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“Division II, how is your situation?” Akaashi clicked his tongue, annoyed that their commander asked now out of all times to request a situation report. He should have responded to their request for attention minutes ago, when they found the first hints of ghouls hiding in one of the many rooms ahead of them, not when they were in the middle of fighting said ghouls. Akaashi knew it would have been better for them if they were ordered to fight under the guide of Special Class Kozume, but this time time even Akaashi’s request had been rejected. Everyone knew it was only because his current commander, a member of the Washuu who recently had returned from his trip to Germany, tried to gain some fame by making use of their strongest divisions. As much as Akaashi disapproved with this, when a Washuu was involved there was nothing he could do.

Using his irritation as a new source of power, Akaashi swung his weapon and watched his blade-adorned whip beheading three no-name ghouls before him. Glancing at the other investigators fighting alongside him, Akaashi considered their current situation as relatively safe. Safe enough for him to leave the fighting to the other members of his division, in case the upcoming discussion would distract him. As improbable as it was, Akaashi wasn’t the type to take risks. Seeing no obvious signs of danger, he raised put his hand to his ear piece, allowing the communication to be two-ways. “Commander Washuu, Akaashi speaking. We found one of the ghoul hideouts on floor 5 of district C. None of the ghouls we’re searching for were present, but it seems-”

“Good, then your division can handle the rest alone.” Anger flared within Akaashi. He hated to disturbed by reporting eventual important facts. What he hated even more though, was the way his commander assumed Akaashi’s division would be able to take care of it alone, without even knowing their whole situation. For all they knew there could be more ghouls waiting around the corner, ready to ambush them once their concentration lessened. “Division II will join Associate Special Class Kuroo from Division III on floor 4, district B. Meanwhile, you, Special Class Akaashi Keiji, will join Special Class Daishou Suguru on the roof of district B.”

He must be lying. They had been going over the plan for weeks, before they had decided to stick with their current plan. They had many troubles with the Seijou ghouls in the past. Not just because of their large number and variety in fighting styles, but also, because it had seemed like the group of ghouls was always a step ahead of them. Therefore, once they had found hints for the group’s secret hide-out, the division leaders had sat together to come up with a final plan on how to eradicate the whole group at ones. So why would Commander Washuu change it now out of all times? “Why?”

He could practically hear the sneer in the Commander’s voice, disliking how he had to spell it out for Akaashi. Well, Akaashi didn’t like to be separated from his division during an all-out attack, either. His problem. “Special Class Daishou Suguru-” Akaashi really hated how he had to spell out everyone’s names and ranks every single time. He really wished Kenma was there instead “-is currently engaging in a one-on-one battle with the SS-class ghoul ‘The Grand King’ and requested urgent assistance.”

The Grand King. Akaashi’s mind blanked at the mention of that name. From his peripheral he saw Rank 1 Konoha slaying a ghoul, that was about to attack a mildly distracted Akaashi, with his long sword. Akaashi nodded at him to show his appreciation. It was time to get things back under control.

Once more Akaashi swung his Bikaku quinque to cut through limbs, tearing apart flesh, muscles, bones, and kakuhous. “Special Class Akaashi Keiji, I’m waiting for your response.”

Ignoring the annoying voice in his ear, Akaashi took care of the left-over ghouls his division didn’t took care of yet, then turned to look if there were any casualties among his division members. Only when he made sure that there were none, he gave his response to the by now fuming Commander. “Understood, Commander Washuu. I’m on my way.”

Akaashi ignored what else the Commander had to say, or rather not say considering the refreshingly fast silence in his ear, and turned towards his right hand man. “First Class Tsukishima. For now you’ll be in charge of Division II. Join Associate Special Class Kuroo from Division III on floor 4, district B.”

Tsukishima nodded, no questioning of Akaashi’s decision. Having overheard their conversation, First Class Kunimi joined them. “Where will you go, Special Class?” Glancing at Kunimi, Tsukishima’s gaze landed back on Akaashi. Both of the young men had a disinterested, bored look on their face, but knowing them, Akaashi could discern something like interest or even worry sparking in them.

Stopping himself from smiling, Akaashi kept his voice neutral as he responded to the question, aware of the others resting on him, belonging to the rest of his division. “I’ll join Special Class Daishou on the roof in his fight with one of our targets.” Tsukishima frowned, but Akaashi didn’t pay it any mind. He knew that Tsukishima would listen to his orders, whether he liked them or not. “I’ll join you once i finished the matter on the roof, so don’t get lost and stay together.” Akaashi waited for his division members to signal him their understanding of his orders, then he left without another word, heading for the roof.

He might have taken a bit longer than necessary in instructing his division, but Akaashi saw it as his responsibility to guarantee his division’s survival. Even the loss of a single member, was failure in Akaashi’s eyes. Whether he was actually with them as it happened, or not, was of no importance to him.

Also, Akaashi already knew what Daishou was capable of.

He also knew how much time he had to guarantee his survival.

At least he hoped he knew.

On his way to the roof, Akaashi met several more ghouls, but thankfully none of them were higher than B from what he saw. It was no problem for him to get through. Just one whip with his bikaku was enough and the ghouls were either run away from him or disjointed. Akaashi didn’t care much for either. His goal was something completely different.

Upon his arrival on the roof, Akaashi was met with the sight of Daishou’s dual-sword koukaku quinke clashing with for of ‘The Great King’s Rinkaku. “Daishou!” Hearing his call, both fighters pushed away from each other, bringing distance between each other. Akaashi noticed blood dying the ghoul’s fancy teal-colored clothes red around his red shoulder and knee, his red glowing pupils staring at Akaashi from underneath his white and turquoise mask with the golden symbol of a crown placed above his forehead, Right below the fake, teal-colored hair of his wig. All in all his appearance reminded Akaashi of the costumes people wore during Carnival in Venice.

Not taking his eyes from the ghoul, Akaashi joined Daishou, glancing at the investigator’s own wounds. A cut on his thigh, a scratch on his cheek and another cut on his arm on Akaashi’s side. Could have been worse. “Was about time you arrived. I requested back-up ages ago,” Daishou complained, not wasting any time with faking goodwill like he usually did. Akaashi didn’t mind his directness, though.

“Some ghouls blocked my way,” Akaashi responded, not feeling guilty for his semi-lie. “How are your wounds?”

“Hurt like hell, but they’ll do. They’ll be better once we get this guy out of our way.” Daishou glared at the ghoul in front of them, who in turn took on a position of less observing nature but aggressive instead, ready to attack.

“My my, you shouldn’t underestimate me, Investigator-san. You might actually die when you look down on me just because you got assistance now,” the ghoul sneered, before pushing his feed off the ground. Suddenly Akaashi was busy evading blood-red glowing rinkaku arms, finding it difficult to see when his sight was covered in teal cloth.

Once more clocking his tongue in annoyance, Akaashi switched the grip on his whip, turning the handle in his hands to fight with the opposite end of his dual-quinke, a needle that used to belong to a Koukaku ghoul. Using the momentum of distraction as Daishou yielded the ghouls attack with one of his swords while attacking it with his other sword, Akaashi took a couple steps back, before charging head first back in, his needle pointed ahead to where the ghoul’s arm jointed his shoulder.

Right before his needle pierced through flesh, the ghoul jumped.

Akaashi tried to pull his needle back, but the momentum of his movement was to fast for him to stop. Both investigator could only watch as Akaashi’s needle pierced Daishou’s sword instead of ghoul muscles. A loud metallic crush indicated the break of the koukaku sword before either of them could comprehend what was going on.

Movement from his peripheral made Akaashi’s reflexes kick in and he jumped back, pulling a part of Daishou’s broken quinke with him. His shoes were still sliding over the ground, when the ghoul gripped Daishou’s neck from behind and threw him through the air into a couple of boxes lined up next to a wall. Akaashi flinched as he watched Daishou’s head hit the wall, before his limp body slid to the ground, leaving behind a red stain.

Akaashi kept staring at Daishou’s unmoving body, even as the ghoul walked towards him. Only when the ghoul stood in front of him did Akaashi concentrate on the ghoul- no, the man in front of him. “...is he dead?” It wasn’t loudest question in his mind, but rationally thinking, it was the question of highest importance to him right now.

The men’s voice was muffled as he took his mask off. Akaashi watched every movement with eagle eyes. “I’m not sure. He should be, but you investigators are nasty. It’s surprisingly hard to kill you.” Akaashi sighed in relief. Despite having spent a majority of his school time at the CCG facilities, as well as his later investigator training, though under the guidance of different mentors, with Daishou, Akaashi never found it in him to actually like the guy. Still, he was a member of the CCG, the organisation Akaashi also was part of, and it would become problematic for him if people started to accuse him of murder on another CCG investigator or anything similar. Akaashi was at the CCG for a reason and he couldn’t allow his dislike for a person to come in the way of his goals.

Holding the mask in his hands, the disguised man stared unabashedly at Akaashi with a pair of dark brown, warm orbs and a soft smile. “... I didn’t see you in a while. I missed you, Kei-chan.”

The tenderness in the other’s voice melted his heart. For a short moment, Akaashi allowed himself to drown in warmth he was given so generously. A smile pulled on his lips and Akaashi didn’t try to hold it back. “Me too, Tooru.”

Akaashi didn’t know whether it was his response or his smile or maybe both, but Tooru’s smile broadened, giving Akaashi the impression of looking into the sun itself. When Tooru’s free hand cupped Akaashi’s cheek and he bent down to kiss Akaashi, the Investigator allowed it to happen. He enjoyed the feeling of Tooru’s skin on his, the tenderness in his touch, the way his lips embraced him, engulfing him in warmth and a the strong feeling of safety, of home.

When Tooru pulled back, Akaashi allowed his eyes to take in every part of Tooru’s smile, every inch of his face, burning them to his memory. Then he blinked. And with the closing and opening of his lashes, Akaashi’s own smile was gone, replaced by something apparently strict and cold, anger maybe, but Tooru wasn’t intimidated by it, recognizing the worry in his lover’s eyes.

“Why are you here, Tooru? I told you to leave! I told you in advance, as fast as I could without seeming suspicious, of the attack today. You knew that the CCG knew of your hide-out! So why are you still here?” Akaashi really wanted to throw Tooru from the building, forcing him to leave despite whatever reason he had to be there in the first place, but if he did that, Akaashi might be seen from the people below. He couldn’t risk that. So instead, Akaashi’s hold on his quinke tightened.

Akaashi saw the hesitance in Tooru’s eyes, saw it in the way the grip on his mask tightened. He saw the fight in Tooru’s eyes as his wish to keep their mood light and friendly fought with his wish to stay honest with Akaashi. Honesty and open communication was what allowed them to be together, despite the opposite sides they stood on in this war. And it was the honesty that won Tooru’s inner fight.

Tooru’s smile fell, his demeanour and expression hardened, his eyes losing their fond sparkle as he got serious. Akaashi’s skin was covered in goosebumps as Tooru stared at him with a gaze as cold as ice. It was hard, but Akaashi managed not to take it personal. They were more than the label society put on them.

“I’m here, because my family is still in here.” For a moment Akaashi was confused. Tooru’s family? But Hajime, Takahiro, Issei, and all the others were gone, Akaashi knew that. He would have heard it by now if they were in the building. Someone would have found them by now and engaged in battle. No, Akaashi had told them long before today what would happen. The core part of ‘Seijou’ must have escaped long ago.

Recognizing the signs of confusion in Akaashi’s expression, Tooru explained. “Hajime and the others aren’t the only members of my family. All members of Seijou are part of my family. Ever since they joined I promised them safety, a home they could call their own. Just because they didn’t help me found Seijou or make it into what it is now, doesn’t mean they aren’t part of my family.” Tooru’s grip on his mask tightened and Akaashi feared he would break it if he continued.

“But, Tooru, you can’t safe everyone! Didn’t those who are still here agree to it, knowing the danger of what would inevitably happen to them?”

“Inevitably?” Tooru was clearly angry now. Akaashi felt guilt for having gone too far, but he also knew that he only spoke out what Tooru already knew. “Nobody’s death should be ‘inevitably’! Those who were born have a right to live; under whichever circumstances their births happened! You know that, Kei-chan! You always agreed with me on that! So why should they …?” Unable to see the man who held his heart in so much pain, Akaashi let go of his quinke, not caring about the metal clattering as it hit the ground, and encompassed Tooru’s cheeks with his hands, pulling his head down to him to lean their foreheads together.

“I know. I know that this is hard for you. They all became part of your family because they believed in you, believed you fought for the right thing. That’s why they’re here today, that’s why they’re doing this. They’re distracting the investigators to allow you and the others to escape and set up new plans. They do this, because they believe in you! Don’t betray their hopes by bringing yourself into danger like this, Tooru. That’s not what they want.”

Tooru’s face was now crunched, his eyes closed, fighting with his tears. Keiji knew this wasn’t easy for him, that he gave himself the fault for all this happening. But Keiji also knew, that none of the would be helped if Tooru were to die today. Akaashi had to get him away from here, whatever the method.

When Tooru’s shoulders slackened and his face fell into Keiji’s neck, the investigator knew he had managed to persuade Tooru. He swallowed a relieved sigh, when Tooru spoke with a defeated tone “I just wanted to be there, to witness their last moments…”

Keiji wanted to tell him that he would do that for Tooru.

But before he could do that, another voice interfered.

“Don’t worry, ghoul. Your friends are where they’re supposed to be now. And you’ll soon join them. Together with our dear traitor.” Akaashi barely had enough time to recognize Daishou’s voice, barely enough time to glance in his direction and see the gun in his head. Anti-ghoul munition . Then everything happened at once.

Oikawa’s head flew up from Keiji’s shoulder, gunshots rang through the air, Tooru’s Rinkaku curled before him. Too late , his mind screamed as he was already pushing Tooru out of the way. He felt his body thrown backwards as something with great speed hit him.

Keiji laid on his back, blinking blearily at the sky, a shrill screeching in his ears, his body numb, not listening to what he told it to do. Momentarily, Tooru’s panicked expression filled his his view. Then anger twisted his beautiful features and less than a heartbeat later he was gone. Keiji’s tried to turn his head to the side, but he failed. Another sound joined the screeching in his ears, but he couldn’t put a name or reference to it. Then Tooru’s face was back. He looked worried now, tears threatening to spill from his black and red eyes. Akaashi recognized more red on Tooru’s clothes and his wig. Keii thought the contrast between Tooru’s light complexion, the teal of his costume and the fresh red to be a beautiful scene.

Keiji’s view changed as Tooru pulled him onto his lap, into his arms. He was closer to Tooru’s face now. Keiji smiled. He had always loved Tooru’s face. Had he ever told him?

“Too-”

“Don’t speak! You need to save your energy, to heal! Everything will be fine, those are just minor wounds, you just need to save your energy know that your body can use it to heal.” Tooru was blabbering. He always did when he was nervous or scared. Keiji didn’t want Tooru to be either. Materializing whatever power he had left in him, Keiji cupped Tooru’s cheek with the arm not caught between his ribs and Tooru’s chest. “Wha- Keiji what are you- I told you, you have to save your energy! Why do you never listen to me?” Tooru complained, even as one of his hands came up to cover Keiji’s hand, holding it to his face as he nuzzled into Keiji’s palm.

“You’re so warm…” And he really was. The ground he had been laying on must have the the temperature of minus degrees, because his body, his hand, felt so cold. Tooru on the other hand was warm. Like a human furnace. Just that Tooru wasn’t human. “Like the sun …”

“Keiji, stop,” Tooru bit out, but there was no sharpness in his voice, only waves. Calming like the sound of waves, that was Tooru’s voice to him.

Tooru clenched his eyes shut, hiding his face in Keiji’s face. Faintly, Keiji could feel wetness on his hand. “Tooru.” Hearing his name, Tooru’s eyes snapped open and he stared at Keiji, guilt hovering behind the tears swimming in his eyes, hiding in his long lashes. “I love you.” Tooru sobbed, his hold on Keiji’s body tightening. His face became bigger when he held Keiji closer, allowing Keiji to see the transcending rivers travelling the map of his cheek. The tears he had tried so hard to hold back, fell freely onto his cheeks. Were his cheeks pale? Were they rosy? Keiji couldn’t tell anymore. The colors seemed to fade, his world turning darker. Keiji didn’t look away from Tooru once, taking in every miniscopic small cell that made up his face. Had he ever told Tooru how beautiful he was? Because he truly was. Even if Tooru didn’t always see himself as such. For Keiji there was no prettier sight. “Tooru … I …. beauti ….ful.”

Tooru moved, out of Keiji’s sight, but he didn’t mind when he felt the touch of soft, wet, warm lips against his forehead. It was faint, but it was there. Keiji wanted to close his eyes and lean into the touch. But he didn’t. He felt that, if he were to do that, than he wouldn’t be able to open his eyes again. But he wanted to keep watching.

“I love you, Kei-chan. I love you so so so much. From the very moment I first met you, when you tried to behead me. I might have avoided your quinke, but I couldn’t avoid the arrow that hit my heart.” Keiji wanted to laugh, Tooru was always so cheesy, but he couldn’t. A fractionally brighter smile was all he managed.

Tooru looked so sad. Keiji didn’t want him to be sad. But there was nothing he could do to cheer him up. It made Keiji’s eyes sting. Keiji didn’t want to leave Tooru when he was so sad. He wanted to stay with him. Why couldn’t he? He was a Special Class Investigator, survived countless of battles against A-class ghouls and higher. Yet, he failed to make the love of his life smile when he really needed to. He failed so pathetic.

That was when another shadow fell on Keiji, darkening his grey-shaded world even more than it already was. Tooru quickly glanced up, barely paying attention to the newcomer, no sign of greeting. His eyes were stuck to Keiji’s as if they were magnets yearning to touch, yearning to become one.

“Iwa-chan.” If Keiji hadn’t paid so much attention to Tooru, he would have missed the word. His voice was muffled, as if he was talking with cotton in his mouth. Or a scarf in front of his mouth. Scarf. Keiji had Tooru’s scarf from last winter in his apartment. Would he want it back now? Then Keiji remembered. Tooru had a key. He could simply go and get it when he wanted to. Suddenly Keiji felt relieved. Tooru had a key to Keiji’s apartment. Oh, and Iwaizumi was here. Hajime would make sure that Tooru wouldn’t do anything stupid. He would take care of Tooru for him.

But what if Tooru refused Hajime’s help? Tooru was stubborn. It wasn’t impossible for that to happen.

Keiji didn’t want that.

Whatever happened to himself.

Keiji wanted Tooru safe.

“Too...ru.” Keiji saw Tooru’s lips move when he spoke, but Keiji couldn’t hear what he was saying anymore. Keiji felt sad. He had lost the feel for Tooru’s warmth in his hand, couldn’t even hear his voice anymore. Even his side grew darker the longer he stared. Had there ever been a difference between the mop on Tooru’s head and his eyes? He couldn’t tell anymore. But still, he wanted to get this last message out. “Do...n’t … Die…. liv…”

With the last syllable of his last word on his lips, Keiji’s vision turned completely dark and his sense of existence faded.

His last thought was:

 

Thank you for loving me.