Chapter 1: Index
A quick directory of everything in this fic, as well as any warnings or notes:
Day One: Night/Day
Chapter 2 of this work.
Teen rating, canon compliant, Tanaka-POV.
Ten years is a very long time.
A horribly depressing drabble. Contains lots of messy, triggering shit like dehumanization, torture, medical experiments, suicidal ideation, etc.
Oneshot / 825 words total
Day One: Favorite Character
Non-fic work. A character sorter, which you can find here.
Day Two: Sea
Chapter 3 of this work.
Teen rating, canon compliant, Satou-POV.
Pokerface spends his time on a ship, waiting to go home.
A surprising lack of content warnings, beyond references to canon-typical violence. For context, the two men we see Pokerface with in Chapter 30 are ‘Jack’ and ‘Deck’ - Decks the one with the bow and arrow and beard.
Oneshot / 613 words
Day Two: Favorite Quote
Chapter 4 of this work.
Teen rating, canon compliant, Satou-POV.
Pokerface spends his time on a ship, waiting to go home.
A surprising lack of content warnings, beyond references to canon-typical violence. For context, the two men we see Pokerface with in Chapter 30 are ‘Jack’ and ‘Deck’ - Decks the one with the bow and arrow and beard.
This could be considered a sequel to Sun-baked, but you don’t need to have read it.
Oneshot / 500 words
Day Three: Nature
Can be found over here, as it's a FGTDN oneshot.
Day Three: Rain
Chapter 5 of this work.
Explicit, canon compliant, Gen-POV.
Gen’s supposed to be reading and Takahashi’s supposed to be practicing with his ghost, but he has other things on his mind.
A little Takagen NSFW, since I haven’t done any NSFW for Ajin Week yet. Largely free of content warnings beyond that... you know, sex. Oh, and vigorous use of IBM headcanons in the intro.
Oneshot / 2646 words
Day Four: Favorite Friendship
Odd Man Out
Chapter 6 of this work.
Gen rating, canon compliant, Okuyama-POV.
Okuyama isn’t the odd man out for once.
No real warnings.
Oneshot / 2060 words total
Day Four: Storm
Chapter 7 of this work.
Gen, canon compliant, Ogura-POV, Multiple POVs.
Tosaki’s fed up with Ogura’s smoking.
There’s smoking, some cursing, and not much else.
Oneshot / 907 words
Day Five: Animals
Can be found over here, as it's a Near Miss oneshot.
Day Five: Favorite HC
Can be found over here, as it's a Near Miss oneshot.
Day Six: Favorite Crossover
A Dorohedoro crossover.
Chapter 8 of this work.
Mature rating, Non-canon Near Miss spinoff, Satou-POV.
Satou isn’t quite sure what he’s getting into when he finds a door made of human skin in the hallway, but he’s absolutely sure Ogura’s involved somehow.
Warnings for body horror and general gore.
Oneshot / 1362 words
Day Six: Thunder
The first three chapters of a new longfic, this can be found over here.
Day Seven: Favorite Chapter
A tumblr-only analysis.
Day Seven: Rest
A Different Kind of Final Rest
Chapter 9 of this work.
Mature, Canon-compliant, Satou-POV.
Satou’s final rest doesn’t go quite the way he planned.
Heavily, heavily inspired by Karaii’s Satou background HC. This deals with some triggering content, largely suicide, hints of self hatred, and some body horror/gore.
Oneshot / 875 words total
Chapter 2: Dropped Mirror
Ten years is a very long time.
It’s night when he’s captured, and night when he’s dragged into the facility. Even if he doesn’t know what’s coming, he’s still terrified. The words ‘safe and happy life under government supervision’ have been repeated so many times they’ve stopped sounding like real words. He doesn’t want a safe and happy life. He wants his old life, the life he had before someone ran a red and ruined everything.
It’s hard to believe the words safe and happy life when they pin him down and wrap him in bandages so thick he can’t even move. It’s harder still to believe it when they cover his face, and he feels like he’s choking under the thick bandages.
He begs, and in return they shove a wad of bandage into his mouth, muffling him and keeping him from crying out. Then they wrap over his mouth, so he can’t even do that.
Demi-humans are nothing more than plain immortal beings...
He can’t tell what they’re doing, but the terror of not being able to move combined with the complete silence save for the noises of the other person in the room is enough to make him squirm as much as he’s able.
“To advance mankind.”
He doesn’t understand if the person is speaking to him or not, and then there’s an impossibly loud bang.
Tanaka wakes to the sound of someone letting out a sigh of relief, and then a door opens and there’s a lot of congratulations and it’s really a demi-human then?
He thinks it’s over until the silence comes again.
There’s another bang, and he wakes again.
He doesn’t understand the second. He doesn’t understand anything, because he’s already been killed, so what else is there to know?
The words safe and happy life under government supervision no longer have any meaning. He can no longer tell if it’s still the same night.
Is that what you think, hm?
His life becomes a dropped mirror, broken into a thousand shards of broken glass. They hurt to pick up, and they hurt to put down. There’s no continuity to them, no way for him to jump from piece to piece.
He remembers being poisoned, dying in agony.
He remembers being suffocated, dying peacefully, with no oxygen left in the room.
He remembers being forced to live, a tube shoved down his throat to keep him fed, as they dose him with chemical after chemical to see what kills him.
He can’t keep track of which is which. He can’t tell what happens the first night and what happens far later.
When the demi-humans blessing came to you...
He loses track of time. Sometimes it feels like he’s been there for hours. Sometimes it feels like he’s been there for years. When he wakes, he tries to count the seconds, but he keeps faltering. It’s too hard to count them between the deaths, and he keeps winding backwards, trying to remember what number he was at.
It’s too hard to count, but he keeps trying. There’s nothing else to distract him.
You should have listened harder, looked closer...
He begs for help the first time, and he begs for help the second time. But he loses track somewhere along the way. He can’t tell if he’s already asked, and he becomes afraid that if he doesn’t ask, he’ll miss his chance.
He says it over and over again, afraid that he’s lost track of time and whoever is standing over him isn’t the same person as it was before.
They start to cut his vocal cords so he can’t speak anymore, but sometimes he returns able to talk, and says it again.
Sometimes he thinks he’s already said it, but he can’t quite remember. It’s like counting numbers--better to count a number twice than to skip it over.
Allow me to teach you.
He waits for someone to save him. He waits for his father to come and take him away. He waits for his mother to come and take him away. He runs through the list of every person he’s ever met and every person he can even think of, praying that they’ll come and take him away.
Sometimes he dreams that they come, that it was all a mistake. They take him away and he goes back to his old house to live his old life.
Sometimes he dreamed he never died at all, and he lives a normal life.
Sometimes they don’t let him dream at all.
He can’t tell how many nights it’s been.
That’s why I saved you...
There’s nothing different when he’s finally saved. He still whispers save me when they fix him to the chair, but he can’t even be sure if his mouth is moving.
He’s floating somewhere far away as the scientists around him are butchered.
He doesn’t hear them screaming, doesn’t hear the begging, doesn’t hear them dying.
The new day finally starts.
Chapter 3: Sun-Baked
The dog tags lie heavy on his chest, an uncomfortable and unfamiliar weight. He doesn’t want them there, but taking them off would raise too many eyebrows.
“Are you trying to kill yourself, Pokerface?” Deck calls, and Pokerface doesn’t bother to even lift his head. He knows exactly where Deck is--off to the side, huddled under one of the large umbrellas with Jack, playing cards.
He doesn’t want to play cards. He doesn’t want to do anything but bake in the sun.
The sound of footsteps makes him crack his eyes open slightly, and Jack’s face swings into view. He leans over him, Pokerface’s shirt held in one hand.
“At least put it on. Asian or not, you’re going to end up looking like a tomato if you stay out here any longer.”
As intensely satisfying as it is to bake himself alive on the deck of a ship stationed in the South China Sea, the longer he stays out there, the more attention he draws, so he finally pushes himself upright, grabbing his shirt from Jack and pulling it on over his head, taking a moment to adjust his dog tags so that they hang properly.
He’s not used to dog tags, and he hopes he never will be. The entirety of his time in Vietnam was done without them, but there’s no way to not have them on a ship packed with outgoing marines without raising eyebrows.
Pokerface, invisible member of The Team, has once again become Samuel Owen, average marine.
He winds his way through the crowd of men, finding an empty spot on the cooler side of the deck and sitting down. He makes a point of ignoring the poker game that Deck is very clearly trying to get him to join in on, and simply lets himself soak in the experience of being surrounded by people again.
He hates every minute of it.
There’s only one thing people will talk about: Home. Every single marine is suddenly incapable of thinking of anything else. They talk about the girls waiting for them at home. They talk about their families waiting for them at home. They talk about the jobs they’re going to take, the places they’re going to go.
People don’t talk about the war. They don’t talk about the fact that America’s lost, that it’s given up the fight entirely. Most of all, they don’t talk about the people who didn’t make it out.
It’s a happy day for everyone but him.
“Thinking about a girl waiting for you back at home?” Jack asks, and for the second time in thirty minutes he’s forced to crack his eyes open to see Jack’s face beaming down at him.
Jack lets out an amused snort.
“That was sarcastic. If you had a girl waiting for you back home I’d eat my own hat. Come play poker with us.” He jerks his finger towards the poker game, where Deck’s waving enthusiastically.
For a moment, Pokerface feels like he can see into the future. There’s nothing but an endless string of poker games waiting for him. Nothing but a happy, peaceful life, surrounded by strangers he’d shoot in a heartbeat.
He doesn’t want any of it.
“Pokerface!” Comes the overly loud yell of one of the commanders, and he’s on his feet and snapped to attention before he has time to process any of it.
“We need you and your team in my office in five!” comes a second bellow.
Pokerface feels his heart start to beat again. There will be more work, even if they’ve pulled out. There’s still people to kill, and still people to rescue.
He can keep on living.
Chapter 4: Play Ball
The honeymoon lasts a year. There’s not as much happening as he would like, and he constantly has to put up with Jack and Deck pining for home, but work is work, and even if it’s less and less as the year goes on, it gets increasingly dangerous.
Dangerous is what he wants. Dangerous is what he lives for.
The time between missions seems to stretch on indefinitely, and every time he fears it’s his last.
He spends his time considering his options.
He considers hijacking the ship and ramming it into Vietnamese soil as a declaration of war. He considers taking over the entire ship himself, and declaring himself its captain. He considers claiming he’s received intelligence that he hasn’t, or claiming to not have received intelligence that he has.
Instead he plays the perfect soldier and does exactly what he’s supposed to.
More than once he considers cutting both Jack and Deck’s throats. He suppose he’s gotten to attached to the idea of The Team--he wants it to stay that way forever, just the three of them, constantly in danger.
The fact that neither of them will shut up about home doesn’t help either.
He knows neither of them will fight him--he’d have to drag it out an embarrassingly long time before either of them would realize what was happening--and he supposes it’s a twisted form of sentimentality that he would prefer to make it easy for them.
He goes so far as to sit on the edge of Jack’s bunk one night, but changes his mind at the last minute.
There’s still missions to be run, and burning the house down behind himself isn’t a very satisfying thought.
In the end, the inevitable moment finally comes.
“This will be the last mission - this is the last POW remaining, and then you’ll all get to go home at last.”
He doesn’t react, even when Deck and Jack both whoop with delight--simply salutes and goes to get ready.
He hopes so, so desperately that something will go wrong. He hopes that the information is wrong, that it takes longer than it should, that there’s more Viet Cong in the jungle than they expect.
Of course nothing does, their information is fine, and there are the number of enemies they expect. The entire mission breezes by, and even though he lifts his rifle three times, he never even gets to fire it. Deck shoots a man through the throat and Jack cuts a second, and then they have the POW.
It’s a straight shot back to the helicopter, and then it’s all over.
He wants a bang, not a whimper, and he doesn’t care if he has to set the explosives himself.
He doesn’t listen as everyone talks about how easy it was. He doesn’t care when they stare at him as he pulls his handgun from the holster. He wants a single shot--a single nice, clean shot--to draw all the attention he needs.
He fires his gun.
Chapter 5: Lazy Days
The book is boring. Boring, boring, boring. It’s almost six hundred pages of boring, and if Satou hadn’t been so insistent that he read it, he’d have abandoned it long ago. He’s really not sure what he’s expected to be getting out of a book called Ultimate Sniper, but Satou seems convinced he should be getting something out of it.
He’s not even the one doing the sniping, which makes the whole thing that much sillier.
The door behind him opens, and Gen pauses to glance behind him. He’s not that surprised to see Takahashi’s ghost, although he’s sort of surprised that he can actually see it. It’s the world's clearest indicator of what Takahashi has in mind, because if Takahashi was doing what he was supposed to be doing, he wouldn’t be able to see him at all.
Gen grabs his book by the spine, rolling over onto his back to watch the ghost, the book resting on his chest.
He can only see Takahashi’s ghost when Takahashi is thinking about him, which means there isn’t a lot of options for what Takashi could be doing right then.
Even so, he isn’t quite expecting Takahashi’s ghost to simply walk over and pick him up in it’s massive hand. He’s expecting the ghost to talk to him, to pass some kind of message, and instead it simply doesn’t bother, wrapping it’s hands around his waist and simply lifting him up, flipping him over it’s shoulder.
The book goes flying, and Gen lets out a little cry of protest when the spine cracks against the floor.
“If I just broke that book, Takahashi, Satou is going to kill me,” he mutters under his breath. Even so, he doesn’t bother to squirm - he just lets Takahashi’s ghost haul him out of the room like an overly squirmy bag of potatoes.
Takahashi’s ghost is already starting to dissolve by the time it makes it back to the bedroom, where Takahashi is sprawled out on the bed, a nasty little smile on his face as his ghost slowly lifts Gen off it’s shoulder and sets him down lightly.
Gen turns to face Takahashi and rolls his eyes.
“Aren’t you supposed to be practicing?”
Takahashi makes a gesture to the window, and Gen realizes his mistake--it’s raining heavily, which certainly does limit his options.
“I practiced giving it orders inside. I told it to go get you, and it did,” Takahashi says, although the grin on his face means that he had very different motivations in doing so.
“How long did you even have it out, five minutes? You really think Satou’s going to buy that?”
Even so, Gen still walks right over, sitting down beside Takahashi on the futon. It’s hard not to guess what Takahashi has in mind, and the fact that he immediately hooks an arm around Gen’s waist seals the deal.
“Are you going to use the rain as an excuse for sex every time?” Gen asks, letting out a laugh.
“Every time I can get away with it.”
Gen snorts with laughter at the idea of it.
“Satou’s definitely going to kill you if he finds out you’re slacking off,” he insists, and he’s rewarded with Takahashi pressing against him until he relents and lets himself fall down onto the futon.
“Worth it,” Takahashi mumbles, burying his face against Gen’s neck.
It’s hard not to notice that Takahashi is excessively enthusiastic. He’s always handsy, but the way he’s kissing at Gen’s neck is giving Gen a sneaking suspicion that something is up, and he has to pause to consider, resisting the urge to shove Takahashi off him so he has space to think.
After a moment, he lets out a groan, and Takahashi pulls back, raising an eyebrow.
“This is day three, isn’t it?” Gen asks, knowing that the answer is going to be yes even if it’s not day three.
“Fuck yes it is!” Takahashi says, pumping his fist into the air and then nudging Gen over until he falls over, sprawling out on his back.
“It’s raining,” Gen protests half heartedly, his mind already made up despite his feeble protest. “How can you expect me to put actual effort in when it’s raining? Rainy days are for lying the hell down and doing nothing.”
Takahashi obviously doesn’t agree, because the shit eating grin he’s wearing doesn’t even flicker.
“Rainy days are for cuddling up indoors, you mean.”
Gen can’t really argue that point, and he stretches languidly on the futon, cocking his head towards the box that serves as their temporary nightstand.
“Alright alright - get the lube then,” Gen says.
Takahashi does reach over, digging through the box until he retrieves a half-empty bottle, but his face goes a shade more serious as he straightens up.
“We don’t have to, you know,” Takahashi says, his expression unusually somber.
Gen reaches up, giving Takahashi’s leg a reassuring squeeze.
“The same goes for you. We don’t have to do this three day thing - every other day is fine, honestly. You obviously enjoy it.” It’s not like Takahashi is making even the slightest effort to hide his enthusiasm, after all.
Takahashi simply rolls his eyes.
“Just because I enjoy it doesn’t mean you enjoy it, idiot.”
“Yeah, but you obviously do enjoy it!”
Takahashi lets out a huff.
“Yeah, but you don’t. Or not as much. So three is fine, alright?” Takahashi doesn’t let him argue any further--instead, he shoves the bottle into Gen’s hand, muttering a quick ‘hold this’ as he stands up to push his pants off.
“How are we doing this?” Gen finally asks, abandoning his point entirely. There’s no point in trying to argue--not when Takahashi obviously has his mind set on things being just fine as they are.
Takahashi’s pants are firmly abandoned on the floor as he moves back to the futon, straddling Gen’s still-clothed waist. Rather than doing anything particularly attractive, he instead holds up a fifty yen coin, a malicious glint in his eye.
“I’ll flip you for it. You pick right, I ride, you pick wrong, you do the work?”
Gen can’t let that one go.
“You’re making me sound like the laziest bastard on the planet here!”
“Heads or tails Gen?”
Gen lets out a little huff.
Takahashi doesn’t continue the debate. Instead, he simply flips the coin into the air, slapping his hand down to knock it flat before lifting his hand.
“Fuck, heads!” Takahashi whines. “You’re still going to blow me, right?”
Gen simply rolls his eyes, reaching down to rub his hand over Takahashi’s crotch by way of an answer.
Whether or not he’d admit it, blowing Takahashi is hands down his favorite part of sex. It’s not that the sex itself is bad--because it’s not--but for the most part it’s awfully hard to focus on the things that Takahashi’s face are doing. With only his mouth occupied, it’s far easier to keep an eye on Takahashi’s face, to watch the way his entire expression glazes over.
It’s cute, to say the least.
Takahashi scoots up until he’s sitting more or less directly in front of Gen’s face, grabbing the bottle of lube and drizzling it over his fingers before slipping his hand down the back of his underwear. Gen can’t quite see what he’s doing, but he has plenty enough to focus on as he leans forward, pressing a kiss to the fabric of Takahashi’s boxer-briefs.
Takahashi’s always vocal, and he lets out a loud groan the moment Gen so much as brushes against him. Despite his initial worries that Takahashi was playing it up, all signs--mostly his extremely obvious erection--point to the fact that he isn’t playing it up. He’s simply very, very loud.
Sometimes, Gen just feels silly for being surprised by things like that.
“You taking your time down there?” Takahashi asks, and Gen takes that as his cue to get moving. Reaching forward, he pulls Takahashi out of his underwear, wasting no time in taking the head into his mouth, letting it rest on his tongue.
He hasn’t even done anything and Takahashi’s already groaning, staring down at him with a glazed expression.
“You look so fucking good like that,” Takahashi mumbles under his breath, and Gen lets out a little laugh, pulling back a moment to talk.
“You sound like a porno.”
Takahashi simply rolls his eyes, rocking his hips forward slightly.
“How is that my fault?”
Gen bites back a response, deciding to lean forward and suck at the head instead. It has a far better reaction--Takahashi rocks his hips forward again, and Gen flattens his tongue, running it along the underside as he swallows more of Takahashi down.
It isn’t the first time he’s sucked Takahashi off, and it won’t be the last. There’s no question how good a job he happens to be doing, because Takahashi moans louder than ever when he runs his tongue over the top of his cock, wrapping his lips just below the head and pulling back with a pop.
“If this is some elaborate con to trick me into fucking your mouth rather than having actual sex, then you’re doing a great fucking job,” Takahashi says, pulling his hips back if only to prevent Gen from doing just that.
He wasn’t quite planning on it, but he certainly had something like that in mind. He truly doesn’t see any issue with skipping sex and just having him blow Takahashi as long as he can, but Takahashi certainly does. The man seems personally offended any time he isn’t the one bringing Gen to orgasm, taking something as basic as Gen jerking himself off as a personal slight.
Gen lets out an exasperated sigh as Takahashi lifts himself up, scooting down to undo Gen’s pants for him. There’s nothing slow or careful about it--he simply pulls Gen’s pants open, tugging his underwear down. Gen’s only half hard, but the half part of it doesn’t last long by the time Takahashi actually puts his hand on it.
He jumps when he feels a sudden cold drizzle on his dick, wincing and letting out a little huff.
“You could at least warm it up!” He snaps at Takahashi, shivering slightly from the sensation of too-cold lube on his skin.
Takahashi just lets out a laugh, withdrawing his own fingers as he slides down to straddle Gen’s hips just above his cock, grinding back against it eagerly.
“Oh, I’ll warm it up all right,” Takahashi says, and Gen can’t hold in his laugh.
“Now you really sound like a porno!”
Takahashi simply rolls his eyes, lifting his hips and reaching back to line Gen up properly. It isn’t the first time he’s ridden--not by a long shot--but it still takes him a minute to line things up properly before starting to press down.
Takahashi is mind-blowingly tight. Gen isn’t quite sure if it’s the angle he chooses or simply the way he is, but it always feels like he’s clenching, even when he’s not. It’s all he can do to keep from yelling loud enough that other people might here, and he’s forced to bite at his lower lip as the head of his cock finally pops in.
“Fuck!” Takahashi protests, and Gen feels his stomach flutter at the visual of it. Takahashi’s face is clenched in obvious concentration, and even if he’s still impossibly tight, Gen can feel his ass fluttering around him as he tries to relax. It always takes a bit, and he’s surprised when Takahashi starts pushing down almost immediately, taking deep gasping breaths to keep himself going.
“Don’t hurt yourself!” Gen insists, reaching up to catch the bottom of Takahashi’s thigh in his palm, keeping him from pushing any lower.
Takahashi isn’t having it, and he reaches down to shove Gen’s hand away.
“Just let me - just let me bottom out, and then I’ll relax. I don’t want any of this stop and go shit, I want to fuck you already.”
Gen doesn’t quite have it in him to say no, so he withdraws his hand, letting Takahashi continue pushing himself down until his ass is pressed against Gen’s thighs. Even if Gen isn’t very fond of Takahashi riding him, the position is the best view of Takahashi’s face he could ask for, and it’s an excellent view. Takahashi’s eyes are half closed, his expression distant, and the way that his chest is heaving under his shirt is enough to make Gen’s stomach flutter uncomfortably. They’ve barely even started, and Takahashi already looks done.
Takahashi takes a moment to recover himself before leaning forward slightly, pressing his hands against Gen’s hips for support. Even though he only lifts his ass an inch, it’s enough to make Gen groan, his own hands grabbing onto Takahashi’s thighs for support.
Three thrusts later, he lets his hand wander over to Takahashi’s cock, grabbing it lightly and giving it a quick stroke.
Takahashi practically convulses in his lap, hunching over and panting heavily as he grabs Gen’s wrist with one hand.
“Are - are you trying to kill me here? Fuck!” Takahashi groans, eyes squeezed tightly shut as his ass twitches around Gen.
“You talk the big talk, but then you fall apart the moment you’ve got a dick in your ass,” Gen mumbles. He’s only a shade more composed than Takahashi himself, equal parts excited and horrified at the thought of Takahashi moving again.
“Now who sounds like a porno?” Takahashi mumbles, punctuating his point by lifting his hips again. It’s not a quick thing--it’s a long, slow drag until the head’s almost completely out before he shoves himself back down again.
Gen digs his fingers harder into Takahashi’s thigh as Takahashi starts to move, bouncing his hips at an absolutely punishing pace. Gen’s estimate for how long he has before he cums drops rapidly, and he starts to wonder if he should be counting it in seconds rather than minutes.
He knows Takahashi’s close himself when he grabs Gen’s wrist, dragging it back over to his neglected cock. Gen knows it’ll only be a minute at most, but he still makes a point to rub his thumb over the head, smearing precum over it before starting to roughly jerk him off.
The noises that Takahashi is making--both his moans and the sounds of skin slapping wet skin--are enough to push Gen over the limit himself, and he rocks his hips upward hard, squeezing his eyes shut as he cums. His entire body goes tense for a long moment, and he forgets to breath when Takahashi suddenly clenches around him.
Half of Takahashi’s orgasm ends up on his hand, and the other half splatters on Gen’s chest. He doesn’t even mind, shifting his free hand from Takahashi’s thigh to his back to help keep him upright. Takahashi looks completely out of it, lost in his own head, and Gen makes a point of easing him down slowly until they’re pressed chest to chest, his own cock still buried in Takahashi’s ass.
“We really need to do that more,” Takahashi mumbles under his breath, nuzzling his head into Gen’s shoulder. Gen makes a point of releasing Takahashi’s cock at last, wrapping his newly freed arm around Takahashi’s back.
Takahashi clenches suddenly, and Gen lets out a groan, squeezing his eyes shut. He’s too sensitive for any of Takahashi’s antics, so he shifts his hips, wiggling until he finally pops free.
“Your ass is probably a real mess,” Gen mumbles under his breath, pressing a kiss to the side of Takahashi’s head. Takahashi doesn’t let him leave it at that, pulling back slightly to press a kiss of his own to Gen’s lips. Gen doesn’t have the energy to properly reciprocate, but he returns it gently before sagging back onto the futon completely.
“We need to do that more often, and then I won’t be such a mess after so little time,” Takahashi grumbles, and Gen can only nod, pulling Takahashi closer to him.
Rain isn’t so bad after all.
Chapter 6: Odd Man Out
It’s a whim that brings his ghost to the first meeting, and a whim that brings him to the second. Even so, he can’t help but suspect he’s one of the only people in the group who has given the entire meeting even a bit of thought. He knows it could go south. In fact, he strongly suspects it will, because the whole idea doesn’t quite add up otherwise. There’s absolutely nothing constructive that can be done with less than a handful of ajin, and the only real options he sees with gathering so few either involve violence, or the lot of them being rounded up by the government.
Even so, he goes anyway.
It’s not that he wants to be caught--because he really, really doesn’t--but the possibility of something interesting happening is too good to pass up.
For the most part, the atmosphere is light hearted as they climb the almost endless stairs up to the meeting room. Their first sight of Satou only hammers home what Okuyama suspects, because the man he’s supposed to be with--Tanaka Kouji, second ajin in Japan--isn’t with him.
Okuyama picks a spot beside an exposed i-beam and stays quiet. If anyone pulls a gun, there’s no chance that he’ll manage to flee the room, but the beam will at least give him a decent chance of not being shot.
He can’t even pretend to be surprised when the shooting does start, and he neatly steps behind the beam, cringing when one of the bullets pings off the front of the pillar.
He hasn’t even decided yet, but there’s not exactly time to sit down and think over his options. The more he thinks about it, the more he becomes aware that there isn’t an option at all--he’d already decided how he’d play his cards the moment he arrived at the meeting.
There was never really any option to turn Satou down, after all.
“As for you...”
Before he knows it, Tanaka’s taken the two other new recruits and run off, leaving him alone with Satou. Surprisingly, he realizes that he’s not actually that nervous. Even if Satou’s dangerous--because he absolutely is, there’s no way around that--he also seems distinctly utilitarian. As long as he can prove his worth, the danger is mitigated.
The biggest danger is Satou’s age. He’s easily sixty, and Okuyama’s dealt with enough old people who couldn’t figure out how to click a mouse if their life depended on it that the idea of explaining his worth has suddenly become a tricky proposition.
“So, what do you do for a living?” Satou asks, acting impossibly casual about the whole thing. It’s like he’s chatting up an old friend from school, rather than giving a job interview where not being hired results in you being stuck in a barrel for the rest of your life.
“I’m a network security analyst,” Okuyama says, deciding that even if Satou can’t work a computer to save his life, it still sounds impressive.
Instead, Satou’s face seems to light up, a fact that only comes across as even more unsettling to Okuyama.
“That’s perfect. I’ve been considering how best to spread the word, but I’m not quite tech savvy enough to host a video without the police coming to knock down my door. One proxy isn’t going to be quite enough for what we’re doing. I assume you could handle something like that...?”
So much for Satou being an average sixty year old man when it comes to electronics.
Okuyama simply nods, mentally running through his options. While he never has, there’s no reason he couldn’t use his ghost to upload things remotely. That way there’d be no fingerprints, and no trail to follow even if someone did follow it back to the source. Of course, he has no intention of anyone ever getting back to the source, but there’s no harm in being prepared.
Okuyama feels like he’s been promoted to manager, considering all he can do as they haul the barrels into the back of the truck is watch. The thought of him lifting one of the barrels is downright laughable, so all he can do is making sure that the door stays open.
Tanaka seems the most uncomfortable with it, even though he’s having the easiest time doing the actual lifting.
“Satou...” Tanaka starts as they load the last barrel into the back, pausing for a moment. “When we win, they’ll be let out, right? This is just temporary?”
Okuyama’s less surprised that Tanaka asked, and more surprised that he helped at all, considering what he knows of Tanaka’s past.
“Of course, Tanaka. I’m disappointed we had to do something like this at all, but I suppose it couldn’t be helped. Once we’ve won and made Japan a safe place for ajin, they’ll be free to go, but for the time being we can’t risk them intervening on behalf of the humans who hurt you.”
There’s something about the way Satou talks that rings alarm bells in Okuyama’s head, and it’s only after he’s had time to think about it that he realizes what it is. It’s too perfect--Satou seems to be marking off a mental checklist every time he talks to Tanaka, making a point to remind Tanaka that humans hurt him, making a point to remind him of what their goal is. It doesn’t feel quite natural that he manages to hit those things almost every single time.
“We should do introductions, though,” Satou declares, dusting off his hands as he closes the back of the van, turning to the group.
“Feels like we’re in high school,” the skinny man says with a laugh, and the man at his side rolls his eyes.
“Full names, or...?” The man with the ponytail asks, obviously unsure of just how things are supposed to be done.
“Just whatever you’d like to be called. You’ve all already died once, so you could think of this like a second chance. It doesn’t have to be your real name--just what everyone will know you as.”
Okuyama’s little alarm bell rings again, but this time it’s not over Satou’s words--instead, it’s over the way the two men whose names he still doesn’t know shifted uncomfortably at Satou’s speech.
“You can simply call me Satou,” Satou starts, although it’s completely unnecessary. Everyone in the group obviously knows who he is, and things only get more unnecessary when he gestures to Tanaka.
All of a sudden all eyes are on him, and he raises one hand in a simple greeting.
“Okuyama,” he says, keeping it simple. The idea of coming up with some kind of a nickname seems silly to him, and he’s eager to figure out who the last two are.
The skinny one opens his mouth and doesn’t even manage to say a word before he’s elbowed in the side by the other one, who lets out a laugh.
“I’m Gen, and he’s Takahashi,” the man with the ponytail butts in, leaving the skinny one to rub at his side.
“Hey, you didn’t even hear what I was going to say!”
“It was going to be something stupid, and I’m not going to play along with calling you something dumb.”
There’s no question the two know each other, and Satou laughs at the argument, waving it off.
“Gen, Takahashi, and Okuyama then,” Satou says, smiling fondly at the three of them.
It’s hard not to feel like the odd man out. Takahashi and Gen obviously know each other, and Tanaka and Satou’s history is clear enough.
Okuyama glances towards Tanaka for a moment, then back to Satou.
“Satou, you saved Tanaka before you appeared on TV, right?” Okuyama can’t quite bring himself to believe that Tanaka’s so normal after so little time. Some part of the whole thing is a lie. Either Satou’s lying about when he saved him, or Satou lied to the public about what Tanaka went through.
He’s betting on the former, and he realizes he’s right when Satou nods.
“That’s right. It seemed appropriate to lie to the public and let them think I’d just saved him right then. The public has an overly critical view on recovery--they wouldn’t find the mess that the government tortured him into to be terribly sympathetic.”
The bell rings again in his head, and he nods once. Tanaka cringes at the mention of his torture, but neither Takahashi nor Gen seems terribly bothered by the fact that Satou lied.
He supposes he probably shouldn’t be either. It doesn’t affect him, after all.
In the end, he isn’t the odd one out after all.
It’s not an easy realization--there’s no one moment that makes it clear to him--but eventually the four of them are bunked down in a motel room with Satou off doing god knows what, and it hits him.
He’s not the odd man out.
As much as Tanaka obviously looks up to Satou, the two simply aren’t that close. Tellingly, Tanaka obviously doesn’t know what to make of Satou, and he’s absolutely awful at figuring out what Satou’s thinking.
He’s also completely unfazed by the idea of splitting a bed with Okuyama, which is a first. It’s the sort of thing that Okuyama simply assumes will earn a protest, only Tanaka doesn’t even blink when Takahashi claims the one bed for himself and Gen, insisting that Tanaka and Okuyama claim the other.
“You don’t mind?” Okuyama asks, glancing at Tanaka.
Tanaka squints at him.
Okuyama can’t tell if Tanaka genuinely doesn’t understand, or if he’s just playing dumb.
“Sharing a bed.”
Tanaka stares at him for a moment, and Okuyama decides it’s definitely the former.
“Why would I mind that?”
Okuyama lets out a little sigh that’s interrupted by Takahashi jeering from where he’s sitting on the other bed.
“Oooh, is Okuyama nervous about sharing a bed?”
A pillow nearly clips the side of Okuyama’s head, whacking Takahashi in the face and it takes him a moment to realize that Tanaka--probably thirty years old, or at least close--has just thrown a pillow at Takahashi.
Takahashi grabs the pillow, sputtering, and Gen starts to laugh almost hysterically on his side of the bed as Takahashi grabs a second pillow, whipping both in quick succession back at Tanaka.
The entire thing is downright surreal, and Okuyama does his best to stop things before it becomes a full on pillow fight by grabbing at Tanaka’s wrist, giving it a firm tug.
“Sit down, we’re supposed to be adults.”
Tanaka scowls but doesn’t return fire, taking both pillows for himself and lying down properly. Takahashi, abruptly without any pillow at all slides right over, stealing Gens and creating yet another miniature argument between the two.
Okuyama simply rolls his back to them.
“Didn’t you ever go camping with your school?” Tanaka asks, nuzzling into his overly large pile of pillows.
Okuyama takes a second to realize he’s still focused on the last conversation they had, and he lets out a little sigh.
“So wouldn’t you have shared a bed with someone then? Or a tent or whatever your school used?”
Okuyama keeps catching himself being shocked at just how oblivious Tanaka is, but he supposes that’s because he’s probably still mentally twenty. Even if he looks older, it’s not like he had a lot of time to mature while being tortured.
“I was given an extra because of my leg. I never shared a tent.”
Tanaka takes a moment to stew over the point before getting up, peeling his shirt off and dropping it on the chair, kicking his socks off and crawling into bed under the sheets.
“Well, first time for everything, right?”
Okuyama supposes that there is, and he sets his cane neatly to the side before crawling into bed himself, reaching over to turn the light off.
Takahashi and Gen have gone silent on their side of the room, and Okuyama is about to fall asleep when Tanaka suddenly speaks.
He takes a moment, then decides not to leave Tanaka hanging.
Of course, it doesn’t quite end with that, and Gen abruptly speaks up.
There’s another little fit of laughter from the far side of the room, and Okuyama lets out a tired sigh.
“Goodnight!” Calls Takahashi, and Okuyama is just happy he’s finally going to be able to sleep.
It’s strange to sleep in a room with friends.
Chapter 7: Smoke
Ogura knows Tosaki’s got a bone to pick the moment he steps into the kitchen to make himself some food, but it doesn’t feel like much of an accomplishment when Tosaki’s so damn obvious about it. A blind monkey could tell when Tosaki is in a bad mood, and Ogura decides that if he’s going to be in the line of fire anyway, he at least wants to get a shot in himself.
“What crawled up your ass and died?”
Tosaki’s eyebrows press so hard together it looks like a single continuous line, and Ogura simply smirks at him.
“You--” Tosaki starts, jabbing a finger in Ogura’s direction, “Aren’t allowed to smoke here anymore. I’m sick of walking into the building and directly into a cloud of your smoke.”
Ogura pauses, his eyes falling down to the cigarette clasped between his lips at that very moment, then shrugs his shoulders.
“Am I not supposed to be your prisoner, four-eyes? It’d hardly do for a prisoner to be out roaming around. Am I going to get a babysitter too?”
Ogura hasn’t felt like a prisoner since they stitched his hand back together. He’s free to come and go as he pleases, and he’s almost entirely sure he could make it down to the town to buy more smokes before anyone even noticed he’d gone.
Tosaki grinds his teeth, and Ogura notes that he’s squeezing his little pack of mints so tightly it’s in danger of bursting.
Ogura makes a point to blow some smoke in his direction, just to see if Tosaki will snap.
He does. Tosaki’s hand darts out, only just missing Ogura’s face as he jerks back. His cigarette, unfortunately, goes flying, and Tosaki advances on him menacingly.
As skinny and irritating as Tosaki is, he’s still got several inches on Ogura. Ogura makes a point of holding his ground, but spares a sad glance for his poor FK on the floor.
“You will smoke outside from now on,” Tosaki hisses, and Ogura’s perpetually throbbing fingers are a firm reminder that Tosaki isn’t all bark and no bite.
Ogura simply shrugs.
Ogura’s midway through his third cigarette of the day when Hirasawa appears in the doorway of his room, squinting at him through his absurdly small glasses.
“Tosaki-san said you weren’t supposed to smoke in here.”
Ogura lets out a noncommittal grunt, puffing shamelessly away at his cigarette as he writes his next paper. He doesn’t think it’ll ever get published--there’s too much confidential info in it--but it helps to write it all out in order to sort his thoughts.
“You should quit smoking, you know. It’s bad for your health,” Hirasawa says, looming over him ominiously.
Ogura genuinely can’t believe what he’s hearing, and he twists around to squint at Hirasawa’s face, flipping him off with his injured left hand.
“You’re bad for my health. I lost two fingers to you, meanwhile smoking hasn’t done anything to me.”
Hirasawa seems distinctly unimpressed.
“It’ll kill you, you know. How much longer do you think you have before your lungs give out?”
Ogura simply rolls his eyes.
“Considering my line of work, don’t you think it’s a hell of a lot more likely that an ajin’s going to put a bullet in my brain long before smoking catches up to me?”
Either Hirasawa agrees or he’s given up arguing, because he doesn’t bother to contest the point.
“He still says you have to smoke outside. I’ve been told to break your fingers if you don’t, and to physically force you out if necessary.”
Ogura gives him a disgusted look.
“Then you can put it out any time,” Hirasawa says, staring pointedly at the cigarette.
“I only just lit it. And there’s a storm rolling in.”
As if to emphasize his point, there’s a mighty boom in the distance, and Ogura gestures towards the ceiling.
“You aren’t going to send me out to smoke in the middle of a thunderstorm, are you?”
Hirasawa’s raised eyebrow indicates that yes he is, and Ogura stands up with an irritated sigh.
“I hope you’re happy with yourself, sending an injured man to smoke in the rain. I’m going to end up sick,” Ogura grumbles moodily.
Unsurprisingly, Ogura makes Hirasawa walk him right out to the overhang, which is absolutely drenched before Ogura even steps out onto it. Hirasawa makes a point of hanging around until Ogura’s good and wet before heading off, leaving him to soak in the rain while he goes to find Tosaki.
Tosaki’s not far away, watching Ogura suffer from an upper story window.
“I don’t think you’re paying me enough to follow Ogura around twenty-four seven to make sure he’s smoking outside,” Hirasawa comments, joining Tosaki at the window. Ogura looks like a drowned rat, but he’s still shamelessly smoking away despite the heavy wind and rain.
“I’m not planning to make you. If you see him smoking, simply make a point of escorting him outside, and he’ll eventually get the picture,” Tosaki replies, not bothering to look at him.
Hirasawa has a hard time believing that will work, considering Ogura’s rate of cigarette consumption.
“Do you really think that Ogura Ikuya is going to stop smoking because of a bit of rain...?”
This time, Tosaki spares him a glance, a nasty little smile on his face.
“No, but I expect he’ll learn to stop blowing smoke in my face every time we’re in the same room.”
Hirasawa can’t argue with that.
Chapter 8: Bottle
When Satou finds a door made of human faces in the hallway, his first thought is that it wasn’t there an hour earlier.
His second thought is that Ogura is absolutely involved.
There’s really no other explanation for a door made of human parts in the hallway. It’s not as if Takahashi and Gen routinely stitch together human skin, and the thought of Tanaka getting within five feet of it is simply amusing.
Of course, the obvious questions still remain: Why did Ogura make it, and where did he get the materials?
Satou’s never been one to stand around and think things through, so he leaves the door behind, heading straight for the room Ogura’s claimed as his lab. He isn’t surprised to find Ogura inside, hunched over a mass of papers, but he is surprised to find that he’s not alone.
There’s a boy with him, no older than sixteen, and even Satou (who has certainly seen more than his fair share of oddities) is struck by just how odd he looks. There are tattoos all over his arms, the white lab coat he’s wearing is filthy with dried blood, and he’s most definitely not Japanese.
Satou hangs in the doorway, watching intensely. Ogura doesn’t even spare him a glance, although the boy he’s with looks up, staring at Satou for a moment before turning his attention back to the paper.
“So you’re proposing three classifications?” Ogura asks in Japanese, and Satou can only stare in confusion as the boy responds to him in English.
“If what you say is true. You’d have your humans, our humans, and our magic users. Ajin would just be a variation of our magic users.”
Ogura taps his fingers on the desk for a moment before digging through his pockets for a cigarette. He doesn’t quite get it to his lips before the boy sticks out his hand, and Ogura reluctantly passes him one, getting a second for himself.
“Ogura, are you going to explain why you thought it would be an acceptable idea to bring a stranger into the base, or...?” Satou asks in English, genuinely confused as to which language he’s supposed to be talking in.
Ogura gives him a withering glance.
“Did you somehow miss the door in the hallway made of human skin?” Ogura asks.
“Not human skin. Magic user skin,” the boy cuts in, and Ogura nods in agreement.
Satou clears his throat.
“That doesn’t actually answer the question, Ogura.”
Ogura lets out an exasperated sigh, turning on his chair to blow smoke at Satou.
“He showed up. The door’s his. Apparently in his world, there are people who have a substance in their bodies called smoke, and if you stitch together enough body parts into the shape of a door, that smoke will activate and work as a door between worlds.”
Satou can’t tell if Ogura is messing with him or not, and he simply keeps right on staring, his pleasant smile firmly in place.
After almost a minute of silence, he realizes that Ogura is definitely not joking.
Ogura, however, has decided that he’s done explaining things, turning right back to the boy.
“The easiest way to verify the theory would be to see if a human from our world can’t see smoke, and if an ajin can. That would prove it conclusively,” Ogura explains, and the boy nods enthusiastically.
“That’s the theory. But we’d need an ajin and a human who we could trust not to fib.”
The fact that the two of them continue to reply to each other in opposite languages is throwing Satou off.
“And a magic user to produce the smoke,” Ogura adds.
The boy simply shakes his head, digging around in his coat before pulling out a small bottle, setting it down on the table.
“A bottle of smoke.”
Satou stares blankly at the bottle on the table, filled to the brim with perpetually swirling grey smoke. The effect isn’t unlike the effect of his own IBM particles, and Satou can’t help but raise a hand, staring at his own palm.
He isn’t quite sure what to make of it until Ogura lets out a grunt, squinting skeptically at the bottle.
“I can’t see it,” Ogura finally says, swinging his head around to stare at Satou. “Can you?”
A part of him is sorely tempted to lie and say that he can’t, if only to watch Ogura run in circles. But the data that could be gained from it if it’s true--if ajin really have smoke in their bodies--is too interesting to pass up.
“Yes. It resembles IBM particles.”
Satou stops hanging in the doorway, walking forward to pick up the bottle, inspecting it more closely. The bottle itself isn’t anything special, simply a capped vial, but the contents inside don’t move in the way he expects.
“That doesn’t prove that ajin are related to our magic users, but it’s certainly a good indication. We’d need more evidence before we could say anything conclusively,” the boy says, and Satou lets out a sigh.
Of course it was going to come to this.
He reaches behind himself, pulling his knife from its sheath and cuts his own jugular. Death is as fast as it is bloody, and before he knows it he’s picking himself up off the ground, feeling perfectly fine.
He’s expecting Ogura to be vaguely embarrassed, and his guest to be significantly horrified, but instead the boy is practically jumping with joy, chattering excitedly at Ogura about the exact meaning of it all.
Satou’s forced to wonder what almighty deity he pissed off to be cursed with two Oguras.
“Does any of this actually have practical applications, Ogura? Beyond the fact you -”
Satou doesn’t get to finish his sentence before there’s a scream from the hallway, and Satou’s lunging through the door in an instant. His first thought is that Tanaka has found the doorway, but what he finds is a thousand times worse.
Satou is by no stretch of the imagination religious. He never has been, and he never will be. But even so, staring at an almost eight foot tall monster, he can’t help but wonder if there might be some truth to all those old stories. Satou barely comes up to its waist, and between the antlers, bat wings, and goat legs, it’s hard to think of anything other than a devil.
“Haru!” Comes a voice from behind him, and Satou nearly clotheslines the kid as he shoots forward, only just managing to stop himself.
“Haru!” The boy repeats, practically tackling the eight foot tall monster as both Satou and Ogura watch in obvious confusion.
The devil reaches down, grabbing the boy by the back of his clothes and hefting him off the ground. When it talks, it’s voice is like nails on a chalkboard, and even Satou is forced to cringe.
“I told you not to use the door,” the demon complains, firmly ignoring both Satou and Ogura. It’s only then that Satou notices Tanaka on the far side of the scene, his face a picture of abject horror.
“But I had to see what was on the other side. We should stay, there’s a lot of-” The boy doesn’t get to finish before the demon gives him a firm shake.
“We’re going back. Don’t use the door. You’re just going to cause trouble.” With as much obvious effort as a man lifting a loaf of bread, the demon simply flips the boy over it’s shoulder, staring back towards the door.
Despite the fact that he appears to be in the process of being kidnapped by a demon, the boy seems completely unphased, waving enthusiastically at Ogura.
“I’ll come back the next time she leaves, alright? I’ll bring my notes. If you really can’t see smoke at all, that means there has to be some kind of practical biological difference between the two species-”
The boy keeps right on talking until the door slams shut behind him, fading from existence until there’s no sign it was even there at all.
Ogura lets out an uncharacteristic giggle, and Satou turns to stare at him, his usual smile temporarily forgotten.
“He left the bottle on the table,” Ogura says.
Chapter 9: A Different Kind of Final Rest
Sam wakes. The sun seems far too bright, and he lifts one hand to shield his eyes from it.
He’s on his back, but he doesn’t remember lying down. His brain feels oddly slow and sluggish, struggling to make the connections it needs to be making.
He remembers the gun in his mouth. He remembers pulling the trigger.
His first thought is that he missed somehow, but that explanation doesn’t make any sense. It doesn’t explain why he’s lying down. It doesn’t explain why his head feels slow and sluggish.
It doesn’t explain the absolutely putrid stench.
It’s the stench that makes him sit up, squinting down beside him. There’s suddenly too many things to look at. His brain is slowly restarting.
There’s the fact that his ostomy bag is on the dirt beside him, it’s disgusting contents spilled out onto the ground, no longer attached to him in any visible way. There’s the revolver sitting abandoned beside him, seemingly having fallen there.
There’s the absolute disaster just behind him, a mess of blood, brain matter, and what he’s absolutely sure are skull fragments.
He’s used to having a pretty good grasp of the situation, regardless of how strange it is, but for once he’s completely lost. What he’s looking at doesn’t make sense. There’s no explanation that accounts for what he’s seeing, so he returns to his old standby: Sitting still and observing.
Even so, the plan doesn’t last long. No explanation appears before him, and the absolutely rancid smell is almost enough to choke him. It’s not until he turns to check behind him that he notices another insanely confusing piece of the puzzle.
He has his leg back.
His prosthetic (well worn, stiff, and impossibly outdated) is shoved off to the side, and in its place is a leg.
He goes so far as to wiggle his exposed toes to confirm it, and suddenly he can’t stop himself from jumping to his feet.
It’s a bad idea, considering that he hasn’t walked on his own two feet in close to a decade, and he goes crashing to the ground almost immediately.
He’s forced to brace himself against the concrete wall before he can manage to stand, but when he does it’s all he can do not to laugh from the sheer joy of it. His leg is back. He can’t begin to understand why it is, but the fact that it is is breathtaking.
His arm stings from where he hit the ground, and checking it reveals that he’s managed to scrape the skin off. His first thought is infection, and that thought reminds him of his ostomy bag. A quick check confirms what he suspects: His stoma is gone, healed over perfectly. He obviously can’t check, but his body feels fine, and he’s almost entirely convinced that whatever brought his leg back also healed his insides.
He feels better than he has in years.
His first priority is to get out from under the bridge. He isn’t terribly concerned by the thought of someone finding the mess he left behind--he picked the spot because it was unlikely anyone would find his remains for months--but he makes a point of collecting the revolver anyway, tucking it into his waistband and bending down to retrieve the shoe from his prosthetic. It fits uncomfortably, and he grunts, deciding he’s going to need to buy a new pair of shoes as soon as he can.
Really, he’s going to need a new everything, and a haircut and a shave are near the top of the list. He reaches up, rubbing at his scruff, and pausing abruptly when he finds it even. A quick check confirms what he should have realized already: His scar is gone, his cheek as smooth as the day he was born.
Every part of him has healed.
His thought process is abruptly derailed when he spots a figure in the corner of his vision, and he spins in place, losing his footing and toppling over. What he does catch sight of is absolutely a human figure, hidden in shadows and standing no more than a hundred feet away.
By the time he’s back on his feet, the figure is gone, and he curses himself for having gotten so weak in the meanwhile. He’s nowhere near the level he was when he lost his leg, and now he’s little more than skin and bones.
If someone is going to try and attack him, they’ll have an easy time of it.
He gives one last look to the mess he’s left--the ostomy bag, his prosthetic leg, and the mess of blood and gore--and then heads out of the underpass on wobbly legs.
He’s sure he must be quite a picture--a badly dressed man with matted hair, an awkward amount of facial hair that isn’t quite a beard, a bit of blood splatter on his collar and a bit of unmentionable splatter on the side of his shirt. He’s sure anyone who saw him would think he was drunk from the way he’s wobbling, but that doesn’t bother him at all. Let people think what they want - all that matters is that he has his leg back.
He can’t stop himself from smiling.