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In Your Arms

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Shouta honestly could not remember the last time that he'd been this tired . The last seventy-two hours have been little more than a blur in which he's been on his feet, communicating with loud, irritating people who exist outside of the ever-shrinking circle of loud, irritating people that he can tolerate, in moderation, on a day-to-day basis. 

This is a bone-deep exhaustion, the likes of which cannot be resolved with a quick power-nap in the broom closet between classes, tucked away from the world in the relative safety of his yellow sleeping bag. He doesn't trust himself to sit down, to relax , for more than a few minutes at a time, because if he releases the ever-growing coil of tension in his belly, he doesn't think he'll ever move again. Everything feels so goddamned heavy , from his rebellious limbs to the individual hairs on his head, and if he allows himself to come down from the high, to fall into that seemingly endless void that's awaiting him on the far side of the mountain...

It's been... quite awhile since he's experienced a manic episode of this caliber. His swings aren't ordinarily this extreme, usually manifest as a sudden, inexplicable desire to clean every last thing in sight, channeling an insane level of energy that he hadn't possessed on the best of days as a teenager , followed by an overwhelming desire to do absolutely nothing that meant leaving the warmth and relative safety of the bed, and Fat's arms. His brain pulls a hard stop, memories of Fat's battered and broken body on that hospital bed following that disaster of a raid causing the last two functioning brain cells he had to short-circuit. 

That's right. The reason that he's here, in this cold, dark apartment, all by himself is because Fat has yet to be released from the hospital. He's not surprised. His injuries were— are —extensive. He was incredibly lucky that Rappa had such a warped sense of honor and was more interested in the idea of a future fight to the death (which was never going to fucking happen—if Shouta had his way, the only things that Rappa would prove to be a danger to moving forward were the reinforced walls in his prison cell) than he was in killing Fat when the opportunity arose. Shouta is well aware of how close he came to losing his lover and... well, it's not sitting well.

He's so focused on the paper that he's been attempting to grade for the last half-hour (Mina's penchant for glitter pens with neon ink is not helping the headache that's doing its damndest to split his head in two) that he doesn't hear the key scratching in the lock. The door swings open with a soft whine, and he nearly jumps out of his skin when a familiar voice calls out, "I'm home!"

Shouta turns, watching as Taishiro toes off his sneakers. He looks like a mummy, swallowed in all of those bandages, and Shouta can't quite bite back the soft, " Why ?" that tumbles over his lips.

The corner of Taishiro's mouth quirks in an almost-smile, "Gee, darlin', thank ya kindly for such a warm welcome. I feel so loved ." When Shouta continues to stare at him like a deer caught in the headlights, he sighs, "'Zashi was tellin' me that ya been havin' a hard time sleepin' since the raid, 'n since ya weren't comin' ta see me in the hospital, I figured I'd check myself out 'n come ta ya."

Shouta blinks, "You can't just check yourself out of the hospital, Taishi—,"

"Actually, I can. It was surprisingly easy." God, seeing Fat in this form is really throwing him off. He's not used to being able to look in Taishiro's eyes without having to crane his neck to account for their height difference.

"That's not what I meant and you know it." Shouta counters, exasperation coloring his tone. He tries to resume grading, recognizing that he doesn't have the mental energy to handle this conversation. Fat's too nice for his own good and, despite their years together, still sensitive to Shouta's mood swings. The last thing that Shouta wants is to blurt out something he doesn't even mean and hurt the one he loves.

"Yeah, no more 'a this." Taishiro slides the paper out of his hands with surprising ease, setting it down on the coffee table. Hooking his long arms around Shouta's waist, he buries his face between the older man's shoulder blades and murmurs, "Why dontcha come 'n lay down with me for a lil' while? I know that I ain't as cuddly in this form, but if it's all the same, I'd still like ta hold ya."

"I..." he swallows hard, "Maybe in a little bit. There's still so much that I need to do. Besides, you need to rest more than I—," he cuts off abruptly as he catches himself swooning, his entire body listing forward.

Taishirio's breath is hot on the back of his neck as he murmurs, "Darlin', yer so tired that right now, I'm the only thing keepin' ya on yer feet. Ya need to listen ta what yer body is tryin' ta tell ya 'n rest ."

Fat doesn't wait for him to respond. All of a sudden, the ground falls out from underneath Shouta, their mess of an apartment distorting into a blur of color as he's hefted over Taishiro's shoulder in a messy fireman's carry. Taishiro's raw power has always been a bit of a turn-on for Shouta, but now, all he can think about is how all of his one-hundred eighty pounds of muscle must be tearing up Taishiro's already broken body. He's caught between a desire to struggle, if only to try and convince his boyfriend to put him down before he manages to injure himself further, and remaining stock-still, trying to make himself as small and light as possible.

Before he can even fully comprehend what the hell is happening, he's being stretched out on the bed with the utmost care. A flare of white-hot pain shoots down his spine as the tension slowly begins to seep from his frame; Fat's mattress is soft as a cloud and breathtakingly warm, that within seconds he's so damn comfortable that he can do little more than keen (which he will deny on pain of death when all of this is over) when slightly chapped lips press a kiss into his forehead before retreating. Warning bells begin to sound in his head as Fat retreats, but his brain does not seem to want to cooperate with the rest of his body... and so he waits.

A few minutes later (Shouta had passed the time counting the little pock-marks on the ceiling, and had reached three-hundred sixty-seven before losing his place and starting over) Taishiro returns with an armful of supplies. He has several bottles of water, along with a number of snacks that are easy on the jaw and stomach but have a much greater nutritional value than his go-to protein gel packs. He dumps all of this onto the bedside table, making sure to keep it within easy reach, before belly-flopping onto the bed beside Shouta and cuddling up to his side, his blond head nestled into the crook of Shouta's neck.

Shouta inhales deeply, conflicted by the fact that Taishiro reeks of antiseptic and sanitizer, of powerful cleaning fluids laced with all sorts of chemicals and sterility . His hoodie is still stained with blood. He moves to point this out, but finds that his mouth is wont to cooperate. Shouta's tongue feels heavy and thick, and though he wants to speak, knows that he should , his tongue feels entirely too large for his mouth. So instead, he picks at the fraying edges of the material and buries his face in Taishiro's soft blond hair and reminds himself that he's here . Even if it was beyond stupid to check himself out of the hospital like that, he did it for him. 

"Sleep." Taishiro's voice is soft and smooth as honey as he plants a kiss on Shouta's collarbone. "Ya can yell at me all ya want when yer feelin' better. But until then, let me take care of ya."

Shouta swallows hard, and it takes a few tries for him to be able to force out something that sounds vaguely coherent. "...take care... you..."

"Dontcha worry yer pretty lil' head about me, now. There's nowhere else I'd rather be than right here with ya, fulfillin' my life's purpose as an oversized teddy bear." Shouta can feel Taishirio's thousand-watt smile against his skin, and it helps to loosen that devastatingly tight knot in his stomach, if only a little bit. "So lemme do that. If this is all I can do for ya right now... then please, lemme do it."

"...s-sorry." His eyes burn with tears that cannot be shed, and Fat just holds him tighter, carding his fingers through Shouta's messy, oily curls whilst whispering words of love and adoration in Shouta's ear. 

"Ya ain't got nothin' to apologize for, love." He assures, "I love ya, and I'm here for ya, 'n I'll be here for ya for as long as it takes." He can feel Shouta letting go, feel him tumbling down the other side of the mountain. But this time, he's not falling into a bottomless abyss. There's a light at the end of the tunnel, a warm, safe harbor in the middle of the storm...

His eyes feel much too heavy to cling to consciousness for much longer, and so he allows Taishiro to pull him just a bit closer and murmurs, "Love... love you, t-too."

When he wakes a few hours later, still beyond exhausted, both mentally and physically, he's able to take a few sips of water and stomach half of a chewy granola bar before going back under. The gentle praise that falls from Fat's lips is like balm for his weary soul, reminding him that he is damn well doing his best and that is always enough. It's by no means a miracle fix, and he knows that, when all is said and done, they'll have to sit down and have a serious talk... but for right now, in a room so quiet he can hear the steady thump of Taishiro's heart, the blanket and Taishiro's arms a steady, comforting weight upon him... this is enough.