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His hot breath dances down Hide’s spine and the blond shivers in the nonexistent cold. In reality, it’s warm in the dusty apartment. Too warm. It’s been nearly three weeks since the Anteiku raid and he’s spent most of those days here, recovering from the wounds that the white-haired ghoul himself inflicted on him. Those don’t bother him, though. They’re only lacerations of flesh. They’ll bleed and hurt and ache for a while, but the skin will knit itself closed eventually. No, it’s certainly not the wounds that have bothered him all this time.


“Kaneki,” he sighs into the pillow as long, cold fingers slip into the hem of his jeans and pull downward. “You’re… late tonight… aren’t you?” Kaneki has been going in and out of the apartment these days. Hide, being unconscious for majority of that time, only catches glimpses of him in the hours that pass in the still darkness, sliding into a new day. In fact, he considers himself lucky he stayed conscious long enough the night after the raid to hear Kaneki’s whispered, tearful confession, much less return it.

“Been caught up,” the ghoul mumbles into Hide’s skin, just above his hip. “Information gathering.”

“I know. But you could stick around longer. Just a suggestion.” When Kaneki doesn’t answer with words but with hands that inch cloth downward, lower and lower, Hide turns to face him, one ear pressed against the pillow. “Kaneki… Are you hiding something from me again?”

It’s not difficult to see when Kaneki’s fingers brush against his chin before straying to his throat, even though the only light they have comes in thin strips from behind the blinds. “I’m not,” he says. “I’m just…”

“Just what?”

Kaneki makes a noncommittal noise in the back of his throat and crawls over to press his lips against Hide’s. His tongue slips in between teeth and the blond opens his mouth wider in a quiet groan. Hide knows it’s time for him to be the one keeping his cool, but it’s not easy to do when his body insists on curling into a kiss so dangerous it tempts him into thinking it typical of Kaneki. But no, his memories of easier times, of simpler times, remind him that the boy who kisses him so passionately is doing so with a desperation bordering on insanity. Hide remembers that Kaneki isn’t carrying out a dance with death like everyone seems to think he is. He’s balancing on a tight rope, trying in vain not to look down because he believes there is no net that can keep him from the swirling blackness below. Death is not what Kaneki fights, oh no. It is everything that makes him who he is.

It’s the kind of thing you would call a "losing battle."

Hide turns completely, getting on his back, and presses his hands against either side of Kaneki’s face. He gently moves the ghoul away, ending the kiss. “‘Neki, what have I told you about keeping secrets?”

The ghoul narrows his eyes and grunts. He tries to dip his head lower, searching for another kiss, but Hide keeps him where he is. Finally, Kaneki sighs. “I shouldn’t keep any from you anymore.”

“Because?”

“Because you hate it when I do.”

“And?”

He seems to realize his mistake now. Good, Hide thinks to himself with a triumphant little smirk. Kaneki’s gaze lowers guiltily. “Because they make you feel lonely and—“

“And rabbits die of loneliness,” Hide finishes. “That’s about the gist of it.” His smirk grows into a full-blown grin. He flicks Kaneki playfully on the forehead. “You know all that, right? So don’t keep me out of the loop anymore, ‘kay?”

Kaneki knits his eyebrows together, but before he can do anything else (like apologize), Hide pulls him downward and their mouths meld into one like they’ve always been two halves of a whole. Given how long they’ve been together and how long the bleached blond intends to keep it that way, he wouldn’t be surprised if they really have been one heart, one soul, one being all this time. 

That would definitely explain how much it hurt—so much more than all his wounds combined—whenever they were apart. Like dying a little inside each and every time.

It might even be hilarious—a little ironic—that even though Kaneki is the broken one, Hide feels like he’s the one who needs saving. And what exactly does he need for that? One thing and one thing only.

“‘Neki…” he says softly. “I want you to stay. Don’t you… Don’t you ever leave again. Never again.”

And perhaps it’s just his imagination, but he sees Kaneki’s eyes shimmer with tears unshed. The white-haired ghoul bends his head, concealing his face in shadow, and his hands creep beneath Hide’s shoulders. He lowers himself down and suddenly the blond finds himself being crushed in a full-body embrace.

“Never again,” he hears Kaneki murmur into his ear with a ferocity that sends shivers through him. “I swear.”

Hide smiles and puts his arms around Kaneki. “Thank you,” he says.  

And he means it. He really does.