Tactics Fan Fiction ❯ Trust Me ❯ Trust Me ( One-Shot )

[ P - Pre-Teen ]
“Not now Yoko,” Kantaro muttered, pen scratching across his manuscript. The door silently slid open behind him and he sighed in distracted irritation. “Yoko–”

“She's gone.” Arms folded, Haruka hovered in the doorway. “Can…I come in?”

The writer's brow wrinkled in confusion. He turned, face betraying his curiosity. “You've never asked before.” Haruka glanced out the window and around the room: everywhere but at his master. If he didn't know him better, Kantaro would say the tengu seemed almost…nervous.

“If you're busy I can come back later.”

Kantaro chuckled. “You know me Haruka. I'll take any excuse to take a break. Something you want to talk about?”

“No.” Without another word Haruka elegantly settled himself on one of the flat cushions strewn about the room, tucking his long legs beneath him. It never failed to amaze Kantaro that the tengu could move so that simple things, like sitting, seemed artistic. Hands neatly folded in his lap, Haruka stared unblinking at the right wall.

After a full minute, Kantaro gave up and turned back to his work. It looked like Haruka really didn't come to chat.

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Where is she? Where's my Muu-chan?” Sugino shrieked from the open doorway. Startled, Yoko dropped the tray she was carrying and the teapot shattered on the tatami floor. Haruka was fascinated by a shiny glass top he had managed to pick up somewhere. The white tengu stepped past them both, ignoring everyone except the target of his rage. The target, Kantaro of course, calmly sipped his tea.

Would you keep it down?”

I know you have her! You kidnapper! Give me back my Muu-chan!”

Kantaro waved him off idly. “I didn't kidnap anyone. You shouldn't jump to conclusions Sugino-sama. It's not my fault she prefers me.” Sugino gave a deafening screech.

You…you…” he couldn't decide on a proper insult. “You put a spell on her! You used fuda or something! My poor Muu-chan.” He reached across the table and grabbed the writer firmly by the collar, fully meaning to vigorously shake him until he confessed whatever evil he did to Muu.

Suddenly there was a loud `Muuuuuuuuuuu!' and Muu hopped up from her hiding place under the table. Sugino grabbed her instead. “Muu-chan!” He squeezed her in a crushing hug. “My darling Muu-chan, what did that evil human do to you?” He glared down at Kantaro. “You are completely and totally untrustworthy.”

Kantaro wondered if he would have enough money to get new tealeaves. The ones Yoko used that day were particularly bland. Sugino noticed he was being ignored.

It's no wonder,” he hissed scathingly. “Such a fiend, even for a human. It's no wonder Haruka hasn't shown you The Mark–”

Sugino.” The white tengu cut off his rant abruptly when Haruka glared and snapped.

Hmm?” Kantaro looked back and forth between the two. “The Mark? What mark?”

You have what you came for, now go away.” Sugino nodded and hastily headed for the door, more than a little unnerved by the rage in the black tengu's eyes.

Wait! Hang on a minute, what mark? Haruka, what's he talking about?”

Nothing.” Haruka stalked outside. There was a rustle of wings in the wind and he was gone.

Kantaro looked at Yoko who was just as confused. “What was that about?” she wondered.

“…what mark?”

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Kantaro massaged his temple and bit back a growl. His right hand tapped his pen on the table, and each tap was just a little harder than the one before. He glanced over his shoulder, but Haruka was still not looking at him. Kantaro's left eye twitched and the tapping increased in tempo. Finally:

“STOP THAT!”

Haruka glanced over. “Stop what?”

“That. That thing you do.”

“I'm not doing anything,” the tengu countered.

Kantaro slammed his pen down viciously. “Well stop it!” Ignoring Haruka's inquiring stare he turned back to his manuscript. “It's annoying.”

“Kantaro, am I distracting you?”

“You have no idea,” he muttered. “I can't get anything done with you just sitting there. It feels like I'm taking an exam. Write, fiddle with something, admire your bowl, do SOMETHING. No, wait,” he called as Haruka started to get up. “You don't have to leave.”

“You need to finish your work. And you just said–”

“Never mind,” the ethnologist ground out. “Just… ignore everything I just said.” He fished for his pen for a moment before remembering where on the desk he had put it. He could still feel Haruka's eyes on him, but every time he looked around the Demon Eater was looking at something else. Kantaro groaned internally. He wasn't going to get much done.

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Kan-chan? What are you doing?” Kantaro grinned up from his enormous stack of scrolls.

Just some research for my next article.” Yoko saw through the lie immediately.

It's about today isn't it? You're trying to find out what mark Sugino-sama was talking about.”

Kantaro's shoulders sagged. “Curiosity, it really is a curse. All those,” he pointed to one stack, “I've already gone through. And I have these left.” The stack of ones left was several times bigger than the finished ones. “So I'm probably going to be here a while. Leave the teapot would you?” Yoko nodded and the writer went back to work.

She chewed on her lip and watched him for a moment, eyes scanning scroll after scroll to find what it was the tengu were hiding from him. “Which ones can I do?” The question surprised them both.

You don't have to Yoko. I've got it.” As if on cue, their eyes both focused on the looming pile of scrolls. Yoko settled next to him, tucking her purple yukata around her legs. Kantaro smiled at her. “Arigato.”

They worked for hours, reading through anything that mentioned tengu. Characters began to blur in front of Yoko's eyes and she re-read the same paragraph eight times before she realized she had found it. “Kan-chan!”

Kantaro jerked into full consciousness. “You found something?”

`The Tengu Mark,” she read, “is the only weak spot on a tengu's body. It is an extremely delicate region and any pressure to it results in incredible pain. The size and location of The Mark varies with each tengu, and knowledge of the area is kept secret. If a tengu has been named by a human, it is said to be a sign of total submission when he tells his master the location of The Mark. This secret is only shared with one the tengu trusts completely…' I'm sorry Kan-chan.” Kantaro looked surprised.

What are you apologizing for? You found it. Now I can actually sleep without it bothering me.”

I mean…” she gripped the parchment tightly, “with Haruka and–”

I'm not insulted.” He grinned. “Really. I can see why he would keep that to himself. I'd probably use it to make him do something really embarrassing.” Kantaro snickered. “Like dressing as a girl. Don't worry about it Yoko. Ugh!” He hauled himself to his feet and tottered a moment while his circulation returned to normal. “We should get some sleep. Sorry for dragging you into this.”

Yoko watched him head to his bedroom. At the door he flashed another smile before disappearing. She knew. She knew, despite his smiles and his jokes, how hurt he was.

`…one the tengu trusts completely…'

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“Ahhh,” Kantaro breathed, stretching his arms upward. “Finally finished.” He rolled up the scrolls and stuffed them under his desk, replacing them with blank parchment. He grinned over at Haruka as if he was some sort of co-conspirator in a sinister plot. “I can't have it look like I was actually doing something, ne?”

Haruka didn't meet his gaze. “Ah.”

“Well.” He hopped up. “Yoko hasn't come back from Rosary's yet so it looks like we'll have to fend for ourselves for dinner.” He waited, watching the tengu uncurl himself from his position on the cushion, before heading off to the kitchen.

Haruka hovered behind him, offering few suggestions and less help. Apparently he had no preference about what he wanted to eat and no idea how to make anything besides plain rice. Sour plum rice balls were beyond them both, as were most of the other things Yoko usually cooked. After a disastrous hour of burning fish and over-boiling noodles, the two men settled down to a simple meal of rice, plain omelets and tea.

Haruka watched him whenever his back was turned. At least, he had convinced himself that Haruka was watching him. That way he didn't feel guilty sneaking glances as well. The tengu held his cracked rice bowl just millimeters from his mouth and scooped food through his parted lips. Kantaro would have gladly bought a new bowl if given the chance, but he knew better than to offer. A single grain rested on the edge of Haruka's mouth, but he brushed it away before the writer had a chance to reach over and do it.

`Even the way he eats…' Kantaro mused. Haruka wielded his chopsticks with a sort of lethal determination, as if to say he was quite willing to defend bowl and omelet if the need arose. He reached to pluck another slice of egg from the platter and suddenly noticed that he had already taken more than half. He looked up quickly.

His own rice untouched, Kantaro watched every movement across the table, chin propped up on a slender arm.

“Kantaro?” He blinked and seemed to suddenly snap into reality.

“See? It's aggravating when someone stares at you,” he blurted out quickly to cover his error. He picked up his own bowl and started shoveling with gusto. “Oi Ha-duu-ga,” he mumbled around a mouthful and immediately choked. He downed half his cup to clear his throat. “Haruka, you can have my share if you want.”

Haruka needed no more invitation.


xxxxxx

He was much too thin. And it was little wonder if that was all he ate at meals. Kantaro swallowed the last bit of his rice and grinned. “First!” He clunked his bowl down on the table, rattling the teacups.

“Hn.” Haruka captured another slice of omelet, wondering whether he should offer it. Kantaro would probably refuse, insisting that tengu needed more energy than humans did anyway.

There was a quiet jingle of bells and Haruka stiffened. He relaxed slightly when he realized it was only the ethnologist getting up. Even without meaning to Kantaro could trigger reflexes in him. Kantaro stacked his own dishes and carried them to the kitchen. A moment later he reappeared. “Done?”

“Yes.”

With a rustle of his yukata, Kantaro knelt. Sunlight filtered in through the paper door and caused his silver hair to shimmer. Their arms brushed as the writer reached for the remaining dishes. Immediately Haruka noticed the smell.

Ink.

And parchment. Together not unusual for the writer but there was something else.

Dust, and a lot of it. Dust that probably settled somewhere for years before it was disturbed. Kantaro must have just recently done some major research into some extremely old legends. Somehow Haruka knew exactly what he was researching.

“So you know.”

“Hmm?” Kantaro barely tilted his head the way he always did when he was trying to figure something out.

“About the Mark.”

Kantaro's smile faded. “Oh.” Carefully he placed Haruka's rice bowl and teacup on the omelet platter. “I found it in one of the old scrolls I had just lying around. I…” his hands paused in their work. “…I'm glad Sugino mentioned it. It's kind of reassuring to know that you're not omnipotent, you know? It's really hard to explain.” He pulled the laden tray towards himself. “Now I'm going to have to be a bit more careful when ordering you to fight, ne?” Kantaro pulled his knees up began to stand.

“Kantaro.” Haruka's long, deceptively delicate-looking fingers dug into the writer's scrawny forearm. “You're not curious?”

“Nope! Not at all…” His voice trailed off as their eyes locked. He gasped in a breath, feeling as if his lungs were burning. Haruka's eyes were probing as if they could see everything in his mind, as if they could pull him out of his own body. “…yes.” When he finally spoke, his voice was barely a whisper. “Of course. I want to know everything about you.”

“Then why don't you order me to tell you?” Haruka's voice was a low rumbling, like distant thunder. Kami-sama he could listen to that for eternity!

“That wouldn't be fair.” But the unspoken words hovered between their bodies.
I can't order you to trust me.'

For an eternity neither even dared to blink

“Kan-chan!” Kantaro jerked away as Yoko's voice shattered the atmosphere. “I'm home! Sorry I'm so late; I got distracted. What do you want for dinner?” She said everything in a breathless rush as she toed off her shoes in the front doorway.

“Iia, iia!” Kantaro called back cheerfully as if nothing had happened. “We already ate. There's some for you in the kitchen.” The fox yokai's head appeared around the corner, silky brown ears twitching in astonishment.

“Kan-chan cooked?” Kantaro crossed his arms and mock-glared.

“I can cook! Sort of.” With a disbelieving sniff Yoko marched to the kitchen. A moment later her shriek shook the house.

“What did you DO?”

“It's a bit messy I know.”

“A BIT?!”

A sly smirk settled on the writer's face. “But you'd be happy to clean up for me, right Yo-ko-chan?”

Yoko sighed. Kantaro was always using the cheap trick of using her name to make her do things. She rolled up her sleeves and disappeared into the hell called kitchen.

“Kantaro–”

“I'm feeling kind of sleepy.” Kantaro interrupted Haruka, determined to put the subject to rest. He forced a huge yawn and stretched. “I think I'll go to bed now.” He escaped off before the tengu could point out that the sun was still up.



Haruka remained in place, eyes fixed on his hands. From somewhere in the kitchen Yoko hummed loudly as she clanged pots and pans.

He had had him. He had Kantaro right there. It was perfect, but…

Suddenly Yoko sang an off key rendition of the chorus. The song was some ballad about a lover's quarrel; he had heard it only recently. Yoko put extra pronunciation on the line `The time to set things right is now.' Haruka ignored her not-quite subtle hint. Kantaro was content to pretend. He wanted everything to go on as normal: that was obvious enough. So Haruka would pretend too.

`Hurry up and do something or I'll throw your rice bowl in the river,' Yoko belted out. The tengu was pretty sure the song didn't say that. Still…

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Kantaro didn't call `Come in' like he usually did. Instead he slid the door open just enough for half his face to be visible. “Oh, Haruka.”

“Your arm.” The tengu gestured feebly. “Did I hurt it?”

“Iia. It's fine. Forget it. Thanks for asking though.” He slid the door closed with a firm click. Haruka stared that the door, understanding the dismissal. His dark brow creased as he made his decision.

Kantaro whipped around when the door was brusquely opened. “Haru–” He didn't get a chance to finish. Before he could blink he found himself shoved down on his back. Haruka knelt above him, hands on either side of his face, black wings forming a canopy over them. Slowly one hand grasped his, thumb circling his palm. “Haruka,” the writer murmured, refusing to meet that overpowering gaze. Haruka didn't answer. Hesitantly, as if he might change his mind at any moment, he pulled his master's hand towards him. “You don't have to…”

“I know.” Guiding it with his own, Haruka brought Kantaro's hand to rest on his left hipbone. “Here.”

“Don't,” Kantaro choked out eyes brimming as if in pain. Haruka pressed the hand into his flesh. “HARUKA!”

The arm Haruka leaned on shook, threatening to send him crashing to the floor. His eyes clenched shut and his teeth ground together. “It's not as bad as… people say. I won't be paralyzed if… you just touch it. But just in case I ever try to kill you again…”

“The Mark.” Kantaro's fingers caressed the spot, gently brushing over it as if trying to memorize its position by touch alone. A stifled groan managed to squeeze out of the tengu's mouth. “Haruka?” There was no response. Kantaro's eyes scanned Haruka's face, trying to make contact, but he looked steadily away, his own eyes hooded. The writer understood. It had seemed like such a simple gesture, revealing his Mark, but Haruka had made himself vulnerable and entirely at his master's mercy. A concept like that was too much for tengu pride to bear.

“Look at me Haruka,” Kantaro commanded softly. Slowly the dark head turned, pointing those beautiful dark eyes at his own. For a moment Kantaro forgot what it was he was going to say. Kami-sama, if only Haruka knew how much power HE held over the writer. “I…” he closed his eyes, severing the link and giving himself time to organize his thoughts. “Haruka, I won't ever use it. I promise. I don't want anything to change.

Slowly the tengu nodded.

“Well,” Kantaro said happily. “All that's left is the kiss!” Haruka stiffened, feathers rustling with the sudden tension. “Don't you know?” The writer gave his devious smirk. “It's a western tradition. All important agreements are sealed with a kiss.”

“Ah.” Without another word, Haruka shoved himself back. Every muscle in his body had tightened, but no hint of a blush stained his face. Quickly, he pushed himself to his feet and headed to the door, needing to get away as fast as possible. He didn't dare to think about the feel of tender fingers, the brush of soft lips, the warm breath sweeping across his cheek and winding down his neck. If he thought too much he might be tempted to… he didn't have any idea what he might be tempted to do so the best option was to avoid it entirely.

The writer's voice worked like a temporary paralysis charm. “You can stay if you want.”

The tengu stopped, hand wavering on the door. Stay… Kami-sama he wanted to! Some reckless part of him whispered in his ear. He invited you. He wants you to stay. But in the next heartbeat he was gone, leaving a rain of feathers to settle on the tatami.

Kantaro smiled to himself. For a second, for just a single second, Haruka had considered it. Kantaro would offer again tomorrow, and the night after that for as long as it took. For now, he was content with trust.

“Haruka,” he whispered to the empty room. “Arigato.”




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