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Restraint, Release

Chapter Text

It takes Ogura thirty long, long minutes to compose himself. His heart pounds away in his chest, and he feels so overwhelmed by everything that all he can do is sit down on the floor, refusing to even look at the bed.

Every so often he has to look up, double checking to make sure that Satou’s still there, that he hasn’t suddenly sprung back to life. He keeps waiting for something to happen--for an IBM to appear before him, for some kind of sign that it isn’t over--but nothing actually happens.

He’s waiting for the other foot to drop, but it’s already planted firmly on the ground.

Eventually, the disgusting smell of blood and vomit gets to him. He inches around the room, giving the body a wide berth, and grabs a pillow, dropping it down to cover the puke. His emotional high is gone, his entire mental state having crashed down in the time it took to get past what had happened, and now he’s left with a whole string of things that he really does need to do.

Time matters.

He locks the door, even if he doesn’t think anyone would think of interrupting him and Satou during his alone time, and steps into the shower to wash off the worst of it. The shirt, once a very light purple, is now stained a slightly mottled looking reddish brown from all the blood.

He needs a new shirt. He needs a new everything, realistically speaking.

Standing in the shower, Ogura runs down his list of priorities. The collar is a big one--he needs to find the remote, or else he needs to get someone with the tools and experience to hack it off his neck. He needs to catch Tanaka the moment he gets back. He needs to deal with the other ajin who are still in the house, blissfully unaware of the fact that Ogura’s made a mess of their boss.

He isn’t sure how loyal any of them are to him, but he decides that he needs Tanaka on his side before he deals with anything else.

He has a lot to do, and at the same time he feels like he has nothing.

To cover his bases he spends his time digging around through the bedroom, but the remote isn’t anywhere to be found. More or less everything in the bedroom he supposedly shared with Satou is his own, or else came with the house. Really, his options are his notebook, his pen, and very little else.

He isn’t going to stay in the room with Satou’s mangled corpse any longer than he has to, so he carefully lets himself out of the room, waiting outside the door and hoping that Tanaka gets back soon.

Tanaka, much to his disappointment, does not get back soon. It’s almost two hours from the time he steps outside to get back, and when he does he looks equal parts exhausted and depressed.

“Tanaka,” Ogura snaps, interrupting whatever Tanaka was going to say. Probably an apology for not being able to find the store, let alone the stupid syringe that Ogura had insisted on. “Talk later, action now. Pull out your IBM, and get it to guard this door. Don’t let anyone in,” he says, grabbing Tanaka by the shoulder sleeve and tugging him along towards their practice room.

Tanaka looks mystified, but months of Satou snapping orders at him has made him good at reacting even if he’s confused, and Ogura can only hope that he did as he was told.

“I couldn’t fin-” Tanaka starts the moment they’re in the room, and Ogura lets out an exasperated sigh. Satou’s dead, he reminds himself. Everything else beyond that is nothing in comparison.

“I know,” he says. “The store didn’t exist, I just had to get you out of the house.”

Tanaka stares at him for a long moment, clearly trying to understand what was just said.

“You- you what?” He finally manages.

“I had to get you out. In case the plan went wrong, I thought it was better if you weren’t here. If the plan failed it would be better if you stayed with Satou, and I’m not sure you’d have been able to if you had to sit there and listen to him butcher me.”

Tanaka looks like Ogura just punched him, completely taken aback as his brain clicks through all the implications.

“Wait, hold on, you-” He sputters out, and Ogura quickly interrupts him.

“Yes, and yes. I already did it. He’s already dead. No, you can’t see,” he says, heading that off at the pass.

He doesn’t want Tanaka to see. Tanaka’s been through a lot, and the mutilated corpse of the man who saved him from hell is the last thing he needs to see.

Tanaka doesn’t say anything for a long, long while, and Ogura wonders if hearing it--that he’s already done it--has caused some kind of permanent damage. Tanaka looks dead to the world, staring into space and clearly lost in his own head.

“Tanaka?” He prompts carefully.

Tanaka blinks, coming slowly back to reality as Ogura reaches out, giving his arms a light squeeze.

“I need you here, Tanaka,” he says, trying to keep his voice gentle as Tanaka slowly becomes alert again.

“He -” Tanaka starts, then seems to reconsider what he was going to say. “I didn’t think it’d be over already.”

It occurs to Ogura that Tanaka probably would have wanted time to come to terms with what they were going to do, but the more time he had, the more likely it would be that Satou would have noticed. Better no time at all.

“We need to get moving, Tanaka. That means dealing with the others, it means reaching out to get help--” Ogura starts, and then it’s Tanaka’s turn to cut him off, his eyes narrowing with suspicion.

Deal with them?” Tanaka asks, his voice heavy with scorn.

Ogura lets out a snort.

“Poor choice of words. I’m not planning to kill them, if that’s what you think. The way to do it is too specific--it’s basically only going to work with a level of cooperation I’m not going to get from them. We do need to decide what they’re doing, though, because we’re going to need to make contact with the government before long...”

Tanaka flinches the moment he mentions the government, and Ogura squints at him before abruptly realizing.

“Tanaka, you aren’t going with them,” he says firmly.

“They aren’t going to just let me go,” Tanaka says, his voice wavering.

He’s afraid, Ogura realizes. He went out of his way to help, went out of his way to help plan the murder of the man who saved him from hell, but he still thinks that it’s the end for him.

“Tanaka, we just killed Satou. We just took down the most wanted man in the entire world, the most wanted man in the whole of Japanese history. He killed the emperor. Whatever the hell I want, Japan’s going to give it to me, and you’re coming along with me as a bodyguard. This isn’t negotiable,” he says firmly, and he means it. It’s not negotiable for the Japanese government, and it’s not negotiable for Tanaka, either.

“But-”

“No buts. No self pity, no being upset. You’re coming with me, you’re going to guard me, and I’m not letting you out of my sight. No one is going to hurt you, Tanaka. If it comes to it I’ll have America fucking sortie in to pick us up.”

He isn’t quite sure he’ll be able to actually go that far, but he’s entirely sure that the American government would be willing to put their foot down to retrieve him, even if they didn’t know he’d figured out how to kill an Ajin.

Tanaka squirms in place, his face the very picture of worry, but he finally does nod.

“My IBM’s going to fade soon,” he mumbles quietly.

“That’s fine. We’re going to go find Okuyama, Takahashi, and Gen. We’re going to see what they want to do, and then we’re going to go from there, alright?” Ogura says, looking up at Tanaka firmly. He could simply walk off, but instead he waits until Tanaka nods, patting him on the shoulder.

“Let's go.”

Chapter Text

Actually getting everyone into the same room is easier said than done. While Ogura’s largely had free rein since arriving--the collar made any escape pointless--he doesn’t have any actual authority. When he pops his head into the room that Takahashi and Gen share, neither of them is very keen on joining him in the living room for a heart to heart.

It’s not until Tanaka pops his head in, scowling down at them that they move at all.

“Living room, ten minutes,” Tanaka says, immediately ducking back out and leaving Ogura standing there in the doorway.

“Reset yourself,” Ogura adds after a thought. “Before you show up. You need a clear head.”

Takahashi starts to protest, but Ogura is already gone, trailing behind Tanaka towards Okuyama’s room.

He doesn’t even bother to say anything when they get there, letting Tanaka handle it just the way he always has. Tanaka knocks once, opens the door, and then leans in casually.

“We need everyone in the living room in ten,” Tanaka says simply, pulling back without waiting for Okuyama to respond.

 It occurs to Ogura that Tanaka has done this before, and that he really should have just let him take charge in the first place.

Tanaka spaces out almost the moment they enter the living room, sitting down and staring at his hands like the meaning of life is written on them.

Ogura decides to let him sit. He has too much to think about himself, and in the end he thinks about nothing, spacing out himself in almost a perfect mirror of the man to his left.

His hand still hurts, the stumps of his fingers throbbing with the beating of his heart.

“This better be good,” Takahashi complains as he arrives, Gen trailing just behind him. It’s enough to snap Ogura out of his own thoughts, but not quite enough to get Tanaka. Ogura leans over, nudging Tanaka to bring him back to reality.

Okuyama doesn’t say anything as he arrives, but Ogura notes it’s probably been exactly ten minutes since they went to get him.

“Hold on, where’s Satou?” Gen asks, glancing around the room as if expecting Satou to pop out from behind a piece of furniture.

Ogura opens his mouth to say dead, then second guesses himself and closes it. It might be better to beat around the bush, to see how they’re feeling and just say that Satou isn’t there.

“Dead,” Tanaka says, shooting a torpedo into Ogura’s rampant speculation.

Ogura expects silence. Instead there’s an immediate reaction, Takahashi and Gen’s eyes widening.

“The fuck-” Takahashi blurts out before cutting himself off. “What do you mean, dead?”

Okuyama, Ogura notes, doesn’t look even a bit surprised.

“Dead as in dead. Not coming back,” Tanaka clarifies, and Gen makes a small noise like an animal in pain.

He can see the writing on the wall, even if he’s not reading it quite right. Ogura does his best to get ahead of it before anyone lashes out.

“So this is done. I doubt the three of you are going to care enough to continue Satou’s insane crusade against common sense,” Ogura says, watching carefully for any sort of sign of attack. Takahashi’s eyes narrow, but he doesn’t move.

“And then what?” Takahashi asks, and Ogura can’t help but watch the worry written clearly on Gen’s face.

“And then whatever,” Ogura says simply. “I don’t care. I’m not the Japanese government, I’m not going to give you some bullshit song and dance about how you need to be brought to justice. The three of you haven’t been identified as being connected to Satou, which means you can functionally live normal lives. Just don’t draw attention to yourselves.”

He supposes that he probably should care about all that stuff, but he really doesn’t. The Japanese government has managed to fuck things up so severely that there’s really no love lost between them, and Ogura is in no hurry to do them any favors that aren’t going to directly benefit him.

“Except you can identify us,” Okuyama says, speaking for the first time since Tanaka’s rushed announcement. “Which makes you a threat.”

No one moves to attack, but the tension is there just the same, and Tanaka bristles.

Ogura wonders if there are any IBMs out that he can’t see.

“But I’m not going to. To be blunt, you’ve been helpful to me in my time here, and I really don’t think any of you are going to go down the path Satou took. So you’re a non-issue to me.”

Okuyama raises a single eyebrow, but doesn’t say anything. Gen, of all people, is the one who brings an end to the argument.

“I trust him. He suffered a lot with Satou here, and Satou’s the one who he was angry at. He doesn’t have any reason to betray us.” 

It’s obviously enough for Takahashi, although Okuyama doesn’t look entirely convinced.

Eventually Okuyama simply shrugs, apparently having accepted the argument as much as he can.

“Okay, so -- what are we doing, exactly?” Takahashi asks, glancing quickly between everyone in the room.

Tanaka obviously doesn’t meet his eyes.

“Well, I’m going home,” Okuyama says simply, tapping the end of his cane on the floor twice. “Can I get a ride to the station? I assume you’re taking the car.” He glances at Takahashi as he says it, his mind obviously made up.

“Wait, you’re just going home?” Takahashi sputters.

“I have no direct ties to Satou. I already had everything ready in case I needed to leave in a hurry, so I’ll be back living a normal life before this blows up. You should be doing the same.”

Okuyama doesn’t say another word, turning back towards the hallway and heading back to his room, apparently to pack.

Takahashi’s obviously stressed by the turn of events, but he swallows down hard, glancing back to Gen.

“So we’re just... going to go, then?” He asks, and Gen nods. “We could go visit your cousins, stay there for a bit until we can get a place.”

“Or just get a place,” Ogura says. “I’m sure Satou still has stacks of cash lying around, you could take some of that and use it to give you a start. I don’t particularly care.”

Takahashi’s eyes light up, but Gen’s obviously turned his mind to other things.

“What about Tanaka?”

Tanaka isn’t looking at any of them, just staring at his hands again now that the danger’s gone.

“He’s coming with me,” Ogura says simply. “There’s no way for him to keep a low profile--everyone knows his face, and everyone’s going to be looking for him.”

Takahashi’s halfway across the room, his fists up, before Tanaka intercepts, standing in front of Ogura to block Takahashi’s path.

He can’t see Takahashi’s face, but Ogura can certainly imagine how mad he must look.

“I’m not going to let you just fucking hand him over!” Takahashi yells, and Ogura lets out a sigh.

“I’m not going to hand him over. He’s coming with me as my guard, and as one of the guys who killed Satou. He’ll be a hero, which will get him out of more or less all the consequences that come with being Satou’s right hand man. He’s not going anywhere I’m not going.”

The tension in Tanaka’s back shifts ever so slightly, the muscles easing, and Ogura wishes he could see everyone’s faces rather than being blocked off.

“Swear it,” Takahashi says, his voice low.

Ogura doesn’t actually think that swearing counts for anything, but he supposes he might as well.

“I do solemnly swear on... I don’t know, my name as a scientist.”

Gen lets out a little snort from the sidelines.

“I’ll be fine,” Tanaka insists, and Takahashi finally does back down, moving over to grab Gen’s hand.

“We need to pack. We’re taking the car, too,” he calls over his shoulder, towing Gen back towards their room.

That’s two problems solved, and a thousand more to go.

Chapter Text

Mentally, Ogura’s already working through each step. Before anything else, he needs to get backup. He needs medical attention, he needs supplies, and most of all he needs to deal with the corpse in his bedroom.

“Tanaka, if I ask you to stay here, can I trust that you’ll stay out of the bedroom?” He asks, raising an eyebrow at him.

Tanaka shifts a bit where he sits, but finally does nod.

“I won’t if you don’t want me to,” he says, and Ogura decides that‘s the best he can hope for.

“Where’s the nearest store? Not a house, but an actual store.”

Tanaka doesn’t need to pause for that.

“There’s a FamilyMart a few blocks away, but Satou always made us go to the Lawson that was farther out.”

“How far?”

“To which one?”

Ogura scowls at him.

“The FamilyMart. The closest one. Do you have cash?”

“It’s like... four blocks that way. Maybe a ten minute walk if you’re slow?” Tanaka explains, pointing in a direction that means functionally nothing to Ogura. He has no idea what the layout of the outside is like, no idea what the streets are like. “You just keep going that way and you can’t miss it.”

Ogura holds out his hand, and after a moment Tanaka finally coughs up a few bills, dropping them into his hand and looking confused as to why Ogura, of all people, needs cash.

Ogura turns to go without another word, and then second guesses himself, stopping in place and digging out his poor, tattered notebook. There’s blood staining the pages on the right side, and Ogura can’t decide if the blood is his own, or if it’s Satou’s.

He hastily scribbles out a number on each page, then rips them out and holds them out to Tanaka.

“Give one of these to Okuyama, and one of these to Gen. If they ever want to turn themselves in, tell them to give me a call... and the same goes for if they think they’re going to get caught. I don’t think I’ll be able to work any miracles, but it’s better than nothing.”

More than anything, Ogura’s thinking about the fact that the shirt he’s wearing was once Gens.

Tanaka takes the paper, staring down at it for a moment.

“Say your goodbyes to them, and make sure they’re gone in thirty minutes or less, alright?”

Tanaka is still staring at the paper, but he finally nods, shoving the pages in his pocket.

“I’ll let them know.”

It’s not good, Ogura decides, but it’s the best possible thing he can do out of a string of shitty options.

He leaves Tanaka behind in the living room, ducking out of the house and stepping into the open air for the first time in a month.

He immediately decides that the sun is too bright, and forces himself to stand in the entranceway until his eyes adjust. Too much indoor lighting. Not enough sun.

He grumbles to himself for a long while before finally walking down the path to the sidewalk, memorizing the address and how the house looks before he starts off in the direction Tanaka indicated. The entire area is weird, largely because it’s so American in nature. He’s almost entirely sure that Satou picked it for that reason alone, but the more he walks the more Ogura feels like he’s accidentally got lost and ended up in an American suburb.

He finds the FamilyMart right where Tanaka said it would be, but by then his legs are screaming. It’s the most exercise he’s had in a lot longer than a month, and the pain in his hand only gets that much worse.

The shopkeeper’s expression when he steps into the store is unwelcoming, to say the least, and it registers with Ogura that he probably looks like an absolute lunatic. He hasn’t shaved in ages and has a good amount of scruff, he’s probably lost twenty pounds from a horrid combination of not eating and stress, his shirt is stained with something that looks suspiciously like blood (because it is), and there’s a thick bandage wrapped around his left hand, hiding his injured fingers.

That’s not even counting the black collar around his neck.

He decides to skip the part where he wanders around.

“Some Mevius FKs,” he starts, dropping the stack of bills on the counter. “And I need to use your phone.”

The man behind the counter stares at the bills dubiously before reaching out, grabbing three of them before fetching a small box of cigarettes.

“The whole thing,” Ogura insists. “As many as I can get.”

The man looks even more dubious, but finally does collect up the rest of the cash, returning with three more small boxes.

“You can’t smoke in here. And the phone isn’t for the public,” he says, his eyes flicking down to Ogura’s filthy shirt.

“It is an emergency,” Ogura insists, shoving three of the boxes in his pockets.

“It doesn’t look like an emergency,” the man says skeptically.

Ogura wonders for a moment if he shouldn’t have brought Tanaka along, just for sheer intimidation factor. His height isn’t doing him any favors.

“Listen,” he says, leaning in as the man immediately leans back. “This is one of those things where you’re going to look back and be really sorry for giving me shit, because I’ve had a very bad day and you’re about to have more police than you’ve ever seen in your life descend in front of you. So give me a phone. And if you don’t give me a phone, I’m going to have to go banging on doors until someone DOES give me a phone, and then I’m going to inform them that you refused to let me contact the appropriate authorities.”

It would be so, so much easier if he could just drop his name and say he’d killed Satou and be done with it, but that doesn’t put him in a position where he can bargain.

The man hesitates, and then he finally digs a phone out, holding it out for Ogura to take.

Ogura snatches it out of his hand.

“I’ll be in the corner,” he says, immediately heading for the corner of the store.

He doesn’t remember the number for Tosaki’s office, but he does remember the number for the Ministries home office, and he dials it in a hurry.

“Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare, how can I redirect you?” A man answers, and Ogura wishes he’d thought to ask Tanaka who was in charge.

“Listen, this is one of those important calls that you’re going to remember for a while. I need you to bump me to whoever is in charge--I have important information on the whereabouts of the ajin Satou,” Ogura says, dropping his voice to avoid the shopkeeper overhearing. Someone else walks in, and Ogura turns away, trying to minimize his presence in case the man decides to kick him out.

Fuck, he forgot to buy a lighter.

The man on the other end is obviously doing something--Ogura can hear papers moving--but he isn’t saying anything.

“Sir, you should contact the local police,” the man finally says, and Ogura lets out a grunt.

“The police aren’t going to be able to do anything about Satou. Bump me up to whoever’s in charge. The minister? Whoever.”

The man on the other end clears his throat.

“There is currently no standing minister.”

“It’s been a fucking month, did they not get a new one?” Ogura snaps.

“Please don’t curse, or I’ll have to disconnect you. The new minister has also passed away. A new one has not been elected.”

Ogura wonders which of Satou’s many happy days that was.

“Alright, bump me to whoever is in Tosaki’s place, then. I knew him before he died, I could give you his fucking lif- oh!” Ogura interrupts himself, finally realizing. “Satou killed him when he escaped a month ago, which isn’t public knowledge, so it proves I’m not making things up.”

Assuming whoever he’s talking to even knows that it’s true.

“One second, I’m transferring you,” the man finally says, and Ogura finds himself listening to irritating hold music.

It doesn’t last long, at the very least, but the person who picks up isn’t the one he wants to talk to. Instead he’s forced to repeat the conversation almost verbatim three more times, working his way up the chain.

Even if he’s not looking, he can feel the man behind the counter glaring at his back.

The hold music abruptly cuts out.

“This is Sokabe,” the voice on the other end says. “Who is this?”

Ogura lets out a sigh of relief.

Chapter Text

Ogura reaches up as he talks, adjusting his shirt to try and cover the collar a bit more.

“So you aren’t dead, good to hear,” Ogura says, and he can practically hear the scrutiny in Sokabe’s voice.

“Who is this?” Sokabe repeats.

“Ogura Ikuya,” Ogura replies, and Sokabe makes a choked noise on the other end of the line.

“We thought you were dead. Where are you? What happened?” Sokabe says, his tone even despite the urgency of his words.

Ogura fiddles with the box of cigarettes in his hand.

“No idea. You should use one of those fancy tracking programs to figure out where the hell I am, because I have no idea.”

It would probably be easier to just ask, but he’s pretty sure that if he asks what prefecture they’re in the man’s going to kick him right out of the store.

“I’ll work on it. What happened?” Sokabe repeats, and even through the phone Ogura can hear an edge in his voice. Ogura wonders just how much weight the man’s lost, just how much being in charge has ruined his life with Satou on the loose.

He probably expects the worst, and instead he’s going to get the best.

Ogura doesn’t know Sokabe all that well--he only met the man a few times--but what little he knows about Sokabe makes the best course of action clear.

“I’m in a FamilyMart. How do you feel about getting promoted to minister?” He asks, squeezing the box out of his hand out of pure instinct.

“None of this is answering my question, Ogura,” Sokabe says, sounding more like Tosaki by the second.

“That’s because I’m ignoring your question, because I’m on a borrowed phone and very quickly running out of time before the guy who owns it wants it back. So you’re going to hunt me down, and you’re going to bring me a change of clothes, a lighter, the authority to give me whatever the hell you want, and one of your fast response teams that can close off an area.”

Sokabe, to his credit, doesn’t argue with any of it. He seems well aware that whatever is going on is flying well over his head.

“How heavily armed?”

“Not at all. There’s not going to be any shooting,” Ogura replies, earning himself a scoff in response.

“You can’t guarantee that.”

“I absolutely can,” Ogura says confidently. He glances over his shoulder to find that the man behind the counter is no longer behind the counter, and then quickly turns away.

“I need to go. Try and get here fast before I go crazy, alright?”

He doesn’t give Sokabe a chance to answer, just hangs up the phone and turns to present it to the rather large man who is now looming over him.

“An emergency, hm?” The man says with a scowl.

“I don’t suppose I could get a light?” Ogura asks, holding up his cigarettes.


 

Ogura does not get a light. What he gets is escorted off the premises, requiring him to sit down by the nearby street light, waiting for Sokabe to appear. He has his cigarettes--even if they aren’t Mild 7s--but he can’t do anything but stare at them.

He should have remembered that lighter.

It seems to take forever before he hears the wail of sirens, watching with amusement as a police cruiser zips past him, pulling into the FamilyMart parking lot.

He simply watches as Sokabe hops out of the back seat, bursting into the store with two obviously armed police officers following him in.

He isn’t in for more than a minute before he bursts right back out, scanning the area until his eyes finally settle on Ogura.

Ogura waves.

Sokabe’s face twitches briefly into a look of rage, and then he pushes it down, striding over to where Ogura sits.

“You look half dead,” Sokabe says.

Ogura shoves his good hand out, palm up

“Lighter. Then we talk.”

Sokabe stares at him incredulously, and Ogura wonders if he bothered to bring any of the stuff he required. Thankfully for Sokabe, one of the cops with him produces a lighter, dropping it into Ogura’s palm.

Ogura’s hands tremble as he digs out a cigarette, lighting it carefully before taking a deep, deep breath. It’s been so long that he chokes immediately, coughing briefly before he manages to catch his breath.

He missed his FK’s so fucking bad.

“Are you going to explain what’s going on, or are you going to just sit there and smoke?” Sokabe asks, glaring down at him, and Ogura takes another deep breath, holding up his injured hand.

“I forgot to mention this, by the way. Medical care would be nice, but it’s not bleeding bad enough to require a hospital visit.”

Sokabe looks suitably horrified, staring down at the bloody bandages wrapped around Ogura’s hand.

“Are you in a position to negotiate with me?” Ogura says simply, dropping his hand back down to his lap.

Sokabe looks more irritated by the second.

“I don’t know what I’m negotiating for,” Sokabe says. “You’ve dragged me out here without any explanation, and I want to know why. I’m a wanted man--if Satou finds out--”

“Satou isn’t going to find out,” Ogura says. “Which is what we’re going to talk about. I know exactly where he is, and I can put an end to your woes immediately.”

Sokabe obviously doesn’t believe him, but Ogura doesn’t really care.

“So, here’s the deal. I stop Satou. The war against him ends. Everything’s over. You get promoted, I get a Nobel prize, everyone’s happy.”

Sokabe continues to squint down at him, and Ogura takes a deep drag from his FK, tilting his head back to blow smoke into the air.

Everything hurts, but he doesn’t really care.

“In exchange?” Sokabe says, recognizing the implied if you do what I want.

“I want Tanaka.”

Sokabe’s eyes widen for a brief moment, then narrow again. Somehow--through some kind of insane willpower--he keeps his voice even.

“Why?”

“Because I need a guard. Because I need to get something out of this, considering what a fucking favor I’m doing for this fucking country.”

Sokabe obviously fixates on the word guard.

“You think Tanaka is going to just behave?” Sokabe says, and Ogura grins up at him wolfishly.

“Of course. He’ll do what I tell him to, and he stays at my side. And if you try and take him, I get to dump everything I know about the Japanese ajin program into public view, confidentiality be damned.”

Sokabe stares down at him, clearly weighing his options.

“This is a win win for you, Sokabe,” he reminds him, and it’s enough to tip him over.

“Deal,” Sokabe finally says.

Ogura just grins up at him, finishing his cigarette.

He can afford to make Sokabe wait.

Chapter Text

Sokabe turns out to not be completely useless. He has a change of clothes in the back of the police car, and makes several protesting noises when Ogura climbs in, stripping off the bloody clothes to change into them.

“You forgot underwear,” he calls out, pulling on the new pair of pants.

“I didn’t realize you’d need underwear, Ogura. You didn’t give me any information.”

Ogura can’t really argue with that, because he was insanely cagey with what he said over the phone.

“You should get medical attention,” Sokabe adds, eyes falling to the mess of Ogura’s hand.

“It’s already through the worst of it. I’m past the point where I can reattach it anyway, so a few hours isn’t going to be any worse than what I am now,” he explains, lighting another cigarette.

He wants to gloat, but gloating isn’t going to do him any good.

“Where are we going?” Sokabe says, gesturing for one of the cops to collect Ogura’s clothes, which are neatly bagged for... what, testing? Ogura can’t tell, and he doesn’t really care.

“That way,” Ogura says, pointing down the street. “Four or five blocks. I’d describe it, only all the houses look the same, and it’s intentionally innocuous.”

“And Satou’s there?” Sokabe asks, clearly doubting every single word out of Ogura’s mouth.

“Yep,” Ogura says simply, taking a deep drag of his cigarette.

Sokabe doesn’t say anything, and the cop in the driver’s seat starts them off, gliding up the road as Sokabe watches the houses go by.

Ogura’s sure that Sokabe has a million questions, but by some miracle the man manages to keep his mouth shut until Ogura gestures to a house.

“Just pull in the driveway,” he says, and the cop does, even as Sokabe looks increasingly concerned.

“Is he not going to notice?” Sokabe finally says, and Ogura lets out a laugh.

“He’s dead, currently. Trapped, unable to revive. If anyone else fucks with him, he’ll become unstuck and revive. But since I can kill him for good now, that isn’t a problem.”

Sokabe makes a small noise that rests somewhere between disbelief and surprise.

“You can kill an ajin?” The cop in the passenger seat abruptly says, spinning around to gawk at Ogura.

The cop looks suspiciously young to Ogura, and he can’t help but wonder if Satou’s dropped the average age for the police by a few points.

“Yes,” Ogura says simply, not bothering to hide how smug he is.

“Then go do it,” Sokabe says abruptly. “You can tell us how later. Making sure Satou doesn’t accidentally spring back to life with me fifty feet away is priority.”

Ogura doesn’t even feel slightly bad about his lie, but he does reach over, pops the door open and climbs out.

“I’ll come get you in like five minutes. Consider calling in that team to make sure no one else enters the house,” he adds, heading up to the front door.

He’s sure that Tanaka’s lingering just inside, and he turns out to be right. The moment he steps inside Tanaka’s there, just out of line of sight of the doorway.

He looks insanely nervous, glancing towards the door as if expecting an army of anti-ajin forces to burst in.

After a moment, Ogura realizes that that is exactly what he’s expecting.

“Calm down,” he says. “It’s two cops and an irritating government agent. As far as they know, Satou’s currently held in stasis, and I’m coming in to put the nail in his proverbial coffin. Then they can come in and lock the whole building down.”

Tanaka doesn’t look calmed at all, his eyes sliding back towards the doorway.

“I’m not telling them how I did it, and they already agreed to let you stay with me as my bodyguard. The guy in charge now cares more about his promotion than about getting another ajin for the program. Honestly, I’m not sure Japan has an ajin program. They don’t have any ajin, and Satou slaughtered the minister, the man in charge of the program, and every single other person in the building.”

If nothing else, that seems to help Tanaka relax a bit, and he nods.

“Did you already pack?” He asks, and Tanaka steps back, gesturing to a duffel bag he’s shoved in a corner. Ogura gives him an approving nod, then pats him on the arm.

“It’s been about long enough, so I’m going to go grab them. Don’t say anything, just look big and intimidating and stick by me when I get back, alright?” He waits for Tanaka to nod before he pulls the door back open, heading back to the car and rapping on the front window with his knuckles.

The cop rolls the window down.

“You can come in. That said, one more thing. There should be a remote about this big,” he says, gesturing with his hands. “Looks like a small TV remote. If you find it, I need it immediately, and you need to instruct everyone in the house not to touch it. It’ll open this,” he finishes, tapping the metal of the collar.

Sokabe really doesn’t look like he believes him at all, but he nods anyway, climbing out of the car.

“You seem surprisingly relaxed,” Ogura comments, eyeing the man. He really does--Tosaki would have been an inch away from a freak out in his situation.

“If Satou was in the house and wanted me dead, he could kill me just as easily in the driveway as inside,” Sokabe comments, straightening his tie before trailing Ogura into the house, the two officers following close behind. Ogura spots at least one neighbor craning over a fence to watch, and he wonders how long it’ll be before the whole neighborhood knows something’s going on.

Probably not long.

Chapter Text

Things very nearly go to shit almost immediately. Tanaka tenses up, Sokabe tenses up, and both of the cops immediately jerk to go for their guns, only stopping themselves halfway through.

“Oh yes, shoot the immortal bodyguard,” Ogura scoffs. “That will work.”

His tone of annoyance has the desired effect, and both of the cops look embarrassed, even if they’re still obviously nervous, sticking as close to Sokabe as possible, as if that would somehow protect them. Even if he’s well aware that Tanaka could be considered a gentle giant--good natured despite his extremely fucked up past--he’s under no illusions that Tanaka could literally tear them apart with his IBM if he wanted to.

Tanaka’s at least managing to put on a good show of being intimidating, even if Ogura’s certain he’s on the verge of an anxiety attack.

“Alright alright, enough gawking,” Ogura says, gesturing down the hallway. “Welcome to my filthy den of sin, ignore the weed smell.”

Sokabe wrinkles his nose at the smell as Ogura guides them down the hallway, stopping in front of the bedroom door.

“Fair warning, it’s disgusting. Bathrooms that way, feel free to vomit in there,” Ogura adds, pointing it out.

Both cops look skeptical.

“We’ll need to confirm time of death,” the younger one finally says, and Ogura lets out a little snort.

“Have fun finding a pulse,” he says, shoving the door open and grabbing Tanaka by the arm, hauling him along as he waves over his shoulder.

“Have fun, I’ll be in the living room.”

He still isn’t going to let Tanaka see, and Tanaka glances over his shoulder, spotting nothing.

“Normally I’m skeptical when people say that something is for your own good, but I’m the one using it and I actually mean it, Tanaka,” Ogura insists, hauling him into the living room.

He hears, distantly, the sound of someone vomiting and can’t be bothered to hide his little grin.

He hopes it’s Sokabe, but he realizes that it’s through no fault of the man’s own. He has big, irritating shoes to fill after all.

“What now?” Tanaka asks, his voice very quiet.

“Well, they finish confirming he’s really dead, and then we’re done. We’ll probably have to be carted off to the hospital for my hand, they’ll probably stick us in a private room because you’re extremely wanted, and then someone more important than Sokabe will show up to talk shop. Actually-” Ogura pauses for a moment, looking Tanaka up and down. “Don’t you have a phone?”

Tanaka nods, grabbing his bag and digging through before passing Ogura a cellphone.

It looks even more up to date than Ogura’s old one, which to Ogura means that Okuyama must have been the one to pick it out.

He wastes no time in dialing his old number, flipping to English to Tanaka’s obvious confusion.

“It’s Ogura, put Huynh on.”

There’s a little gasp on the other end, but to the credit of whoever his phone was redirected to, they don’t even respond. They simply redirect his call, letting it ring through.

He figures it’s around six in the evening, and some quick mental math tells him that he’s calling right when people are getting into the office.

“Huynh,” comes a voice on the other side of the phone.

“Oh good, you are in!” Ogura says pleasantly, eyeing Tanaka where he sits. Sokabe still hasn’t made an appearance, but he doubts it’ll be long.

There’s yet another spluttering sound on the other end, and Ogura wonders just why so many people presumed he was dead after a month of no contact. Satou, he’s sure, would have left his body somewhere to be found.

“Ogura?” The woman on the other end says, and Ogura can practically hear the scrutiny in her voice.

“Did we stop being on a first name basis, Mai? Yes, Ogura,” he says, rolling his eyes. “I’m going to make it quick. I found a way to kill a demi-human, I put it into practice, Satou’s dead, and I’m currently hanging out with his second in command. I already talked to the Japanese governmen- Do you still record all your phone calls?” He says, abruptly interrupting himself.

“Yes,” Mai confirms on the other end.

“Good,” Ogura says quickly, returning to his speech. “Like I said, I’m already dealing with the Japanese government. That said, if you don’t hear from me within forty-eight hours, assume they’re up to sneaky shit and bust some heads to pick me up, alright? Me and Tanaka.”

Tanaka obviously recognizes his own name, squinting up at Ogura.

“Sorry, I think I’m still caught on you found a way to kill a demi-human. I assume you mean permanently?” Mai says, obviously shocked.

“Yes,” Ogura confirms quickly.

“So are you going to-” Mai starts, and Ogura cuts her off.

“Yes you can get all the fresh juicy scientific info after I’m back in a country that has landed on the moon, and after I get my nobel prize.”

Mai noticeably does not snort.

“If you aren’t making shit up, that’s actually plausible,” Mai mutters under her breath. “Are you still going to have this phone in forty-eight hours?”

“Probably. Or my new guard will.”

He can hear footsteps approaching, and Ogura pinches the phone between his shoulder and head, digging out a new cigarette before tossing Tanaka the lighter.

Tanaka manages to catch it despite the utter lack of warning, staring down at it, uncomprehending. Ogura pinches the cigarette between his index and middle finger, holding it out.

“Light me, I can barely use my left hand right now.”

“What?” Mai says through the phone.

“Sorry, not you,” Ogura says, dropping back into English as Tanaka struggles to light his cigarette. “I need to go, I’ll call you back later.”

He doesn’t say goodbye, just hangs up the phone and passes it back to Tanaka.

His left hand fucking hurts

Sokabe appears around the corner, looking several shades paler than he was when Ogura last saw him. It answers the question on Ogura’s lips--who puked--and Ogura gives him a grin in response.

“Satisfied?”

Sokabe glares at him.

Ogura simply holds up his mangled hand.

“If you don’t need us anymore, I need a hospital. So get me an ambulance, dig around the house to your heart's content, and try not to vomit on anything important if you find a stack of body parts.”

Tanaka makes a very small sound in his throat, and Ogura glances up at him, squinting. He’s gone back to looking serious, which means that the sound slipped out, even if Ogura can’t figure out what it was for.

“Remember the remote,” Ogura adds, turning back to Sokabe. “And if you find my fingers I’d like those back too, but I doubt you’ll find them.” For that matter, he doubts they’ll find the remote either.

Sokabe opens his mouth to protest, then closes it again, apparently deciding that sending Ogura to the hospital is the best course of action.

“I’ll get an ambulance,” he finally says, shifting his gaze to Tanaka.

Tanaka stares back, and then the moments over, and Sokabe turns away, pulling out his phone to make the call.

Chapter Text

Ogura hasn’t been in an ambulance in more than ten years, and he’s rather irritated when they make him put out his cigarette.

He’s even more irritated when the two EMT’s spend the entire ride to the hospital staring at Tanaka as if expecting him to suddenly grow a second head.

Tanaka is obviously uncomfortable, at least to him, but he’s also fairly sure that he’s the only one who knows Tanaka well enough to notice it.

They end up with a police escort before they’ve even left the suburb, the dueling sirens giving Ogura a headache as he reclines on the stretcher.

At least one of the EMTs has a good head on his shoulders, because halfway through the ride he goes to the front of the ambulance, digging around and emerging with a lime green hoodie, which he shoves at Tanaka.

“Put this on. If you go in looking like that, you’re going to give someone a heart attack.”

Ogura opens his mouth to disagree, and then decides that the man’s right. Police escorting someone into the hospital is almost usual. Police escorting the second most wanted man in the world into the hospital is less so.

Tanaka looks at Ogura for confirmation, and Ogura nods. Tanaka wastes no time in pulling the hoodie on. It’s a bit too tight on him, but with the hood up he looks slightly less recognizable.

“Good enough,” Ogura declares with a wave of his hand.

The rest of the ride happens in silence, interrupted only when they finally arrive and have to manage to somehow get Tanaka into the hospital without causing an actual panic. They manage--mostly--by using the back entrance, wheeling Ogura in despite his repeated insistence that he can walk just fine.

There turns out to be absolutely no waiting time when your plus one is a wanted man, because they skip right through all the usual processing and get shoved into an open room. Ogura isn’t even entirely clear if the room was open to begin with, but it’s certainly open when they wheel him in.

Ogura watches the cops take up position outside the door as Tanaka grabs a seat beside his bed, looking increasingly anxious.

Anxious enough that anyone is going to notice, not just Ogura.

“Relax,” Ogura reminds him. “You’re with me, no one’s going to try anything.”

“It’s just... familiar,” Tanaka mutters quietly, glancing around the room nervously.

“Oh!” Ogura says, abruptly realizing. “Similar to the lab, I guess. Well, none of them are going to be working on you, at least.”

There’s not even a need to check. Tanaka’s the very picture of health, the same way every ajin is.

Tanaka shrugs ever so slightly, his shoulders barely moving.

“I know,” he says, a note of finality in his voice, and Ogura lets out a little sigh. There’s nothing he can do to make that better.

They haven’t been waiting long when a doctor arrives, thankfully giving Tanaka only a quick once over. He’s all business, carefully unwrapping Ogura’s hand to inspect the damage.

“A cigarette burn,” the doctor observes, carefully turning his hand over. “And two severed fingers. How long ago?” He asks, eyes flicking up.

“Outside reattachment range, even if we had them. Thirty six hours? Forty eight? And they were previously severed even before that, about four months ago.”

Four months, he realizes. Four months seems like a very long time.

The doctor makes a small little hmmm noise, turning his hand over carefully.

“Well, the bleedings stopped so you’re through the worst of it. That said, you’ve definitely lost a lot of blood, so we’ll need to do something for that.You’ll need some light surgery to minimize the scarring and avoid any potential damage to your middle finger, even if there’s no chance for reattachment.”

There’s no if you want in his voice. The man is extremely to the point, and Ogura appreciates that.

“You’re going to scar, obviously. But if you do physical therapy, you should avoid having any further damage and maintain mobility in the rest of your hand.”

The doctor pulls back, sticking his head out into the hall and calling for supplies. Ogura notes that there’s no nurse to speak of--just the one doctor.

He suspects that there wasn’t a nurse in the hospital who was willing to deal with a non-critical patient sharing a room with Tanaka.

Their loss.

The doctor verifies Ogura’s blood type before running him through a gamut of tests, squinting at every single result he gets.

“If I tried to list out every issue I found, we’d be here all day,” the doctor finally says as he runs an IV line to Ogura’s arm, hanging a blood pack shortly after. “Your blood pressure is too low, you’re alarmingly underweight, you’re showing the early signs of scurvy, you’re malnourished in more or less every way...”

Tanaka makes a small noise of surprise.

Ogura isn’t surprised at all. He’s having a hard time remembering the last time he ate an actual meal, as opposed to some instant noodles or whatever he could dig out of the cupboards.

“We’re going to let the IV run, add the blood in later to make sure you’re not going to faint, and I’m going to go get you an actual meal, which you’re going to eat completely. The whole thing.”

There is no room for argument.

The doctor glances over to Tanaka, obviously weighing his options, and then simply asks.

“Do you want me to get you one too?”

Tanaka looks surprised at being addressed at all, and then gives a small little nod.

“If it’s not too much trouble,” he says quietly, and the doctor nods in return, ducking out of the room.

Ogura squints down at the IV in his arm.

“I didn’t realize you were so ill,” Tanaka says, his voice still just as quiet as it was when the doctor surprised him.

“I had things on my mind. Eating was a very, very low priority.”

Tanaka obviously doesn’t agree.

“I would have brought you something. I just assumed you were eating when I wasn’t there.”

“Tanaka, please don’t beat yourself up over this. I was busy. I don’t eat when I’m busy. I’ve been doing this since I was in my teens, and it’s unlikely to change anytime soon.”

Tanaka looks pained at the explanation, and Ogura lets out a sigh.

“Pass me a cigarette.”

Tanaka glances down at the box of cigarettes that Ogura had so uncerimoniously shoved into his hands.

“I don’t think-” He starts, and Ogura scowls even harder.

“Pass me a cigarette,” he repeats, and Tanaka relents, lighting him one and passing it over.

Ogura lets the IV work its magic.

Chapter Text

The doctor returns with two trays absolutely filled with food, and he’s not happy to find Ogura smoking.

“This is a no smoking zone,” he snaps, shoving the trays at Tanaka before marching over to the bed, going to grab the cigarette.

Ogura can’t even fight him for it. The man isn’t quite as tall as Tanaka, but he’s tall and strong, and he easily breaks Ogura’s grip, confiscating the cigarette with a grunt and tossing it in the trash after dousing it in water.

“Don’t let him smoke,” he says, glowering at Tanaka who seems to shrink under his gaze, nodding quickly.

The doctor insists on watching as Ogura eats, and then he insists on Ogura eating every single thing on his plate. There’s way too much food, and Ogura has to force himself to choke it down under the doctor's angry gaze.

He’s starting to get a good idea why this specific doctor was the one assigned to him.

“Alright, the worst of it is over, but that doesn’t mean we’re done,” the doctor says, and Ogura frowns. He’s having a hard time imagining what else the doctor could want.

“Strip,” the doctor says, and Tanaka goes pale.

It’s absurd, because he’s definitely been in less than a hospital gown before in front of Tanaka, and Ogura simply ignores him as he reaches up, peeling off the shirt Sokabe gave him as the doctor snaps on a clean pair of gloves. He doesn’t even get a chance to go for the pants before the doctor leans in, peeling off the bandage  at the top of Ogura’s shoulder.

The doctor lets out what can only be described as a snarl.

“It’s infected. You should have told me you had this injury in the first place.”

Ogura grumbles, tilting his head back to expose more of his neck.

“You haven’t seen anything,” he mutters under his breath.

“This is a human bite,” the doctor says, sounding increasingly horrified. “Human mouths are filthy.”

“I’ll just tell that to the guy who bit me,” Ogura snaps back.

 “Um!” Tanaka says, clearly trying to stop the argument before it really takes off. “Could - could we treat the bite, first?”

Ogura scowls in Tanaka’s direction, but his interruption works. The doctor pulls back, grabbing his supplies and starting to disinfect the injury.

“You need to keep a close eye on this. It doesn’t look too bad, but it could very easily get worse. Any other injuries?”

“Bruises.”

“Where?”

Ogura lets out an actual laugh at that.

“Everywhere. Literally everywhere. You’d be hard pressed to find a piece of skin that isn’t currently bruised.”

The doctor scowls at that too, and Ogura wonders if his face is going to be permanently stuck that way. He decides that if it was, it’d definitely already be stuck that way.

“Lets see,” the doctor says, and Ogura wastes no time in shifting around, peeling off his clothes as the doctor hands him a hospital gown.

Tanaka makes a small noise, turning away.

The doctor seems to take forever, letting out little tch’s every time he finds a new bruise. There are a lot of bruises, and he seems to get consistently more irritated the farther he goes.

“You have lacerations on your thighs,” the doctor mutters. “How long ago did you get these?”

Ogura is forced to admit that he has absolutely no idea, which earns himself another tch.

“Well, they don’t look like they’re healing right, which means you’re on bedrest for at least another day or two. Try not to move around much, and I’m going to keep an eye on them.”

“How am I supposed to smoke if you’re not letting me out of bed?”

“You aren’t, and if I catch you sneaking out of bed to go smoke we’re going to have words.”

Ogura hasn’t even had his FK’s back for a whole six hours and he’s already had them confiscated.

The doctor seems to already have a fairly good idea of how to keep Ogura in line, because he immediately turns to Tanaka, fixing him with an angry glare.

“Don’t let him smoke. Don’t let him out of bed. If you’re going to be sitting in here anyway, make yourself useful and keep him from injuring himself further, since I can’t get a nurse to assist.”

Tanaka somehow seems to get smaller under the doctors gaze, offering a hasty nod as the doctor peels off his gloves, disposing of them carefully.

“I’ll will be back in thirty minutes to remove the IV, and then I’ll see you in the morning to check in.”

The doctor’s halfway out the door when Tanaka manages to work up the nerve to say something.

“Uhm-” He says, and the doctor comes to a screeching halt, glancing back to him.

“What?”

If the doctor is even slightly intimidated by the ajin in the room, he certainly isn’t showing it.

“I... could we get your name?” 

“Doctor Wada,” the doctor says. “The police have my pager number if anything happens.”

“Well, he was pleasant,” Ogura mutters under his breath the moment the doctor is out of the room.

“You can be hard to work with,” Tanaka mumbles, and Ogura lets out a laugh at that, his mood lightened slightly.

“That’s a very charitable way to put it, Tanaka. You really don’t have to play nice with me, I know I’m an asshole.”

Tanaka frowns at him, leaning forward slightly in the chair.

“You aren’t. You saved me, even when you could have just left me behind.”

Ogura doesn’t know quite how to feel about that. He certainly doesn’t feel that it was an act of charity, but he’s having a hard time working out his own motivations for it. Certainly not for actual self defense--Ogura’s stared down Satou every day for the last month, and he’s having a hard time imagining anyone might actually be able to scare him.

“Get some sleep,” Ogura finally says, sagging back into the bed to wait for the doctor. “Should I tell them to get you a cot?”

Tanaka shakes his head, folding his arms over his chest and leaning back in the chair.

“This is fine.”

The I’ve slept in worse places is implied.

Ogura wishes it wasn’t.

Chapter Text

Ogura sleeps. He sleeps better than he has in weeks. There’s no looming threat on the horizon, no chance that Satou’s going to wake him up at three in the morning to have some fun.

He sleeps late, but when he wakes he realizes that Tanaka is still sleeping. He looks exhausted, slumped down in the chair, and Ogura feels a spike of irritation.

He’s going to insist on a cot.

He lets Tanaka sleep until close to noon when the Doctor abruptly barges in, carrying two trays with the help of a rather alarmed looking nurse who he quite obviously strong armed into helping. She’s gone the moment the tray is down, back out the door like the room is on fire.

Tanaka wakes in an instant.

“Wha?” He blurts out when he sees the doctor, squinting up at him.

“Brought breakfast. I decided it was better to let you sleep,” the doctor says, shoving one tray aggressively at Ogura.

Ogura doesn’t protest, and he makes a point of eating every single thing on the plate, even if he feels like his stomach is going to burst. He’s doing his absolute best to give the doctor nothing to complain about.

“You have guests,” the doctor says the moment he’s done eating. “Who have been waiting since close to six. I told them you needed to rest, and they made a big stink about it.”

“Government?” Ogura asks, and Tanaka goes very, very still.

“Of course. And lucky for you, they’re insisting that you have your meeting outside of range of the security system for confidentiality reasons.”

Ogura’s face lights up like he’s just been handed his much sought after nobel prize.

“Which means I can smoke?”

The doctor lets out a snort.

“Which means you can smoke. I’m supposed to get you in a wheelchair and roll you out to the garden. This is normally the point where I’d worry about you getting killed, only you have him, so it’s not really an issue,” the doctor adds, jabbing his thumb towards Tanaka.

Tanaka seems to bristle at the idea, but as far as Ogura’s concerned it’s absolutely true.

The doctor insists on the wheelchair despite Ogura’s repeated protests, and when he finally settles into it he spends the entire time grumbling. Tanaka ends up pushing, walking in step with Wada as he walks them out to the garden.

Somehow, the previously busy hospital manages to be almost empty as they go past, and Ogura decides that he likes having Tanaka around. It means there’s less people to bother him.

They haven’t even cleared the doorway and Ogura’s already digging out the box of cigarettes, fumbling a bit as he tries to light it. His grip’s all wrong in his left hand, and it’s going to take even more time to adapt to it again.

But he does manage to light his cigarette, bringing it up to his lips and taking a long, deep breath.

He needs to get some proper FKs, but this’ll do.

The entire garden--which isn’t even that big--is absolutely infested with men in suits. A quick glance up confirms that they’re all wearing ear pieces, and he doesn’t even need to glance to confirm that every single one of them is watching Tanaka.

Ogura snorts.

“I assume we’re going to meet them,” Ogura says, leaning forward to point his finger towards Sokabe. “So just wheel me over there.”

The doctor hangs back near the edge of the veritable army of government suits, which part in front of them... mostly. Before they can reach the men they’re actually supposed to be talking to, a man steps in front of them, his gaze hard.

“I’ll need to check for weapons,” he says.

Ogura laughs in his face.

“Did they not brief you on anything? If he wanted to kill you all, he could have done so from back in the room. We didn’t even have to come outside to do that. Checking him for weapons is like making sure that a lion’s back claws are trimmed--it can still maul you just fine without them.”

Ogura’s thoroughly irritated, and they haven’t even started talking yet. What kind of incompetent idiot was Sokabe if he didn’t even bother to brief his muscle on what an ajin could do?

“Sa- Ogura-san,” Tanaka says quietly. “We could just-”

Ogura cuts him off. “One, it’s just Ogura, I think we’re firmly past honorifics at this point, and two, no. If Sokabe wants to talk, he can just wheel me in, I’m not letting some government asshole feel me up.”

He’s had more than enough of that.

The man in front of them glances back to his bosses, and Sokabe lets out a sigh, adjusting his glasses before waving for the man to just let them through. Ogura smirks, and Tanaka rolls him forward, obviously very aware of the fact that close to forty people are watching him.

Sokabe’s there, accompanied by a woman that Ogura vaguely recognizes (even if he can’t place) and an older man who couldn’t look more like a Japanese politician if he tried.

Sokabe looks almost relaxed, if a bit irritated, while the older man looks like he’s about to have a heart attack from stress.

“Ogura-san, this is Taki-san, the current Minister of Justice,” Sokabe says by way of introduction.

Ogura is aware he’s supposed to bow, but decides he can probably get away without it since he’s sitting. Tanaka, however, does not, and proceeds to immediately bow his head.

Sokabe looks amused. The minister looks horrified.

“So who’s in charge of the health ministry, then?”

Sokabe has a little smile that answers Ogura’s question before the minister does.

“Sokabe-san will be taking the post shortly, once all this is cleared up. We haven’t yet announced the capture of any ajin, since it was important to speak to you first and learn what we could,” the minister says, his voice breathy, and his eyes constantly flicking up to Tanaka as if expecting him to lunge any second.

“I understand that Sokabe has already made several promises to you,” the minister continues. “But several of those promises were outside the purview of the ministry that he is a part of-”

Ogura knows exactly where the conversation is going, and he blows out a cloud of smoke, leaning back in his chair.

“Let me just cut you off right there. You allowed an American citizen--under your protection by our agreement--to get kidnapped and tortured. You let a member of the department of justice get killed. Then you let the man who did it run amok for a month, before I managed to kill him. If I hadn’t, your country would still be waging a battle with an unstoppable killing machine. I have literally swept in, killed the bad guy, stopped everyone working under him from being an issue, and now I’m fucking off and leaving you all to take part of the credit.”

He isn’t even angry. This level of irritating bureaucracy was more or less exactly what he expected.

That was, as far as he was concerned, just how Japan was.

The minister seems taken aback, and Ogura wonders if it’s the first time anyone’s spoken back to him since he was promoted.

It probably is, he decides.

“The ajin you are with is a criminal, Ogura-san, he’s been involved in the death of more than a thousand people, and the public-”

Ogura lets out a snarl. Even if he wasn’t angry at the rest, he’s certainly angry at this.

“He has a name, in case you forgot. Do you really think that the public would be on your side even slightly if I were to tell them everything? If I detailed the long history of human rights abuses and corruption within the Japanese government? If I explained that none of the things you did were for science or the good of the public, and done purely to line the pockets of Sokabe’s predecessor? If I explained that if it weren’t for a random American, Japan would still be floundering while it tries to deal with Satou?”

He talks fast enough that it’s impossible to get a word in edgewise, the justice minister's face twisting in frustration and anger.

Sokabe looks unfazed, and Ogura can’t help but feel that everything he’s doing is playing exactly into Sokabe’s hands.

“Minister,” Sokabe says quietly. “What Ogura says is true--the mismanagement and crimes committed by my predecessor would stain the entire government if they were publically announced. While I believe strongly in justice, in this case I feel that the greater good must be put first. Allowing Ogura to leave with Tanaka might very well be the best possible solution, assuming he’ll agree not to go public with anything that would contradict the story we produce.”

The minister’s hands are clenched into fists, obviously enraged, but he forces himself to take a deep breath. Even from a few feet away Ogura can tell the man is going through some sort of breathing exercise to calm his nerves.

“Fine,” the man says. “Then let’s decide on a story. It--” He pauses to flick his eyes up towards Tanaka, “will be forbidden from returning to Japan. What happens to it after that won’t be our concern.”

Ogura takes a long, deep drag from his cigarette, his own version of a breathing exercise to stop him from assaulting someone who could actually get him thrown in jail.

He,” he says firmly, “will be returning to America with me. But I want his personnel file.”

Sokabe’s brows furrow.

“Handing over confidential Japanese research-”

“I don’t want the research, I could duplicate every single thing they learned in ten years in twenty minutes on a post-it note. I want the file they made when they first took him. His name, his grades, his admittance photo, everything like that. I want who he is, not what they learned. And I want you to destroy any extra copies.”

He doesn’t think they’ll destroy the copies, but it’s better to let themselves feel smug for tricking him than to try and let them argue anything else.

Sokabe shrugs.

“I don’t see why we should withhold them, and if that’s your only demand, it’s easy enough.”

 Ogura can hear Tanaka move behind him, resettling his weight, and he fights not to look.

“The story is that Satou kidnapped me out of the facility when he escaped. The government suppressed the story while tracking him in the hopes of avoiding a panic, but obviously that didn’t work. Then the scientist managed to find a way to kill him, putting an end to his reign of terror while the Japanese government moved in.”

“So the truth?” Sokabe says, raising an eyebrow.

“You weren’t even close to having him, but you can claim you were all you want.”

Sokabe doesn’t argue.

“And the allegations that Satou levelled?”

“Are true. Lying about them isn’t going to get you anywhere. The public aren’t going to believe it if you denied everything, so say it was true and the government was already made aware and working against them when Satou made them public. You get to save face, people will be impressed you owned up to it, and everyone involved previously is dead anyway.”

And guilty, Ogura thinks to himself.

That too.

Sokabe glances to the minister, giving a little nod of the head.

“It would likely be the best case scenario for us, minister,” he says quietly, flicking his eyes over to Ogura and smiling ever so slightly.

Ogura has decided that Sokabe might be only person in the entire Japanese government that he actually likes. As much as the man is a conniving politician, he can absolutely be counted on to do exactly that and nothing more.

He’s reliably self-serving, which works in Ogura’s favor.

“So, Tanaka’s file?” He says, shoving his hand out as if expecting Sokabe to produce it from his suit.

“Will take a bit to get together. I assume you aren’t leaving the country within the next day or two?”

Ogura twists around to check for his doctor, who looks to gone back inside at some point during the conversation.

“I doubt my doctor will let me leave before that, so no.”

“Then I’ll have it within forty-eight hours,” Sokabe says simply. “I assume you won’t contradict anything in the official statement?”

Ogura shrugs, then changes his mind and nods. Probably better to agree, considering he’s gotten more or less everything he wanted in the long run.

“Then we’re done here,” the justice minister says, giving Ogura a brief little nod before turning and moving to leave, Sokabe and the woman falling in step behind him. Almost immediately the swarm of guards move, following the minister as he goes until only Ogura and Tanaka are left.

“Let me finish this cigarette,” he mumbles quietly.

He’s going to take his time with it.

Chapter Text

Ogura’s enjoying his third cigarette when Tanaka abruptly clears his throat, and Ogura twists in his chair to glance back at him.

“Sit in front of me, it’s killing my back having to constantly crane up at you,” Ogura says. He doesn’t want to be caught standing if the doctor comes back.

Tanaka makes a small little noise but complies, moving around to take a seat on one of the garden benches.

“I wanted to... uhm, talk to you,” Tanaka says quietly.

“Then talk, because I have no idea how much longer we’ll have.”

Tanaka looks nervous, and Ogura simply continues to smoke until he works himself up to whatever he’s going to say.

“It’s about the barrels,” Tanaka finally says, and Ogura stares at him blankly.

“I’m going to need a bit more context,” he says.

“When we recruited O- the others,” he says, catching himself before he says any names. “They weren’t the only ones. There were others, and when they refused to follow Satou’s orders, he had us put them in barrels. He said it would keep them unconscious and from intervening. He said we’d let them out when all was said and done, but...”

But he was obviously lying.

Ogura raises an eyebrow.

“Does anyone else know where they are?”

Tanaka shakes his head.

“Just me. The others weren’t there when we moved them last, and he didn’t want to leave them at the base. Right now no one’s going to bother them, but eventually no one’s going to be paying the storage fee, and then...”

And then the government will find them, one way or another.

 Ogura takes a moment to mull it over.

“Well, there’s no love lost between me and the incompetent hacks that Japan calls it’s ajin control commission, so spiriting them away is no skin off my back. I assume that’s what you want?” He says, raising an eyebrow.

Tanaka looks more nervous by the second.

“I... don’t know. I don’t know what would be best for them, but them being captured by Japan so soon after...”

Ogura shrugs.

“America, then. America isn’t going to turn away more ajin. How many?” He asks.

“Three. If we’re in Tokyo, we aren’t far.”

The distance isn’t the issue. Slipping away in time to get them is.

There’s really no way for them to slip away without someone noticing. There’s still guards posted at their door, and the only reason they’re even alone at the garden is because there are guards at every entrance to it.

“Give me some time to think about it,” Ogura blurts out quickly when he spots Doctor Wada approaching them.

He does end up needing his time, but he doesn’t end up getting much of it. Doctor Wada wastes no time in informing him that he’s been booked for surgery on his hand in an hour, and then spends the rest of his time complaining about how disruptive having a swarm of PSIA agents in the hospital was.

The surgery goes well. The recovery goes less so. Ogura doesn’t feel like eating, and he’s absolutely desperate for a smoke less than an hour after he comes back out. His entire hand is buried in bandages, and he’s under strict do-it-or-I’ll-fuck-you-up orders to not move it.

He remembers only bits and pieces of the rest of the day, and it’s only the following morning that he remembers he’s supposed to be calling Mai back.

He has to harass Wada for a phone, insisting on using his personal phone, and Wada shoots him an angry glare but finally does pass it over.

“Ogura,” he croaks into the phone.

It takes a bit to get to Mai, which is frustrating, only it turns out that he’s managed to call in the wee hours of the morning, and everyone’s still asleep.

Fantastic.

He ends up leaving a mumbled message that he’s fine, and that Mai should call the same number back to get ahold of him, and then he spends the rest of the morning dozing, helped along by a full stomach.

Tanaka, on the other hand, spends the rest of the morning bored out of his mind.

It’s not until later that afternoon that Wada returns, holding out the phone and informing him that he’ll be billing the government for the long distance call.

It’s then that he hatches his plan.

“What if I said I had extra demi-humans who I want to bring back with me?” He says, and Mai stays silent on the other end.

“Does the Japanese government know about them?” She finally asks.

“They don’t now, but they will if we don’t collect them.”

Mai finally makes a small little sighing noise.

“Fine. I’ll see what I can do to get them on the plane, assuming you can get them to the airport.”

“What if I can get them near the airport? Like, to a hotel nearby?”

“Then I can send someone to pick them up and get them on board discretely.”

Ogura lets out a little chuckle.

“Deal. You can call the hospital to let them know when I’m going to have a plane, alright?”

He says his goodbyes and hangs up, handing the phone back to a very, very angry looking Wada.

“Did you think I couldn’t speak English?” Wada says, his Japanese accent almost nonexistent.

“I hoped you would!” Ogura says pleasantly, catching the man off guard.

Tanaka just looks mystified, completely shut out of the entire conversation.

“In case I’m not horribly mistaken, you took an oath to... do no harm? Something like that. And you’re obviously sympathetic to the demi-human cause, or you wouldn’t be willing to be in the room with Tanaka, let alone threatening him to keep me in line. So I have several innocent demi-humans who were nothing but victims to Satou’s reign of terror who will end up like Tanaka if I don’t smuggle them out, and you are the only person I can trust to help.”

Doctor Wada does not look impressed.

“And if I said no?”

“You aren’t going to say no. If you were going to say no you’d have already said it, but if you want me to sweeten the deal, I’ll be the best possible patient you could imagine.”

Wada doesn’t even bother to argue about the what ifs. Instead he simply snorts.

“And what exactly does helping you entail?”

“Not much. I need to be able to vanish for two or three hours without the Japanese government knowing I’m gone. Considering that you already routinely keep them from breaking down my door, that’s the easy part. Really, you just need a way for me to get out.”

“And a car,” Wada says. “Because I doubt wherever you’re going isn’t in walking distance.”

“And a car,” Ogura agrees.

Wada doesn’t say yes, but he doesn’t say no either.

Instead he doesn’t commit at all.

“I’ll see,” he finally says, leaving Ogura to assume that it means yes.

Chapter Text

Ogura is good to his word. He does exactly what he’s told, eats all his food, and he even endures several rounds of extremely painful hand exercises at the doctor's urging.

Even so, there’s no sign that the man is doing anything about the problem. In fact, there’s no sign he’s doing anything but enjoying having a patient who actually listens to what the hell he’s saying for once.

The fourth day at the hospital, Ogura gets word that the plane will be there the next day. Mai doesn’t say who, but she does make it clear that someone important will be there, and makes several none-too-gentle threats against Ogura’s well being if he doesn’t behave.

Tanaka gets more anxious every hour that passes.

And then, like a sign from above, they’re moved.

The room they’re moved to is more cramped, but it also has an emergency exit door, bearing large ‘alarm will sound’ signs all over it. Tanaka does a poor job of not staring at it, but Ogura simply settles back, well aware that it’s not quite time.

Time comes before long.

Wada arrives for his shift wearing a too large hoodie, visiting Ogura before he even checks in. Immediately he peels it off, dumping it in Tanaka’s lap.

“They still haven’t announced anything, so people will still be looking for you. The hoodie will help,” he says, before dumping a set of keys in Tanaka’s lap.

“I’m spot 428, try not to ding it. The security system will be inactive in thirty minutes, and it’ll be out for four hours.”

Ogura really appreciates that he can get to the point.

The doctor doesn’t even say anything further, just ducks out, and Ogura and Tanaka are left to wait out the thirty minutes in anxious silence.

Ogura makes him wait an extra five.

No alarm blares when they finally crack it open, and the car is right where the doctor said it would be.

Things are going well.

Ogura slides into the passenger seat, immediately digging out a cigarette, and Tanaka stares at him for a moment before reaching out to take it from between Ogura’s lips.

Ogura’s so surprised he can’t even manage a snippy comment.

“He’s helping us,” Tanaka insists. “We shouldn’t ruin his car.”

Ogura doesn’t have any response to that, and opts to simply scowl at Tanaka instead. Lighting a smoke one handed is an adventure in itself, and the entire process is a thousand times easier if he has help.

“You can smoke when we get there,” Tanaka says, clearly trying to make up for it. “We shouldn’t be far.”

The drive isn’t very far at all, and Tanaka cuts across the city with a practiced ease once he gets his bearings. He’s both a good driver and a good navigator, which works out well because Ogura’s awful at both.

Even so, when he finally stops the car Ogura has to wonder if they’re in the right place. Tanaka’s taken him to what can only be described as a shitty storage yard. The entire area is rundown and shoddy, but the yard makes the dilapidated buildings on either side look well kept. There’s a camping trailer shoved up against the back of the lot, several smaller trailers in storage beside it, and then two shipping containers that barely fit in the lot themselves.

Ogura doesn’t see any barrels.

The gate is obviously locked, and Tanaka grumbles a bit about not having the keys, but the lock turns out to be a complete non-issue when it suddenly snaps open, wrenched by an invisible hand.

“You could warn me before you use your IBM,” Ogura grumbles, and Tanaka jumps a bit, startled.

“Oh- sorry, I forgot you couldn’t see it.”

Ogura makes an unhappy little hmm sound as he follows Tanaka into the lot, right up to one of the shipping containers.

A second lock is rapidly snapped open.

“This one is ours,” Tanaka says. “But there’s some other stuff inside.”

Some stuff turns out to be a lot of stuff, and Tanaka spends the next ten minutes hauling a variety of junk out of the shipping container while Ogura watches a large amount of junk apparently move itself.

“So what, is this place owned by the yakuza or something?” He asks, glancing around.

“No, just someone who owns the land and needs to store their trailer anyway,” Tanaka explains as he works, obviously sweating under the hoodie despite the chill in the air.

Ogura waits until Tanaka has more or less completely cleared the shipping container, exposing three oil drums in the very back.

“Somehow I imagined wood,” Ogura says as he climbs inside, walking over to one.

The smell is strong enough to make him pull back, grabbing his shirt and pulling it up over his face. It smells like the worst kind of gym, all stale sweat.

“They probably kept sweating even if they were completely unconscious,” he mutters to himself. “Fantastic.”

He raps his knuckles against one of the barrels, but there’s no response.

“Alright, are we opening them at random, or do you actually know which is which?”

Tanaka frowns at him.

“I know which is which,” he insists. “We took their wallets before we put them in.”

“Alright, then let’s get the one who you think is going to be the most trouble to deal with.”

Tanaka doesn’t hesitate, immediately pointing his finger at the lead barrel.

“Akiyama Reiji. He’s a firefighter, and he was the most vocal about Satou. He helped a kid escape before getting caught.”

Ogura makes a small little startled noise.

“Hold on, a kid? Why didn’t you mention them?”

Tanaka looks embarrassed by the oversight.

“We never caught him. As far as I know he went back to his normal life. I didn’t think to bring him up, sorry.”

Ogura waves off the apology, turning back to the barrel.

“Let's get this open then.”

Chapter Text

“You should probably get clear,” Ogura mutters. “I doubt he’s going to be fond of you. Assuming Satou did this right, he probably has no sense of how long he’s been in there.”

Tanaka looks pained every time he mentions Satou’s name, and reminds himself not to say it so much. He does nod though, hopping out of the shipping container and ducking around the corner.

“And your IBM!” Ogura calls.

“I’ll dissolve it when I open the lid,” Tanaka calls in response.

Opening the barrel is something that Ogura thinks is going to take effort, only the lid comes off easily under the claws of Tanaka’s IBM. He can see the metal buckle under it, and then the lid simply pops off.

The smell gets even worse, and Ogura wretches before leaning back as the barrel seems to magically topple over, depositing it’s contents onto the floor of the shipping container.

Mercifully, the man appears firmly unconscious, as opposed to stuck in the cycle of suffocation. Ogura’s biggest concern was that he’d accidentally end up with a brain-damaged ajin, struggling while he tried to reset them.

The man looks almost normal, his short black hair cropped close to his head, his jeans looking unaffected by the six months he’s been wearing them.

There’s a dark stain of blood on his shirt, and even at a distance Ogura can see small holes where he’s been shot. There’s more blood on the back of his neck and the side of his face, but it’s long since dried.

He squats down, reaching down to tilt the man’s chin up before pressing his fingers into the man’s neck. Resetting a compliant ajin properly was one of the first things he was taught, and with someone already unconscious, it’s that much easier.

He stays there, counting down the seconds, and then the body jerks under him, sucking in a deep breath, and Ogura leans back, getting his hands clear.

The man’s snap open and he comes up swinging. Ogura reels back, landing on his ass, and Tanaka lets out a yell as he lunges into sight.

Akiyama freezes, staring down at Ogura, his breath coming out in heavy pants.

He doesn’t say anything right away, just stares at Ogura and then steals a glance behind him, staring at the barrels.

Ogura’s relieved to spot Tanaka slipping out of sight before Akiyama can turn back to him.

“I - this is..” He starts, obviously at a loss for words.

“You’re fine,” Ogura says simply. “I just reset you. Satou isn’t here, Satou’s already been defeated, and we’re your rescue squad,” Ogura says, flicking fingers up as he counts through the important details.

“Oh, and it’s been about six months,” he adds.

The man lets out a pained whine in front of him that has nothing to do with feeling any physical pain. He pushes himself up a bit but wobbles, and then simply resigns himself to leaning against the side of the shipping container, still panting for breath.

Anxiety related, the scientific part of Ogura’s brain chimes.

“Six... six months?” The man finally says, coming to his senses slowly. “Six months?”

Ogura can’t help but feel that he should really have seen this coming.

“Six months,” Ogura confirms. “You’ve missed a lot. That said, we’re running on borrowed time right now, so I’m going to have to give you the cliffnotes.”

“The cliffnotes?” Akiyama asks, squinting up at Ogura.

“In brief, Satou became the world's most wanted terrorist, crashed a plane into a building and killed everyone inside, was captured, murdered the minister of health and an entire building full of people to escape, killed the emperor of Japan and a string of important politicians, and then died. For good.”

The man simply stares at him, uncomprehending, and Ogura lets out an exasperated sigh.

“The important thing that you need to know right now is that I am offering you a chance to flee the country. I’m going back to America on a plane that will take you tomorrow. You will be sheltered and protected there. If you do not go with me, you’re going to be on your own here, and Japan is not going to react well to ajin. You will inevitably be captured by the Japanese government, and I won’t be responsible for whatever they decide to do to you.”

Ogura realizes that he’s going too fast, but they’re short enough on time as is.

“I know that this is a lot,” Ogura says. “But I’m breaking it down as simple as I possibly can. The war with Satou is over, he lost, his second in command defected to help kill him.”

“I have a family,” the man croaks, and Ogura winces. “A daughter.”

“Then after we get you to America, we can bring them over too. It’s far easier than getting you out, because you’ve been missing for six months and your sudden reappearance is going to make them think that you’re one of Satou’s goons.”

Akiyama’s face twists in fury.

“I would nev-”

“I know I know, I already heard the whole story from Tanaka.”

Akiyama’s eyes narrow.

“Tanaka?’

“Satou’s former second in command. The tall one who helped capture you.”

“Who shoved me in a barrel,” Akiyama snarls.

“Who led me here so I could rescue you from ten years of inhumane torture,” Ogura snarls right back. “If you don’t want help, so be it, but I’m not coming to help when Japan decides to take you apart over and over. If you’re not going to come, then I’m going to get the other two and go.”

Ogura stands up, anger bubbling inside of him. As much as he knows it’s irrational--as far as Akiyama feels, it was only yesterday that Tanaka was helping Satou--he dislikes having someone think badly of him.

Especially because the only reason he’s there is because Tanaka wanted it.

Akiyama stares up at him, his anger fading. He still looks angry, but it’s softer around the edges, less sharp and violent.

“My daughter?”

“Will get flown over to America once you’re safe,” Ogura says, even though he has zero authority to offer anything of the sort.

Akiyama lets out a pained sigh, tipping his head back until it rests against the wall of the shipping container.

“Then - Then I’ll go,” he mumbles.

“Good, then pull out your IBM--” Ogura starts, then realizes that he’s talking to an idiot. “Your ghost, and help me open the next two barrels.”

The next two turn out to be far easier to convince. The one is an unmarried salaryman, and the other is a college student who just wants to let his parents know that he’s okay. Ogura makes vague promises of passing the message on, making sure they all get to their feet before guiding them out to where Tanaka’s waiting.

Akiyama looks ready to punch him, his hands balling into fists.

“If you punch him, I’m leaving you here,” Ogura snaps. “We need to get in the car, get close to the airport, and then you need to stay put until someone shows up with the password.”

“The password?” The youngest man asks.

“Eggrolls,” Ogura says. “You’re going to have to tough it out and go without dinner tonight, because if you go running around you’re liable to get caught. So stay put.”

Tanaka does his best to hide a smile as he slides into the driver's seat.

Chapter Text

They run extremely close to their four hour time limit. It takes a disgustingly long time to find a place to ditch the three men, giving them firm instructions not to go anywhere, do anything, or draw any attention.

The drive back to the hospital is done at top speed, and Ogura actually jogs his way back to the emergency exit, sliding inside and immediately realizing his mistake.

“Shit, I should have smoked,” he hisses, and Tanaka lets out a laugh as he peels the shirt off, sniffing it and wrinkling his nose.

“Smells like sweat,” he mutters, dropping it on the foot of the bed before taking up his usual seat as Ogura crawls back into bed.

His hand aches, but more than anything he feels a little bit giddy that they managed it at all.

Wada arrives close to thirty minutes after they get back, pushing open the door while reading through the chart. He immediately shoves his hand out, and Tanaka carefully drops the keys into his hand.

He doesn’t say anything about their mission, though, which Ogura takes to mean that they should be quiet.

“This will probably be my last check in with you,” the doctor says, staring down at Ogura. “Which does not mean you should start slacking off with your hand exercises. When you get back to America, insist on a proper physical therapist. If you don’t, you might end up with impaired mobility in the rest of your fingers.”

The doctor pauses for a moment, then lets out a snort.

“This is normally the point where I tell you to check in if you’re ever in the area again, but the odds you stopping by through random chance is more or less zero. So let this be a goodbye, and let's hope you never get dragged back to Japan,” he finally says, grinning down at Tanaka.

“Take care of him. Kick his ass if he doesn’t do his exercises for me,” he says, which earns a little smile from Tanaka.

Ogura feels like he should be bottling that smile.


 

The rest of the evening seems to pass at an absolutely glacial pace. There’s a few snippets of information--that they’ll be getting picked up at nine, that the government has booked a press conference for ten--but for the most part very little happens.

He ends up playing cards with Tanaka, which turns out to be extremely difficult to do one handed.

It isn’t even ten when Ogura declares that it’s time to sleep, pointing out that they’re both going to be jetlagged to hell, and should be taking sleep when they can get it. Tanaka doesn’t argue, just nods, and then ducks into the room's bathroom to change into the pajamas he has.

“Night Tanaka,” he mumbles, hating the bed and already desperate to be back in America.

“Goodnight,” Tanaka says, his voice so quiet Ogura nearly misses it.


 

Doctor Wada is as good as his word, and he doesn’t make an appearance the following morning. Instead a skittish nurse delivers them breakfast, vanishing the moment they’re set down.

Ogura eats it all anyway, well aware that it’s doing good things for his health. He’s already putting weight back on, and he feels significantly less dead every successive morning.

He’d forgotten what it felt like to be full.

Ogura’s in the middle of another game of cards when someone knocks on the door. He glances up to find a man in a suit letting himself in, immediately recognizable as American--or at least not Japanese.

“Doctor Ogura,” the man says, hesitating for a moment before giving a little bow. “Are you ready to go? The nurse said we should have brought a wheelchair-” The man says in English, and Ogura waves him off, pushing himself out of bed.

“I’m fine. I don’t need a wheelchair, they’ve been forcing one on me since day one,” Ogura insists, adjusting his hospital gown. “Did you bring clothes? I told Mai to tell you to bring clothes.”

The agent gives a little nod, leaning back into the hall for a moment and returning with a small bag, holding it out for Ogura to take.

“Oh thank god, I don’t think I’ve had a decent pair of underwear in a month,” he complains, digging through the bag.

Mai has at least made sure he’s fully clothed, but whoever picked said clothes has no fashion sense. When Ogura returns from the bathroom, he’s in basic blue jeans and a white t-shirt.

“Why would they get white?” he mutters under his breath. “Do you know how badly white stains?”

The agent purses his lips, obviously trying to hold back a laugh.

Ogura glances back to Tanaka, finding him looking unbelievably nervous.

“You can calm down,” he says in Japanese. “We’ll be on a plane within an hour, and then we’ll be home free.”

Tanaka doesn’t look at all convinced, but he does follow Ogura out when the agent finally gestures for them to move.

Once again the hospital seems to have mysteriously emptied out, although this time it’s filled with a group of men who couldn’t look more American if they tried, all dressed in matching suits with small little ear pieces in their ears.

He has an entourage, a fact that amuses Ogura to no end.

Tanaka sticks close to his back, obviously nervous around the guards as they’re escorted out.

A car is waiting, sleek and black, and Ogura whistles as he climbs into the back seat with Tanaka.

“Who knew the embassy had such nice cars!” He notes, leaning up. “Can I smoke?”

The guard in the passenger seat frowns.

“No.”

Ogura gets the cigarette out anyway, but once again Tanaka intervenes, plucking it out of his hand and earning himself a glare for his kindness towards the drivers.

“So you’re a demi-human?” The guard in the passenger seat asks, glancing at Tanaka over his shoulder.

“He doesn’t speak English, so unless you’re fluent in Japanese, you’re not going to get much smalltalk out of him,” Ogura says on Tanaka’s behalf, glancing towards Tanaka.

Tanaka seems to be trying to vanish into the seat of the car, nervous and showing it.

“He’s a demi-human, yeah,” Ogura says.

The man in the passenger seat grins wolfishly at Ogura for a moment, and then the lightbulb goes on.

“Oh!” He exclaims, elbowing Tanaka in the side before dropping into Japanese.

“The guy in the passenger seat is one of ours,” he says, earning a mystified look. “He’s part of the department, one of our agents. He’s an ajin.”

Tanaka startles at that, swinging his head around to squint at the grinning man.

“How many’d they send?” Ogura asks, curious to know just how many of his guards would get back up if the Japanese government tried something.

“Me, Morgan, and Raposo,” the man says, shoving his hand out. “Names Sotelo. Nice to finally meet you.”

Ogura grabs it, giving it a shake.

“Hell, they sent Morgan? I thought he hated flying.”

“He does!” Sotelo says with a laugh.

Tanaka looks equal parts shocked and mystified.

Chapter Text

The rest of the car ride is spent making smalltalk. Ogura has never really liked small talk, but he’s always liked the sound of his own voice, and the sound of his own voice speaking English is truly a wonder to behold.

Tanaka doesn’t stop looking bewildered at the entire thing.

He learns, among other things, that Japan hasn’t said shit about what happened. Everything that Sotelo knows, he knows having heard it from Ogura by way of Mai.

He wants to know a lot of things, but Ogura’s very good at turning the conversation around to get all the information he could possibly need.

“Isn’t that one of ours?” Sotelo asks at one point, gesturing to the collar. “Pretty sure I was one of the test subjects for that mess.”

Ogura reaches up, tugging at it with one finger.

“Yep, turned against me. And the remote’s fucking lost somewhere, so I’m stuck with it until I get it back and they can use the master remote to disarm it,” he complains. “I’m going to have a hell of a tan line.”

“And the hand?”

Ogura holds it up, wiggling his remaining fingers.

“Down two fingers, and not going to be growing those back anytime soon, unfortunately. I’ll make do.”

They go quiet when they finally pull into the private air strip, carefully bypassing security who give them only a passing glance.

“So who’s the guest?” Ogura asks. “Mai said I should watch my tongue, and she wouldn’t even bother saying that if they weren’t really important.”

Sotelo glances to the driver before offering a shrug.

“Not supposed to say.”

Ogura’s stomach sinks ever so slightly.

“Did you at least grab the other three?” He asks.

Sotelo nods.

“Grabbed them before we left to get you, they’ve already been vetted and are on board. The chief steward wasn’t happy though--they smell.”

Ogura snorts.

The car doesn’t pull up to the plane--instead it detours over to the building, causing Ogura to squint.

“Alright, what are we doing here?” He asks, fully expecting for them to have boarded immediately.

“Boss's orders,” Sotelo says. “You get to sit in the car, I get to escort your friend in for debriefing.”

Ogura doesn’t like that at all.

“He doesn’t speak English,” Ogura cuts in. “And he’s about three inches from a full blown panic attack.”

Sotelo raises his eyebrows.

“Which is why Morgan’s here. Because he’s fluent and can translate.”

“Being fluent isn’t going to stop him from having a panic attack.”

Tanaka seems aware that he’s being spoken about, his eyes flicking between the two of them nervously.

“So brief him. He has to debrief. Everything goes well, he’ll be on the plane with you in less than ten minutes.”

“And if things don’t go well?”

Sotelo doesn’t answer right away, letting out a little sigh.

“You can’t have seriously expected us to just fly a guy who was a terrorist up until a week ago into America without at least talking to him.”

Ogura scowls, grinding his teeth.

“I expected some warning.”

“Well, this is your warning. So tell him what’s happening, then we’re going out, and you get to get in the plane.”

Ogura glares at him, then turns to Tanaka.

Tanaka looks terrified.

“What’s happening?” He asks, his voice extremely quiet.

“They want to debrief you. Like an interview. They basically just want to make sure you’re not planning anything.”

“With you?”

“Not with me,” Ogura admits with a wince. “But with Sotelo,” he says, jerking his thumb towards the man. “And another ajin named Morgan. Black guy, dreadlocks pulled into a ponytail. He’s nice--he’ll have your back, alright? Just answer their questions honestly.”

Assuming they ask the right questions, anyway.

Tanaka looks just as nervous as he did before Ogura explained, but he finally does nod.

“Ready to go?” Sotelo asks, clued in by the silence.

Ogura glances briefly towards him before looking back to Tanaka, letting out a little sigh and reaching up to give his shoulder a squeeze.

“You’ll be fine,” he insists, even if he’s nervous himself.

Sotelo pushes the door open before opening Tanaka’s own, and Tanaka gives Ogura one last worried look before following him out, walking into the building.

“You might as well get in the plane,” the driver says, glancing back to Ogura, and Ogura scowls.

“I’m going to smoke outside,” Ogura says, popping the door and climbing out.

It seems to take forever to light his cigarette.

Chapter Text

Tanaka has nothing but fear. Every other emotion--happiness that Ogura was standing up for him, surprise that the man in front of him was an ajin, worry that he was doing something wrong--has given way to fear.

There is only fear.

He forces himself to keep breathing. He reminds himself for the thousandth time that Ogura wouldn’t have brought him there at all if he was only going to end up back in a lab.

He doesn’t want to end up back in a lab.

The man in front of him--Sotelo?--turns back to him as they walk into the building, saying something Tanaka doesn’t understand. He knows his name, but he doesn’t recognize anything else.

Any English he learned in school is long, long gone.

Sotelo seems to realize that at least, and the man turns forward again, guiding Tanaka towards one room in particular before pushing the door open and ushering him in.

There are already people in the room.

The room itself is an office, obviously hastily cleaned out. There’s still signs of its former inhabitants, including a small potted plant sitting against the wall.

It looks to be in desperate need of some water.

The first person he notices is almost definitely Morgan. While he’s certainly black, and certainly does have dreadlocks pulled into a ponytail, Tanaka’s having a hard time working out how Ogura manages to not mention the fact that he’s easily two inches taller than Tanaka.

Morgan looks horribly intimidating, right up until the moment that Tanaka realizes that the expression he initially read as a glare actually looks a bit closer to nauseous.

Morgan looks like he’s in serious danger of puking, which eases away a bit of the tension.

He’s so focused on Morgan that he nearly misses the other person in the room, noticing only when the woman clears her throat. Instinctively he glances around, finding her sitting on the opposite side of the desk and staring up at him.

As tall as Morgan is, the woman is not. Even sitting down Tanaka can tell she’s probably short, but more than that she’s dainty. Everything about her seems to exist in miniature, and when she gestures for him to sit all Tanaka can think is that her hands are small.

It probably isn’t what he should be thinking about.

“You should grab a seat,” Morgan says in perfect Japanese, repeating the woman’s gesture, and Tanaka realizes that there’s an empty chair in front of the desk, obviously for him.

His anxiety ratchets back up, and he forces himself to sit.

Sotelo lingers by the door, just out of Tanaka’s view, and he can’t decide if it’s better or worse having him there. Ogura seemed to like him at the very least, so that counts for something.

The woman says something, and it’s only when he realizes she’s talking in English that he realizes she’s not Japanese. She’s certainly something close--maybe Southeast Asian?--but Tanaka doesn’t have nearly enough experience to tell where she’s from.

“I’m going to just translate as if she’s the one talking, rather than saying ‘she says’ all the time. If I have anything to say myself, I’ll make a note of it, but otherwise you can assume I’m just translating,” Morgan starts, standing just behind the woman at the desk. “To start, though, she just wants to know if you know who she is, or what you’re doing here. We aren’t sure how much you were told.”

Tanaka feels a bead of sweat roll down his back, glancing quickly between the three people in the room before clearing his throat.

“I - Ogura-san said that you were going to interview me,” Tanaka says. “To make sure I wasn’t going to do anything.”

He doesn’t really know anything beyond that, which seems to surprise both Morgan and the woman at the desk.

“That’s it?” Morgan says, frowning for a moment before turning back to the woman and repeating what Tanaka said in English.

The woman scowls.

“My name is Mai Huynh, I’m the coordinator for the Department of Demi-human Affairs. The minister himself doesn’t directly handle things for us, so I’m functionally in charge when it comes to day to day matters. We’ve already escalated things over your head before picking you up, so it’s just a matter of making sure you understand what’s happening and agree to our terms,” Morgan relays as the woman speaks.

Mai, Tanaka registers. The same one Ogura spoke to on the phone, only Ogura had never actually clarified what it was she did.

Now he knows. She is, he supposes, Ogura’s boss, even if he’s apparently on a first name basis with her.

Ogura is a very weird person.

“I-” Tanaka starts, glancing furiously between Miss Huynh and Morgan. He isn’t sure which one he’s supposed to look at. Morgan seems to pick up on it, jabbing his thumb towards Huynh and clarifying the issue quickly. “He mentioned you, but he didn’t really tell me your position, no. Ogura is bad-”

Huynh--Mai?--starts talking, and Tanaka abruptly shuts up despite the fact that he has no idea what she’s saying. 

“I’ve been working with Ogura since we first recruited him, I’m well aware that he’s awful at explanations,” Morgan relays as Huynh rolls her eyes. “It’s one of the reasons we’re having this meeting now, because there’s no doubt in my mind that Ogura hasn’t told you anything about what’s going to happen.”

Tanaka really can’t argue her point, and he stays quiet, watching her carefully.

“Either way, we have to take off in the next thirty minutes, so I’ll make it quick. If you get on the plane with us, you’re officially claiming refugee status with us. Ajin are considered to be prosecuted persons under US law, allowing them to claim asylum. Upon doing so, your case will be handed over to the Department of -” There’s no break in what Huynh is saying, but Morgan falters temporarily. “It’s the ‘department of ajin affairs’,” he says in Japanese, “But it’s the ‘Department of Demi-Human Affairs’,” he clarifies, saying the department name in English.

“Being an ajin is considered a social group,” Morgan adds, finishing his translation.

Tanaka understands about half of what was just said, but he nods anyway. He gets the jist. He’s trading one government for another.

His jaw clenches.

Morgan seems to realize what he’s thinking, because he waves him off.

“This is just coming from me, but you honestly shouldn’t be worrying. Ajin affairs isn’t anything like what they have in Japan,” he insists.

It does help to hear it, especially coming from another ajin.

Huynh seems to realize that Morgan’s done, because she starts talking again in short order. Halfway through she abruptly stops, seeming to change her mind, and Morgan’s brow furrows in confusion.

For all the talking she does, Morgan’s translation is short.

“She wants to know what you’re hoping to do with your life,” he says.

Tanaka blinks up at him before glancing back to Huynh.

“That’s all she said?”

“She said some other stuff, but then she changed her mind and said that it would take too long to cover that all, so yeah, just that.”

It’s a hard question, as simple as it sounds at first. He hasn’t had any time to sit down and think about it, hasn’t ever had an option to consider the future.

“I...” He starts, struggling to find the words. “I want to help other ajin. I don’t want any of them to ever go through what I did. But I don’t know the right way to do that. I don’t know what I should be doing, but I just want to help.”

Morgan relays his message, and then shares a pointed look with Huynh.

Tanaka squirms.

“It’s good enough,” Morgan relays when Huynh starts speaking again. “We’ll accept you into the country, and then we can go from there. We have too short a window to discuss anything more prolonged.”

Sotelo says something in English, and both Morgan and Huynh laugh in response. Tanaka feels terribly left out of the joke, but he at least catches Ogura’s name.

Huynh stands up, and Tanaka follows suit as Morgan gestures to the door.

“Let's get going, we have a plane to catch.”

Chapter Text

Ogura’s a ball of anxiety. He’s gone through half a pack already, pacing back and forth in front of the building while the driver looks on. The car’s already gone, spirited away by someone who works at the airport, and now it’s just a matter of waiting for Tanaka.

The wait seems to take a lifetime.

A part of Ogura regrets ever letting it get so far. It’s been a long, long time since he ever really cared about anyone enough to worry, but he’s certainly worried right then. He has no idea who Tanaka is seeing, he has no idea how it’s going, and he isn’t even sure if Tanaka will end up on the plane with him.

He hopes he does.

There’s also the constant nagging feeling that he’s missing something, but no amount of pacing makes it any clearer.

“You’re making me dizzy,” the driver comments, watching him pace as Ogura fumbles to light another cigarette, flipping him off with his mangled hand.

“That’s not as effective if you’re missing two fingers,” the driver mutters.

Ogura doesn’t remember how to breath properly until the door pushes open, revealing Sotelo, Morgan, Tanaka, and, of all possible people, Mai.

Ogura wastes no time in approaching Tanaka, checking him over obviously.

“You’re fine?” He asks, expecting the answer to be yes.

Tanaka nods.

“Worried we were going to rough him up?” Mai asks, rolling her eyes. “We already cleared him, let's get on the plane before air control gets nasty with us.”

The plane is bigger than he expected it to be, and Ogura starts to wonder about just how many people there are. As important as he is--because he is important, especially after his ever important discovery--sending three ajin to accompany him and Mai back seems like overkill.

Two would be more than fine, even if they did need Morgan to translate.

The man looks practically green around the gills as he boards the plane, and Ogura decides to give him a wide berth incase he spends the entire trip back sick.

“Fuck!” Ogura abruptly blurts out as he nears the plane, realizing what he’s been missing. “I forgot the report!”

Tanaka looks at him confused, and Ogura realizes that he’s already started slipping back into English. Explaining things to Tanaka matters a lot less than making sure Mai knows, and he spins around, only to find her looking deeply amused.

“It’s on the plane,” she says simply. “Raposo collected it, along with the rest of your personal effects. The hospital had it.”

Ogura doesn’t think he had any more personal effects, but when he finally climbs onto the plane he finds a box with a thick paper file and his bloody notebook in it waiting for him.

Ogura squints at the box before letting out a sigh, grabbing it out of the luggage area and passing it to Tanaka before heading towards the front of the plane.

“Did you ever fly before?” He asks, and Tanaka shakes his head.

“Well, follow me then, we’ll be able to do more once we take off, but we’re on a schedule.”

The plane is large enough to be functionally split into two sections, Morgan, Sotelo and the rest of their contingent grabbing seats near the back. Mai carries on with them, watching a bit too carefully for Ogura’s taste.

Ogura pulls aside the curtain separating the two compartments, screeching to a halt so quickly that Tanaka runs into him.

Mai bursts out laughing, and Ogura glares back at her.

“Ogura?” Tanaka says, confused.

Ogura clenches his teeth, forcing himself to move forward.

The forward part of the plane is mostly empty. There’s a woman he recognizes as Raposo sitting down, but Ogura disregards her almost immediately.

He’s really only looking at the other occupant of the forward cabin, an older man in a grey suit.

Ogura has temporarily forgotten how his lungs are supposed to work.

The man is either oblivious to his discomfort or straight up ignoring it, because he immediately gets to his feet, grabbing Ogura’s uninjured hand and giving it a firm shake.

“Doctor Ogura! It’s good to see you alive and well. I have to admit that we all thought the worst when we lost contact,” the man says, straightening up for a second before peeking over Ogura’s shoulder to where Tanaka stands. “And this would be Tanaka...?”

Ogura knows an introduce me when he sees one, so he quickly steps to the side, glancing back to Tanaka.

“Tanaka, this is Vice President Grant,” he says by way of introduction. “Remember when you kept bowing to people you didn’t have to? Well, bow to this one.”

Tanaka looks equal parts shocked and horrified, but quickly does, bowing deeply.

Ogura decides that it’s enough of an introduction, turning back to the still-smiling man in front of them.

“Miss Huynh didn’t warn me you’d be here,” Ogura says quickly, shooting a glare back towards Mai.

“Oh? I didn’t think people needed to be warned when I was coming,” Grant says pleasantly, and Ogura squirms at his response.

Tanaka looks increasingly confused, and Mai carefully pushes past them, gesturing for Tanaka to sit while Ogura stumbles his way through conversation.

At the very least he knows why they sent three ajin along.

“I didn’t expect you to come,” Ogura manages. As much as he knows he’s important, he isn’t completely delusional, and Grant’s smile widens a bit.

“Ahh, please don’t be too put out, you were a nice bonus. I was already booked to visit when you first made contact, so I had them arrange things so that we could leave together. I ended up staying an extra day to discuss the matter of Satou with the prime minister, so it was quite timely.”

Tanaka startles in his seat at the mention of Satou’s name, glancing obviously between Ogura and the vice president.

“He’s quite jumpy, isn’t he?” Grant asks, his eyes sliding over to Tanaka.

Ogura fights the urge to scowl. He’s supposed to be pleasant, and if he’s not pleasant, he’s going to be in big shit.

“He’s been through a lot,” Ogura says noncommittally.

Grant gives a solemn nod, taking his seat.

“Well, hopefully he’ll get along with everyone. Ricky will be happy to see you back, so make sure to visit him,” Grant says, and Ogura takes that as a sign that he’s dismissed, grabbing a seat beside Tanaka and across from Mai.

“You should have warned me,” Ogura hisses to Mai, irritated.

“It’s fun watching you squirm,” she says in response, leaning back in her chair.

Tanaka glances towards him, the box still on his lap.

“That was... the vice president?” Tanaka ventures, glancing towards the man on the other side of the cabin.

“Of the United States, yes,” Ogura says, reaching over to grab the box out of Tanaka’s lap before shoving it under the seat.

“Oh,” Tanaka says, his voice going quiet.

The intercom clicks on, and Ogura immediate zones out, firmly ignoring the mandatory safety speech. Tanaka looks confused, but he simply waves it off.

“Try and sleep, we’ve got a long flight,” Ogura says, leaning back in the chair and doing his best to get some sleep.

Chapter Text

It’s a nine hour flight back, and Ogura hates every second of it. It’s too cramped, too uncomfortable, and Tanaka keeps shifting around in his seat nervously.

After the third hour of smalltalk with Mai, Ogura realizes that Tanaka’s nodded off, slumped against the plane window.

He wastes no time in bending over, digging the report out of the box between his legs.

“Does he even know what it is?” Mai asks, raising an eyebrow.

“Probably not. He was there when I asked for it, but he doesn’t speak a word of English, so he’s probably forgotten.”

Mai makes a quiet little hmmm, going quiet as Ogura flips the folder open.

The first few pages are stuff he already knows. Tanaka’s name, his physical details when first collected. Ogura skips through them quickly, giving them only a brief glance, scowling when he finds a page labelled pain responses.

He considers burning it, and then decides that if he starts a fire on a plane with the Vice President of the United States of America on it he’s probably going to end up in prison.

He’ll burn it later, he decides.

He flips through the next few papers until he finally finds the one he’s looking for.

Family and Next of Kin, reads the label at the top, and Ogura pulls it out, skimming it over carefully.

There’s a picture of Tanaka’s parents, their names, and then a distinct lack of nothing.

Ogura flips the page over, just to make sure there’s nothing on the back.

The only other note on the entire page is that both were considered to have low probability of being ajin.

“Fuck,” Ogura mutters under his breath, flipping through the rest of the file. It takes a bit to find a page that clarifies how Tanaka was captured, and when he does he immediately reads it.

It’s more or less what he expected, save for the last line.

Tanaka (father) was held temporarily and then released.

There’s no further mention of either of Tanaka’s parents, no matter how much he reads.

“Something up?” Mai asks, her voice quiet to try and avoid waking the sleeping man beside them.

“I assumed they were dead,” Ogura admits. “His parents, that is. Only there’s no mention of them. As far as the file says, they’re still alive.”

“Well aren’t you grim,” Mai says. “I didn’t expect this much from you.”

Ogura glances up at her, glowering for a second before he thinks to double check that the vice president isn’t looking at him.

He isn’t--instead he’s typing away at a laptop, oblivious to what’s happening on the other side of the plane.

“Didn’t expect what from me?” He says.

“For you to care.”

Ogura’s scowl only deepens.

“I don’t care,” Ogura insists.

Mai is obviously fighting a laugh.

“Ogura, are you really trying to tell me that you don’t care? I didn’t think you were so delusional.”

“I’m not delusional,” he protests. “I’m just getting him established. He needs someone in his corner, and it’s not like there’s anyone else lining up for his job.”

Mai raises an eyebrow skeptically.

“And you’ve put your death wish on hold for him.”

“I don’t have-” He starts, only to have Mai interrupt him.

“You’re acting like a fourteen year old, Ogura. You have a death wish. Everyone in the entire department knows it. And now your death wish is suddenly on hold.”

Ogura doesn’t think it’s humanly possible for him to scowl any harder.

“I don’t have a death wish,” he insists. “I just have only a minimal interest in my own self preservation. It’s not the same thing. I’m not suicidal.”

Mai rolls her eyes, folding her arms over her chest.

“Then your self preservation is mysteriously back. You care. Just admit it. Stop being a child.”

“He doesn’t have anyone, Mai. For ten years he was tortured without a single person saying a single word in his defense. Then he got rescued by a fucking abusive lunatic who emotionally manipulated him to make him even more dependent. And despite all that, he still worries about other people. He still wants to help people. The fact that he hasn’t tried to burn the fucking world down is a miracle.”

His voice keeps going faster, frustration building in his chest.

Mai holds her hands up.

“You can relax, Ogura. I’m just teasing,” she insists. “I didn’t even know you could get frustrated.”

Ogura sags back into his chair, reaching up to rub between his eyes.

“When I say he’s got no one, I mean it. His only friends are a bunch of lunatics he’s never going to see again. Even when we get to America and he meets other ajin, how many people even speak Japanese? He’s got no one, and he’s used to having Satou.”

“And now you’re becoming the new Satou,” Mai says, and Ogura lets out a growl.

“I’m not. I’m not going to do that shit to him, not going to make him dependent on me. He needs to be his own person. He needs to be able to function without constantly having to look to someone else for guidance.”

“Which is why you want to find his parents?” Mai asks. “To help him heal?”

Ogura really hadn’t thought that far ahead. The entirety of his thought process was simply maybe I could give him closure about what happened to his parents.

“Yes,” he says anyway. It sounds as good an idea as any.

Mai shrugs.

“I’ll look into it, then. We already have to look into that sort of thing anyway, since someone made a promise to Akiyama.”

Ogura startles, swinging around to peek through the curtain.

“What the fuck, did I miss them-” He mutters, having completely forgotten about their stowaways.

Out of sight, out of mind.

They are there, sitting right in the back, and Ogura squints at them, wondering just how he failed to notice them coming in.

Mai leans forward, tapping his knee.

“They were hidden in the luggage compartment in case anyone from the Japanese government stopped by. Now that we’ve taken off, there’s no need to hide them. Did you really not notice?”

Ogura grumbles even harder.

Beside him, Tanaka stirs, and Ogura quickly shoves the file back under the seat.

“Go back to sleep, Tanaka, we aren’t there yet,” he says softly in Japanese, and Tanaka’s eyes flutter part of the way open before slipping closed again.

He doesn’t move again for the rest of the flight.

Chapter Text

They’re an hour out from landing when the vice president abruptly clears his throat, which has the immediate effect of stealing the attention of literally everyone in the forward compartment.

Ogura decides that’s just a perk of being important.

The VP raises his eyebrows, gesturing to the seat beside him, and then to Ogura.

Ogura spares a quick glance to Tanaka--still asleep--and then hastily makes his way over.

“I just finished downloading the press conference from Japan, where they announced that Satou was defeated. I assume you want to watch? If you don’t, I’ll grab Morgan and have him translate.”

Ogura quickly shakes his head.

“I can translate,” he insists, leaning over to get a better view as the laptop is turned to face him, the video starting.

He spots Sokabe immediately, standing behind the speaker, and then focuses his attention back to the front. He recognizes Taki, the minister of Justice almost immediately, and then carefully relays the speech back in English.

“Alright, there’s a bunch of useless shi- useless stuff out front,” he relays, not bothering to translate the extremely boring greeting part of the speech. “They say that they’re happy to announce that with the help of US researchers, the Satou threat has been ‘neutralized’. They didn’t say kill, though.”

Ogura squints, watching that much more carefully.

“They didn’t mention me, they said that all of Satou’s associates are in custody and ‘under Japanese control’, and that the threat is completely over. He just announced that the government will be promoting internally to fill the spaces that Satou emptied, and just announced that Sokabe’s going to be taking over as the Minister of Health, Labour, and Welfare, and that they’ll be moving forward with more security measures to avoid anything like this ever happening again.”

“Which one’s Sokabe?” Grant cuts in, and Ogura quickly points him out. “Do we like him?”

Ogura lets out a little chuckle.

“He’s self serving, and he’ll do whatever he can to be promoted. So you can count on him for that.”

Grant nods beside him, and Ogura refocuses back on the speech.

“They’re going into questions... and of course the first question is ‘what do you mean, neutralized?’, because they were clearly trying to weasel out of it.”

Ogura pauses, then lets out a little snort.

“They admitted he was killed, but then they said that it was using a technique that was developed in Japan by a Japanese scientist.”

“I was under the impression that you’d given up Japanese citizenship.”

Ogura shrugs. “I did. Japan doesn’t recognize dual citizenship, so the moment I naturalized here, I lost my Japanese citizenship.”

“But you’re still ethnically Japanese, so they’re using that to avoid admitting that they had nothing to do with killing Satou.”

“Essentially,” Ogura says. “The question we just missed was... ah, fuck, I missed part of it, but basically they wanted to know if Satou’s allegations were true, and then the minister squirmed around it and basically admitted that there might have been some corruption but they’re still investigating.”

“So more avoiding the subject.”

“Did you expect anything else?”

Grant nods his head in acknowledgement, and Ogura turns his head back to the screen.

“They asked some stupid question about policies and he gave them a complete non-answer...  Someone asked if Satou was a Japanese national, and they said that was still being investigated. And... alright, last question.”

Ogura watches closely, his breath held.

He shouldn’t have bothered.

“Yada yada they basically wanted to know how many demi-humans the Japanese government has, and they said they aren’t releasing that information.”

“Well that was a whole lot of nothing,” Grant says, and Ogura shrugs.

“About what I expected. They have nothing to show off themselves, so they’re going to gesture in the general vicinity of the truth but not really answer anything.”

Grant reaches over to take back the laptop, giving Ogura a little nod.

“Thank you for the translation--it’s useful to have the opinion of someone who is a bit more aware of the facts than the average person.”

Ogura can’t tell if he’s reading too much into it, or if the vice president just was sarcastic to him.

He takes it has his cue to leave though, nodding politely and scooting back to his seat.

He hasn’t been there long when the intercom clicks on again, announcing that they’re starting their descent. Ogura expects Tanaka to wake up, but he shows no sign of movement until the wheels touch down, abruptly jolting awake with a confused ‘wha?’.

“We landed,” he says. “Sit back, wait for us to taxi into place. It shouldn’t be long, since we don’t have to deal with customs.”

Which Ogura supposes is a lovely side effect of having the second most important person in the country on the plane.

The luggage is unloaded in short order, and then Ogura gets to hang out on the plane while the vice president disembarks, saying a quick goodbye and giving Tanaka a welcome to America that he doesn’t even understand. It’s not until his car pulls away that Ogura gets to disembark himself, grabbing the box from under the seat and climbing onto the tarmac.

Christ I missed America,” he mutters, before glancing back to Mai.

“I need new clothes, I need this collar off, and I need a fucking shower,” He says.

Tanaka lingers just behind him as a fleet of black SUV’s pull up, and then it’s a whirl of motion. Tanaka catches sight of Akiyama and the others, looking at them nervously before shifting a bit to put Ogura between them. Akiyama doesn’t seem to notice him, or else is ignoring Tanaka entirely as he climbs into the back of an SUV.

Tanaka seems torn between gawking at everything and dying from nerves, and Ogura does what little he can to ease them, explaining things as he goes, making a point to identify the people he knows. He recognizes a lot of the faces that show up to collect them, but he knows precious few names.

“Most of these are part of our out teams, so you won’t be seeing a ton of them for the first while. We’re maybe two hours out from base, so it’ll take a bit to get there,” he explains as they slide into the back of an SUV.

The drive takes almost double that, an unfortunate side effect of arriving in the middle of rush hour.

Tanaka spends the entire ride with his face glued to the window, staring at the scenery as it goes by.

“Where are we?” He finally asks, glancing back to Ogura.

Ogura raises an eyebrow.

“America.”

Tanaka snorts, then gestures out the window.

“I meant more specifically.”

Ogura lets out a snort of his own, realizing his mistake.

“Sorry, wasn’t sure what you meant. We landed in Los Angeles, California, and we’re currently heading east, farther inland.”

“And where are we going?” Tanaka says, glancing back out the window as if expecting a sign to pop up clarifying the matter.

“Not that it means anything to you, but we’re heading out towards Palm Springs. We’re going to Twentynine Palms.”

It obviously does not mean anything to Tanaka.

“Okay, but... where is that? Like... what does it mean?” Tanaka asks, obviously desperate for clarification.

“Well, the base is there. There’s a marine corps base there which has a ton of excess land, so when they realized that ajin were going to be a thing, they expanded. So there’s a base there that’s supposedly under control of the US army, but really it’s the headquarters for the department of ajin affairs,” he explains. “It’s a hell of a drive, but it’s far enough out that it’s really hard to accidentally stumble upon anything there.”

“So its... a base?” Tanaka says, and it occurs to Ogura that he really hasn’t explained any of it.

“It’s the headquarters,” he clarifies. “It’s where all the ajin and related personnel live as well.”

“How many people - actually, how many ajin are there?” Tanaka says, quickly correcting himself.

Ogura takes a moment, mentally counting through.

“Thirty nine. You’d be forty, and the other three would take us to forty-three.”

Tanaka chokes.

“Thirty-  Forty-three?” he splutters so obviously that the man riding shotgun turns around to squint at them. “There’s only forty-seven total.”

Ogura raises an eyebrow.

“There are forty-seven who the public is aware of,” he clarifies. “But since we don’t publically announce them, that number is significantly smaller. Best estimate is a hundred and twenty who know they’re ajin currently.”

Tanaka doesn’t respond. Instead, he simply leans back against the door, staring into space and taking his time to recover.

Chapter Text

Ogura feels a bubble of sheer, unadulterated joy when the base slides into view. Everything he wants is more or less there, and he’s desperate for a whole string of things.

In the base, he’s home. Even more than that, in the base he has authority.

Ogura’s out of the SUV the moment it stops, flagging for Tanaka to follow.

“Going to the lab!” Ogura yells over his shoulder. “I need to get this fucking thing off, we can do everything else later.”

The collar comes first. Everything else comes second.

Security is as tight as usual, but most of the guards recognize Ogura, and Mai waves them off as he charges through, Tanaka practically clinging to his back to avoid getting pulled aside.

“Just let him go, he’s had a hell of a month,” he hears Mai explain as he heads into the base proper.

The majority of the base is all utilitarian metal, without much in the way of decoration. There are thankfully a lot of signs, but Ogura doesn’t need them. He knows the place like the back of his hand (mutilated or not), and finds the lab in less than five minutes.

Two lab techs are the only occupants, squinting together at one of the monitors off to the side, and Ogura feels perfectly at home when he calls them to attention.

“Who’s in charge right now?” He yells, and both of them spin at once. The one jabs a finger at the other, who clears his throat before raising a feeble hand.

Ogura jerks a finger at his neck, where the collar still lies.

Where is the master remote?”

There’s a lot of desperate scrambling, and then, at last, the remote is produced--a remote in name only, since it weighs almost ten pounds and is the size of a bread box.

It takes both of the lab techs to haul it up to Ogura’s throat, pulling the short prods out to press them onto either side of the collar.

With a click, the collar unlocks, and only one of the lab tech’s swift reaction saves it from hitting the floor.

There’s a choked sob, and it takes Ogura a few seconds to register that it was him.

He reaches up, rubbing at his face, and his hands come back wet.

He’s crying, even if it feels distant and confusing.

The two lab techs are staring at him with a look of horror and confusion, and then Tanaka is there, putting himself between Ogura and the techs.

“Are you hurt-” Tanaka blurts out, looking horrified.

Ogura remembers very little.

He cries, despite his attempts to make himself stop.

He’s on the floor and Tanaka is there, and then Mai is there, and then he’s somewhere much quieter with only the pathetic noises that he vaguely recognizes as coming from him.

Tanaka is still there, hovering too close, and then someone tells Tanaka to give him some space, but he can’t tell who’s talking.


 

Ogura wakes feeling more tired than he’s been in a week. His eyelids feel like lead, and it seems to take forever to open them, to stare at the ceiling.

He’s in the infirmary, he registers, but little else.

He feels exhausted down to his bones, but even still he manages to reach up, wrapping his fingers around his neck.

The collar is gone, and it’s enough to bring up another pathetic sob.

The curtain is abruptly pulled back, and then Tanaka is there.

Tanaka looks awful, maybe even worse than he feels.

“Ogura?” He says, his voice little more than a croak.

“I’m fine,” Ogura mumbles, reaching up to rub at his face. “Fuck. How long was I out?” He doesn’t remember passing out, and he can’t remember if he fainted or fell asleep or what.

“About an hour,” Tanaka says quietly. “Mai made everyone leave and told me to let you sleep. Are you okay?”

Ogura doesn’t know the answer to that question, so instead he settles with burying his face in the crook of his arm, forcing himself to breath properly.

“I’m fine,” he finally manages. “It was just... a lot.”

Tanaka continues to hover over him for what seems like ages, and the moment Ogura feels like he has his breathing under control, his emotions beaten down and shoved back in their box, he sits up.

“I need a shower,” he says simply. “And a change of clothes.”

He doesn’t give Tanaka time to argue, just pushes himself off the bed, adjusting his clothes before heading out into the hallway.

Tanaka follows, but he doesn’t do so silently.

“Maybe you should lie down,” he calls, picking up the pace to keep up with Ogura.

“If I’m going to lie down, I’m going to do it at home,” Ogura says insistently as he cuts through the base.

Several people look at him, but no one tries to stop them.

When he finally reaches the back of the compound--leaving the building proper--Tanaka actually stops dead in the doorway, gawking.

Ogura feels the tiniest bit of regret that he didn’t warn Tanaka that there were an entire miniature suburb in the back of the base, but it’s a bit too late.

“All ajin live on-base, so the entire thing is setup to replicate a town. Ajin have jobs within the town if they don’t have ones outside it, and there’s a wall around the outer edge keeping anyone else from getting in,” he explains as he walks, picking up speed as he heads home.

“So there are just... there’s just a town?” Tanaka manages as he jogs to catch up.

Ogura can see his house--two stories, stock standard, and completely undecorated--and he can feel an unhappy noise bubbling up so he doesn’t answer.

He wants to be home. He wants to be in his house, in his room. He wants to shower in his shower. He wants to sleep in his bed.

He reaches the door and reaches down, slapping in the combination to the electronic lock, and then the door is finally, finally open.

He’s home.

Ogura breaks down the moment he’s inside. It comes as a surprise, even though he should have known, should have realized that finally being home would be the last hammer blow to his mental state.

He’s crying, but at least he realizes he’s crying.

He hates it.

Tanaka’s voice sounds oddly commanding when he speaks, one arm pressing against Ogura’s back as he nudges him forward.

“We’re going to sit,” he says firmly, and he doesn’t take no for an answer as he pushes Ogura into the living room and then down onto the couch.

Ogura sits.

Tanaka wraps his arms around Ogura and pulls him up against him, and the tears only get worse.

Tanaka is so soft in all the right places, and Ogura just lets himself sag against him.

Tanaka waits until he’s stopped crying before he says anything at all, and even then it’s only asking if he wants anything.

Ogura doesn’t.

He feels exhausted beyond belief, and he mumbles something to that effect.

Tanaka simply lifts him up, and Ogura squeezes his eyes shut.

He feels ridiculous, and it’s all the more so because Tanaka doesn’t even seem to be struggling, one arm wrapped under his knees while the other supports his back.

Tanaka finds his bedroom, even if it takes a bit, and then he’s in bed. His bed. Not a stranger’s bed, but his own bed.

Ogura sleeps.

Chapter Text

Tanaka feels out of place.

Standing alone in Ogura’s house makes him feel like he’s intruding, but he isn’t sure if he’s allowed to just wander around without Ogura. He isn’t sure if he should tell someone what happened. He isn’t sure if Miss Huynh already knows.

There are a lot of mysteries and very few answers, but he can’t quite bring himself to blame Ogura for not explaining, considering what just happened.

There’s a knock at the door, and Tanaka jumps, glancing down the stairs. The house seems big--too big for his tastes--and he forces himself down the stairs towards the door.

It’s Huynh, which comes as a relief. She doesn’t seem all that surprised to see Tanaka answering the door, but she does seem surprised that Ogura doesn’t immediately show up.

When Ogura continues to not show up, she signals for him to wait and then turns away, heading down towards the sidewalk and pulling out her phone.

Tanaka waits by the doorway, lost and anxious.

It isn’t long before Morgan arrives, speaking briefly with Huynh before heading up to the house.

“What’s going on?” Morgan asks, and Tanaka steps back to let them into the house. It isn’t his, but it seems like the right thing to do.

“He...” Tanaka starts, glancing up the stairs. It feels fine to tell Huynh, but he isn’t quite as sure about Morgan.

Even so, there’s not really another option. Morgan’s the only one who speaks Japanese that he’s aware of.

“He broke down a bit. He was crying. He’s asleep in bed now,” Tanaka explains, half expecting Ogura to wake at any second.

Huynh frowns when Morgan relays the information, then lets out a little sigh.

“She expected as much,” Morgan replies. “That said, we don’t really know what happened there--but his injuries made it pretty obvious that it wasn’t a fun month.”

Tanaka squirms in place, unsure of if it’s his place to say. He doesn’t really know everything that happened to Ogura, but he has a good enough idea.

“It was bad,” he finally says, deciding it’s the best possible way he can summarize everything that happened.

Morgan gives him a sympathetic look.

“You don’t have to talk about it,” Morgan says, partially misreading what he meant. “Huynh will get Ogura to talk about it before long, but he’ll probably need some time to relax a bit. To unwind. I’m also supposed to be giving you the tour, but for now I think it’s probably better you stay around here.”

Tanaka nods carefully. He doesn’t like the idea of just wandering around and leaving Ogura alone, even if it is his house.

Huynh starts counting something off, saying things as she flips her fingers up, and even if Tanaka can’t understand her words, her tone makes it clear she’s giving some kind of instructions.

Morgan lets out a little chuckle.

“She says we need to get you clothes, food for the house, to book you for English lessons, a tour, an intake interview, and we need to get you assigned to an apartment.”

Tanaka glances towards the door.

“Aren’t there houses?” He asks, slightly confused.

“There’s about forty houses, and some of those go to scientists like Ogura. Individual ajin don’t automatically get a house when they’re alone, so they end up living in apartments, at least until they’re settled.”

Tanaka doesn’t really want to live in an apartment. He’s never lived alone, and the idea is daunting.

“For the time being, you might as well just stay here. It’s going to take us a bit to get everything in order, and having someone keeping an eye on Ogura who has a reason to be around should help. He’s the kind of guy who won’t let anyone keep an eye on him, so if he’s actually keeping an eye on you, he won't protest.”

Tanaka gets the feeling that Morgan has a lot of experience with Ogura to have him pegged so firmly.

Huynh gives a quick wave as she gets up, letting herself out without a proper goodbye. Tanaka isn’t sure why he thinks there should have been one, considering they don’t have a language in common, but he feels a bit put off anyway.

“She’s going to go handle things,” Morgan explains. “So I guess if you have any questions, now would be the time.”

Tanaka has so many questions that he’s at a loss for where to start. Questions feel like all that he has, really.

“I just... don’t really get this,” he says, waving his hand around in general to indicate the whole thing.

“What part, exactly?” Morgan asks, grabbing a seat on the couch.

“Any of it. This isn’t like how things were in Japan, and I’m just a bit... overwhelmed,” he finally admits.

Morgan can only shrug.

“Mostly we’ve just heard rumor about the things that were happening in Japan. I’m part of the out team, so I got to hear most of it, but even then it wasn’t really clear how much of it was true, and what was just spin by the Japanese government.”

“Even that - I don’t know what the out team is,” Tanaka says, feeling like Morgan isn’t doing that much of a better job explaining than Ogura had.

“Alright, going from the basics. You’re in California, in the main--and only--base of the department of ajin affairs. The primary purpose of the department is to gather ajin and bring them here to safety. If someone in America is found out to be an ajin, they’re transferred here, but that also extends to other countries as well. Some of that is refugees like the guys you came with, but at times we’ve also been known to discretely intervene in order to retrieve ajin who might end up in bad situations otherwise.”

Tanaka follows so far, which is probably a good thing.

“Okay, but what about when they get here? What happens then?”

“Depends on the ajin. At an absolute basic level, ajin have to live here for the rest of their lives. There’s no off-base accommodations in the long term. Ajin are registered and kept track of by the department, but beyond that it varies pretty heavily. For people who are publically known as ajin, they’re stuck being on the in team. Basically, that just means they work somewhere on base. We’ve got a couple facilities--a little library, a sort of store that lets you order stuff--that some of them work in, and the rest work in the base proper. For some, that means volunteering for experiments and testing with Ogura and the rest of the science team-”

Tanaka cuts in, desperate for an explanation.

“Okay, before we keep going, how many teams?”

Morgan flicks up six fingers.

“In team are ajin who work somewhere on base. Science team are the scientists who do ajin research. Out team are ajin who work outside the base, mostly as bodyguards, but sometimes as part of the retrieval team. Security team is the biggest, and they provide security for the base, and also make up the majority of the retrieval team. There’s a bit of crossover--there’s a few in team members who would probably be considered science team members if they were human--but for the most part everyone here’s in one of two. There’s also support, which is everyone on base who are related to one of the ajin on base, and administration, who run the place. Mai’s administration.”

“And you are?”

“Out team. Means I spend a lot of time off base, doing things like escorting the vice president around. Having an immortal bodyguard is extremely useful, and it makes sense to take advantage of it as much as possible.”

It all makes too much sense to Tanaka, and the more sense it makes, the more queasy he feels.

This is what they promised, after all. This was what the government said would happen to him.

“You’ll be in team to start. Ajin have to work up to being out team, if that’s something that interests you. It doesn’t for everyone--some people prefer to live inside the base, after all.”

Tanaka doesn’t know what he’d prefer. He’s still struggling to phrase the half million questions running around in his brain. He gets the general idea at least, which is more than he knew an hour before, but there’s still so much.

“Aren’t there... collars?” Tanaka asks, brows furrowing.

Morgan’s eyebrows shoot up, and then he lets out a laugh.

“Sorry, shouldn’t laugh about that. You mean the thing Ogura was wearing? Nah, that was about fifty percent theoretical. It’s only official use is for prisoners, since the facility would need some kind of way to limit ajin. You’ll get scanned in sometime soon, but everything here is basically handled by eye scans.”

“Ogura didn’t-”

“Mai bypassed it for him, and the entrance was already open since there were so many of us coming back in. Normally he’d have been tackled to the ground or shot if he tried that.”

Tanaka suspects that tackled to the ground applies to humans, and shot applies to ajin, but he doesn’t voice the thought.

“As much as possible, everything here is setup to emulate a normal town to make things easier on people. So we’ve got houses rather than a giant apartment block, even though it would be more space efficient. We’ve got a library with a little park in front of it so there’s some greenery. There’s a store where you buy your groceries and can order stuff in, even though you could just do it from home. It’ll probably be hard for you--you don’t speak English if Ogura wasn’t lying about that--but you’ll learn to like it. It’s worlds above most other countries.”

It’s certainly worlds above Japan, but Tanaka keeps his mouth closed, nodding carefully.

Morgan glances up the stairs, letting out a little sigh.

“I’ve been putting up with him for more than a decade and I’ve never seen him so fucked up. Not just the hand, but... well, him. Watching him sprint into the base was like watching your hundred year old grandmother competing in a marathon. Just wasn’t like him.”

Tanaka doesn’t know what Ogura was like before. If Ogura was significantly different before Satou, Tanaka has no idea.

He simply shrugs, twining his fingers together in his lap.

“I should get going,” Morgan says, pushing himself to his feet. “But it was good talking to you again. If you need anything, just give me a yell, alright? If you say my name enough, someone will know to come get me.”

Tanaka nods carefully, getting to his feet himself. It feels strange, like it’s his house, but it only seems polite as he shows Morgan to the door, thanking him for his time.

It feels strangely nostalgic, even if he’s never done anything even slightly similar.

Chapter Text

Ogura wakes confused. Everything feels oddly surreal, to wake in his bed, in his home.

Like none of it ever happened.

His first instinct is to reach over, grabbing at his left hand with his right. There are no fingers--just stumps--and it helps remind him that it was real, that it wasn’t just a dream. He squeezes his hand until it hurts, grounding himself, and only then does he sit up.

His room is just the same as it’s always been, if a bit cleaner. After a moment he squints down at the sheets, registering that there’s no dust--someone’s been cleaning the house, even if he wasn’t there for almost half a year.

Even though he was declared dead twice.

Ogura snorts as he climbs out of bed, heading to the shower and stripping off. Even if the clothes he’s wearing are clean, they’re not his clothes, and he wastes no time in tossing them in the trash.

The shower feels like heaven, and he takes his time with it even if it soaks the bandages on his hand. He leaves them intact, even if they are wet, but carefully peels the bandages off his neck and shoulder, checking the wound.

It’s going to scar, he notes with annoyance, but at least it’s healing.

He scrubs every inch of skin until it’s red and raw, and it’s only then that he gets out. He grabs some socks and underwear before digging around in his closet, grabbing the first t-shirt that looks half decent. It turns out to be blue, with large white letters that declare ‘success is simple. do what’s right, the right way, at the right time’.

Ogura decides that it’s appropriate, considering his own success, and pulls it on over his head. 

He’s halfway down the stairs when it occurs to him that, in theory, Tanaka should still be there somewhere.

“Tanaka!” He yells, and there’s a noise from the living room, followed shortly by Tanaka popping his head around the corner, blinking up at him.

“You’re up,” Tanaka says, straightening his wrinkled clothes.

Ogura squints at him for a moment, stopping halfway down the stairs.

“Were you sleeping in the living room?” He asks.

Tanaka looks nervous, but finally nods.

“Well, don’t. The couch isn’t for sleeping on, it’ll just hurt your back. Guest room is the first door on the left of the second floor, that’ll be your room,” Ogura says, finishing his trip down the stairs and zigging into the kitchen.

Tanaka follows behind, lingering in the doorway as Ogura pulls open the fridge, squinting at the empty space. It’s empty, of course, but there’s a water bottle in the back that he digs out, unscrewing the cap and taking a gulp.

“Mai said she’d get me an apartment,” Tanaka ventures carefully.

“Mai isn’t thinking, or she wouldn’t have even offered. You’ve never lived on your own, you don’t speak English, and you aren’t familiar with the base. How are you going to live in an apartment? You’re staying here,” Ogura says, leaving no room for argument

Tanaka doesn’t even try, just nods.

“Alright, we have like a million things to do, but getting you registered is going to be first up, so follow me,” he says, sticking the water bottle back in the empty fridge and heading to the door.

“Mai said she was going to make sure there was food in the house...” Tanaka says as he follows.

“Then she can let them in herself. She’s got the key, she can get into any house here,” he says, letting them out before hitting the lock button.

“Code is 0386, for the record. Average weight of a nobel prize medal,” he explains as he heads down the path.

There’s no cars in the little town, but the walk to the base is an easy one.

“Where... are we going, exactly?” Tanaka asks as Ogura guides him into the base, giving the guard at the entrance only a brief wave.

“Database lab,” Ogura says, momentarily forgetting that Tanaka has no idea what the database lab is.

“Which is?”

“Everyone who works or lives here gets registered in the ajin and associated people registry, which gets called the database by everyone. For humans that means physical details, fingerprint scans, retinal scans, and stuff like that. Ajin get all that, plus we keep track of IBM status so that there’s a listing of them. Pretty much all security here is done through retinal scans, so you’ll run into issues if you aren’t in the system,” he explains as he winds his way through the base.

“Am I going to... have to remember my way around?” Tanaka asks, glancing down hallways as they pass.

“Not really. There are signs and maps all over, so you can always check them,” Ogura says, waving off his concern.

Ogura doesn’t take him in the front of the lab. Instead, he heads to the staff entrance, coming to a stop when he stares at the authentification.

“Fuck.”

Tanaka leans over, staring down at the door.

“What?”

Ogura holds up his hands, wiggling his fingers.

“Database is top level security access, which means retinal and palm scanner. And since the assumption was that I might have something in my right hand, it’s my left hand that got scanned in.”

His left hand which is now missing two fingers and wrapped in still-damp bandages.

Irritated, Ogura settles for banging on the door.

It takes a little bit, but finally the door does open, revealing a familiar face.

Greg.

Greg no-last-name, because Ogura can’t remember it for the life of him.

“Doctor Ogura!” Greg splutters, then stares down at the scanners to his left. “Why didn’t you just let yourself in?”

“You got promoted, did you?” Ogura says, pushing his way into the little room that serves as both the server and oversight room for the whole system.

“Just after you left, actually. They shuffled all your old interns around and found us places elsewhere. I think I got the best of it,” Greg admits, moving back to grab a seat in front of the computer in the room.

“Well, good, you can fix my shit. I’m supposed to palm scan in with my left hand, but..” Ogura lifts up his left hand, wiggling his fingers for emphasis.

Greg’s face goes several shades paler.

“Oh! That - yes, that would be why. I could swap it over to authenticating with your right hand? Or I could just, uh, get rid of the two missing fingers.”

“Just get rid of the two fingers,” Ogura says, slightly irritated that Mai didn’t think to do so already.

Greg makes a quick little mmm as he leans over, flicking through the database to pull up Ogura’s file and make the changes.

“Can you grab some lab techs? I need to get him into the database,” Ogura says, jerking his thumb towards Tanaka.

Greg stares up at him for a moment.

“They’re already in there. I thought you were talking to Huynh when you came in, honestly. They’re just registering the other three. Should I let them know you’re coming?”

Ogura just waves him off.

“It’s like fifty feet to the entrance, we’ll be there before you even finish the call.”

Greg’s eyes slide over to Tanaka, still lingering just behind Ogura’s back.

“This is Tanaka,” Ogura says by way of introduction. “And he doesn’t speak English, so we’ll save a better introduction for later,” he adds.

Greg nods, and then gives Ogura an oddly affectionate smile.

“It’s good to have you back, Doctor Ogura.”

Ogura really isn’t ready for that level of sentimentality, giving him a quick nod.

“Good to see everyone else too. See you later,” he says, hastily ducking out of the room.

Chapter Text

The lab isn’t far at all, and Ogura’s at least happy for the warning. When he pulls the door open, the two perpetually nameless ajin are tucked off to one side, and Akiyama is standing in the staging area.

His IBM is out, standing in a T in the center of the room, wrapped with white bandages.

“Ah, they’re almost done,” Ogura notes, pulling Tanaka off to the side as a few of the techs glance towards him.

Tanaka’s still staring at the IBM.

“It’s an IBM,” Ogura clarifies. “Not an ajin.”

The clarification seems to help, because Tanaka relaxes almost immediately.

“Sorry, it just... well-”

Tanaka doesn’t need to explain what it reminds him of. The human figure wrapped in white bandages held together with clips, every inch of ‘skin’ covered is obvious enough.

“I’d say it’s unrelated, but it’s not. I got the idea from Japan when we retrieved Kazu. It makes perfect sense for letting us document the size and shape of IBMs, and makes it easy to track how they change over time. Everyone gets a file update every three months.”

Tanaka startles at the mention of Kazu, glancing back to Ogura.

“Wait -” He starts, and Ogura heads him off.

“Watanabe Kazuhiko, first ajin in Japan. Retrieved before you were ever captured. He only spent maybe a month with Japan before we retrieved him. He works at the library now.”

“He’s just... living here?” Tanaka says, but Ogura doesn’t get a chance to answer as the bandages abruptly fall to the floor, and Akiyama and the others head out, leaving them along with the three techs.

“Doctor Ogura!” One calls, waving for him to come over.

“Stand in the black square, same position you saw the IBM in. It’s a scale, basically. Does everything digitally,” Ogura explains as he cuts across the room to where the techs are.

“We need-” One starts, and Ogura waves them off. “I can punch it all in, I know his information. Just pull up a new entry and start scanning.”

He already knows everything he needs to. He knows Tanaka’s full name. He knows his age and birthday. He punches in all the information carefully as the techs work Tanaka through the testing.

Ogura has to translate several instructions over his shoulder, not even turning around until they get to his favorite part.

“They want you to get off the platform and bring out your IBM. Get it to stand the way Akiyama’s was,” Ogura explains, gesturing to the black lines on the floor. “Then they’ll bandage it up so they can take a picture and record it all.”

He’s curious, to say the least. Even if he has a general idea about it’s size, the shape is mostly lost on him. So he watches as Tanaka does as he’s instructed, the techs swooping in with bandages to start swaddling the IBM in them.

He waits until one arm is done before Ogura moves over, inspecting what he can see.

“Anisodactyl configuration is pretty unusual. I don’t think we have anyone registered with that characteristic on the hands... I think we have one with anisodactyl feet...” He muses allowed, and Tanaka squints at him.

“Anis... what?”

Ogura uses his right hand to make a claw shape.

“Three forward toes, one thumb coming out of the back. You see anisodactyl foot setups in birds that perch. Songbirds, but also bigger birds like hawks. Considering the setup, the back claw could probably punch through sheet metal.”

“It has,” Tanaka admits. “Does it mean anything?”

Ogura blinks at him before realizing it’s a real question.

“Yes and no. An IBM’s shape reflects something about you. As for what it reflects... well, what do your dreams mean about you? Same thing. Everything and nothing, with no clear correlations,” he explains with a shrug. “Could mean you liked birds as a child. Could mean you felt the need to protect yourself, so your IBM came with big whopping claws. Lots of different options, and that sort of thing isn’t a particular area of interest for me.”

“I thought everything was an area of interest to you,” Tanaka says, and Ogura startles for a moment before realizing that he’s kidding.

Or at least mostly kidding.

“More or less. But that kind of wishy washy stuff is hard to pin down. It’s more psychoanalysis than anything with concrete results.”

Ogura steps back, observing the full shape of the IBM. Big teeth, big claws--aggressive looking, but still mostly humanoid if not for it’s claws.

Normal feet was the big surprise.

He steps back to let the cameras work, observing it more carefully as he does.

“The big mystery I was working on before my merry adventure in Japan was why IBMs are showing up now.”

“Now?”

Tanaka makes the perfect sounding board, Ogura decides.

“We’ve known about ajin for seventeen years. This very department has been around for most of that. So why do we not have seventeen years worth of IBM research? We really only started to see any signs of IBMs a few years ago. Three years ago, we had a single ajin that could bring out an IBM. Two years ago we had four. A year ago we had ten. Now we’re probably pushing twenty-five. More and more ajin are capable of producing IBMs now, but there’s been no other noticeable change. So, something is changing, but we don’t know what it is yet.”

Tanaka stares at him for a long moment, clearly working up the courage to say something.

“It is possible that all ajin were created at the same time, seventeen years ago, and now they’re all getting IBMs because they’re aging...?” Tanaka says.

Ogura shakes his head.

“It’s a good thought, and one we’d considered, but no. There are ajin under seventeen,” Ogura explains, and Tanaka frowns.

“We’re done,” cuts in one of the techs, and Ogura glances to him briefly, then back to Tanaka.

“You can release your IBM, they’ll clean things up.”

Tanaka does, the bandages crumpling to the floor, and Ogura can’t help but feel that Tanaka is a bit wary of the whole thing. He can’t really blame him, either. One lab is more or less like another lab, even if the walls in this facility weren’t set up specifically to be sound proof.

“Come on, I’ll take you for dinner,” Ogura says, slapping Tanaka on the shoulder before glancing back to the techs.

“He’ll be in the system in about an hour or less,” one informs him, and Ogura takes that as his queue to go.

“I figure you want to avoid the guys from the barrels, so we’ll give them a wide berth,” Ogura says as he guides Tanaka out of the lab. “Cafeteria food’s pretty good. Even though I’ve got a kitchen, the food there’s better than anything I can cook anyway.”

And unfortunately, there’s no pizza deliveries to a locked down base.

Chapter Text

Ogura’s halfway to the cafeteria when he feels a tug on his sleeve. He stops immediately, glancing behind him and squinting up at Tanaka, who is staring at him sheepishly.

“Can we talk?” Tanaka says quietly, and Ogura almost says no.

He already knows what Tanaka’s going to talk about, and he doesn’t want to be a part of the conversation.

“Fine,” he says instead, stepping off to the side and turning to face Tanaka, crossing his arms over his chest.

Tanaka looks horribly intimidated, which only makes Ogura feel worse. He grumbles a bit, then waves his hand.

“Tanaka, I’m not Satou. I’m not going to bite your head off or laugh at you for having an opinion, even if I disagree with it. There’s pretty much nothing you can say that’d make me actually angry with you, so just get it over with and say the thing I know you’re going to say.”

Tanaka’s expression shifts, settling into something closer to annoyance than anything else.

“If you already know what I’m going to say, then you should follow your own advice. You should be at home, resting. You’ve been through a lot, and you shouldn’t be spending your time touring me around,” Tanaka says, his voice insistent. “I can get Morgan to show me around. Or I can go with the other three.”

Even if he’s offering himself up for it, Tanaka doesn’t look like he likes the idea of going around with the men he shoved in barrels previously.

Ogura waves his concerns off.

“I am fine. Earlier was just a temporary thing. I’m fine now, I’ll continue being fine, and I’m going to be fine for the foreseeable future. I do better when I’m working.”

Tanaka doesn’t look even slightly convinced.

“Ogura...” He says, exhaling deeply. “I mean it. I can handle things. You should be getting -”

Tanaka doesn’t get to finish before someone interrupts.

“Ogura!” Comes Greg’s voice, and Ogura turns in time to realize that the man is sprinting at him, frantically waving several pages of paper. He stops just short of them, doubling over to catch his breath.

Ogura looks at him incredulously.

“Something better be on fire,” he mutters, turning to face Greg properly. “We were talking.”

Greg nods his head, and Ogura just hopes that he doesn’t mean that nod literally. It takes him a moment to catch his breath, straightening up to talk, his voice still coming out in gasps.

“I was - I was registering everything in, like you said,” Greg says, shoving the printout in Ogura’s direction. “And it kept trying to auto-group his records.”

Tanaka simply watches, his face twisted in confusion.

Ogura grabs the papers, scowling in Greg’s direction.

“So? Just ungroup them, it’s like databasing 101. If you want to go above and beyond, figure out why it was trying to group them and correct the requirements.”

Ogura spares a glance towards the top page, his brain jerking to a halt.

The name field reads Mitsuhiro Tanaka.

Ogura quickly flips to the second page, which reads Atsuko Tanaka.

His brain doesn’t come out of the screeching halt.

“They were in the database already!” Greg says, his excitement giving way to exhaustion.

Ogura mutters something that might have been a thanks, grabbing Tanaka by the shoulder and hauling him towards the nearest empty room, leaving Greg standing along in the hallway. He needs to read. He needs to process. It’s too much, too fast, and his hopes are disgustingly high.

He knows better than to get his hopes up, but he can’t help doing so anyway.

“Stand there,” Ogura says, jabbing to a random point on the floor as he pulls the paper up again, reading it as fast as he possibly can.

There isn’t much, but it’s still more than the Japanese file, and the fact that it’s all in English makes that stupid hope in his stomach grow that much bigger.

Finally, he gets to the end, letting out a little wheeze.

They’re in fucking Torrance, California.

Ogura’s brain can’t quite process it, but the details are clear enough. Immigrated nine years earlier, claiming asylum due to ajin discrimination. Special allowances made due to the extremely public nature of Tanaka’s case. No further contact with the department.

There’s a neat little section labelled contact info at the bottom, and Ogura reminds himself that it doesn’t mean anything, that they could both be dead already.

“Ogura?” Tanaka says, looking worried.

Ogura snaps his head up, staring at Tanaka for a long moment.

“Is... uh, something wrong?” Tanaka guesses, a pretty safe assumption considering his reaction.

He could say it. He could, but he doesn’t. The last thing he wants is to say it, only to find that they’re already dead. He has to know for sure.

Ogura never was very good at waiting.

“Something came up with work,” he says simply, straightening up and holding the files at his side. “I’ll show you to the cafeteria, and then can you find your way back if I don’t meet you in time?”

Tanaka doesn’t look at all convinced, but he nods a little bit anyway, his skepticism written on his face as Ogura pulls the door back open, heading back into the hall.

“We aren’t far,” he says, doing his best not to jog to the cafeteria. “You aren’t in the system yet, just say ‘Ogura had to go’,” he says, saying the phrase in English. “They’ll figure it out and get you some food, alright?”

Tanaka looks even more concerned, but he nods just the same.

“What’s the word for house?”

House,” Ogura repeats in English, pulling open the cafeteria door with two fingers before scooting Tanaka in. “I’ll see you in an hour or so. I’ll check here if I can.”

Tanaka gives him one last look before heading into the cafeteria, and the moment he’s out of sight Ogura wastes no time, jogging on his way to the nearest phone.

Chapter Text

The nearest phone turns out to be in Mai’s office, which Ogura quickly lets himself into, grabbing a seat on one of her overly fluffy chairs before reaching over, grabbing it and starting to dial.

His heart won’t stop pounding away in his chest, threatening to escape entirely.

He feels like he’s going to die when the phone starts to ring, leaning back in the chair and wondering why the hell Mai still has a corded phone.

Probably some stupid security reason.

Someone picks up the phone, and Ogura’s heart stops beating.

“Hello?” Comes the voice of an older woman on the other end, the lightest trace of a Japanese accent.

It occurs to Ogura that if he mentions Tanaka at all, he’s going to be in major, mind boggling shit with Mai.

“Is this Atsuko Tanaka?” He says, swallowing down the lump in his throat.

“Yes,” the woman says without missing a beat.

“Wife of Mitsuhiro Tanaka?”

There’s a bit more of a pause, but the woman finally does reply.

“Yes.”

“And your son-”

Ogura doesn’t get to finish the sentence before Atsuko cuts in, her voice hard and sharp, her accent bleeding in even harder.

“I do not discuss anything with the press.”

There’s a click, and Ogura gets a dial tone.

Ogura lets out a groan, rubbing between his eyes. Stupid. Stupid, and he should have realized that. But at least his heart is still beating, rather than trying to escape from his chest, and he lets himself lean back in the chair, hanging up the phone to think.

It takes him five minutes to decide that Mai’s going to be angry with him either way, and there’s literally never been a better time to break the rules and get away with it.

He dials the number again.

“Hello?”

“Ma’am, I’m not a reporter. I have important information about your son,” Ogura says, all in a rush. He says it in Japanese, just to avoid her hanging up mid-sentence.

It takes her a moment to reply, and Ogura can almost feel her anger through the phone, even before she speaks.

“I hope you’re happy, harassing a woman in her home,” she says, but the fact that she’s speaking in Japanese at all comes as a relief.

Ogura has never been good at dealing with people politely, let alone dealing with parents.

Ogura decides to rip the bandaid off as fast as possible, worried she’ll hang up if he doesn’t.

“I’m calling from a military base in California. Your son is here--he was handed over to US control by my request, because I knew Japan wasn’t going to treat him very kindly.”

The silence on the other end goes on so long that Ogura worries she’s hung up.

“Hello?”

“If this is a joke-” She starts, and Ogura cuts her off, scowling.

“I already said it wasn’t. I’m not harassing you. This isn’t a joke. Tanak- Kouji’s currently having dinner in the cafeteria.”

It feels weird to call him Kouji, but calling him Tanaka is too strange for a conversation which is itself with another Tanaka.

She starts to ask something, but Ogura cuts in. He’s well aware that time is limited, and he’s eager to get back.

“Sorry, but I don’t have a ton of time for this phone call. We only landed this morning--I called you the moment I found out you were in California. If you don’t object, I’ll have the army send a vehicle out to pick you and your husband up so you can come see him, alright? They’ll call you and arrange more details if that’s okay.”

Ogura shifts uncomfortably when he realizes that the sounds on the other end of the phone are Tanaka’s mother crying.

“Ma’am--” He starts, before deciding that being formal isn’t going to do anything for her. “He’s healthy and safe. He’s a hero. He helped stop Satou even though it meant he’d end up back in the hands of the Japanese government, and he did it anyway because he realized what Satou was doing was wrong. You should be proud of him.”

There’s a long, long silence, interrupted only when Mai opens her door to find Ogura sitting in her chair, talking on her phone.

“I’ve got to go. Someone will call you in a bit, alright?” He says, not waiting for a response before hastily hanging up.

Mai does not look happy.

“Ogura, you’ve been back for less than twelve hours and you’re breaking into my office to make a phone call?” She says, scowling at him before gesturing for him to get up.

“It’s not breaking in if you gave me access to the office,” Ogura insists, climbing out of the chair and playing up a wince as he does so.

Mai doesn’t look even slightly sympathetic.

“I’d let you get away with it if you weren’t almost definitely breaking the law. Who were you calling?”

Ogura doesn’t answer, simply hands the two sheets of paper over for Mai to peruse, standing in front of her desk.

Mai reads through and then lets out a long, exasperated sigh.

“Ogura, you aren’t immune. You could be arrested. You just breached every confidentiality agreement on the table,” she chides.

“But?” He says, making Mai scowl at him even harder.

“Who said there was a but?”

“There’s always a but, Mai.”

Mai rolls her eyes, leaning back in her chair.

“But I’ll cover up this one thing because I know why you did it, and it’s sort of nice to see you expressing concern for another human being, Ogura. So thats your but. Do not do it again. If you do it again, there won’t be a but. Have you even told Tanaka yet?”

Ogura squirms a bit before shaking his head, earning himself a sharp glare from Mai.

“I didn't want to get his hopes up and then find out that they’d died in a fucking car accident, alright? I’ll go tell him.”

Ogura’s halfway out the door when Mai interrupts.

“You’re banned from all labs for a week.”

Ogura stops short, glancing over his shoulder and squinting.

“What?”

“All labs for a week,” she says firmly. “You need time to recover, Tanaka needs time to adapt, and I know you’ll just drown yourself in work if no one intervenes, so I’m intervening. No labs for a week. No going in a lab, no trying to sneak in with anyone else. Stay home. Relax.”

Ogura glares as hard as he possibly can at her, but doesn’t protest any more.

“Can you get them here, then?”

“I’ll look into it,” she says, waving him off.

Ogura finally leaves, but he’s not happy about it.

Chapter Text

Tanaka is already gone from the cafeteria when Ogura finds his way back, which seems surprising. He can’t have been gone for more than fifteen minutes, and staring at the cafeteria he worries that Tanaka didn’t eat at all. His first thought is to immediately head back, but he can practically hear the doctors lecture, so he makes a point of getting some food anyway, telling the staff to put it in a bag.

He spends the entire walk back to his house wondering how he could possibly word ‘your parents are alive and two hours away right now’. In truth, he doesn’t even know what Tanaka knows. Maybe Tanaka already knows they’re alive. Maybe he thinks they’re dead. Maybe he’s angry and feels like they betrayed him, or maybe he hopes for a tearful reunion.

There’s a million options, and he has absolutely nothing to go on.

He’s out of the base and into the town when he decides that it doesn’t really matter. His phrasing isn’t going to make a difference. No matter what he says, it’s the message that’s going to get through.

He’s almost back home when he spots Tanaka, standing on his porch and looking awkward.

It takes no time at all for him to realize what’s happened, and he chuckles under his breath, walking up the path.

“Forget the code?” he calls, and Tanaka startles, turning abruptly before nodding, his face burning with embarrassment.

“You could have just asked someone to come get me,” he says as he approaches the door.

“I didn’t want to interrupt your work,” Tanaka says, and Ogura feels a stab of guilt for a moment before he brushes it off.

“0386,” he says, punching it it with his left hand, the bag of food held in his right. “Did you already eat? You weren't there long.”

Tanaka looks more embarrassed by the second as he follows Ogura in.

“I eat fast,” he says quietly, and Ogura frowns, dropping the bag on the counter.

There’s an ashtray in front of him, and Ogura finds himself staring at it for a moment. His eyes wander down to his left hand, and then he scowls, snatching the ashtray up and shoving it into a drawer.

He’ll deal with it later.

“Sit down,” he says, waving Tanaka towards the living room as he turns.

Tanaka almost immediately goes a shade paler, and Ogura scowls. He has to be more careful--has to realize that Tanaka’s going to expect the worst no matter what.

“It isn’t bad. It’s good news. It’s just big news, so sit.”

Even saying that it’s good news doesn’t make Tanaka look any less worried, but he slinks back to the living room as instructed.

“Sit,” Ogura insists, staring at Tanaka until he finally does, taking a seat on the couch.

Tanaka looks terribly out of place on such a small couch.

“I pulled your file,” he explains. “The one I requested from Japan. There wasn’t much info, but it did talk a bit about your parents.”

It’s the best way he can think of for feeling things out, and Tanaka immediately flinches, his eyes flicking down.

Nervous? Sad? Something like that. Maybe worried, but Ogura isn’t nearly as good at reading Tanaka as he hopes.

Ogura takes a moment to sit down beside Tanaka, trying to make it less awkward that Tanaka isn’t looking at him anymore.

“I spoke to your mother on the phone,” he says simply, and Tanaka’s head jerks up almost impossibly fast, his eyes wide with shock and confusion.

“Your parents moved to California nine years ago, claiming asylum here the same way you did. They live about two hours away. That was what I had to run off to do--I didn’t want to tell you in case it turned out something had happened to them.”

Watching Tanaka’s face is like watching a car crash in slow motion. He can see Tanaka struggling to keep it together, can see him trying desperately not to react, but it’s a losing battle from the moment he starts.

“It’s alright,” Ogura says quietly. “I think you earned the right to cry a long time ago.”

Tanaka breaks down, and Ogura reaches up, wrapping his arms around Tanaka. It’s almost painful to watch someone who is usually so strong break down, but it’s been long, long overdue.

Ogura doubts Satou ever tolerated anything of the sort.

Even with Tanaka sobbing against his shoulder, it’s still obvious to him that Tanaka’s trying desperately to hold back, trying to stem the flood. Stupid. There’s no need for him to hold back, and Ogura wastes no time in telling him so.

“No one’s going to get angry at you for this,” Ogura says quietly, rubbing at Tanaka’s back.

He waits until Tanaka has his crying mostly under control before he says anything else.

“Your mother seemed very happy to hear you were okay. Mai’s going to try and get a ride for them so that you can see them, and they can come visit, but there’s some paperwork to get through. Probably within the week, alright?” He doesn’t actually know if it’s within a week, but if it isn’t, he feels like he’s going to go crazy. He might be able to stretch everything he has to do to a whole week, but having Tanaka seeing his parents during that time would certainly make it much easier.

Tanaka nods into his shoulder, and Ogura gives him another reassuring squeeze before letting go.

“It’s good, right? They’re still alive. You’ll get to see them.”

Ogura isn’t even sure. He has no idea what sort of relationship Tanaka had with his parents, although the crying means that it was probably good.

Tanaka nods, rubbing at his face with the back of his hand.

“I thought they’d died. I know my father - I know they hurt him a bit when they grabbed me. I thought they were both...” Tanaka trails off, and it’s obvious enough what he meant.

“They’re fine,” Ogura insists. “And you’ll be fine. We’ll work something out.”

Ogura feels something, and it takes him a moment to pin down that it’s sadness. The sadness is quickly replaced with a wave of disgust, furious and angry with himself for even being sad. Sad for what? Because Tanaka had parents and a happy family to reunite with?

Probably, which only made it worse.

“I need to eat,” he insists, standing up hastily as Tanaka pulls back. “I’ll talk to you after, alright?”

He needs a moment to himself. He needs a moment not with Tanaka, not thinking about the happy family reunion on the horizon.

He just hopes Tanaka will let him have it.

Chapter Text

Tanaka doesn't give him the time to think. Ogura's barely halfway through his meal when he spots Tanaka lingering in the doorway, watching him eat and looking nervous despite the good news that Ogura himself just delivered.

Ogura spears a piece of broccoli particularly violently, popping it into his mouth as he fixes Tanaka with a firm look.

“I’m eating,” he says simply, popping a piece of carrot into his mouth and hoping that somewhere in the world Doctor Wada is happy with his choice of food.

“I can wait,” Tanaka says quietly, still watching and making not attempt to move.

Ogura’s irritation spikes, despite his attempt to push it down.

“Sit down,” he says, jabbing his fork towards the other chair at the little table. The table isn’t very large--it’s really just meant for him--but there are three more chairs, simply because they came with the set.

Tanaka does sit, looking terribly anxious.

“Just say it,” Ogura says simply, spearing a few more vegetables as he does. “I’ll eat while we talk.”

Tanaka doesn’t say it right away. Instead he squirms in place, folding and unfolding his hands as he does. Ogura’s more or less done with his dinner by the time Tanaka manages to work up the nerve to say anything.

“Were you... upset that I would be seeing my family?” Tanaka says, and Ogura winces.

Right on the money.

He doesn’t bother trying to deny it, doesn’t see a point in lying to Tanaka’s face when the man is being so earnest about it.

“Not upset. Jealous,” Ogura says, taking a drink of his water.

Tanaka looks startled, but Ogura can’t tell if it’s how fast he responded, that he didn’t deny it, or the fact that he’s jealous, of all possible things.

“Jealous?” Tanaka says, and Ogura lets out a sigh, setting down his fork.

“Jealous,” Ogura repeats. “I assumed they were dead, the same way you did. I think most people did. Finding out that you actually get a happy ending makes me feel jealous.”

Tanaka looks completely mystified.

“I don’t... really understand. Why would that make you jealous?”

Ogura’s eyebrows furrow together, and it takes him far too long to realize just why Tanaka’s confused. As obvious as it is to him why he’d be jealous of a happy family reunion, he doesn’t think he’s ever said even a single word to Tanaka about his life before Satou.

“I’m not on speaking terms with my parents,” he says simply, and then decides that it isn’t fair to leave it at that, even if Tanaka would absolutely let him leave it there. He knows everything about Tanaka. Sometimes he feels like he knows more about Tanaka’s history then Tanaka himself.

“Are you gay?” Ogura asks, deciding that it’s probably better to get that out of the way.

Tanaka chokes, his entire face going from nervous to embarrassed in an instant.

“I - is that - uh - is that relevant?” Tanaka says, clearly lost in the entire conversation.

“No,” Ogura says simply. “But I want to know anyway.”

Tanaka squirms in place, obviously uncomfortable with the conversation, but Ogura has no intention of backing down.

“Well - you already know about me and Satou...” Tanaka mumbles, as if that answers the question in any way.

“That doesn’t matter,” Ogura cuts in. “Just because someone coerced you into sleeping with them doesn’t change your sexuality. Here, let me simplify: Have you ever looked at a man and been attracted to them?”

Tanaka looks even more uncomfortable, and Ogura has to remind himself that Tanaka likely literally doesn’t know any better. He doubts anyone ever sat him down and explain how human sexuality worked, let alone hammered in solid points like getting raped by a man does not make you gay.

“I... guess,” Tanaka finally says.

“What about women? Have you ever looked at a woman and been attracted to them?”

Tanaka looks slightly less nervous about that, nodding carefully.

“Bisexual then. You like men and women equally. Well, I don’t. I only like men--I’ve never been attracted to a woman. Some people--including my parents--don’t like that. I’m not going to give you a lecture on why thinking that it was a choice is stupid, but either way they kicked me out when I was young and really needed their help, and even if they came crawling back to me now to grovel at my feet and beg forgiveness, all I’d do is spit on them. I’m never going to get a happy reunion, because my parents are awful people.”

Tanaka seems startled by the whole thing, staring at him in shock and confusion. Ogura supposes that it’s not really relatable--Tanaka never had to deal with anything of the sort, never had to deal with parents that couldn’t have cared if he’d died. It takes him a bit to compose himself enough to respond, leaning forward slightly.

“So... is Ogura not your real name...?”

Ogura’s eyebrows go up, equal parts confused and surprised that of all possible questions, Tanaka had to ask that one.

“No, it is. Ogura is still my family name. The last thing I heard from them was they demanding I change my name, so I kept using it just to spite them. Now I’m a thousand times more famous than they’ll ever be, and everyone associates Ogura with me.”

Ogura doesn’t even bother trying to hide his smirk.

“Uhm, but - but isn’t it weird, being called by a name you hate...?”

Ogura simply waves off the concern.

“I don’t hate it. I don’t think about them much, but it’s hard not to think about them when talking about families.”

“If you wanted to change it, I would-”

Ogura scowls at that.

“There’s no point in changing my name, everything is already associated with ‘Doctor Ogura’. It would just confuse people. If you want to call me something else, then call me something else.”

Tanaka obviously has something in mind, and Ogura wishes he’d just get to the point.

“Ah, what about ‘Ikuya’?”

Ogura lets out a little laugh.

“Oh, we’re that familiar already?”

Tanaka almost immediately retreats, and Ogura quickly waves him off.

“I was kidding. Ikuya is fine. You can call me whatever you want, alright?”

Tanaka looks pleased with that, and then obviously makes a point of trying not to look pleased.

“Alright,” he says quickly. “You can - well, if you want, you can call me Kouji? Especially if my parents come, it would be a bit confusing...”

It occurs to Ogura then, and only then, that Tanaka is what Satou called him.

“Kouji, then,” he says simply, gathering up the remains of his food as he stands. “Should I show you to your room?”

Tanaka swoops in, helping him clear away the table, and Ogura simply lets him with a little grunt.

“Thank you,” Tanaka says, and Ogura double takes, unclear on just what’s happening, since Tanaka is the one helping him.

“Huh?”

Tanaka glances up at him, suddenly confused.

“Huh?”

Ogura scowls.

“I said it first. Why are you thanking me, anyway? These are my dishes,” Ogura says quickly.

“Oh!” Tanaka says, momentarily startled. “I didn’t - I wasn’t thinking about the dishes. I just meant... for everything.”

Ogura has absolutely no idea what to say to that, so he settles for grunting instead, gesturing for Tanaka to follow him up the stairs.

Chapter Text

Ogura has never felt out of place in his own home. Even if some of the other people in the community complain that houses are too big or too small, Ogura’s always felt it’s just about the right size.

It probably helps that he has someone else to clean the place for him.

He heads up the stairs with Tanaka following closely behind, gesturing as he goes.

“Downstairs is the living room, the entrance way, the kitchen, and the bathroom. If you want to decorate, feel free, but for the most part I don’t bother. Upstairs on the right we’ve got the linen closet and the bathroom, the door at the far end is my room, and on the left side is my lab and your room,” He explains, gesturing to each door in turn.

It occurs to him that he hasn’t even been in the spare room yet. For all he knows it’s empty. Thankfully, when he pushes the door open the room is exactly as he left it--a bed, an empty closet, and a dresser that came with the house. There’s nothing in the way of decoration, but at least it’s clean.

“Exactly one person has slept in it, and that was a week when the lab nearly exploded so I had to work out of my own lab. Other than that it’s been empty since it was built.”

He figures noting that detail might help Tanaka feel more at home, and a bit less out of place. It’s not anyone else's room he’s invading--it’s a room just for him.

Assuming he even stays. Assuming his parents don’t choose to stay, and that he doesn’t go to live with them.

It’s an unfortunate thought, and Ogura pushes it away, turning back to Tanaka.

“You probably need stuff, we can get it tomorrow. Mai’s banned me from the lab, so getting you settled is my focus for the next while.”

“Banned you from the lab...?” Tanaka says, sounding genuinely shocked by the idea of it.

At least someone thinks it’s absurd, Ogura can’t help but think to himself.

“Because I snuck in to call your mother when I should have cleared things with her first. So she banned me,” he says, sounding horribly sour as he does so.

“Oh,” Tanaka says simply, glancing around the room a bit. Ogura suspects he’s simply surprised at how empty it is, but Ogura’s own room isn’t that much better. He’s never really been one for knick knacks and sentimentality, and everything of value is locked in his lab.

“Try and get some sleep. You need to reset your sleep cycle, even if you slept on the plane. I’ll be waking you up first thing in the morning to make sure you do get on schedule, alright?”

Tanaka looks at him for a long moment, then nods, sitting down on the bed like he plans to sleep sitting up. Ogura stares at him for a long moment before shaking his head, giving a little sigh and stepping back.

“Goodnight, Tana-” He starts, then catches himself. “Kouji.”

“Goodnight, Ikuya.” Tanaka says in turn, giving him a feeble little smile.

Ogura closes the door behind him, heading back to his room to sleep.


 

He’s as good as his word, and he wakes Tanaka the moment the clock ticks over to eight. He’s already been up for two hours, so he’s ready and dressed, but Tanaka simply blinks up at him blearily as Ogura leans over the bed.

“Morning!” Ogura says, putting every single bit of enthusiasm he possesses into his voice.

Tanaka rolls over, pulling the pillow over his head, and Ogura notes that Tanaka’s apparently decided to sleep in his clothes.

Ogura reaches down, prodding Tanaka’s back.

“Time to get up,” he says, and watches with satisfaction as Tanaka finally drags himself out of bed, his hair sticking out in the strangest directions.

“You’ve got a half hour to shower, then breakfast will be ready. I’ll yell when it is, alright? Don’t make me drag you out of bed.”

Ogura doesn’t wait for Tanaka to confirm, heading right down the stairs.

He returns to the house not even twenty minutes later to find Tanaka sitting at the kitchen table, staring at it him confused.

“Weren’t you making breakfast?” Tanaka asks, his hair damp but no longer quite as out of control.

“I was getting breakfast,” Ogura says, holding up a paper bag. “I don’t want you to get food poisoning, and I can’t cook anything more complicated then scrambled eggs.”

Tanaka frowns for a moment, then stands up to take the bag from Ogura, unpacking it onto the counter.

“I can cook,” Tanaka insists quietly, and Ogura raises an eyebrow as he grabs water from the fridge, glancing back at the man.

“Anyone can cook. Can you cook well? Because the cafeteria is pretty good.”

Tanaka shifts a bit, then nods.

“I... uh, think it was pretty good. Everyone else seemed to like it, anyway.” There’s a long pause, and Tanaka’s face twists into a pained expression. “Except Satou. He’d never eat anything I made him.”

Ogura wonders how long he has to wait before he stops hearing Satou’s name every day.

“That’s because he didn’t eat. He didn’t eat, and he didn’t sleep. Those sorts of things made him human, and he didn’t want to be human. Nothing to do with your cooking,” Ogura explains. “We can pick up some food today,” he adds, hastily moving the conversation along.

Tanaka nods, setting the food out on the table, and Ogura sits to eat.

Breakfast is finished in no time at all, and then Ogura mentally checks down the giant list of things he has to do.

“Alright, we need to get food. We need to get your clothes. You’re already registered, so that’s done. I guess I should show you around town to start? The store has some clothes so we can get you an outfit or two and order the rest in.”

Tanaka looks increasingly nervous the more he talks, and Ogura scowls at him.

“What? Just say it. You don’t have to just sit there squirming when you could just tell me what the issue is.”

Tanaka clears his throat, getting to the point.

“I... don’t really have the money for all that. Takahashi and Gen took most of the cash, and I left the rest behind. I wasn’t really thinking.”

He looks so earnest, so worried, and it’s all a bit too much. Ogura bursts out laughing so hard he nearly cries, wiping at his face as he gets himself under control.

Tanaka looks irritated.

“Sorry, just - good god, you’re in a government run facility for the most well funded government department in the entire fucking country. They can afford to buy you a t-shirt,” Ogura says, still fighting back a laugh.

“Let’s go, I’ll show you to the store, and then we can swing by the library.”

Chapter Text

The entire town isn’t very large, but there’s enough greenery and empty space to keep it from feeling cramped. Tanaka seems significantly more relaxed once he’s out of the house, and Ogura decides it’s simply a side effect of what is an extremely understandable (if mild) case of claustrophobia.

The store isn’t far, and when Tanaka spots it, he frowns.

“It... isn’t very big,” Tanaka admits, and Ogura lets out a laugh.

“It’s serving a community of thirty houses, of course it’s not very big. There’s some food options that rotate out, some clothes options that do the same, and a few random things that they pull in. If you come once a week you’ll have a whole new stock, and for the most part you’re expected to just order everything in.”

Ogura’s halfway in the door when something collides with his legs, and he has to catch himself on the door frame, Tanaka coming to an immediately halt behind him.

“Ickyyyyyyy!” Wails a high pitched voice, and Ogura winces.

“Oh good lord,” Ogura mutters under his breath in Japanese, trying frantically to inch backwards.

It’s simply not going to work. There’s an eight year old boy attached to his legs, and no amount of squirming is going to get him anywhere.

No, scratch that. Even worse--there’s a crying eight year old boy attached to his legs, his face buried in the front of Ogura’s shirt as he bawls his eyes out.

“Rick- Ricky, just - Ah come on,” he says in English, patting the boy on the head. “We need to get out of the doorway, just shuffle back with me, okay?”

At the very least the boy does, letting Ogura scoot himself out of the doorway and back into the fresh air. He doesn’t let go though, still latched on like an overgrown leech.

Tanaka looks beyond confused, staring down at the boy for a moment before glancing up to Ogura.

Ogura simply pats the wailing child on the head a bit more before twisting his head around to look at Tanaka, swapping back to Japanese.

“This is Ricky, and he’s very attached. Extremely,” he says, cutting his explanation off as Ricky raises his arms in the nigh universal ‘pick me up’ gesture.

“Oh no,” he says in English. “Not happening. I’m not going to manage to get you even an inch off the floor. Icky is extremely tired, extremely weak, and would be lucky to manage to lift an apple at this point.”

His protests go unheard, and Ricky turns his face up, giving him his very best pleading look. Ogura is mostly immune to it, but he still wants the kid off of him.

“This is Tanaka. He looks big and scary but he’s actually a giant softie, so he’ll pick you up because he’s big and strong and won’t break his legs trying to lift someone as big as you,” Ogura says, immediately swinging his head around to look at Tanaka.

“Pick him up.”

“Wha?” Tanaka blurts, staring down at the child in front of him and looking even more confused.

Ricky buries his face in Ogura’s shirt even harder, peeking out at Tanaka timidly.

“They said you died,” Ricky says softly, still staring at Tanaka.

“You’re supposed to look at someone when they talk to you, Ricky. And yes, they said that, but they’re wrong, and I’m fine now, alright?”

Without even acknowledging that he’s said anything, Ricky raises his arms again.

“Like I said, Tanaka. Not me. I could barely lift you six months ago, and you’re bigger now and I’m weaker. So Tanaka will.”

Tanaka looks even more confused every single time Ogura says his name, and the confusion reaches it’s highest level when Ogura puts his hand on Ricky’s back, scooting him towards Tanaka.

“Just pick him up.”

Tanaka stares down at the boy, then glances back up at Ogura.

“Just... pick him up?” He repeats, incredulously.

Ogura lets out a sigh.

“Like this,” he says, miming picking a child up under their armpits. “He likes getting picked up.”

Tanaka doesn’t stop looking confused, but finally he follows direction, picking the boy up with ease and lifting him well over his head.

Ogura buries his face in his hand.

“You’re suppo- you know what, just give him a piggyback. You’re tall enough, he’ll love it.”

“He’s tall!” Ricky calls, sniffling a bit but obviously overjoyed by the fact that he’s easily six and a half feet in the air.

“He also has no idea what you’re saying, Ricky. He hasn’t learned English yet.”

Ricky looks absolutely flabbergasted that the man holding him in the air doesn’t understand a word he’s saying.

“What’s his name?” Ricky says, letting out a small noise of excitement as Tanaka flips him around, lifting him up and settling the boy onto his shoulders. Ogura has to fight the urge not to laugh when he sees Tanaka’s face, equal parts confusion and discomfort.

“Have you never dealt with a kid before?” Ogura asks in Japanese.

“Hey!” Ricky protests. “Dad says it isn’t polite to speak behind people’s backs.”

“Your dad is a smart man, but we’re speaking right in front of you, so it hardly counts,” Ogura says with a snort.

“Not really,” Tanaka mutters under his breath. “I’m surprised you have.”

“Well, his name is Ricky, and he decided my name was Icky, and when you’re three that means you’re definitely going to be best friends forever, so I’m pretty much stuck with him forever,” Ogura explains.

He offers a shrug. “He makes a good test subject, at least.”

Tanaka squints at him as Ricky combs his fingers through Tanaka’s long hair.

“Test- wait, is he an ajin?”

“Bingo,” Ogura says as Ricky leans forward, nearly falling off entirely before Tanaka grabs his ankles, keeping him from falling.

“Ajin - isn’t that demi-human?” Ricky says excitedly, happy to recognize a word.

“That it is,” Ogura answers him, glancing back to Tanaka.

He,” he starts with a tip of his head towards Ricky, “is Vice President Grant’s grandson. He died of cancer when he was two, and then he proceeded to... well, not die. As far as the public’s concerned, he’s dead for good, but having him here means that we’re the best funded department in the country and get a ton of extra perks from the executive branch. And since he manifested his first IBM when he was four, I have four beautiful years of gorgeous, gorgeous data on how an IBM develops when it manifests in early childhood.”

Tanaka gives him an irritated look.

“Then why is he on my shoulders?”

“Because he weighs like fifty pounds and I think my arms are going to break if I lift anything over ten. I could barely manage it a year ago when I was healthy, let alone now.”

Tanaka apparently has no argument for that.

“He’s tall!” Ricky declares. “But it’s not fun if he can’t talk to me.”

“I doubt it is,” Ogura says. “We saw your grandpa on the flight over here. He went to pick us up.”

Ricky wiggles, and Tanaka decides that’s enough.

“He’s going to fall,” Tanaka protests, reaching up to grab Ricky’s sides and hauling him up before setting him back down.

Ogura expects Ricky to protest, but he doesn’t. Instead he grins up at Ogura before latching on again, nuzzling into his shirt.

“I’m happy you’re okay,” he says quietly, and Ogura can just tell his face has gone red.

He gives Ricky a pat on the head.

“I know. I’m happy to see you too. You weren’t out here alone, were you?”

Ricky quickly shakes his head.

“I was playing hide and seek with Sally!” He declares excitedly, and Ogura immediately waves him off.

“Well, me and Tanaka here have things to do, so you should go run and play with Sally again, and I’ll see you later, alright?”

Ricky nods again, and then bolts off, getting a good fifteen feet before he screeches to a halt, spinning back around and waving excitedly in their direction.

“Bye Mister Tanaka!” He yells, before spinning back around and charging off.

Tanaka just looks confused.

“He said goodbye,” Ogura clarifies.

“I got that,” Tanaka mutters under his breath. “So he - he’s the grandson of the guy on the plane, yeah?”

Ogura nods and gestures for Tanaka to finally follow him into the store, heading straight for the clothes and starting to dig through for something that’ll fit Tanaka.

“So... if you’ve been working with him for years, why were you so nervous around his grandfather...?”

“Because his grandfather only gets to visit like twice a year at most. And his grandfather basically decides how much budget we get, so I have to do my absolute fucking hardest to suck up to him. It makes things awkward, even if he’s not actually that bad of a guy,” Ogura explains, holding a t-shirt up and squinting at it before shoving it in Tanaka’s direction.

“Hold this.”

He finds three more shirts and two pairs of pants, and then sends Tanaka packing over to the change room to try them on, heading to the counter himself.

There’s only two people working in the store at any given time, but it’s slow enough that Ogura feels no shame in monopolizing one of them to measure Tanaka out and order him some clothes.

He does, however, fit at least one new shirt and pair of pants.

“And this,” Ogura says, sliding a bag to Tanaka.

“Huh?”

“Pajamas,” Ogura says. “Because you shouldn’t be sleeping in your clothes.”

Tanaka stares down at the bag for a moment before nodding, clutching his new packages to his chest.

“Alright, we’ll stop by the library, and then I guess we’ll double back for food? Since you might want something that’ll stay in the fridge, and who knows how long we’ll be at the library,” Ogura adds, pushing open the door and heading out of the shop.

Chapter Text

The more they walk, the more awed Tanaka feels. The base itself is large enough, but the town out back seems absolutely massive. For the most part, it’s just the space--thirty homes and three extra buildings isn’t that big, but every house has a front lawn, a back lawn, and even space between their houses. Some of the houses have fences, and some lawns simply run from house to house without interruption. There are a few gardens, all neatly trimmed and taken care of, and as Tanaka walks he spots at least one woman bending down in a garden, planting flowers.

Everything seems that much more surreal when he catches sight of the wall on the far side of most of the houses.

Ogura catches him staring, giving him a smile that Tanaka’s come to associate with explanations. Ogura always makes the smile before he explains something, although the greater emotion behind it is lost to him.

“There’s razor wire on the top, but that wouldn’t stop an ajin. It’s mostly to make sure no one tries to get in, and to give the idea that the base is a military base behind the wall, not a quasi town,” Ogura explains, and Tanaka nods along as he does, swinging his head around to scan the houses. For the most part it’s about what he expected. When he double takes, he realizes it’s exactly what he expected--every house is an exact copy of Ogura’s own, just with slightly different decorations to make them look less identical.

There’s the sound of screaming and Tanaka goes tense, his head snapping around to try and locate the source of the sound. Ogura grabs at his shoulder, giving it a tight squeeze.

“Relax, it’s just kids. Probably the next street over,” Ogura says firmly, and after a moment  Tanaka realizes it’s probably too. The screams don’t sound pained, just excited.

“There are more ajin kids...?” He says, horrified at the thought. Every ajin child is a dead child, or at least a child who should have been dead, and it struck him as deeply wrong.

“Nope,” Ogura says, waving off his concern before giving him a gentle push to get him walking again. “Just human kids unless Ricky’s playing with them. There’s one that’s sixteen somewhere, but otherwise they’re all human.”

Tanaka fights to make his emotions less obvious, but there’s no fighting the feeling of confusion.

“Human?”

“Yeah,” Ogura says, waving his hands towards the houses around them. “You didn’t think all these were just attractive single scientists living on their own, did you? Most of these are families. Some of them came in with kids, some of them had them while they were here. Hell, some of the younger ones were born here--they’ve never lived outside.”

Something about that seems terribly sad to Tanaka.

“Aren’t you worried people are going to run away...?”

Ogura gives him a look--a look that says he’s said something stupid--and all Tanaka can think is how much nicer Ogura is about it. There’s no comments, no ‘try harder’--he just gives him a look and moves on to answer Tanaka’s question.

“To where? Sure, I imagine people have thought about it, but there’s nowhere to go. Life outside the walls is harsh, and no one knows that better than you.”

Tanaka really can’t argue that. Even if the facility is a cage, it’s impossible to compare it to the cages of other countries.

Especially Japan.

“In here,” Ogura says, gesturing to a building that sticks out more due to shape. It’s not the two story house style that most of the other buildings are, but instead a larger single story building like the shop was.

A large hand-lettered sign simply read library.

“They’re all in English, so it’s not going to be much good for you right now, but Kazu’s practically the patron saint of the library,” Ogura says, pulling the door open and letting them in.

“The first Japanese ajin..?”

“Yep,” Ogura says, striding into the library without further explanation.

The building itself isn’t very large, but it’s absolutely packed with books. Even so, none of the shelves are very tall, and Tanaka can peek over them easily.

The library’s empty expect for a single older man sitting behind a desk near one wall.

As nice as it is to see a Japanese face, the look that the man gives him is cold. His expression softens a bit when the man looks to Ogura, but any time he glances to Tanaka, Tanaka gets the firm impression that the man doesn’t like him--or at least is very uncomfortable around him.

Ogura doesn’t seem to pick up on it--or maybe he’s just ignoring it?--and quickly strides over, leaning up against the man’s desk and chattering away in English.

Tanaka lingers near the shelves, sneaking glances towards Ogura and the man.

He doesn’t have long to wait before the conversation switches over to Japanese, and Ogura flags him over.

“Tanaka, come introduce yourself,” Ogura says. “It’s nice to not have to introduce you to someone for once.”

The man is much older than him--hell, he’s definitely older than Ogura--and just from the look of him Tanaka decides that librarian fits him well. He seems bookish and focused, a shade more serious than he’s used to, and Tanaka remembers enough of the news story to know that, at least back in Japan, Kazu didn’t have any family.

He quickly bows, trying to tell himself that he’s imagining things.

“It’s very nice to meet you. My name is-” He starts, only to be cut off by Kazuhiko.

“Tanaka, yes. I’m well aware of your story, I kept up with the news.”

Ogura doesn’t let the conversation drop, sliding in neatly like he was born to do it.

“And vice versa. I’m sure the Japanese media would be delighted to hear that the first and second Japanese ajin are together at last. Too bad they’ll never find out,” Ogura says, amused by his own joke.

Kazu doesn’t look amused, simply giving Ogura a polite smile and a little nod.

Tanaka feels like he’s been dropped in a vat of ice, glancing to Ogura desperately.

“Didn’t you say you wanted to get my hair cut?” Tanaka says, and Ogura falters for a moment, scowling at him.

“Yes. We’d have to bother Angela-” Ogura starts, and Tanaka jumps in quickly.

“We should go ask her, it’s really in my eyes.”

It’s the most blatant get me out of here that he can muster, and Ogura takes it.

“Alright, let's go stop by,” he says, turning back to Kazu. “I’ll talk to you later, alright?”

Kazu gives a brief nod, but doesn’t even say goodbye as Ogura and Tanaka head to the door. Tanaka doesn’t even glance behind him, all his nerves on edge.

Chapter Text

“He hates me,” Tanaka blurts out the moment the door closes behind them.

Ogura turns, raising his eyebrows.

“He doesn’t hate you,” he says firmly, and he really does mean it.

“How can you not think he hates me--he barely even looked at me-”

There’s something about the tone of Tanaka’s voice that makes him look a bit closer, registering just how wide Tanaka’s eyes are. He’s having a panic attack, and if he’s not he’s dangerously close to one.

“Tanaka,” he tries to interrupt, only it doesn’t really do anything.

“He probably hates me, I probably killed someone he knew, he wouldn’t even talk to me, he didn’t even-”

Ogura’s already let things go to far, and he reaches up, grabbing Tanaka by the shoulders and pulling him down slightly.

“Kouji!” He says, practically yelling it, and Tanaka’s spiel cuts off, his breathing still too fast.

“Deep breath in, deep breath out,” he starts to repeat, squeezing Tanaka’s shoulder’s in time with his voice. It doesn’t work right away--the first few repetitions Tanaka's breath is too fluttery--but after a few more he’s picked up the pattern, his breathing slowing down as he matches it.

He keeps going long after Tanaka’s breathing is even until he’s sure it’ll stay that way.

“He doesn’t hate you,” Ogura says firmly. “There are a lot of reasons he might have been acting odd towards you, alright? He might feel awkward about speaking Japanese again after so long. He might be uncomfortable because you represent what almost happened to him. Hell, he might worry you blame him because he got out and you didn’t. There’s a million reasons he might have, Kouji. What you need to remember is that none of them matter. Some people are going to hate you no matter what you do. Because you’re an ajin. Because of what Satou did--hell, just because you’re Japanese. But none of those things matter. What matters is what you do with your life.”

Ogura forces himself to take a deep breath, well aware that he’s getting too carried away.

“We’re going to go back home, and we’re going to sit down. We don’t need to do anything else today, alright?”

He’s kicking himself. He should have known, should have guessed things wouldn’t go so easily.

“We were supposed to get food-” Tanaka says, and Ogura glares at him.

“Then we’ll get food. And then we’re going home,” he says simply.

Tanaka nods timidly, making no attempt to argue as Ogura tows him back to the store. Ogura has absolutely no idea what he’s supposed to be buying, so he simply buys a bit of everything, loading the bags into Tanaka’s arms and starting back.

“If I don’t eat enough, I’m pretty sure Wada’s going to fly all the way to America to lecture me,” Ogura grumbles, trying his best to keep Tanaka’s mind off things.

He’s pretty sure it doesn’t work, but it’s better than letting Tanaka suffer in silence.

He lets Tanaka in before helping him unpack, loading up the fridge with what little they have as Tanaka stares down at the insane variety of food that Ogura’s picked up.

“Most of this... isn’t going to work with anything else,” Tanaka confesses, glancing between a can in each hand.

“That’s fine. Just pick whatever you want and make that.”

After a month of eating next to nothing, Ogura’s pretty sure that he’d eat literally anything that Tanaka cooked.

Tanaka stares at the food a bit longer before glancing up at Ogura, shifting nervously.

“Just say it,” Ogura reminds him. “You don’t have to wait for me to ask.”

Tanaka does better at replying right away, rather than fighting his nerves to just say it.

“Don’t you need to smoke?”

Ogura feels like someone just shoved an ice pick into his back, and winces.

“Yes, but no I’m not going to,” he says simply, clearing away the bags.

“You aren’t going to?” Tanaka asks, sounding completely mystified.

At least he’s not worrying, Ogura decides.

“I’m not going to,” he restates, effectively forcing Tanaka to consider what he’s really asking.

Tanaka does, obviously rolling ideas around in his head before rephrasing.

“Did you quit smoking?”

Ogura fights the urge to preen because Tanaka’s already adapting his mannerisms, even if he hates the subject he’s chosen to do so for.

“Yes,” Ogura says simply, tapping his fingers on the counter. “Any other questions?”

Tanaka’s eyebrows furrow together.

“But...” He starts before catching himself, clearly trying to figure out what exactly he wants to ask. “You weren’t smoking before. But then you were smoking in the hospital again?”

“I haven’t made up my mind on if I regret that or not,” Ogura confesses. “On one hand, it means I have to go through withdrawal again. On the other hand, it means I’ve established that I could if I wanted to.”

Tanaka still looks like Ogura just declared he was walking on the moon earlier that day.

“But... you loved smoking,” Tanaka finally says, and Ogura lets out a sigh, holding up his left hand.

“And every single fucking time I put a cigarette in my lips, I remember that I tossed my dignity away for a smoke that I didn’t even get. What kind of a fuck up am I if all it takes to get me to spill my guts is one goddamn cigarette? So I’m done. No more smoking.”

There’s anger coiling in his gut, and he does his best to stamp down on it. Even if it’s anger at himself, he doubts Tanaka would respond well to anger.

“Well - I know it wouldn’t really mean anything coming from me, but... well, I’m proud of you,” Tanaka says, looking increasingly awkward as he says it. After a moment, he quickly turns away, his ears going pink as he starts to pick through the food.

“Well, thanks,” Ogura says, struggling to figure out how he’s even supposed to respond to that. 

“I’ll have dinner ready in a half hour, alright?” Tanaka says, clearly trying to ease the tension, and Ogura nods quickly, before realizing that Tanaka isn’t actually looking at him.

“I’ll go check out my lab, then. I’ll be back down soon,” he says, heading up the stairs and leaving Tanaka to cook.

Chapter Text

Ogura stares down at his office desk, his face twisted with disgust. Six months of dust had built up, the room as untouched as he’d requested it. The entire place was like a time capsule, a slice of his life six months earlier preserved in time.

He sort of wishes it wasn’t. Everything about it is uncomfortable, a reminder of what almost was. The paper on top is labelled contributing factors to IBM shape and the one under it is labelled early IBM development, and neither of them seem important at all.

Ogura lets out a grunt as he glances around, utterly at a loss for where to go and what to do. The idea of cleaning the room is ridiculous. He doesn't have the supplies for it for one, and he’s never done anything so ridiculous either.

Instead he settles for shuffling around, collecting all his papers into a filthy stack and shoving them in a drawer.

Maybe it’s time to let the cleaning service go through his lab, he decides.

He spends the next twenty minutes purging the room of a selection of dusty smoking paraphernalia, with ash trays and lighters and boxes of cigarettes all joining each other in the trash. He considers burning it, and then decides that Mai would have his hide if he did.

He washes his hands until they’re red and then heads back down the stairs.

“My lab is filthy,” he mutters as he joins Tanaka in the kitchen. “They weren’t supposed to clean it, so they just... didn’t clean it the six months I was gone.” Well, almost six months.

“Dinner’s almost ready,” Tanaka says quietly, obviously nervous as he sets out the food.

“What’d you make?” Ogura asks, wondering if Tanaka even has a plan. Maybe he just threw things together.

It’d still be better than whatever he was going to make.

“Three-pepper sesame beef,” Tanaka explains, “Beef with Szechuan sauce, bell peppers, roasted sesame oil, sesame seeds, and rice on the side.”

Tanaka scowls a bit as he says the word rice, and Ogura raises an eyebrow.

“Is the rice not good, I’m guessing?”

“It’s... alright,” Tanaka admits, glancing at the rice on the side. “I’d have picked something better.”

Ogura lets out a laugh, clapping him on the shoulder as he reaches over to steal a bowl of the stuff, grabbing a fork and starting to eat.

“Well, you can order some good stuff, then.”

Tanaka spins, scowling at him, and jabs a finger at the table.

“Don’t just eat. You’re supposed to sit down.”

Ogura’s used to eating on his own, which means eating how he wants, but after a moment he shifts over, grabbing a seat at the table.

Tanaka joins him in a moment, taking a seat across the table.

“I couldn’t find chopsticks, so hopefully forks are okay,” Tanaka says, obviously nervous.

“You couldn’t find chopsticks because chopsticks are terrible,” Ogura huffs. “They’re good for next to nothing. A fork is superior in every way.”

Tanaka returns his scowl with one of his own.

“Chopsticks are fine,” he insists.

“You’re just used to them. They’re still terrible. Eat with a fork for a year and then try to go back to chopsticks.”

Tanaka doesn’t try and argue the point any further, starting to eat properly... with his fork.

Ogura’s mostly done when he decides that the rest of the day needs some kind of planning.

“We can go over and see Angela and get your hair done, if you’re up to it?” Ogura offers, and Tanaka shifts in his chair.

“Would that be interrupting...?” He asks, and Ogura shakes his head.

“She’s a housewife who cuts everyone’s hair, she’d probably be delighted to have someone around who isn’t the kids.”

As it turns out, she is. She chatters happily away at Tanaka, even after Ogura explains twice that Tanaka has no idea what she’s saying. Rather than just having Ogura translate, she instead engages Tanaka in an elaborate game of charades to determine how short he wants it cut.

Ogura’s slightly alarmed when Tanaka keeps gesturing shorter.

“You’re signalling you want it really short, right?” Ogura asks, and Tanaka nods his head, requiring Angela to jerk the scissors back to avoid cutting him.

“Head still,” Ogura chides. “You’re sure?”

“It’s hard to take care of,” Tanaka admits. “And it seems like it would be good for a fresh start. To make me look different.”

It’s hard not to read between the lines and realize he means to make me not look like I do on TV.

Ogura shrugs, glancing to Angela and giving her a little nod.

Watching Tanaka’s hair come off is slightly heart wrenching, but when all is said and done, it really isn’t bad. It makes him look a bit younger, and a lot less like a forty year old man trying to look intimidating. He’s softer around the edges with his hair cut short, and Ogura catches himself running his fingers along Tanaka’s scalp before he can stop himself.

“Your hair is soft,” Ogura notes, and Tanaka goes pink.

“Ogura?”

Ogura jerks his hand back when he realizes that he’s literally rubbing the man’s scalp, turning away quickly and going pink.

If there weren’t rumors about them before, there certainly were going to be.

Chapter Text

“It looks good on you,” Ogura insists on the walk home, interrupting Tanaka’s incessant worrying.

“It’s never been short before,” Tanaka mutters. “I used to wear it long to hide -”

Ogura squints at him when he cuts himself off.

“To hide what?”

Tanaka looks obviously uncomfortable, but considering that the subject is obviously something physical, Ogura feels no shame in poking at it.

“My forehead,” Tanaka admits. “Because it was big, and kids teased me at school.”

Ogura simply rolls his eyes.

“And let me guess, when you grew your hair out to hide it, they teased you for having long hair? Kids are vicious. If it’s not one thing, it’s another.”

“You too?” Tanaka asks, glancing at Ogura. “What for?”

Ogura wonders if he’s asking just to make conversation, or if he’s genuinely unclear as to what Ogura would be bullied for.

“The fact that I was a flaming homo and everyone knew it was a pretty big one.”

Tanaka chokes, and Ogura realizes he’s trying to cover a laugh.

“You can laugh, you know. It was intended to be funny,” Ogura says as he punches in the key, letting them in and closing the door behind him.

“We’ve got... I don’t know, an hour? Two? And then I guess we could go to bed. This is normally the point where I’d vanish off to a lab, but Mai’s locked me out so that isn’t an option,” Ogura admits, kicking off his shoes and wandering into the living room.

“Some TV, maybe?”

Tanaka frowns a little bit at that.

“I’m not going to understand anyway, so it’s whatever you want to do.”

Ogura grabs the remote, flicking the TV on and flipping through the channels, squinting at the guide.

“There was one, actually. I watched it back when Nagai was found out. Mostly news, but there’s a few dramas and things,” he says, finally finding it in the middle of a truly awful Japanese drama.

Ogura flops down on the couch and kicks his feet up, resting them on the coffee table as he settles in to watch. Tanaka hesitates for a moment, then sits down beside him to watch.

It’s relaxing, if a bit boring, and the drama is so bland and uninteresting that Ogura has to fight the urge to pass out, even if Tanaka seems genuinely interested.

And then the hour is over, and the news comes on.

Ogura slaps the pause button so fast that he doesn’t even have time to think about it, and Tanaka glances at him, confused.

“Tana- Kouji,” Ogura says, reminding himself for the thousandth time that it’s Kouji, not Tanaka. “Let me be the first to clarify that what works for some people to recover doesn’t work for others. The news is going to talk about Satou, so if you prefer to avoid it, we can. We’ll watch something else.”

Tanaka squirms in place, and Ogura tries not to stare as he tugs at his lower lip.

“Do - do you want to watch it?” Tanaka asks, sneaking a look at him.

“What I want doesn’t matter here, Kouji. What matters is if you think it’ll help you to see it or not.”

Tanaka frowns a bit at that, still tugging at his lip for a moment before dropping his hand.

Nervous tick, Ogura decides. Nervous tick that only seems to pop up if he mentions Satou.

“You were a victim too,” Kouji says, and Ogura bristles immediately. He doesn’t want to be a victim.

“I was there a month, you were there ten years,” Ogura snaps, his voice more harsh then he intended. Tanaka flinches back ever so slightly, and Ogura tries to reign in his annoyance. “It’s not comparable.”

“Just because I was longer doesn’t mean everyone who suffered less doesn’t matter,” Tanaka insists. “That means you too.”

A part of Ogura wonders if he shouldn’t be proud of Tanaka for standing up to him, but he pushes that thought down, still too irritated that Tanaka called him a victim.

“You’re beating around the bush, Tanaka. I just need to know if you want to watch the news.”

Tanaka squirms a bit more, and then finally nods, reaching up to tug at his hair before finding his hair literally missing.

He drops his hand again.

“I don’t want to not know. I don’t want to... to get caught off guard,” Tanaka says, and Ogura nods, leaning back in the chair and letting out a little sigh.

Ogura unpauses it and lets the news play.

For the most part, it’s stuff he already knows. He really isn’t that surprised that the top story is still about Satou. Satou’s a scar, a wound on Japan, and almost every single news story seems related to be him in some way. Preparations for the emperor’s funeral. People protesting and demanding proof that Satou’s actually dead. Discussions by the European Union about the validity of the claims that Japan has discovered a method to kill ajin.

Ogura starts to zone out, bored out of his skull, but Tanaka simply leans forward, listening with rapt attention.

“He was right,” Tanaka says suddenly, and Ogura drags himself back to focus to see Tanaka looking upset as he watches the TV. The story is almost over, but from what little he watches Ogura gets it’s something about new anti-ajin measures.

“Who was right?” He asks, hoping that the answer isn’t ‘Satou’.

It isn’t.

“Akiyama.”

It takes Ogura a second to process just who Akiyama is.

“The buff guy we pulled out of a barrel?”

Tanaka shoots him a look, and Ogura can’t tell if it’s because he didn’t remember Akiyama’s name, or because he just described him as ‘the buff guy we pulled out of a barrel’.

“He said - he said exactly that, basically. When we caught him. He said that if we followed Satou, people would hunt ajin down.”

Akiyama was exactly right, but just saying that obviously isn’t going to help.

“You didn’t know what kind of person Satou was. You wanted to believe in him, because he saved you,” Ogura says simply. It is simple. “Being trusting isn’t a bad thing, Tanaka.”

Tanaka is obviously less than convinced, glancing at the news as it carries on into slightly less Satou subjects.

“It is when you end up helping a maniac murder people,” Tanaka says, his voice pained.

“This is normally the point where someone would tell you that Stockholm syndrome is a thing and that people sympathize with their captors all the time, Kouji, but you don’t even have that. You were tricked. You believed he wanted what was best for all ajin, and when you realized he was lying, you defected. You helped beat him. I can’t even say you could have done better because you did the absolute best you fucking could have in that situation. You didn’t have any perspective because they’d locked you up for ten years, and it’s no one’s fault but their own.”

He’s still bitter and angry, even if he knows that innocent people did die, but it’s hard to separate them from the endless parade of people who really did deserve it as far as Ogura’s concerned.

A lot of people deserve a whole lot worse then what they got, in his opinion.

Tanaka’s face twists with worry and concern, his hands folding together and then unfolding at a rapid pace.

“I still did it. I still helped him,” Tanaka protests.

“And there’s still a hundred or more people out there who were involved in torturing you. Where’s their punishment?”

Tanaka’s distraught, but Ogura has no intention of letting up.

“They didn’t know. We got all the ones who knew, all the ones who were involved.”

“No, you got the people in charge. What about all the people who helped?”

He doesn’t actually know if they got all the people in charge, but he can take a firm guess about how Satou works.

“They didn’t do anything,” Tanaka protests. “They didn’t know what they were doing.”

“Just like you,” Ogura snaps back quickly, and Tanaka goes abruptly silent, his own logic twisted against him.

“It’s not the same,” he finally mutters quietly.

“It is the same,” Ogura retorts. “It’s the exact same. You both did things on behalf of others without fully understanding what you were doing, because the truth was hidden from you.”

“I had a gun,” Tanaka insists. “I shot people. They just stood by.”

Ogura feels like he’s arguing in circles, but he’s always been good at arguing in circles, so he keeps it up.

“You had a gun because he gave you a gun and told you to point it. Satou’s a master manipulator, Tanaka. He’s been doing it for years, since long before you. He’s had years and years of practice on just how to make someone pull the trigger, and you can’t be blamed for that.”

Tanaka goes silent, shifting nervously where he sits but making no further arguments.

“This isn’t your fault,” Ogura repeats, his voice soft. “People are going to blame you because they don’t understand, because it’s hard--maybe even impossible--for someone to understand just how bad what you went through is. The scale of it is just too big for most people to get. But even if they don’t get it, it doesn’t change the fact that you rebelling--that you offering to save me, that you fighting back against Satou--was a bigger act of bravery then anything that any of them could ever do.”

Ogura means every single word that he says.

There’s a long, long moment of silence, and then Tanaka starts to cry again, desperately trying to hide his face with his hands. It leaks out in fits and starts, tears and sobs escaping despite his obvious attempts to stop them.

“It’s alright,” Ogura says softly, reaching up to pull Tanaka closer. It’s hard going with how tall he is, but Tanaka curls easily against him, burying his face in Ogura’s shoulder as Ogura wraps a hand around his back.

“It’s alright now.”

Chapter Text

Ogura lets Tanaka cry himself into exhaustion, wondering just how many times it’s going to happen. He can’t exactly blame Tanaka for it--the man’s certainly overdue as far as crying is concerned--but it’s still a bit exhausting.

He waits until he’s stopped and then helps him sit up, nudging him towards the stairs. It’s only eight--if that--but it’s obvious that Tanaka’s exhausted, and he goes to bed without protest.

Ogura stays up a bit longer, his biological clock already mostly reset. He spends his time in his lab, making notes and trying very, very hard not to think about everything that just happened.

The less he thinks about it, the better.

He writes out the entire process for just how to kill an ajin, and then seals it in the lab’s safe, retiring to bed himself.

He wakes not even six hours later, dragging himself out of bed and into the shower. It feels good to be home, good to be going through his usual routines.

He makes a point of checking in on Tanaka, cracking the door open close to six in the morning to make sure he’s not already awake.

He isn’t, but he obviously should be. His face is pale as he twists around in the bed, obviously having a nightmare.

Ogura sits down on the bed beside him, grabbing Tanaka’s shoulder and giving him a light shake.

“Tanaka, it’s just a dream,” he says softly, shaking more firmly when Tanaka shows no sign of waking.

Tanaka makes a noise, soft and afraid, and then rolls away, burying his head under his arms. He’s obviously at least partially afraid, and even through his pajamas Ogura can see his muscles relaxing.

He waits until he’s sure Tanaka’s back asleep before he pulls away, closing the door behind him and leaving Tanaka to get the last few hours of sleep he so desperately needs.

Even without access to the lab, there’s still a million and one things Ogura needs to do. Everything he left behind when he first went to Japan is still waiting for him, and he has to do it all at once if he wants to get caught up.

He trims his own hair--something he’s always done, and does just fine--and then leaves a message for the cleaning service to have them clean through the lab for once. He stops by the store (already open despite the early hour) and orders more food than he thinks he’ll ever need.

It’s close to seven when he finds Mai in the hallway, and he suspects by the way she scowls that she’s only just woken up.

“Ogura,” she says simply, and he gives her a mock salute in return. “Morgan’s going to stop by your house around ten to pick up Tanaka. He needs to start English lessons--getting him able to communicate with someone that isn’t you and Morgan needs to be top priority.”

Ogura scowls almost immediately.

“He’s not taking lessons with the other three, is he-” He starts to protest, only to have Mai cut him off.

“Yes he is, and Morgan’s going to be overseeing to make sure they all behave. The department isn’t going to pay double, and it’ll work better if he’s practicing with someone else who speaks Japanese.”

Nothing about the idea of Tanaka learning English with the very people he shoved in barrels seems like a good idea to Ogura.

“Either way, I have a meeting I’m supposed to be in. I need to see you around ten as well--we have things to talk about,” Mai says, brushing past him as she goes. Ogura considers going after her to ask what things she’s talking about, and then decides he’ll find out soon enough.

Instead he returns to the lab, knocking at the door until one of the interns answers.

“You aren’t supposed to be here,” are the first words out of his mouth, and Ogura rolls his eyes, jabbing his finger towards where his desk is.

“There’s a box on it. It’s got a bloody notebook in it. Get it for me and I won’t be here,” he says firmly.

The intern does as he asks, even if he spends the entire trip to Ogura’s desk glancing at Ogura as if expecting he’s going to lunge inside.

Only once the box is safely in his hands does Ogura turn, carrying it home to store in his lab’s safe.

It’s eight fifteen when he finally goes to wake Tanaka, finding the man already half awake when he opens the door.

“Breakfast in thirty, unless you want to cook something,” Ogura says, half hoping that Tanaka does want to cook something. Tanaka lets out a muffled little noise, lifting his head as he yawns.

“I’ll cook. Just give me a bit of time,” Tanaka says as he pushes himself upright.

Ogura excuses himself to wait for breakfast.

Tanaka’s as good as his word, and he’s downstairs in under ten minutes, his hair already mostly dry.

“It’s easier to take care of like this,” he mentions as he digs some eggs out of a basket, starting to cook.

Ogura bites his tongue before he informs Tanaka that it looks good on him again.

“Morgan’s going to come over at ten, they want you to start taking English lessons right away,” he says instead, watching Tanaka’s face for a reaction.

Tanaka doesn’t seem bothered by the idea at all.

“I probably should. Not being able to make myself understood is... not very good,” Tanaka says quietly as he dishes out the food, setting a plate in front of Ogura.

This time there’s a fork waiting, and Ogura keeps his smirk to himself as he grabs it.

“Do you remember me waking you up this morning?” Ogura asks, unclear if Tanaka even woke up enough to remember him.

"You mean just now...?”

Ogura shakes his head.

“Before that,” he insists. “Two hours ago. You were having a nightmare.”

Tanaka seems to suddenly forget how he’s supposed to properly use a fork, pushing it around his plate as he considers how to answer.

“Probably.”

Probably is not the answer Ogura is expecting. Probably barely even makes any sense in context.

“Probably?” He asks, confused beyond reason.

“I was probably having a nightmare,” Tanaka says simply, finally managing to get a bit of egg onto his fork.

“What-” Ogura starts, and then his brain screeches to a halt. What were you having a nightmare about is possibly the stupidest question he’s ever thought. There’s really only one thing that Tanaka might be having a nightmare about.

“Do you always have nightmares?” Ogura asks, angry with himself for having taken so long to realize it.

Tanaka doesn’t answer. Instead he simply nods, shovelling the remains of his eggs around the plate.

“Well fuck,” Ogura says simply, still irritated with himself. “You need therapy. I don’t even know how to fix that, I don’t even know how to address the sort of nightmares you must be having.”

Tanaka glances up at that, scowling at him.

You need therapy too,” Tanaka insists.

Ogura opens his mouth to protest, to snap back that he doesn’t need therapy, and then he closes his mouth. Arguing with Tanaka is pointless.

“Fine,” he says simply. “We’ll both go. Mai will have a field day, she’s been bothering me since the day I arrived to go.”

“She thought you needed therapy before...?” Tanaka asks, his brows furrowing with confusion.

Ogura waves his fork in the air for emphasis.

“Pretty much since the day I arrived. Even without my family situation or the fact that I relocated to a brand new country, it’s pretty much mandatory for the scientists here.”

“...Because?”

“Because I spent most of my early days watching people get murdered over and over.”

He regrets saying it so flippantly the moment he sees the way Tanaka’s face tense, abruptly nervous.

Consensual murder,” Ogura insists quickly. “We did a lot of experimenting with the ajin in question being completely on board. They’re sedated, heavy pain killers, they go to sleep and wake up hours later to a team of happy scientists. It isn’t anything like what you went through.”

Tanaka squirms in his seat, even if he seems a bit less tense after the explanation.

“That was what those videos were...?”

Ogura’s surprised Tanaka’s even aware of the videos, considering they came out while he was imprisoned, but the fact that he was aware makes his decision to defect--to go to America, a place he no doubt believed tortured ajin--that much more insane.

“If I went and squinted at them I could probably tell you which ajin was taking donation duty that day. It was a huge fiasco when they got leaked--the guy who leaked them is basically going to be in prison forever, because leaking them all put every single person on base at risk. The guy was a nutjob, had this giant fifty page manifesto about how ajin being on earth meant the end of the world was nigh.”

Ogura has to fight the urge to growl at the thought, his body language obviously agitated.

“Oh,” Tanaka says quietly.

Ogura does his best to change the topic of conversation.

“There’s going to be new food coming in shortly, if you want to help me load the cupboards, and by the time that’s done, it’ll be time for your lessons,” he says. Tanaka seems fine with the change of topic, nodding as he leans down to finish the rest of his food before there’s work to be done.

Chapter Text

Ogura waits to leave the house until Tanaka is safely in Morgan’s hands, and it’s only when they’re out of sight that he closes the door and heads to find Mai.

She’s not in any of the labs, and when he finds her in her office, Ogura decides it doesn’t bode well.

“You wanted to see me?” He asks in his very best professional voice.

It doesn’t sound professional at all.

“Sit,” Mai says, gesturing to the seat in front of her as she flicks through the papers stacked on her desk. “We have stuff to talk about.”

Stuff sounds unusually vague for Mai.

“Stuff?”

Mai flicks her finger towards the chair, and Ogura finally takes his seat.

“Stuff?” Ogura repeats.

“Multiple topics. How is Tanaka doing?”

“Fine. He has nightmares. I told him he needed therapy and he managed to worm the topic around so that it was about how I needed therapy, so he’s apparently good enough.”

Mai flicks her eyes up from the paper in front of her, squinting at Ogura.

“And you agreed?”

Ogura rolls his eyes.

“Yes. I can hardly send him off and not go myself.”

Mai stares at him silently for a long, long moment.

“You’ve got it bad,” she finally mutters to herself, glancing back down to the paper. “I’ll make a note and book you both sessions. I’ll have to figure out which therapist is going to be the best for dealing with his level of extreme trauma. We might have to bring in a specialized therapist, which means more paperwork.”

Every person they bring in is another risk, and Ogura’s happy she’s even willing to take it. The average therapist simply isn’t going to be prepared for the level of shit he’s gone through, let alone Tanaka.

“You wanted to talk?” He says, doing his best to drag the conversation around to the actual point.

Mai lets out a sigh, setting down the papers in her hands before leaning back in her chair.

“We have two things to talk about. The first is your method for killing an ajin, and what exactly we’re going to do about it. Japan already claims they have it--did you give it to them?”

Ogura lets out a snort.

“I’m not an idiot, Mai.”

Mai gives him a wry smile in return.

“I assume they have Satou’s body, though? Is there any way they could figure it out from that?”

“Doubtful. If the entire team here had the body and a few months they might figure it out, but Japan’s entire ajin program was eviscerated when Satou got free. Their talent was awful to begin with, and now they’re down to their D tier scientists. They’d be lucky to discover gravity.”

Mai doesn’t laugh at his joke, but Ogura does.

“Several members of the UN security council are already pushing Japan to release the information. If we’re going to use it to get rid of Blout, it’s quite possible someone will figure out where that information came from, considering your return to America was newsworthy. Is it something just anyone could do? Would it pose a risk for outing ajin...?”

Ogura isn’t even surprised that the first thing Mai wanted to do with the information is get rid of him, but everything about the situation makes him wary.

“There’s no risk to it. Even in a facility like this with an ajin restrained, it would still take a lot of preparation to manage. It’s really not plausible for the average human being.”

“And you did this out of a random safehouse?” Mai asks, raising an eyebrow.

I am a genius, not an average human being. And as ridiculous as it sounds, I had Satou playing along. I don’t think he thought I could actually manage it, but he thought it was fun to watch me struggle.”

“Well, considering it took a month, I’m sure he got his money’s worth. We need to decide if we’re going to keep it under wraps and let Japan struggle with it, or if we’re going to publicize it. I can’t force you to make a choice either way, so I leave it up to you. I’ll support either decision.”

Part of Ogura wishes she’d just demanded he make up his mind. As eager as he is to see the fruit of his labour getting published--because as much as he enjoyed joking about the nobel prize, he’s pretty sure it has an actual shot at it--the idea of literally getting the prize for discovering a way to murder someone seems a bit awkward.

“It’s a significant development in the way we understand ajin,” chimes Mai, practically reading his mind.

Ogura scowls at her.

“I want to talk to Tanaka about it.”

Mai raises an eyebrow at that, obviously surprised.

“Tanaka? He isn’t exactly part of the science team, Ogura.”

“He understands at least part of the process, since he was involved in helping to develop it. If anyone is in the position to make a moral decision about the ability to murder an ajin, it would be him.”

Mai lets out a small little snort, and then leans forward, digging through the papers to grab a small photograph, which she tosses over to Ogura.

“Look.”

The photo is of a girl in a school uniform, probably no more than six or seven years old. She looks Japanese, but Ogura can’t tell if that’s simply his own bias or not.

He hands the photo back almost immediately.

“If you’re going to tell me Japan has a new ajin they just discovered, I don’t care. You couldn’t pay me to go back to that hellhole.”

“She isn’t from Japan,” Mai insists, sliding the photo back towards him. “Look again.”

He does, but there isn’t much to see as far as he’s concerned. She looks like every other Japanese eight year old. Same brown eyes, same black hair that goes just past her shoulders. Her face is a bit square, but there’s no other distinguishing features.

He hands the photo back again.

“Am I supposed to know her? Because I don’t.”

Mai gives him a wry smile as she leans back in the chair, leaving the photo on the desk.

“You don’t see any familiarity? She’s Tanaka Kouji’s sister.”

Ogura feels like someone just shoved their whole arm down his throat. He immediately jerks forward, snatching up the photo and squinting at it again. Even so, he can’t really see any similarity--he has no idea what Tanaka’s parents look like, so it’s impossible for him to really trace it well.

“His sister? And she’s -”

He doesn’t need Mai to answer the question. he can certainly do the math himself.

“They had her after they arrived?” He asks, glancing up at Mai again.

She nods.

“About a year after they arrived. She’s seven and a half. She came up when we ran them through basic security screening. They agreed to come later this week, but the fact that she exists throws an obvious wrench in things.”

Any chance there was of them moving into the facility to support Tanaka is gone in an instant, and Ogura nods once.

“We have no idea what she knows about him, if she even knows he exists. It’s possible they tried to leave that part of their life behind, rather than living with the open wound of having a son they’d never see again. There’s no telling how he’ll react either. He might very well feel replaced.”

“They did replace him,” Ogura says bitterly, and Mai frowns at him.

“They wanted a child. They had a child. They lost the child, effectively. As far as they knew they’d never get to see him again, so they had another one. They probably thought she was a blessing, considering how old they were when they had her.”

Ogura lets out a groan as he leans back in his chair, tipping his head back until he stares at the ceiling.

“Fuuuuuuck,” Ogura mutters, rubbing at his forehead with the tips of his fingers. Everything has suddenly become a thousand times more difficult.

“I figured it would be better to give you advanced warning, so that you can warn him, rather than having it interrupt a touching family reunion,” Mai says simply.

Ogura can’t help but agree, even if he doesn’t like it.

“I’ll talk to him,” he finally says, letting out a loud sigh.

“Then get to it. I’m sure you have plenty to do, he should be back in a few hours.”

Ogura takes his sweet time getting out of the chair, and he takes even longer actually leaving the office. He feels like someone just gave him cement shoes, and the thought that he’s going to have to wait for Tanaka to get back only makes it even worse.

Chapter Text

Everything about the situation screams problem. They just keep stacking up, an endless parade of issues winding their way through his life. He doesn’t even know where to start with Tanaka, so instead he starts with other things.

Mai was right--he does have a lot to do.

He finishes restocking his cupboards around the same time that the cleaning service arrive--two women wearing honest to god surgical masks because he’s warned them about the dust.

They need it, and it seems to take forever them to clean just his lab.

Ogura spends his time in the living room, fighting the urge to smoke. It’s always been his go-to, always been the thing that’ll calm him down, but he doubts a cigarette between his fingers will actually help him any.

Not anymore.

The thought of actually smoking turns his stomach. All he can think of is Satou, the sight of Satou smoking his cigarette burned into his brain.

Satou’s ruined his FK’s for him, and Ogura doesn’t think he’ll ever forgive him for it.

He heads to the bathroom and locks himself in, picking over his wounds as he does so. The cigarette burn is mostly healed, but it’s going to leave a nasty scar. The bite, at the very least, won’t scar nearly so much. It’ll still be there--still a constant, irritating presence in his life--but it’s not nearly as obvious, half hidden under most of his shirts.

He doesn’t think anyone’s going to ask, anyway.

He finds a sick sort of amusement in the fact that his neck--such a constant focus over the last month--is completely healed. He’s always been pale and always stayed out of the sun, so the extra pale strip of flesh once hidden by the collar is in good company.

His fingers, of course, have the worst of it. He carefully peels off the bandages to check, wiggling his remaining fingers and remembering that the Doctor had insisted he get someone to help him through physical therapy.

Oops.

It takes some doing to rewrap his hand with fresh bandages, but when he does he feels a bit better. The cleaning service is already gone--apparently left while he was in the bathroom--so instead he calls Mai and makes her find someone to deal with his hand.

Then he waits.

There’s a lot of waiting to do.

The sun’s already starting to dip when he hears someone fumbling the door, an irritating beep beep beep indicating someone’s punched the code in wrong.

He saves Tanaka the pain and opens the door himself.

He isn’t expecting to see Morgan there. He also isn’t expecting to see Tanaka with what appears to be a rapidly blooming black eye.

“Woah there,” Morgan cuts in, holding a hand up. “Calm down.”

Ogura isn’t even aware that he’s raised his hands until he looks down and realizes that he has, that he’s simply balled them into fists and prepared himself to attack even though there’s no target to speak of.

He calms down, or at least he makes an attempt to.

“What happened?” He says instead, but it doesn’t take a genius to figure out exactly what happened.

“It isn’t a big deal,” Tanaka cuts in. “I’m going to go reset it,” he says, brushing past Ogura before he can even protest.

Ogura lets out an angry sigh as he steps out of the doorway to let Morgan in.

“Are you going to tell me what happened?”

Morgan lets out a snort of his own.

“Normally I’d say that’d be up to him to say, but considering I had to stop him from resetting himself in the classroom, I guess I get to handle this one. You can probably guess--Akiyama slugged him in the face.”

Ogura considers slugging Akiyama in the face.

“Tanaka says it’s fine. They made up, essentially. I’m not entirely clear on their past interactions, but from what I got out of it, punching him made it even.”

Ogura scowls even harder.

“How is that even? Because Tanaka was involved in Satou, that means he should get assaulted?”

His voice sounds even angrier than he expected, and Morgan raises his hands.

“I didn’t say it was fair, I’m just passing on what they said. You’d have to talk to Tanaka. He seemed fine with it--Akiyama’s got a hell of a punch, but Tanaka barely even seemed to register it.”

Ogura wonders if Akiyama realizes just how high Tanaka’s pain tolerance is, and then decides he’s far too stupid for that.

He gets out a frustrated sigh as he forces his hands to unclench, glancing up the stairs.

“I’m going to go check on him,” he insists, and Morgan gives him a little nod before excusing himself. Ogura hasn’t even closed the door behind him when he hears Tanaka’s feet at the top of the stairs, and he turns, unable to keep his scowl in check.

“You just let him punch you?”

“It made him feel better. I didn’t mind anyway,” Tanaka says as he comes down the stairs. There’s no blood on him, but there’s also no sign of a bruise either. He looks completely healthy, which is exactly the way every freshly dead ajin  looks.

Ogura doesn’t let that stop his scowl.

“Don’t just let people punch you,” he insists.

“It was just the once,” Tanaka insists, ducking into the kitchen and rifling through the fridge. “And now we’re even. He hasn’t seen his family in six months, and they might not even get to come here for another month still.”

Ogura doesn’t get how any of that gives him the right to slug Tanaka.

“And I offered,” Tanaka insists. “Because he was angry, and it made it hard to focus.”

“You offered to let him punch you?” Ogura says, burying his face in his hands. Everything about the day continues to slide from bad to worse.

“It’s not a big deal,” Tanaka insists again.

“It should be,” Ogura insists. “You shouldn’t just... let someone hurt you like that. At least try and worry about yourself.”

Everything about the situation bothers him, even if it obviously doesn’t bother Tanaka. The idea of Akiyama punching Tanaka in the face for any reason bothers him for reasons he can’t even properly work out.

Tanaka isn’t bothered though, and he raises his eyebrows for a moment, staring down at Ogura as Ogura fumes.

“I’m going to go make dinner,” he says simply, turning to flick on the stove.

Ogura slinks his way out of the kitchen to sulk.

Chapter Text

It’s hard to say just what it is about the situation that bothers him. Tanaka isn’t bothered, and he’s sure that if it had happened a year ago, he wouldn’t have been bothered either.

A part of it, he decides, is that Tanaka doesn’t care. The man has no self preservation instinct, no desire to protect himself. It’s above and beyond what a normal ajin has, because most ajin would at least avoid pain.

He doesn’t even think Tanaka feels any pain.

He isn’t even sure if Tanaka feels anything at all.

“Do you have sensation in your body?” Ogura yells from the living room, and there’s the sound of something getting dropped before Tanaka peeks his head around the corner.

“What?”

“Can you feel it if someone pokes you? Or is it all dead?”

Tanaka looks beyond confused.

“I... yeah, I can still feel it if you poke me,” he says quietly, glancing down at his own arm as if wondering if he missed one of those pokes.

“I didn’t poke you,” Ogura clarifies. “I’m just trying to figure something out.”

“Trying to figure what out?” Tanaka asks, but Ogura waves him off until Tanaka gives up and ducks back into the kitchen to cook.

Ogura spends his time trying to work out how it even works--how Tanaka can just ignore the pain like that--before deciding that it has to be entirely mental. Mind over matter taken to the most extreme degree.

“Ogura?”

It takes him a second to realize that Tanaka is standing over him where he’s sprawled on the couch, and he’s obviously called him more than once.

“Huh?”

“Foods ready,” Tanaka says, his brows furrowed with worry. “You weren’t answering.”

“I get like that,” Ogura admits. “Just poke me if I do it, physical contact takes me out of it.”

“Do you get like that often?” Tanaka asks as he steps back, letting Ogura get up off the couch before heading to the table to eat.

“More often than not, yeah.”

The food is as good as it was the day before, even if Ogura can only taste bits of it, and he decides he should probably vocalize that, even if it’s not his first instinct to do so.

“This is good,” he says, which has the immediate effect of making Tanaka’s entire face go pink.

It’s a hell of an overreaction for such a mild comment.

“Has no one ever told you that your cooking tastes good before?” Ogura asks, squinting at him and mentally running down the list.

“Well, Satou-” Tanaka starts, and Ogura cuts in to speed the conversation along.

“Doesn’t eat. And Okuyama probably didn’t eat with you or comment at all. Takahashi wasn’t the type... didn’t Gen?”

“He did, but I always felt like he was just saying it to be polite.”

“And you don’t think I’m saying it to be polite?”

Tanaka gives him a look.

“My English isn’t very good, but I’m pretty sure you say the word fuck around people you shouldn’t, so... no. If you said it, you meant it. You don’t say things you don’t mean.”

Ogura thinks Tanaka is giving him way too much credit.

“I suppose that should be flattering to hear, but you think too highly of me. I say plenty of things I don’t mean, and I’ll lie out my ass if it benefits me. Hell, I lied to your face when I told you to go get... what was it, a stainless steel syringe?”

Tanaka’s face goes a little bit pinker at that.

“It was for my own good,” Tanaka says quietly.

“It was what I thought was your own good,” Ogura clarifies. “Which might not always be your own good.”

“I don’t see the difference,” Tanaka admits, which really just twists the knife.

“That’s my point,” Ogura says, jabbing his fork towards Tanaka. “What I think is good for you, and what you think is good for you might not be the same thing. You need to be able to make your own choices.”

Tanaka frowns at that, and it occurs to Ogura that he probably hasn’t ever made his own choices. Not really. First his parents, then the government, then Satou, and now him.

He’s just the latest in a long line.

“We’re going to get you to make your own choices,” Ogura says in the silence. “Starting with your room. You probably want to decorate it. I’ll find you some stuff and you can pick what you want. New sheets? Something for the walls?”

Tanaka looks like Ogura just asked him to explain the nature of the universe.

“Ah... Anything’s fine?” He ventures, which is the exact wrong thing to say.

“Anything is not fine,” Ogura insists, pausing to shovel some food into his mouth before swallowing it down. He has a hard time having a conversation while eating, but he’s not going to let it just drop.

“You must have a favorite color?” Ogura insists.

Tanaka simply shakes his head.

“A favorite anything?”

Tanaka gives another shake of his head.

“I don’t really... pick favorites,” he adds.

“Then pick one. It doesn’t have to be meaningful. Just pick a color, and I’ll get you some stuff for your room in that color. So that way it’ll be your room, not just a room.”

It’s not the conversation he’s supposed to be having, but he figures it’s a conversation that needs to happen anyway.

Tanaka’s eyes wander a bit--which means he’s thinking--and then they snap back to Ogura’s face.

“Red?”

He doesn’t sound certain, but Ogura simply acts like he is.

“Red it is. Red sheets are a bad plan, but I’ll get you some red stuff.”

Tanaka squints at him for a moment, then finally nods.

“Okay,” he says, obviously considering the entire thing over and done with.

Ogura glances back down to his plate, his appetite gone, but he forces himself to finish it off anyway.

Chapter Text

The moment that food’s done, Ogura knows he’s going to have to bring the conversation around to more serious matters. He stays where he is, seated at the table, and waits as Tanaka clears the plates away.

“We need to have another one of those serious talks,” Ogura says, and even from several feet away he can see the way that Tanaka tenses, his entire back going stiff.

He wants to be able to say that it’s not bad, but it kind of is.

“Part of it’s work related. We can do that, alright? You want to sit here, or in the living room?”

Tanaka takes his time before answering, clearing the plates away before nodding towards the entranceway.

“Living room.”

The living room is fine with Ogura, so he picks himself up, heading to the couch and grabbing a seat, sprawling out and letting Tanaka sit where he pleases.

He doesn’t sit beside him--instead he sits in the arm chair, tugging at his lip instinctively.

“You know enough about the method for how to kill an ajin to know the risks--it’s not something the average person on the street is going to be able to do. Japan’s claiming they have it, but they don’t, and all the other countries are scrambling to get it,” Ogura explains, watching Tanaka fidget in place.

There’s really nothing he can say to calm him down, not when he has every reason to be nervous.

“Mai wants to know if I want to publish it. And I want to know if you think I should.”

Tanaka lets go of his lip, glancing up as he does so. He looks confused, and it takes Ogura a moment to realize that he hasn’t quite explained his reasoning.

“There’s really no chance of it being used against just any ajin. The only people who could possibly have it used against them are people who were in situations like yours. People already under the control of large organizations, who might want to kill an ajin for whatever reason. Of all the people I know, you’re the one the most qualified to make that decision--to decide if it’s better for them to have the power to kill them or not.”

Because Tanaka was saved, but he was only saved after years and years of suffering.

He expects Tanaka to take a long time with it, but he doesn’t. It isn’t even a full thirty seconds before he answers, his hands folding together as he squeezes them.

“You should make it public.”

Ogura really hadn’t given much thought to which way Tanaka would swing, but he’s certainly surprised by how fast he decided.

“You’re sure?” He says, and Tanaka nods without any hesitation.

It’s the most conviction he’s seen Tanaka show towards anything.

“Alright. I’ll write it up then, and we’ll test it, and then if it works, we’ll publish the results so people will know.”

Tanaka’s eyes snap up, his entire body tense.

“Test it?”

“It’s a good cause,” Ogura says, his tone darkening. He doesn’t like talking about Blout, but Tanaka deserves an explanation. “One of the ajin on base was a death row inmate before he... well, failed to die. He killed six people before they caught him, and after we confined him, he killed one of our people as well. The entire thing has been an ethical nightmare. How do you take care of someone who can murder you remotely? Do you put people at risk to feed someone who can just die? After he killed one of our own, no one was willing to deal with him, so now he sits in solitary confinement and gets killed every twenty four hours on the dot so he doesn’t suffer too much. Even that’s a bureaucratic nightmare. Putting him down would be the best for everyone, and it’d ease a lot of minds to do so.”

The explanation actually seems to work, and the tension eases out of Tanaka’s shoulders.

“You’re sure it was him?” Tanaka says simply.

“Even assuming we can’t one hundred percent prove he killed the first six that got him on death row, he definitely killed the assistant. We have it on camera. It was a big deal when it happened, and honestly it’s still a pretty big deal now. Any time we have to do anything with him, we need to get an ajin to do it in order to minimize the risk.”

Everything about the situation irritates Ogura, but if he gets to prove his theory by testing it on Blout, then that means at least one good thing will come from him being an ajin.

It still wouldn’t be worth it, though.

“Was that all you wanted to talk to me about?” Tanaka asks, looking a good deal more relaxed.

“No,” Ogura says, bursting Tanaka’s bubble. “I also talked to Mai about your family visiting. They’re going to be coming later this week, most likely. She’s still arranging it.”

Tanaka clearly can’t decide if he wants to be relieved or not.

“That's it?” He says again, his voice absolutely desperate.

He wants Ogura to say that’s it, but that isn’t it, and Ogura can’t bring himself to let Tanaka get blindsided by it down the line.

“Have you thought about your - okay, that’s a stupid question,” Ogura says, pausing to rephrase. “I know you’ve thought about your parents. So I guess the best way to phrase it is... Have you given any - ah, fuck it.”

He can’t find the words. He doesn’t know how to ask, doesn’t know what he’s supposed to say. Beating around the bush has never been easy for him, so he opts to cut straight to the heart of the matter, even though he’s sure it’ll hurt.

“I’m supposed to find a nice way to break it to you so that you aren’t blindsided. You have a sister--she’s like six or seven or something, born and raised in America. I don’t know how much she knows about you or what happened to you, honestly. She won’t be coming for the first meeting, if at all. Government’s pretty wary about letting kids find out about national secrets.”

Tanaka looks like he’s been kicked in the gut, and Ogura doesn’t blame him one bit. A part of him regrets not having thought to have brought the photo, but another part of him worries that would be too much.

“A sister?” Tanaka says softly.

Ogura nods, even if Tanaka isn’t looking at him.

“A bit younger then Ricky. She’s your full blood sister, not half or anything. Mai’s got a picture if you want.”

Tanaka stares at the floor, his mind obviously elsewhere. Ogura doesn’t know what to say to him, doesn’t know what he could possibly say. He can’t begin to imagine what Tanaka’s going through, can’t imagine what he must be thinking.

“You want to talk about it?” He finally asks when the silence weighs a bit too heavily on him.

Tanaka shakes his head.

“I... think I’m going to go to my room. Could I have some time alone?”

The fact that he feels the need to ask is a kick in Ogura’s gut.

“Of course,” Ogura says quickly. “You can have all the time you need. If you need anything, just let me know, alright? Try not to... try not to worry too much, alright? There’s a lot we don’t know about the situation, and I do worry you’re going to fixate on the worst possible scenario.”

Even having said it, he’s sure Tanaka’s still going to fixate on it.

Tanaka stands carefully, not even glancing at Ogura as he heads up the stairs to his room. Ogura’s careful to give him space, even if he wants to simply shove his head in the door and watch to make sure he’s alright.

It’s all too much for one night.

Chapter Text

Ogura spends every waking moment fighting the urge to check on Tanaka. He assumes that at some point Tanaka sleeps, because he doesn’t come out of his room at any point before Ogura falls into his own bed close to four, and he’s still in his room when Ogura gets up only two hours later. 

It’s really hard not to just let himself in.

He spends his time writing his report instead, a detailed explanation of just how to kill an ajin, and the theories behind it. Most of it is stuff he’s already proven just by killing Satou, but other parts are more speculative--the hows and whys. When Tanaka still hasn’t shown up by nine, Ogura sets himself to writing out an explanation for how he figured it all out, referring to his bloody journal as needed.

By eleven, with no sign of Tanaka, Ogura decides he’s not waiting anymore. He heads up the stairs, knocking at Tanaka’s door and starting to count down. He’s waiting thirty seconds, no more.

“Tanaka? I’m going to go pick up lunch, alright? I’ll be back in like 30 minutes,” he calls, leaning closer to the door to hear.

He’s counted to twenty when Tanaka responds.

“I’ll be there,” he says simply, and Ogura scowls at the door. What the hell does that mean? He can’t even tell what Tanaka sounds like through the door. Sad? Upset? Resigned? Angry?

Ogura lets out an irritated sigh and heads down the stairs, letting himself out as he heads back to the base.

Everything about the situation tells him that Tanaka isn’t going to be up for making dinner, so he gets extra, lugging it back to the house and complaining the whole way.

He wants a cigarette, and he’s happy he purged the house of them. If he hadn’t, he’d be tempted to go back, and that’s the last thing he wants.

He’s relieved to spot Tanaka sitting at the table when he gets back, and he wastes no time dropping the bags on the table, digging through it and passing out the food.

No chance of Tanaka doing that either.

“Do you want to talk about it?” He says, hoping that the answer is yes. He can’t stand any more of the awkward silence, can’t stand any more perpetually blank Tanaka staring into space.

“No,” Tanaka says.

Ogura scowls, happy for a moment that Tanaka isn’t looking at him as he slides food over to him, watching as Tanaka mechanically leans down to eat.

“Then we’re going out shopping,” Ogura says, which at least makes Tanaka look at him.

“There’s only one store,” Tanaka says quietly, obviously wondering how one can really go shopping in a place with literally only one place to shop.

“We’re going to shop online, obviously,” Ogura says, sitting down and starting to eat himself.

Tanaka stares at him, obviously still confused.

“Online?”

“Online. We don’t allow public access to the internet for obvious reasons, but I’m allowed to do what I damn well please, and that means going on amazon and ordering a bunch of shit on the government’s budget.”

Tanaka still looks confused.

“They deliver them to town,” Ogura adds. “And someone picks them up and hauls them back here. Takes a few days, not a big deal.”

Tanaka finally stops looking confused, and Ogura almost wishes that he hadn’t, because he immediately goes back to staring into space.

Ogura reminds himself for the thousandth time that Tanaka can’t actually starve, and sets his mind to finishing his food before leaning over, tapping Tanaka on the arm.

“Come on, let's go. You aren’t eating anyway,” Ogura says. He’s not going to wait around for Tanaka to finish eating food he’s not even eating.

Tanaka starts to clear his plate before Ogura scowls at him, gesturing him for him to just leave it. He does, setting his plate back down before trailing after Ogura.

He’s like a zombie, Ogura notes, irritated with absolutely everything.

The computer lab is empty except for the one guard who checks Ogura’s ID when he slips through, waving him off when he asks about Tanaka.

“We’re getting you something red. Any requests?” Ogura asks, pulling open Amazon and immediately starting to scroll through without waiting for Kouji’s input.

“You have sheets,” he mutters under his breath. “Maybe a pillow? Blankets? Give me something to go off of. I don’t know what people put in their rooms.

“Pick one,” Ogura says abruptly, jabbing his finger at two different red colored blankets.

Tanaka looks like Ogura just asked him for the meaning of life.

“I - uh...” He starts, eyes flicking between the two blankets.

It’s a minor decision--the two blankets are identical except for shade of red--but Tanaka can’t quite make himself answer.

“Tanaka,” Ogura says firmly. “Kouji,” he corrects himself after a moment’s thought. “I know this seems stupid and petty, but that’s why we’re starting with it. You haven’t gotten a chance to make any real decisions about your life in a long ass time, so we’re going to work you up to it. Think of it like therapy.”

Tanaka squirms before finally picking a blanket, pointing his finger at the screen.

“See? There we go.”

Ogura makes Tanaka make several more completely inconsequential choices--the style of alarm clock, the kind of nightside table, and then Ogura squints at the screen and pulls up a list of personal safes.

“You should have one,” Ogura says when Tanaka gives him a mystified look. “So you can have some privacy. You don’t want me to see something? You stick it in the safe. So it’s always an option.”

It helps him having things in his safe, so he figures it’ll help Tanaka too.

“I don’t -” Tanaka starts, taking a moment to compose himself. “I don’t think I’ll really need one. I don’t have anything to put in it.”

“You don’t have anything now,” Ogura says. “But you might soon. So you should get one.”

He doesn’t let Tanaka argue his way out of it, and finally Tanaka settles on a box with a lock that isn’t all that much bigger than a large pencil case.

“I’ll fold things if I need to,” Tanaka says quietly, and Ogura rolls his eyes but doesn’t fight it.

Ogura stares at the page a bit more before deciding that he’s bought enough--he’s already got six things in the cart, and he carefully checks out as Tanaka continues to look more and more awkward.

“You shouldn’t-” Tanaka starts, and Ogura silences him with a scowl.

“I should. You need things. Someone has to get you those things, and we can’t exactly stop by the mall,” Ogura insists.

“Then I’ll pay-” Tanaka starts again, and Ogura scowls even harder.

“Tanaka, honestly. I’m literally in the top five of my entire field. I live in government provided housing. My sole expense was all the cigarettes I bought. I have lots of money. I can afford a twenty five dollar blanket.”

He feels a bit huffy at the insinuation that he can’t, even if that’s probably not what Tanaka meant at all.

Tanaka looks hurt, and Ogura feels like an asshole.

“Sorry,” he mutters, logging out before getting to his feet. “I’m tense. You’re tense. Everyone’s tense. Can we go back home now and sit down and talk about this like adults? Because even if I’m supposed to be giving you space, I’m fucking shit at giving people space. I want to know what’s going on, I want to know what you’re thinking, and I’m going nuts not knowing.”

It feels like a relief to get it off his chest, to just say it. He can’t stand not knowing, even if it might be better for Tanaka.

Tanaka seems shocked by Ogura’s sudden outburst, staring at him for several long moments before glancing down.

“We should - I guess we should go back to the house,” Tanaka says quietly, and Ogura feels like he just popped a balloon.

“Probably,” he simply says, and neither of them says another word until they’re back.

Chapter Text

It’s a relief to Ogura when they finally sit down, even if he’s sure it’s not a relief to Tanaka. Tanaka’s entire posture screams nervous, his shoulders hunched and his fingers fidgeting together in his lap. More than once his hand darts up, touching the bottom of his lip as if he’s going to tug it before he second guesses himself, dropping his hand back down.

“You can relax,” Ogura says, even though he knows saying it isn’t going to make Tanaka relax at all. He’s taken a seat beside him rather than across from him, half expecting a breakdown.

Scratch that--he’s definitely expecting a breakdown.

“I just want to know what you’re thinking. I’ve got no idea what’s going on in your head, no idea what you’re worried about, or if you’re not worried, or if there’s something else I’m totally missing as an option that you’re afraid of. I don’t know your parents, I have no idea what your relationship with them was like, and honestly you’ve probably changed a lot.”

It probably isn’t the kindest thing to say to him--that he’s changed in his ten years away--but Ogura has never really believed in beating around the bush.

Tanaka deserves the truth, even if it hurts.

Tanaka stares at his own hands, his fingers fidgeting back and forth over and over.

Ogura wonders if he should reach out and just take his hand, if only to stop the fidgeting. He wants to force Tanaka’s mind elsewhere, just to get it over with.

“I guess...” Tanaka finally says, his voice heavy with emotion. He sounds exhausted and he’s only managed two words. “I guess I realized that they’ve moved on. There’s not a place for me anymore. It’s not like I thought they literally were the same, but every time I thought of them I thought of them as they were. I didn’t really think about how they’d changed.”

It takes everything Ogura has to keep his mouth shut, to keep from interrupting. Tanaka needs to be able to speak without him interrupting if he wants Tanaka to keep talking at all.

He waits until he’s sure Tanaka’s done before he says anything.

He knows what he should say. He should say that Tanaka’s their son, that nothing would ever get between parents and their kid. But he can’t. It’d be a lie, because he doesn’t give a fuck about his parents, and as far as he knows they don’t give a fuck about him. Instead he gives the best advice he can.

“Then make your own place, if they’ve moved on. Establish yourself. You can be a person even without them. You’ve got your shit in order, you have people in your corner, and you’ve got a ton to offer,” Ogura says.

Tanaka looks confused, which is not the reaction he’s expecting.

“What?” Ogura says, scowling at him. What’s not to get?

“That’s-” Tanaka starts, taking a moment to recover himself. “I don’t - I’m not any of those things. I don’t have anything in order, I don’t have anyone but you in my corner, and I don’t have anything to offer. My only skill is being able to kill people, and I’m probably not going to ever get to leave this base again.”

Ogura has no intention of arguing. He’s not going to give Tanaka any bullshit platitudes about how he has a lot to offer. Concrete examples are the only things that are going to actually work, so he goes straight to them, holding up his hand and ticking up fingers as he comes up with Tanaka’s own skills.

“Even if you’re never going to see a battlefield again, that doesn’t mean that skill is useless. You know plenty about fighting people both human and ajin. You’ve probably got a half dozen practice techniques that no one here’s even considered. Even if you can’t go out, having someone who is always going to be on hand for training between outings would be a huge advantage for the out team. Sure, there’s forty three ajin now, but only a fraction of those are actually combat ready, and often they’ll have no one but other humans to train with when they get back.

“And that’s not even counting all your other stuff. That doesn’t take into account that you’re fluent in Japanese and far more aware of current Japanese politics and culture than I am. You know more about the inner workings of Japan’s ajin program than any person alive today, and you know plenty of stuff that Satou did that never made the news. You know why cops often have criminal informants? It’s because criminals know how criminals work, and you’re the best possible source for ‘what can we expect’ if any more ajin criminals pop up.”

Tanaka looks bewildered at the number of fingers Ogura’s holding up, but Ogura isn’t even done. He’s going to drown Tanaka in them, going to absolutely bury him in the all encompassing list of things he’s good at.

Tanaka needs some self esteem, and Ogura has every intention of giving him some.

“You also cook, you clean, you’re about fifteen times more organized than anyone has any right to be, you can actually drive while using turn signals rather than just assuming everyone else on the road knows what the fuck you’re doing, you’ve got zero pain tolerance and you’re happy to help me with all my ridiculous experiments...” Ogura’s running out of ideas, but he’s not going to let that stop him. 

“You helped me figure out my great big breakthrough, your IBM displays an absolutely absurd pair of talons that have no right being on an IBM that’s a whole extra paper I get to write about it-”

Ogura doesn’t get to finish, because Tanaka’s started laughing almost hysterically, his hands clutching at his sides.

Ogura isn’t entirely clear why Tanaka’s laughing, and he simply squints at him.

“What? What part of that was funny? I was being serious--you have plenty of perfectly useful skills that you’re ignoring because you’ve got fucked up self esteem,” he says, feeling slightly put off by the fact that Tanaka is obviously nearly crying from laughter.

Ogura scowls at him until Tanaka finally manages to get his laughter under control, wiping at his eyes with the back of his hand.

“It’s hands? You think my ghost’s hands are a skill?”

“Listen, you have the only IBM with an anisodactyl hand configuration, and that’s-” Ogura says, cutting himself off when Tanaka starts to laugh again.

It certainly wasn’t his intention, but the fact that Tanaka is laughing hysterically--literally clutching at the side of the couch to keep himself upright--rather than worrying over things is a small victory. He can’t really feel happy, because he was entirely serious about the hands of Tanaka’s IBM being important, but at the very least Tanaka’s not worried.

It’s a little thing, but it’s not bad.

Chapter Text

Ogura doesn’t bring the previous conversation back up. Tanaka seems happy and relaxed, and he’s happy to ride that high for the time being. He already has the information he needs--he knows what Tanaka’s worried about, anyway--so he opts to do something less productive instead.

“Want to watch a movie?” Ogura asks when Tanaka’s sagged back into the couch.

“I don’t - my English isn’t that good,” Tanaka mumbles, as if Ogura somehow mistook him for fluent after a single lesson.

Ogura rolls his eyes.

“Obviously not an English movie. One of the ajin here is a giant otaku--he’s got some anime DVDs floating around, and I’m sure I could strong arm him into handing them over for a good cause. We could do movie night.”

He regrets not thinking of it before, but Ogura isn’t exactly big on anime, and he doubts Tanaka is either.

Tanaka fidgets for a bit, then nods.

“Alright.”

To Ogura’s relief, the otaku in question is there, and he doesn’t even try and argue when Ogura insist on getting DVDs for ‘whatever is going to be the least anime’.

He walks away with two armfuls of DVDs, and has to hammer away at the door with his foot to get Tanaka to open it.

“I brought... a bunch,” he says, glancing down at the pile. “I made him suggest a bunch of movies that could be considered classics and require no anime watching experience. Did you ever even watch any anime?”

Tanaka squirms a bit at hte question.

“Uh... a few? I watched Dragon Ball on TV when I was a kid,” Tanaka confesses.

“Well, that’s one anime more than me, so this is going to be a whole new world.”

Ogura makes popcorn while Tanaka picks the movie, and it’s not until they’re sitting side beside on teh couch, watching the start of Princess Mononoke that it occurs to Ogura that it’s almost--but not quite--like a date.

Ogura shifts around to put an extra inch or two between him and Tanaka, just in case.

That inch falls away around the second movie--Spirited Away--when Ogura catches himself nodding off onto Tanaka’s shoulder. He doesn’t remember leaning over, but he doesn’t remember not either, and Tanaka is looking at him with an expression of pure concern.

“Are you okay...?” Tanaka asks, completely ignoring the movie.

“Fine,” Ogura insists. “Tired.” The fact that he only got two hours of sleep is sneaking up on him.

“You should take a nap,” Tanaka insists.

Ogura opens his mouth to argue--he’s not six, he doesn’t need a nap--only that turns into a yawn, effectively ruining his point.

“Fine,” he says simply, pushing himself off the couch. “Are you going to watch the rest?”

Tanaka glances at the TV for a moment before nodding.

“Go get some sleep, I’ll wake you before dinner, alright?”

Ogura’s response is eaten by another yawn, and he gives a quick nod before heading up to his room to pass out.


 

Ogura’s wakes to the sound of someone pounding on his door, and he sits up immediately, bleary and confused.

“Huh?” He manages before the door pops open, and he’s confused to find that it’s not Tanaka pounding at his door, but Mai.

“You could at least wear a shirt,” Mai protests, but she doesn’t seem at all phased by the fact that Ogura’s entire torso is bare as she steps forward, shoving some paper at him. “You look like you went through a meat grinder. Is that a bite?” She says, squinting at what is absolutely a human bite.

“I was sleeping,” Ogura protests, but he reaches up just the same, grabbing the offered paper. Even when he stares at it though, it doesn’t make any sense, and it takes him a few moments to realize that he’s reading Japanese.

He glances up at Mai.

“Give me a summary, I just woke up,” he mutters.

“Japan’s trying to trade an ajin for their knowledge. I had to intervene and prevent them from doing it, so we’re now on a schedule. The EU wants solid proof that Japan is lying and we have the information within 48 hours.”

Ogura stares back down at the paper, and then simply falls back into his bed, the paper still held in one hand.

“Ahhh, fuck,” he mutters. “You can either turn around or you can deal with my boxers.”

Mai apparently chooses not to stare at his boxers, because she rotates around to face the hallway.

“Do you already have a report written up? If you don’t, you need to be on that now,” she says as Ogura climbs out of bed, digging around for some pants to pull on.

“It’s already done, but it’ll need some editing. Did everyone agree to off Blout then?”

“Everyone who matters. Some people are already against it, but there’s zero purpose in keeping him alive, and even our bleeding heart members mostly agree it’d be better to put him out of his misery. Keeping him alive with no stimulation and nothing to do is practically torture, anyway.”

“Well, he’s been living on borrowed time,” Ogura mutters under his breath, grabbing a pair of socks and a shirt. “Did Tanaka let you in?”

“Yes, he was very polite even if I didn’t understand a word he was saying. Lots of gesturing got the idea of Ogura’s in bed across,” she says.

There’s something weird about her voice, and Ogura squints at her back for a moment before finally pulling his shirt on over his head.

“Come on, it’s in the safe,” Ogura says as he strides past her, pulling open the door to his lab and heading straight to the safe, bending down to punch in the code.

“Don’t think I didn’t notice that he’s got short hair all of a sudden,” Mai says from behind him, and Ogura goes stiff.

I wasn’t responsible for that,” Ogura protests. “He did that himself, of his own free will. I had no part in it.”

“Mhmmm,” Mai says, obviously not believing him for a second. “And the fact that the last ten guys you’ve screwed around with have all had short hair is a coincidence?”

Yes, it is. He wanted a change. I didn’t even suggest it. And could you at least say ‘dated’?”

He’s well aware that his protests sound ridiculous. He’s not even sure he’d believe himself.

“You didn’t date half of them, so no. Are you trying to deny you’re attracted to him?”

Ogura manages to fat finger the combination to his own safe, and he lets out an angry groan.

“Just - just give me one minute, alright?” He insists, glancing over his shoulder to make sure that Mai isn’t going to talk again until he’s done. She doesn’t--he’s able to get the safe open and the report out before she does.

“I’m just saying, Ogura, it’s obvious you’re interested in him, and he’d be good for you.”

Ogura wonders if it’s possible to kick his own boss out of the place she technically is in charge of.

“Mai, you have no experience with or interest in relationships, so why should I be taking advice from you, exactly?”

Mai lets out a snort.

“Because why not? He obviously likes you, you obviously think he’s cute, he’s got all the bad boy charm of every other man you’ve liked only he’s not going to break your arm.”

“That was one time,” Ogura snaps, neglecting to add the nearly mandatory that you know of. “And that doesn’t matter anyway. It’s not about me, it’s about him-”

“If you say he’s too good for you, we’re going to have words, Ogura.”

“I’m not going to say that,” Ogura snaps, shoving the report at Mai. “What I’m going to say is that Tanaka just got out of the world’s most fucked up situation followed by an abusive and coercive relationship with the world’s most wanted man, and he needs time and support and for the only person he can count on not to be trying to stick their dick in him.”

Mai wrinkles her nose.

“I didn’t need that level of detail,” Mai protests.

“Obviously you do, Mai. He needs space, and he’s going to get space.”

Mai stares at him for a long moment before letting out a little sigh, reaching out to take the report.

“I’ll see you tomorrow morning. If at all possible, we’re going to complete the entire process tomorrow, and then we can fully publish by the end of the week. Over and done with.”

Ogura’s too irritated to do anything other than nod, but he’s relieved when Mai finally turns to leave. Everything about the situation is irritating him, and he knows the last thing Tanaka needs is him taking advantage of the situation.

Chapter Text

Tanaka really wasn’t sure what to make of Miss Huynh. As nice as she seemed--however briefly he'd seen her--the language barrier made things hard to manage. There was no telling what she was saying as he stood at the bottom of the stairs, listening in to a conversation he couldn’t even understand. 

He got his name at least, and that Ikuya’s voice was getting louder every line, but the why eluded him.

He feels terribly in the dark.

There’s suddenly the sound of movement up above him, and Tanaka cranes his head back to spot Mai coming down just in time for him to step back and look a bit less like he was listening in.

She doesn’t bother saying anything to him, simply gives him a wave and lets herself out.

Tanaka stares at the door for a moment before glancing up the stairs.

There’s no sign of Ikuya for several long moments, and then he abruptly appears, letting out a little sigh.

“Is dinn- wait, nevermind, I got it,” Ikuya says, coming down the stairs with all the grace of an elephant.

“Sorry,” Tanaka mutters. “She was really insistent - was it important...?”

He has no idea what it was she wanted, but all the gesturing, her tone of voice, and the way she waved the paper told him yes.

“Yep,” Ikuya says simply, ducking into the kitchen and rifling through the fridge before pulling out several boxes of takeout. “Japan’s doing it’s thing again. They’re trying to trade their knowledge of how to kill an ajin for another ajin.”

Everything about the sentence makes Tanaka’s blood run cold.

“They want another - do they even know? I thought they wouldn’t be able to figure it out,” he says, feeling bile rise in his throat. He doesn’t want anyone else to be in their hands. Not anyone.

“Calm down,” Ikuya says, not even looking as he unpacks the boxes. “We’re already ahead of them. Mai’s done damage control, pointed out that they’re full of shit. We’re taking out Blout tomorrow, we’re publishing my paper by the end of the week, Japan gets nothing but outed for being the bunch of power hungry assholes they are. The only way they’re getting their hands on an ajin is if they catch one themselves, and the odds of them managing that are fucking low.”

As coarse as Ikuya is with it, it’s also a relief to hear him say it. There’s no danger. He knows just how incompetent they are, and he has no doubt that they’ve only become worse, not better.

Ikuya pops some of the food in the microwave, and all Tanaka can think of are Takahashi and Gen.

“Do you think they’re okay?” He says abruptly, and Ikuya turns his head, raising an eyebrow.

“Huh?”

“Oh- Sorry, Takahashi and Gen,” he says, before immediately second guessing himself, glancing around the room. “Are there - uh, cameras?”

The thought that a top secret government facility might have cameras has only just occurred to him, and it makes his blood run cold. All of a sudden he’s second guessing literally everything he’s ever said. How much has he said about the people who are supposed to be on the run?

“Calm down,” Ikuya says for the second time in less than five minutes. “There’s no cameras here. We’ve got one in the store and one in the library, and they’re all over the base, but the town is mostly camera free. Even then... They already know Takahashi and Gen by name.”

It takes Tanaka a second to process what he means.

“Oh - didn’t Satou say it when he fought the SAT...?”

He’d almost forgotten. He wonders for a moment if Takahashi and Gen had too.

“It was a bit hard to pick out, but anyone with good audio editing skills could pick it up. It’s all over the internet, although the general consensus is that Satou wouldn’t be stupid enough to use their real names, so they must be pseudonyms.”

Tanaka realizes he’s pulling at his lip and quickly drops his hand.

“Hearing his name bothers you, doesn’t it?” Ikuya asks as he slides some food onto a plate, holding it out for Tanaka to take.

It doesn’t look very appetizing, but he has no right to complain, and he takes it in one hand before grabbing cutlery and going to sit down.

“A bit,” he admits, even if the answer is probably closer to a lot. “I sort of... keep expecting him to show up, I guess. It’s hard to imagine he’s really dead. That ajin can even die, and that he died.”

“He died like an idiot,” Ikuya says, leaning against the counter and starting to eat. “In his last moments he still probably thought my plan wasn’t going to work. He effectively went to his death willingly because he just assumed he’d get back up.”

A part of Tanaka regrets not looking. As horrible as Ikuya had insisted it was, just seeing--knowing for sure--might have helped a bit.

Even so, he decides it’s better not to mention it to Ikuya at all.

“So tomorrow you’re going to - uh, repeat the process on that Blout guy?” He asks, unclear on if he should be saying kill. It’s not quite killing--it’s an execution, but supposedly a long overdue one.

“Yep,” Ikuya says simply, as if it’s the most casual thing in the world. “While you’re in class, probably.”

Tanaka almost wants to ask to watch, but he pushes the thought away. He doesn’t need to see. It won’t be the same as Satou anyway, and he doesn’t even know who Blout is--he’s just a faceless ajin who apparently deserves what he has coming.

“You should eat,” Ikuya adds, nodding his head towards Tanaka’s completely untouched plate.

Tanaka doesn’t argue, just bends down and starts to eat, trying not to think about anything at all. Any line of thought is a minefield, a deadly trap laid at the end. His parents. Takahashi and Gen. Blout. What’s happening in Japan.

“I’m sure they’re fine,” Ikuya says abruptly, and Tanaka glances up, confused.

“Takahashi and Gen. You asked about them earlier, and I didn’t answer. They’re probably high, but I’m sure they can manage. If they were caught, we’d have heard about it, since Japan can’t keep a secret to save their lives.”

Even if there’s no real evidence, hearing that Ikuya believes it is enough to make him relax slightly. Ikuya’s easily the smartest person he knows, and he trusts that he wouldn’t lie just to spare his feelings.

“That said, I’m going to go to bed early tonight. I’m going to be insanely busy tomorrow, I feel like death, and I’m probably going to be having to leave the moment the sun is up. I’ll set you up with some movies if you want,” Ikuya offers, and he almost wishes that Ikuya was staying up.

He shakes his head.

“I can handle it. It’s just paused still, and the DVD player isn’t hard to handle or anything. You should go to sleep,” he insists. Ikuya does look like death. The bags under his eyes are even more prominent than they usually are.

Ikuya puts his own dishes away, and he’s halfway up the stairs before he abruptly stops.

“Ah, shit. Too used to living on my own. Goodnight Tanaka,” he calls down.

“Kouji,” Tanaka corrects quietly, and Ikuya blinks at him a few times before letting out a little laugh.

“Kouji, right. I should probably get in the habit--I think the only person I use their first name for is Mai, and I only did that because it annoyed her.”

Tanaka raises an eyebrow, but doesn’t bother correcting Ogura. He’s pretty sure at least a few of the names he’s been trying to memorize were given names, but he doesn’t know nearly enough about American names to actually know.

Maybe he’ll have to ask.

“Goodnight, Ikuya,” he calls him, and Ikuya gives him a quick wave before heading up to sleep.

Tanaka doubts he’ll stay up that much longer himself.

Chapter Text

Ogura’s up before five, and dressed and out the door before six. His hand is aching, which is unusual, and he can’t tell if it’s a sign of something worse to come, or if he just slept on it wrong.

A visit to the infirmary confirms that the answer is you slept on it wrong. The doctor picks over it carefully before squinting at Ogura’s file and declaring it perfectly fine. While the scars are still a bit pink, there’s been no other pain, and the doctor insists it’s healed.

The doctor also insists he book physical therapy, and threatens to tell Mai if he doesn’t.

Ogura lets himself be booked for physical therapy later that day, grumbling the whole while.

Mai finds him in the cafeteria around seven, shoveling food into his mouth like his life depends on it.

“Surprised to find you here,” Mai says, and Ogura raises an eyebrow.

“My doctor was very specific that I wasn’t far off dying from malnutrition. I have a month’s worth of food to make up for missing,” Ogura insists.

“I meant I didn’t expect to find you here. Normally you’re smoking outside while eating.”

It occurs to Ogura then that he’s mostly spent his time in his house, and Mai isn’t usually close enough to smell him.

“I quit,” he simply says, popping a bite of egg into his mouth.

Ogura doesn’t think Mai could look more surprised if he’d just announced his intention to quit science.

“You quit?”

“I’d say it was cold turkey, only Satou stuck a bunch of nicotine patches on me and weaned me off the worst of it. I’ve got a nice big burn on my hand to remind me of the consequences,” he says, holding up his left hand.

Mai averts her eyes, not quite looking at the mess of his hand.

“Everything’s ready to go,” she says, and Ogura leaves the rest of his food on the plate, abandoning it for someone in the cafeteria to clean up as he follows Mai deeper into the building.

He has to authenticate three times before they arrive (the third time he has to shove both hands on the scanner, letting out a little snort of annoyance at his missing fingers), and when they do the entire wing of the base is packed.

“So our only ajin prisoner is getting the ax,” Ogura muses, and Mai scowls at him.

“At least try and be serious, Ogura. It’s a big day. If this works, it’ll be a big deal.”

“It will work,” Ogura simply says. “If it didn’t, I wouldn’t be here. I’d be dead in a random house in Japan.”

Mai gives him a skeptical look, then shrugs her shoulders.

“We already prepared everything. We just need to get down to business,” Mai says, gesturing to the door.

Ogura glances at it, then shrugs.

“Well, get to it. I have work to do while you’re letting me near the labs.”

Mai stares at him.

“You aren’t coming?”

“I’ve already seen it work once. I’d rather do my work.”

Mai stares at him even harder, letting out a little noise that Ogura can’t begin to figure out.

“You do need therapy,” she mutters under her breath. “You didn’t even bat an eye before.”

“They weren’t dying for good before,” Ogura snaps, scowling at her.

“Well, you’re getting therapy anyway. We’ve already got a therapist booked in, he’ll be flying out next week. Specializes in PTSD and C-PTSD, so he gets to do double duty and handle you -”

Ogura interrupts, because he has no idea what she’s talking about.

“I know what PTSD is, what the hell’s C-PTSD?”

“Complex traumatic stress disorder. Proposed term for PTSD symptoms that go a bit beyond standard PTSD, normally from prolonged stress, chronic mistreatment, and situations with no hope of escape. Like being tortured for ten years,” Mai explains, and Ogura immediately gets why she’d think it would be useful.

“Fine,” he says simply. “Shouldn’t you be going inside?”

Mai stares at him for several long moments, then finally shrugs.

“Fine, you can use the lab. We’ll want you at the meeting when it’s done, so don’t go far.”

Ogura nods and turns away, ducking out of the room to head back to his own lab.

Even when he gets there though, he has nothing in mind. There’s no immediately pressing problems. There’s a lot of mysteries still to be solved, but his head feels empty.

He keeps thinking about Tanaka, and about all the things he said. He keeps thinking about how he looked when he said that he didn’t think there was a place for him.

He spends an entire hour doing nothing at all, his face buried in his hands.

Chapter Text

“Ogura,” Mai says, and Ogura snaps his head up, squinting at her.

“What?”

Mai simply stares at him, a look of either confusion or disgust on her face--he can’t even tell which.

“Ogura, Smith has been trying to get your attention for the better part of two minutes,” she says, frowning at him. “Go home.”

Ogura takes a second to glance around the meeting--realizing that literally everyone is staring at him--and then turns back to Mai, scowling.

“I’m fine.”

“I didn’t ask if you were fine, Ogura. I told you to go home. We’ll talk later, but you’re not doing any good by being here.”

Ogura doesn’t even remember what was said to start the meeting, but he assumes that things must have gone well. If they hadn’t, people would be angrier.

“Fine,” he simply says, pushing himself to his feet and leaving the office. He wonders if he’s in trouble. He wonders if he cares if he’s in trouble.

He decides that he doesn’t.

He’s back at home before he knows it, and he feels confused and disoriented when he realizes that Tanaka isn’t home. It takes him embarassingly long to realize that oh, he’s probably at lessons, and Morgan will no doubt drop him back off before long.

Ogura simply lies down on the couch and goes to sleep.

He wakes to find Tanaka kneeling beside him, his hand on his arm.

“Ikuya..?”

Ogura reaches up, rubbing at his eyes as he sits up.

“Oh, you’re back? How long was I out?” He asks, glancing around before remembering there’s no goddamn clock in the living room.

“I just got back,” Tanaka says, his brows furrowed in obvious worry. “Not long. Miss Huynh sent someone to get me.”

Ogura scowls, immediately irritated with Mai.

“I’m fine. I was just tired. She should have left you in your lessons, or wherever you were.”

Ogura finds himself abruptly at a loss for words when Tanaka reaches up, pressing the back of his palm to Ogura’s forehead.

“You aren’t sick,” Tanaka says, and Ogura scowls even harder, reaching up to catch Tanaka’s wrist.

“No, I’m not sick. I just don’t give a fuck about all the meetings and bullshit bureaucracy. I never did, and now I give even less of a fuck,” he snaps, irritated that everyone--even Tanaka, apparently--seems to think he’s dying just because he zoned out in a meeting.

Tanaka stares at him for a long, long while before he finally says anything, his wrist still clutched in Ogura’s grip.

“I know that this won’t mean much--because I’ve needed more support than anyone--but you can talk to me about things that worry you. You’re obviously stress-” Tanaka starts, and Ogura doesn’t think it’s even possible for him to scowl even harder.

“I’m not stressed,” he said, which might be the most blatant lie he’s ever spoken. “I don’t-”

It’s Tanaka’s turn to cut him off, physically reaching up with his free hand and pressing it over Ogura’s mouth. Ogura’s so shocked that he immediately goes silent, confused that Tanaka--inoffensive, gentle Tanaka--would even do it.

“You are stressed, and you do need to talk to people. You can’t just insist that I talk about my problems while bottling up your own. So you need to talk, and if you don’t, I’ll... I’ll...”

Tanaka trails off, apparently unable to think of a suitable threat, and under Tanaka’s palm Ogura finds himself smirking.

Tanaka’s too soft by far.

When the hand pulls away, Ogura already knows what he’s going to say, and it simply all spills out in a rush, unable to stop himself.

“I don’t want to give a fuck about ethical concerns. Everything is ethics and right and wrong and I just want to do science, and I can’t even do that because I accidentally tripped into like the second biggest ethical debate of my life. When a scientist studies a disease they want to understand it so they can cure it, but being an ajin isn’t a disease, and curing it would just mean being able to kill someone. You don’t cure something like that, you find a way to spread it, to make more people ajin, only that isn’t good either because that’s an even bigger ethical debate. Is it right to just make everyone immortal? That fucks the world in so many ways. I just want to understand - I just want to figure out what the fuck being an ajin really means, I want to know what the particles are doing, and now I have to sit around and play executioner and now I’m going to be the fucking guy who invented dynamite.”

Tanaka stares at him, wide eyed and confused.

“Dynamite?”

“We have the nobel prize because Alfred Nobel--who invented several hundred things--also invented dynamite. And he was so upset because he was the guy who invented dynamite and all his other inventions were for nothing that he created the nobel prize so that when people thought nobel, they would think nobel prize not weapon that has killed thousands of people. They called him the merchant of death, only I’m literally the merchant of death--my greatest contribution to the field is going to be the fact that I figured out how to murder people who nature decided shouldn’t be murdered.”

Ogura goes stiff as Tanaka leans forward, pulling him into a hug. He’s practically squished against Tanaka’s chest, and Tanaka’s grip is a bit too tight, but his brain really can’t process anything beyond that.

“That’s your biggest discovery so far. But if anyone can figure it all out--can figure out why there are ajin, and what ghosts really are, and all that--then it’d be you,” Tanaka says, and Ogura lets out a sigh, practically deflating in his arms.

“You’re not supposed to be the one supporting me,” Ogura mumbles under his breath.

“We can support each other,” Tanaka says with a scowl that Ogura can just barely see. “It doesn’t have to be a one way street.”

Ogura opens his mouth to protest--to point out that Tanaka absolutely needs more support than he does--and then closes it with a snap.

He isn’t going to argue. Not with Tanaka. If Tanaka wants to support him, then so be it. Tanaka deserves at least that much.

Chapter Text

It feels disgustingly self indulgent, leaning against Tanaka for so long. Every time Ogura feels like he should pull back--like everything’s gone on too long--he simply pushes the thought away.

“How were lessons?” Ogura mumbles, not even bothering to pull back.

He can’t see Tanaka’s face, but he can hear the smile in his voice just the same.

“Good. It’s strange being back in school. But I’m learning, and Yasuhiko-”

“Which one is Yasuhiko?” Ogura asks.

“Uhm, the one without the glasses. The college student. Former college student, I guess. He knows a lot of English because he used to talk to people online, so he’s been helping me. We get along pretty well,” Tanaka says.

Ogura’s happy he’s getting along with any of the remaining Japanese ajin.

“That’s good,” he says, meaning every word. “You need more friends, and it’s hard as fuck to get them when you don’t speak English.”

Tanaka lets out a little laugh, and Ogura can feel it as much as he hears it.

When Tanaka finally pulls away--in theory to cook lunch--Ogura feels like he’s been punched in the gut. He simply sprawls out on the couch, faking a yawn.

“Try not to sleep, food shouldn’t take that long,” Tanaka says as he ducks into the kitchen, leaving Ogura to his regret.

He shouldn’t be nearly so bothered by something so stupid and small, but he absolutely is.

Mai shows up not long after lunch, giving Ogura--still lying on the couch--an appraising look.

“Feeling better?”

“I wasn’t feeling bad in the first place,” Ogura protests. “But you sent me home anyway.”

Mai frowns down at him, crossing her arms over her chest.

“If you aren’t feeling well, I’ll delay. If not, Tanaka’s parents are going to be here in four hours.”

Ogura sits bolt upright in an instant.

“In four hours?” He says, his mouth hanging open. Even if Mai said sometime this week, he’d assumed that meant closer to a full week rather than a few days.

“They were eager to come. They’ll be getting picked up shortly unless you want me to put it off.”

“Don’t put it off,” he says, and the words are out of his mouth before he can even process them. He scowls at himself almost immediately, standing up and adjusting his shirt. “If we put it off who knows when they’ll show up again. They’ll probably think we’re lying or something. They’re not bringing the girl, are they?”

Mai waves him off immediately, and Ogura goes stiff when he realizes that Tanaka’s in the doorway, watching them talk. It takes a moment for him to process that Tanaka likely doesn’t understand anything that they’re saying, but he’s careful on how he words things just in case.

“She’s staying at home. It’s just the two of them coming. You should let him know so he can-”

“I need to brief them first, before they meet him,” Ogura says.

Mai’s eyebrows shoot up, not even bothering to hide her surprise.

“That isn’t your call to make, Ogura. Officially you have no real authority over Tanaka--you’re his roommate, but you’re not his case worker.”

Ogura’s never let anything small like a lack of actual authority get in his way before, and he has no intention of changing that.

“If they say the wrong thing they could fuck everything up. He’s impossibly nervous about it, and even if I’m not in charge, I’m still the only person in this base who has even an idea of what he went through. It’s not the same--he had it way worse--but it’s at least a window I can peek through, and that’s more than most people. They need to understand what they’re getting into before they see him. And if I go in there and they are going to fuck things up... then it needs to not happen at all.”

Mai’s eyebrows are threatening to slide off her face entirely.

“And what would you tell him, exactly? That you’re forbidding him from seeing his parents for his own good? Or would you lie, and say it’s a paperwork issue, and just keep stringing him along?”

Ogura scowls at that.

“He’s had enough people lying to him. I’d tell him the truth--that I don't think it’s a good idea he see them right then, and that he needs to go through some therapy before he’s ready.”

Mai seems to relax at that, letting out a little sigh.

“Fine, Ogura. I’ll trust you on this. But try and keep in mind that while Tanaka’s feelings need to be kept in mind, the feeling of his parents also need to be kept in mind. Their son was effectively dead to them, and now he’s back--it’s a lot to take in, and they’ll probably be emotional.”

Ogura isn’t very good at emotional.

“Fine,” he says in response, and Mai says her goodbyes--even saying one to Tanaka, who response with a clumsy English goodbye of his own--before leaving.

“Something happened?” Tanaka says the moment the door is closed.

“How much did you follow?”

Tanaka frowns a bit, folding and unfolding his hands repeatedly.

“Not much. My name. That you were talking about something serious, and you argued with Mai over something. I think you said girl?”

It figures that that would be one of Tanaka’s vocabulary words.

“Your parents are going to be here in a few hours,” Ogura says, and Tanaka looks like he’s been slapped.

“My parents...?”

“They have to get security clearance, and they have to drive here. I’m going to be talking to them first.”

Tanaka looks impossibly agitated.

“I should - should I get stuff? Do I need - I don’t know, gifts?”

Ogura can’t even manage to hold back his laugh at that.

“You need to bring yourself, Tanaka. No, you don’t need anything else.”

“Should I get a suit...?” Tanaka asks, and Ogura lets out a snort.

“A suit would be overkill. Just wear your normal clothes.”

Tanaka looks like he’s really considering the suit, and Ogura steps over, resting a hand on his shoulder.

“Relax,” he says firmly. “You’ll be fine, alright?”

Tanaka does relax, nodding his head once.

“I’ll - I just - ah...” He says, clearly unable to find the words.

“Why not prep something for dinner? So you’d have something to look forward to when you get back. I doubt you’ll be up for cooking after all is said and done.”

Tanaka nods, immediately vanishing off to the kitchen, and Ogura lets out a sigh in his wake.

He’s got way too much to do.

Chapter Text

Ogura makes absolutely sure that Tanaka is comfortable--that he doesn’t want to back out or anything-- and makes Morgan promise to stay with him before he leaves.

Tanaka’s maybe fifty feet from his parents, but Ogura has no intention of letting them meet unless he’s sure.

He has to be sure.

He leaves Mai to watch the cameras and lets himself into the room. It isn’t very interesting--really it’s a couch, a table and some chairs, and a coffee maker sitting on a counter.

The rooms only two occupants are two people he couldn’t possibly mistake for anyone other than Kouji’s parents. While there’s no question he took more after his father, even with his mother the resemblance was there.

Everything about the situation bothers him, but he steps right in, heading over to the table and wishing he’d thought to bring a stack of papers to drop on it for effect.

Both of Tanaka’s parents look up at him, and Ogura briefly wonders if they thought he was Kouji before brushing the idea away.

Not even ten years of torture would change someone that much, and he’s several inches shorter than Tanaka was on intake.

“My name is Ikuya Ogura,” he says simply, preferring to get to the point. The less time he spends with Tanaka’s parents, the better--regardless of the outcome.

“While the public won’t find out about it for another week, I’m the man who killed the demihuman Satou. I assume you’ve already been briefed on the importance of confidentiality of this situation?”

Tanaka’s father nods, and his mother leans forward almost automatically, her eyes wide and upset.

“Can we see him? Is Kouji really here?” She asks, and Ogura scowls down at her.

He supposes he should feel pity, but he doesn’t.

“He’s here, and no. If you want to see him, you’re going to have to convince me that letting you see him isn’t going to be a mistake. I owe him my life, and that means making sure he doesn’t rush into things he isn’t prepared for. He’s barely just arrived, he hasn’t settled in yet, and he needs calm, not anything that might make him worse.”

“Are you saying we’re going to make him worse?” Tanaka’s father snaps, and Ogura can practically hear Mai sighing through the wall.

“Yes, I am. I’m saying you could very easily make him worse. Tanaka hasn’t even met you yet and he’s worried you’ve replaced him,” Ogura snaps right back. “What have you told his sister about him?”

The glance that Tanaka’s parents share isn’t a good sign, and the resigned, ashamed tone of Tanaka’s mother’s voice makes it all the more clear.

“We told her that he had passed away. Which... was true. He had died. We didn’t want her being exposed to that. We didn’t want her worrying about a brother we didn’t think she’d ever meet.”

It’s more or less exactly what he expected, and yet it still somehow disappoints him.

“So you told her that he was dead?”

Tanaka’s mother bursts into tears, and Tanaka’s father glares at him with a look of pure rage in his eyes.

“He was taken away from us. They told us we’d never see him again, that the government would protect him. We knew it was nonsense, but what were we supposed to do? You can’t fight the government,” Tanaka’s father says, and Ogura reaches up, rubbing at his face.

It isn’t going the way it’s supposed to.

“I’m not here to prevent you from seeing your son,” Ogura says, which he realizes is almost the exact opposite of what he said earlier. “I’m here to protect him. No matter what happens here, your son won’t be going home with you. He’ll spend the rest of his days either in this facility, or in one like it.”

It’s obvious enough that either Tanaka’s parents didn’t know, or they didn’t believe that tidbit when they were told. His mother only sobs harder, and Tanaka’s father leans over, wrapping his arm around his shoulders.

Ogura wonders if the similarities between Tanaka’s father’s hairstyle and Tanaka’s own old hairstyle are a coincidence.

“The fact that Kouji was manipulated into helping Satou matters a lot less to the people of the world than the fact that he did help. I’m not trying to ruin things between you--that’s not what I want--but what I do want is for Tanaka--Kouji, I mean--to be able to live an ordinary life. If I think that meeting you is going to prevent that, then it’s my job to stop it. He needs to be able to function as an adult, and he can’t depend on you when you aren’t going to be able to be around consistently.”

He doesn’t really think they’ll move in. They have a daughter. They have a life. And Kouji, unfortunately, is a life they’ve left behind.

Tanaka’s mother still hasn’t stopped crying, which makes the entire speech unbelievably awkward, but Tanaka’s father is still staring at him, his face stoney. 

“I just want to see my son. I haven’t seen him in ten years. I didn’t even know what had happened to him until he showed up on the TV in a wheelchair beside that madman,” he says.

Ogura lets out a sigh, rubbing at his temples as he leans back in the chair.

“Ground rules. Don’t mention Satou. Don’t even imply Satou. Don’t mention your daughter unless Tanaka brings it up. Kouj - ah, fuck, any time I say Tanaka just assume I’m talking about him and not you,” he says, scowling when Tanaka’s mother flinches at his curse.

“If he goes stiff, give him some space even if you don’t want to. If he starts tugging at his lip, tell him it’s okay. Be reassuring. Your son is a hero, and he’s the whole reason Japan isn’t buckling under Satou’s control as we speak,” Ogura continues.

He doesn’t know what else to say. He’s sure there’s more--he’s sure there are things he should be saying, but he can’t think of any of them. His head is empty, and all he can think about is how bad things could end up.

“Please just be careful,” he finally says, pushing himself to his feet and heading to the door without another word.

Neither of them follows him.

Chapter Text

Tanaka feels like he’s going to die. He feels like his heart is going to burst from his chest, and he’s doing a poor job of hiding it.

“You’ll be fine,” Morgan says quietly, his only companion at the moment.

Nothing about the situation means he’ll be fine, but he gives Morgan a feeble little smile anyway.

“Not very convincing,” Morgan says with a wry smile, and Tanaka goes back to folding and unfolding his hands in his lap, unable to do anything more productive with his time.

There’s a knock at the door and Tanaka forgets how to breath. Morgan answers it and has a quick conversation in English, and then waves Tanaka over.

“Come on, Ogura said you’re ready to go.”

Tanaka’s confused when Ogura isn’t already in the hallway, and he glances around nervously.

“Is he not coming...?” Tanaka asks, and Morgan raises an eyebrow.

“Doubtful. He probably wants to let you have some private time with your parents,” Morgan says. “If he’s not in the room, he’ll probably be nearby watching.”

Tanaka’s stomach clenches, but he nods anyway. He can do it. It’s just his parents--there’s no danger to face.

“How - uh, how long do I have?” He asks as Morgan leads him down the hallway.

Morgan lets out a snort.

“This isn’t prison, there aren’t visiting hours. I guess try and be done before dinner? I don’t want Ogura to starve himself waiting.”

Morgan doesn’t wait for him to respond before opening the door, gesturing for Tanaka to go inside.

Tanaka doesn’t go inside right away. He can’t see anyone inside--he can just see the room--but he’s practically frozen there, a thousand doubts warring for space in his head.

Tanaka wants to vomit.

“You’ll be fine,” Morgan says quietly, nodding towards the door. “They’re your parents.”

It’s enough to make him take the first step through the door, but he doesn’t go any farther than that.

His parents are just the way he remembered them, only a bit older. They’ve both gone grey, and Tanaka has little doubt it’s the result of stress rather than simple aging.

Even so, there’s no question that they’re his parents, still alive and well.

Tanaka doesn’t quite process the next few seconds. He simply bursts into tears and then his father is simply there, his arms wrapping around Tanaka’s chest.

His father is so small, and Tanaka wonders when he got so tall.

His mother is there then, her arms wrapping around his middle, and then Tanaka can’t focus on anything other than the fact that he’s desperately trying to keep himself from crying any harder than he is.

They end up on the couch, and Tanaka curls his legs up to his chest and lets it all out.

It takes almost a half hour for Tanaka to manage to get his crying down to a reasonable level, curled up between both of his parents. Even the feeling of his mother rubbing at his back is enough to make the tears come again, and it’s a constant struggle to get it under control.

“I missed you,” he mumbles quietly, and his mother leans up, pressing a kiss to his forehead.

“We missed you too. I’m just happy you’re alright,” she says in return, and his father squeezes the pair of them comfortingly.

“Are you okay?” His father asks, his voice filled with concern. “They told us that you were being treated well, but that’s what Japan told us too.”

Tanaka immediately shakes his head.

“It’s not like that here. Everyone here is really nice. I have a room to myself with a lock on the door I can use, I can cook whenever I want, and they’re giving me English lessons so I can adapt here,” he explains, eager to defend things.

The facility is nothing like it was in Japan, and he can’t possibly state that enough.

His father frowns a bit, obviously wary that Tanaka might be goaded into lying.

“A room?”

“A bedroom of my own. In a house, not an apartment, and I have sheets and pillows and things coming as well. I just haven’t been here long enough. Ikuya even-”

His father scowls at the mention of Ikuya’s name, and Tanaka cuts himself off, wondering just what Ikuya said to them.

“The scientist? He made your mother cry,” his father says, and Tanaka winces.

“Ogura is... blunt,” Tanaka admits. He’s never really thought about it--never exactly tried to mentally describe Ogura or anything--but it’s impossible to deny that he is. “He doesn’t mean anything by it. He’s just worried.”

His father is still scowling, and the very last thing Tanaka wants is for his father to hate Ogura of all people.

He swallows down his nerves and tries to look confident.

“Ogura needed my help to stop Satou, and I helped. So he helped me get away from Satou. But that was where it ended. He could have just left, but he didn’t. Ogura fought with Japan so they’d let me leave with him. Then he fought to make sure I’d have a place here. Ogura might not be the nicest person at first, but I owe him everything.”

It occurs to Tanaka that the entire speech was a bit desperate, so he quickly bows his head, his face going pink.

“Sorry. I shouldn’t - you - you can make your own choices, I forgo-” He doesn’t get to fumble out the rest of it before his mother’s pulled him back into a tight hug, rubbing at his back again.

“If he’s as good as you say he is, then I’m sure we’ll get along. He seemed to just have your best interests in mind,” his mother says, pressing another kiss to his forehead.

As nice as things are--because they are nice, and it’d be impossible for him to say otherwise--he’s having a hard time ignoring the elephant in the room.

“Iku- Ogura said - he said I had a sister,” he says, and both of his parents immediately go stiff, glancing at each other nervously.

Tanaka suddenly feels very, very young.

“Yes,” his mother finally says. “Her name is Kikuo - we named her for you.”

There’s no paper, but she reaches out just the same, taking his hand and tracing the characters onto his palm.

Hope, success, child.

A match to his own success.

Tanaka reaches up, rubbing at his eyes desperately to keep them from watering any further.

“We’ve told her about you. But we also... we didn’t tell her what happened to you. We didn’t want her to grow up with that. They don’t want us to tell her about you yet, because they have to be sure she won’t tell anyone, but we’re going to start talking about you more. She deserves to know her big brother,” his mother says quietly, giving his hand a little squeeze.

“I’m so happy you’re okay,” his father says suddenly, pulling Tanaka back against him. He can’t remember having ever seen his father cry, and yet all of a sudden it seems to be all his father can do.

Tanaka simply curls up between them, letting himself relax. It’s strange to have them there, and everything about it feels unreal--like a dream he’s going to wake up from at any time.

He doesn’t wake up though. Even an hour later after little more than small talk and the occasional I miss you, he’s still awake, and his parents are still there.

Finally he shifts where he is on the couch, his legs cramping fiercely.

“I should - I should be eating dinner,” he mutters quietly. It’s all a lot to process, and as much as he missed his parents desperately, he wants nothing more than to lie down somewhere quiet.

“Of course,” his mother says, sounding not convinced at all. It takes her a moment to accept it, and when she speaks again, she sounds more sure of herself. “Of course. You need time. We’ll talk to the people in charge--we’ll try and see if we can come back.”

“I could make you dinner,” Tanaka says quietly, even though he isn’t sure of that at all. Are they allowed to see the town? Do they even know the town is there?

“We’ll talk to them,” his father says, slowly untangling his arms from the ball before standing up.

The fact that his father wobbles a bit means he’s not the only one with leg cramps.

Tanaka takes his time getting up himself, rubbing at his legs before holding out his hand to help his mother up.

She takes it, looking terribly close to bursting into tears as she does so.

She immediately hugs Tanaka again, throwing her arms around his middle, and he reaches down, giving her a hug in return.

“I’ll come back,” she insists. “We’ll both come back. As much as we can. I love you.”

Tanaka doesn’t think it’s possible for him to cry any more, but his eyes get wet just the same, and he gives her another little squeeze before she finally pulls back.

It seems to take forever before anyone starts to move towards the door, and then Morgan’s there, giving them all the polite smile-and-nod as two other members of the department arrive to collect Tanaka’s parents and escort them to the front.

Tanaka wonders if they’ll have to debrief, and then decides that the answer is probably yes.

He hopes they come back soon either way.

Chapter Text

Ogura’s dozing on the couch when the door opens and Tanaka lets himself in. He cracks an eye open, squinting up at him before sitting up.

“How’d it go?” he asks, and Tanaka’s eyes widen, his confusion obvious.

“You didn’t watch...?”

There’s no question that Tanaka just assumed Ogura would be spying in through the camera.

“No. It’s not my job to keep an eye on you, so I left that to Mai. I’d rather not spy on you when you’re having personal time with your folks, and there’s really no situation where me watching has a good reaction.”

Tanaka stares at him for a moment before he finally realizes that he’s still standing in the doorway, stepping inside and closing the door behind him.

“What do you mean?” He asks as he pulls off his shoes.

“If it went badly and you got upset, I didn’t want to be the one who punches your dad to get you away. If it went well--which it obviously did--I didn’t want any jealousy flaring up and getting in the way of things,” Ogura answers, folding his hands into his lap as Tanaka sits down on the couch beside him.

“I should probably tell you that I’m sure they’ll like you, but you made my mom cry, so that might be a bit far off,” Tanaka says.

Ogura lets out a laugh.

“I’m not good with parents, obviously. Not my own. Not yours. Not anyone, really. I don’t even think Ricky’s parents like me very much, even if grandpa seems to.”

Tanaka leans back against the couch, tipping his head back until he’s staring right at the ceiling.

“I’m just... I’m happy they’re okay,” he says quietly, and Ogura fights the urge to put his hand on Tanaka’s shoulder. Tanaka’s happy. He doesn’t need support. He’s just processing whatever happened.

“So everything went well?” Ogura asks, raising an eyebrow.

Tanaka doesn’t nod, but he does answer.

“Yeah. My sister is Kikuo, they-”

“Named her after you? Same as your ‘Kou’?” Ogura says.

“Yeah,” Tanaka says, turning his head and looking surprised. “How’d you know?”

“Cheated,” Ogura confesses. “Mai gave me the info they got on her when they first found out. I have her photo upstairs if you want it.”

Tanaka’s eyes widen for a moment, and then he quickly nods his head.

“I mean - If you aren’t using it-”

Using it?” Ogura says with a snort. “I kept it for you. You can keep it in your little safe once it arrives.”

Which was the plan all along, and Tanaka seems to recognize it after a moment.

Ogura goes to push himself off the couch--to go upstairs and get the picture that’s burning a hole in his safe--when Tanaka clears his throat.

Ogura pauses, glancing to Tanaka.

“Out with it,” Ogura says simply, well aware that Tanaka’s working up the nerve to say something as he sits back down.

“Uhm... I wanted to, uh... ask you...”

Tanaka trails off, and Ogura raises his eyebrows. He’s honestly having a hard time figuring out what it is that Tanaka needs to ask, because he can’t think of anything he hasn’t yet covered.

“Did you... uhm, know Satou? Before Japan.”

Ogura’s eyebrows shoot up almost immediately, his brain clicking through options as he tries to figure out exactly what Tanaka is getting at. The answer is no--he didn’t know him--but it takes him a bit to figure out what Tanaka is so nervously trying to guess at.

“No,” Ogura says, but he doesn’t leave it at that. “But I’m guessing someone mentioned him being American.”

Tanaka shifts nervously, his hand darting up and then back down as he fights off his most obvious habit.

“Not in those words, but... something like that.”

It’s not hard to figure out who, considering there’s an extremely limited number of Japanese speakers, but Ogura isn’t really that angry. It’s almost inevitable that Tanaka would find out, and the longer he went without finding out made it more likely he’d assume it was being hidden from him.

Ogura shrugs.

“It’s an open secret in base, and a complete secret off it. Satou isn’t Japanese at all--he was actually an American citizen, and as you can imagine America isn’t exactly in a hurry to claim him as one of our own. Having me get kidnapped by Japan actually worked out fairly well for us, since it gave America an excuse to offer our help and keep an eye on things without having to admit to anything.”

Tanaka’s obviously deep in thought, his eyebrows furrowed together as he stares at--well, not quite Ogura’s face, but at least his torso.

“And they... sent him?” Tanaka finally says, his voice almost cracking.

“Oh hell no, nothing like that. America has no idea where he’d gone or that he was an ajin until he showed up in Japan, and someone who knew him went ‘well fuck, isn’t that Sam?’,” Ogura clarifies.

“Sam?”

“Samuel Thomas Owen. S-T-O, which is probably how he picked out Satou. Most common Japanese family name, and it matched his initials. Born and raised not all that far north of us. Half Chinese, half British. He fought in Vietnam, went absolutely crazy, and was dishonorably discharged.”

Tanaka’s eyes flick up, the corners of his mouth twisting down ever so slightly.

“Dishonorably...?”

“Oh, sorry. Too used to military terms after dealing with out teams. The department of demi-human affairs isn’t a branch of the military by any means, but we work pretty closely with them. Dishonorably discharged just means he was kicked out. I’m not entirely clear on what exactly he did, but whatever he did got someone killed, and the military booted him and sealed his records. From the information I was given after Japan caught him, America basically lost track of him at some point. He got kicked out of the military, worked a shitty part time job--missing a leg and all sorts of fucked up--and then drops off the map. Since he was estranged from the last of his family, no one reported him missing.”

Tanaka’s eyebrows become even more scrunched.

“What’s on your mind?” Ogura prompts, well aware that Tanaka isn’t likely to offer his thoughts otherwise.

“I just... never really thought about his family. He seemed more like he’d just... come into existence, as silly as that sounds. I guess he must have had parents too.”

“Just one,” Ogura clarifies. “His mother died when he was an infant. His dad only passed away a few years ago. Probably a blessing, really--he didn’t live to get to see his only son show up on TV.”

The words are already out of his mouth when his brain catches up, and he realizes how horrible what he just said was.

“Sor- fuck. Just...” Telling Tanaka to ignore it obviously isn’t going to work, because Tanaka’s posture’s already changes, his eyes on the floor and his hands folded tightly into his lap. “It’s different, Tanaka. Satou went and did the things he did with the full knowledge of what it would mean. He did the things he did for fun, because he wanted to get his shits and giggles by murdering people. You did what you did because you wanted to help ajin, and even if the things you did were wrong, you were tricked into doing them.”

“I still did them,” Tanaka says quietly.

“Then I’m in the same shit, in case you forgot. I didn’t do shit when I could have stopped Satou. If I’d set off the fire alarms there’d be a lot more people alive.”

Tanaka’s eyes widen, and it occurs to Ogura that Tanaka likely has no idea what he’s talking about.

“I could have stopped him,” Ogura says with a wave of his hand. “Or at least slowed him down significantly. But I didn’t. I valued my own life more than the lives of others, the way most people do. And in the end, you know what? It was the right fucking choice. Even if I’d have slowed him down, Satou would still have been a threat, and now he’s not. Life’s like that. The right choice doesn’t always lead to the best outcome. Maybe having your help him changes Satou’s trajectory.”

Tanaka doesn’t look convinced, but if nothing else Ogura’s doing a damned good job of convincing himself.

“Thinking about it, having you almost definitely did. He put at least some effort into making it appear to be about a cause, whereas he might not have bothered if it was just the others, and not you.”

Tanaka still doesn’t look convinced, but he looks at least a bit less stressed.

“I should make dinner,” Tanaka says quietly, and Ogura lets out a little sigh.

That’s just another thing added to Tanaka’s mental pile, and that one is entirely his fault.

“I’ll get the picture then,” Ogura says, pushing himself off the couch and wincing when he puts too much pressure on his left hand.

Tanaka doesn’t say a word as he ducks into the kitchen, and Ogura tries not to sigh too loudly as he heads up the stairs.

Chapter Text

Ogura’s at the top of the stairs when someone knocks on the door, and he can’t help but let out an exaggerated groan. He wants to get the picture out of his safe. He wants to give it to Kouji and at least be able to clear one more thing off his plate.

Instead he turns back around to get the door himself.

“Got it!” He calls, pulling the door open to find a young man he recognizes as the communities equivalent of a delivery boy. He’s got several boxes under his arms, and immediately presses them over to Ogura.

“For you. And there’s even more coming. How much did you order?” The man asks, looking absolutely bewildered.

It takes three trips to get all the boxes into the entranceway, by which point Kouji has emerged from the kitchen to stare.

“I got it,” he insists. “Some of this is for the kitchen, some of this is your stuff we ordered. Some of it’s mine, because a lot of my clothes got lost somewhere in Japan,” he explains, waving the delivery boy off before closing the door.

It takes the better part of an hour for him to unpack everything, and eventually all he has left is Kouji’s things. A large red blanket. A new set of sheets. A better pillow. A lockbox.

Ogura double checks the boxes contents before setting it on the bottom step, heading into the kitchen for dinner.

He’s halfway through the meal when he glances up and realizes he’s fifteen minutes late for his physical therapy session.

“Fucking hell, I can’t catch a break today,” he mutters, shoveling down the last of the food. “I’ve got physical therapy, your stuffs on the stairs if you want to set it up. If not, I’ll get it when I get back.”

Kouji doesn’t protest, just gives him a small little smile and goes back to his food.

Physical therapy is both more boring and more painful than Ogura was prepared for, and by the end of the hour all he wants to do is go to bed. His hand aches. It feels a thousand times worse than it did the day before, and he’s having a hard time believing that it’s actually being improved by the exercises he’s being told to do.

He wonders if the doctor in charge of instructing him was told by Mai to torture him, because that’s exactly what it feels like.

He’s absolutely miserable when he gets home, and Kouji seems to realize it immediately.

“I already put my things away,” he says quickly. “So there’s no work to do.”

Ogura thanks whatever god that exists for that, because there’s absolutely no way he’s carrying anything upstairs.

“I feel like death,” he admits. “Physical therapy was hell, and it’s been a long, long day. So I’m going to bed.”

Kouji doesn’t protest, and Ogura’s at the top of the stairs before he realizes there’s one last thing to do.

“Come on, I’ve got the picture in the safe.”

It’s obvious enough Kouji wasn’t going to mention it if Ogura didn’t, but his face lights up and he practically flies up the stairs as Ogura heads into his lab.

Kouji hovers in the doorway to the lab as Ogura opens the safe, pulling out the photo and handing it over.

“Your sister,” he says as Kouji takes the photo, staring down at it with wide eyes. “That’s her school photo, it’s what Mai has. I’m sure your parents would bring more for you if you want them. I’ll buy a little photo album for you, actually.”

And a camera, he decides.

“You don’t -” Kouji starts as usual, and Ogura huffs so loud he stops.

“Stop saying that. I can do what I want with my money, and if I want to buy you a photo album, I will. Treat yourself. Enjoy the little things.”

Kouji frowns at that, but he doesn’t argue. Instead he shrugs his shoulders, apparently just as tired of the argument as Ogura is.

“Alright,” he says, glancing down at the photo again.

“Goodnight then,” Ogura says, bending down to seal the safe again before walking past Kouji. “Try and get some sleep, because you’ve got class in the morning.”

He leaves Kouji in the lab, still staring at the photo of his sister.

Chapter Text

The next few days are significantly more relaxed. Kouji goes to lessons in the morning, practicing English through what Ogura considers normal school hours. Ogura goes to work, fielding questions about the process that allowed them to kill Blout as Mai handles the legal side of things.

Mai even lets him back in the lab, which is a relief in itself. As awful as things went the last time he was there, he finds it easy enough to fall into a comfortable routine, helping to catch everyone up to date on the information he’s gleaned.

He does his physical therapy when he’s done, and then spends the rest of the afternoon bitching about how much his hand hurts.

Kouji seems to be in a far better mood after the meeting with his parents, carefully practicing his English when he can. He says his hellos in English, and he says his goodbyes in English, and every so often he’ll excitedly interject with a new vocab word.

Ogura’s heart flutters every time he does.

He’s got it really bad, Ogura realizes.

Mai was right.

They watch movies sometimes, and one night they even have Morgan over for dinner. Kouji seems hesitant to ask after it’s over, but finally he does, suggesting that they invite Yasuhiko over the following night.

Ogura has no complaints, although he doubts he’d ever be okay with Akiyama coming over.

It’s a relief when Mai lets him know that the therapist will be arriving the next day, and when the next delivery shows up, he quickly unpacks it, shoving the small photo album under his arm and pulling out the other box.

“Kouji!” He calls, and Kouji appears like magic from behind a doorway. He seems to always be ready to pop up when called, and Ogura’s starting to suspect he spends a lot of his time not doing anything at all.

“I got you this,” Ogura says, tossing the extra box over. It’s a bad idea, he realizes as he releases it, but it’s too late to stop it.

Kouji catches it anyway, and Ogura wonders why he worried at all.

Kouji squints down at the box, flipping it over to squint at the pictures.

“A... camera?” He ventures after a moment, and Ogura nods.

“One of those instant ones. Like the old polaroids. I thought it would be helpful for you to be able to take pictures of things around you, so that a year from now you’d be able to see the progress you’d made. Take a picture of your room. Of your parents. Of yourself.”

For some utterly inexplicable reason, Kouji starts going pink, and Ogura simply stares at him incredulously.

“What?” He finally asks, unable to figure out what part of what he just said might possibly have elicited a blush.

“I, uh -” Kouji stutters, halting for a moment as he tries to take a deep breath. “Could we take a picture?”

Ogura’s eyebrows go down and then up very quickly as he processes.

“You mean, like, together?”

Kouji nods ever so slightly, and Ogura goes right back to pressing his eyebrows so tight together they hurt.

Why the hell does Kouji want a picture of them?

But there’s no harm in it, so he sets it up just the same, flicking through the camera's options to find the timer and settling in.

“How do you want us, anyway?” Ogura asks, still feeling mystified as Kouji settles in beside him.

“Just... uh, try and smile,” Kouji says.

Ogura does, but he’s probably not very convincing. When Kouji checks the freshly printed photo, he seems perfectly happy with the result, and Ogura can only shrug, still just as mystified as he was when Kouji first suggested it.

At least Kouji seems happy.

“Therapy tomorrow,” Ogura reminds him. “You’ll be going straight there after lessons.” He has the earlier of the two sessions, which he vastly prefers. It means he gets to vet the therapist before Kouji sees him, even if Mai hasn’t officially given him any power to vet anyone at all.

“I know,” Kouji says, seeming far less alarmed by the idea than Ogura is convinced he should be.

Ogura doesn’t bring it up again.

Chapter Text

Ogura arrives to his appointment a full thirty minutes early, and it takes all he has not to simply pace outside the office door. There’s nothing very special about the doctor’s office, placed where it is near all the other offices, and he wonders if the man is bothered by the lack of waiting room.

Ogura wonders if he’s even going to be handling anyone else, or if he’s effectively come just for him and Kouji.

At ten minutes to his scheduled appointment time, the door opens and a man peeks out.

Ogura’s first impression is either no good at all, or too good by far. The man is attractive. He looks to be in his early thirties, and while he’s certainly not Ogura’s type--muscular but not buff, lanky more than wide shouldered--he’s far and above hot enough that it doesn’t make much of a difference.

He has dark skin and a small goatee, with hair that looks like he just rolled out of bed (in exactly the right way), and as Ogura looks at him all he can wonder is if Mai intentionally found the hottest man in mental health, or if the entire thing is some kind of painful twist of fate.

The man raises an eyebrow and steps back, gesturing inside.

“If you’re here early, you might as well knocked. Come in.”

Ogura decides that there’s no way it’s a coincidence.

The man’s office is so sparsely decorated that Ogura’s pretty sure he hasn’t decorated at all. The desk and chairs are the exact same ones that are in every office, and there’s nothing new on the walls. The man offers his hand for a shake, sitting the moment it’s done.

Polite, but not overly friendly, Ogura decides.

“My name is Samir Rahim, I’ve been flown in to handle therapy primarily for you and Mr. Tanaka,” he says by way of introduction as he settles into his chair. “I was told you two are currently living together?”

“We’re roommates,” Ogura says quickly. “Rahim - isn’t that Arabic?”

His attempt at prying gets literally nowhere, because Rahim simply smiles politely and makes absolutely no attempt to engage the question.

“I’ve been briefed on the general nature of both of your cases, but I’d prefer to hear it from you to start. From what I’ve been told, your issue is primarily one of trauma. I’m not adverse to medication in general terms, but medication has only a minimal benefit in cases such as this, and likely we’ll simply be using different therapeutic techniques to help you process what happened to you,” the doctor says, his entire speech extremely to the point and no-nonsense.

“Is this the part where you tell me it’s all because my mother didn’t love me enough?” Ogura says wryly, hoping for a reaction that he doesn’t get. Samir simply stares at him, then offers a little sigh.

“If you’re combative, the effectiveness is going to be greatly reduced,” Rahim says quietly. “You need to participate in therapy in good faith or there will be a limited amount I can do for you.”

“You’re not here for me,” Ogura says quietly, his tone meaner than he intended. “You’re here for Kouji. What I went through is nothing, meanwhile he’s sitting on ten years of some of the worst trauma anyone could ever imagine.”

He has his doubts about how Kouji will react to someone else trying to pry him open. Really, he’s not even sure Kouji will talk to the man at all.

“That’s for me and him to determine,” Rahim says simply. “We aren’t here to talk about his therapy. We’re here to talk about yours.”

“Wouldn’t it be a conflict of interest to have you talking to both of us anyway?” Ogura says.

“It could be, if I was incapable of clearly drawing the line between the two of you. But people who have the kind of experience that I have who can also pass some of the hardest security clearance in the country are rare. The fact that I will be providing therapy for both of you will not be an issue.”

Rahim seems to have a response for everything, and Ogura leans back in his chair with a little huff.

“You’ve been avoiding my original question,” Rahim says firmly. “I wanted to hear what happened in your own words.”

“It was a month long, it’ll take a while,” Ogura says. “And I have no idea what security clearance you have.”

Only Rahim has an answer for that too, smoothly leaning forward to retrieve a note from his desk and holding it out for Ogura to take. When he does, he notes that it’s from Mai, and that it neatly lays out exactly what he can tell him.

More or less everything, although she asks for him to use discretion when discussing his work.

Ogura scowls even harder.

“I understand if you don’t want to talk about it,” Rahim says, his voice quiet but still firm. “But I was under the impression that you had agreed to come in large part so that Mr. Tanaka would feel better about his own therapy. How do you think he will feel if, after several sessions, you had made no apparent progress?”

Ogura wonders just how much Mai has told him, because he seems to know exactly where to twist the knife.

“I’m not broken,” he says firmly. “I can handle myself just fine.”

“You aren’t broken,” Rahim confirms, which makes Ogura like him slightly more. “The human mind just has a limited amount of stress that it can reasonably cope with, and you have far exceeded that. Don’t think of it as repairing something that was broken. Think of it as releasing water from a dam to prevent an overflow. You haven’t dealt with what happened to you, so it continues to stay there, threatening to overflow. It already has once, from what your direct superior has told me. If you don’t deal with the core issues, it will again.”

Ogura squirms in his seat, and then decides that regardless of his feelings about things, Rahim is absolutely better than human psychology than he is. He’s aware enough to know that Rahim’s playing him like a fiddle, but not aware enough to prevent it.

“If you will not work with me on your own behalf, consider working with me for Mr. Tanakas. Seeing someone he is close to recover with the help of therapy will do wonders for his own.”

It’s exactly the right--or wrong--thing to say, and Ogura lets out a tired groan.

“Fine,” he says. “For his sake.”

Chapter Text

It takes the better part of three hours for Ogura to explain it all. He leaves out the more job-oriented parts--like just how he managed to kill Satou--but leaves (for the most part) the rest in. To his credit, Rahim reacts appropriately, nodding and occasionally making small notes. He doesn’t even flinch when Ogura decides to go into overly explicit detail about the things that Satou did to him, and by the end of the session Ogura has built a slow, begrudging respect for the man.

“Isn’t Kouji supposed to be in here?” Ogura finally mutters to himself, and Rahim gives him a wry smile. 

“I asked him to come late, and told him he might have to wait. I wanted to be sure I got it all.”

Ogura doesn’t like the idea of Kouji being made to wait, and thinking about it leads him to the obvious issue that never even occurred to him.

“How the hell are you even going to talk to him? His English isn’t nearly good enough,” Ogura says, alarmed by the idea that Morgan might have to sit in just to interpret.

“Not an issue,” Rahim says, dropping into flawless Japanese. There’s barely even an accent, and Ogura squints at him.

“Well travelled, are you?” Ogura mutters, pushing himself up from the chair. “I’ll send him in I guess.”

Kouji is waiting in the hallway, pacing up and down and looking nervous. He glances up when Ogura steps out, a look of relief washing over his face.

“He’s fine,” Ogura says quickly. “But I held you up. I’ll see you after you’re done, alright?”

And he’d kick Rahim’s ass if anything went wrong.

Kouji nods once and then heads into the office, and Rahim gets up to close the door behind him, giving Ogura a pointed look as he does.

Ogura huffs to himself and heads back home.

It’s impossible for him to focus on anything at all. All he can think about is the fact that Kouji is... is what? Is pouring his heart out? Is clamming up? He can’t decide between the two polar opposites, his brain rapidly bouncing between the two. 

Either could be true, he decides.

He spends the rest of the day doing nothing other than waiting, and after he gets bored of that, he pops into the kitchen and tries to come up with something to cook for dinner. He’s a genuinely awful cook, but at least some of the boxes in the cupboard come with instructions so clear he’d have to be a total idiot to not be able to follow them.

Two hours later he’s managed to burn most of what he was cooking because he lost track of the time, and all he has to show for his efforts is some macaroni and cheese out of a box.

He almost doesn’t notice when Kouji gets back. It’s not until he steps into the kitchen that he realizes that oops, he missed the sound of the door opening.

“It go well?” Ogura asks with only a quick glance over. The look on Kouji’s face--an easy smile--means that yes, it did go well. He reaches up, flipping off the burner before he can burn anything else and starting to serve dinner into bowls.

“I made dinner, by which I meant I burnt dinner. This is all that survived,” Ogura adds quickly.

“It went well,” Kouji says, setting the table as Ogura serves the food. “I was worried when I went in that he’d try and... well, act like he understood. But he didn’t. He was very understanding, and he let me talk, and he gave me good advice too.”

Jealousy coils in Ogura’s guts at the thought of it, and he stamps it down quickly. Rahim is not a threat. He is not a threat in any conceivable way, because if he so much as looks at Kouji the wrong way it’d be the biggest ethical violation in history, and Mai would have his ass before Ogura even got a chance to take a swing at him.

He should be happy that Kouji’s getting along with Rahim, because him getting along with his therapist means he has a better chance of getting better.

“Uh, could I... uh, talk to you?” Kouji says timidly as Ogura sets a bowl down. “After dinner?”

“We can always talk,” Ogura says, forcing himself to remember that it’s true. He has to be there to talk about whatever Kouji wants to. Really, he should have expected as much. Of course Kouji would want to talk after his first therapist appointment. He probably had instructions to do just that, to sit Ogura down and explain what he needed to know.

They eat in silence, which doesn’t bode well for what Kouji might want to talk to him about. It’s obvious that Kouji’s mind is elsewhere, and Ogura leaves him to his thoughts as he finishes his meal.

“You wanted to talk?” Ogura finally prompts once the dishes are tucked away. Kouji nods once, swallowing so hard that even feet away Ogura can see his adam’s apple bob.

He needs support, Ogura reminds himself. No matter what he has to say.

Even so, he has to fight back nerves as he takes a seat on the couch in the living room. He expects Kouji to take the armchair, but instead he sits down beside Ogura, folding his hands together in his lap and swallowing again.

Whatever it is he wants to say, he’s really nervous about it.

“Whatever it is, you don’t have to worry,” Ogura says, trying his best to sound convincing. Kouji needs to be able to talk to him, and he’s having a hard time - actually, scratch that, he can imagine a lot of things Kouji could say that would upset him, but he doesn’t think Kouji would ever say any of them.

And then suddenly, just like that, Kouji is suddenly in his space. Ogura has all the combat skill of a wet tissue and doesn’t even get a chance to react before Kouji is suddenly there, his lips pressing down on Ogura’s own.

Chapter Text

Ogura’s brain screeches to a halt. There is simply nothing going on as his brain tries to do anything at all.

After a few seconds it processes enough to register what’s happening--Kouji is leaning down is kissing him--and actually do something about it.

While a tiny part of Ogura’s brain screams--Kouji needs support, not a fuckbuddy--the rest simply does what feels natural. He reaches over, grabbing at Kouji’s wrist and pulling him closer as he returns the kiss.

It is nothing like Satou. Where Satou was a wall, cold and apathetic, Kouji’s obviously trying his absolute best, even if he clearly has minimal experience. He doesn’t seem to know what he’s supposed to do with his hands, and after a few fluttering touches, Kouji finally settles his free hand on Ogura’s knee.

Ogura pulls back after a moment, having mysteriously forgotten that he’s supposed to be breathing through his nose.

It’s not until he has a deep gulp of air that his brain starts to work again, screaming at him for the half a million things he just fucked up. All his plans--so carefully plotted for Kouji’s own good--have just gone flying out the window.

When he glances up, Kouji appears to have forgotten to breath at all. His face is red, and his entire body is trembling ever so slightly.

“Calm,” Ogura says firmly. “Just relax.”

Despite the fact that Kouji was the one who initiated, he still looks to be on the verge of a panic attack. Ogura squeezes his wrist a bit harder, pulling Kouji in so he can wrap an arm around his back.

“Deep breaths,” Ogura says quietly. Kouji is obviously trying, sucking in breath after breath as he leans against Ogura, burying his face in Ogura’s shoulder as Ogura releases his wrist to hold him better.

It isn’t the post-kiss reaction he was expecting, to say the least.

“Shh,” he says quietly, rubbing at Kouji’s back as he slowly eases away from the panic attack, the trembling dying down ever so slowly.

Eventually Kouji wraps his arms around Ogura’s waist, still at last.

Ogura doesn’t know what to make of the hug in the context of the kiss.

“Did Rahim tell you to do that?” He finally makes himself ask. The timing is a bit too coincidental, and Ogura’s going to skin him alive if the answer is yes.

“No,” Kouji mumbles into his shoulder before finally pulling back a bit to have the space to talk. His face is still red, but it’s obviously more from embarrassment than shame or anxiety. “He... well, we talked about it, and he said I should, uh... Well, that I should go for it.”

Ogura would give up the other three fingers on his left hand for a recording of the conversation Kouji’s referring to.

Ogura is having a significant amount of difficulty coming up with an actual response, so he finally manages an mmm.

“Did you like it?” Kouji says.

“Yes,” Ogura says before Kouji can start second guessing himself. “I did.”

Ogura expects a conversation--maybe a nice sit down chat about what the hell is going through Kouji’s head, because he has no idea--and instead he gets Kouji turning his head, pressing in for round two.

Ogura is more than happy to go for round two. He dips his hand down, resting it on Kouji’s thigh as he leans in.

The second time is different from the first. It’s slower and less rushed, and Ogura’s at least composed enough to remember how to breath. Kouji obviously doesn’t, because he has to break away twice before Ogura just tells him.

“Breath through your nose,” he says firmly, pressing back up to kiss him again.

Kouji is soft in all the right places.

It takes Ogura an embarrassingly long time to realize that he isn’t. Ogura’s hard as a rock, all of his blood having rushed south. He shouldn’t be bothered by any part of it--hell, he’s done a lot worse than kissing before--but he absolutely is.

Kouji is driving him mental.

He shifts to hide his crotch but doesn’t bother to stop, and Kouji winds his arms around Ogura’s shoulders, returning the affection despite how embarrassed he looks. It’s downright endearing.

Finally Ogura breaks away, panting heavily and shifting again to try and keep Kouji from noticing that anything’s amiss. Judging by the look on his face, Kouji isn’t going to be noticing anything at all for a long, long while.

“That was... nice,” Kouji mumbles to himself, and Ogura can’t stop himself from chuckling under his breath.

“I’d hope so,” he says. “I do my best.”

“Oh!” Kouji says, suddenly startled. “Sorry, I didn’t mean-”

Ogura starts laughing before Kouji can finish the sentence.

“I didn’t mean that!” Ogura says. “I was teasing.”

He feels happy and embarrassed all at once, but it’s awfully hard to ignore the fact that all he wants to do is push Kouji over and ride him like his life depends on it.

It’s been far, far too long since he had sex.

“How about-” Ogura starts, trying to figure out the best way to word things. “How about we meet back here in thirty minutes. I think we both--especially me--need some time to process, alright?”

It’s absolutely true. He desperately needs time to process, but he’s unlikely to get any of it. He has his own needs to deal with.

Kouji looks at him for a moment before nodding, pulling back and pushing himself to his feet.

“I’m going to - to, uh, go to my room. But I’ll be back here,” Kouji says, and what little of his blush had faded comes back full force.

Ogura nods once, and waits for Kouji to be gone before he gets up himself.

He really needs some alone time.

Chapter Text

Tanaka falls into bed, not even bothering to kick off his socks. His face feels like it’s on fire, and he buries it in the pillow as fast as possible. He can’t think. He can’t do anything. Ikuya’s flushed face is seared into his brain, and he’s not sure he’ll ever be able to get the image out of his brain.

He didn’t know Ikuya could blush. He didn’t even know he was capable.

As embarrassed as he is, he’s happy the way it worked out. Even when he went for it, he expected something to go wrong. He expected to regret it.

Instead all he can think about is how Ikuya felt against him and the way he looked. Embarrassed and flustered and cute.

The thought of Ikuya being cute shouldn’t fit, and yet it absolutely does.

His heart is pounding away in his chest, and Tanaka rolls onto his back, staring at the ceiling. He’s happy for the brief break, a chance to calm his nerves. He tries to remember everything that Doctor Rahim coached him through, carefully practicing his breathing exercises to help him calm down.

The image of Ikuya’s flushed face decides to pop up again, and Kouji lets out a groan, rolling over again and trying to suffocate himself in his own pillow.

He loves him. He loves him so much that his heart aches, and he has almost no idea how Ikuya feels about him.

For that matter he’s not even sure how Ikuya feels about relationships after everything that happened with Satou. Maybe Ikuya isn’t interested in him. Maybe Ikuya isn’t interested in anyone.

They’ll talk, Tanaka decides. They’ll sit down and talk it out and then he’ll know, for better or for worse. Doctor Rahim had said it would be helpful, that it would be better for him not to bottle his feelings up. He’d said it was obviously a source of anxiety for him, and Tanaka really couldn’t argue.

It was.

It would always be until he actually said something.

Only words had seemed so much harder than actions, and Ikuya had kissed back.

So that meant he liked him, right?

Tanaka let out a groan of frustration, rolling onto his back yet again and burying his face in his arms.

As awful as Satou had been in their brief relationship, at least he’d been straightforward.

Tanaka lets out another groan at the thought of Satou, forcing himself to go back to his breathing exercises. He needed to be calm. He needed to think about nothing at all. He’d already played his one big card, and all he could do was wait and see how Ikuya reacted.

Chapter Text

Ogura feels pleasantly refreshed by the time he heads back to the living room thirty minutes later. He’s still riding the high from his orgasm, which puts him in a nice comfy position from which to talk.

It’s probably better than getting plastered drunk before sitting down for a meaningful conversation about feelings.

Kouji looks nervous but far less agitated when he appears, sliding over to the couch and sitting down like he’s practiced. He obviously has practiced just what he’s going to say, because he’s barely sat down when he starts talking.

“I just want to start by, uh, establishing. The basics, I mean. That - uh, that I like you. More than as friends,” Kouji says, tripping over his words despite the fact that he’s obviously put a ton of thought into what he wants to say. “And I wanted to know if, uhm, you did too.”

Ogura doesn’t bother trying to keep his eyebrows down. He lets them rise, the surprise showing on his face.

Well, that was... blatant. Far more blatant than he expected, honestly. He was expecting some amount of I think, but there’s nothing uncertain about what Kouji’s saying. He knows. He doesn’t think, he knows.

Suddenly it’s Ogura that’s on the spot.

“Yes,” Ogura says simply. No beating around the bush. “I think you might be the last person on the base to know, as Mai has been so keen to point out. I simply made a decision to not make any moves. You needed space to recover.”

Kouji’s face flickers between several emotions--understanding, anxiety, confusion--and finally settles on grim determination.

“Does that still stand?”

Ogura doesn’t have to think about that.

“Well, no. Not really. The idea was based on the premise that you weren’t going to be interested in that, and that if I tried to initiate you’d engage just to avoid disappointing me. That obviously goes out the window when it’s you doing the initiating.”

Kouji’s face goes pink at the mention of him initiating.

“Sorry,” Kouji mumbles. “I should have asked.”

“Generally I’d say yeah, asking is good, but in this case...” Ogura can only shrug. They’re hardly your average pair. “I mean, you’ve seen me in some pretty fucked up situations.”

Kouji’s face has escalated past pink and into red, and Ogura wonders just which specific fucked up situation his mind goes to.

“Normally I’d say we couldn’t do anything until we talk to Mai, because technically there’s not supposed to be casual dating between scientists and people who live in the facility, but considering she was pushing me to confess to you, she doesn’t have any right to complain if we do.”

Ogura wonders, not for the first time, if Rahim received a none-too-gentle push by Mai.

“Is this... uhm, casual dating?” Kouji asks, looking suddenly nervous.

“This is whatever you want it to be,” Ogura says firmly. “Try not to focus on labels. If you do, you’ll just get caught up in trying to define it, and you’re really never going to be able to define... well, whatever this is. Normally casual dating would mean going out to the movies, not helping save the other’s life and fleeing to another country together.”

The explanation seems to calm Kouji down a bit, and he nods ever so slightly, swallowing down his anxiety.

“So you’re really not doing this just to... to make me feel better?” Kouji says, sneaking a glance up at him.

Ogura snorts. He knows he should give Kouji a somber, serious response, but he snorts anyway.

“If I was doing that, I wouldn’t have kissed back. I wouldn’t have grabbed your knee. I’d have sat there and when you broke the kiss, I’d have told you that you should be talking to your therapist about things.”

Saying as much seems to do a lot for Kouji, because he relaxes almost immediately, nodding his head briefly.

“Sorry, I’m just... surprised you like me, I guess.”

Ogura rolls his eyes at that.

“Do I need to do the speech again? The one about all the reasons you should have some self worth?”

Kouji reaches out, gently grabbing at Ogura’s hand. Ogura simply stares down incredulously, unsure of what is supposed to be happening.

“What about you?” Kouji says.

“Huh?” Ogura replies without a shred of eloquence.

“You seem... down on yourself,” Kouji says after a moment. “You always talk about how good I am, but what about you?”

Ogura doesn’t really get the question.

“I’m a genius. My self confidence really isn’t in question.”

Kouji frowns at him in a way that makes Ogura’s heart twist, and he scowls despite himself. He doesn’t like where it’s going at all.

“And what else?”

“And nothing else,” Ogura says firmly. “I am a genius.”

Kouji frowns even more, and Ogura’s well aware that his answer is apparently--in Kouji’s opinion, if not his own--wrong.

“You’re also a good person,” Kouji says, and Ogura opens his mouth to protest. He doesn’t even get a word out before Kouji’s hand flies up, a finger pressing to Ogura’s lips to silence him.

“Let me talk,” Kouji says.

Something about Kouji being so assertive does awful things to Ogura, so he simply goes silent.

“You seem to... to beat yourself up for it. You seem to think that you’re smart, but that’s all you are, and that you don’t have any other redeeming qualities.”

Ogura doesn’t even get to open his mouth, and Kouji shushes him all the harder, his eyebrows furrowing.

“You saved me. You saved a lot of people. But all you’ve done is act like it was an entirely selfish act. What you say and what you do don’t line up. You acted like you didn’t care about me at all when Satou was still alive, but you went out of your way to send me out of harm's way for my own good. You constantly do things that... well, that are just good things. I’m not saying you’re some amazingly nice person or anything--you’ve probably upset a lot of people--but in the end you’re a good person.”

Ogura’s pretty confident that Kouji’s talking out of his ass.

“Pretty sure Mai would disagree,” he retorts.

“I don’t think she would,” Kouji says firmly, letting his hand fall away now that he’s confident Ogura isn’t going to interrupt. “And if she does, she’s wrong. She doesn’t know you well enough.”

Considering that he’s known Mai for more than a decade, and known Tanaka for less than two months, Ogura’s pretty sure that’s bullshit.

“Listen. I just...” Kouji pauses, reaching out to take both of Ogura’s hands in his own.

Kouji has big hands, Ogura reflects, but they’re warm and soft, nothing like the messes that he calls his own.

“I just want you to know that you’re a good person, even if you don’t believe it. You’ve made a big difference for a lot of people. You should talk to Doctor Rahim about it, I bet he’d agree.”

Ogura scowls at that.

“This is off topic,” he argues. “We were talking about us, not me.”

“This is about us,” Kouji says, and Ogura wonders if they’re still following Kouji’s clearly planned course. “Because if you think I’m so amazing and you’re so awful, you’ll just end up wondering why I’d want to be with you, and I don’t want you to ever think like that. I want to be with you because you are amazing. You’re the smartest person I know, and even if you act callous, you care more than most.”

Kouji lets the silence hang in the air for a long moment before he squeezes Ogura’s palms, leaning in for a kiss. This one isn’t as deep and passionate as the first or event the second, chaste in comparison, but it makes Ogura’s cheeks flush.

Kouji does truly awful things to his composure.

Chapter Text

They spend the rest of the evening curled on the couch, pretending to watch TV while really doing nothing of the sort.

Intellectually, Ogura knows why Kouji’s so soft. Any callouses he’s built up simply repair themselves with each reset. Despite that, it still blows his mind how soft Kouji’s skin is. No one who looks so big and intimidating should have hands so soft they should be in a commercial.

He spends a lot of time playing with them as they watch TV, with Kouji occasionally making small noises when Ogura does something too noticeable.

Eventually Kouji turns his own actions back on him, wrapping his hands around Ogura’s own. His fingers rub ever so lightly over the stumps of his fingers, and Ogura jerks his hand back immediately.

“Sorry,” Kouji says quickly, looking mortified. “Does it hurt?”

It’s still sore from physical therapy, but it doesn’t hurt. That’s not the reason, and after a moment Ogura decides even he isn’t entirely clear why his instinct was to pull away. Animal instinct? Because Satou used to rub at them? Too many things at once, and he lets out a sigh, sagging back against the couch.

“No, it doesn’t hurt. It’s just... sensitive,” Ogura says, unable to find a better word. Kouji seems to understand more than he does, because he nods, leaning over to press a kiss to Ogura’s cheek.

“I won’t touch them. I’ll be careful,” Kouji says quietly.

“No,” Ogura says before he can even think of a follow up. He’s forced to sit there for a moment as Kouji stares at him, chewing his lip and trying to figure out what he’s even trying to say. “No. I don’t want it to be like that. I don’t want to... to not have you doing things because Satou did them before. He’s dead and gone and I don’t want him having that sort of control. So do what you want, and it’s up to me to try and get over it.”

Kouji stares at him for what seems like forever before he leans in, pressing a kiss to Ogura’s forehead.

“I want you to be comfortab-” Kouji starts, and Ogura cuts him off.

“Then make me comfortable by pretending Satou never existed at all.”

Kouji shifts at the repeated mentions of Satou’s name, but at least he doesn’t reach up to grab at his lip again.

“Alright,” he finally says.

He doesn’t do anything else though, and Ogura’s missing fingers go ignored for the rest of the night.

It’s after ten when Ogura finally pulls away, letting out a little huff.

“You have class in the morning,” he says quietly.

“And therapy?” Kouji asks, his eyebrows going up.

“No. Therapy is monday, wednesday, friday right now. Eventually it’ll shift to once a week, but they don’t want to interrupt your schedule too much.”

As if Kouji even had a schedule. He has lessons and more or less nothing else.

“I’ll cook tomorrow then,” Kouji says quietly. “Since you cooked today.”

Ogura considers pointing out that his cooking could probably be considered attempted murder, and then decides it’s a bit too mean spirited considering Kouji’s earlier be nice to yourself lecture.

“Alright,” he says instead. “Now get to bed.”

Kouji does, and Ogura follows suit not long after.


 

Kouji’s already off at class when Morgan stops by the house with a report tucked under his arm. Despite the fact that the report means he’s probably there for business, there’s an amused little smile on his face when Ogura opens the door.

“Report for you,” Morgan says in a tone of voice so amused that Ogura can’t help but squint. “Congratulations by the way.”

Ogura isn’t stupid enough to think that the congratulations are a coincidence, and he grunts as he reaches out, jerking the report out from under Morgan’s arm.

“Did he actually tell you, or was he just that obvious?” Ogura asks as he pages through it, not really reading.

“He told Yasuhiko, and I got to overhear,” Morgan says. “He looked like he was going to melt if he didn’t tell someone.”

“Things have a way of getting around when you live in a community this small, so I’m not surprised,” Ogura says, partially to himself. “Are you coming in?”

Morgan waves him off.

“Just coming by to drop that off and make fun of you a bit. You’re not exactly reacting the way I expected, though. I kind of expected... I don’t know, embarassment?”

Ogura rolls his eyes at that.

“It was a kiss. I’m not going to get flustered over a kiss, and considering that half the community has spent every waking moment since we got back reminding me that Kouji is both attractive and eligible, I don’t see what I have to be embarrassed about.”

Morgan shrugs, apparently convinced by the argument.

“Fair enough. Tanaka’s pretty embarrassed by the whole thing though, so I wouldn't be surprised if he freaked out the first time someone teased him about it. Yasuhiko’s doing a good job being the supportive friend, though.”

Ogura makes a noncommittal noise and says his goodbyes, turning his attention to the report properly. It’s more or less what he expected--an explanation of Japan’s claims and their reactions to the fact that he’s just revealed that they’re a bunch of giant fucking liars.

It occupies his time until Kouji finally gets home, and when Ogura glances up, he realizes that Kouji has apparently come home pre-blushed.

“Embarrassed before I’ve even got to look at you. That has to be a new record,” Ogura says, turning back to the report and dog earing the corner to make sure he doesn’t get lost.

Kouji heads to the fridge, pulling out supplies as he gets ready to start making dinner.

“Sorry, it wasn’t you. Just... in general.”

Ogura lets out a little snort at that, but doesn’t try and tease Kouji further. He’s obviously sensitive, and rubbing it in the way he usually would is probably a bad idea.

It’s not until after they eat that Kouji brings it up again.

“So is... uh, is this it?” Kouji says, and Ogura stares at him, completely clueless as to what he’s asking.

“Huh?”

“I mean...” Kouji takes a moment to compose himself, obviously thinking hard about what he wants to ask. “I’ve never, uh... been in a relationship with someone before. Except Satou, and I don’t think that really counts. So I’m not sure what really counts as, uhm, relationship stuff. If I should be doing something differently.”

“Satou definitely does not count,” he says firmly. “As for your question... pretty much. We’re taking it slow. For now we just take things at our own pace. There’s no need to rush into anything.”

A part of him--a big part of him at that--suspects that Kouji’s worried that he’s not living up to Ogura’s past relationships, which really couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Ogura’s already more attached to Kouji than he has been to any of the men in his past, but that’s not a high bar to clear.

“Slow,” Kouji confirmed with a small little nod. “Alright.”

Ogura suspects they have very different definitions of slow, but he’s not going to argue the point.

Chapter Text

“You’re going to have a very nasty scar,” Satou says, digging his fingers into the back of Ogura’s hand. The scar there burns even though it’s already a scar rather than a fresh wound. Even though it hurts he’s hard, so hard it hurts, and Satou simply looks down at him and laughs without an ounce of pity.

“You’re so desperate,” Satou says, reaching down to grab at his throat.

Ogura wakes from his dream confused and disoriented. There are arms, but they’re nowhere near his throat. Instead they’re wrapped around his middle, holding him tightly as he sucks in breath after breath.

He’s hyperventilating, he realizes, but even with that knowledge it takes him a bit to come out of it, to compose himself enough to really process.

He is at home, he reminds himself. He is safe. The arms are Kouji’s, he realizes, and so is the voice. The voice he didn’t even process, didn’t even hear.

Ogura buries his face in Kouji’s shoulder and tries not to think at all.

Eventually his breathing calms, and Ogura lets himself really process. It was a dream. Kouji is there, his arms wrapped tightly around Ogura, and one of his hands is rubbing slow circles on his back.

Kouji isn’t saying anything, and whatever it was he was saying has been completely lost.

“I woke you up,” Ogura mumbles into Kouji’s shoulder, carefully wrapping his arms around Kouji’s middle. His hands are trembling, he realizes, and he covers that by grabbing at Kouji’s top instead.

“You were yelling,” Kouji says quietly. “I don’t mind.”

“I mind,” Ogura complains. “You should be able to sleep. I shouldn’t be waking you up.”

He feels exhausted, but as much as he’s talking like he wants Kouji to go back to bed, he’s happy to have him there.

“If I’m too tired in the morning, I’ll reset. It’s not an issue,” Kouji says, reaching up with one hand gently running his fingers through Ogura’s hair.

Ogura doesn’t remember falling asleep, but he does anyway.

He wakes to find himself curled against Kouji, the sun already risen. It has to be close to nine if not later, but Kouji shows no signs of waking. 

He looks peaceful, and Ogura stays where he is just to avoid waking him.

Almost thirty minutes later, Kouji cracks his eyes open, staring up at the ceiling for several minutes before abruptly jerking upright, his brain having finally connected the dots.

“Oh!” He says, and Ogura can’t stop himself from bursting out laughing at the reaction. Kouji twists to look at him--bare chested but mostly hidden by the blankets--and goes pink.

“Sor-” Kouji starts, cutting himself off as he suddenly becomes aware (absolutely correctly) that Ogura would lecture him for apologizing when it was unnecessary. “You fell asleep on top of me, and I didn’t want to push you off and wake you, so I just... fell asleep.”

“It’s fine,” Ogura says, completely honestly. “The beds big enough for four, so it’s not like I was bothered by you being here. Has anyone told you how soft you are?”

Kouji quickly goes from pink to bright red.

“Soft?”

“Natural trait of any ajin who resets regularly. Any damage your skin takes regenerates with the rest of you, so all the stuff that would make your skin rough goes away. Gives you baby soft skin all the time. Doesn’t really fit how you look, so it caught me off guard.”

Kouji looks absolutely mystified, and after a moment he reaches down, rubbing his fingers over the back of his wrist.

“I never realized,” he admits after a moment. “What do you mean, how I look?”

“Well, more how you looked before. You were intimidating looking. Big scary guy with wide shoulders who could probably bench press me. Now you look a lot younger with that hair,” Ogura says, reaching up to run his fingers along Kouji’s scalp, ignoring the blush on his face.

“Oh,” Kouji says quietly, his eyes darting around. It takes Ogura a second to realize that Kouji is trying very hard to look anywhere other than Ogura’s torso, and he lets out a laugh when he realizes.

“I’m not going to make you look,” Ogura says. “But you can look at you want.”

Kouji somehow manages to go even redder, but he does sneak a peak.

Ogura is expecting him to just look, but instead he reaches out, trailing his fingers over the crook of Ogura’s neck. It takes Ogura a second to realize what he’s touching, and then lets out a sigh.

“It’s a bite, if you’re wondering how I managed to scar in a circle,” he says with a huff. “I’m sure I don’t need to explain where it’s from.”

He doesn’t, obviously. It’s not like he went around getting bitten until he scarred before Satou showed up.

He expects that Kouji will pull away, but he doesn’t. Instead he bends forward, pressing a kiss to the very center of the scar.

Ogura groans softly before he can stop himself, clamping his jaw tightly shut.

He shouldn’t be getting half as riled up as he is.

Kouji lets out a little chuckle as he pulls back, effectively turning Ogura’s insides to mush.

“I’m going to go shower,” Kouji says as he slides out of bed. “I’ll see you at breakfast?”

Ogura can’t manage a coherent answer, so he simply nods, falling back into his bed as Kouji leaves the room.

Ogura really, really hopes he’ll ask to stay the night again.

Chapter Text

“So why exactly is your bed so big?” Kouji asks in the middle of eating breakfast. Ogura pauses mid-chew, glancing up and raising an eyebrow.

He swallows down what’s in his mouth before answering, reaching out for his glass of orange juice.

“Because I’ve got my own bed I had them bring in special, and you’re sleeping on the standard issue one that everyone got. I’ve got the salary for it, and if I was going to be living here for years to come, I wanted to be living here comfortably.”

Kouji stews over the reply for a moment before letting out a little snort.

“Okay, but why so big? I get having a comfortable bed, but you could practically run laps in yours.”

“You’re exaggerating,” Ogura points out, spearing a piece of cantaloupe with his fork. “It’s a standard California King. Big, but totally normal for the area. But, if you want, you can always enjoy it with me.”

If Kouji isn’t going to ask, then he is, and Kouji immediately goes pink, staring down at his breakfast.

“I’m not going to push you into it,” Ogura adds, “but it was comfortable, and I don’t see any reason why we couldn’t share.”

Kouji shovels his food around his plate without actually eating any of it as he thinks the offer over. 

“I’d probably wake you,” he finally says. “I don’t sleep well most of the time.”

“If you woke me every thirty minutes that still would have been better than my old sleeping cycle. Apparently nothing fixes fucked up sleeping habits like spending more than six months in various stages of being kidnapped.”

That gets a little laugh out of Kouji, who reaches up to rub at the back of his neck.

“Well... alright then. We can give it a try,” Kouji says, abruptly changing the subject. “What are we doing for the rest of the day?”

Ogura gets up in response, heading to the cupboards and digging out a bottle of vitamins. He takes two, even though he’s only supposed to take one, and then grins back at Kouji.

“Check up,” he says. “For me, anyway. Safe to say you’re perfectly healthy, but I was a good twenty pounds underweight, so they want me to check back in and make sure I’m regaining it.”

“Should I go?” Kouji asks as he clears his plate, and Ogura waves him off.

“Standard checkup. You should practice your English while I’m gone, it shouldn't take too long.”


 

The appointment doesn’t, although Ogura does get poked and prodded repeatedly. He even earns a hard glare when he admits he hasn’t been taking his vitamins, but in the end the doctor declares that he’s gaining weight at the correct rate and sends him out after noting it all down.

It’s Saturday, which means there’s no lessons or other work to do, but Ogura drops by Mai’s office anyway.

“Do you sleep here?” Ogura asks when he finds her there. Mai’s pretty much always in her office, even if he knows she technically has a house in the little town out back.

“Sometimes,” Mai says, her tone so flat that Ogura can’t tell if she’s joking or not. “What’s up?”

“Wanted to check in since I haven’t exactly been keeping up with work. How are things going?”

“Calmer,” Mai says. “You should take time off more often, everything’s slowed down to a much more manageable pace.”

Ogura snorts at that, stepping inside and closing the door behind him before taking a seat.

“Only you’re not getting as much done.”

“No, not without you,” Mai says, not looking up from the report in her hand. “There hasn’t been much happening in general. It’s a lot of bureaucracy and paperwork. Your paper was formally published, by the way. Japan’s rather red faced over the whole thing and the EU is talking about sanctions, even if they likely won’t follow through.”

“Won’t sanction them for torture, but they’ll sanction them for fibbing,” Ogura says with a grunt.

“That’s how it works,” Mai adds. “Any objections to Tanaka’s parents visiting again next week? They’ve been pushing for a second visit since before they’d left the first time.”

“No complaints here,” Ogura says. “I assume you already heard the news?”

Mai pauses for a moment, flicking her eyes up and staring at him blankly before turning back to her paper.

“If you mean the fact that you’re sleeping with Tanaka, then yes, everyone in the facility knows by this point.”

Ogura scowls at that, leaning forward to rap his knuckles on Mai’s desk.

“We aren’t having sex, if that’s what you mean. We’re dating. It’s a relationship.”

Mai glances up at him and gives a look that makes it terribly clear she doesn’t believe him.

“If you aren’t already having sex, you will be soon,” Mai says firmly, turning back to her paper.

“I’m not an animal,” Ogura protests. “I can keep it in my pants.”

Mai chuckles a little bit at that, which makes Ogura squint at her, and she finally sets the paper down, leaning back in her chair as she looks at him.

“I don’t think you are. I don’t think you’re going to jump him or anything. I just think you’re going to melt like a block of ice tossed into a hot tub the moment that Tanaka decides he wants to.”

Ogura squints, and Mai simply smirks at him.

“What?” He finally says.

“He’s twenty-eight, Ogura, not eighty-eight. He has a sex drive and he’s spent the last ten years without so much as hugging someone. At some point--probably soon--he’s going to escalate, and the odds of you turning him down are zero.”

Ogura opens his mouth to protest, and then abruptly shuts it. Mai is exactly right, because if Kouji did ask, he sure as hell wouldn’t be saying no.

“Exactly,” Mai says. “So try not to say no when the answer is not yet, and when he does finally ask, feel free to explain to him that not everyone in the whole facility needs to know about it, because he’s absolutely awful at keeping his mouth shut about anything relating to you.”

Ogura lets out a sigh and sags back into the chair.

“Fine. I’ll pass on the message,” he says, knowing better than to argue with Mai when she’s right.

Chapter Text

When it comes time for Kouji’s parents to visit again, Kouji all but insists he goes along.

“You made her cry last time,” Kouji protests. “You have to go and apologize for the misunderstanding so you can be on a good foot.”

Ogura doesn’t really feel like he has anything to apologize for, but after several grumbles he finally says that he’ll try.

He doesn’t really want to go at all. He doesn’t want to interrupt Kouji’s happy reunion with his family, doesn’t want to be the black storm cloud hanging over their happy reunion.

“We’ve already talked about all the big stuff,” Kouji says. “About them, mostly. I think they were nervous to ask me about how things were going on my end.”

“They were probably worried the answer was ‘well, being locked in a cell twenty four hours a day is a huge upgrade from being tortured to death!’ considering what happened last time they left you in the care of the government.”

Kouji makes an unhappy little noise, and Ogura makes up for it by leaning up and pressing a kiss to his cheek. He practically has to go onto the tips of his toes to do so if Kouji doesn’t bend down for him, but the kiss has the intended effect--Kouji goes from looking somber to flushed.

Kouji cleans up as Ogura goes to change, pulling on a collared shirt in an attempt to make himself look presentable. He has the tie on and wrapped around his neck before he even realizes that something is off, but the moment he tugs it he immediately feels like he’s choking.

His fingers scrabble to pull it off, the sensation of something around his neck far too familiar. No ties. No ties ever he decides.

He rubs at his own throat for a long while, trying to push the sensation away. He takes so long that Kouji actually calls up the stairs after him, and he’s forced to double time it downstairs to make sure they won’t be late.

He doesn’t mention it to Kouji. He doesn’t want it to distract him, because he knows that Kouji will fret over it.

Kouji’s parents are waiting for him in the exact same room they met him in the first time, and Ogura’s relieved to see that Kouji’s sister is nowhere to be seen. He hangs back as Kouji embraces his mother, bending over to press a kiss to the top of her head.

Kouji’s father hangs back, glowering at Ogura near the door. Ogura knows what he should be doing--apologizing for the misunderstanding and breaking bread--but his pride isn’t going to make it so easy.

He didn’t actually do anything wrong, Ogura reflects. He did what was best for Kouji, and she probably would have cried anyway. It wasn’t his fault, and he was a tad surly at the idea of apologizing for it.

Kouji glances back at him, and Ogura scowls a tiny bit as he waves him over.

He does go over though, shoving his hands in his pockets so he doesn’t have to make an excuse to not shake hands. The entire thing backfires when Kouji’s father immediately sticks his hand out for a shake, requiring Ogura to pull his hands out to return it.

Kouji’s father turns out to have a firm grip, which Ogura definitely does not.

Kouji is looking at him, and Ogura knows what he’s waiting for, but he can’t help but feel like someone’s embedded a stone in his throat.

He wasn’t wrong, he reminds himself. He’s just saying it so that they can get over it.

But it’s not nearly as easy as it should be, and Kouji, sensing his hesitation, intervenes.

“I know you already met,” he starts, “but I figured it would be nice to start over, since you were probably really nervous the first time you showed up.”

It’s a good way of putting it, and eases the burden off Ogura ever so slightly.

“So this is Ikuya,” Kouji says, stepping slightly to the side so Ogura can see both his parents. “He helped get me out of Japan. He was - well, it’s kind of a long story, but he was Satou’s captive and we worked to stop him, and then when it was all done he brought me back here so I’d be safe.”

Ogura wonders if Kouji’s simply restating, or if what he’s telling them is new information. Based on the minimal reaction, Ogura assumes that they already know.

“And we’re very thankful for that,” Kouji’s mother says. “Kouji said he’d probably have gone right back to being under Japanese control if you hadn’t.”

Ogura has never been a modest person, and everything she’d just said was absolutely true, so he simply nodded.

“Likely. They were eager to have an ajin back under their control, and since Kouji is--or was, I guess--a Japanese citizen first and foremost, America legally had no real rights to take him out of the country.”

Talking shop is easy. It’s something he’s happy about, something he’s comfortable discussing. It’s something he could talk about for days without even blinking, something that makes him feel good.

“How?” Kouji’s father asks, looking mildly bothered by the fact that he even has to discuss it. Ogura supposes it’s a fair enough reaction, and truly one of a kind.

“I told them I wanted a guard, considering the--truthfully very unlikely--chance of an ajin coming after me,” he says. Kouji is staring at him, and he realizes abruptly that most of the information he’s relaying to Kouji’s parents is new information for all the Tanaka’s in the room.

“A guard...?”

“Ajin aren’t people to the Japanese government. Explaining that I felt he deserved better and that I owed him wouldn’t have gone over well. Better to explain things in terms they could easily understand, even though I live in a secure government facility and won’t likely need a guard at all.”

“Fair enough,” Kouji’s father says after a moment. “I’m still surprised they let you.”

“Well, the alternatives as far as they knew were ‘hand over Kouji and let him and Ogura go back to America’ or ‘Satou decides to murder everyone’, so I made it an easy choice.”

Kouji’s eyebrows go up so fast Ogura half expects them to fly off his face.

“Would you?” He asks abruptly. “Have let him live, I mean.”

Ogura lets out a snort.

“This was all happening after I left you at the house. Satou was already dead, but they didn’t know that, so I played it up.”

Before anyone can even respond, Kouji’s mother abruptly lets out a small gasp, and everyone turns their attention to her. Her hand is up over her mouth, and it takes Ogura a second to realize she’s looking at his hand.

“Oh, this?” He says, raising his hand and wiggling the stumps. “Satou took them off. Well, the second time.”

“The second time?” Kouji’s father asks, looking at Ogura like he’s insane.

“I think... uh, Tosaki did it the first time? Wasn’t he the one that had you? Before us, I mean,” Kouji says.

“Japanese government, anyway. They kidnapped me when Satou showed up, and took off my fingers to prove they were serious. And then they got reattached, and Satou took them off to prove a point.”

Kouji’s mother looks oddly pale, and Ogura decides he probably shouldn’t be so flippant about losing body parts if he wants to leave a good impression.

“It’s over and done with anyway,” Ogura says, dropping his hand. “It’s healed, and I’m doing physical therapy to make sure there’s no further damage.”

“That’s good,” Kouji’s mother says after a moment. “That you’re healing, I mean. Not all the rest.”

There’s another long, awkward silence. Ogura has next to nothing in common with them, beyond their son, and he has no idea what he’s supposed to say.

He never was very good with parents.

“I should get going,” Ogura says, trying to excuse himself. Kouji gives him a look that means he’d really prefer he’d stay, but he doesn’t make any attempt to actually stop him. “Please enjoy your time together, alright?”

Kouji gives him a look that he can’t even try and read, but Ogura doesn’t return it. Instead he simply gives a small nod of his head, excusing himself from the room as fast as possible and leaving Kouji alone with his parents.

Chapter Text

Ogura doesn't linger or make any attempt to watch Kouji and his parents. Instead he heads straight home, ducking into his lab and doing his best to bury himself in work.

He knew he was going to be in trouble. Or maybe not even trouble. Maybe Kouji would just be disappointed, which had never worked on him before in his life but would probably work just fine coming from Kouji. Kouji could twist him around his finger without even trying, and there was very little Ogura could do about it.

He doesn’t bother keeping track of time, and the only notice he got that Kouji was home was the sound of his feet coming up the stairs.

“Ogura?” Kouji calls, which is the first warning that there is going to be trouble.

Ogura, not Ikuya.

“I’m here,” he says, stabbing at the paper in front of him with a pen.

Kouji steps into the lab properly, closing the door and folding his arms over his chest.

“Do you want to talk about it?” Kouji says, as if he was actually expecting the answer to be yes.

“Nope,” Ogura says instead, flipping the pen around and chewing on the back.

After a moment’s pause, Kouji swallows down his nerves, taking a single step forward.

“Well, we are going to talk about it. This isn’t an optional thing.”

Ogura wonders when the hell Kouji got so good at asserting himself, but after a moment he drops the pen on the desk, spinning his chair to look up at Kouji.

“Then talk.”

Obviously Kouji hasn’t planned what he was going to say, because he hesitates, chewing at his lip as he stares down at Ogura.

“That-” Kouji starts, halting abruptly as he changes his mind. “I want to know why you were so upset. I had to reassure them that you weren’t angry with them, because they thought they’d offended you or something.”

“I wasn’t offended,” Ogura clarifies. “I just didn’t know what to say. I haven’t really dealt with parents on anything more than a professional level in more than twenty years. No one I was with actually brought me home to meet their own, you already know about the mess with mine, and that rules out every parental figure that I might have had. I don’t know what to say to them.”

Kouji scowls a tiny bit at that.

“You could just treat them like people,” he says after a moment. “It doesn’t have to be special or anything.”

“It does,” Ogura objects without a moment’s pause. “Because they’re your parents. They’re important to you. Maybe the most important people of all. I’m a caustic, bitter asshole, and the longer I stay around them the more likely they’ll get offended by something I say.”

Ogura is having a hard time figuring out how Kouji hasn’t figured that out. Kouji likes him, but everyone else is simply so impressed by his science that they put up with him for its sake.

“I invited them for dinner,” Kouji says, and Ogura’s head snaps up immediately.

“You what?”

“I want to show them my room and make dinner for them. Miss Huynh already said that it was okay, since they passed the security check. So they’ll be coming in two weeks for dinner.”

Ogura’s having a hard time coming up with a worse possibility, and after a moment he simply grinds his teeth, burying his face in his hands. Dinner. Dinner with Kouji’s parents. He doesn’t know why, but he’s sure that by the end of the night someone’s going to be either yelling or crying.

“It’s not going to be bad,” Kouji says, his voice soft. Ogura can’t see him, but he can suddenly feel Kouji’s hand trailing across his back. “Honest.”

“That’s because you have an extremely rosy view of me. You see me surrounded by people I like, or people whose opinions don’t matter. I’m incapable of impressing most people.”

“They already like you,” Kouji says, which is a bold faced lie if Ogura’s ever heard one. “You just have to relax and be yourself.”

“You don’t want my real self,” Ogura retorts, rubbing at the bridge of his nose. “My real self is an asshole. You want the polite, moderated Ogura Ikuya.”

“Your real self isn’t an asshole,” Kouji said, leaning over to press a kiss to Ogura’s forehead. “Your real self is a good person. That was - well, that was something I learned in therapy.”

“Hn?” Ogura mumbles, still rubbing at his face even if the kiss did help him relax a little bit.

“We talked a lot about Satou, and he helped me realize the ways he’d twisted my perception of things. He’d taken advantage of the fact that I wanted to be thankful for him. But talking about it, I also realized that you were worried about me.”

Ogura doesn’t remember being terribly worried, but he supposes he was probably a bit bothered by how naive Kouji was.

“Like... I’d tell you something, and then you’d brush it off despite being obviously upset, and I could never figure out why. But after talking it out, I realized it was because you were upset on my behalf.”

“I didn’t want to stir the pot,” Ogura mutters. “There was no point in trying to make you understand how badly he was using you when I didn’t know if you’d be left alone with him. If I’d failed, it would be better for you not to ever realize. Better to be happy with him than to rebel pointlessly.”

Kouji’s hand presses lightly against Ogura’s back.

“That’s not true,” Kouji says quietly. “Better to do the right thing.”

“Doing the right thing is overrated. People always say that they’ll do the right thing, but when push comes to shove, people save themselves.”

“Except you,” Kouji says quietly. “You saved me. You put yourself at risk for me.”

Ogura doesn’t remember doing anything of the sort, and he’s having a hard time figuring out what Kouji could possibly be talking about.

He doesn’t get to ask. Kouji pulls Ogura’s hands away from his face, leaning down to press a gentle kiss to his lips.

“I’m sure you’ll be fine,” Kouji says quietly. “And I’m sure they’ll like you just as much as I do.”

Chapter Text

Kouji has nightmares that night, and Ogura curls against him. making soft noises until he wakes. He’s bleary eyed and confused, but settles down when he recognizes Ogura, sagging back into the pillow.

“He was there,” Kouji mumbles quietly, and Ogura doesn’t need to ask who he is. There’s only one person it could be, and he nods carefully.

“It was just a dream,” Ogura says quietly. “He’s dead and gone, and he won’t ever hurt you again.”

He regrets not letting him see the body for the millionth time, worried Kouji’s never going to stop worrying.

He wakes in the morning to find that while Kouji is already awake, he hasn’t gone to make breakfast or get ready for class. Instead he curls against him, pressing kisses to his forehead and dragging his fingers through Ogura’s hair.

“Morning,” Ogura says quietly, squeezing his eyes shut again. 

“You’ve gone grey,” Kouji says, running his fingers through the hair above one of Ogura’s ears.

“You’re late,” Ogura mumbles. “I got my first grey hair before I was twenty. If anything, it’s a miracle I’m not all grey.”

Kouji lets out a laugh and bends down, pressing a kiss to Ogura’s forehead.

They have breakfast and then it’s off to work and class. It feels good to be productive again, good to have something to focus on. He works through his backlog, and then picks out a new project to work on just to get back into the swing of things.

Rahim’s obviously settling in, because his office looks a lot more decorated. Still not much, but there’s at least some signs of wear, and there’s a new frame sitting on the desk, although Ogura can’t see the picture.

“Take a seat,” Rahim says, gesturing for him to sit as he settles back into his chair. “Did you know Tanaka saw me in the hallway last night?”

Ogura most certainly did not, but when he thinks about it he realizes there’s an hour or so long window where he’s not sure what Kouji was doing.

“No,” he admits. “Why are you bringing this up?”

“Because he explicitly came to find me outside of office hours in order to express his concern to me.”

Ogura’s eyebrows furrow at the idea, and he scowls strongly. Not hard to guess what Kouji might be bothered by.

“He said he’s worried that you have poor self worth. In general I wouldn’t let a request like that directly affect my planned treatment, but it is something I noticed and planned to touch on, so I see no issue in bringing it to the front.”

Ogura scowls even harder, if such a thing is even possible.

“My self worth is fine,” Ogura says. “I’m a genius.”

He doesn’t see why everyone is so fixated on it.

“It is entirely possible--and actually quite common--for people who suffer from low self esteem to fixate on a specific trait that they believe is their only redeeming feature. In this case, it would be your intellect. You believe that the only positive thing about you is the fact that you are smart, and that you’re a monster in every other way.”

“I am a monster in every other way. I could have killed Satou but didn’t. I spend my entire life pushing people away and pissing them off without even trying. I’m an asshole.”

Talking can’t fix a fundamental aspect of his personality, so Ogura has no idea why Rahim is even bothering.

“While I won’t pretend that you can be a bit caustic, your actions indicate you are not an asshole by any definition of the word. You protected Tanaka, but you have also helped others. Before I took this position I had a chance to talk to both Miss Huynh and several others on base. They all think of you quite highly.”

“Because I’m smart,” Ogura points out. “Not because I’m nice.”

“Because you are smart,” Rahim agrees. “But also because you are a fundamentally good person.”

Ogura snorts at that.

“There’s a young boy--a boy who was in a very bad position and struggling--who you reached out to. A boy who treats you like his favorite uncle, and who, if Miss Huynh is to be believed, cried for several days and was absolutely inconsolable for months afterwards when he’d heard you’d passed away.”

Ogura feels like his face is going to get stuck in a permanent scowl if Rahim keeps talking.

“So? He was upset. He’s a kid, he doesn’t know any better.”

Rahim raises a single manicured eyebrow at that.

“And yet he is attached to you anyway, even though he’s too young to possibly care about how smart you are.”

“He was three,” Ogura points out. “There wasn’t any greater meaning to it. He just liked that our names rhymed.”

“And you took good care of him.”

“Because his grandfather is important. It’s important to make sure Ricky is happy so that his grandfather is impressed.”

Rahim doesn’t look convinced, which only irritates Ogura more.

“And yet it could have been anyone. Anyone at all. All you had to do was pass him on, and he’d have been someone else’s problem.”

“He was a good test subject. I got to see his IBM grow.”

“Except he was three. And he’s... what, eight now?”

“Nine.”

“All the more reason. So you’re telling me you’d decided he’s be a good test subject for tracking IBM growth before you even know what IBMs were?”

Ogura’s forehead is starting to hurt from squishing his eyebrows together so hard.

“Ogura,” Rahim says. “I am not going to go through and try and point out every example of you being a good person. It’s a pointless endeavour. What I am going to argue is that you judge yourself far too harshly. We’d have to talk about your childhood to understand why, but it’s obvious that you’ve trapped yourself in a cycle of self-deprecation. So for homework, I want you to think of at least three things you like about yourself that don’t have to do with how smart you are.”

Ogura isn’t ten, so he’s slightly bothered by the mention of homework. Even so, he keeps his mouth shut, grinding his teeth.

“Just try,” Rahim prompts. “For next session.”

Two days. Two days to come up with three things.

Chapter Text

There’s irritation bubbling in his gut by the time Kouji gets home after his own session. It’s not that Kouji talked to Rahim--because, quite frankly, he’s supposed to be--but instead that he talked to Rahim about Ogura. He’s supposed to be talking about himself, supposed to be working on his own problems. Kouji has too much to worry about personally to be worrying about someone else, and Ogura rankles at the idea that Kouji’s burning his brainpower on him of all people.

“I’m home!” Kouji calls as he lets himself in, and Ogura sits up where he lies on the couch, his face tight with irritation.

“You shouldn’t have told him,” Ogura says abruptly. “You’re supposed to be focused on yourself, not on me.”

He expects that Kouji will be quiet and nervous. He expects his eyes to fall, for Kouji to refuse to look directly at him. Instead, Kouji stares at him head on, sucking in a deep breath and obviously steeling himself for the conversation to come.

He doesn’t look nervous, which is unusual.

“No,” Kouji says firmly. “He needed to know, because it’s easy to miss unless you ask the right questions. I -” Kouji falters for a moment, his nerves suddenly visible, but carries on. “I don’t like that you’re so down on yourself. You spend all your time worrying about me, and no time worrying about yourself. You act like you’re some kind of human scum, like you’re the worst person in the world.”

“I am,” Ogura says, and the look of sheer hurt on Kouji’s face is almost enough to make him take it back. “I’m not a good person, and you’re the only person who hasn’t accepted that.”

“And you’re wrong about that too. You’re so smart about everything else and so wrong about this,” Kouji says. It’s clear he has no idea what to do with his hands, unsure of if he should be gesturing or what, and after a moment he simply shoves his hands deep in his pockets so he doesn’t have to think about them. “Everyone else likes you. Everyone I talked to likes you. They think you’re prickly at first but a good person.”

“Then everyone else is full of shit,” Ogura snaps. He doesn’t understand how people don’t get it. They’re staring at a one inch deep pool claiming they can’t see the bottom and are afraid of drowning. There’s no depth. There’s no underneath that he’s a good person. “What you see is what you get.”

“What is this even about?” Kouji says, his voice getting more and more agitated by the second. He’s upset, Ogura registers, but that’s not enough to make him stop. He’s not going to back down, not going to redirect. He’s not going to just accept what Kouji is saying as the truth, not when he knows it’s a lie. “Why are you doing this? Are you trying to push me away? Are you going to give me a speech about how I’m too good for you or something?”

“No,” Ogura says immediately. “Not now. Right now we’re both broken and being together is the best for both of us, because there’s no one else in the whole world that’s really going to understand the shit we went through.”

He watches Kouji’s face brighten ever so slightly, well aware that he’s going to be dragging him back down in seconds.

He knows it’ll upset him, but he says it anyway. He has to know.

“But eventually you’re going to get better. You already are. You have a therapist and friends and you’ve branched out so much in a month already. Eventually you’re going to be better, and then you’ll find someone just as loyal and honest and good as you are, and it’ll be for the best.”

Kouji looks like Ogura’s stabbed him, and his voice cracks when he manages to muster up the words to respond.

“I don’t want that. I don’t want someone else. Don’t say things like that, don’t act like I’m going to just leave.”

“I’ve never hid the truth,” Ogura says simply. He is resigned to it, knows that Kouji will be mad. Eventually, though, he’ll come back, and then things will go the exact way Ogura’s sure they will. He’ll come back, they’ll stay together, and eventually Kouji will find someone better and he’ll have to cut him loose. “I’m not a good person. I’m not good enough for you, not when you’re better. You’ll be settling if you stay with me, so I’m just a waypoint. That’s fine--I don’t deserve any better, and I’m perfectly happy being a stepping stone for you.”

He can tell the exact moment where he’s pushed too far, where he cracks Kouji’s heart in half. His eyes start to water, and he’s moments from bursting into tears as he stares down at Ogura on the couch.

It’s the truth, Ogura reminds himself. It’s better that he knows, even if it hurts.

He expects Kouji to say something--maybe to plead with him--but instead he turns away, heading to the door. Every step he moves faster, and by the time he tears out the front door he’s absolutely running.

It’s for the better, Ogura reminds himself. Better for Kouji.

Chapter Text

Kouji doesn’t come home that night, and when Ogura goes to bed after four he decides that he’s not going to. He’s probably staying with Yasuhiko, and there’s really nothing to worry about. It’s not really possible for Kouji to be in danger, not in a closed facility with no access to the outside world.

He sleeps poorly and drags himself out of bed less than two hours later. He dresses and gets his stuff together, heading to the lab and trying to ignore everything else. To his relief, there’s a stack of reports on his desk, and it’s easy enough to settle in at his desk, grabbing them and starting to read.

He’s not even through the first one when someone wraps their knuckles on the door.

“Doors open!” Ogura calls, not looking up from his paper. His initial assumption--that it’s one of the many, many people he shares the lab with--proceeds to be proven absolutely wrong when they stop in front of his desk.

He looks up to find Rahim, looking as severe as the matron of a private girl’s school.

“Finish your paper, and then we’re having a talk in my office,” he says simply, and Ogura rolls his eyes. Of course Kouji would go to him. Of course.

He finishes the page and dog ears the report, dropping it onto the desk and pushing himself to his feet. Rahim doesn’t say a word as they head to his office, looking downright grim. There’s no anger there, which Ogura finds unusual. In truth, he expected Rahim to lash out, but he shows no sign of doing anything of the sort.

Ogura settles into his seat as Rahim closes the door, circling his desk and taking his own seat.

He still just looks grim, which makes Ogura feel slightly nervous. It isn’t the reaction he expected, and that unpredictability is making him wary.

There’s no emotion in Rahim’s voice when he speaks, although he does lean forward ever so slightly.

“Attempting to gently lead you towards self improvement obviously won’t work in your case, so instead I will be blunt. I will tell you the truth, and nothing but the truth,” Rahim says, and Ogura’s stomach does a flip.

He can’t think of anyone other than Satou who has ever really intimidated him, but Rahim is certainly doing an excellent job.

“You are not improving. You are not trying to improve. If anything, you have become worse since we started therapy. I am not a miracle worker, and I am not capable of making someone improve who doesn’t want to,” Rahim says, his voice steady. “I had hopes that because you and Tanaka had shared traumas, you would be able to help each other recover, but it’s becoming obvious that isn’t the case. You are dragging him down. Having you around is not helping him, it’s hurting him, and I am not going to let you do that to him. If you aren’t going to make an effort, then I will have Tanaka removed from your home, and I will make absolutely sure he isn’t hindered by you any further.”

Ogura feels like Satou’s hand is in his guts, squirming it’s way up to grab at his heart. He feels like his chest has been cracked open, his ribs parted to give access.

Kouji will go away. Kouji will be taken away.

Because he isn’t improving. Because he isn’t getting any better.

Ogura rubs at the burn on the back of his hand, his anxiety spiking. He doesn’t want that. He doesn’t want Kouji to be taken away from him, not like that. Despite how obviously nervous he is, Rahim shows no signs of backing down, his steady gaze cold.

“I -” Ogura manages, but he feels like he’s talking around a fist crammed down his throat. He can’t make himself say it. It’s not that easy. He can’t just say it, but Rahim doesn’t say a word or prompt him any further. He just watches.

“I don’t - I don’t want that,” he finally manages after several minutes. He doesn’t want Kouji to be taken away, and Rahim nods ever so briefly. Acknowledgement, but not agreement.

“You don’t want it now, so why would you want it later?” Rahim says simply. “Just wanting it isn’t enough though. Just because you don’t want him to be taken away doesn’t mean that your desires are more important than his mental health. If you aren’t willing to try, then he will still be removed, even if you don’t want it.”

He knows what Rahim wants. Rahim’s torn his heart from his chest, and he holds it, still beating, in his hand.

“I’ll try,” he says, desperate. He doesn’t know how he can try--doesn’t think it’ll make a difference--but if that’s what he has to say to have Kouji stay with him, then so be it.

“Then let’s begin,” Rahim says.

Chapter Text

Ogura’s sure that whatever Rahim wants him to do will be pointless, but if he needs to do it to keep Kouji with him, then so be it.

“So what do I do?” Ogura says, his heart still pounding away in his chest despite the intense feeling that it’s not even his own anymore.

Rahim’s stony face changes ever so slightly, the slightest hint of a smile visible. Ogura suspects that Rahim--obviously intelligent--is well aware that he’s simply doing it to sate him, but he seems entirely confident just the same.

“You’re going to do your homework. Name three things you like about yourself that don’t have to do with how smart you are.”

Ogura opens his mouth to respond--because all he has to do is spout off three things and be done--but then closes it.

He can’t think of anything. He can’t even think of something he could flippantly say and pass as something he’s proud of, even if he’s not. Everything that pops into his head is such a bold faced lie that he’s sure Rahim would call him on it.

He opens his mouth again but can’t find any words, so he closes it and sags back into his seat.

“Not so easy, is it?” Rahim says. “But we have time. A whole day for you to work things out and try and come up with three things.”

Ogura suspects it’s going to take the whole day. He can’t think of anything, and the more he tries to think, the harder it seems to get. His mind just swirls, an endless loop of all the things he hates about himself. Every time he digs down under one to try and find something good, he only discovers a whole new set of things that he hates.

“I like science,” he mutters under his breath, and Rahim--still watching like some kind of oversized hawk with a medical degree--clicks his tongue.

“Science isn’t you. How is liking science a thing you like about yourself?”

Ogura takes even more time chewing on that. He likes science. Does it count if he likes that he likes science? Eventually he decides that it does.

“I like how passionate I am about science,” he says. “That counts, right?”

Rahim nods his head ever so slightly.

“Yes. Liking how passionate you are about science is a positive trait, and something you can like about yourself. That’s one.”

One feels like a genuine accomplishment. One feels like he’s climbed a fucking mountain only to find that there are two more mountains left to go.

“Fuck, can’t we do one a day or something?” Ogura says desperately, and Rahim shakes his head, looking down at his desk and picking up a book.

“Three today,” Rahim says firmly. “Take your time, I’m getting paid the same anyway.”

Something about the fact that Rahim is casually reading a book while he’s fucking dying trying to come up with a second thing just twists the knife.

It takes him thirty minutes to come up with something that sounds even slightly convincing.

“I like that I’m good at reading people,” he says as Rahim glances up briefly from his book.

“Why?”

Why wasn’t part of his homework, but he has a feeling that pointing that out might mean he’s not trying, so he answers anyway.

“Because... it makes me feel smart?”

Rahim snorts at that, but nods anyway.

“I suppose I’ll accept it, even if your reasoning is selfish,” Rahim says. “Which leaves you with one more.”

Ogura feels like his first answer was fishing water out of the bottom of the well, and his second was what he could gather after a lot of digging. He’s not even sure there is any more water to be found, but it seems like his only option is to try.

It’s dead end after dead end. He considers picking on his appearance--because that’s easy and there’s a million things--but in the end he decides that none of them are about him. Not any of the ones he actually likes, anyway. It’s exclusively about the things others like about him, not the things he likes about himself, which automatically invalidate things.

He loses track of time trying to figure out what to say. He likes Kouji, only saying that he likes Kouji doesn’t reflect on himself in any way. It would have to be something about him that relates to Kouji, only it’s not so easy to pick something out like that.

“I like...” He says out loud, earning himself a glance. But the idea is dismissed just as quickly as he had it, and he lets out a little huff, going back to thinking.

Kouji. He likes Kouji. He likes, more than anything, that Kouji is there.

It comes to him like a bolt from the blue, and takes only a moment to twist the logic out into a coherent sentence.

“I like the part of me that saved Kouji. Even though it wasn’t the logical thing to do. I like that part of me.”

He can’t name it--he doubts anyone can--but he likes it anyway.

“Empathy,” Rahim says, closing his book and carefully setting it down on the desk.

“No,” Ogura says immediately. “It’s not that. It’s not that easy. It’s not just one thing, it’s all the things. I didn’t save him because I put myself in his position and knew he’d be tortured, and I didn’t save him because I thought he’d be useful. I didn’t save him because I felt like I owed him either. It was all those things.”

Rahim raises an eyebrow, but nods anyway. 

“I’ll take it, I suppose. It’s true. It’s something you like about yourself, even if you can’t name it. Which brings us to step two.”

Ogura feels like he’s watching Rahim set out a bear trap directly in front of him, and all he can do is stand there and watch him.

“You’ve decided three things you like about yourself. So what do you dislike about yourself?”

“Everything else,” Ogura says, shoving his foot directly into the metaphorical bear trap.

Rahim’s lips twitch ever so slightly, the slightest hint of a smile visible.

Chapter Text

Rahim’s done a job well done, Ogura decides. He can already guess what question is coming, even if Rahim hasn’t said it yet.

“Choose one thing then--one thing you hate about yourself, and improve it. More than that--choose the most important thing. What do you hate about yourself the most? What will make the biggest difference?”

As attractive as Rahim is physically, Ogura doesn’t doubt for a moment that he’d prefer to shove him off a cliff at the first opportunity. He scowls and grinds his teeth a bit, irritated with himself as much as he’s irritated with Rahim.

The therapist has backed him into a corner. He can’t say nothing, because he’s already admitted that he hates everything else. Hating something is an invitation to improve it, and he’s left the door wide open for Rahim.

“Let me rephrase in a way that might be helpful to you, since I’m not terribly interested in sitting around for the next five hours while you try and pick. What do you think Tanaka would say is your greatest failing?”

The rephrase makes the answer much easier to decide on.

“People,” he mutters under his breath. “He’d dislike that I’m an asshole to people. I’m not nice to anyone and I don’t consider anyones feelings.”

“I would agree with him that it’s your fatal flaw, yes,” Rahim says politely, as if he hadn’t engineered the entire situation to bring Ogura to that exact conclusion. “There’s some level of debate about nature vs nurture when it comes to personality, but for that particular flaw, there’s no debate. You treat people the way you saw those you looked up to treat others. You treat people the way you yourself were treated. Changing this is as easy as actually trying.”

Ogura hasn’t ever said a word about his family, but it’s obvious enough that Rahim has some kind of insight. Either he’s very good at his job, or else someone has told him.

“Try and say one nice thing to every person you interact with,” Rahim says. “And try and remember what you say, since I’m going to ask.”

Ogura wonders if he’s going to ask people if Ogura did, and then shoves the thought down. That’s cheating talk, and cheating won’t keep Kouji with him.

“Which just leaves Tanaka,” Rahim says, as if he’s reading his mind.

Ogura squirms a bit in his seat, frowning all the more.

“In what way?”

“You’ve shown signs that you’re willing to try with me, but he isn’t here. He hasn’t seen any of this. How do you think he’s feeling right now?”

It’s the most stupid and basic question can imagine, but Ogura isn’t clear why he’s asking. Rahim’s obviously leading him somewhere, but he’s not sure where.

“Upset,” Ogura says hesitantly.

“Why? And I don’t mean what he did, I mean what’s the reason that your actions would upset him?”

Ogura has to chew on that for a moment, but it’s not all that hard for him to figure out.

“I’ve spent the past few weeks harping on how important choice was, but then I didn’t give him one. I just told him how it was going to be.”

“Yes,” Rahim confirms, although Ogura’s unclear if that’s what Kouji’s said, or if he’s just guessing like Ogura is. “And how can you fix it?”

“He’s not going to say no,” Ogura says, irritated by the idea. “It won’t change anything. He’s too nice to just declare that I’ve fucked up too much to be forgiven.”

“That’s not the point,” Rahim says simply. “The point is giving him the option, even if he might not take it.”

Ogura grumbles a bit, but it’s really impossible to argue the point. It’s true. He needs to give him the choice.

“Tonight,” he mutters. “When he comes home. If he comes home.”

“He’ll come home,” Rahim says confidently. 

Chapter Text

Ogura is absolutely confident right up until he actually has to sit there and wait for Kouji to get back.

No matter how much he tells himself that Kouji isn’t going to just leave, he can’t stop himself from being nervous. 

He won’t leave, he reminds himself. Even if that’s what he’s offering, he knows Kouji won’t leave him behind.

His anxiety only intensifies with every single hour that Kouji doesn’t appear. He forgets to eat, periodically getting up from the couch to pace around the living room just to stretch his legs.

He wants Kouji to come back. He wants to get it over with more than anything, but also he wants to see him. Even if intellectually he knows that Kouji will be fine, it’s not the same as emotionally knowing that he’s fine.

Kouji doesn’t come back until close to nine, by which point Ogura has skipped two meals and done absolutely nothing productive with his day. Kouji looks just as miserable as Ogura feels, and doesn’t meet his eyes as he heads towards the stairs.

“Kouji!” Ogura calls immediately, which brings Kouji to a screeching halt with one foot on the first step.

Ogura doesn’t know what to say next. He can count the number of genuine, real apologies he’s made in his entire life on one hand, and he feels like half of them were made to Kouji himself.

Ogura opens his mouth to say something, but there’s simply no words. He can’t figure out what he wants to say. He can’t figure out what he could even hope to say, because ‘I’m sorry’ isn’t enough. I’m sorry doesn’t have enough meaning.

“Ikuya?” Kouji prompts, snapping him out of his trance.

“Sorry,” Ogura says, with all the delicacy of a crashing train. “I don’t really know how I’m supposed to say this, but I am sorry. I shouldn’t have - well, I was being an asshole last night.”

Kouji’s eyebrows go up in obvious surprise, although Ogura isn’t clear if it’s because he apologized, or because he did such a shitty job of it.

“We should talk,” Kouji finally says after a moment. Ogura doesn’t know what to make of his expression--the surprise makes it hard to tell what he’s really feeling, and more than anything else Kouji just seems sort of resigned.

That feels like a bad thing.

Ogura does sit down though, taking a seat on the couch as Kouji sits beside him. Kouji seems awfully interested in his own hands, and after a moment Ogura reaches out to take one in his own.

“Fucking hell I’m awful at this,” Ogura mutters under his breath before trying to have an actual conversation. “I had a big long chat with Rahim and he kicked my ass and set me straight, alright? And I realize I was being an ass, and a hypocrite, because all of my lectures about making choices don’t matter if I basically decide that I’m the one who gets to make your decisions for you. So...”

It all comes up in one big messy rush. Every bit of eloquence he’s ever had seems to have run off on it’s own, leaving him with nothing at all. He’s nervous, even though he keeps telling himself that there’s no reason to be nervous, and it seems to take an absolutely gargantuan effort to continue.

“So it’s your choice. It’s your choice if you want to stay, and it’s your choice if you want to leave me, and it’s not something I get to pick for you.”

Ogura feels like his heart is going to pound its way right out of his chest, but all Kouji does is let out a laugh. It’s so soft and gentle that Ogura feels himself relax, and then Kouji leans forward, pressing a kiss to his forehead.

“Did you really think I was going to say yes? I was upset with you, yeah, but... on your own behalf. I wasn’t going to leave.”

Ogura grumbles a bit, leaning into Kouji’s chest and letting himself just stay there. It’s strange to have Kouji be so forward--his hand is rubbing circles on Ogura’s back--but it’s not unpleasant.

“Why do emotions have to be so awful,” Ogura mutters mostly to himself.

“This would be a lot easier if you were an ajin,” Kouji says quietly in reply, and the statement is so baffling that Ogura has to pull back just to squint at him.

“Because... I wouldn’t be able to die?” He says, unable to follow Kouji’s logic in the slightest.

Kouji lets him pull back, somehow managing to look just as confused as Ogura does.

“Because then we wouldn’t have to mess around with words and trying to explain how we feel, we could just know,” Kouji insists, like he’s struggling to figure out what Ogura doesn’t understand.

“What?” Ogura says.

“What?” Kouji says right back.

Ogura reaches up, rubbing at his temples for a moment before deciding to rephrase.

“How? How would we just know? Why would me being an ajin change that?”

Kouji looks even more confused, and then there’s an obvious dawning realization that spreads across his face.

“Oh!” Kouji says, which is about the most infuriating thing he could possibly say.

“Oh what?” Ogura says, sorely tempted to push Kouji off the couch. He hates not knowing things, and he really hates not knowing things about his specific field of study.

“When two IBMs crash their heads together, they exchange... mental states? Personalities? You sort of understand what a person is really like, and you get a glimpse into their memories at random.”

Ogura stares. He’s having a hard time processing the absolutely massive piece of absolutely critical knowledge that Kouji has just dumped in his lap, but all he can manage is a faint noise that sounds suspiciously like a whine.

“Why didn’t you tell me this before?” Ogura finally manages to say.

“I thought you knew,” Kouji says, looking almost nervous. It takes a moment for Ogura to realize that he’s nervous because he has--without realizing it--leaned forward while looking slightly deranged.

“We almost never have IBM on IBM combat, all our techniques are focused on disabling the ajin in question,” Ogura says with a small noise. “Does it always work?”

Kouji nods, and Ogura responds by throwing his arms around him, pressing a kiss to his cheek.

“Well, this making up was fun, but now I’ve got to be in the lab for three days. Feel free to visit!”

He isn’t even kidding, either.

Chapter Text

Ogura spends the next three days in the lab running tests. He skips his physical therapy, he skips his normal therapy, and he forgets to eat at all until someone prompts him.

It feels good to drown himself in work again.

It’s the way he lived his life for years and years, and it’s like slipping on a comfortable old shirt, well worn but overly familiar. There’s a lot of ethical questions--he can’t just have any old ajin headbutting each other--but it isn’t that hard to find people who are willing after the first pair.

Kouji visits him properly on the third day, looking equal parts nervous and out of place as he slides over to Ogura’s desk, trying desperately to avoid getting in anyone’s way. The entire lab is a bustle of activity.

“You look... not so good,” Kouji says, which is the understatement of the year. Ogura knows he looks like death warmed over. He hasn’t showered since before he ran out of the house to go wake everyone up, and he’s only changed his shirt once in that time.

“Nope,” Ogura agrees. “It’s been busy. This is a big discovery. Turns out that there’s one report over in Switzerland that briefly mentions an ajin mentioning this, but they never looked into it and assumed they made it up. Totally offhand comment.”

“Ogura?” Kouji prompts quietly, and Ogura forgets to answer right away. “Ikuya?”

That catches his attention, and his eyes slides back over to Kouji.

“Have you slept?”

Ogura takes a moment to count backwards, trying to remember, and then shakes his head. Kouji frowns hard at that, and in a snap he’s all business.

“You’re coming home, you’re taking a shower, and you’re sleeping. Everyone can manage without you, and if they can’t, they can wait until morning.”

Ogura can’t help but squint at him, because last time he checked it was close to six in the morning, and ‘morning’ is right then.

“Wait, what time is it?” He asks, and Kouji lets out a strangled noise of frustration.

“Five. Dinner time. I was coming to see if you wanted to eat with me, I assumed you’d been sleeping here.”

“Oh,” Ogura says, his exhausted brain not quite working the way it should. “You look cute,” he says, because his brain tells him that he’s supposed to be complimenting people, a fact he mysteriously forgot until Kouji showed up by his desk.

Kouji’s face goes a bit pink, but he shows no sign of letting up.

“I mean it. You’re coming home,” he says, and then to prove a point, proceeds to glance around at the interns, several of which have stopped and started trying to sneakily observe what’s happening at Ogura’s desk.

“He’s going home now, if you need him, find him in the morning when I let him come back,” Kouji says firmly, bending down to hook an arm under Ogura’s shoulders.

“I’m not an invalid,” Ogura protests, brushing the arm away as he stands up. He manages it, although he feels a shade more wobbly than he probably should.

“Next time I’m interrupting you,” Kouji mumbles under his breath, sounding slightly surly. “I should have got you the first night. You need to learn how to budget your time in a manner that doesn’t involve you grinding yourself into the ground. You missed your appointment with Doctor Rahim, and I bet you haven’t been doing your exercises for your hand...” He continues to ramble, looking more annoyed by the second.

Surprisingly enough, Ogura feels genuinely relieved to get home. He’s used to having to be pried away from the lab, but the idea of curling up to sleep in his own bed with Kouji beside him makes it entirely worth skipping out on a few hours of science.

“Shower,” Kouji says firmly. “I’m going to make food, it’ll be ready in thirty minutes. You’re going to eat, and then you’re going straight to bed.”

“You sound like a mom,” Ogura mumbles. “Or my wife.”

That earns an angry blush from Kouji, who proceeds to scoot him up the stairs aggressively.

“Get going. If you aren’t going to take care of yourself, someone has to.”

The shower feels so good that Ogura’s sorely tempted to stay there, and only the thought of getting some actual sleep is enough to lure him out. Kouji forces him to eat okayu, much to Ogura’s chagrin, and then relents and lets him eat his way through several sandwiches in the fridge.

He is beyond ready for bed by the time he finishes.

“It’s early, but will you come to bed?” He asks, which is entirely selfish of himself. There’s no reason for Kouji to go to bed, but the other man nods anyway.

“Alright,” he says.

It isn’t the first time they’ve slept together--not by a long shot--but Kouji still manages to look as nervous as the first time. He insists on changing in the bathroom, while Ogura wastes no time in stripping down to his boxers before deciding that those need a change too. He’s already crawled into bed and flopped over by the time Kouji comes back, sliding into bed beside him and nuzzling up to his side.

“I’m happy you're back,” Kouji says quietly. “The house was too quiet without you here.”

“Oh?” Ogura mumbles, nuzzling against him. Kouji is soft. Well, not soft, but he feels pleasant to snuggle anyway. “Tell me all about it.”

Kouji doesn’t answer right away, and even in the dim light--the sun hasn’t quite set--Ogura can see that he’s blushing.

“Come on,” he prompts, leaning up to kiss him hungrily. He’s so fucking desperate for physical contact, and he has to reign himself in.

“I slept in here,” Kouji confesses. “With your picture under the pillow.”

It’s so sweet and sentimental and so absolutely Kouji, and Ogura lets out a growl that he hopes is sexy as he rolls himself on top of Kouji, straddling his hips.

“We should fuck sometime,” Ogura says abruptly, because he hasn’t slept for three days and is pretty far from firing on all cylinders.

“I think you would pass out,” Kouji says, looking terribly red. “And maybe you should sleep.”

Ogura squints down at him, slowly coming to the conclusion that proposing that they should fuck is probably not the way he should be asking.

“Pretend I said that nicely,” he says, letting out a groan as he rolls off Tanaka and sags back into the bed. “For my own good.”

That earns a little laugh, and Kouji presses up against him, leaning in to kiss at his forehead as he throws an arm over Ogura’s middle.

“Go to sleep, Ikuya.”

Ogura wants to protest--he’s not tired--but he does anyway, falling asleep in under a minute, curled against Kouji’s side.

Chapter Text

Kouji’s still asleep when Ogura wakes, and while Ogura knows that he should be heading to the lab first thing, he takes his time getting ready instead. He collects Kouji’s shirt from the bathroom, pulling it on (far too big for him, but comfortable just the same) and heading down to the kitchen.

He wakes Kouji with waffles and coffee, and Kouji’s sitting up and eating before he abruptly notices what Ogura’s wearing, going pink.

Ogura just grins at him, and goes off to get in the shower.

Despite how busy the lab is, Ogura does make an effort to go home that night. He doesn’t want Kouji to spend the night alone, and Kouji seems to appreciate the effort.

They practice Kouji’s English, and even as much as Ogura hates Japan, he finds Kouji’s accent nothing short of adorable. The word shouldn’t be associated with someone so big and buff, but it fits Kouji anyway.

“You’re improving a lot,” Ogura notes once they’re done, and Kouji flushes like he’s just saying it to compliment him, and not because it’s true.

“Not fast enough. Learning a language is easiest when you have lots of people to talk to, and I have that. I should be doing better. Yasuhiko-”

“Isn’t you,” Ogura cuts in. “How good or bad he’s handling English doesn’t matter.”

Kouji lets out a little huff at that, but leans in just the same to press a kiss to Ogura’s cheek.

“Your parents are coming next week,” Ogura notes. “Made any plans?”

Kouji shrugs at that.

“I need to get more clothes. I wanted to cook something Japanese for them, but I’m not really sure what to make.”

“Kouji, you could make them a pot of Uncle Ben’s very best rice and they’d probably love it.”

Kouji’s brows furrowed together, the reference zipping over his head.

“Uncle Ben...?”

“It’s a brand. Popular in America. Super basic, easy to make, and not very good. The point is that you could make them anything, and they’d still be happy.”

Kouji lets out a little sigh, gesturing towards the kitchen.

“That’s not the point though. I want to impress them. I want to make something really good.”

“Then pick something,” Ogura says. “And I’ll order in whatever you need ahead of time. Just nothing last minute, it’s not like we’ve got an Asian market sitting on the corner.”

Kouji still hasn’t decided by the time they go to bed, and even three days later he still hasn’t come up with anything.

“You’d better pick something, or I will,” Ogura threatens, and to his surprise Kouji throws his hands up.

“Please!” He says. “I can’t pick to save my life, having you pick would make this so much easier.” 

“Except I don’t know what you can cook.”

“I can learn,” Kouji counters.

“Shabu-shabu, then,” Ogura says without even thinking about it, and Kouji blanks for a moment before scowling at him.

“But then I'm not cooking-” He starts to protest.

“No, you aren’t. You’re preparing, and then you’re sitting down and getting to talk to your family rather than spending the whole time in the kitchen. Frontloading the work.”

The idea seems to have the desired effect, because Kouji stews over it for a moment and then nods, leaning down to press a kiss to Ogura’s forehead.

“You’re too tall,” Ogura complains. “Bend down and kiss me properly if you’re thanking me for my genius idea.”

Kouji does, and Ogura feels that it’s a kiss well earned.

The next time he’s in therapy with Rahim, the other man all but rakes him over the coals. It’s been almost a week since he was last given his homework, and his homework has been all but forgotten.

“You’ve been nicer to Kouji,” Rahim says sternly. “But have you given anyone else even a single compliment?”

Ogura can’t help but go pink at that, slightly embarrassed at the fact that, of all things, he forgot.

“I got caught up in work!” He protests. “It was important. I didn’t even sleep for three days.”

“I know,” Rahim says with a sigh, sagging back into his seat. “I heard all about it. It doesn’t change the fact that saying nice things to people shouldn’t be an effort. It’s something you have to learn to do instinctively. So tonight-- No, right now I want you to go find three people and compliment them.”

“Right now?” Ogura says, flabbergasted. “We’re in the middle of a session.”

“If I tell you tonight, you won’t. So right now. Go find three people, make three compliments, and go home.”

It’s a lot to swallow, but there’s no way of squirming out of it.

Mai’s the easiest to find, and she’s also one of the few people Ogura can think of who he can immediately say positive things about, even if he’s never actually said them. She’s in her office and obviously busy, so he opts to make it quick.

“Mai, you are a blessing,” Ogura says without bothering to explain what he’s supposed to be doing. “A real hero for science.”

And then he’s off, leaving Mai looking confused in his wake.

He runs across Raposo on his way to the cafeteria, which is another easy one. He slaps her on the shoulder, smiling genially.

“Has anyone ever told you that you are a fucking crack shot? Because, you know, that one time you shot that guy trying to stab me in Rome? That was excellent.”

Raposo squints at him before dragging her eyes over to Sotelo beside her. Sotelo offers only a shrug as Ogura simply carries on his merry way, leaving the two very confused ajin in his wake.

He finds Morgan next, which makes an even three as far as he’s concerned.

“Morgan,” he says firmly, before realizing that as much as he likes Morgan, he can’t think of one specific thing he wants to say a nice thing about. Fuck.

Morgan stares at him, raising an eyebrow.

“Ogura?” He says, sounding more confused than anything.

“You-” Ogura starts, pausing abruptly as he tries to compose his thoughts into a coherent sentence. “You are a good person, and I am thankful you were so helpful--and are still so helpful--with Kouji. He needs all the help he can get.”

Morgan only squints harder.

“Are you ill?” He asks after a moment, and Ogura snorts.

“This is what I get! I say a nice thing and everyone thinks I’m sick!” Ogura complains as he brushes past Morgan, not bothering to linger as he heads back home.

Chapter Text

Even though he’s seen his parents twice, Kouji still looks to be on the verge of a panic attack the morning of his parents arrival. Ogura rolls his eyes and then heads to the entrance to pick up the delivery--including a bunch of wagyu beef, because he’s not going to be feeding Kouji’s parents top sirloin or some cheap cut of meat--before heading back home.

Kouji’s already starting to prepare the vegetables, slicing and trimming things before sliding them into neat little porcelain bowls he seems to have pulled out of thin air.

“You have hours,” Ogura notes, sliding the beef into the fridge.

“I want to prepare the stuff I can keep in the fridge,” Kouji points out. “So I have more time with everything else.”

Ogura’s pretty sure Kouji’s going to be finished with hours to spare, but he doesn’t argue. Instead he lets Kouji work off his nervous energy.

“I’ll pick them up at six, alright? And we’ll come straight here.”

Technically there’s nothing stopping Kouji from coming to meet them, but the food does need to be prepared.

Kouji doesn’t acknowledge him, and Ogura shrugs it off as nerves, heading into work.

He leaves the lab at half past five, and finds Mai not far from the entrance. She spares him only a quick glance before getting right to work.

“We have them scheduled for every two weeks, which works with their respective work schedules. They also requested that they be allowed to bring their daughter next time. She’s quite young, but they insist she’ll be able to understand the importance of not telling anyone.”

Ogura’s really not sure about that, but he’s never been that good with kids.

Well, kids who aren’t extremely valuable research subjects.

“We’ve tentatively agreed,” Mai adds. “Assuming that Kouji’s alright with it.”

“He will be,” Ogura says without pausing. “But I’ll ask and let you know if he’s not, assuming they don’t bring it up first.”

“You should give them a tour,” Mai says, which earns a snort.

“Like hell. We’re going straight home. I’m not touring them around the facility,” he says, absolutely against the idea.

Mai raises an eyebrow.

“Don’t you want to show your in laws where you work?” She asks, and Ogura chokes.

“No!” He protests. “And we’re not-” He cuts himself off before he says anything more, his face going red as Mai laughs.

He’s saved from any more embarrassment by the appearance of Morgan, who escorts both of the Tanaka’s through the checkpoint with ease. They look nice--they’ve obviously dressed up for dinner--and Ogura’s still in his lab coat and a T-shirt, woefully underdressed.

Fuck.

He waves them over anyway, giving them what he hopes they’ll take as a respectful little bow.

“Good to see you again,” he says, trying his absolute hardest to be polite. “Kouji’s at home getting food ready.”

“He’s cooking?” Kouji’s mother says, and Ogura spares her a glance as he weaves through the facility towards the town.

“He said he would, so... yeah,” Ogura counters. “He’s a good cook. Either way, this is the town,” he gestures over it. “We live over there. Not very big. Pretty much all demi-humans, but there’s a few scientists.”

Both of Kouji’s parents glance around, making little noises as they survey the town.

“And he has a house?” Kouji’s father cuts in.

“We share a house,” Ogura notes. “Generally, singles live in an apartment block.”

“But he has a room?”

“Of course he has a room,” Ogura says, fighting the urge to scowl at the older man. “He has his privacy when he wants it.”

He can’t help but feel that Kouji’s father is comparing everything he sees with what he knows of Japan’s ajin program, and it’s bothering him more than it should.

He lets himself into the house, pulling his shoes off and hanging his lab coat on a chair by the door.

“I’ll be right back,” he says, leaving Kouji to his parents as he vanishes upstairs to find something slightly better to wear. He’s got plenty of clothes, and eventually settles on a nice blue dress shirt, which he pulls on before heading back downstairs.

Kouji is excitedly chattering to his parents in Japanese when he reaches the landing, but he gives Ogura an appreciative glance when he spots the new shirt.

“The food’s ready, we should talk over food,” Kouji says, scooting both of his parents into the dining room.

There’s thin slices of wagyu set in a little dish in front of the boiling bot, and more vegetables than Ogura thinks they’ll ever eat, all neatly cut up into bite sized pieces. The whole thing looks extremely well put together, complete with high end chopsticks at each place setting.

“I couldn’t remember what you liked, so I got you a bit of everything,” Kouji says nervously, but his nerves are entirely pointless.

“It looks amazing!” Chimes his mother, and his father quickly cuts in with compliments of his own as Ogura grabs a slice of beef, dunking it into the broth to make sure everything is working properly.

“You should give us a tour of the house after,” Kouji’s father cuts in. “I’d like to see your room.”

A part of Ogura suspects that neither of Kouji’s parents actually think he has a room, like the whole thing is just an elaborate setup to make America look good. He can’t entirely blame them for it, but it still makes him feel a bit surly.

Ogura eats mostly in silence, letting Kouji chatter away with his parents. To his relief, they bring up having his sister come the next time, and Kouji gives an enthusiastic yes.

The food is good, and Ogura makes a point--several points, really--of making sure Kouji knows it. For the most part, that’s the extent of his inclusion in the conversation, and despite Kouji’s obvious attempts to include him, Ogura still feels like an intruder.

“And you were... a scientist?” Kouji’s father asks, and Ogura realizes after a moment that he’s being addressed. He does his best to word things carefully, but it’s hard to be really careful when talking about science.

“Yes. Near the top of my field, if not the top. I was in Japan to advise about an ajin they’d captured when Japan decided to kidnap me, and then I bounced repeatedly between different captors. I’ve only been back as long as Kouji’s been here, so I’m still settling in.”

“And they say you killed Satou?” Kouji’s father adds, breaking what Ogura was almost entirely sure was his first rule.

Don’t mention Satou.

His eyes flick over to Kouji, who looks stiff and nervous, and makes an executive decision to speed the conversation along.

“Yes,” he says firmly. “I did kill him. Why doesn’t Kouji show you his room, and I’ll clean up the kitchen.”

Kouji looks relieved, pushing himself up front the table and swallowing down hard.

“I’ll show you the room,” he says quickly, glancing to Ogura. “I’ll come down and help with the dish-”

“Don’t worry about it,” Ogura insists, even if he’s well aware he’s not going to be cleaning anywhere near Kouji’s standards.

Kouji pauses for a moment, then gives a little nod before heading towards the stairs, leaving Ogura behind with the mess.

Really, he’s just happy to have some space to breath.

Chapter Text

Tanaka’s happy that Ikuya changed the subject, because Satou is the absolute last thing he wants to discuss with his parents. He doesn’t want to talk about the things he did. He doesn’t want to talk about the things they did. He doesn’t want to have to explain to them that two of his best friends in the whole world were a crackhead and his stoner boyfriend.

As mixed as his feelings about the period are, he knows that absolutely none of it is parent friendly.

He guides them up the stairs, gesturing as he explains things.

“That one is Ikuya’s lab,” he says, pointing to a closed door before swinging his finger around to the master bedroom. “And that’s his room.”

He doesn’t note that it’s where he’s slept every night for the last two weeks, but a part of him wonders what they’d say if he did. His face goes a bit red at the idea of it, and he covers quickly before pointing to his own room, playing it off as embarrassment.

“And this one's my room, and the bathroom I use,” he adds.

“What’s the other one?” His father asks, pointing to the only door unmentioned.

“A closet with sheets and things,” Tanaka says, wondering what else it could possibly be. Neither of his parents look very happy about the whole thing, and when he pushes open the door and ushers them into his bedroom they both seem to pick on every single detail to complain.

“Your bed isn’t very big,” his mother points out as his father peeks into the closet, frowning at the limited selection.

“Are they really taking care of you? The room doesn’t have much in it,” his father adds.

“They’re taking good care of me,” Kouji says, feeling the urge to defend everyone in the base. “I have my own room, with my own clothes. The only reason I don’t have more was because I turned Ikuya down when he tried to buy me more things.”

His mother makes a point of grabbing his hands, holding them in her own as she looks up at him, staring intently at his face.

“He isn’t experimenting on you, is he? You can tell me. I’ll find a wa-”

He doesn’t let her finish, cutting her off with a frown.

“He isn’t,” he insists. “Ikuya hasn’t done a single thing to hurt me. I know you probably expect the worst, but it isn’t like that. The only thing even vaguely scientific they’ve done is weighing me and taking my measurements, but they haven’t hurt me at all.”

She doesn’t look convinced at all, giving his hands a squeeze.

“He seems overly familiar with you,” she says conspiratorially, and Tanaka wonders for a moment how she’s somehow failed to notice that he is also on a first name basis with Ikuya.

“We’re close,” Tanaka says as honestly as he can. “He saved my life, and I saved his, and we’re the only people in the whole world who really know what it was like.”

It isn’t a conversation he wants to have, but he isn’t going to let them just think the worst of Ikuya, either.

“Please try and understand,” Tanaka pleads. “I know you expect the worst, but it’s really not like that. I’m happy here. There’s people I like, and people like me. No one cares that I’m an ajin. I can do -” He has to pause for a moment to compose himself, pressing down the feelings that are threatening to bubble over. “I can do anything I want. I want to learn English, so I go to classes. I want to help Ikuya learn things about ajin? I could do that too. I can do anything I want.”

“Except come home,” his father says sadly, and Kouji flinches ever so slightly as he does.

“That’s not because of them,” Kouji protests. “That’s because of Japan. That’s because of the public. Do you really think if I went home with you, things would just be normal again? It wouldn’t be safe for any of us.”

He almost says Satou would come after us, but no, that’s wrong--Satou’s dead, even if he hasn’t quite accepted it. He isn’t even sure if he’s ever going to accept it, or if he’s still going to spot new video games and think Oh, Satou might enjoy that one for the rest of his life.

“We could at least try,” his mother says, squeezing his hands again.

“It wouldn’t work,” Kouji says simply, because he knows it wouldn’t. “I’m a wanted man. Even if you’re okay with that, most people aren’t going to be. They don’t really understand anything. They don’t know what it was like.”

He doesn’t want to talk about it. He doesn’t want to talk about it at all, but he doesn’t see any other way of explaining.

His father opens his mouth to say something, but thankfully his mother cuts in.

“We understand,” she says, giving his father a hard look that gets him to close his mouth. “You’re happy here, and we should try not to pick at corners to make you feel bad.”

His father swallows, and then nods his agreement.

“We’re just happy that you’re okay,” he says, reaching out to rest his hand on Tanaka’s shoulder and giving it a light squeeze. “If you ever need anything, you just need to let us know.”

“I’ll be fine,” he insists. “Really.”

His mother looks far from convinced, but she doesn’t press the issue.

“Well, your room is very nice,” his mother says. “But those sheets don’t go with that pillowcase, the sheets don’t have lace and the pillow does.”

Tanaka didn’t even notice the lace, but now that she’s pointed it out it’s hard not to.

“We should get going,” she adds after a moment. “Kikuo won’t go to bed until she sees we’re home, even with the sitter. We’ve been telling her all about you, trying to get her used to the idea.”

Tanaka’s stomach flips at the idea of his sister, and he turns, digging out his little lockbox and pulling it open, retrieving the picture inside.

“Ikuya gave me a picture of her, but he wasn’t sure how recent it was,” he says, holding it up for his mother to take.

She does, squinting down at it before letting out a little laugh.

“About half a year. That was taken in september. She’s cut her hair since then.”

Tanaka can’t imagine it, but he nods anyway.

“I... I hope she likes me,” he says after a moment, and his mother lets out another laugh.

“Of course she will. Kids that age love secrets, and she’s delighted by the idea that she has a great big secret she’s not allowed to tell anyone. The fact that her secret is a big brother? She’s over the moon. We’ll be lucky if she doesn’t ask for a younger sibling for christmas.”

The idea of it--that he has a little sister who is so eager to meet him that she’s practically bouncing off the walls--is enough to bring a smile to his face, even if he tries to hide it.

“Come on, we should go say goodbye to your friend,” his father says, pulling open the door and waiting for Tanaka to leave himself. They file out, and Tanaka takes the stairs two at a time. He isn’t surprised to see that the kitchen is still a mess, although he’s a bit surprised that it shows signs of having been cleaned a little bit.

“They’re going to leave,” he says, popping his head around the corner. “Come say goodbye.”

Ikuya looks significantly more exhausted than he probably should, but he nods anyway, straightening up. Tanaka has to fight the sudden, desperate urge to kiss him, instead settling for patting his shoulder as Ikuya ducks out of the kitchen, heading to the front door where Tanaka’s parents wait.

“It was very nice to meet you both properly,” Ikuya says politely, giving Tanaka’s father a firm handshake.

“I’ll walk you to the entrance?” Tanaka offers quickly, and Ikuya gives him a momentary glance and then a quick nod.

“No reason not to. Don’t linger too long though,” he says, and Tanaka leans in for a kiss before rapidly adjusting course, giving Ikuya an awkward hug instead.

Stupid, and he’s mentally kicking himself for how awkward it must look. He’s having a hard time believing his parents won’t ask, but there’s not much he can do about that.

“I’ll see you later,” he says quickly, turning back to his parents and scooting them out the door before they can ask anything in front of Ikuya.

Chapter Text

Ogura doesn’t bother trying to clean up anymore. Instead, he sags down onto the couch and buries his head under a pillow. Even though he barely spent any time with Kouji’s parents, he still feels fucking exhausted.

He hates parents.

Kouji comes back after almost half an hour, heading right over to the couch and bending down to press a kiss to the top of Ogura’s head.

“Kill me,” Ogura mumbles under his breath, earning a laugh from Kouji.

“You did a good job, and they liked you. My mom did ask if you insisted that I give you a hug before leaving every time, and I sort of, uh, brushed it off.”

“Lucky me,” Ogura mumbles.

“I think we should tell them,” Kouji says, and Ogura jerks his head up to squint at him.

“Tell them what, exactly?”

“That we’re together.”

Ogura’s stomach twists, and he makes a point to sit up, just to make it clear how serious he is.

“No,” he says. “It’s a bad idea. You never brought up liking men with them before, and you have no idea how they’ll react." There are way too many fucking ways that this can all go wrong, and Ogura wants no part in it. “Take it from someone who knows, who's seen how wrong this can go. You have a good thing going with your parents. They like you, they’re settling in, and they’re never going to be a big enough part of your life that they’d actually be able to find out.”

Kouji grimaces, reaching out to grab at Ogura’s hands. Ogura doesn’t even bring up any of the half dozen other points--that they’ve only been dating for maybe two weeks, that Ogura technically has a certain amount of power over him which makes it a bad idea, that they’re both horribly broken people--deciding instead to try and keep Kouji from making the same mistake he made.

“There’s nothing to be gained from telling them, only things to lose.”

“You’re wrong,” Kouji says, and for a moment his voice trembles. Only a moment though, and then he seems to steel his nerve, holding Ogura’s hands in his own. “There’s a lot to be gained. And I don’t want to hide. I like Morgan and Yasuhiko and everyone else, but the way I feel about you is different, and I want them to know that. You’re special to me, and important, and I want them to know.”

It’s a mistake, and Ogura knows it, but he isn’t sure he’ll be able to convince Kouji.

He doesn’t want Kouji to get hurt. He doesn’t want Kouji’s parents to push him away.

“They’re not like your parents,” Kouji says, his voice almost pleading. “My parents won’t be angry. They’ll just be happy I’m happy.”

Ogura doesn’t believe it, not for a second, and he doesn’t even try to keep his face from showing it.

“Please trust me on this,” Kouji says, leaning forward to press a kiss to Ogura’s forehead.

“I don’t. Or - I don’t know. I can’t stop you if that’s what you want to do, but I know it’s going to go wrong. Just know that I’ll be here for you when it does, and nothing they say really matters.”

That earns a scowl from Kouji, who finally lets out a little sigh and decides to change the subject.

“I thought we could cuddle a bit before bed. Since it’s early.”

Ogura’s pretty sure that cuddle means something closer to heavy petting, but he’s not going to argue. It’s a welcome respite from how somber the conversation is, and he nods, pushing himself up off the couch.

“I’ll meet you upstairs, then?”

Kouji nods, ducking into the kitchen as Ogura heads up the stairs. He can hear Kouji tidying the most important stuff, but he doesn’t leave Ogura waiting long.

He also, noticeably, doesn’t have any pajamas with him.

“Oh? Just boxers tonight?” Ogura asks, and Kouji looks embarrassed, his entire face going red.

“It’s getting hot,” Kouji protests. “It makes more sense to sleep like this.”

Ogura lets out a laugh--he’s sure as hell not going to protest--and pulls back the sheets as Kouji strips out of his clothes. It’s the first time he’s seen him really naked, and Ogura doesn’t bother trying to hide that he’s checking him out.

“It’s embarrassing enough without you staring,” Kouji says as he turns around, which only serves to give Ogura an excellent view of his ass.

“Come over here,” Ogura says, patting the bed. Kouji does, sliding in under the covers and immediately scooting over, throwing an arm around Ogura’s waist to pull him in close.

“I’m going to be eighty years old and not over how soft your skin is,” Ogura mutters under his breath, earning himself a laugh and a little kiss from Kouji.

One kiss turns into two, which turns into three, which turns into Ogura running his hand down Kouji’s back. Kouji’s arms shift up as his shift down, and Kouji throws his arms around Ogura’s shoulders as he presses in for another kiss.

His hands are wandering their way along Kouji’s hips, but his mind is jerked elsewhere by Kouji’s arms. He knows that it’s not intentional, but they’re simply too close to his neck, too tight even if they're wound so loosely around his neck and shoulders, and all of a sudden he can’t remember how to breath properly.

“Ikuya?” Tanaka says, jerking back as he realizes that Ogura’s hyperventilating, and Ogura feels terribly distant from what’s happening, like he’s watching it happen to someone else. He’s having a panic attack, he processes, but very little else.

Chapter Text

It seems to take forever before his breathing evens out, the panic attack ebbing away. He feels exhausted, both physically and emotionally, and he’s not at all prepared for the terrified and worried look on Kouji’s face.

He knows he should explain himself. He knows that it’s the right thing to do.

He doesn’t want to. He wants to bury his head under a pillow and sleep until he forgets the feeling of hands on his neck, forgets how Satou looked.

“Ikuya?” Kouji says, his voice so quiet that Ogura can barely hear it at all.

He squeezes his eyes shut, pressing his face down into the pillow as he reaches up, dragging his nails over his neck. Just the fact that he can--running his nails from just under his chin down to his collar bone--is a relief.

There’s no collar. There’s no hands.

“Ikuya?” Kouji says again, and Ogura lets out a little sigh. He can’t ignore it. He can’t pretend like he didn’t just have a panic attack. Kouji’s doing all the right things--backing far enough away that he’s not in Ogura’s space, while being near enough to help--to the point where Ogura has to wonder if Rahim has coached him on what to do.

Maybe Kouji’s just naturally good at it, who knows.

“I’m fine,” he mumbles, turning his face so he can watch Kouji a bit better. “Fine now,” he adds after a moment’s thought.

“You panicked,” Kouji says quietly, as if Ogura didn’t already know. “Because we were... because we were kissing?”

Kouji’s eyebrows furrow together, and it’s obvious that he’s trying to figure out the why. Even more than that, it’s also obvious that he feels somehow responsible for it, because as Ogura watches Kouji falls back to his old standby, reaching up to tug at his lower lip.

Ogura’s hand darts out, catching Kouji’s wrist and giving it a squeeze.

“Wasn’t your fault,” he says firmly, trying to make his voice sound as steady as it should be. He isn’t nervous, he tells himself. The panic attack was momentary and over, and he isn’t going to let it happen again.

“It was because of something I did,” Kouji says, and then after a moment he seems to almost change his mind. “Not because I wanted it to, but because - because it set you off.”

Set him off is a good way of putting it, and Ogura turns ever so slightly to bury his face more in the pillow. Kouji’s still sitting up, looking torn between staying where he is and moving closer.

“It’s a trigger,” Kouji says after a moment, sounding confident. “And it’s normal to have them, but they’re important to be aware of - didn’t you talk to Doctor Rahim about it?”

Ogura definitely did not talk to Doctor Rahim about it, and he lets out a little grunt in return. Kouji takes that as the no that it is, inching forward and reaching out to rest his hand on Ogura’s shoulder.

“My neck,” Ogura finally manages to say. “I don’t like things touching my neck.”

Kouji nods once, sliding his hand down ever to slightly so that it rests on Ogura’s back.

“It’s normal,” Kouji says, sounding more like Rahim by the second. “You should talk to him about it. And I’ll be careful.”

If he was going to be okay with anyone touching his neck, it would be Kouji, so the fact that he isn’t just makes it that much more obvious to him.

“Fine,” he says rather than arguing. “I’ll talk to him about it.”

Kouji seems to take it as the victory that he is, because he leans over, pressing a kiss to Ogura’s temple before finally sliding back into bed properly.

“I’m guessing you don’t want to cuddle?” Kouji says quietly, and Ogura can’t stop himself from letting out a little laugh.

“Probably not tonight,” he admits. “I’m fucking exhausted.”

Kouji doesn’t press, which is a relief, but Ogura does slide over a bit more to lean against him as he sags back into his pillow.

“Goodnight,” he mumbles.

“Goodnight,” Kouji says back, twisting his head to give him another little kiss before finally letting him fall asleep.

Chapter Text

Ogura’s past the point where he thinks that not telling Rahim is the best course of action. He knows telling Rahim is the best possible thing he could do, but he’s still more than happy that he has a whole extra day to not tell Rahim. It’s only Sunday, and he’s got an extra day to drag things out.

It’s not, however, a day off. Ogura stops by the lab to pick up some work and finds a note from Mai on his desk, making it clear that when he sees it--whenever that is--he should go to her office.

He expects bad news, but it’s impossible to tell what kind of news it is when he finally reaches Mai’s office. She’s as diplomatic as ever, composed and utterly unfazed by anything.

“You wanted to see me?” Ogura says, not bothering to knock on the door.

“I did,” Mai says, gesturing to the seat in front of her desk. “Grab a seat.”

He does, wondering if she’s intentionally trying to fuck with him by dragging it out.

“You were nominated for the nobel prize,” Mai says without any sort of warning. Ogura immediately punches the air, letting out a whoop of delight before realizing his mistake.

“Fuck! Which one?” He asks, literally crossing his fingers and offering a prayer to whichever god might be listening that it’s not peace.

“Peace,” Mai says, watching his face fall. “And medicine.”

Ogura’s emotions do a 180, and then slam headfirst into a wall.

“Both?”

“Both. Technically not for the same thing. The peace prize is for your contributions to stopping the demi-human Satou and saving Japan from his reign of terror, and the prize in medicine is for discovering a method to allow demi-humans to attain true death.”

Ogura starts flicking up fingers as he counts through.

“Bardeen got two physics, Curie got physics and chemistry, Red Cross got peace three times, Sanger got two in chemistry, the UN’s refugee program got two peace... which would mean I’d be closest to Pauling, who got chemistry and Peace,” Ogura mumbles, mostly to himself. Mai simply looks on for a moment, letting out an exaggerated sigh.

“Do you have every single nobel laureate memorized?” Mai asks, and Ogura lets out a snort before nodding.

“Of course. Getting the peace prize is a bit unusual, but I imagine whoever nominated was thinking in terms of ‘if Satou took over Japan we might very well have ended up in World War Three’.”

“More like they were thinking about how much they hated Japan,” Mai says with a sigh. “The person who nominated you was one of those who were involved with the EU’s attempt to trade a demi-human for the knowledge, so it’s a very elaborate fuck you to Japan.”

“But I earned the science one,” Ogura protests.

Mai rolls her eyes.

“Aren’t nominations already closed? Nominations are due by the beginning of February.”

“I asked the same thing,” Mai says with a shrug. “Apparently, members of the committee that actually make the selection can nominate people as long as it’s before their first formal meeting, which it was. So yes, formally nominated.”

“Which I shouldn’t know about.”

“They made sure it was a matter of public record so that Japan would know. And being nominated isn’t the same as winning.”

“I’m well aware,” Ogura counters. “They won’t make any decisions until September, announcement comes in October.”

Mai rolls her eyes again.

“You’re like some kind of nobel prize junkie, Ogura.”

“Wait, hold on, was that exactly how they worded it? For stopping the demi-human Satou?”

“Complete with the word demi-human, yes. There seems to be a strong anti-demi-human bent this year.”

“So much for impartial.”

“It’s a fair enough point. Demi-humans have the capacity to be a far greater danger than humans, and until your discovery, any demi-human who wanted to be a threat absolutely could.”

Ogura grumbles anyway.

“If I win, can I donate my cash to some kind of demi-human rights organization?”

“That would require such an organization to exist. You could pay a lot of money and start one.”

Ogura grumbles at that, folding his arms over his chest and leaning back in the chair.

“Would I have to run it?”

“No, you could hire someone to run it. Or just hand the money to me, and let me handle making a demi-human rights organization.”

“Deal,” Ogura says, because he’s having a hard time imagining something more horrifying than having to run a charity by himself.

“How are things with Tanaka?” Mai asks, polite despite the fact that she’s obviously prying.

“Good,” Ogura says honestly. “He’s good. I’m good. We’re good.” Which should cover everything, but of course it doesn’t. Instead Mai makes a conscious choice to pry further.

“And you’ve both been going to therapy?”

Ogura pauses at that, squinting at her and wondering what she’s playing at. He’s sure she gets some kind of report--at the very least that he’s been attending--and he feels like Rahim would have been giving her regular progress updates.

“Are you trying to act like you don’t already know?” He says after a moment.

Mai lets out a little sigh.

“You can be extremely focused, do you know that Ogura? Rahim isn’t going to tell me anything about your therapy. Therapists simply can’t--it’s very nearly the top of their priority list. Anything you say in therapy stays in therapy, unless you give him explicit permission to share it.”

That is new, and Ogura makes an appreciative little noise at the idea that every single one of his secrets hasn’t already been spelled out to Mai.

“Then I’m going to keep it that way,” he says after a moment. “Assuming I’m good to go?”

Mai frowns at him, but finally gives a little nod.

“Keep going to therapy, Ogura,” she says as he gets up. “It’s helping, even if you don’t realize it.”

Ogura already does.

Chapter Text

Ogura absolutely dreads the appointment, but he goes anyway. He has to, even if he doesn’t want to.

Rahim seems to know something’s up from the moment he sits down in his chair, but he doesn’t push him to talk about it. Instead he follows the usual routine, working through his day, the steps he’s made, and how things are going.

He takes his time coming around to the actual point.

“I assume there’s something you want to talk about in particular?” Rahim prompts him after almost twenty minutes.

Ogura feels like there’s a fucking golf ball in his throat.

“I had a panic attack,” he makes himself say. “When I was with Kouji.”

Rahim doesn’t even look slightly surprised, and Ogura wonders how long he’s suspected. Probably from the word go, if he’s being honest with himself, because he can’t imagine that many people could go through what he did without having panic attacks.

“Do you know what specifically caused it? Sometimes panic attacks come on for what seems like no reason, while in other cases there are specific-”

“Things that trigger them,” Ogura cuts in. “Kouji told me. He gave me the spiel.”

Rahim gives him a polite little smile, but doesn’t mention anything about Kouji. The more he thinks about what Mai said the day before, the more he realizes that he’s effectively never heard anything about Kouji’s appointments that wasn’t from Kouji himself. Rahim is a master of redirecting, of giving nothing away without letting Ogura even realize it.

Ogura doesn’t doubt for a second that he’s a genius, but he’s at least willing to admit that in this one area--human psychology--Rahim has him beat.

“I assume something in specific triggered your panic attack?” Rahim asks, snapping him back to the present.

“My neck,” he says, reaching up to rub at the skin before he can stop himself. “Kouji’s arms were too close.”

Rahim nods once.

“That’s more or less what I expected. From what you’ve said, the neck was a particular area of focus. The collar and Satou’s actions mean you’ve associated it with what happened, and when pressure is applied, it’s easy to slip back.”

Ogura nods, because it sounds so right. Slipping back. That’s what happens anytime anyone touches his neck, what happened when he tried to put on that tie. He slipped back, and the last place he wants to go is back.

“How do I fix it?” He blurts out, earning himself a wry smile from Rahim.

“Slowly. With time, and with effort. The best possible way to cope is to avoid your triggers entirely. But it’s impossible to control everything, and it’s important to be able to slowly work to overcome them. The first step is learning coping strategies that will help you for when you to encounter something that triggers a panic attack. Then, we can identify major triggers as they come up, and deal with them bit by bit. Time is key. Nothing happens quickly. If you try and push too fast, you’ll only make things worse.”

The last bit is said with a knowing glance, as if Rahim somehow knew that Ogura was starting to wonder if he could just pull a tie on until he got over it.

“It is important, above all else, to remember that the truth is your most important ally here. Both to me, and to yourself. Telling yourself that it isn’t a panic attack coming on is not a helpful reaction, not when it is. It’s important to recognize what is happening, why it’s happening, and the truth of the situation. Denying things--as you’re prone to do--isn’t helpful.”

Ogura grumbles a bit at that, but he really can’t argue. Rahim knows his stuff, and from one professional to another, he has to respect that.

“So what’s the next step?”

Rahim gives him a smile--not wry or smug or anything else, but a pure and genuine smile--and then sits forward slightly, pulling a notebook out and setting it on his desk.

“I’m going to go over a number of things you can do to help you when you feel a panic attack going on. We’re going to go over what you can expect. And then, once that's done, we’re going to complete an exercise that will help you figure out what sort of things might bother you in the future, so that you’re more prepared.”

Rahim slides the notebook closer, and after a long moment Ogura reaches out, taking it with a sigh.


 

Ogura doesn’t like homework. He doesn’t like the idea of homework, and every time Rahim assigns him something as homework, it’s something straight out of one of the levels of hell.

He has to talk to Kouji.

He has to open up to Kouji, to explain to him the things he’s learned. He doesn’t want to, but Rahim’s gotten alarmingly good at presenting things in such a way that Ogura feels like they’re what he would have done anyway.

He waits until they’re sitting down for dinner to bring it up, stabbing at his pork chop with his fork like it’s somehow personally responsible for his woes.

“I need to talk to you about something,” Ogura makes himself say, and Kouji immediately looks up, his eyes wide.

“Something from therapy?” He guesses after a moment. “Did you talk to him about what happened?”

“Yes,” Ogura says. “And now I’m supposed to talk to you about things. About the things that bother me, so that they won’t catch you off guard.”

Kouji nods carefully, his attention obviously focused. 

“And?”

Ogura immediately flicks up three fingers, counting through them as fast as he can.

“Things touching my neck, which you already know. Cigarettes and people smoking. Being confined, restricted, and tied up.”

“In that order?” Kouji says, furrowing his brow.

“No. Smoking isn’t as bad as the other two, it’s just... uncomfortable.”

In truth, he’s not sure he could smoke again, even if he wanted to.

Kouji nods carefully, and Ogura knows he has something on his mind when Kouji’s hand goes up. Even if it doesn’t reach his lip--he drops his hand down before he gets that far--he obviously has something on his mind.

“You don’t have to tell me,” Ogura says, taking a guess.

“You told me-”

“Because Rahim told me I should. If he hasn’t told you that you should tell me, then you can keep it to yourself. I’m sure if it was something you thought I might accidentally do, you’d tell me. The fact that you haven’t means you don’t have to.”

He doesn’t want Kouji to feel forced. It’s not a tit for tat situation, but it’s obviously going to take a little bit for Kouji to accept that.

“I want you to share things with me when you’re ready, not when you think it’s fair,” he says, which seems to seal the deal. Kouji nods once, shoveling his food around on his plate.

“Alright. Thank you - thank you for telling me,” he says.

Ogura gives him a little smile, then leans over the table to press a kiss to Kouji’s forehead.

“And thank you for listening.”

And more than that--for understanding. For not judging. For not doing any of the things that Ogura feared he would.

Chapter Text

He has it bad, Ogura accepts. His feelings towards Kouji have escalated well past like and into something that feels suspiciously like love, all without his permission. It’s been ages since he felt something like real affection towards someone he’s dated, and he finds himself overly affected by the tiniest things.

He shouldn’t be embarrassed when Kouji holds his hand while they’re watching TV. He shouldn’t be turned on when he spots Kouji’s bareback from across the room. He can’t help but feel bothered by how easily effected he is by almost anything Kouji does.

He brings it up to Rahim and gets a little smile that he’s sure is Rahim’s equivalent of laughing in his face.

“What you’re experiencing now is standard,” Rahim says after a moment. “All your past relationships have involved sex more than feelings, so this is new to you. Simply take it slow and enjoy it.”

Ogura doesn’t want to take it slow, but he does anyway. He escalates in bits and pieces, unable to keep his hands off of Kouji for more than an hour. Thankfully, Kouji doesn’t seem to mind, returning his affectionate touches with ones of his own. For every time Ogura touches Kouji’s back while they’re out and about, Kouji seems happy to return the favor.

It feels strange, but it’s a good strange.

The best times are at night, when he’s free to simply curl up beside Kouji and do what he wants. Most of the time what he wants is to loop his arms around Kouji’s waist and simply press against him until he passes out, but more than once he edges past that.

Ogura presses himself to Kouji’s back one night not long after they crawl into bed, dragging his hand up the flat of Kouji’s stomach. He’s fit--something Ogura absolutely loves--and has what Ogura’s pretty sure is the best body he’s ever even touched. Ogura mouths kisses over Kouji’s shoulder blade, pleased by the happy little noise that Kouji makes in return.

He slips his hand south more out of instinct than any conscious choice, and to his surprise--although it really shouldn’t be a surprise--he finds that Kouji’s hard.

Kouji jerks at the slightest brush, and even in the dim light Ogura can see the back of his neck is red from embarrassment.

“It’s nothing to be upset about,” Ogura says quietly, pressing a long kiss to the back of Kouji’s neck. “Pretty normal, really.”

“That’s not-” Kouji says, cutting himself off, and Ogura goes still in response, not wanting to push too far. 

“That’s not what?” Ogura says, although he suspects the answer is it.

Kouji squirms a bit in his grip and Ogura releases him, letting Kouji roll over so that he’s facing him.

“I’m not-” Kouji starts, frowning as he tries to compose his thoughts. “I feel like I’m doing it wrong.”

“Wrong?” Ogura says, raising an eyebrow. “You can’t really do it wrong, to be honest. Just... not as well.”

“Then I feel like I’m doing it not as well,” Kouji mumbles. “I feel like - I feel like if it was anyone but me, you’d have already had sex. I don’t like that I’m - that I’m holding you up. That you haven’t been able to get off in months.”

Ogura knows he shouldn’t laugh. He knows that he shouldn’t, but he does anyway.

“Kouji, I got off this morning. I think I’ve gotten off every day the last two weeks,” he says.

Kouji looks increasingly flustered, like he can’t even picture it.

“But - we live together, how do -” Kouji sputters, and Ogura leans forward, pressing a kiss to one red cheek.

“Kouji, seriously, it takes me like five minutes tops to jerk off. I’ve jerked off in the time between me going up to go to bed and you coming up to join me before. It is absolutely not an issue.”

As flustered as Kouji looks, Ogura’s reassurance seems to calm him down a bit, and he leans forward, pressing a kiss to Ogura’s forehead.

“So you don’t mind that it’s taken so long...?”

“Kouji, if we don’t do it tonight, that’s fine. If we don’t do it next week, that’s fine. If we don’t do it next month, that’s fine. And you know what? If we don’t ever do it, then that’s fine too. I’m not going to say I wouldn’t want to, but hell, I know what it’s like to be uncomfortable and afraid and to hate what’s being done to you, and there’s nothing in the world that could turn me off more than the thought of you feeling pressured into it, alright?”

He makes a point of looking Kouji in the eyes, trying to hammer home just how honest he’s being. As much as the thought of never getting to do that sort of thing with Kouji is unpleasant, the thought of Kouji feeling forced into anything is that much worse.

“If this had come up months ago,” he adds, “I probably would have said no. I probably would have said that I needed sex. But you know what? Fuck that. I don’t need anything. I don’t need cigarettes, I don’t need sex.” It feels good to be able to say it and to really believe it. It’s not just something he’s saying to Kouji, but something he can really believe himself.

Kouji doesn’t answer with words. Instead he leans forward, pressing into a kiss that firmly distracts Ogura from every single thing that was on his mind.

Ogura lets his hands wander down to Kouji’s hips, letting his fingers dig in, and then deepens the kiss. Kouji seems just as eager as he is, and Ogura’s happy to enjoy that enthusiasm.

There’s no escalation though. There’s a lot of kissing and touching and exploring, but nothing beyond that.

Eventually Kouji pulls back, flushed and embarrassed.

“You’d - I mean, you’d really be okay if we just stopped here?” He asks after a moment, and Ogura doesn’t bother biting back the laugh that bubbles up.

“Yeah. I said it, and I meant it. I am going to have to go jerk off in the bathroom though.”

“I could-” Kouji says, reaching forward and just brushing the side of Ogura’s cock with his fingers through the fabric of his underwear. It’s enough to make Ogura jerk in place, his face flushing.

“You aren’t obligated to,” he says firmly. “You’re not responsible. I can handle it in the bathroom.”

After a second, Ogura decides it’s more than that, because he knows Kouji, and he knows that no matter how firmly he tries to make it clear, Kouji will still feel responsible.

“You know what? I’m going to turn you down,” he says after a second. “So give me a moment. I’m going to go take care of it, and then I’ll see you when I get back, alright?”

He doesn’t give Kouji a chance to object. Instead, he slides out of bed, excusing himself to the bathroom to take care of business.

Kouji doesn’t come after him, and he doesn’t say a single word until Ogura’s done his business and slid right back into bed beside him.

“Thank you,” Kouji says quietly, most of his face hidden under the blanket edge.

“For jerking off in the bathroom?” Ogura says with a little laugh, although he can guess at what Kouji really means.

“For... for not making me pick,” Kouji mumbles under his breath.

Ogura feels a little bit bad about the fact that he made Kouji say it, and he makes it up for him by leaning over, pressing a kiss to his cheek before nuzzling into his side.

“When you’re ready, and when you want it, because being ready isn’t enough,” he says. “Goodnight.”

“Goodnight, Ikuya,” Kouji says, leaning against him in turn.

Chapter Text

Ogura isn’t really ready for Kouji’s sister to come, but he’s considerably more ready than Kouji himself. Kouji’s so anxious over it that Ogura almost calls it off entirely, but Kouji practically begs him not to, and Ogura has a hard time doing anything that Kouji doesn’t want him to.

Kouji’s tugging at his lower lip as he sits on the couch of the little lobby where he first saw his parents again, and Ogura isn’t doing all that much better, pacing back and forth. A part of Ogura wishes they were at home, just to make it easier for Kouji, but he knows that a nice neutral setting will probably be better for a first meeting.

“What if we don’t have enough food?” Kouji says abruptly, glancing up at him anxiously.

“Then we’ll pick up more. It’s not an issue,” Ogura chides him, even if he knows that Kouji is just thinking about things to avoid thinking about the real issue.

Ogura knows he’s worried that his sister--the sister he’s spent two months thinking about--might not like him.

“You’ll be fine,” Ogura says firmly. “Kids love tall people, and you’re tall, so problem solved.”

“What if she doesn’t speak Japanese?” Kouji says abruptly, as if the thought had never once occurred to him before right then.

“She does,” Ogura says with a sigh. “Or, if not, your English is probably good enough to communicate anyway.”

Kouji’s worrying can be downright exhausting, no doubt in part because he’s so used to not worrying. He’d rather put it off, but he’s not worrying at least.

The door swings open so fast that Ogura jumps, spinning to face it as Morgan pops his head down.

“Jumpy, are we?” He says, raising an eyebrow. “They’re just coming down the hall.”

Kouji stands up, and then immediately seems to reconsider and sit right back down again. Ogura huffs and rolls his eyes, pulling away from the wall as he heads towards the door. Kouji seems to decide that Ogura has the right idea, because he gets right back up, stepping over to stand beside him.

“She’ll like you,” Ogura says firmly. “She was excited to meet you when they visited last time.”

Kouji doesn’t look convinced.

Ogura doesn’t get to give him any more pep talks before the door opens a bit wider, and Kouji’s parents step in, followed by a young girl. She’s seven--almost eight, if Ogura’s counting right--but she’s clearly tall for her age, almost the same height as Ricky. She’s round faced and takes more after her mother than Kouji does, but there’s an obvious family resemblance, even though Ogura can only see the part of her that isn’t hidden behind her mother’s back.

To Ogura’s surprise and confusion, Kouji’s mother proceeds to give him a hug when she greets him, before moving over and giving Kouji a hug as well. Kouji’s father greets him with a handshake, which seems much more reasonable.

Kikuo is promptly scooted out from behind her mother to face Kouji, who looks even more anxious than his little sister.

“Kikuo, this is Kouji, your big brother. He’s very excited to meet you,” Kouji’s mother says, which couldn’t look like more of a lie if she had tried. Kouji looks like he’s considering fleeing the room, but his mother is well prepared for this.

“The scruffy looking man beside him is his roommate, Doctor Ogura,” she adds with a pointed look at Ogura’s scruffy beard. Ogura lets out a little snort at that, reaching up to scratch at his scruff.

“It makes me look distinguished. If not I just look old,” he complains. “But I think Ikuya is just fine.”

Which isn’t Japanese standard at all, but he’s pretty sure Kikuo is far more American than Japanese. He’s proven right when she nods a little bit, giving him a nervous looking smile.

Ogura reaches over, patting Kouji on the shoulder.

“Remember all those pep talks about being yourself?” He says, which gets Kouji to at least do something.

“Uhm... Hi,” Kouji says nervously.

Ogura’s having a hard time deciding if Kouji or his sister is more nervous, but Ogura has had more than enough of the nervous awkwardness.

So he simply acts like Kikuo isn’t Kouji’s sister, but instead a new ajin being brought in.

“So, have they told you about what we do here?” He asks, before glancing up to Kouji’s parents. “How much have you told her about Kouji, before I repeat what she already knows?”

They spare a glance to each other, and then Kouji’s father answers.

“She knows that Kouji is an ajin, if that’s what you mean.”

“That was what I meant,” he says with a little chuckle. “Well, you know that then. But what it really means is that your big brother is staying here with us and helping us learn more about what it means to be an ajin.”

It’s far from the first time he’s said that line, but it’s easy enough to reword his usual speech to newcomers to make it work for her. “It’s very important work,” he adds. “Because there’s lots we don’t know.”

Kouji’s staring at him, and Ogura suspects it’s because he didn’t expect that he’d be so good with her. Kikuo is obviously interested, staring up at him as she nods along.

“But, if you promise not to tell anyone, or talk to anyone aside from your parents, I’ll show you a really neat secret.”

That gets her, because if there’s one thing Ogura’s sure of, it’s that kids absolutely love secrets. She nods enthusiastically, obviously eager for whatever could be important enough that she’s not allowed to tell anyone.

“Well, we need to get back to the house, but your big brother has a special thing he can do--he can summon out a shadow that can carry you all the way back to our house. Piggybacks are still cool, right?”

Kikuo’s eyebrows go very rapidly up and down like she can’t figure out if Ogura’s being serious.

“I’m too big for a piggyback,” she finally says, which would probably be true if Ogura wasn’t talking about an IBM. 

“Are you sure that’s wise?” Kouji says, looking slightly wary. “It has claws, in case you forgot...”

“Which is why you’re going to pick her up and put it on it’s shoulders. But it isn’t an issue, and she’ll be having the time of her life,” he says right back.

Kouji’s parents look absolutely mystified by the entire exchange.

“Go on,” Ogura says with a little laugh. Kouji does--even if Ogura can’t see it--and he isn’t even entirely clear that the IBM is out until Kouji reaches down, picking Kikuo up under her armpits and lifting her up to set her on top of his IBM’s shoulders.

She reaches forward, holding onto what he’s sure is the IBM’s head, and lets out a whoop of excitement, staring down.

“I can see the floor!” She yells, glancing back to look at her parents, obviously delighted to be riding around on something that’s completely invisible.

“For the record, that rules out that she’s an ajin as far as we know,” he says. “Or at least rules it out assuming that being an ajin is an intrinsic trait.”

Kouji rolls his eyes at that.

“I should have known there was another reason for that,” Kouji mutters under his breath, and Ogura lets out a laugh of his own.

Apparently he’s predictable, but he doesn’t mind at all.

“Let’s get going,” he says, gesturing to the door. “We’ve got dinner waiting.”

Chapter Text

Kikuo is absolutely smitten with her brother’s IBM, even if she can’t see it. It doesn’t seem to mind her prodding at its head as they walk, and she fires off question after question as they cut through the hallways. They aren’t questions about Kouji like Ogura would have hoped, but questions about his IBM work just as well. Ogura and the Tanaka’s fall into step just behind them, letting the odd trio lead the way.

“So you can just make him?” She asks, glancing down at Kouji.

“Sometimes. Only a few times a day,” he clarifies. “Like stretching a muscle. A really weak muscle.”

“But you can see him, right?” She says, having apparently decided that the creature she’s riding on is a him.

“Yeah,” he says, glancing down at the IBM before flicking his eyes back up. “Why?”

“What does he look like then?”

“Well... like...” Kouji trails off, glancing back to Ogura with a pleading look.

“Like a human, but all black. Rather than skin it looks like it’s made of strips of cloth, like black silk wrapped around a person. Kouji’s has a normal looking human head, but its jaw extends the whole way around, so it can crack its head open like an egg. It doesn’t have hands, either. Instead, its hands are like a birds feet, with three toes in front and one in the back.”

“With claws?” Kikuo asks, twisting where she sits to look at Ogura. She wobbles, and Kouji reaches up, pressing a hand to her back to keep her from slipping.

“Yeah, with big claws. Did you see Jurassic Park?”

Kikuo rolls her eyes at that, which Ogura assumes means yes, obviously.

“Claws like a velociraptor. Longer, though.”

“Oh, scary!” She says, not sounding even slightly scared by it. She turns back to Kouji, and then is momentarily distracted as they leave the base and head into the town itself.

“You live here?” She asks, and Kouji nods, looking nervous despite the fact that he’s doing well. “Forever?”

He nods at that again.

“Yeah, forever. But it’s not bad. I’m happy here, and everyone’s really nice.”

Kikuo wrinkles her nose at that.

“But you can’t go to the movies or anything,” she protests. “Or the mall.”

“More like I don’t have to go to the mall,” Kouji counters. “That sounds more like a punishment to me.”

Ogura ducks around them to get the door, ushering everyone in as Kouji stares down at his IBM.

“It’s going to dissolve soon, so you need to come down,” he says. “Before it dissolves on its own and you fall.”

Ogura wishes he’d thought to time how long Kouji had his IBM out, and settles for making a mental note to make Kouji practice more in the future.

Kouji reaches up, helping Kikuo off his IBM. From how he acts, it’s obvious that the IBM is either already gone or in the process of dissolving, so Ogura disregards it as he heads into the kitchen, pulling the boxes off the counter.

“We got pizza, for the record,” he says, sliding the two pizza boxes onto the table. “So hopefully everyone likes pizza.”

Ogura’s pretty sure getting pizza for a seven year old should be counted as legal bribery.

“Kikuo,” her mother says firmly. “Don’t you have something you want to do before we eat?”

Kikuo squirms, her eyes sliding over to the pizza before finally dragging them back to Kouji. Finally, she trots over to her father, holding out her hands. Kouji’s father reaches into his jacket, drawing out a wrapped gift about five inches square and two inches thick which he carefully hands over to Kikuo.

Kikuo wastes no time sliding over to Kouji, holding the gift up for Kouji to take.

“For your birthday. Mom said it would be nice to have something sentimental,” she says.

Ogura feels a moment of panic as he realizes that he has absolutely no idea when Kouji’s birthday is. The panic must show on his face a bit, because Kouji’s father lets out a tiny snort, leaning in to whisper to him.

“Next week,” he says quietly. “On Tuesday. But we’ll miss it.”

Ogura does his best to compose himself and make it less obvious what he was panicking about, but it doesn’t really matter. Kouji only has eyes for the little box in his hands, and he looks a moment away from crying. Kikuo looks more confused than anything, and Ogura steps in to try and ease the pressure a bit.

“Why don’t you help serve pizza for your parents while we sit down, and he can open it after we all eat so it doesn’t get messy?” Ogura says, and Kikuo seems happy to do just that, stealing no less than three slices for herself.

Her father gives her a stern look, and one of the slices goes back.

“Fine,” he says. “But only two.”

Kouji’s still staring at the gift in his hands, and Ogura reaches over, carefully prying it out of his hands and setting it to the side.

“Eat,” he prompts. “You can open it after.”

He doesn’t think Kouji will be able to hold it together if he opens it right then.

Chapter Text

Kouji does eat, but every bite is spent with his eyes burning a hole in the package off to the side. Kikuo seems pleased by the pizza, and while Ogura doubts that either of Kouji’s parents are really interested in pizza, they aren’t complaining about it either.

Realistically speaking, they don’t really matter at the moment. The day is about making Kikuo happy and comfortable, and how they feel about Ogura serving their daughter pizza is secondary.

Ogura stays mostly silent, as do Kouji’s parents, but Kikuo chatters away, and Kouji does his best to reply to them. Once or twice Ogura feels the need to step in, inserting himself into the conversation to help Kouji out.

“So there are kids here?” Kikuo asks between bites.

“A few,” Kouji says after a quick glance to Ogura. “Mostly kids who live with their parents who are like me.”

“And they can all make one of those shadows?” She asks, her ulterior motive obvious.

“Well, some,” Kouji says after a moment, sparing Ogura another glance. Some wasn’t even the right answer, since the only ajin among the children was Ricky, but Ogura wasn’t going to correct him in front of his parents.

“Could I get one?” She asks, and Kouji frowns at that.

“No,” he says firmly. “It’s not something everyone has.”

“Part of the research we’re doing here is figuring out just what the shadows are,” Ogura cuts in. “So that we can figure out if humans can have them as well.”

That seems to please Kikuo, who nods formally as if Ogura’s tribute is acceptable. “I want one,” she says firmly.

“You wouldn’t be able to see it,” Kouji protests, as if that would matter in any way at all.

“Are you going to open the present?” Kikuo says, finishing her second piece of pizza as Kouji works on his third.

“I was going to wait until I was done,” Kouji says quietly. “So I’m not opening it in the middle of dinner.”

Kikuo frowns at this, staring hard at Kouji until he abruptly decides that he’s done eating, finishing off his piece before grabbing some napkins, cleaning off his hands before clearing his plate from the table.

“Okay, now you can open it,” Kikuo instructs.

Kouji does, and Ogura stops mid-chew to watch, curious as to what they’ve gotten him.

It’s a book, pink and green and terribly colorful, but it’s not until Kouji opens it that Ogura realizes what it really is. It’s an album, or some kind of scrapbook, and even if he can’t see the contents, Ogura can take a guess as to what’s in it.

Kouji doesn’t last long. He manages to flip three pages before he starts crying, raising his hands to hide his face, obviously embarrassed by how much it’s affecting him. Ogura’s already moving forward to comfort him when he jerks to a halt, Kikuo having already beaten him to it. She slides right up to him, throwing her arms around Kouji’s middle and hugging herself to his side.

“It’s okay,” she said. “Mom said that I shouldn’t be upset if you cried a bit, because you went through a lot and it’s normal to cry.”

Ogura gives Kouji’s mother a thankful look, and then turns back to see Kouji wrapping an arm around Kikuo’s back, rubbing at his eyes with the other.

“Thank you,” he says quietly. “It - it means a lot.” Kouji drags his fingers over the cover, but doesn’t attempt to look through the rest of the album. Ogura figures it’s probably for the better, because he’s not exactly keen on watching Kouji get upset without being able to really comfort him.

Maybe later, when his parents are gone.

“You can read it later,” Kikuo says, as if she’s giving Kouji permission to do what he was going to do anyway, and then pats his shoulder a bit more. Kouji lets out a hiccuping little laugh at that, and ruffles her hair in return, which earns a little yelp of protest and a sour look.

“Is it true you don’t speak English?” She asks, raising her eyebrows as she does. Kouji nods carefully, before switching to English himself.

“I can not speak English well,” he admits, his accent thick enough to choke someone even if the sentence is perfectly fine. “I am learning.”

“You don’t have to,” Kikuo says in Japanese. “It’s probably better to just talk like this so I can practice my Japanese with someone who isn’t mom or dad.”

Kouji smiles a little bit at that, obviously happy not to have to talk in English.

Kikuo’s eyes slide over to Ogura, squinting at him skeptically.

“Is he the same guy I saw on TV?” She asks after a moment.

Kouji jumps a bit like that, turning to stare at Ogura himself.

“Probably,” he says after a moment. “On the news?”

Kikuo nods quickly. “They said he stopped someone really bad,” she adds, which is the exact opposite of what Ogura wants to hear. If he didn’t want to discuss Satou around his parents, he’s sure Kouji doesn’t want to discuss Satou wtih his little sister.

“He did-” Kouji starts, but Ogura jumps in.

“We did,” he corrects. “Your brother helped, he was a real hero too.”

Kikuo wrinkles her nose at that.

“He wasn’t on the news,” she protests.

“That’s because some people--very stupid people--think that being an ajin means you’re some kind of a monster. So they won’t recognize the things your brother has done, and it means until things change a lot, the fact that he’s here has to be kept secret, or else he could be in danger.”

Kikuo looks significantly horrified by Ogura’s explanation, which was exactly his intention. After a moment though, her horror turns more to confusion, and she glances up at Kouji.

“If he’s an ajin, how ‘come he got to be on TV and you didn’t?” She asks, and Kouji lets out a little laugh.

“He’s not,” he clarifies. “He’s a human like you.”

“Oh,” Kikuo replies, wrinkling her nose. “I thought he was your ajin friend. So if he’s not an ajin, what’s he doing here?”

Ogura opens his mouth to reply, but opts to let Kouji handle it, which he does with grace.

“He’s a scientist, who helps everyone learn more about ajin,” Kouji says, but the answer doesn’t really clear up all that much, because Kikuo still looks confused.

“But why is he here?” She asks. “In your house.”

“Oh!” Kouji says before Ogura can even process an answer. “It’s his house. I’m living here because we’re dating.”

Ogura’s brain screeches to a halt, and for a moment he wonders if he’s somehow misheard.

Kikuo squints up at Kouji, who is very rapidly turning a violent shade of pink.

“Because you’re an ajin?”

Kouji lets out a wheezy little laugh at that, and seems to be making an active point of not looking at Ogura. That’s fair enough, because Ogura’s making an active effort to not look at either of Kouji’s parents, who he’s sure are staring very hard at his back at the moment.

“Because he likes me, I think.”

Kikuo’s face screws up a bit, obviously deep in thought, and she turns to stare intently at Ogura before declaring her complaint.

“But he’s old!”

Kouji seems taken aback by that, but Ogura’s brain still hasn’t stopped screaming long enough for him to find it cute or endearing.

“Well - I’m older than I look, and he’s younger than he looks, so it works out,” Kouji says, his voice nervous.

KIkuo stares a bit longer, than simply shrugs.

“Okay,” she says, the matter apparently settled.

Ogura’s brain hasn’t stopped screaming, and Kouji still hasn’t looked at him, and all of a sudden things are terribly awkward.

“We should be going, Kikuo,” Kouji’s father says from somewhere behind Ogura, and Ogura has no intention of turning around. He’s going to keep right on not looking at Kouji’s parents until they’re gone.

He doesn’t get the option. Kikuo gives Kouji a hug before darting over to where her parents are, but neither of them are making any attempt to leave.

“Ogura,” Kouji’s mother says, and Ogura’s brain is still screaming as he rotates to look at her.

She doesn’t look angry. She looks... mildly bothered even reading her expression as uncharitably as possible.

“Mitsuhiro, why don’t you take Kikuo outside, and I’ll catch up with you?” She says mildly, and Kouji’s father gives a brief nod, heading towards the door and leaving the three of them behind.

Ogura’s anxiety only increases, even if she doesn’t actually look mad.

“I’m not going to say that this is what I wanted for Kouji, but I doubt it will make much difference,” she says firmly. “So you can do as you’d like.”

It’s not anger. It’s not what Ogura expects. But even still it’s not good, and something in his anxiety snaps right over into anger, and he turns on her, fixing Kouji’s mother with an angry glare.

“Of course, why would you want your son to love someone? How monstrous of him,” he snaps, well aware that he’s taking a very aggressive stance to a very mild slight. She isn’t his mother. She isn’t throwing Kouji out, or cutting him off. She’s expressed the most mild form of disapproval, but it still bothers him because nothing that Kouji’s done deserves any disapproval at all.

“That wasn’t-” She starts, but Ogura doesn’t let her get a word further.

“That wasn’t what you meant, but it was what you said, because you said you wouldn’t want your son to be the way he is.”

It isn’t what she’s said, but it’s what she’s implied in Ogura’s head, and her face is rapidly going red as she tries to backpedal.

“Ikuya,” Kouji cuts in, but Ogura doesn’t let that stop him.

“You have one job, and that job is to support your son, and making him feel like his relationships only really matter if they’re the sort of thing you approve of is doing a shit job of it,” he says, his voice rapidly rising.

“Ikuya!” Kouji yells, and then Kouji is in his face, holding at his shoulders and holding him still. “It’s fine,” he says, his voice desperate. “I’m not bothered, I don’t mind-”

“You should mind!” Ogura says, well aware that he’s yelling back. “You should care, they should be supporting you, they shouldn’t pick and choose if someone you like is the right type-”

Ogura gets cut off, but it’s not by Kouji. It’s by his mother, who isn’t yelling even if she looks terribly upset.

“You’re right,” she says, which is surprising enough that Ogura practically chokes on what he was going to say next. “You’re right about it. About everything. None of this changes who Kouji is, or makes him any less of a person, and I made an impulsive, snap judgement that I shouldn’t have.”

He isn’t expecting anything else, but he gets it anyway--Kouji’s mother sweeps into a bow so deep she looks like she’s going to topple over.

“And I’m sorry for that. Please forgive me,” she finishes.

Ogura finds himself abruptly at a total loss for words, and Kouji squeezes his arm tightly before letting go, turning back to his mother.

“It’s fine,” he insists. “I know you didn’t mean anything by it. It’s already forgiven.” The glance he gives Ogura is an obvious your turn, and Ogura clears his throat, practically choking on the words.

It isn’t how he expected to come out to Kouji’s parents. Truthfully, he didn’t expect he’d ever come out to Kouji’s parents.

“It’s fine,” he mimics, following Kouji’s lead. “I’m - I’m sorry I reacted so strongly. I had -” He cuts himself off, deciding that he doesn’t need to explain himself, not to her, and certainly not right then. “It’s fine,” he finishes.

Kouji clears his throat, gesturing to the door.

“I’ll walk you all out,” he says quickly, glancing to Ogura. “Do you want to come?”

Ogura shakes his head quickly. He needs to sit down. Scratch that--he needs to lie down, and to possibly not get back up for several days.

“I’ll see you soon,” Kouji says, and for a moment Ogura thinks he’s going to kiss him goodbye.

And then, surprisingly, Kouji obviously decides to do just that, leaning in for a peck on the cheek before heading towards the door.

Ogura goes to lie down.

Chapter Text

Ogura is still lying on the couch--facedown, trying to suffocate himself in one of the soft pillows--when Kouji returns.

“Sorry,” Kouji says immediately. “I just - would you believe me if I said it just slipped out?”

Ogura considers for a moment from his spot on the couch, and then turns his head to face Kouji properly.

“No,” he says firmly, which earns him a little smile as Kouji moves to sit down. He scoots over a bit to give him space, but stays lying down.

“Well... it didn’t, really. I knew I wanted to tell them, but I thought I was going to tell them at the end. Then she asked, and then... well, then it just kind of slipped out.”

“You should have warned me,” Ogura muttered. “I wasn’t prepared for that. I got upset. I yelled at your mother. I probably made her cry again.”

Kouji smiles a little bit at that, even if he’s obviously trying not to, and reaches over to drag his fingers over Ogura’s back.

“It’s not that bad. Things are okay. She wasn’t angry, although they both did ask me a bunch of leading questions about if you were manipulating me into being a relationship with you.”

Ogura grunts at that, unhappy.

“I told them no, and set them straight, and they seemed to believe me so I don’t think it’ll be an issue.”

Ogura doesn’t really believe that, and he grunts again.

“I didn’t want to hide it,” Kouji says quietly. “I didn’t want to have to pretend we were just friends. I wanted to be able to hold your hand and give you a kiss on the cheek and not have to worry about what they were thinking.”

“That I’m too old for you, apparently,” Ogura mutters, which earns a laugh from Kouji.

“I thought it was cute,” he says. “She didn’t seem bothered by the fact that we were both boys... oh no, she was bothered by the fact that you’re old.”

Kouji makes a point of dragging his fingers through Ogura’s hair, and Ogura’s sure he’s picking out every single piece of grey just to prove a point.

“Alright, alright, I get it, I’m old. Are you going to look at the album tonight?” He asks, changing the subject abruptly. He’s not quite sore--he knows he’s a fair bit older than Kouji--but he’s not exactly eager to be reminded of his own mortality when lying next to someone who might never die.

“I was thinking we could lie in bed and look,” Kouji says quietly. “Together.”

“So you can cry on my shoulder? Yeah yeah, I get it,” Ogura says, pushing himself up off the couch. “I’ll meet you upstairs then, it’s going to take this old man a few minutes to get my ass up the stairs.”

Kouji joins him in bed almost fifteen minutes later, and Ogura’s pretty confident that the kitchen’s been cleaned in that time. Kouji peels off his clothes, crawling into bed and immediately sliding over to Ogura’s side, pressing a kiss to his forehead.

“I hope you know I’m as sentimental as a rock,” Ogura complains. “You’re going to be crying and I’m going to just be patting your shoulder wondering why you’re broken up over the sight of someone holding a cat or something.”

“I’m sure you’ll be fine,” Kouji says, pulling the album out and resting it in his lap as he sits up in bed. Ogura props himself up wtih pillows, leaning over a bit to watch as he flips through. As much as he’s complained, he is sort of curious to see what’s in the album.

It turns out to be as much of a scrapbook as it is an actual photo album. It starts out with a few pictures of Kouji’s parents--ten years younger and looking haggard and exhausted--on a page titled coming to America. There’s a few extra notes, and a copy of their approval notice for refugee status, but nothing that Ogura didn’t already know.

The next few pages are obviously pushing Kouji’s limits, because when Ogura glances up at him his eyes are already watering. Every page roughly chronicles a year, mostly focusing on Kikuo’s life. There are baby photos and a copy of her footprint and handprint when she was born. There’s photos of her first day at school, and a copy of her report card. Kouji’s crying before they’re even half done, and Ogura has to lean over and wrap an arm around him, letting Kouji take his time with it.

“Sorry,” he says quietly. “I didn’t - I didn’t realize how much it would -” Kouji doesn’t manage to finish his sentence, and Ogura leans up, pressing a kiss to his cheek.

“You can take all the time you need, alright?”

Kouji does. It takes him almost an hour to get through less than twenty pages, rubbing at his face occasionally and outright stopping other times. The last page is the worst of it--a handwritten letter from his sister, saying that she hopes she’ll get to see more of him.

Kouji sets the book onto the nightstand and curls against Ogura, crying quietly.

Ogura simply rubs at his back softly, kissing the top of Kouji’s head.

“You can thank them properly when you see them again next time, alright? And we’ll try and get her out a bit more often.”

He wants to say that maybe he can arrange for Kouji to go out and visit them, but he knows it’s not going to happen. Not then. Not for another year. Maybe not ever. Letting Kouji off base is such a security issue that it might never be allowed. Not unless things really change for ajin, and maybe not even then.

Kouji is a special case, and Ogura doesn’t have quite enough faith in the public to believe they’d be willing to understand.

“I love you,” Kouji says, and Ogura goes abruptly still, unsure if he heard him right.

“I mean it,” Kouji says quietly. “You’re so - you’re so important. I thought it was just me being thankful to you for helping me, but it’s not that. You understand. And when I’m with you, I feel... I feel right. Happy. Like everything is okay and nothing is wrong. I just... I feel safe.”

Lots of people have told Ogura that they love him before, but none of them have really meant it. Not the way Kouji so obviously does, and he freezes up for a moment, suddenly afraid.

It takes him a second to realize that he doesn’t need to be. Even if he doesn’t know how to say it, he knows what to say, and Kouji knows him too well to be upset if he fucks it up in the process.

“Me too,” he says, which is about the least eloquent way to say what he’s thinking possible. “But I - well, I suck at this sort of thing, but me too. You’re important to me.”

Not eloquent at all, but it does the trick. Kouji lets out a little chuckle, leaning up to press a kiss to his lips, sealing the deal.

Chapter Text

Ogura has a plan--a stupid plan, but a plan none the less--of acting like he’s forgotten Kouji’s birthday and then surprising him that night. The plan is foiled almost immediately when Morgan shows up to walk Kouji to class with everyone else in tow, each bearing a gift.

Even so, he doesn’t actually celebrate with Kouji until just after dinner.

“Before we do anything,” Kouji says as Ogura heads to the closet to retrieve his gift. “I don’t - I’m not even sure when your birthday was. Is.”

“You missed it,” Ogura says with a little laugh. “And I didn’t celebrate it anyway.”

“But I want to,” Kouji protests. “So you have to tell me for next year at least.”

“January, if you must know. Late January.”

He can see Kouji counting back the months, and then a look of horror hits his face.

“Wait, while you were with Satou-”

“It wasn’t a big deal,” Ogura insists. “Like I said, I didn’t celebrate.”

Kouji lets out a little huff, leaning forward to press a kiss against Ogura’s lips.

“Then I’ll make up for it next year. We’ll give you a proper birthday party.”

Ogura doesn’t bother to argue. Instead, he grabs the package, heading back to where Kouji sits on the couch and holding it out for him to take. It isn’t big--the size of a small book--but Kouji smiles down at it anyway, holding it in his hands like Ogura’s just handed him a giant diamond.

“I... honestly didn’t think you’d get me anything,” Kouji admits.

“Hey!” Ogura protests. “I can be taught,” Ogura insists. “And I think Rahim and Mai would skin me alive if I didn’t get you anything.”

He’s gone beyond that though. Ogura’s actually proud of the gift, and he’s eager for Kouji to open it.

“Go on,” he insists.

Kouji does, peeling the paper off to reveal, of all things, a small cellphone.

Kouji simply stares at it, looking more confused than pleased. Phones aren’t really a thing within the community, largely due to restrictions on outbound lines. There’s not really a point to phones when you can simply stick your head out the door and yell to the person you want to contact.

“A phone?” Kouji says, glancing up at him and trying to figure out how it’s a gift.

“With an outbound line,” Ogura clarifies. “To one specific number. Still monitored, and still limited, but capable of outbound and inbound calls to that number. You can call whenever, but be mindful about what you’re saying.”

Kouji stares at him for a moment, and then the meaning suddenly dawns on him. His face lights up, which makes all the whining and pleading Ogura did with Mai suddenly worth it.

“Wait - this -” Kouji splutters out, and then when he can’t manage to compose himself he settles for throwing his arms around Ogura’s middle, pressing in for an eager kiss.

Ogura kisses back, but he keeps it short, pulling back after a moment.

“They’re waiting for you to call, you know. I’m sure they’d love to give you some birthday wishes too.”

“But-” Kouji starts, and Ogura flicks a finger up, pressing a finger to Kouji’s lips.

“No but. Make the call. When you’re done, then we can spend the rest of the night cuddling. Problem solved.”

Kouji doesn’t protest any further, instead grinning at Ogura before leaning back to stare down at the phone.

“There’s only one number,” Ogura clarifies. “I assume you know how to use a phone?” He asks, and Kouji nods in response. “Alright. I’ll see you later.”

Kouji’s on the phone for over an hour, and Ogura does what he can to not listen in. He can hear him talking distantly, but he lets himself tune it out.

Kouji needs all the privacy he can get, but Ogura’s still a bit relieved when he finally goes quiet, the call apparently done.

“Good call?” He asks, but the fact that Kouji looks so happy answers the question for him.

“Yeah,” he says quietly. “It was good. That was - that was a very nice gift,” he says, peeling off his clothes before sliding into the bed beside Ogura.

“I am capable of being considerate when I try, you know,” Ogura says with a little laugh, and Kouji lets out a laugh of his own, leaning in for another kiss.

But it’s not just a kiss. It continues well past that, and Kouji catches his wrist in his hand, pulling it up to his face before planting a kiss on Ogura’s fingers.

It’s undeniably sexual, and Ogura doesn’t even try not to react. Not with Kouji sitting right there wearing nothing but underwear, kissing at Ogura’s fingers.

“If you keep doing that, I’m going to get even more bothered than I already am,” Ogura admits, shifting his body to hide his rather obvious erection.

“That would be the point,” Kouji admits, kissing Ogura’s fingers again.

Ogura goes pink, because there’s really no way to interpret that other than the obvious.

“This feels more like a birthday present for me then a birthday present for you,” he admits. 

“But it isn’t,” Kouji says firmly. “Because I want it just as much as you do.”

Chapter Text

Slow isn’t a strong enough word for how Ogura handles things. He’s slower than slow, practically glacial with his pace. It takes almost thirty minutes for him to escalate to the point where he feels comfortable slipping his hand into Kouji’s underwear, sucking at Kouji’s neck as he drags his fingers over Kouji’s erection.

Kouji certainly doesn’t disappoint, but Ogura makes himself hold back anyway. The last thing he wants is to push too hard or too fast, and he’s absolutely determined to make sure before he does anything.

“We’re going to go slow,” he says, his voice a shade more breathy than he intended. “And you’re going to be leading.”

“Me?” Kouji says, jerking back with surprise. “You’re the one with experience-”

“Which is why you’re leading. In the future, if you want me leading, I’ll lead. Normally I do. But the person leading normally sets the pace, and it’s important that the pace be one you’re comfortable with.”

“So I-” Kouji starts, swallowing hard. “So I just climb on and ride?”

Ogura burst out laughing at that, reaching up to rub at his eyes.

“Well - hell, I mean if you want to ride, but honestly I’m mostly a bottom. I kind of assumed you’d be the one doing the fucking.”

Kouji’s been pink since the start, but every single filthy word only makes him pinker, which is awfully endearing.

“I mean -” Kouji splutters, glancing away. “I could. I don’t know. I assumed-”

“Don’t assume,” Ogura says firmly. “You can try everything. You don’t have to pick one thing and stick with it forever.”

Kouji only goes redder, but there’s something slightly different about it. It’s less cute and embarrassed, and more genuinely embarrassed.

“Well - I didn’t - When Satou and I...”

It’s obvious that he doesn’t feel comfortable talking about it, and Ogura leans forward, kissing his cheek.

“Then you can top this time,” he says, almost entirely sure that Satou wasn’t doing any riding of his own. “It’ll be the easiest. I’m already prepared for that, I’ve got the experience, and you’ll enjoy it. I’ve been informed I have a very nice ass.”

“I still have no idea what I’m supposed to be doing,” Kouji says, and Ogura resolves the issue by reaching down, peeling his underwear off in one smooth motion, tossing them onto the floor. Then he rolls over, digging around in the nightstand to retrieve a small bottle of lube, prepared for just such an occasion.

“Lube,” Ogura clarifies, unclear on if Satou would have bothered. Probably not, he decides after a moment, considering that Kouji wasn’t confident enough to advocate for himself. “Helps things go where they should be going easier. For the record, if you tried to just shove a dick in, it’d end badly. Lube is important, and prep is also important. Only I’ve already prepped, so we’re going to skip that step.”

“You’ve already-” Kouji says, his ears burning pink. “You guessed?”

“I had a good idea. And if I turned out wrong, oh well.”

He’s certainly happy he wasn’t wrong though.

“I don’t know how to do anything,” Kouji protests, and Ogura simply grins at him.

“Stop worrying. That’s step one. If you need to change positions or do something slower, I’ll be happy to let you know. But knowing you, if anything you’ll be going too slow.”

He doles out a fair bit of lube into his palm, reaching forward to wrap his hand around Kouji’s cock without any real warning. Kouji jumps immediately, his eyes squeezing shut as his stomach flutters.

“Remember to breathe,” he says, giving a firm stroke. Kouji’s already hard, but there’s no harm in letting him enjoy it. More then that, it’s actually fun to watch his reactions, to watch him squirm at the slightest touch.

“Ikuya...” Kouji hisses, and Ogura leans forward, pressing a light kiss to his collar bone. He probably could keep going, but Ogura’s eager to have his own reward, so he withdraws his hand, reaching behind himself to press two fingers in. They sink in easily with the already applied lube, but he applies some more anyway, leaving himself more than ready.

 “Alright, how do you want it - me on my back looking up at you, or both of us on our sides, with you up against my back?” He asks, raising an eyebrow.

Kouji doesn’t look certain at all.

“Uhm - which - which would be easier?” He finally asks.

It isn’t a hard question.

“On our sides. That way it’s less weight on your legs. I think your muscles could handle it, but it’s a bit easier to angle.”

Kouji nods, and Ogura lies down on his side, gesturing for Kouji to slide in behind him.

“Feel free to use your hands,” Ogura says. “Explore. Take your time.”

“What would someone normally do?” Kouji asks, sounding a tiny bit more confident as he leans in, pressing against Ogura from behind. Ogura can feel his cock pressing in between his legs, but between his legs isn’t where he wants it.

“Fingerfuck me probably. Make sure I’ve done a good job opening myself up.”

He can’t see Kouji’s face, but he’s sure he looks good and embarrassed anyway.

Ogura’s almost surprised when he feels a finger press against his hole, carefully pushing inside. Ogura has to fight the urge to laugh, squeezing down on Kouji’s finger and earning himself a yelp in return.

“Try two or three,” he instructs. “Your dick’s a lot bigger than one finger.”

A second and then third finger push in, and without being prompted, Kouji starts to pump his fingers in, wiggling them around.

So he can be taught.

“Just like that,” Ogura says quietly. “Just fuck me with your fingers.” He lets his own hand wander down, wrapping around his own cock and giving himself a tentative jerk. It’s not that good--it’s definitely no dick--but Kouji’s earnest explorations are enjoyable in their own way.

“Now pull your fingers out and put your cock right in,” Ogura says, his voice breathy. “Just push the head right in.”

Because good god, he wants it. He wants Kouji inside. He wants Kouji pressed up against him, and he knows Kouji won’t disappoint.

“Just press it in?” Kouji asks, sounding nervous.

“I can take it,” Ogura insists. “Just press it right in, and go at your own pace.”

He doesn’t really want Kouji to go at his own pace. He wants Kouji to shove into him and fuck him until he screams, but instead Kouji has to be sensible and ask important questions.

“Shouldn’t I have a condom?” Kouji says nervously.

“I’m not getting pregnant, I’m not catching anything from you, and I’m clean,” Ogura says simply, trying not to sound like he’s whining. “So go for it.”

All his nice words about taking it slow are very quickly going out the window, but it’s absolutely worth it when Kouji actually starts to press in. The pop as the head slides in is so fucking satisfying that Ogura lets out an excited groan, squeezing at his cock to keep himself from rocking backwards.

Kouji digs his fingers into the flesh of Ogura’s hips as he presses in, and Ogura’s relieved to hear Kouji let out a groan behind him. He returns the favor by clenching briefly, earning him another groan as Kouji buries his face against Ogura’s shoulder.

“I love you,” Kouji kisses, and Ogura can’t help but chuckle at that.

“Romantic,” Ogura says, reaching behind him to grab at Kouji’s hip and give it a reassuring squeeze. “Keep going.”

There’s not all that much left to go, and Kouji bottoms out shortly, his body pressed tight to Ogura’s back. He’s big enough that Ogura feels comfortably full, but he’s never been satisfied with just full.

“Now fuck me,” he says, trying to forget all that shit he said about letting Kouji to take control. “Pull your hips back and then slam right in. Make me fucking scream your name.”

He regrets not picking a position that will give him a view of Kouji’s face for their first time.

Kouji rocks back in one smooth movement, and when he thrusts back in Ogura has to bite his fist to keep from actually screaming. His fingers aren’t anywhere near comparable, and it’s been months since he’s actually had a real dick.

“Fuck, Kouji,” he says, which is the exact wrong thing to say, because Kouji jerks to a halt. He doesn’t even let Kouji ask before he fixes his error. “No - fuck, keep going. That was a good fuck, not a pained fuck.” He sure as hell doesn’t want Kouji to stop, and after a moment he starts up again, jerking his hips back before slapping them forward again.

Everything about it is good, and it’s good in a way that Ogura isn’t used to. It’s not just sex. It’s sex and something more, because he actually cares. He wants to know that Kouji’s happy, he wants to know that he’s satisfied. It’s not enough for him to get off, because he’s far more invested in Kouji doing so.

“I’m -” Kouji splutters, and Ogura can feel Kouji’s stomach fluttering against Ogura’s back as he tries to breath normally. “I’m sensitive,” Kouji says as if he’s making a serious confession.

Ogura’s never had much interest in someone finishing inside him, but Kouji, like so many other things, is different.

“Just finish inside,” he says firmly, forcing himself to breath as he squeezes himself again before starting to stroke. “All the way inside.”

Kouji doesn’t finish right then, but he’s not far off. It takes a few more thrusts before he does, pressing himself tight to Ogura’s back as he lets out a long moan.

Ogura can feel him cumming. He can feel the twitch of Kouji’s cock, and he can feel the warmth in his ass.

He loves it. He loves him.

“I love you,” he mumbles, picking up speed himself as he edges himself over, cumming into his hand with a groan.

Kouji pants against his back, and Ogura wiggles a bit, pressing back against him before leaning forward slightly, reaching over to grab some tissues to clean up his hand.

“Was it - uh, did I do it right?” Kouji asks, which might be the silliest question Ogura’s heard in ages.

“Yes,” Ogura says with a little laugh. “Yes, you did a good job. Now stay right there and let me enjoy the feeling of you inside.”

He doesn’t want Kouji to pull out. He wants him to stay there, pressed up against him so close that Ogura can’t feel anything else.

Kouji wraps his arms around his waist, hugging him tight, and Ogura’s perfectly happy to simply fall asleep like that.

Chapter Text

Ogura wakes with Kouji curled against his side, still asleep and looking like he’s in no danger of waking anytime soon. He’s slipped out sometime in the night--expected, really--and as gross as Ogura feels, he doesn’t regret it at all.

He slips out from Kouji’s arms, cleaning himself up in the bathroom before returning to the bed.

Kouji stirs when he does, wrapping his arms around Ogura’s waist as he pulls him in close, pressing a kiss to Ogura’s forehead.

“Morning,” Ogura says softly. “You’re certainly cuddly, aren’t you?”

“Did you expect anything else?” Kouji mumbles quietly, hugging him a bit closer.

Ogura has to admit that he didn’t.

They shower together, which is fun in it’s own way, and then it’s off to work. Even so, Ogura doesn’t let Kouji go long without getting a round two in, which Kouji seems to enjoy just as much as he did.


 

Ogura knows what to ask Rahim when he next sees him, and he doesn’t bother waiting for the end of the session. Instead he starts with it, his question pointed.

“I need to ask something about Kouji,” he says firmly, which earns him a steady look from Rahim.

“I don’t talk about what happens in other people’s therapy. The same privacy is also afforded to you,” Rahim says, which forces Ogura to figure out to rephrase.

“Alright, then it’s a question about me.”

“Then ask, and if it really is a question about you, I’ll answer.”

Ogura takes a moment to compose his thoughts, trying to decide how he wants to ask.

“I want to know if it would be helpful for me to... to have a sit down talk with Kouji about Satou. To let him know that it’s something he can talk about.”

Rahim raises an eyebrow at his question, not answering immediately in favor of considering what to say.

“Has it occurred to you that the same goes for you? Even in our sessions, you rarely address the issue,” Rahim says, avoiding the question entirely.

“There’s not much to address,” Ogura counters. “It’s easy for me. Satou was bad, the things he did were bad. It’s harder for Kouji. No matter how much he hates the things Satou did, Satou’s still the one who saved him from his own personal hell.”

Rahim’s smile is polite, but firm.

“And you’re the one who is left wtih a constant physical reminder of what happened,” he says.

Ogura flexes his injured hand instinctively, letting out a little huff as he balls it into a fist.

“It’s not like I was using that hand for much anyway,” he counters, but even he knows it’s weak.

“In answer to your earlier question, I feel it would be poor business for you to extend an offer to Kouji when you are not taking advantage of it yourself. Working through what happened to what happened with Satou is, in my opinion, one of the two largest issues you haven’t dealt with.”

Ogura raises an eyebrow at that, making a faint little hnnn.

“And the other?”

“I’m sure you know.”

“And if I don’t?” He says, even though he absolutely does. There’s only been one big thing that Rahim’s been poking his way towards.

“Then you’re significantly less intelligent than I was giving you credit for.”

Ogura scowls at that, because someone thinking he’s stupid is the last thing he can tolerate.

“My family, alright.”

Rahim nods once.

“If you’d like to extend the invitation to Kouji--that he can talk to you about Satou--then you need to be willing to take that step too.”

Ogura doesn’t want to. He doesn’t want to talk about Satou, but finally he lets out a huff, leaning back in the chair and staring up at the ceiling.

“Fuck, I just don’t know, alright?” Ogura admits. “I don’t know what I missed. I don’t know what I learned. I keep waiting for some great epiphany about what I was supposed to have learned, and I keep coming up blank. I want to figure that out, and then I want to talk about it.”

The look on Rahim’s face means that he’s probably stumbled directly into whatever point Rahim was making.

“I suspected you’d feel that way,” Rahim says. “You enjoy solving problems, and what happened to you is a problem you want to solve but can’t wrap your head around.”

“So?” Ogura says, unable to keep himself from scowling.

“Real life isn’t a problem that can be solved. What happened to you happened, and sometimes things happen that don’t come with lessons to be learned. I would encourage you to keep that in mind when you think about it, because if not it’s too easy to fall into a trap of trying to find an answer to something that doesn’t have one.”

“Everything has an answer,” Ogura protests.

“You would like everything to have an answer, but unfortunately not everything does. Life is more complicated than that.”

Ogura doesn’t want it to be. He wants a clear answer. He wants to know what he did wrong. He wants to know what he could have done to prevent the situation, wants to know what words he could have said to not end up where he is right then.

“Are you happy?” Rahim says, seemingly out of the blue. Ogura blinks, then stares at him, squinting ever so slightly.

“It’s a simple question,” he says.

It is. Ogura knows the answer, but he’s sure there’s some kind of catch.

“Yes. I’ve got a nobel prize in the bag, I’m living comfortably in a house I own. I have a man I love who loves me back. What’s not to be happy about?”

“Then let yourself be happy,” Rahim says with a small smile. “Don’t try and spend your time thinking about how you could have prevented what happened to you. If you had, you wouldn’t be here. Things would be different, and it’s not possible to pick and choose. You can’t wish that Satou had never captured you without also wishing that you’d never fallen in love with Tanaka. You have to take the bad with the good, but you also have to take the good with the bad.”

Ogura wants to protest--everything about Rahim’s logic sounds wrong--but he can’t actually come up with a proper response. He doesn’t want that, and he knows that he’d be worse off without Kouji, but there’s no coherent answer that really summarizes it. Satou is still there, still lingering in his mind, and he isn’t sure he’ll ever change that.

“It’s alright to regret it. It’s alright to wish that what happened didn’t. But don’t let yourself get caught up in what might have been. Let yourself live in the moment. Let yourself enjoy it.”

Chapter Text

He waits for them to be calm before he brings it up, sitting Kouji down to talk. Kouji looks nervous, which he supposes is all he can really expect. There aren’t a lot of sit down talks that have a positive theme, and this one isn’t much different.

“I want to talk to you seriously,” he says. “About Satou.”

Kouji flinches at the mention of his name, which is an obvious sign that the conversation needs to happen.

“I know it’s hard for you. It’s not as easy as just saying he was evil and being done, because even with all the awful things he did, he was still the one who saved you. But I want you to know that - well, that I’m here to talk if you want to. I’ve started talking with Rahim about it myself, and if you haven’t, you should be. You shouldn’t feel ashamed or embarrassed, and anyone who does make you feel ashamed or embarrassed is a fucking ass.”

Even though Ogura wasn’t trying to be funny, Kouji laughs anyway, reaching up to rub at his face a bit.

“Thanks. I - I talked to Doctor Rahim about it a bit. It’s hard to talk about it, but... I’m working on it.”

Ogura’s happy to hear that, and after a moment he decides to make that clear.

“That’s good,” he says, and he can practically hear Rahim praising him for vocalizing his compliments. “But I’m here if you want to talk.”

“I, uh-” Kouji starts, swallowing hard before continuing. “Actually had something to ask you too. I wanted to know if you wanted to come with me for dinner.”

Ogura isn’t entirely sure why Kouji would feel that’s the sort of question is one that requires a sit down talk, but after a moment he decides the biggest question is where Kouji would even go for dinner.

“Is it someone’s birthday?” He says after a moment.

“No. Reiji- I mean, Akiyama’s family is arriving today, and they invited everyone in class over for dinner at their house. I wanted to know if you’d come.”

Ogura can’t help but feel that he’s missed something. When the hell did Akiyama--a man who slugged Kouji in the face--end up on a first name basis with him?

"I guess,” he says after a moment. “Are you actually that friendly with him?”

Kouji nods once.

“Yeah, with everyone from class. His wife and daughter are going to be joining us there, so that was why we were doing a dinner. To get to know them. I wanted to bring you along.”

Akiyama probably won’t like it, but Ogura doesn’t really care, so he nods once.

“Sure, why not. I don’t see the issue. Are we going as a couple, or just as a man and his scientist buddy?”

Kouji immediately goes pink, but doesn’t answer right away. The blush makes it obvious enough that everyone already knows, and Ogura simply lets out a laugh.

“I should have known. Couple it is, then.”

The rest of the afternoon is spent slowly, and then it’s off to Akiyama’s house. It turn out to be only a street over, close enough that Ogura can see it from the porch. As surly as he is towards the other man, Akiyama greets him warmly, and it’s not until he’s inside that it occurs to Ogura that while he strongly dislikes Akiyama, Akiyama has no reason to hate him.

“My wife,” Akiyama says, introducing Ogura to an attractive woman in her early thirties. She can’t be much older than Kouji himself, but she looks a good deal more tired. She seems to recognize him immediately, because her eyes lightly up as she bows.

“Doctor Ogura, isn’t it? You were on the news a fair bit, but I never thought I’d meet you.”

“I imagine I was,” Ogura says with a snort. “I also imagined I stopped being on the news after I ruined Japan’s attempt to get another ajin.”

“By that point I’d stopped paying attention,” she admits. “Getting the call from the American government... it was quite a surprise, but also a great relief. I was devastated when Reiji went missing, so to find out that he was safe... I really can’t thank you and the American government enough.”

Out of the corner of his eye Ogura can see Kouji hanging back, and he clears his throat, gesturing for him to step up.

Reiji’s wife goes slightly stiff when she spots him, but after a moment she forces herself to relax.

“And you would be Tanaka,” she says after a moment.

“Who was also on the news,” Kouji mutters to himself, and Akiyama clicks his tongue.

“Who also saved my life,” he adds. “Who betrayed Satou, and made sure I made it to a place I could be safe, rather than leaving me to fall into Japan’s hands.”

His wife brightens a bit at that, and then gestures inside.

“Misato is down for a nap for now, and everyone else is already in the dining room if you’d like to join us?”

Kouji makes a point of introducing Ogura to both of the waiting ajin, both of whom he looks to be on good terms with. While Ogura had known he was friendly with Yasuhiko, he’s surprised to learn he’s also friendly with everyone else.

Kouji is well liked, despite his background, and he seems perfectly comfortable talking as they eat, even helping Akiyama’s wife with the dishes. After dinner is finished, Akiyama vanishes upstairs, returning with a sleepy looking three year old girl in his arms as they retire to the living room.

The house is a mirror of his own, but the furniture is all different, and Ogura can’t help but note that Akiyama’s already made it feel a bit more homey.

“Is it just you here?” Akiyama’s wife asks Ogura after dinner.

“Me and Kouji, yeah,” he says.

The other three members of Kouji’s English class exchange glances and sly grins, and Ogura rolls his eyes.

“I’m sure we’ll be very comfortable here,” Akiyama says, his daughter already falling asleep in his lap. “It’s not the same as home, but there’s no worry that someone’s going to find out what I am.”

“It’s a weight off my mind at least,” Yasuhiko says. “And it’s good everyone that you got here safely.”

“It is,” Akiyama’s wife says, giving Ogura a little smile. “And we’re thankful that everyone here is so welcoming.”

The rest of the night is spent chattering, with the rest of the group catching the newcomers up to speed. 

“Don’t you feel bad for her?” Kouji says at one point, completely out of the blue.

“For me?” Akiyama’s wife says, looking mystified.

Kouji shakes his head, gesturing to the sleeping girl in Akiyama’s arms.

“Now that she’s here, she isn’t going to have a normal life--she’s human, she could just...”

Kouji trails off, the mood suddenly somber.

“Not really an issue,” Ogura says. “Akiyama isn’t publically identified as an ajin. When she grows up, there’s no issue with her going off to a boarding school for high school or university.”

“Like having your parents living in a gated community,” Yasuhiko says, which lightens the mood a fair bit.

“They’ve said they want me on the out team,” Akiyama mentions. “Now that everyone’s here and I don’t have to worry. Someone who’s already trained is a good fit, they said.”

There’s quite a few nods, and Yasuhiko glances to Ogura, giving him a nervous smile.

“I was thinking of joining the science team myself. It’s an interesting subject, and it’s pretty relevant to me.”

Kouji, Ogura notes, doesn’t say anything as the conversation continues. He’s quiet for the rest of the night, but Ogura isn’t clear what exact thing has bothered him.

He makes a note to ask him the next day, and lets them simply enjoy the rest of the evening.

Chapter Text

Ogura doesn’t end up asking him the next day. Instead, he simply lets himself enjoy it, cheering up Kouji in his own way. For the most part, that involves judicious use of his mouth.

But when Kouji’s still obviously bothered, he ends up asking that night, when they’re curled up for bed and ready to sleep.

“Alright, I can’t put it off,” Ogura says with a sigh. “You’re bothered by something. So what is it?”

Kouji squirms in place, staring up at the ceiling and obviously going out of his way to avoid looking at Ogura.

“It’s nothing,” Kouji says, and Ogura snorts.

“I’d like to think I know you well enough to confirm that it isn’t nothing. You’ve been bothered since last night. Something someone said or did bothered you, and you’ve been bottling it up rather than telling me.”

Kouji squirms a bit more, but finally does answer.

“I’m - well, I’m not sure what I want to do,” Kouji says. “Or if there’s even anything for me to do.”

“To do?” Ogura asks, mystified.

“Reiji is going to be joining the out team. The other two are both going to be joining the science team. I - if I had the option, I’d want to join the out team, but that isn’t an option for me. I don’t think I’d be very good at science, either.”

It’s such a Kouji worry that Ogura’s amused that he didn’t realize what it was.

“You don’t have to do anything,” he says firmly. “If you wanted to do nothing for the rest of your whole damn life, you could. If you wanted to stay home and cook for me and pick up a hobby? Fuck, you could do that. You’re a hero. You fucking saved a whole country. You could retire. You don’t have to worry about what you should be doing, because what you should be doing is spending the next forty years mastering how to make the perfect steak.”

Ogura means it, but Kouji still laughs anyway, turning to nuzzle against his side.

“Thank you,” he says quietly. “But I still wish - I don’t know. I’m used to having some purpose, and living a quiet life doesn’t play nice with that.”

Ogura folds his hands over his chest and lets out a sigh.

“Well, I wasn’t going to bring it up until it was more set in stone, but I suppose since it’s bothering you, I should.”

Kouji squints at him, but doesn’t interrupt.

“Remember how I said it’d be a smart thing to have you training the out team? Well, we’re in talks to form an anti-Satou squad.”

Kouji’s eyebrows shoot up, and this time he does interrupt.

“But Satou’s dead,” he notes.

“Satou’s dead, but there will be others. Eventually someone else will come up who weaponizes their ajin status the way he did, and we need to be ready for that. Making new weapons isn’t enough, because any of those weapons can also be used against humans. What we need is people who can use the weapons we already have. The out team is all competent and well trained, but they’re prepared to fight against humans to retrieve ajin. They have minimal to no training fighting actual ajin,” he explains, watching the realization dawn on Kouji’s face.

“Which is why you didn’t know about the memory swap thing. Because you’d never had them sparring with their IBMs, so it had never come up.”

“Exactly,” Ogura confirms. “But eventually, it is going to be an issue, and we will need a force who are prepared for it. I wanted you to lead it, if you want it. You’ve got the most experience.”

“But I can’t leave,” Kouji points out as if Ogura hadn’t already considered that.

“You can’t leave now,” Ogura counters. “In the event of a crisis large enough that the United States need to dispatch a special ajin taskforce just to take down another ajin who has become a Satou level threat, then you’ll be more than able to leave. The point is to prepare for that, and then to hope that it won’t ever happen.”

Ogura hopes it won’t. He isn’t sure if it will, but he hopes it doesn’t.

“Would you like that?” Ogura asks. “I can’t promise it’s going to happen, but it looks like it’s going to be a thing. Members picked for their skills, trained under you, and ready to go if ever needed even if it's their main job.”

Even though Kouji hasn’t said yes, he knows that’s the answer. His face makes it obvious, and Ogura leans in, pressing a kiss to his forehead before Kouji gets a chance to answer.

“Yes,” Kouji said. “I mean - assuming no one objects -”

“No one is going to object. You’re well liked and overqualified. You’re one of the only people on base who has ever actually fought another ajin in anything other than a basic training exercise.”

“Thank you,” Kouji says, which catches him off guard, and Ogura squints at him.

“For?”

“I know you had a hand in this. For - for giving me the opportunity.”

Ogura snorts at that.

“Don’t know why you’d think that. I pointed out we needed to be prepared to deal with ajin threats, but I never mentioned you. They brought you up of their own free will, and you earned it on your own merit. I don’t believe in nepotism.”

Kouji lets out a little laugh, leaning forward to press a kiss to Ogura’s cheek. It isn’t clear if he actually believes him, even if it’s the truth.

“Oh, and I didn’t tell you anything,” Ogura says. “So when they approach you in a few days, try and look surprised.”

He has faith in a lot of things, but he doesn’t have any faith in Kouji’s ability to convincingly pretend like he wasn’t told ahead of time.

“Thank you,” Kouji says again, curling against his side, and Ogura wraps his arm around Kouji’s back, pulling him in closer. “For everything.”

Chapter Text

It feels like an accomplishment when Ogura graduates to therapy one day a week. It shouldn’t be--he’s still in reliable therapy--but it is, and Kouji insists on celebrating, cooking all of his favorites in a great big dinner.

Ogura insists on celebrating in his own way, finally falling asleep exhausted hours later, sore  as hell but also beyond satisfied.

There’s no question that Kouji will stay in therapy for a long time coming, and neither of them brings up the idea of Kouji changing his schedule.

In July, they switch to English properly to help Kouji practice. Japanese is infrequent and personal, reserved for the bedroom and for when Kouji can’t figure out what word he’s supposed to be using.

Kouji improves in leaps and bounds after the swap over, even if his accent is still thick. Ogura decides it’s cute, which only serves to make Kouji more embarrassed.

Kouji’s parents come every other week, with his sister coming along more often than not. The next few visits are focused on catching up, and despite Ogura’s nerves on the matter, they don’t act any differently than they did before. Before long, they simply run out of things to catch up on.

Instead they spend their evenings watching movies, a strangely mundane activity that Ogura’s forced to admit he enjoys.

Kouji has a lot of pop culture to catch up on, after all.

Six months after returning to America, Ogura writes his first entirely new paper, all about the practicalities of IBM memory transfer and the implications it brings up. It’s never published formally--not with the public unaware of IBMs--but it’s popular just the same.

More than that, he’s proud of it, and that’s enough for him.

Not even two days later, someone finds a new ajin, and when the ajin in question goes abruptly missing in the heart of Venezuela, the out team goes to do its work.

Kouji seems more anxious than anyone else, and Ogura has to actually ask to figure it out.

“I know how scary it is to be on the run,” he admits. “I just hope they’re okay.”

They are. Sotelo and Raposo return almost a week later with a sixteen year old girl in tow. She looks small and terrified, but seems to calm down a fair bit once the situation is explained to her. To Ogura’s delight, she can already summon her IBM, despite having only known she was an ajin for a week. It’s smaller than most he’s used to, but has two massive horns as it’s prominent feature, a first for the facility.

Kouji gets assigned to show her around, and takes to it like a fish to water.

Ogura’s proud of that, too.

Most of the time, his visits with Rahim are spent discussing his day. Sometimes, his visits instead discuss Satou. But as time goes on, the discussions overwhelmingly become about his parents, his family, and his childhood.

It isn’t something he enjoys talking about, but it’s cathartic to talk about it anyway. Rahim doesn’t give him any answers, but instead he guides Ogura through the discussion, letting him come to his own conclusions. Every time Ogura mentions his parents, he fears that Rahim is going to say the words you should reach out to them, and every single time he’s proven wrong.

Rahim never once pushes him to try and reconnect. He never gives Ogura any bullshit platitudes about forgiveness. Instead he listens and accepts, and more than once he catches Ogura mentioning something offhand, questions him about it, and then tells him that no, that doesn’t happen in the average person’s childhood.

Ogura feels relief, and more than once when he goes home after a long, exhausting session, he simply curls up against Kouji and cries.

Kouji is a blessing. He never tells Ogura to stop, or tells him he shouldn’t be crying. Instead he runs his fingers through his hair, kissing his head and holding him tightly.

Ogura loves him more than life itself.

Chapter Text

Ikuya paces through the living room as he waits for Kouji to get home. There’s no specific meaning to the day, nothing special about it, but Ikuya’s nervous anyway.

He knows there’s nothing to be nervous about, but he is anyway, even if it’s completely illogical.

“This was a lot easier when I just did what I wanted,” he mutters under his breath, wearing a hole in the floor as he paces back and forth.

The door opens to reveal Kouji, fresh from therapy and looking as pleasant as ever.

“Oh, you’re home early!” Kouji says, momentarily pleased before he realizes that Ikuya’s obviously been pacing, pausing in the doorway as he squints. “...Is everything alright?”

“Yeah,” he says quickly. “Things are fine. Just - ah, sit down?”

Kouji squints at him skeptically but does as he asks, hanging up his jacket and kicking off his shoes and heading into the living room to take a seat on the couch. His initial nerves seem to have calmed down, and he looks up at Ikuya calmly for a second before patting the seat beside him.

“If we’re going to have a serious talk, you should probably be sitting down too,” Kouji says, and Ikuya takes that as his cue to do just that, sitting down beside him.

Even though he’s set the whole thing up, it’s still not as easy as just saying it. He feels like they’ve swapped places, and that Kouji is suddenly the composed one who knows what he’s doing, and he’s left to fumble his way through things.

“This is - well, normally I’d say I should give you a speech about how whatever it is, you can talk to me about it, only you obviously already know that,” Kouji says.

Ikuya takes a moment to lean up, pressing a kiss to the corner of Kouji’s mouth and earning himself a blush for his hard work.

“For the record, this isn’t coming out of the blue,” he says. “I’ve been thinking about this a lot, and if you ask Samir, he’ll back-”

“Hold on, who’s Samir?” Kouji cuts in, his confusion obvious on his face.

“Oh - sorry. Rahim. It’s his first name.”

“You’re on a first name basis with Doctor Rahim?” Kouji says, looking scandalized.

“I’m on a first name basis with Mai, and she’s my boss. How is this surprising?”

Kouji takes a moment to consider that before shrugging.

“Fair enough, but he’s still Doctor Rahim to me.”

“That wasn’t really my point,” Ikuya says, trying to redirect the conversation. “My point was - alright, like I said, this isn’t something out of the blue. I spent a lot of time thinking about what you said.” He’s forced to pause and gesture for Kouji to hold that thought, because the moment he says what you said Kouji’s already opening his mouth to ask the required what thing I said.

“Months ago, back when you first got here, you said it was weird that I used the name Ogura. You even said you’d call me something else if that was what I wanted, and I brushed you off. My family was one of the big sticking points for me. It was something I talked about with Samir a lot, and eventually I realized that you were right back then. It was weird. And doing something petty like using my family name just to piss them off is just opening myself up to their opinion. It’s putting how they feel about me above how I feel about myself, and that’s - well, stupid.”

Kouji’s face slowly changes as the realization dawns on him, and by the time Ikuya finishes his explanation, he’s smiling a wide smile.

“You’re changing your name?” He guesses, and Ikuya nods in response.

“Either way I’m going to change my name,” he says. “If I change it now and I do end up winning that prize, it means I’ll be able to get them to announce my new name, which will make the transition easier.”

“Did you pick one out already?” Kouji asks, already more excited than even Ikuya himself.

Ikuya makes himself reach out and take Kouji’s hands, even if his hands feel strangely clumsy doing so.

He feels sick, even though he already knows what Kouji will say.

“Kouji, I love you. I have been with more men than I could even count, but in the end I didn’t love any of them. Not like this. Not like you. Being with you makes me happy in a way I’ve never been before, and made me realize that I could do better and be a better person that I was. You made me better, and I owe you a lot for that.”

Even if Kouji doesn’t quite suspect what Ikuya’s leading up to--although Ikuya suspects he does have a good idea--Kouji’s affected anyway, his eyes watering as he tries not to cry. He’s always been emotional, and it’s one of the many, many things that Ikuya loves about him. Even after everything he’s been too--or maybe because of it--Kouji isn’t afraid to show how things affect him.

“So I didn’t want to just make up a name. If you’ll let me, I’d like to take your family name.”

It’s not a proposal, but it’s damned close. 

Kouji bursts into tears, throwing his arms around Ikuya’s shoulders as he pulls him in close. That is more or less what Ikuya expected, and he wraps his arms around Kouji in turn, pulling him close to his chest.

“Yes,” Kouji says, crying into his shirt. “You don’t even have to ask.”

“I absolutely did,” Ikuya insists. “Imagine how shocked you’d have been watching me get a nobel prize and hearing them announce Ikuya Tanaka as having won.”

That gets a laugh from Kouji, who squeezes Ikuya so tightly that he wheezes a little bit.

“Did you really think I’d say no?” Kouji says, and that gets a laugh from Ikuya himself.

“No, not really. I sort of wondered if you’d say that we’d have to ask your parents...” Ikuya admits, and to his horror Kouji’s face twitches.

“We - it’s their name too, we probably should-”

“We can let them know, but it isn’t their decision,” Ikuya reminds him gently. “Your decision is the one that matters.”

Kouji squirms a bit at that, and then nods after a moment.

“Alright. I won’t ask. But I do want to tell them next week, alright?”

“Of course. I’m not going to hide it from them. I’m not going to hide it from anyone, although it’ll take a bit to change everything over.”

Kouji gets the look that Ikuya knows means he’s just thought of something bad, and raises an eyebrow.

“What?”

“Wouldn’t - I mean, no one knows I’m here. Wouldn’t it be kind of suspicious if you suddenly changed your name to that of a demi-human?”

Ikuya rolls his eyes at that.

“Kouji, if you aren’t aware, Tanaka is literally one of the most common names in all of Japan. There are more than a million people with that last name. There’s got to be several thousand people with that last name in America. Only insane conspiracy theorists are going to think anything of it. Most will just assume I finally picked a pen name.”

Kouji laughs a little at that, and Ikuya leans forward, pressing a kiss to his lips for a long, long moment.

It isn’t a proposal. Not then, but soon. And Ikuya has every intention of making it a good one.