Word Count: 2,000
Tags: mentions of violence, blood, gore, cannibalism, fluff, memories, fluff & angst, angst, memories
It was raining.
The kind of rain that pounded into you and had you soaked to the bone in seconds if you were unlucky enough to forget an umbrella. And naturally, Jūzō Suzuya was unlucky enough to be umbrella-less and still a seven-minute walk away from home. He’d taken his chances when he left for work that morning, assuming that it was too early in the season for rain. But, getting the hang of a new country and new climate proved harder than Jūzō thought. His clothes were already so water-logged that moving in haste was difficult, adding to the problem.
Wish I had learned to drive! That was a worry for another day though; for now, Jūzō chose to suck it up and take off in as much of a sprint as he could manage. I’d have to fake all my credentials anway.
The discomfort reminded him of the clothes he used to wear back then. Skirts, dresses, all things girly initially for her, and he felt that part of him that was forever numb tingle. He slowed to a jog. After he had been separated from Madam, he’d donned girls’ clothes again for the sake of “the mission”: to infiltrate a ghoul hideout. The promise of violence and ghoul blood spilling in bucket loads helped him push past the humiliation. He had wished dressing up like a girl wasn’t a part of his skillset at the time, but it led to a victory that he still savored to this day.
But, at least I would have been home by now. Dresses left a lot of freedom of movement for the legs, something that Jūzō could begrudgingly admit he missed. But not much else from that time. In fact, he’d moved across the globe to get away from it all, but as they said, he couldn’t escape his mind. His only respite, oddly enough, was the person he was running home to, someone from those dark times.
Just thinking about Washū Kichimura eased some of the chill from the rain and Jūzō only grew warmer when he turned the corner where their apartment was. They had chosen a building with only a few stories on the outskirts of the city. It had been recently renovated so though the outside looked dilapidated and grimy, the inside shined with hardwood floors and fresh grey paint. It was out of the way, on a quiet street, and Jūzō let out a happy sigh. From this distance he could see the light from their unit’s living room window. Though the curtains were mostly drawn. Old habits die hard.
“I hope he bought some caramels like I asked,” he hummed to himself, pulling out his keycard and keys.
The hallway was well lit, almost hurting his eyes as they adjusted to the change in lighting. Though there were apartments on this floor, Jūzō couldn’t hear a peep from any of them, and his shoulders relaxed. It was quiet and warm. Almost there…
He took the main staircase three steps at a time, laughing to himself at how if Kichimura had been beside him, he’d be yelling for Jūzō to stop moving so “fluidly.” We’re still technically on the run you idiot, so try to lay low! But it had been ten years since they made their daring escape during the raid that finally put an end to Big Madam and all her associates. It had been a fitting farewell, and whenever he was having a hard day, he’d remember the screams and the smell of blood to calm him down. They’d done the CCG a huge favor, and with Jūzō leaving some “extra insurance,” he knew they were scott free. Well as free as ones like us can be!
Jūzō made slow work of the lock, his way of alerting his co-habitant that he was home. Even though they both knew that the only other person who would have a key much less know their address were each other, they’d learned early just suddenly waltzing through the front door wasn’t a smart move. One of their earlier incidents had led to the only stitches Kichimura let him sow (most likely because the injury was below the neckline). Naturally Jūzō took advantage and made the shape of a heart, using red thread. It was like a brand, tying them together.
“Ohhhh Kichimura! I’m hoooomeee!” The door shut firmly behind him and he dropped his briefcase to the ground, arms open.
Silence; not a greeting from down the hall, nor the usual sounds of Kichimura rummaging around in the kitchen. It was odd, and Jūzō let his arms fall slowly. “Hello?” His hand was already reaching for the knife he kept tucked at his back. He really missed having easy access to guns. Maybe I’ll sign-up for registration?
Thud, thud, thud!
As he was pulling the knife from the pocket he’d sewn into his slacks (he’d added such a pocket to all his bottoms), Kichimura appeared at the end of the hall, seemingly out of breath. His dark hair was matted and pulled back so that Jūzō had a full look at the scar that was normally hidden away. Even with such a vicious marking, seeing Kichimura’s face unobscured made him look younger, vulnerable somehow, and Jūzō felt that squeezing in his chest he’d learned was affection for another being. There had been only one other person that elicited a reaction from his chest before, but that man was long gone.
“Welcome home!” Kichimura said, easily disarming him and pulling him for a hug. He smelled like the soap they used, apple cinnamon, and mint, like he’d just brushed his teeth.
“Did you eat already?” Jūzō nuzzled into Kichimura’s firm chest before removing himself from his embrace.
“I had those onion chips you don’t like for a snack so I decided to wash up before you got home.” Kichimura jumped as if struck by lightning. “Why are you soaking wet?”
“I didn’t have an umbrella and my partner seemed to have all the time in the world save for bringing me one.” Jūzō made a pouty face before pushing past Kichimura for the kitchen. Well, the kitchen counter, where the bowl of candies he kept sat. To his joy it was full again, caramels sitting atop various other kinds. Perfect!
“Oy, oy, you’re gonna spoil your appetite eating these things!” Kichimura managed to snatch the unwrapped candy right as it touched Jūzō’s lips. “Save it for later.”
Jūzō glared at him, crossing his arms with a huff. “But you had a snack!”
Kichimura rolled his eyes. “But it’s never just one with you and you won’t eat dinner. And then you’ll be waking me up at three in the morning saying you’re hungry.”
A shrug. “It’ll be just this one, I promise!” Jūzō snatched the candy back and plopped it into his mouth before Kichimura could react. “What did you make?”
With a resigned sigh, Kichimura walked into the interior of the kitchen and stood by the stove, lifting the lid of a huge wok to stir what was inside. “Chicken and beef stir fry, with the vegetables.” Jūzō made a face and stuck out tongue in disgust. “Salmon onigiri, and something in the oven for after, so no more candy.”
Jūzō froze, his third caramel kissing his lips. With a guilty smile, he put the candy back into its wrapper, placing it back into the bowl. Kichimura stared at the bowl a little too long before turning back around to plate their food. He’s totally gonna toss it out. Jūzō giggled to himself.
“I’m getting in the shower really quick.” Kichimura only grunted in response, which he’d expected. But he won’t be expecting… Jūzō crept into the kitchen until he was right behind him.
“Thank you.” He left a small kiss at the nape of Kichimura’s neck before spinning on his heel to the bathroom. Despite how long they’d been together, Kichimura was still uncomfortable with intimate touches. Jūzō hadn’t expected to be a “cuddly” person, but he found himself always pushing Kichimura for his own comfort, as well as seeing those pale cheeks flush with blood.
Now that I think about it, isn’t today the anniversary? He scrubbed his body furiously, the cool water clearing the rest of the cobwebs work had left behind. Jūzō had lucked out in finding an easy job at a small convenience store. Kichimura thought he wouldn’t be able to handle such a menial job, since it lacked “excitement,” but Jūzō enjoyed how mindless it was. Unpacking boxes of items, stocking the shelves. Only rarely did his boss bring him to the cash register, but he’d yet to encounter a customer that provoked him. Most customers gave him a wide breadth, though he didn’t know why.
Drying off in their bedroom, he looked at the bedside alarm clock which displayed the date and time. October 30th, 2025 flashed at him and the fancy dinner and refilled bowl of candy all made sense. It’d been exactly ten years since they’d made their daring escape. “That idiot…” Jūzō knew he was as red as a tomato.
Rather than put on pajamas like he’d planned, he reached into the back of his closet for the shirt and pants he’d since had dry cleaned and stored away. The morning after that hectic night, they’d gotten rid of every trace of that life they could. Yet, when it came time to burn those clothes, Jūzō couldn’t bring himself to go through with it. He’d gone through great lengths to hide that fact from Kichimura, but now that it was clear they were safe, he wanted to surprise him. That night hadn’t all been bad (they’d escaped after all), and Jūzō thought it time to reveal the last thing he was hiding.
Rather than barrel down the hall to the dining table like he wanted, Jūzō walked slowly with his hands loosely at his sides. He wanted Kichimura to have the full effect of seeing him in something so nostalgic but was dimly aware it could invoke that cold side of him that shut out everything. It would be a bummer if he got like that tonight…
Adjusting his tie one more time, Jūzō looked up right as Kichimura took a bite out of something too raw and bloody to be stir fry or salmon onigiri. It was a scene he’d seen many times, but it was odd seeing Kichimura’s hunched shoulders and the wet noises from his eating. The sight would be enough to make any human sick. Jūzō’s fingers twitched and he felt like he was seconds away from grabbing the knife in his pants. It was instinct, and the thing in his chest that ached and his mind fought for control of his limbs.
A small part of him though couldn’t say he was surprised. There had been odd moments during their time at the CCG where Kichimura disappeared in the fray only to come back looking a little too refreshed, pale skin glowing. And, he’d often had the faint undertones of copper, like the scent of old blood. The longer Jūzō watched, the more it made sense, and the sillier he felt for not realizing it. He didn’t tell me either! The anger was hot and thick, but cooled almost instantly. Of course he couldn’t tell me. Jūzō hated ghouls after all, even one-eyed ones. But there was something so heart wrenching watching the only other person he ever cared for hide. We’ve been together so long, he should know that I—
Mind made up, Jūzō continued his silent entry into the makeshift dining room. Kichimura’s back was still mostly turned as he sat in the corner of the room. Taking a deep breath, Jūzō pulled back his chair, trying to remain calm at how tense Kichimura became at the sound of his chair scraping the wood.
“It’s impolite to start eating before your partner on your anniversary, don’t you think?”