the room didn’t have any windows.
Except for the queen sized bed, a tv Takemichi could hardly reach and a puzzle half way done, the room didn’t have anything else. No furniture, no closets, no paintings. Takemichi was shocked and scared, his body screaming at him to get the hell out.
Takemichi took hold of the chain and yanked it. He ignored the stinging around his neck, like he had been whipped, but he didn’t care. He could feel panic growing under his skin, the harsh metal bruising his fingers, but Takemichi could hardly feel the pain.
He needed to get out of there.
“What are you doing?”
Takemichi froze at the sudden cold voice that pierced his ears. His body felt suddenly weak, like a puppet whose strings had been cut, his fingers let go of the chain and he turned around, his heart hammering in his chest like thunder.
But whoever he had thought would be at the door, this wasn’t it.
“Mi… key…?” The name, so familiar to Takemichi, seemed to belong to a stranger when Takemichi stared at the man in front of him. Hair white as snow, eyes pitch-black like the abyss and a face that belonged to someone who hardly slept three hours at night. Mikey looked lifeless, tired, so different from the Mikey Takemichi had known until now.
This was the worst future Mikey version Takemichi had ever seen.
Mikey said nothing as he walked closer, his eyes dragging from Takemichi’s face to his hurt fingers. Mikey reached up to the chain connected to the wall, toying with it in his hands. He wasn’t looking at Takemichi, yet the younger boy could feel his heavy stare on him. There were so many things Takemichi wanted to say, yet his voice had died in his throat. He could only stare helplessly to the man he had once considered one of his most precious friends making no move to free him.
“I thought you had stopped doing this years ago…” Mikey sighed, his grip tightening on the chain before he forcefully yanked it. Takemichi gasped and stumbled forward, ending up straight in Mikey’s lap. If Mikey hadn’t been there, Takemichi was sure he would have ended up with a broken nose on the floor.
“Did you have a bad dream?” Mikey’s hand found Takemichi’s hair, softly running his fingers between the messy locks. Takemichi hadn’t noticed it before, but now he realised how long it was. Almost Draken’s long, soft and shiny of his natural black.
Takemichi had never kept his hair long since he was unable to take care of it, so the change left him a strange taste in his mouth.
But Mikey was the strangest of them all. He behaved like having Takemichi chained to a bed was the most normal thing in the world and they seemed to be close by how freely Mikey was touching him.
(But just how close?)
Takemichi suddenly pulled, the situation was just too weird, and sat back on his heels while staring scared at Mikey. His head was spinning, he wanted to say anything, but he didn't know where to start.
Where was he? Why was he chained? What had gone wrong in the past onceagain?
"Are you having a withdrawal?" Mikey sighed, his eyebrow twitching as he searched something in his pockets. "I told Sanzu that the drug was too strong for you…"
Takemichi's heart dropped in his stomach when Mikey pulled out a small container with coloured pills inside. He watched in shock as Mikey popped the plastic cap open and took out one of those pills. It looked like a candy, small and harmless, but Takemichi knew it contained more chemicals he could name.
"Takemitchy… come here." Mikey raised his free hand towards Takemichi, his eyes finally meeting with Takemichi's. The younger man felt a shudder down his spine. He wanted to run as far as he could, but he was afraid Mikey would find him anyway.
Seeing how Takemichi wasn't moving, Mikey sighed once again and crawled towards Takemichi. He didn't look particularly worried about how scared Takemichi seemed to be, like it was something that happened every day.
Mikey held the pill in front of him and his cold fingers took hold of Takemichi's chin. His touch was rough, but it was obvious Mikey was controlling his strength not to hurt him, but he was applying enough force to leave bruises.
"Open your mouth… are you a kid? Do I have to push it down your throat?" Mikey asked, seeing how Takemichi wasn't doing what he had asked. He pushed his fingers against Takemichi's cheeks and leaned the pill closer to his now parted lips.
" No! " Takemichi pushed Mikey back, pressing with all of his strength against Mikey's chest and managed to make the other stumble on the bed. Mikey's face was painted in shock, not believing Takemichi would have done something this reckless.
"No! No! What the hell is going on Mikey?!" Takemichi sniffed, tears burning in his eyes, his fingers twitching in fear on his sides. "I've just awakened here, chained and naked! I don't know where I am! And you're scaring me! Mikey… "
Hot overwhelmed tears streamed down his cheeks as Takemichi continued to sob in his hands, curling into a ball as adrenaline pumped in his veins.
"You…" Mikey's hands grabbed his face again, forcing Takemichi to look up. Mikey was looming on top of him, but this time, in his eyes there was a small light, one that could be snuffed out by a weak wind. It was the first time Takemichi saw Mikey look like that, it shocked him so much he stopped crying. "Are you Takemitchy from the future?"
Hearing Mikey's voice full of vulnerability, Takemichi could only nod numbly.
And then, before he had any idea of what was going on, he was pulled into a bone crushing hug by Mikey who was one step from having a mental breakdown.
“So you’re back and have a lot of questions, I guess.” It took Mikey an hour to calm down and let go of Takemichi’s body. He kept glancing at Takemichi like he was afraid he would disappear into nothing, but Takemichi was able to coax him into going to take a chair so they could talk in peace.
So here they were, Mikey sitting on a chair looking like he wanted nothing more than wrapping his arms around Takemichi again and never let go, while Takemichi was uncomfortably shifting on the bed, still chained and half-naked.
“I… I don’t even know where to begin…” Takemichi bit his lower lip and took a glance around the room. “Where are we?”
“Somewhere safe.” Mikey said without missing a beat but even with Takemichi’s expectant eyes, he didn’t say more.
“Uhm… Mikey, more information, please?” Takemichi gave Mikey a tentative smile but Mikey didn’t back down.
“You don’t need to know more.” Mikey tapped his finger against his knee, his hollow eyes running on Takemichi’s form like he was seeing him for the first time. “No one is going to hurt you here.”
“Will you?” Takemichi blurred out suddenly, not being able to stop himself. “Will you hurt me?”
Mikey took a few seconds to answer, his tongue tracing his lower lip as he formed his sentence. “... I won’t… not if you don’t provoke me.”
Takemichi felt a shiver down his spine. Mikey was serious. He had known him for too long, he was able to tell. He swallowed a whimper.
He changed topics. Mikey was clearly unstable, maybe it was better if he tried to ease him in a conversation before asking difficult questions. Mikey looked like he hadn’t had a proper conversation in years.
“How is… everyone? Are they okay?” That was the million dollar question. Takemichi bit his lip and prayed.
Please, at least this time… he hoped he had succeeded in bringing everyone’s happiness. Please let everyone be alive.
“Tachibana Hinata is alive.” Mikey started, folding his hands in his lap. “She is an elementary school teacher. Ken-chin and Inupi have opened their bike shop, Hakkai is an oversea model, Mitsuya is a fashion designer… everyone is happy. You did it, Takemitchy. You saved everyone.”
The small smile Mikey sent his way was enough to light fireworks inside of Takemichi’s heart.
Finally, after so many time leaps… everyone had the future they deserved. They were happy. They were living a good life.
Everyone… except for Mikey.
The happiness that filled him suddenly deflated as Takemichi stared in Mikey’s hollow eyes. “Mikey… What about you? What has happened? Why are you… like this?”
Mikey’s eyes dropped down his lap, he suddenly looked older than he was, like the weight of life was crushing him, leaving him in pieces.
And then Mikey told him about his dark impulses and the criminal organization known as Bonten.
Takemichi wanted to hit Mikey. Then Sanzu, Kaku-chan, the Haitani brothers, Koko and Mochi too. He couldn’t believe they were still doing this shit years later, even becoming the most feared underground criminal organization.
Takemichi wanted to slam his head against the wall.
Yet as he listened to Mikey, Takemichi slowly realised that this wasn’t the Mikey he had always known. He was so different from the past and his alternate future version. This Mikey was insane, dangerous, who would have no problem in killing his closest friends if they gave him a reason to.
“I hate betrayals the most.”
Takemichi had listened to him without asking questions, listening to Mikey retelling him the first time he had taken a life, when he had chosen to go to this crooked path. Takemichi was scared, he couldn’t hide it, especially when Mikey talked about all the bad he had done with a straight face, like he was talking about the weather.
Mikey didn’t say anything when Takemichi began to silently cry, his tears dropping on the white sheets, drawing wet circles on the expensive material. Mikey had been lonely, hadn’t he? With no one at his side pulling him to the right path, with no more family or friends at his side… how did Takemichi think this would end? That somehow Mikey would be strong once again and pull himself up with his own hands? Takemichi had been so stupid.
But something didn’t add up.
Takemichi dried his tears with the hem of his shirt. “But… how did I end up here?”
Mikey stayed silent for a few seconds, just enough to make Takemichi wonder if the other would answer, before he opened his mouth. “I tried to stay away. I really did.” Mikey whispered and it was the first time Takemichi could hear genuine regret in his voice. “But then something snapped in my mind.”
Mikey lifted his eyes and stood up, walking closer to the bed once again. Takemichi twitched at the sudden closeness, but willed his body to remain where it was. Mikey stroked his fingers on Takemichi’s chin and went down until his palm covered the heavy collar around Takemichi’s neck.
“I decided to be selfish. So I took you away from your life. Even if you cried and screamed, I took you away from your happiness and turned it into my own.” Mikey sighed, squinting his eyes as he was searching for something in Takemichi’s stare. His next words chilled Takemichi to the bone. “And I have no intention on giving you up.”
“M-Mikey… this is wrong.” Takemichi swallowed the scream that was building in his throat, his fingers digging in his bruised thighs.
Mikey hummed and pressed a kiss on top of Takemichi’s forehead. “I’ll treat you right, I’ll give you everything you want… but you will stay by my side . Takemitchy, I won’t allow you to return to your life. You’re mine . I promise it won’t be so bad.”
Takemichi’s shoulders shakened as Mikey whispered those words. Tears spilled from his eyes once again, but this time they were from the terror of knowing Mikey was serious and even if he tried to escape, there would be no place for him to hide.
He understood why his past self stopped trying to escape. Mikey held all the power. With only a snap of fingers he could destroy all the lives of the people they had sworn to protect. Hina, Draken, Mitsuya, Inupi, Hakkai, everyone… all their dreams would be crushed by Mikey and his overwhelming obsession with Takemichi himself.
“Don’t worry, Takemitchy, I won’t touch you, you’re new to this life after all.” Mikey spoke gently, like he was talking to a small animal while his arms wrapped tightly around Takemichi’s head to cradle him against his chest. “There will be time for that in the future, we have all the time in the world.”
Takemichi bit his lower lip, a hysterical laugh threatening to spill from his mouth. “The… the chain…?”
Mikey hummed as he lazily stroked Takemichi’s hair. “If you are good I’ll let you out of this room. You can meet the others too. I promise they’ll behave.”
That didn’t sound too pleasant, but Takemichi was smart enough not to tell him that.
Takemichi knew it would be futile to argue with someone who looked like was on the verge of going crazy ( and maybe he already was ). Mikey sounded one step from taking a gun and kill everyone on this earth, Takemichi couldn’t risk it.
Slow, be slow. Don’t rush him. Don’t sound impatient.
“Mikey…” Takemichi choked back a whimper and lifted his head to meet with Mikey’s stare. “I have a favour to ask you.”
Mikey raised an eyebrow in a silent request to continue.
“My hair… can I cut my hair? I don’t like it long…” Takemichi sweated profusely. It was such a small request to test how much freedom he had, how long was the chain around his neck.
How much freedom of choice he had.
“Mh…” Mikey tilted his head to a side and for a moment Takemichi thought he was going to refuse him, but then Mikey smiled warmly at him. “Of course. I’ll ask the hairdresser to come tomorrow.”
Takemichi smiled back, even if his lips hurt for how much he was forcing them up. “... Thank you.”
Takemichi wanted to scream. This wasn’t the future he wanted, the one he dreamed about, yet, yet-
Yet he couldn’t leave Mikey. Not when Mikey was still unstable, not when he desperately needed Takemichi to be his anchor to reality.
Takemichi was going insane too, wasn’t he?
“Ah, Takemitchy…” Mikey pressed a soft kiss on the crown of Takemichi’s hair, his voice far away like he was dreaming. “This is really the best future, isn’t it?”