The boy’s grip on his wrist was tight and they were running for quite a while now, but Kentaro didn’t dare to ask where they were going. He didn’t even dare to turn around or slow down even though his lunges started to hurt through the cold night breeze and to make matters worse it had even started snowing.
How had things ended up being such a mess anyways? He had just ended the last game of their card game and wanted to walk over to Myuto as a boy started a fight with a few men in the front and before Kentaro could even make eye contact with Myuto another boy stopped in front of him and that had been when he remembered who those two were. He had ran into the blonde one standing in front of him earlier that day, but even as he grabbed his arm and dragged him to the backdoor he didn’t even panic, but why? The boy had told him that if he wanted to live he had to trust him, but wasn’t it careless to just follow him so willingly and leave Myuto behind as well? His friend would be totally freaking out by now he was sure of that, but he had to find out what was going on first.
Finally the boy slowed down and pushed Kentaro into an empty building next to the pier. He looked down the road once more before following him inside.
“Okay that was a rescue at the last moment,” The boy said with a small chuckle as they entered something like a dining room with just a small table and four chairs in it. There was a candle stand in the middle of the table and it was already lit making it clear that everything that had just happened wasn’t a coincidence.
“Who are you?” Kentaro finally asked even though this was not really the most important question he wanted to ask, there were like dozens more, but this one was the first one coming in his mind now that he had calmed down a little bit.
“Oh sorry, my name is Taiga. I tried to talk to you this morning already, you remember!?” Taiga sat down at the table and pointed towards the other chair for Kentaro to sit down. Kentaro sat down after a moment of hesitation and buried his face in his hands, but nothing was making sense to him even after he tried to put the pieces together.
“Yes I remember, but why?”
“Because of me, more or less.”
Kentaro flinched as the boy from before appeared in the doorframe behind him, but his bright smile made him relax a little bit again.
“Could you be a little bit more accurate? All of this gives me a headache!” Kentaro sighed and let his back drop against the backrest of the chair. He was too confused and too stressed out to actually panic and somehow he was still fascinated by the aura of the boy which brought him here. Sure with Myuto he had also felt kind of safe, but the difference between those two was that out of some unknown reason Kentaro believed that this boy could actually help him.
“So there is really a Reaper after me?” He finally dared to ask the moment the younger boy sat down at the table as well.
“Unfortunately yes,” The younger one replied looking at him kind of apologizing.
“How come you know about that? Why were you looking for me in the morning?” Kentaro was about to lose his calm now that he finally knew that he was actually found guilty.
“Calm down, we will explain everything. But for now you are safe, so don’t worry!” Taiga explained with a light smile on his lips. “This is Aran, he is a friend of mine and he had seen you yesterday as you-“ Taiga searched for the right words looking at Aran for help.
“I saw that he attacked you. You are not guilty, you just defended yourself!” Aran explained, but Kentaro didn’t seem convinced at all.
“Then why is there a Reaper after me?”
“That’s what we are trying to find out.”
“And how? How come you know that there is a Reaper after me anyways?” There was the question which was hard to answer for them and Aran bit his lip not sure what to reply.
“Let’s say we have our sources, but that is a side issue. Aran, did they leave afterwards?” Taiga asked worried, but Aran nodded to his relief.
“Yes they did. Ryosuke had dashed out the front door and Hokuto had followed after you, but he couldn’t catch up to you anymore and I made sure that Tegoshi needed a moment to follow after them. After a few more minutes they kept searching on the side of the market place so for now we are safe. After all Hokuto wouldn’t be able to sense him as long as he is-“ Taiga kicked Aran under the table making the boy realize right in time that he was about to expose that Taiga's identity.
“Right, I totally forgot to ask. What is your name?” Luckily Kentaro had been not spending full attention anymore the moment a lot of unknown names popped up so that he didn’t realize the weird twist in Aran’s sentence.
As long as another Reaper was around someone who was going to be send to hell another Reaper couldn’t sense his location, but there was an even worse problem about to come up as soon as he would need to leave again, because he couldn't stay away from Tegoshi and the others the whole time, it would be too suspicious, so he would need to make sure that they wouldn't be able to find Kentaro even with him not being around, but that had to wait for later.
“Kentaro,” He finally answered making Taiga spend attention towards him again. “I wasn’t even aware of a Reaper being that close. I can’t believe that they really found me guilty and-“ He jumped up suddenly making the other two flinch.
“Woah, what’s up?” Aran asked kind of scared.
“I was there with a friend. He must think they got me. That they sent me away. I have to search for him!” Kentaro was already about to dash out the room as Taiga stopped him and grabbed him by the wrist.
“You can’t go out there now or they will definitely find you!” Taiga tried to calm him down, but Kentaro shoved him away to Taiga’s surprise.
“If I don’t go and search for him he will definitely think that it is his fault! That he couldn’t protect me!” Again Kentaro tried to turn towards the door, but Taiga grabbed his arm again. This time with so much force that Kentaro let out a whine as he pulled him back. But as he faced him about to scold him he couldn’t bring out any word at all. Taiga looked at him with an intense glare, it wasn’t even like he would be angry with him, it was almost like his eyes would have some calming effect, almost hypnotizing.
“Aran, do you remember his friend?” Taiga asked in a calm voice not letting go of Kentaro who didn’t even try to struggle anymore. Aran tried to remember for a moment before snapping his fingers.
“The tall one at the bar! He dashed out the back door as well after a moment.”
“Is that him?” Taiga asked Kentaro directly now and the boy nodded.
“Would you do me the favor and search for him and bring him here?” Taiga asked of his friend and Aran gave him a lopsided smile before moving over to the door. “Leave it to me. There is no place he could hide from me,” Aran added confident before leaving them alone, promising to be back as soon as possible.
Finally Taiga let go of Kentaro’s arm again and sat down at the table. Kentaro blinked at him a few times before he dared to move. He wasn’t actually afraid of the boy, it was more like he had something dangerous, but also fascinating at the same time and Kentaro couldn’t stay away from him even though something inside of him told him to do so.
“Why do you want to rescue me?” He asked in a low voice stepping next to Taiga’s chair instead of sitting down.
“Because there is something I want to proof,” Taiga answered, again wearing the same light smile as before. “That is why I can’t let you run around and get yourself killed. I won’t let them continue like this! Their judgement had been wrong this time and we have to prove that.”
“And how do we do that?”
“I- don’t know…yet.” Taiga looked up at Kentaro with an apologizing look, but of course Kentaro was aware of the fact that no one could just stop a Reaper with a snap of the fingers.
“Thank you,” Kentaro whispered and Taiga looked at him confused, but as the boy didn’t seem to want to add anything else he smiled and stood up. He stroke over Kentaro’s hair and the touch made him shiver. Again he was totally fascinated by the boy’s eyes as their eyes met, but this time the feeling was even more intense.
“You want to go out to look for your friend, right?” Taiga ask suddenly, making Kentaro back off a little bit as he realized that he had leant forward without wanting to.
“But Aran is looking for him, right? And you said I shouldn’t go outside.”
“That’s not what I was asking. You want to look for him or not?” Taiga asked again with a kind of knowing expression on his face which made Kentaro feel like an open book to him.
“Yes,” Kentaro answered in a low voice while Taiga’s fingers wandered slowly from his hair down to his jaw line which made it hard for Kentaro to concentrate. “I mean I trust Aran, I bet he can find him, but I know him better and I might find him faster and-“ The rest of the sentence died in his throat as Taiga lifted up his chin without any kind of warning and gave him a short kiss on the lips. Short indeed, but intense. So intense that he felt dizzy for a moment and stared at the other boy in complete shock as he made a step backwards stroking with his thumb over his own lips.
“Now we can go and look for him!” Taiga announced in a neutral voice, but even though it was just for the blink of an eye Kentaro saw some change of emotion on his face, but it was gone as soon as it had appeared.
“What?” Kentaro asked while he just kept staring at Taiga as he moved over to the door like nothing would have happened. “You said you wanted to look for him, right? Then let’s go!”
Kentaro just nodded following after him. He could ask him later what this was about, for now finding Myuto was his priority and the explanation for this confusing, but also exciting feeling inside of him had to wait until everything had settled down again.
They were running through the streets for over half an hour already and even though Taiga knew that he had made the right decision he wasn't sure if he could deal with the consequences. Sure he could have tied Kentaro to a chair and waitfor Aran to return with his friend, because he was sure that he would find him even without their help. But something in the boy's eyes had made him weak. But how was he supposed to play innocent in front of the others later? Kissing someone who was about to get send away was hiding his presence (at least for some time) so that the Reaper searching for him couldn't find him. But there were a lot of problems connected to this action. First Hokuto would be a wreck by now, because he can't fulfil his mission and the feeling which tells them to fulfill it would turn kind of painful, so now that he couldn't even find Kentaro he would definitely break down after a while. His absence was the second problem. It wasn't like he wasn't allowed to walk around and come back late, but they were the only Reapers in this town and now that the boy's presence has disappeared who wouldn't suspect t him?
"What are you doing, didn't you say you want to help me searching?" Kentaro shouted at him, stopping before running around the next corner. Taiga just nodded before approaching him, but stopped a few steps away from him, even though he wasn’t sure why he didn't want to get closer. Yes he wanted to help and weren’t they running around town the whole time already to search for him?
"If you just run after me spacing out the whole time, you are not much of a help," Kentaro growled at him annoyed, but Taiga saw another reason behind his behavior. "You saw him in the bar, right? How about you look for him somewhere else, don't worry I make sure not to get seen by anyone." Kentaro didn't even wait for Taiga's answer before he vanished into the next alley. Taiga stretched out his arm and made a few steps forward, but he stopped himself from following him. He had seen the worries for his friend in his eyes, but unfortunately it wasn't that emotion which made him take the risk of searching for him alone. He seemed more than startled by the fact that Taiga had kissed him without any kind of explanation and that was the third consequence he had to deal with. He had risk that he would find out that he was a Reaper through his sudden actions and if he would find out all his efforts would be good for nothing.
"There he is!" Kentaro shouted suddenly and as Taiga followed him around the corner and he saw how Myuto came out a small alley looking around more than panicked. He was all sweaty and breathing hard, so he hadn't given up on finding his friend.
"MYUTO, WE A-" Kentaro's voice was muffled by Taiga's hand and he looked around worried, but no one except for Myuto seemed to have spent them any kind of attention.
"Are you crazy? Just tell me if you want them to find you even faster, I can just take my leave then," Taiga scolded him, but as he took his hand away, Myuto had finally reached them and before Kentaro could say anything he had tackled Taiga to the ground, holding him by the collar.
"Who the hell are you?"
"Myuto, get off him!" Kentaro tried to pull Myuto away from him and he was happy that Taiga didn't seem to get angry at his behavior.
"How can you defend him? Do you know him? How can you be sure that he is not a friend of the Reaper which is after you or even THE Reaper who is after you?"
"Cut it out Myuto, would you?" Now Kentaro rose his voice and finally Myuto let go of the other one standing up and taking a few steps backwards. It didn't happen often that he pissed Kentaro off, so for now he would try to calm down. Kentaro on the other hand was ready to defend Taiga, because he had rescued him, but the moment Myuto had said something about Taiga being a friend of the Reaper, which is after him Taiga's face had changed. Just for the blink of an eye Kentaro thought that there was guilt showing on his face, but now that he had stood up again this emotion was completely gone.
"So what is the deal with him?" Myuto asked impatient pointing at Taiga with an annoyed glare.
"He rescued me," Kentaro said in a surprising aggressive voice as if he would want to convince himself that there was not more to it.
"And that would be out of what reason?" Myuto asked impatient, this time facing Taiga directly.
"Because I think he is not guilty and it isn't fair if they send him away without a reason," Taiga stated in a neutral voice, but Myuto seemed still sceptic.
"Then how come you are the first one I hear of that can rescue someone from a Reaper?"
"Luck maybe?" Taiga replied shrugging his shoulders.
"You're testing YOUR luck at the moment!" Myuto hissed making a step forward again, but Kentaro stepped between them right away.
"Does it really matter how he did it? I'm still alive, isn't that good enough for now?" Kentaro asked almost hurt, but Myuto just flicked his tongue turning away. Of course he was happy that he was still alive, but after he hadn't be able to do anything to safe him, seeing how Kentaro put his trust into a stranger without doubting his reasons, he just couldn't refrain from feeling uneasy about it.
"Okay, then answer one more question," Myuto said determined as he turned back to Taiga. "How did you know who the Reaper is?"
Taiga opened his mouth, but he closed it without an explanation coming out. He bit his lip, obviously searching for a good answer, but Myuto was already getting impatient.
"Why are you out here? Are you crazy?" The rescue of the day was Aran coming running at them with a quite pale face.
"I- he is safe," Taiga replied stuttering, but as Aran wanted to ask what he meant he Taiga pulled him closer on the sleeve and whispered something in his ear which the other two couldn't hear. Aran looked at Taiga quite shocked afterwards and then his look fell on Kentaro, which couldn't really read the expression on the boy's face.
"Okay, fine that is one problem less, but they are still searching for him," Aran finally said after a short moment of silence.
"What, still?" Taiga tried to calm down, at least like this they wouldn't realize that he was still not back and Fujigaya wouldn't mind or at least he would pretend to not mind it.
"Okay Aran bring them to the hideout, don't come out until I'm back. But that might not be before tomorrow morning."
Aran just nodded and waved at Kentaro to follow him, but Myuto grabbed his arm before he could leave.
"What hideout? And why are you not coming with us?" He asked with a piercing look at Taiga, but Kentaro sighed and seperated them before Taiga could even think about an answer.
"Don't you dare to start the questioning again!"
"No but! He saved me and he even helped me to be able to search for you...somehow....I guess-" His voice got low and he gave Taiga a brief look not sure what exactly he had meant that after the kiss he was allowed to go out with him to search for Myuto, but fact was that he had cared for his worries for his friend. That was all that mattered for him right now.
"Can we discuss this at the hideout please?" Aran asked impatient looking around worried.
Myuto let out an annoyed groan, but finally gave and walked over to Aran.
"Are you going to be okay?" Kentaro asked as he passed by Taiga, but the boy just gave him a supporting smile and nodded.
Taiga watched how they left threw a small alley between two of the big warehouse buildings and as they were out of sight his smile finally faded and he turned around and started running.
"What are you doing here?" Ryosuke asked really annoyed as he saw Taiga approaching.
"You didn't come back, so I thought I'll take look if something went wrong," Taiga lied, hoping that Ryosuke would buy it. The older one raised an eyebrow at him, but for now he didn't seem in the mood to find out what Taiga was up to. Because sure normally Taiga wouldn't come to help them, because he hated to do his own missions already so why helping with others?
"Here you are!"
Both boys turned towards Tegoshi who came running towards them.
"Did you find him?" Ryosuke asked kind of hoping, but Tegoshi shook his head.
"And we have a way bigger problem now," He continued, but before he explained it his look finally fell on Taiga. "What are you doing here?"
Taiga wanted to tell him the same lie as Hokuto, but Tegoshi rose his hand before he could answer. "No wait, forget it. We'll talk about it later. Hokuto has lost track completely, he is freaking out we have to bring him home for now."
"What? How? Did the boy kill himself?" Ryosuke asked confused as they already started running back to the place where Hokuto was waiting.
"Then everything would be fine, but his powers demand him to keep searching, but he doesn't know where. He is in a really bad shape."
Hearing that, Taiga felt more than guilty, but he had to remind himself that he was doing the right thing. The boy wasn't meant to get send to hell, he just needed to find a way to get him off their list and that before Hokuto would completely break down under his powers.
As they stopped at a small alley Taiga spotted him right away. He was sitting on the ground his hands covering his ears.
"Hokuto!" Ryosuke shouted out for him and rushed over to him, pulling him into a hug. As Taiga and Tegoshi stepped closer he could see how bitterly the boy was shaking and that definitely not because of the cold.
"Let's go home for now, okay?" Ryosuke said as he helped Hokuto up and put the latter's arm around his shoulder to support him.
"But I have to find him, I can't-" his words died in painful groan as he moved his hand up to his ear again.
"I know that your powers demand you to continue, but let's stop for now. I'll give you something against the pain as soon as we are back. It can't stop it completely, but it will stop the annoying ringing in your ears at least." Tegoshi said and went to Hokuto's other side to support him. Taiga followed them without saying another word. He had felt Tegoshi's eyes on him since the moment he had shown up and he was sure that he wouldn't ignore it just like Ryosuke did, but for now he had to keep up the act no matter what.