Prompt: 080 ~ Safe June 2011©
Fandom: Antic Cafe
Focus: Takuya x Akira
Word Count: 3,096
A/N: Major trigger warnings with this one, mentions of assault, blatant drug abuse, and self harm.
Fandom: Antic Cafe
Focus: Takuya x Akira
Word Count: 3,096
A/N: Major trigger warnings with this one, mentions of assault, blatant drug abuse, and self harm.
Takuya’s apartment was safe.
It wasn’t that it was in the best neighborhood, or that it had the best security, or even that it was hidden away from the rest of the world. Still, to An Café, Takuya’s apartment was safe.
It was large enough for an unexpected guest to hide out for a while, without being too much of bother. It was tucked away in a neighborhood that kept the paparazzi away and the fans couldn’t find, but it wasn’t so far out of the way that it was inaccessible. It was perfect when it was needed and it was needed surprisingly often.
At the moment, Bou was the one in need of it.
He was hiding from Kanon. Well, more accurately, he was hiding a black eye from Kanon.
Bou could hide or downplay most of the incessant bullying he faced as school, the physical marks could be hidden under long sleeves or makeup. But a black eye was a little too obvious to cover up and there was no way he could just talk his way out of Kanon’s questions. If Kanon saw the injury, especially while it was fresh and looking especially awful.
Typically, Bou’s school hours were filled with dodgy escapes. Ever since he’d met Akira, things had gotten better for him. Akira had the reputation of a psychotic bitch and the heavy briefcase to frighten even the most determined bullies away. With Bou put securely under Akira’s protection, bullies couldn’t lay a hand on him.
Akira was Bou’s resident Heroine, that is, when she actually went to school at least.
She hadn’t this week.
It had made the bullies grow bold again.
Bou was suffering heavily for it. At the same time however, Akira’s sudden disappearance from all forms of contact with An Café was giving Bou the excuse he needed to spend the night at Takuya’s. He’d called Kanon after school and had told him that he and Akira were having a sleepover for the weekend, no bassists allowed. Something about a school project had come up and a few other things that were complete lies but would make sure that Kanon wouldn’t find him and wouldn’t worry.
He hadn’t waited to hear the bassist’s protests before he’d hung up and skipped off to Takuya’s. Friday afternoon, he’d shown up on Takuya’s doorstep and had been welcomed in. No questions, no comments, no judgmental looks; just an open door and a PS3. Takuya was good like that; his apartment was safe, because he was safe. Takuya got an ice pack for Bou’s eye and then settled down for a round of video games that lasted until Saturday.
Throughout the gaming, Bou noticed that there was something up with Takuya. He tried not to comment on it, out of respect for how Takuya never commented on anything awful and obvious with him. But Takuya kept glancing upwards. Now, despite the delicate cross necklace that Bou knew Takuya wore out of sight beneath his shirt, Bou hadn’t thought Takuya to be a particularly religious man.
Eventually, it got to be too much and Bou’s curiosity forced its way out by means of questioning the almost creepy fascination Takuya apparently had developed with the ceiling.
Takuya smiled looking up again as he answered, “Akira-chan lives above me.”
“Yeah.” After a pause Takuya sighed and explained, “She hasn’t answered her doorbell or any of my text messages since sometime last week.”
“About the time she left school early?” Bou supposed.
“Yeah. I went to ask her what happened when you mentioned it at practice, but . . . no luck.”
Bou joined him in looking up at the ceiling for a few moments. Recently, Takuya and Akira had been spending an awful lot of time together. He’d been giving her rides home on the days that Bou convinced her to come to An Café’s practice sessions. They’d been texting a lot too and Bou had been starting to think that the two of them were actually together, but maybe it really was just a matter of convenience.
Bou couldn’t remember Takuya being half so worried about anyone as he was about this chick, and she routinely dropped off the radar for weeks at a time. Theoretically, Akira’s disappearance shouldn’t have been anything to worry about. If Takuya knew something about her that no one else did, or even if he was just worried because he cared about her, either way, it seemed like he had a special connection to her.
Bou continued to sneak glances at his friend during cut scenes when Takuya was sneaking glances up towards where he thought Akira was. Before he finally fell asleep sometime after one in the morning, Bou had come to the firm conclusion that if Takuya and Akira weren’t already dating, they really should be. It was a pleasant thought to drift off to, and Bou’s dreams were filled with schemes to get the two lovebirds together.
Suddenly, Bou was jerked roughly from sleep as Takuya pushed up off of the couch around four in the morning. The pretty faced guitarist would have sworn like a sailor, but cussing took a level of cognition that Bou’s sleep addled brain was unable to initiating at the moment.
The reason Takuya had gotten up was that he’d heard a light tapping at his door, the sort of timid knock that Takuya had come to recognize. It was the unsure sound of someone desperate and cautious, at their wits end and in need of a safe place to crash and regroup. It was like how the An Café members had been the first few times they’d discovered the need to use Takuya’s apartment, when they’d first concluded it was safe and had decided to take the risk that it wasn’t.
By now, Takuya knew the knocks of every An Café member, and not one of them was still so timid they could barely be heard. Something between hope and fear clawed inside his chest as he opened the door and he found himself entirely unsurprised to see Akira standing on his stoop. Something was deeply wrong, Takuya could tell that much without even trying.
“Nee, Takuya-kun, can I come in?”
“Of course,” Takuya said as he stepped aside, some of the relief he felt at seeing her in her familiar black hoodie leaking into his words.
Akira didn’t seem to notice.
It was truly a relief to see her though, as for the past few days, Takuya was beginning to think that she’d left Tokyo altogether. Her posture was wrong and she was frighteningly pale and her hair was let down for the first time in Takuya’s memory, but at least she was here.
Bou, now significantly more awake, made his way quietly to Takuya’s bedroom. It was the only hiding spot he could get to without alerting Akira to his presence in Takuya’s apartment. She had come to Takuya because he was safe and she needed him. She hadn’t come to Bou. The blonde would respect that.
Sort of. He’d be spying on them from the door, but Takuya’s room wasn’t the best vantage point to manage the feat from.
He watched as Takuya did as he always did, welcome his visitor inside and ask if she wanted anything. No questions, no confessions, no fanfare . . . no ‘what happened?’ or ‘why are you here?’ just a friendly smile, an invitation to the couch, and, “Do you want anything to drink?”
Amidst trying to say that she was fine, Akira found herself with a glass in her hand. It was banana milk, her favorite. She was still trying to rationalize its seemingly magical appearance as Takuya sat down on the couch. He flashed her a convincingly easy smile and said, “Make yourself at home.”
The volume on the TV was low and in the near silence as Takuya turned the game back on, Akira cautiously watched him for a few long minutes. The she came to the conclusion that all of An Café’s members had, Takuya really was safe. He would never push it.
He would never ask the questions that any sane person would.
If she wanted to tell him what was going on, why she looked so awful, how she’d come to be knocking at his door in the middle of the night, she could. But if she didn’t want to, her secrets were entirely safe from nosiness.
Open nosiness at least. Bou was trying to will her to speak up by praying to every random deity he’d ever heard of in his years of reading Manga. He’d almost given up hope, and his faith in humanity’s ability to contrive of a God-like force, when Akira suddenly jumped up and swore as she raced to the kitchen. Takuya was hot on her heels and Bou only remained rooted by a miracle of self-control.
Akira went straight to the sink and began washing furiously at the white frosting that decorated the glass in her hand. “I’m sorry,” she said, “I’m sorry, I thought it had stopped.”
Takuya only figured out a portion of what she meant when he spotted the pinkish remains staining the white frosting and a trail of viscous red leading up her fingers to disappear into her hoodie’s long, dark sleeves. Takuya’s eyes widened at the possibilities and he couldn’t contain his gasp.
“Don’t worry,” Akira said in response to his reaction, looking at her feet and swaying slightly as she shoulders slumped. “It’s just mine.” She smiled weakly and added, “No animals were harmed in the making of this . . .”
She trailed off as Takuya’s mind reeled. Why on earth the she thought that telling him it was her blood was supposed to make him not worry was a thing far beyond Takuya’s grasp. He moved to put a hand softly on her arm, but he froze when his fingers met the sticky fabric of her hoodie and she flinched away from him. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” she told him, her voice quiet and wavering. “I’ll go home now.”
Takuya put a hand on her cheek and forced her to look him, his concern outweighing his non-invasive policy. Her eyes flicked up to meet his briefly.
She was high.
Her pupils were unnaturally wide and her eyes are glazed over with an inability to focus. It was an explanation that fit the symptoms: the pallor, the posture, the apologies, everything that felt so out of character. Akira was high.
The realization hit Takuya suddenly and his horror showed on his face.
Akira looked away hurriedly and tried to step away.
It didn’t make any sense for Akira to be high. She disapproved so strongly of Takuya’s smoking habit, and yet, here she was, high on something far stronger than tobacco, something that Takuya couldn’t even hope to recognize. Takuya was not about to let her leave in this state.
He grabbed her upper arm as she tried to skirt around him to get to the door. The moment that his fingers closed tightly around her arm, she screamed as if she’d been hit and collapsed as her knees gave out beneath her. Takuya let her arm go immediate and carefully caught her as she fell against him.
His arms curled around her back and under her knees so that he could gingerly lift her. He was as gentle as humanly possible, even as he snapped into a state of an adrenaline fueled focus procured by emergency. Takuya laid her on the couch, watching with worry as her eyes looked about erratically and her breathing became shallow and she started to shake with violent shivers.
Crooning to her softly, Takuya carefully unzipped her hoodie and pealed the fabric away from her skin. Her arms were covered in blood and the tank top she was wearing had deep red stains saturating it to utter ruin. There were scratches up and down her arms, deep and fresh and many were still bleeding. There were signs of older ones too, but underneath the mess of congealing blood the scars were hard to see. Panicked beyond cognition, Takuya leapt up to run for his first aid kit, but Akira grabbed his hand and held it tightly. “Don’t leave,” she pleaded, looking up at him in fear.
“Okay, okay,” Takuya replied, kneeling back down to comfort her. “I won’t leave.”
It took him several seconds of frantic thoughts for him to remember Bou.
For his part, Bou was still in Takuya’s room, antsy and debating. He couldn’t tell what was going on from where he was hiding, but he could tell it wasn’t good. When Takuya shouted for him, Bou was already halfway to moving on his own, “Bou! I need you to get me a bucket of warm water and some towels, and my first aid kit from under the kitchen sink!”
Bou complied with the order without question.
He was horrified when he saw her. His first thought was to call an ambulance, get her professional medical attention. But then Takuya told him something he couldn’t rationalize, “She’s high.”
On what exactly, Takuya didn’t say, but the implication was that it was all manner of illegal. Professional care was off the table. Bou’s second thought was frustration, and anger. Who had done this to her? Who could have hurt her like this? The question was on his tongue and Takuya set to work cleaning the wounds as gently as he could with the water he’d laced with antiseptics.
The stinging sensations made Akira writhe beneath his touch.
Bou bit down hard on his tongue.
Really, the who of what had happened to her was obvious. The angle of the scratches, their depth and frequency, made only one option plausible. The real question was why.
“Nii-sama came home,” Akira said suddenly, as if reading Bou’s thoughts. “He was still dead though, still very dead.”
“It’s metaphorical,” Takuya provided for Bou’s benefit without looking up from his work. “Drugs ‘killed’ her brother. They changed him and took him away from her.”
Akira nodded enthusiastically. “Nii-sama wanted to kill Akira too. He said it wouldn’t hurt, he said it would never hurt again.” She frowned. “But it did hurt. And Akira didn’t want to die.” She lifted her wrist to stare at her bloody palm. “Takuya-kun. I’m sorry.”
“Bou. Look,” Takuya breathed, indicating an angry red splotch on the back of Akira’s wrist. It was a needle mark, the site of a rather sloppy injection. It was not the place a self-administered needle would go. It made Bou think of something.
Before he mentioned it to Takuya, though, he had to be sure.
Apologizing quickly, Bou pressed a finger to one of Akira’s wounds. The scratches had been well cared for hours ago, and most of the blood wasn’t half as fresh as it seemed. The previous care combined with Takuya’s current ministrations ensured that only a few small drops leaked out at Bou’s touch. Without hesitation, Bou stuck the bloody finger in his mouth. He’d been on a lot in his day, had licked at more than one stubbornly bleeding needle mark, and the sweet unnatural tang in Akira’s veins was a familiar taste to him.
“Dear god,” he breathed, recognizing it. The taste was nearly as strong as what he remembered from his highest hits and Akira’s body had already been working for hours to clean it out of her system. How on earth she’d managed to stay half as cognate as she was, how the hell they hadn’t noticed right away, how she could have even pretended to walk straight . . . it was practically unfathomable.
Takuya was staring up at Bou with an expression of heartbreaking concern, his hand still firmly grasping Akira’s. “She’ll be fine,” Bou promised.
Takuya was anything but satisfied. He gave Akira’s hand a squeeze and looked for another place he could clean. After getting the disguising drips of fresh blood off, it had become clear that most of the bleeding had stopped long before Akira had arrived at Takuya’s door.
“She’s already coming down from it,” Bou assured him. “And the . . .” Bou couldn’t bring himself to label the wounds. “They’re not self-harm.”
Takuya didn’t respond. He simply took hold of Akira’s other hand as it moved suddenly in the spasm of an especially violent shiver and made to claw at her skin in a motion that seemed to completely negate Bou’s comment. As the shiver passed, Akira’s hand relaxed and stopped trying to rake across her skin.
“They’re not self-harm,” Bou insisted. “They’re self-medicating. They honestly may have saved her life.”
At Takuya’s sharp look, Bou went on. “The stuff she’s on? It’s strong. It’s got a reputation for ‘killing’ people, for completely obliterating their sense of self. It’s a bitch to quit, and even after just one dose you’re hooked. Those . . . the pain from them, it pushes self-awareness. It would make the high horrible, but it might make the end-game easier.”
Takuya still didn’t seem very comforted by the idea.
“She just needs some sleep,” Bou promised.
Akira’s protest was loud and unexpected, it made both boys jump.
“No! No sleep,” Akira said firmly.
Takuya tried to quiet her down as Bou supposed, “It’s probably another part of her self-medication thing. She might not want to sleep until the drug is completely out of her system.”
Akira nodded, looking pleadingly to Takuya. “No sleep, not until the fuzzy’s gone.”
“You need to sleep,” Takuya told her. “With this much blood loss . . .”
“Soon,” Akira promised. “Sleep soon. Fuzzy gone soon. Akira came to Takuya-kun, because fuzzy gone soon.”
“You’re safe here,” Takuya told her, crooning promises, “you’re safe here.”
“I know.” Her voice was a mix of sleepy and slurry, it was hard to tell how much was the end of the high, and how much was exhaustion. “Takuya’s safe.”
All Takuya could do was keep talking to her, with Bou looking on anxiously, until she smiled and let herself fall asleep. Bou cleaned things up in the apartment once Takuya had fallen asleep holding her hand. She would be okay, and now that he was certain of it, Bou almost had to smile.
Takuya’s apartment was safe. Every member of An Café counted it as their safe haven.
It seemed like that family had added another soft soul to its ranks.
Takuya’s apartment was safe for Akira as well.