Sou watched as the wrigglers buried their way into his skin. They wrapped around his arms, legs, and even his neck, just so that he was powerless to look away. Of course he was the first one to find the sacrifice card, it just made sense. In front of him, he could see everyone gathered, watching his death with disinterest.
He was the only one who had to die. It had been decided, by the whole group and the floormasters and whoever was in charge. He closed his eyes, and saw those damned numbers burned into the darkness.
“Not the best place for a nap, if you ask me.”
Sou jerked awake, limbs flailing wildly as he fell off the couch. He blinked rapidly, desperately trying to make sense of the situation and wake himself up. Right, he had lived through the first game. He didn’t die.
And the face of someone who also unfortunately survived was looking down at him with tired eyes, and lips quirked up in amusement. Keiji Shinogi.
“Bad dream?” He asked, reaching out his hand, which Sou chose to ignore.
Getting to his feet on his own, he wiped the dust off his pants and slid back into his seat. Twisting his body around, he looked back at Keiji’s amused expression with his own fake smile, hiding behind a friendly persona to cover up the fact that just seconds ago he had just made a fool of himself.
“Do you need something, Keiji?” Sou asked, tilting his head to the side and keeping his tone light.
“Surprised to see you alone.” Keiji commented, walking around Sou and sitting across from him at the table. “Where’s Kanna?”
Sou dug his fingers into his scarf, trying to hide his agitation at their small talk. He just wanted to get this interaction over with, but Keiji was too busy being a friendly policeman to take mercy on him and get to the point. Besides, he wasn’t going to break first and rush things along. It was a subtle game they were playing, and sometimes it could get exhausting, not that he’d ever back down.
“She’s doing an attraction.” Sou answered simply enough, before leaning forward and asking, “Where’s miss Sara?”
Keiji smiled and rubbed his neck. “What a coincidence, she’s doing an attraction too.”
Sou didn’t like the subtle implication that they were doing an attraction together. He didn’t need to be reminded that no matter what he did, everyone always trusted Sara more than him. That’s one of the perks of being strong, he guessed. People are always climbing over themselves to listen to you, no matter how many times they betray you.
“Is that all?” Sou asked, a not so subtle attempt to end the conversation.
“Nope.” Keiji said, dashing his hopes. “ I couldn’t find anyone else, so I was wondering if you’d do an attraction with me.”
He hadn’t been expecting that, not after the laptop incident, but it made sense. They had to work together, at least a little bit, in order to survive. Not that he was going to just agree and work with Keiji of all people. He had a reputation to uphold, after all.
“Sorry, but I just finished all the attractions.” Sou lied through his teeth. “Better luck next time!”
“For some reason, I doubt that.” Keiji refuted with an amused grin on his face. Sou gripped his scarf harder.
“Oh? Is that what your detective instincts tell you?” Sou questioned, with all the forced cheerfulness he could muster.
“Just reasoned you wouldn’t be able to get through arm wrestling by yourself.” Keiji said, his grin stretching into shit-eating territory. “And Q-Taro already worked with Gin.”
Oh that fucking bastard. Sou wrapped his arms around himself unconsciously, never feeling more called out in his life, but it wasn’t like he had a retort. Maybe if he could find Alice and ask him for help, though if that was a bust, he couldn’t stand the idea of having to come crawling back to Keiji. What an embarrassment.
“Alright, you got me.” He said, admitting defeat with a shrug. He made sure to keep the smile plastered on his face, though. “I don’t have anything better to do anyways.”
He felt a little lucky that Keiji didn’t rub it in. The friendly policeman just got up from where he was sitting across from him and started moving towards the ruined corridor. Sou followed behind him, face buried into his scarf. This was objectively a good thing for him, he just hated having to admit that.
Watching the attraction, on the other hand, was something else entirely. He watched from the wall, transfixed as Keiji matched the horrifying dolls in strength, before eventually overpowering them. His grip was harsh, and he could see the way his knuckles went pale on his strong hands every time a doll nearly pinned him against the table, but he was able to save himself in the next second.
For some reason, that made Sou’s face feel warm.
It made him think back to the confrontation in the hallway. Him and Kanna against Sara and Keiji. The tension in the air was palatable, and neither was willing to back down. He remembered how Keiji had accused him of not having a collar, and how he felt lightheaded with glee over having the upperhand because he did! The detective was wrong for once!
He had used it to his advantage, making Keiji squirm and damaging the trust between him and Sara. This was an opportunity he’d been looking for, until it wasn’t. Until the sight made something uncomfortable squirm in his chest and he wanted it to end. He wasn’t as good at being Sou Hiyori as he thought.
“Sorry for teasing you.” He had said, drawing their attention back to him. “Why don’t you come and verify that fact yourself?”
He had handed the laptop to Kanna and had told her to go back to their room. Sara and Keiji hadn’t tried to stop her. He had spread his arms out invitingly, daring Keiji to come and try to investigate his theory further.
“I’m waiting, detective.” He remembered how his skin buzzed with adrenaline, waiting to see how Keiji would respond. His heart sped up at every step Keiji took towards him, and his smile grew wider.
And then they were face to face. Keiji was bending over slightly so they were at eye level, focus completely taken on Sou’s scarf. His hands were surprisingly gentle as they unwound his scarf, revealing his neck underneath. Sou could feel his breath warm on his bare skin as he leaned in closer to get a better look at his collar.
He had put the fabric on the ground, and using his free hands, gently traced the rim of the collar. Sou had to physically stop himself from reacting to the sensation that sent electricity down his spine. He wasn’t going to give in first.
Once Keiji was satisfied, he pulled his hands away, and just like that, the moment that lasted a lifetime was over.
“Yep, it’s real.” Keiji confirmed, and walked back to Sara, who had a very interesting grimace on her face. “Let’s go.”
To think that hands that could gently brush against his skin could so roughly take down opponents in a stupid attraction was impressive. Sou could feel his heart speeding up again, and he put a hand on his beanie and looked away. Don’t think like that. It’ll only get you killed.
He was too lost in his own head that he didn’t notice Keiji had finished and walked up beside him.
“We’re finished here.” Keiji spoke up, and Sou jumped.
He whipped his head around to see Keiji’s stupid, amused expression and clear chips in his hand. Sou let Keiji lead the way out of the attraction, too busy focusing on adjusting his scarf to better hide the blush he could still feel heating up his cheeks. Once again, he wasn’t paying attention and ended up bumping into Keiji’s back. Today was just a great day for him, wasn’t it.
Keiji didn’t comment on it though, instead turning around and steadying Sou with a hand on his shoulder. Firm and strong, and Sou had to fight the urge to bat it off him. If neither of them acknowledged it, it didn’t count.
Keiji removed his hand, the lack of heat immediately apparent, and held out the one with the clear chips.
“Managed to do it. I’m exhausted.” He said, taking a deep breath. “Here, we’ll take one each.”
Sou stared at Keiji’s outstretched palm blankly. A part of him felt bad taking them. He hadn’t done anything, it was all Keiji. He had just been sitting back and spacing out the entire time. Even worse yet, Keiji could possibly use this to get him in his debt, and he was not going to owe anyone anything.
“Hm…” Sou said, rubbing his chin and pretending to consider it. “No thanks!”
“Wh-?” Keiji stuttered, looking taken aback for a second before collecting himself. “If you’re sure, I can’t make you, but you’re not going to make it to the maingame like that.”
Sou leaned forward, pleased with how he had the upper hand right now. “And would that be so bad for you?”
Keiji’s expression never changed, but this close, Sou could see the way his shoulders were tense. “Guess you’re right. Wouldn’t feel very good, though.”
Sou couldn’t hold it in any longer. A bark of laughter escaped him, and he had to cover his mouth to try and muffle his chuckles. Keiji’s confused frown at that just brought him into more hysterics that he had to look away. He didn’t know why it was so funny to catch Keiji unaware, but it was. Take that, Mr. Policeman, you don’t know everything.
“Well!” Sou said, turning back with a lopsided smile. “I don’t plan on dying that easy, so too bad for you.”
Keiji stared at him blankly. “I’m not following.”
“You don’t have to, just come on.” Before Sou could think about what he was doing, he took Keiji’s hand.
It had been an act as easy and natural as breathing. He blinked in surprise about his own action, but it was too late to pull away. That would be a show of uncertainty, and he definitely could not have that weakness. Instead, he chose to go with it, and lead Keiji along to the relaxation room.
He also chose to believe that Keiji tightening his grip and holding his hand back was just another challenge. It was easier to believe Keiji didn’t want to back down either, the alternative would make things too complicated.
And still, hand in hand, they stood in front of the quick draw room. Sou could feel the way Keiji’s hand went clammy, and how his eyes were way too wide.
“Another attraction, right after the last one?” He asked, ending it with a chuckle. An attempt to hide his nervousness.
Keiji unlinked their hands and wiped them on his pants, which was relieving, actually. It was getting kind of gross.
Sou’s smile was getting harder to keep on his face. He had overheard Sara telling Keiji how he wouldn’t like this one, that he may have to hold a gun to someone’s face. Sou remembered the way Keiji’s face had fallen, even just for a second.
It was trauma.
“Don’t worry about it. I’ll handle this myself, just like you did with the last one.” Sou explained, shooting Keiji his brightest smile. “I just need you to get in.”
There were a few beats of silence before Keiji started laughing. It was how he laughed whenever he was beat, but Sou could hear the relief in it. For some reason, that made him feel better.
“Whatever you say.” Keiji said, looking a lot better. “Lead the way.”
The attraction was surprisingly easy. Sou felt a premonition on what weapon he needed, and it was surprisingly accurate. The first one he pulled was a gun, and he managed to out speed the doll by a lot.
“You hold a gun like an amateur.” Keiji heckled from where he was sitting behind him, and Sou felt a flicker of irritation.
“Do you want to come and do this then?” He called back, not bothering to hide the annoyance in his voice.
Unfortunately, that distracted him long enough that he couldn’t grab the steel pipe in time and a hammer swung directly into his face. He didn’t even process falling over, one second he was standing, the next he was on the ground. He blinked his eyes to try and clear his vision and he could feel something warm on his face.
He could also hear Keiji yelling his name and running towards him.
“Shit, Sou! I’m so sorry.” For the second time today, he could see Keiji staring down at him. “That was stupid of me, I shouldn’t have distracted you. Let me-”
Sou held up a finger, a clear indication to shut the fuck up.
“Go back to the wall, Keiji. I’m fine.” He said, getting up and grabbing the sword, striking the doll again.
Keiji stared at him for a few seconds, eyes wide in surprise. Then, his expression softened, and he stepped back.
“Right, of course.” Keiji said as he left Sou to concentrate, and it felt good to be listened to and not fretted over like that.
The rest of quick draw went off without a hitch. That was the only hit he took before he was able to collect his clear chips. After that, he left the room with Keiji, feeling a sense of validation with putting both clear chips in his pocket. A reminder that he pulled that off himself, and Keiji watched it happen.
“Come on, we should get your nose checked out at the medical office.” Keiji said softly, and Sou blinked in confusion.
“My nose…?” Sou repeated, reaching up to his nose, only to pull back his fingers stained with blood. Oh, he had been too focused to even notice.
Before he could even begin to deny Keiji’s offer, the other man was the one to take his hand this time. The same softness and tenderness that he wasn’t used to experiencing from him. Carefully, he led him out of the relaxation room, tracing gentle circles into the back of his hand. Sou gripped his hand back.
He knew everything would go back to normal once they parted ways, but he wanted to enjoy it for now. After all, it didn’t count as long as neither of them acknowledged it.