The news about the typhoon had been received with relative calm in Fukurodani. The weather alert had come one morning, landing in a soft rustling of printed paper on Akaashi's desk. There wasn't really reason to worry: the old manor was traditional, archaic and many other adjectives that indicated its ancient origin, but there wasn't any reason to doubt the strength of its foundation. It overlooked the valley from above, and the view was uninterrupted except for the roofs of the houses below, the light poles and the occasional airplane. Nobody dared to climb the endless staircase just to disturb Fukurodani, unless they lacked common sense or had suicidal tendencies. A typhoon wouldn't dare either, especially that far from the coast.
Even taking all that into account, Akaashi had never been a man who liked to leave room for chance: he had compiled a long list of things to inspect and resources to get, and by the time the typhoon had sped up towards them, the old mansion had the same chance of withstanding it that a skyscraper had to resist the angry flapping of a moth's wings.
Komi had absolute trust in Akaashi's organization skills. He feared many things much more than a typhoon. He actually feared Akaashi himself much more than a typhoon, even now that heavy rain was finally pouring on them and the wind was howling outside of their doors, catching with its sharp claws the branches of the trees and shaking them with fury.
Foul weather, thought Komi. Nobody in their right mind would have wanted to be outside right now.
He cleared his voice as he knocked lightly on the rice paper door, subtly shifting his wings. Komi's wings were thin, perfect to fly low and fast and yet even they wouldn't be enough to leave the room on time.
The typhoon looked like an almost pleasant alternative in comparison.
Said man was reading, with his glasses perched slightly low on his nose and his big white wings resting softly on the couch. It wasn't common to see Akaashi so relaxed, and Komi already regretted that it was about to end in a couple of minutes.
In a couple of minutes, something way worse than a typhoon would happen.
Akaashi looked up, slightly raising his eyebrows. Even if he was still oblivious to the current situation, it was already clear to him that something wasn't right.
Was the basement flooding? The power unit was functioning perfectly, the connections were still working (and even if they weren't Akaashi was sure they could survive without telephones) and the pantry was full. They could face much worse than a typhoon.
Unless the basement was actually flooding. That would be a pain, even if it wouldn't affect their survival in the least.
Akaashi blinked for a couple of seconds.
"It's empty. I turned the house upside down, I can assure you. But..." Komi swallowed and raised his eyes to the ceiling, asking every deity which kind of crime he had committed in a past life to end up now in this situation.
Akaashi closed the book after carefully placing a bookmark in between the pages, and sat up. Komi's words didn't really make sense to him.
As long as it was an object that was missing, the problem could be bypassed. As long as it was an object, it wasn't anything insurmountable.
That was why Akaashi didn't dare ask who was missing.
Komi knew that. He sighed again, sliding his hands in the wide sleeves of his yukata to hide his nervousness. He had seen Akaashi's wings quiver, and it wasn't a good sign.
"Bokuto's room. And he's not anywhere else."
Akaashi was really glad he had already put down the book, or he knew it would have fallen from his hands.
The typhoon had arrived early, that was something to be considered. They were expecting it, but the winds loved to mess with forecasts and Akaashi - like the entirety of Fukurodani - knew that that was simply how winds worked: there was very little they could do about it. Anyone used to feel them under their wings knew equally well that you couldn't count on them all that much.
Except Bokuto, of course. Bokuto could ignore winds and storms, Bokuto could fly under conditions that would have rendered anyone else with wings useless. Maybe because he himself was made a little bit too much of wind. And yet Akaashi knew that you could count on Bokuto's big, gray and black wings. They weren't like the wind.
But even Bokuto's wings couldn't stand a chance against such a typhoon.
There wasn't a reason for them to try to do so, anyway.
They knew Bokuto wasn't home the day before. Trying to keep Bokuto between four walls had always been unthinkable and basically impossible: at best, he could be more commonly found on the roof. He loved to have room to open his wings, and Akaashi loved to know he could just raise his gaze to see that crouched figure above him, golden eyes fixed on the horizon.
With everything going on it had almost been reassuring when Bokuto told them he would flew down the mountain, towards Nekoma. They didn't know how long the storm would keep them from flying, and the relationship between Bokuto and Nekoma was tight. Or, at least, the one between Bokuto and Kuroo was, and that was enough. Neither of them would have been at ease not seeing the other for a long period of time, especially with a storm in the middle.
Everything had been normal until then. But Bokuto should have been back that morning. And even if Akaashi had been surprised not to see him immediately, he had also been busy with many other things, including the last preparations to survive the typhoon in the most comfortable way possible. He had expected to see him for dinner.
Akaashi raised his gaze towards the high windows of the manor, now shaking because of the thunder and the strength of the wind, as rain lashed at everything in its wake. The wind had gotten even stronger in the last few minutes, and it would take hours before it calmed down. Days, probably.
Akashi pressed his lips in a thin line. Not even Bokuto would dare to fly in such weather, no matter how reckless and uncaring of his own condition he usually was. That was a thought he could hold on to.
"He must have been surprised by the wind in the valley. He's likely still at Nekoma."
That, at least, was what he wanted to think.
Wanting to make sure in any case, he walked through the long hallways of the mansion, dragging his wings as they kept twitching impatiently. Like everybody else, Akaashi hated to be forced to stay on the ground.
He hated it even more in that specific moment, but he had always been good at hiding his annoyance. He placed a hand on the telephone receiver and took a deep breath, stalling before raising it and composing the number. Despite his previous thoughts, he was now really glad the telephone was still working.
It wasn't like Bokuto not to warn them, in any case. But he really wanted to hope it had been simple forgetfulness.
The phone rang, and Akaashi looked outside, frowning at the amount of water that was pouring down on them from the sky.
Only a person was able to answer the phone with so much cheerfulness and Akaashi sighed, idly playing with the sleeve of his yukata.
"Lev. Good evening. It's Akaashi, I'm sorry for bothering you."
"Akaashi-kun! It's not a bother, don't worry, it's always a pleasure. How are things up there? It's raining cats and dogs here."
Lev chuckled, and Akaashi let himself smile a little.
"Here too. Can I talk with Bokuto, please?"
The silence that followed the question crawled up Akaashi's back like an icy hand, stiffening his wings and raising the hair on his nape.
"He's not here. He left early this morning, when he saw the sky getting cloudy too fast. Kuroo suggested he stay here instead and wait, rather than running into the storm halfway, but he left anyway."
Akaashi felt his throat close in a terrible knot. That morning?
That was at least ten hours before. It didn't take ten hours to fly from Nekoma to Fukurodani, not even against the wind. At worst it took forty minutes.
And Bokuto usually did it in twenty-five even upwind.
"Lev. I understand. Can I speak with Kuroo?"
Akaashi wasn't sure how he could still speak. He felt like something extremely heavy had just perched on his shoulders. Something terrible, dark and cold, that loved to press its claws into his back and tear out his feathers, one, by one, by one.
" Akaashi! What's happening? Lev's making a face."
Kuroo's voice on the other end of the line was something to cling to, to remind himself not to give in to despair. There were still many other possible explanations.
"Kuroo-san," Akaashi licked his lips and took a breath, before continuing. "Bokuto-san. He's not here. I thought he was still with you, but Lev told me..."
Akaashi had hoped that Lev had simply made a mistake. It was difficult to miss Bokuto if he was around, but it could have happened. He could have come back, he could have been convinced, he could. He could.
But Kuroo had basically growled into the phone and that was enough to destroy Akaashi's hopes like a house of cards during a storm.
That storm, specifically.
"He left this morning. I told him he could stay here, but he thought he had time. When did the wind rise?"
"Around noon, actually. Up until then it wasn't anything that Bokuto couldn't handle."
"He should have already been there at that point."
Akaashi felt his heart drop in his chest.
"Kuroo. The wind wasn't enough. It wasn't the wind that slowed him down, not this morning. But it is strong enough to do so now, wherever he is. What..."
"Akaashi-kun. Hey. Breathe. Bokuto can fly in terrible conditions and he's not that reckless. Something must have slowed him down and now..."
"Now he's out there. In these conditions."
Akaashi stroked a hand over his face, looking out of the window once again. He could still hope in a miracle, after all. He could pray for the wind to slow down, for the rain to wane and for Bokuto to get back with his usual smile, rain-drenched hair and wings that would drip water for hours before drying completely.
Kuroo's voice on the other end of the line was as cold as his own.
"We'll try to gather information. Akaashi, none of us can move safely."
Of course. The storm raged over Nekoma and Fukurodani alike.
"Kuroo... thank you. I'll let you know."
"Akaashi, Hey, don't hang up. Don't do anything stupid up there, right?"
Akaashi nodded, even if Kuroo couldn't certainly see him. Kuroo waited until he heard him say it out loud, but Akaashi wasn't even sure if he had done it.
When he hung up Konoha was on the other side of the hallway, with wide eyes and wings that looked like he was ready to fly, unbothered by the rain and especially by the ceiling at that point.
Akaashi didn't have to say anything, his face was more than enough.
Konoha closed his hands into fists.
"... That idiot!"
"Let's go out now."
Washio was still, motionless, with arms crossed over his chest and a cold gaze directed outside the window. He looked like he would be able to stand like that even with the wind howling in his face.
Sarukui tried to say something and then closed his mouth, looking at Akaashi and Konoha. The former was sitting, staring at invisible lines in the pavement while worrying his fingers, while the latter was pacing back and forth, dusting everything in his wake with wings that threatened to open at any given moment and destroy every single ornament in the room.
"None of us can fly in this weather. And to go where, anyway?"
Konoha waved a hand, annoyed, confirming that he would have been the first one to go out otherwise.
Or, well, the second one. If the wind was slightly slower, or the rain less harsh, Akaashi would have already been out there. It would have been irresponsible, but it was Akaashi after all.
"We could stay low. Travel the road from here to Nekoma and at least check its surroundings."
"Blindly? We don't have a single clue."
"Are you suggesting we stay here instead?"
"I'm suggesting to wait until we can fly. If we can fly, we can check a larger area, and do it quicker."
"But we will have lost time. We don't know when the storm will calm down."
Akaashi rubbed his temples, sighing. Bokuto was reckless, but Kuroo had said he left on time. Not even he would have voluntarily faced a typhoon, he wasn't that kind of irresponsible. Which meant that something must have happened.
Humans could be excluded. Except for some exceedingly rare cases, they couldn't even sense creatures like them, let alone see them. And even if a common human had managed for some reason to see the tip of his wings, the probability of them being able to harm Bokuto Koutarou was close to zero.
What was left?
Fukurodani didn't have enemies. They had been living up there for so long that nobody dared to question their presence or their power. Nobody would have willingly crossed them.
And especially not Bokuto.
Akaashi raised his head, realizing he had missed part of the conversation. Yes, an accident made sense. And it wasn't reassuring in the least.
Bokuto would have come back even on foot, if necessary. He had all the time to do so, too. But he wasn't there.
It was absurd.
That whole situation didn't make sense.
Bokuto not being there didn't make sense.
Akaashi made a small noise and took his head in between his hands. He still had that awful feeling of a presence perched on his back, that cold and dark something that liked to tear out the feathers from his wings.
In the end, they decided to run careful patrols. Despite Komi's willingness, only Washio and Sarukui managed to get out, and even then they lasted only a handful of minutes: even on foot, the wind was strong enough to tear out their wings.
They came back drenched to the bones, without solving anything. But nobody liked the idea to stay put and wait.
They were as strong and ancient as their mansion, but that didn't mean they were immortal: just more difficult to kill. And a typhoon of that strength could silence even a volcano.
Bokuto was many things, but not a volcano.
"We checked our surroundings as much as we could."
Kuroo had called him again, and Akaashi liked the sound of a friendly voice, even if it wasn't bringing good news.
"We found nothing. He's not... it doesn't make sense, Akaashi."
"No, it doesn't."
"Even if it's not unusual when it comes to Bo."
"This is excessive even for his standards."
Akaashi sighed again, and since he was alone in the hallway he let himself slide down the wall until he was sitting on the floor. Nobody would have told him anything, in that moment.
"Akaashi. Everything will be alright. It's Bo we're talking about."
There wasn't anything he could do aside from hoping, anyway. Hoping everything would go well, that nothing serious had happened, that everything would turn out to be a big foolishness. Sometimes you could really hope in something like that when Bokuto was involved.
The howling of the wind sounded like someone laughing at them.
It took two days for the storm to calm down. Two excessively long days that the entirety of Fukurodani had spent sleepless and wandering across the rooms, daring to go outside any time it looked possible. The second day the communications had broken down, and Akaashi had dejectedly looked at the phone, even if he couldn't really count on Nekoma in that moment. Still, knowing that someone other than them was worrying about Bokuto had been a comfort. Fukurodani was isolated on its peak, the wind was howling around them, and the night seemed endless.
Akaashi had gone out the morning of the third day. He had told Konoha, listened to his complaints and gracefully decided to ignore them. He would have gone crazy staying even just an hour more in there. He knew his limits and the risks, that the storm could turn violent again out of nowhere.
It wasn't really important.
The only important thing in that moment was that cold and dark feeling on his shoulders. The only way Akaashi had to drive it away was to spread his wings and try to do something . Anything would have been enough.
He had even welcomed the feeling of the rain on his skin. The storm had lessened, but it was still quite violent. Enough to disturb anyone's flight, never mind his own. Keeping his balance within the air currents that whirled like crazy was almost foolish. Akaashi had to land more than once, and not always with grace, barely managing to avoid the big trees that grew on the side of the mountain. Even during the days with clear skies it was easy to lose sight of Fukurodani once you left it, hidden like it was by the ancient forest, the shadows of the mountain and the mist coming from above. With that kind of weather, Akaashi lost sight of it far earlier than usual.
It was the last of his problems, in that moment. He would be able to get back home in the dark, blindfolded and forced to walk. The same could be said for Bokuto.
In the end the wind rose again, coming down violently from over the mountain, and Akaashi was forced to walk in between the trees, dragging his wet wings on the path and ending up covered in branches, leaves and mud. That, too, wasn't important, and neither was the rain that kept washing over him, down his neck and his arms, drenching his back.
He stopped at a certain point, because there was something amiss in the forest. He knew it like the back of his hand, and even if the trees had withstood the violence of the storm, there was still something strange.
An opening in between the trees that wasn't there up until a few days ago. Akaashi walked closer, more curious than anything else now. Many trunks were bent unnaturally due to the force of the wind, and a high poplar had been ripped out from the ground and was now laying on its side after dragging other trees with it.
Akaashi felt something squeeze his throat as he walked closer. He would have recognized those feathers anywhere, that grey streaked with black that was still visible even if covered by mud. There were too many on the ground.
Akaashi picked one up, squeezing it in between his fingers, unable to hide the trembling of his hands. Some of them were buried under the trunk, in the mud. Really, it could have only been an accident.
Only a movement at the periphery of his vision made him tear his gaze away from that horrible sight. There wasn't blood, at least. That gave him hope.
That, and the thing that was moving. Akaashi started to walk again, across mud that reached his ankles and made him drag every step.
The movement was coming from the other side of the poplar's roots, now exposed to the elements. They created a sort of natural coverage, made from wood and mud, and it was there that Akaashi saw the black tips of Bokuto's feathers again. Except this time they were moving .
Akaashi rushed forward, tripping and ending up with a knee in the mud before finally dragging himself there.
Bokuto was hunched with his back to the roots, with his wings spread forward and then bent over himself to form a sort of big, protective roof. They were dirty and battered, and one had clearly taken a violent hit. But they were there, raising to the rhythm of a slow and regular breath. Tired, undoubtedly, but steady.
Akaashi's voice came with a sigh, bringing his heart within it, and he wasn't even sure that someone could hear him. Not with the rain that still fell violently against the leaves.
But Bokuto opened his wings slightly and raised his head, and Akaashi met that golden gaze he knew so well. It was exhausted, dimmer than usual, but Akaashi saw it light up with what was undoubtedly an enormous smile, even if he couldn't see his lips.
"Akaashi! What are you doing out here?"
Akaashi fell to his knees beside him, as if his legs couldn't keep him upright anymore. Bokuto opened his wings a bit more, but he kept them wrapped around himself more tightly than usual. Probably to keep him sheltered from the rain, primarily.
"You shouldn't have gone out, the storm still hasn't died down."
Akaashi raised his gaze to the sky, and then looked down at Bokuto again. He didn't honestly know how to reply.
"Bokuto... what happened? Why are you here? We were waiting for you."
Indeed, as soon as Akaashi managed to utter the first word, the others followed in a rush. He shouldn't be out there?!
"You disappeared! Nobody knew anything! I called Kuroo and even at Nekoma they only knew you had left and then nothing, for almost three days. Three days with this storm and you out who knows where!"
Bokuto looked back at him with wide eyes, shrinking in between his own wings like he was trying to protect himself from Akaashi's fury, which in that moment was way worse than any typhoon. Komi, from far away, would have agreed.
"I didn't do it on purpose!"
"Oh, well, I surely hope so!"
"The tree fell!"
Akaashi turned to look at the poplar. It was clear it was its fault Bokuto was delayed, but Akaashi couldn't understand how a simple uprooted tree was enough to stop Bokuto.
"Are you hurt?"
He should have asked before. It didn't look like it, but you could never be certain. Akaashi realized that the mix between relief, slight anger and a thousand other feelings had made a mess of his priorities. He shifted, lightly brushing Bokuto's messed up wings. But Bokuto just shook his head, and opened his wings again motioning him to come closer.
Bokuto's wings were really broad. Wide and warm, made up by soft feathers. Akaashi knew very well the feeling of being enveloped by them: it was his favorite place in the whole world, and Bokuto welcomed him inside now, wrapping them around him. Still, there was something between them that prevented Bokuto from completely encircling Akaashi.
Akaashi looked down, because Bokuto was clearly holding something in his arms.
"The tree took them down with it when it fell. But it still wasn't completely on the ground when I noticed. They were still below it, and soon the water and mud would have finished the job. And then I noticed the tree had fallen down completely, and you see how it is now."
Akaashi couldn't believe what he was looking at.
"I stopped to take them out, and I almost got stuck too. And when I finally managed to do it the wind had risen, and I couldn't fly with them in my arms, and so I stayed here."
An owl must have made a nest inside the poplar. And now it was looking at Akaashi with big, round, slightly aggressive eyes, as Bokuto held it in his arms together with a bunch of big dust balls that must have really been owl chicks. At least, they cheeped like ones.
"I didn't know what to do. So I stayed put. At least they wouldn't get wet, my wings are big enough."
Bokuto was looking down at the strange family in his arms, but raised his gaze to meet Akaashi's own. He was smiling a little, as if apologizing. There were still some unclear details in that story, but Akaashi didn't have any doubts. Only Bokuto could stop to save a bunch of chicks only to end up stuck outside under a storm like that.
At least the poplar had sinked into the mud instead of tilting even more and ending up crushing them all. That was probably where the fallen feathers had come from.
Akaashi sighed softly and took Bokuto's face between his hands. It was still raining heavily, and now that Bokuto's wings weren't tightly closed above them anymore some droplets managed to reach the family of owls, which started to vehemently protest. Akaashi ignored them for the time being, resting his forehead against Bokuto's.
"It's alright. Let's go home. Let's take them home. We can do it on foot, now."
At home, they would fix everything. There would be clean clothes, warm baths, food for them and for that bunch of dust balls looking at the world as if they held a grudge against it. Everybody would take a breath and then chastise Bokuto to different degrees.
Akaashi first and Kuroo last, and Akaashi knew his cats and especially his owls.
For now, though, he let himself kiss him on the lips, which were cold and tasted like rain, but were still the only thing in the world able to make him warm.
At home, they would await the end of the storm. The sun would come back together with many other things, and this would become just another slight misadventure to recall with friends in the future for a good laugh.
Without dark and cold weights on his back, but only with Bokuto's wings and arms wrapped around him.