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Consistency: 08/31/2022
In Discord Challenges
wild_selenite_caffeine
Sep 01, 2022
coming home Word Count: 1k Summary: Akira wasn’t sure of a lot of things as time went on. Patterns and routines repeated, and every day never seemed to stray from replication. Yet, he was certain what was happening right now was no trick, no lie, no illusion intended to mock him He knew it in his heart that it was real. Akira still remembered the darkness—the deadly struggle to find himself during his recovery of the past few months. So often the demands of his unceasing and roaring mind, the drugs he could still feel in his system, and the cynicism tainting his every experience of the world pushed him back. At first, when he came back to his town, there was nothing. But deep down there was the desire to come home, yet it wasn’t enough for him to instantly turn his heel and take the next train to Tokyo. And it was alright, since he didn’t find the energy to act on his desires. He felt numb, so exhausted that death felt like an escape. He recalled those moments to the smallest of details, but it almost didn’t seem real anymore. Yet, the cafe in front of him was real. He departed from his small town he grew up with alongside Morgana, who took refuge in his bag for most of the trip. He stepped in and left the train station. Climbing down and up the familiar staircases into Shibuya. He came to Cafe Leblanc’s doorstep from the light morning drizzle. He was damp, but living; unbothered by the weather. He didn’t expect to find himself back home as soon as the new year rolled around. He was standing at the doorway and watching for a moment, before the barista within the cafe saw him there. The lone person beyond the door. The cat shuffled in his bag, already enticed by the aroma of curry and coffee. Akira smiled for the first time in what seemed like months. His hand grasped the doorknob and twisted it, the door making a soft chime at his entrance. “Hey,” the barista smiled at him. “Welcome home, kid.” Sojiro stood behind the bar as always, but this time, there was a small spark of joy in his eyes at the sight of the teen. As well as some reassurance, seeing Akira alive and well. “...Hey,” Akira greeted with a heavy breath. His voice was rough with emotion, but he no longer cared much about hiding his feelings. “...Have you been getting older in the past few months?” He managed to add, with a semblance of his old joking, yet teasing tone. “Very funny, kid. You’re tempting me to throw away your welcoming meal.” They both shared some laughter, as Akira set down his bag for Morgana to jump out of. Akira continued to take off his coat and scarf, and closed the door behind him. Against the last specks of darkness at the frame, he turned and walked underneath the cafe lights. Akira’s smile widened. A soft, tender, and genuine one. The cafe was peaceful. That much Akira was sure of, the sound of the urban life outside of it faded into nothingness. The porcelain of his coffee cup clattered against the wood. The food smelled amazing and intoxicated him better than any alcohol or drug could. And the music muttering from the television a few feet to his left eased the buzz in his head. He grasped a spoonful of curry and rice, and took it into his mouth. He closed his eyes to savor the flavors. Yet, when he opened his eyes, he knew none of that would change anything that impacted him. His stay in the city brought both darkness and light, and it was always a battle to snuff out one and keep the other in his grasp. But, he was proud of himself despite the constant fight. He loved the feeling of being alive, in a way that didn’t bring concern or worry. Every sensation to him was real, and he kept it that way. He didn’t dare toy with time, or act as if it all didn’t matter to him. He was almost dead yesterday, maybe he would be dead tomorrow, but he assured himself he was alive, today. Aside from the warm lights of the cafe above him, Akira allowed the warmth from the sun seep into his bones from the windows. He was going to be eighteen in a few months, but he felt as if he was getting younger against the sun. As if it had shined the most when he continued to smile with each mouthful of food, and sip of coffee. Something in him finally felt at home as well. A part of him couldn't wait to visit his old bedroom in the cafe’s attic. He craved to lay on its mattress, and sleep out his traveling fatigue. He looked forward to waking up the next morning, and starting up once more his habit of cleaning the whole room. Akira could imagine himself living in the small but cozy cafe until he graduated high school. He had in the back of his mind his applications for staying one more year in a school in Tokyo, but he shook his head before he gave it a second thought. His stomach growled, silently demanding more food. Resigned, succumbing to his hunger and exhaustion, Akira took in another mouthful. He could think about that for another day. Although there were brief moments that worried him for putting it off, he managed to ease himself. Little by little his meal dwindled to a clean and empty plate. His coffee cup followed suit. He was eager to get the process rolling, considering to use his fall break as a way to give himself enough time to prepare and apply to a school. Akira knew his soul was taking one step at a time in wandering freely in peace. He was calm, content, and mostly proud in the remaining days he had of being seventeen. He was learning to live somewhere between the preciousness of life and the wonder of the great beyond. Bright particles of light sparkled in his vision. His breathing became short yet soft. His eyes were glossy; he was sobbing, but not out of sadness. With every breath though, he became better. He was happy as he had never been before. Akira finally left the darkness of his past, taking with him his last and most sincere smile. He was looking forward to his future, and to receive what he knew would make him happy.
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Consistency: 08/30/2022
In Discord Challenges
wild_selenite_caffeine
Aug 31, 2022
bright at long last Word Count: 655 Summary: Takuto never thought the future would be so kind to him. Zenkichi leaned over his significant other’s body, planting a tender kiss on Takuto’s cheek unexpectedly. It made a coat of crimson rush over Takuto’s cheeks, his head snapping away from the television in front of him to retort something. However, his words became stuck as laughter from the other man echoed from the kitchen. The only words that managed to form were only in Takuto’s head. ‘How did I deserve such a bright home again?’ The aroma of coffee bursted into the living room. Zenkichi brought with him two cups of coffee, which he set on the table in the middle of the living room. He sat down on the couch to Takuto’s left, gently grasping the other man’s hand and tugging him to lay on his side. Takuto gave a small whine, content on being on his own. But he was unable to resist the warmth beside him for long, as he melted into Zenkichi’s half-embrace. He heard an amused chuckle emerge from Zenkichi. They stayed in that position as the show in front of them played on. Yet neither of them was exactly paying attention to it. Takuto traced letters and shapes into Zenkichi’s palm, and Zenkicihi attempted to discern what Takuto was writing to him. It lasted only for a few minutes, although Takuto would comment it was eternity, as Zenkichi released himself to reach for his coffee. He took a sip of it, his gaze beckoning Takuto to take his drink as well. Takuto blinked. His breathing steadied, knowing the drink was safe. That he was safe to do something as homely and simple as drinking a cup of coffee. There would be no intrusive thoughts that followed, nothing to be anxious over, nothing to stay up at late hours for. It was a mere drink in the morning. He reached for his cup, and the rim met his lips. The coffee that met his tongue was warm, and toasty. Fragrant, flavorful, and familiar with belonging, reminding Takuto of Leblanc’s brews back in Tokyo. A smile formed as he lowered his cup back onto the table. “You learned this from Akira-kun, didn’t you?” Takuto glanced towards the other man. “Well, more like observing the kid make it and teaching myself from there.” Zenkichi laughed, “Glad you like it, Maru.” Takuto scooted closer, settling back again against Zenkichi’s side. Zenkichi breathed out with a growing smile, his hand resting on Takuto’s shoulders. “You’re amazing.” Takuto took in a sharp breath, scrambling mentally to formulate a response. “...I love you.” Was all he managed to say. Zenkichi responded without pause, “I love you too, Maru.” Takuto threaded his arms around the other man’s waist and held him there, pressed against his body. His eyes drifted shut. He never was in the present before, as he always somehow found himself lost in the past and terrified about his future. But even though most of his dreams were broken during his recovery long ago, he managed to make new ones from the shattered pieces. The future looked bright, at long last. It had been a rough few years trying to recover and accept the passing of their late significant others, and a few hard months after when distance challenged their relationship. But they had made it through, healthy and together. Zenkichi had mended his relationship with his daughter, Akane. Takuto was able to finally focus on himself, and was confident to love again. Takuto couldn’t ask for more than that—especially after all the times he and Zenkichi had struggled to find a path to being together. Both in reality, and the cognitive world. Takuto hugged Zenkichi close, reaching up to plant a kiss on his cheek. “What’s that for?” “For you. For us,” Takuto murmured. “Do I need reason more than that?” Zenkichi shook his head. “Never.” All he wanted now was to sit with Zenkichi, underneath the sunlight and the stars, talking about life.
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Consistency: 08/29/2022
In Discord Challenges
wild_selenite_caffeine
Aug 30, 2022
the day after Word Count: 1k Summary: Akira wanted one more day where he didn’t have to pretend he was fine. Only a day, he begged, a day to be alone with himself. AN: This full work involves minor injuries, mentions of drugs, and mentions of past events leading to injuries; as well as other implied sensitive subject matter, so please be warned! Enjoy the story. Akira always hated how everything seemed to change in a day. For a moment, he was merely a teen studying in an attic. Then coming down to cook curry and brew some coffee. Afterward he was soaring, jumping, and venturing through a world that echoed a distorted version of reality. He was as happy as he could be at seventeen, discovering anything and everything he could with the little time he has. It has been happening for most of the year. But it always felt like it was merely yesterday. It also felt like yesterday he was lost in a wilderness of pain. Trying so hard to find his way out, wondering why the law had left him to fend for himself. He could still barely register the multiple pricks against his skin. His eyelids still grow heavy, the time between one blink and the next infinitely longer than the last. Under the profound stars, echoes of his eternity saddened and crushed him. The day after November twentieth, it was the warmth leaving his bed that woke him. Akira heaved in a sharp breath. He winced, upon sitting up on his bed. His gaze trailed down to his fingers, unable to make them curl into his palm. He faintly remembered breaking each and every one of his fingers a few hours ago. Stretching the bones back until they snapped against his palm. He also remembered his screams lasting longer. However, when he went to crack his knuckles, out of habit despite the state of his hands, he merely gasped. The drugs still coursed in his bloodstream, manifesting first as a swift high, then the palpitations, followed by dizziness, until his gasps faded. He thought his legs would snap when he stood up from his bed. Akira instinctively slammed his body to lean against the wall to steady himself. His ribs throbbed, reminding him once more of his poor faith it would go away with mere sleep. The teen wondered if he could make it go away. He reached for the pill bottle at his desk, and sat down on the seat. Shaky hands grasped the container, twisting off the cap. He leaned forward, his head almost hitting his lampshade, and his hand to his mouth, swallowing. Swearing to himself. Promising he would do better. He could do better. He has to do better. A crow’s roar pulled him from his thoughts. Akira barely noticed it departing from his window ledge. Shaking his head, Akira reached for the bottle of water on his desk. A few days old, but better than his own spit. The rush of liquid washed them down. Was it the pills? The pain? Or his thoughts? He couldn’t discern. Akira remained seated on his desk, instead of laying back on his bed for a few minutes. He grasped his head, moving it from his mouth. He wondered if he wanted to forget, if ignorance was the lesser evil in his situation. It was as if it was the only thing he knew how to do. His sole option, even though he knew by heart the millions of reiterations of the same event. He wondered what it was like to be able to choose. He wondered what he could have been doing, either stuck in that wretched room, or home without a care in the world. Anything but his current situation, recovering from the events of the interrogation. He wondered if the pills he saved would finally be the combination to kill him. If the pain was finally over, and if he could live the rest of the year in peace. The medication hasn’t kicked into his system yet. His hand wrapped around his bottle, and stared down at the remaining capsules. Fingers tightened around it, and flung it towards the staircase leading downstairs. Akira collapsed between his bed and his desk, his breathing labored and his heart racing. His eyes stung. His arms wrapped around him. “You were destined to fail. You couldn’t consume it all.” It seemed like yesterday that things made any sort of sense. But that was a long time ago. The drugs messed with him, and Akira couldn’t ever reach out to that moment in his life again. Instead, he had to live in a complicated world after that deplorable night in an interrogation room. Even though tears pricked his eyes, Akira’s obsidian eyes never lost their steely hardness. Yesterday, he was a teen with bright dreams of a future that would now never be. Today, he could have one last moment to not pretend everything didn’t matter. Akira attempted to stand to lay on his bed, but his feet refused to lift him from the ground. Turning towards the feet of his bed beside him, he maneuvered to rest his weight against it. He clutched at his chest, and lifted himself onto his bed. Beneath his clothing, he still felt like a bullet was lodged within his head. He felt like there were multiple bruises littered on his body. But in the brief moment the mattress dipped from his weight, the wounds no longer existed. “It doesn’t hurt anymore”, he recited to himself. He would say it more tomorrow, but he needed one for today. Only for himself. Only right now. Akira’s head met his pillow, and his eyes flooded with tears once more. His surroundings were only in unspecified figures in bleeding colors. He gasped, moaning at the contact on his bruises. He laid his arm over his eyes. Maybe he needed more sleep. Everything was simpler in memories anyways. Even the pain. Although he missed it, as well as the violence inflicted on him, it was only because it was something to fill him—something to concentrate on rather than anything else. It was scorching, but it was something to fight against. There was even a second where it made him feel whole. Yet there was also a small voice in his head, curious to know if his heart stopped beating, maybe it wouldn’t hurt this much. But he shook it off. The pills worked. For now. His tears wouldn’t stop when he blinked. But he wasn’t in pain all that much. He let out a small laugh, and it sounded nothing like him. Maybe in his dreams, it would be different. A yawn then released itself, the crows outside lulled him to a deep slumber. Tomorrow would become another bygone, and that bygone would become a distant memory.
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Consistency: 08/28/2022
In Discord Challenges
wild_selenite_caffeine
Aug 29, 2022
one last day Word Count: 505 Summary: Voluntarily surrendering for crimes he didn't commit was its own kind of doomsday. And frankly, Akira merely wanted some time to savor his freedom. There were only a few more minutes. The snow fell softly around Akira’s feet, the cold making his breath steam. The city center around him remained lively, filled with joy and hope. Most of the city streets were pervaded with light as people flocked in groups, waving their phones towards the sky to capture the beautiful evening. However, the street Akira stood on was empty. Street lamps burned orange light into the pavement. With bated breath, the silence waited. His footsteps echoed. He walked away from the city center, bringing himself farther and farther. His eyes were devoid of any emotion; he had no reason to offer some reaction to the simple passage of time. Akira knew he had a minute or so to treasure his freedom. He could have denied it all, refusing the upcoming offer from the prosecutor. But there would be no one to take his place now. Everything was going how it’s supposed to. The teen didn’t understand why his chest felt so tight. He didn’t have the language to explain why his stomach twisted whenever he thought he saw a brown coat pass him. Or when he thought he heard a familiar voice beside him. There was never the right words to convey what the terror meant even when he was free waking up in cold sweat in the previous nights. He called it grief, once. But decided against it. He didn’t know a lot of things, but he knew it wasn’t the right name. There was no body to confirm it. That was his faintest bit of hope. However, he should have known better. People who die in that other world, often die as well in reality. He knew better than most that bringing back someone from death was impossible, so selfish of a decision that the consequences were powerful. Still, Akira wished it wasn’t the case. That even a fact can be wrong. Yet every time, his hope was a mirage. He walked in comfortable silence. Akira wondered what was happening a few miles away, back in the cafe. But then it morphed into light regrets; leaving his friends and family with no reason whatsoever, voluntarily placing himself back in the hands of the law that once failed him. But the outside world was too large to ignore. Akira sighed. He could only silently hope everyone he knew for the past year would be safe once he was gone, wherever they were. He fiddled with the edge of his sleeve. He wasn’t sure if he would remember the city, or even decide to visit it someday. Obsidian eyes met the bright billboards of the city center. He stared for a moment, but he didn’t care how long. The starlight shined with the quiet laughter of the folk around him. The silence lifted, before settling in once more. Akira heard footsteps approach him. He turned around, and met the prosecutor. His eyes closed as he heaved a sigh, nodding in acceptance of her offer. It was time to go.
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Consistency: 08/27/2022
In Discord Challenges
wild_selenite_caffeine
Aug 28, 2022
change in schedule Word Count: 1k Summary: It was a quiet moment on their first overnight stay at work together. Usually, everyone went home once the evening rolled over the city. The sun had departed from the ether, and the only lights to be found were in artificial forms. And for most people at the station, that was the case, except for the few officers who needed the stillness of the evening to accomplish their cases. Takuto though was considered to be an exception. He was recruited as a profiler, aiding Zenkichi in his many, many cases since the summer. Though he found himself at most times being company to the Inspector, doing sketches in his notebook at his desk whenever his partner was occupied with some details. Twin light sources, coming from the lamp and the overhead light, illuminated his work. Only occasionally broken for a brief moment by Zenkichi who peeked into his workspace. However, inspiration was a fickle thing. It came and went at unpredictable intervals, often arriving at inconvenient times. Despite it though, Zenkichi didn’t mind Takuto using his time for another artwork. Most cases they received had allowed for a lot of spare time, as solving them didn’t prove to be much difficulty. Yet there are also times where the cases were more arduous than they needed to be. Leaving them both to be cooped in the offices for a few more hours. Tonight, that seemed to be the case, as their bulletin of pictures and profiles grew by the hour until it forced them to take an impromptu break. Once Takuto was seated in front of his notebook again, his hand instinctively reached for his pencil and flipped to a new blank page. His hand began sketching the moment the tip hit the surface, creating lines and shapes that could only be described as a delicate balance of ancient, delicate essences. The faint idea spread from his mind, thoughts and vague details being turned into art the best he could. For a moment, the case and the office around him was irrelevant. Luckily he had kept his lamp on before needing to console Zenkichi on a potential suspect he had in mind, only so he didn’t have to break his concentration the more he continued his art piece. Eventually, his body caught up to his will. Takuto yawned, releasing the pencil from his grasp. He closed his notebook and pushed it and his pencil to his side. It made enough space for him to lean forward, turn off his lamp, and wrap his arms over his head. Takuto had said it before, ever since he became Zenkichi's partner in the force, and he was certain he would say it again. He really hated sleeping in the offices. "I know it's unhealthy to stay awake for long hours, Maru," Zenkichi said with a small smile on his features. "But we can't give this case an alternative—Just one night, then we'll have a long weekend off." Takuto resisted the urge to heave a heavy sigh. He was laid over his desk, arms still covering the bright lights around him in an attempt to sneak in a few hours of sleep. He didn't expect to be at the office at such a late hour, and he had already spent the first few minutes into the extended shift contemplating the change in his sleep schedule. Ten hours of good sleep was long off the table. He felt Zenkichi's hand run through his hair, attempting his best to console his partner. However, Takuto wrapped his arms tighter around himself. Takuto stifled a yawn, moving to meet Zenkichi's apologetic gaze. "I'm sorry, Zen. I didn't mean to complain." It seemed to bring a warm musement to Zenkichi, as he let out a quiet chuckle. Like the fire of an ancient hearth lighting up his irises from within. It echoed in their shared office, brightening it up for the evening stillness. "You should have heard me when I first had to stay here overnight." A curious smile weaved itself on Takuto's features. His own eyes beckoned the other man to continue. "At first, I was kinda frustrated about it. Being away from home more than I was used to, trying to get used to being one of the only people in the station, enduring the silent hours throughout the night just doing everything I could to solve a case…" Zenkichi's fondness for his past evenings in the station was palpable, but also with a tint of sorrow. "Safe to say I was… displeased with being alone because of work since having a family. But I always made sure to think of them throughout the night, especially Akane." His smile widened. "She’s always what I look forward to after the long hours are done. And honestly, if I weren’t so tired every time I came home after, I would have taken her somewhere nice.” Takuto giggled at the thought of seeing a small Akane running up to her father. He noticed the small joyful glint in Zenkichi’s eyes, and how he still kept to that thought of seeing his daughter. Takuto’s giggles turned into soft laughter, even as his eyes closed to feign sleep. Zenkichi seemed to beam a little brighter. He bit the inside of his cheek to keep himself from grinning too noticeably though. He reached for his suit jacket on his chair, and draped it over Takuto’s shoulders. “Oh, Zen, I’ll be fine.” His partner murmured upon feeling the warmth of the clothing. “I can stay awake, if you need me to.” “...Your presence here is enough, Maru.” Zenkichi reached down to lay a gentle kiss on Takuto’s head before turning towards the board of notes and pictures they had for the case. His hand left Takuto’s hair as well. He gave a glimpse back to the other man, “Get some rest, I’ll be here until morning.” “But what about the case? Isn’t that more important?” Takuto asked. Although he knew it was most likely a losing battle, he still needed some confirmation. “Your input can always wait until tomorrow, Maru, you really don’t want to have burnout, right?” As much as he hated it, Zenkichi made a good point. Takuto nodded, and gently fell into a tender slumber. He loved the other man so much that he slept embracing him with his dreams that evening. With the sweetness of his name in each breath, with the stars of his eyes filling Takuto’s sky.
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Consistency: 08/26/2022
In Discord Challenges
wild_selenite_caffeine
Aug 27, 2022
reading on the train Word Count: 874 Summary: Being on the train alone allowed for many things. It was his bubble of solitude, where no human other than himself could pierce through. Takuto long guessed that travels from his apartment to Shujin Academy would bring a bit of boredom sometimes. He had expected once or twice for another person to be on the train with him. It brought silent company, knowing he wasn’t in another plane of existence at the early morning hours. The train during those hours wasn’t packed, not for a few more hours at least. At times, it was nice to soak in his own comfort. Others, it felt like a still battlefield against himself. His body stood still against the train’s momentum. He was alone that morning. His gaze pierced against his reflections, as if searching for something to occupy his mind with. He silently pressed the back of his head against the window behind him, feeling the cold glass. His dim eyes glazed over the distant, fading stars. It was almost as if they were taunting him by being too far out of reach. Almost ancient those little dots were, quietly passing as the ether became golden. He believed that they wouldn't return for the evening, and instead in their place, was another batch of stars. He knew he had placed himself in that solitude. He chose to take the earliest train instead of the ones later in the morning. But, there was no regret in his decision. Takuto chose to be alone because he still wanted to be his own company for a few more hours. Slowly, Takuto’s hands traced the zipper of his bag on his lap, and paused on the slider. He grasped it and slid it to the other side. His eyes were immediately enticed by a book cover. It was a gift from Akira, one of the students he was counseling as of late. A frequent visitor of his office, as well as a mutual confidant he saw outside of school. Although they haven’t had too many interactions, somehow the teen knew what kind of genres piqued his interest. The book Takuto received was one of poetry, where all the poems were directed to a lost lover. And Takuto found himself enamored by the book. Taking in each poem on the page, and appreciating their individual beauties before he turned to the next. He wouldn’t call himself a poet, but since receiving the book, he used any spare time he had on crafting some poems of his own. However, he couldn’t understand why most of his poems revolved around melancholy. Despite it though, poetry comforted him. It allowed him to think that he could put his feelings and emotions into words, then discern and understand himself a little more. As Takuto pulled out the book from his bag, he saw the sun peeking up from the buildings of the city. It tugged a smile on his features. He liked how the sun weaving through the structures, and coated the train in a golden blanket. Setting his back to the side, the cold air rushed over his body and caressed him in its embrace. He let out a sigh, and opened the book to where he left off. His fingers danced for him, whilst they felt the ink of each word they passed. They meddled with his mind and tricked him into thinking what came next and what the poet thought of when they wrote each poem. Takuto silently mouthed the words until his lungs burned with the need for air. A small regret was that he was unable to read the poem in one breath, but it was quick to be replaced with fascinated thoughts. All thinking of the meaning of the poem, what he liked, what he treasured from it. He reflects, since it was better than staring daggers into his reflection across from him. If he ever gave his reflection a second glance, he would find ineffable longing. It was a ghost that only knew half-forgotten memories, and only had thoughts within thoughts. It haunted Takuto in his lonely hours, when oblivion would prove to be so sweet, enticing. Takuto paused before he turned the next page. He shook off the stare his reflection gave, before continuing reading the book. It turned into a long moment of the same routine; he would read a poem, reflect to himself about it, feel his reflection gaze at him, shake it off, and turn the page. And then repeat. Takuto could have sworn it went on for hours, he shared to himself something else, something deep only he could fathom. He couldn’t quite pinpoint the moment when the thought came to him, but it grew and grew as he reached the approaching end of his book. Until it surfaced, when the train called for his stop. ‘I can achieve my happiness. I can be happy, I can get through it on my own.’ At first, there was a sick feeling in his stomach, that it was unhealthy of him to burden his hardships alone. But, he shook it off, and replaced it with hope. Takuto closed the book and placed it in his bag again, zipping it shut. He stood up and walked off the train. He believed in a little more that he could accomplish his research, and show that there was beauty in his happiness.
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Consistency: 08/25/2022
In Discord Challenges
wild_selenite_caffeine
Aug 26, 2022
wanting to forget it all Word Count: 1.3k Summary: Moving on was always a challenge. Especially on the days where everything was numb, and the ghosts of the past haunted him. All Akira longed for was a new dawn where he could be happy. AN: The work involves mentions of past events leading to injuries, implied intrusive thoughts, and a teenager having a breakdown; as well as other implied sensitive subject matter, so please be warned! Enjoy the story. It was one of those days Akira believed that time ceased to exist. Or rather it was drawn out, causing unbearably slow intervals between each second, each minute, and each hour that passed. Akira sat on one side of his bed. His knees close to his chest. The music from his headphones pulsed in his ears. His hair stuck to his forehead, and some sweat dampened his clothing. Brief incoherent thoughts kept him from falling asleep. His blank gaze bounced off the walls of his bedroom. Unable to focus on anything other than the shapes of the objects scattered in the room. The dull lights, through the thick curtains blanketing his room in a mute hazel hue, made his room solemn. In the corner of his gaze, his bag and a few boxes were still stuffed and packed. Even though it has been days since he returned from Tokyo with Morgana with him to his small rural hometown, he found it to be lonelier, emptier, than a year ago. He pushed himself off his bed, and made his way to the lower floor to find something to excite his mind. The lower floor of his home was cold, but it was nothing more but a memory in the day. Although Morgana wasn’t present, he guessed the feline was still exploring his town, as he prepared breakfast for the two of them. After setting two plates on the table, Akira’s hand found itself grasping the handle of a bottom cabinet. He tugged it and revealed the small collection of alcohol. All from the nearby shop, buying them when he couldn’t sleep. He reached for a bottle of whiskey and lifted it up onto the counter. Within moments, there was a lingering smell of alcohol on his clothing. Akira grimaced at his reflection on the glass. He tossed the empty bottle into the trash and stumbled his way into his room for a new set of clothes. His phone and headphones were placed on the nightstand, whilst a prepared set of clothing was tugged out from his wardrobe. He exited his room and entered the bathroom across from it. He placed his clothes near the door, and his glasses on top of it. The ones he wore were tossed into the basket beneath the sink, then he paused upon seeing his reflection in the mirror. All of the wounds he had were often covered by the black that he wore, the gloves he sometimes donned. He always wondered if they would fade, if they would be healed by unexplained means. If they would disappear, and look as if they had never been there in the first place. All of the wounds he had were of various ages as well. Many of them were months old, seldom were only a year, and the very rare of them being years old. The unspeakable harm, the stories he fought time and time again to erase from memory, would only be known to himself. He looked at himself in the mirror; there was another wound, one in his mind. With only the pain present in his eyes clueing him as to what it was. His irises seemed almost lifeless, dull, wandering aimlessly on his body. All in an attempt to find relevance, some reason to care for himself. Yet all it could find was the dull, aching restlessness that filled him. The thin, stretch hope he would find anything to make a smile appear on his features. Only for it to give off a faint shimmer, and fade like fallen stardust. Akira almost laughed—He was a hopeless case, still drowning against despair and desperation. He tore his gaze away, and stepped into the shower. He reached for the valve and twisted it. The shower stuttered, then flowed into a steady and warm stream. The water hit his skin and drizzled into the drain. Akira nudged one of the valves, and in the corner of his eye, the bathroom mirror and the lenses of his glasses fog. He stopped, and his gaze trailed onto his body. He was long numb to the stinging pain of his deep bruises, cuts, and abrasions. It had all become as painful as the slightly hot water on his body. A shiver came over his body. It was unwelcoming and bitter and sickening at first. He didn’t know whether what he felt the tightening in his chest was dread or anxiety or guilt or absolute euphoria. He didn’t mind it though, whatever it was. A swift few seconds of shaking overcame him as he pushed away the origins of his various wounds into the deep parts of his mind. Showers were dangerous if ever those thoughts overcame his consciousness. Akira attempted to keep it that way, as he poured shampoo into his cupped hand and scattered it on his hair. He prevented his mind from focusing on any of the stories of his wounds, and let it drift to other things. His heartbeat pounded in his ears. Throbbing and ebbing away whilst mixing with the patter of the water hitting the tiles at his feet. The alcohol still burned in his throat, but it was of little matter to him. However, he realized he should have brought his phone in the bathroom with him. He should have kept music pushed into the sides of his head, overwhelming the thoughts so that none of them existed at all. Suddenly, everything was painful again. He let out a choked sob. The water was immensely hotter on his body, and he twisted the valve the other way. But even the warm water stung against his wounds. It was cold and uncomfortable and made a shiver run down his spine. Akira leaned forward, using his arm to stop himself from hitting the shower in front of him. He gasped, as if beckoning for his tears to emerge from its hiding place. Akira couldn’t recall if the wounds originally hurt, or were painless to him when they were first inflicted. They were all supposed to heal. Be gone from his body. But there they were, present and persistent reminders of the darkness of his Tokyo stay. His arm lowered, his hands trembling. Akira rushed the rest of his shower, and put on his new set of clothing. With the water turned off, he could hear his own muffled sobs between shaky breaths a little better. He bit his tongue. His body craved something, someone, to hold. However, he was unable to satisfy it. He remembered the feeling of being lost, pained and alone with no one to turn to. It was the same back in Tokyo; he wasn’t there anymore, but it still lingered. He caught a glimpse of silver from his bag. His feet stuck to the floor. He almost forgot that he kept his blade, the one he got when fate revealed him to be a pawn of some higher being, within a cruel game of chess. It was a reflection of his past, a reminder that he could do something else to silence his head once and for all. The blade beckoned him, its gaze piercing him effortlessly. However, he considered against it. Like he had done so repeatedly before. He somewhat hated that he cared; he wished that he didn’t so disappearing wouldn’t be so difficult. It wasn’t an uncommon situation. But there were times where it left his mind numb, and the cold metal grazed his skin. And even so, the pain never arrived. The thoughts he had still existed. He found himself too much of a coward to bring it upon him. With a hitch in his breathing, Akira forced himself to pull away from his bags. He gave the boxes beneath it a swift glance. He would unpack them another day, he decided. He promised himself to fix his room in a few more days. For now, he needed rest. His face met the softness of his pillow on his bed, his tear-stained face dampening it a little. He closed his eyes, and drifted off in an exhausted nap. In his dream, Akira wished he could rewind the world, and linger in the radiant ignorance of being seventeen.
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Consistency: 08/24/2022
In Discord Challenges
wild_selenite_caffeine
Aug 25, 2022
warmth Word Count: 770 Summary: Zenkichi and Takuto spend their first morning after a long summer apart. Zenkichi lost count of the times he and Takuto spent nights together. Away from the worries of the world, in each other's comfort. Then again, he didn't understand it shouldn't be a major concern to begin with. There wasn't anything wrong with spending the early morning with Takuto. There wasn't anything to say against it, and perhaps it was something to be welcomed given that both of them had a long summer without the other. He had invited Takuto for a weekend stay when he learned he could go home early. And when the early hours rolled around and he found himself awake earlier than he liked, Zenkichi decided to relish the slow hours approaching the sunrise. As the sun weaved into the room, Takuto was by his side, seemingly comfortable despite being curled against the covers. His breathing was steady and relaxed, unware of Zenkichi staring at him as he slept. It had been a few hours ago when he wanted to take a few minutes longer to sleep, to relish the quiet morning. Zenkichi agreed to wake him and keep him company, as he has every time they've been together prior the long summer. Happy with his response, Takuto cocooned himself with a blanket and continued on with his sleep. Zenkichi believed the setup of staying in bed longer started as a prolonged reconciliation. In hindsight, he wanted to wait until Takuto woke up before needing to do anything else. He wanted to express his gratitude for the kindness Takuto had given despite having waited for a little over two months, despite being a a little bit different between their last and current encounter. But alas, sometimes Zenkichi found himself much like water. His words and actions flowed before he could give them a second thought, especially when it came to intimate moments. Behind professionalism and formalities, he was a mere man looking for some warmth. "....Do you ever get lonely, Zen?" Takuto's yawn occupied the silence. Ever so casual, yet ever so deep in his question. It caught the other man off guard effortlessly, stunning him in place. Yet, a smile formed on Zenkichi's features, wrapping an arm around the other man's waist. His initial answer would only tell how deep in his loss he was, how frustrated he was with himself. It led him to be reclusive for months, searching for a truth he was powerless to achieve. Now though, he didn't have to respond. Takuto turned towards him, the bed shifting and dipping as their gazes met. He didn't have to respond because he knew Takuto was aware of his answer. Takuto was in a similar place before. But after a few months of recovering on his own, both of their paths crossed one day in a quiet ramen shop within Shibuya. That was when they realized there was still a faint feeling of emptiness within them, one they found the other man filling. The obvious answer now was that they weren't alone. Not anymore. "...Morning, Maru." Zenkichi greeted, as the question was silently answered. "Good morning, Zen." Although he was sleepy, Zenkichi found Takuto's hazel eyes inscrutable, faintly weary. But it was quick to be replaced with a soft, tender look as he pressed his forehead against Takuto's. A silent welcome of the company. Perhaps this was their best way of ensuring that they kept sense of their humanity and selves. And perhaps, it was their way of trying to have a sense of normalcy in the midst of the messy lives. Of having warmth. Since the day they lost their last significant others, they never noticed it had been long since they received any gesture of affection. The kind of love only a significant other could give them. Grief kept its hold on them in the darkness still, but with each other, it wasn't as painful as it was when they were alone. Zenkichi pulled away to raise his hand from Takuto's waist to place it on his cheek. His thumb stroked the soft skin, and allowed him to meet the other man's eyes. Takuto had all the gentleness of flowers in his heart, in his hair, in his gaze. And Zenkichi didn't want to pull away. It was one of the few moments wherein Zenkichi felt at ease. He wondered to himself if he could ever have a moment of peace like it ever again. If they can keep having moments like these. He pleaded to any god above for it to be so. Let him be able to stay with the other man like that for the rest of his life.
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Consistency: 08/23/2022
In Discord Challenges
wild_selenite_caffeine
Aug 24, 2022
a lonely eternity Word Count: 673 Summary: To be loved and then abandoned is a terrible thing. Akira didn’t stick with death. He felt the pain. He could die countless times. But he wouldn’t remain so. He would find himself back on the train at the start of the year. Or in a safe room within the cognitive world emerging from a deep slumber. Or waking up in his bedroom, the attic of Cafe Leblanc. It was always different, yet a place he was familiar with. All within a few minutes. Sometimes it would be hours, but that meant staring into the abyss until he woke up. And when he eventually returned to the waking world, he would carry on with whatever he was doing at the moment. Then return home and wonder how long he could keep up with the demands of the gods above. Of course he did, it's been like that for a while now. There wasn’t a time where the signs of deteriorating didn’t present themselves. There was a small time after when he would stay awake, as death left him pondering if he would even survive the next day. And each time he was given time alone, he would look at himself in the mirror. Counting the scars that remained from his previous life. Thinking if he was older than an hour ago. ‘It’s a lonely way to live out eternity.’ The rare thought crossed his mind with a heavy, exhausted sigh. He glanced at his clock at his bedside. It read four in the morning. His body gently left the bed, making sure he didn't disturb Morgana who continued to sleep at the foot of his bed. Akira made his way downstairs, and towards the front door. His fingers wrapped around the doorknob, cold am At one point, Akira chose to accept the deal of various gods. Well, false gods, but gods nonetheless. It was a decision fueled by desperation for an escape from the status quo. He didn't quite remember why, or how he would let himself sacrifice everything in one, reckless, choice. But what he did know was he was offered three times, but he only accepted it twice. He hated to admit it there was a swift, yet brief, bliss when he woke up in a “better” world crafted by those gods. It was all he could hope for, and more. Though it wasn't long until he abandoned those outcomes, becoming another tally of deaths, performed by his own hand. Akira kept those deaths to himself, locked tight and hidden in the darkness. It had been a few months now since the last time he abandoned another life. And frankly, he didn't expect to live this long. He was told only in brief statements about the eternity before him. How he could toy with time all he wanted until what played before him was what he desired. But until he found himself living in the comfort of his rural home, a few plants as well as Morgana as company, he never understood how long he had been alive. Those thoughts made him wake up at the early hours, when the world still slumbered. Always so vain, he walked around town for the rest of the early morning, letting the silent judgment clear what sins he had. And before the sun rose, he returned home and sulked in the shadows of his room. Akira was seated at his dining table, staring down at a simple meal of curry and rice. When he closed his eyes in a prolonged blink, it was as close to heaven—to home back in Tokyo—as he was likely to get. He grasped his utensils, and began to make small dents in his meal. The sun seeped into his house through the windows around him. It felt like there was promise of something nice to come, a slight joyful glow coating his quiet home, even as it robbed the darkness around him. A small smile weaved itself on his features. There was no such thing as eternity now, and he was filled with a little more hope than yesterday.
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Consistency: 08/22/2022
In Discord Challenges
wild_selenite_caffeine
Aug 23, 2022
alone on valentine's Word Count: 1k Summary: Takuto spent his first Valentine's alone. The small calendar icon on his phone said it was the fourteenth. The days long blended together by that point. Takuto squinted at the date, his mind confirming it had been definitely a week and a half since he deemed himself able to go outside again. By the moment he stepped out the door of his apartment, he was sure of it. He only needed to buy himself some groceries. He didn’t want to stay out and make himself miserable because of the roses and cherry blossoms strewn around the city. “I can do this.” He told himself, hope laced in his voice. “I can go through this day… alone.” Takuto took one last glance at his phone. It still said the fourteenth. He scowled, and vaguely wished, now, that it didn’t. He departed from his doorstep, heading into the Shibuya crossing to head to Central Street. The slow lethargy of the middle of spring and summer waned in inches, coyly calling the next day with a wind like shy, beckoning fingers. Today was definitely one of those days. He was supposed to feel the most loved, but since a year ago, he felt less and less. His footsteps prolonged the minutes it took him to get to a grocery store. Each waking minute reminded him he wasn’t spending the day with a significant other. He wasn’t spending the day with everything he could have. He couldn’t blame anyone though. It would only be cruel to place blame on something he couldn’t control. However, the feeling wasn’t foreign to him. It hasn’t wavered or changed, as far as he knew. And so he asked himself quietly. Why did he feel as if he was a ghost wandering the streets? Why did the feeling dawn harder than it did on most days he was recovering? He knew he was supposed to be happy now. He recovered, he was handling being on his own quite well. And he promised to prioritize himself first, before anything else. He looked the part to a great degree, but it didn’t make him keep a smile on his features. Pretending to be happy, when a piece was missing from his heart. Takuto sighed. He entered the grocery store. He was swift to pick up a few packets of ramen, a couple of bottles of juices, and a pack of cigarettes. The cashier, thankfully, was equally quick to scan and accept his money. Before long, he was on the walk home in less than an hour. The walk was vague and indistinct in his memories. Takuto realized he was home when his back leaned against his closed door. A heavy sigh released itself from his throat. For a second, he was surrounded by couples and the warm hues of red and pink. And the next, he was home, embraced by the cold dim colors of his apartment. He was alone. He didn’t mind it, he adored it actually, but he hated the fact that loneliness loomed and attached itself to him. A part of him craved to be alone with someone he loved. But he knew he could never satisfy it. He had already sacrificed so much, and yet, here he was; alone and conflicted. Suddenly, the rest of his day was thick with sorrow. Takuto set the bag of groceries on his kitchen counter, shoving a hand to tug out the pack of cigarettes. He went up to his room, and pushed the window on the left of his bed open. The sunlight rushed into his bedroom, coating it with a bright yellow glow. It was enough that he didn’t need to flick his light switch. The bed shifted as he climbed on it, and the mattress dipped. His hand rested on his chest, warm and comfortable whilst he gave steady breaths. He sat on his bed, knees curled close to his chest as he now pulled out a lighter from his drawer. With his other hand, he opened the box and grabbed a cigarette. One end was immediately between his lips, and the lighter made the other end glow a soft orange. A few minutes passed, filled with draws and exhales. Takuto flicked cigarette embers into the wind outside his window. A silent hope rumbled within him, the wish that the embers would somehow find his significant other. However, the wind wasn’t strong enough. The embers melted onto the side of his apartment. And after a few moments in desperate anticipation of the feeling of sorrow to wash away. Takuto once more learned how his feelings alone could make his skin burn and his insides ache. Yet despite wallowing in the remnants of his love, Takuto willingly admitted that the day hasn't gone how he pictured it would. It was a welcome change from staying in bed, from doing nothing and staring at the view outside his window. Sure, it wasn’t healthy, but he found it a good way to make the day move faster. Takuto glanced at his phone, which he found laying screen up on his stand beside him. It was still the fourteenth. He knew without needing to check. But the silent beckoning of the device for him to open it, to scroll through his pictures, forced him to flip it screen down. He took a long draw from his cigarette, the nicotine flowing down his body. He felt the habitual tingling rush to my fingertips, mixing with the cold breeze. It was unwise to smoke on his bed. He could still see some spots on his sheets where they were burned by cigarette burns. It was a habit he attempted to break on multiple occasions, but old habits take a while to be torn apart. He could stay here forever. Alone, and comfortable with only himself. Takuto could feel his chest moving with each inhale, each exhale of smoke. The cigarette would be thrown out his window before nightfall, and the box would be gone before the summer arrived. He could stay here forever.
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Consistency: 08/21/2022
In Discord Challenges
wild_selenite_caffeine
Aug 22, 2022
after work Word Count: 1k Summary: And they would rather share one lifetime with each other, than face all the ages of this world alone. It was going to be a chilly evening, Zenkichi thought. The wind blew over him, and the slight drizzle coated his skin. He was tempted to go back inside the station to wait for it to cease, so he could take his car and head home. But, he decided against it. He only had to wait a little bit more. He folded his arms around himself, and leaned against the doorway behind him. A set of footsteps approached from behind him. Soft clicks on the white tiles made him smile to himself, sending a wave of familiarity over him. A few memories of past conversations brushed his mind. How it always effortlessly made him look forward to the end of the days he worked, letting him wait in anticipation for the next encounter. He turned to his side, and his gray eyes met tender hazel irises. Takuto’s eyes looked darker with his hair casting a shadow over them. It only made Zenkichi more curious as to what was on the other man’s mind. “Hey, Maru.” Takuto nodded, his quiet but familiar greeting letting him know it had been a long day for him. His mind soared with things he wanted to say, stories he wanted to share, but he couldn’t muster the energy to utter a word. His hands were in the pockets of his brown jacket. He briefly glanced at the parking lot in front of them, before turning back to Zenkichi. Zenkichi didn’t need to guess what he was going to say. “Are you okay, Zen?” ‘He cared. Even when he’s more tired than I am, he checks on me first before himself.’ Zenkichi glanced to the sky, the warmth of the other man’s question washed over him. Then back at Takuto. “I’m alright. Nothing much has changed since the summer, same old paperwork and little cases outdoors.” Lies. A lot has changed between. Too much that there isn’t enough time to say them all, and share the stories behind each detail. In the back of his mind, memories unwind into gruesome images. Brief moments in his life where regret coated every decision and word he said. He was ignorant then, drowning in grief. It hindered him, and remained heavy on his heart until the summer a few months ago. Until he met Takuto, who helped him heal. Takuto looked at him with a tilt of his head. His hazel eyes in a gaze so piercing that it made Zenkichi’s confident front crumble. It made him conscious of how close they were standing, and how long he was looking. Even if Takuto was in Zenkichi’s presence in a heartbeat, he would remember the other man’s bright hazel irises for a lifetime. They were quiet for a moment; the familiar and comfortable silence embracing them. Although they never needed a lot of words in their conversations, there were still times when they could use them to rid the silence. Yet, the moment between them was nothing short of tender. Standing next to each other in front of the station, waiting for the rain to cease enough to walk through it. It was quiet enough to catch a glimpse of a blue butterfly flapping its wings amidst the rain. It fluttered right by before fading into the mist. Its departure only made the rain seem louder. Overwhelming, almost. Zenkichi couldn’t help but wonder what was on Takuto’s mind. Loving the other man had become the best thing to emerge from the summer, aside from receiving Akane’s forgiveness after years of hatred. Nothing could compare to either of them. “What have you been up to, Maru?” Zenkichi asked, breaking the silence. “Making some profiles for some of your other cases, thinking about what to paint when we get home, wondering what’s in the fridge to cook for dinner, hoping it's cold enough for a nice hot shower and comforting sleep…” Takuto’s voice trailed off in a quiet ramble, listing out each thought that crossed his mind. It brought Zenkichi back to the days when they first started talking. When time allowed them to frequently meet in the quiet parts of the city. When they first started to create memories they could treasure and look back on with joy. “I can’t wait to sleep with you later.” Zenkichi chuckled, “The weather is making me crave something warm.” “After you have your dinner, you know that. I’m not letting you sleep on an empty stomach.” The rain stilled, leaving a damp pavement. Both of them walked to Zenkichi’s car, but Zenkichi paused when he noticed Takuto’s footsteps dragging longer with each step. As if he wanted to prolong the moment as much as he could. With their hectic lives, Takuto lived for the small, soft moments. Moments he could cherish close to his heart during the long days at work, ones where he and Zenkichi didn’t have time to breathe, let alone spend time together. Moments he could think of when they were apart, when they were tugged away to tend to separate demands. Moments that would last a lifetime. Zenkichi stopped walking and turned towards Takuto, a few feet away from his car. He placed a hand on Takuto’s cheek, using his thumb to wipe away the dampness. They stood still in the middle of the parking lot. Silently hoping the moment would last forever. They could get lost in each other’s souls, like they could swim within the other’s gaze endlessly. Frozen in time, together. Mere silence between them and the patter of rain their company. Yet, the beauty laid in its brief existence. And despite it, they have two days together once they arrive home. Forty-eight hours into which to cram a lifetime of happiness. No longer. And they would rather share one lifetime with each other, than face all the ages of this world alone. “Hey,” Zenkichi murmured, whilst Takuto leaned into his touch. It effortlessly took his breath away. He held his breath before continuing. “Let’s go home, Maru.” Takuto gave a tired nod, a small smile forming on his features.
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Consistency: 08/20/2022
In Discord Challenges
wild_selenite_caffeine
Aug 21, 2022
on the way to school Word Count: 710 Summary: Walking to school wasn't always this heavy on his heart, so loud in his mind. Akira couldn't do anything about it though. Autumn swept the city. The leaves descended in sways, dancing in the air before resting on the damp pavements. Akira found the sight to be dreadful, but it did little to make him stop to question it. Time flowed with each step he took, walking towards the school without pause. He was used to it, so comfortable that it made his stomach churn. He feared what each leaf would bring. Though a part of him knew it wouldn’t matter if he reminded himself. He was there before. And he would be there again. It repeated until he withered, until fate found another toy. Every caress from the wind against his skin was a mockery to his past. The leaves were a wounding blade against him. And some beats of his heart added to the mountain of lies he used to reassure himself. ‘I’ll be alright. I won’t have nightmares anymore. I will forget that November day.’ He sighed to himself, into the rapid pulse of his neck. However, he knew he wasn’t supposed to be too accepting, too welcoming with the circumstances. His own hands led him down the path. Led him to lying over a bloody table, eyes wide and empty. As the seconds passed by, Akira felt other students’ staring eyes. He glanced behind him to see a female student with wavy platinum blonde hair in pigtails, and a male student with spiky dyed blond hair. Both of them stared right through him, almost passing him as they walked. The conversation between them did little to allow him to join them. He didn’t wonder why for long. At some point, he noticed they didn’t show an ounce of concern. Not even a second glance as the November days went by. Akira knew, even if it wasn’t worth knowing anymore, his heart was slowing. Its final beats ticked with time, and to someone other than him, his end would be sublime. He lived his life, as the scarlet leaves tumbled down around him. His shadow watched on even when he paused before his school and looked up. Paranoia gnawed his mind and soul through every night he stayed awake. But it was quick to be silenced with coffee and a kind smile. He was aware of his fate beyond his sight. It was cruel, but necessary. A fact he wished didn’t have as such. He wished he could protest it more. But every day nearing the twentieth, his throat tightened and the words turned to dust. His breathing was labored. A voice in the back of his mind reassured him that it would all work out. When would it happen, he wanted to ask. However, the voice in his head stilled as he entered his classroom. The hues of the sky beyond the window to his left mesmerized him. Bright blue and fluffy white. Streaks of clouds through the sky gave comfort from the distance. Reflecting the gently warm hues of the autumn leaves. “I can do it,” was all he managed to whisper towards the falling leaves. He stayed staring at the window, listening to his heartbeat and watching the sun highlight the roofs surrounding the school. The day progressed with not much change. The lectures were faint in his ears, and the colors of the classroom blurred in his gaze. In days, he wouldn’t be going outside. Never would he see the light of the remaining November days, only seeing glimpses of it from his bedroom window. A part of him suddenly understood, and let the hours go by. He would go through with what was planned. He would let himself be captured, interrogated, and disposed of, with no pain to show. And above him, some god would watch him die with a smile, mocking and victorious. But in its dark eyes, they wouldn’t spare him a tear. It knew he agreed to the plan before, always absolute and nevermore. Gentle soothing of the last breath, into deep quiet, his last thought echoed in his head. ‘I deserve to be happy, I deserve to be selfish.’ At long last, the room stilled to silence. Akira had a meeting within the shadows of his bedroom. He stood up from his seat, and made no noise as he left.
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Consistency: 08/19/2022
In Discord Challenges
wild_selenite_caffeine
Aug 20, 2022
desperate what-ifs Word Count: 1.3k Summary: Akira has a nightmare days before the twentieth of November. Warnings: Brief descriptions of injuries, mild blood. (These are spoilered for safety.) AN: Not properly beta'd, so feedback on this one is appreciated and loved <3 Happy reading! Akira couldn't move. His arms bound behind the chair, his wrists connected by cuffs and a thin chain, and his legs sore and tired from sitting for a long time, yet held attached to the chair's legs by reinforced leather straps at his ankles. The end of a gun kept his head in place, a warning for him not to move. He could struggle, but each movement meant nothing for his escape. It was planned, and everything was crafted to be convincing. But he knew none of it prepared him for the dread, for the bubbling fear of death. He spent weeks tailoring his cover, months accepting that he would do it over and over until the plan succeeded. Yet his freedom was always right there. Almost within his reach. He could escape the interrogation room. He could leave the cognitive world. He could prolong waking up on the twentieth enough to gain back his acceptance, or his ignorance; He didn't care which, as long as it was something he could have to get through the damned day. He took a moment to blink. He opened his eyes, expecting to see the open door leading into the hallway. But the door was closed, the knob clean and pristine. He reached up to touch his forehead, bare, bruised hands sliding over his skin, and his fingers met the center. He expected mere skin with a thin coating of sweat. Mere flesh without a hair out of place. He expected nothing. However, he was met with a gaping hole. Blood spurted from the open, still bleeding wound. The flesh wrapped around his finger. The crimson coated his skin and dripped down his chin. As he watched the red drops fall and disappear into the growing puddle on the desk, he couldn’t help but wonder whose blood it was. Beyond the haze of excruciating pain, he could hear himself laughing with a twitch of a manic smile. Maybe it was emotionless exhales, the calm rise and fall of his chest letting out empty air, the more he tried to recall. The fading nightmare brought Akira back into wakefulness restless, startling him from his sleep. All he could hear in the lingering darkness was the sound of his beating heart. His blanket was askew around him, and the chilly air clutched to every bare patch of skin. He had that nightmare before, one of many centered in the wretched room, but it was that kind that woke him most often. Something about the sequence made his stomach churn, and forced bile to pool in his throat. His head surged with anger, disappointment over his friends during the faint times of his past when the plan did go awry. Yet his heart couldn't bring itself to show it. It was like that some nights. A battle between reaching acceptance, and fueling his anger. The early morning sunlight seeped around the blinds in his bedroom, gently shaking him further awake. Morgana hadn't stirred, still in deep slumber and savoring it with every ounce of his feline life, so it wasn't him either. There was nothing outside disturbing the morning stillness, only occasional bird calls. The neighbors all still slept. And the cafe was ever so quiet. Akira sighed, falling and laying back on his bed. His body gave a small bounce, and the softness eased the tension in his muscles. He laid awake, staring at the attempt to make something interesting out of the ceiling. Alone, despite the rise and fall of Morgana's curled body nearby, the teen's breaths was the only sound in the cafe attic, his bedroom. Akira stared at the shadows above him, wondering what time it was now. Part of him was certain it neared the time he usually woke up—he swore he’d felt each and every interminable minute pass by—but he didn't want to look at the clock and check yet. The clock would lie to him. Or what he liked to believe, at least. Maybe, it would tell him time had ceased altogether, and he was living in the brief pause between seconds since he woke up. He continued to stare, thinking how nice the sunrise would be once it peered through the cafe windows. Good sleep wasn't something he had for weeks, as the days counted down for the twentieth. Even lying in bed brought only much comfort, but he supposed it was pleasant compared to trying to fall asleep. Only to return to his nightmare. He wanted to close his eyes to the ceiling above him. However, closing his eyes would make the images of his nightmare return, making his vision so much worse. He hasn't spat defiance towards fate this time around, not yet at least. He lifted his phone above him, eyes squinting as they braced for the light of his device. Briefly, he saw his reflection, and noticed the dark bags underneath his eyes. His irises, old and tired obsidian hues, shrouded in the shadows cast by his hair. They were also slightly distant, detached from the reality around him. He released a heavy sigh, as the loneliness tore at him. He furrowed his brow and shook his head, silencing the disjointed and indistinct thoughts he had. He felt sick with himself. It was selfish seeking out a year that he could be happy in. But at this point, he was getting desperate. He wanted to be selfish, he wanted to have his own path he can be proud of. A path where he didn't destroy himself for the sake of others. Memories were a fickle thing, especially the ones he was ignorant; happy and unknowing of fate's bigger plans for him. One small incident, a simple reset in time, and they all disappeared. Remembering them came harder with each day, and made him crave nonexistence more. His phone brightened up. It was a quarter before six in the morning, the numbers bright and cheerful, yet all the more mocking. Below it was the seconds ticking away before his alarm would ring. It was cruel when it eventually ticked down, releasing a series of rings that tore Akira away from the remnants of his drowsiness, and into the harsh reality of his surroundings. Akira fought the urge to fling his phone into the cement wall across of him. Only imagining what it would look like if it had shattered, echoes of a dream he longed to have and constantly ripped away from him. There was a part of him that was terrified. Though he would never find someone he could confess it to. That underneath his stoic, blank features, there was no hero chosen to punish gods, no Wildcard picked to keep fate in line; He was merely a teen trying to find his way in life. A single soul human who was navigating his mind to find himself among the many identities he wanted to be. One that time after time being reset, didn't change him beyond all recognition. Do I remember who I even am? His own silent question hung in tendrils. It tugged apart his mind. Reminding of the perils that threatened him even now, in the safe canopy of the bed. He closed his eyes. "My name is Akira Kurusu. I am seventeen. I am a student at Shujin Academy..." He whispered to himself the answer, his lips and mouth dry. He had to remind himself, a part of a forming routine when the nightmares worsened or the past decided to push his failures to the forefront of his mind. He shut off his phone, silencing his alarm. He gave a soft groan and returned it with a soft clacking noise on the wooden stand. It wouldn't hurt to stay in bed for a few more minutes. Akira pulled the covers over him, and turned towards his window. He could barely see the sun peaking between the houses surrounding the cafe, whilst he stared in the muted blue ether. It was as though it stared back, and the hairs on the back of his neck prickled. Maybe he liked the feeling he got from destroying himself. Maybe it felt good. Maybe one day it would let him get the happiness he was desperate for.
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Consistency: 08/18/2022
In Discord Challenges
wild_selenite_caffeine
Aug 19, 2022
mornings with you Word Count: 1k Summary: Takuto didn’t look forward to the mornings often. Yet there were some that made his heart soar. After the moon had gone beyond the starless night, a part of Takuto missed the dark skies during his sleep throughout the winter. In the first light of spring, he watched the sun rise with frosty eyelids. He still felt the cold rain in his mind, whilst the bright yellow star traced lines on his face. It left him with a breathless kiss, stunningly that morning. It pushed through the gaps between his curtains, and filled the room in daylight. Takuto let the warmth embrace him as he sat up on his bed. His eyes adjusted to the brightness, his body feeling as if everything was still a calm daydream. As if he was coming back after slipping away in slumber for hours, and exploring his dreams with the distant buzz of rain beating on the roof above him. The cold air wavered over him, a blanket all so tranquil and surreal. His eyes trailed to the window to his right. The sky was a grayish blue, and the trees swayed gently in the lingering rainfall. The streetlights were dim, bleeding into the trees. He thought the sunrise could capture hope in mason jars— as well as moonlight, stardust, and undimmed truths. He glanced towards the clock on the stand closest to the bed. The digital numbers informed him it was almost six; Zenkichi was already awake by then, and Akane wouldn't be up for another hour. He squinted, wondering why his body allowed him to wake at that time. He had no work ahead, and he didn't have plans to be committed to. A quiet hum of reluctance left his lips. It was better to use his time on a hobby than sleep all day, and he knew if he didn't he would stay up berating himself. And until now, waking up was often coupled with an element of uncertainty. Takuto had expected a desperate rush of panic within a moment of opening his eyes. The instant wave of reminders of what he failed to do the day before, and the insistent thoughts of the many things he could do today, added to the morning greeting. Which was then followed by a wave of anxiety, sweeping him with adrenaline before his first smoke, or a hot shower. Either of them wiped the slate clean, and adjusted his attitude for the hours to come. Today though, there was a welcome silence. It felt a little bit less lonelier than usual. Takuto opened the bedroom door, and left the room to head downstairs. He was met with a new aroma engulfing the house. The smell of fresh coffee, and the mix of spices and sweetness filled the air. He sighed, recognizing the latter as curry. He went to the dining room, and stumbled into the connected kitchen. In the weeks since he moved into the Hasegawa household, Takuto was often met with aromatic weekend mornings. As well as either medicine or a half-filled box of cigarettes on the dining table. Though, there was neither for that morning. He only assumed it was for the better. He started to brew coffee when he heard the stove being turned off to his left. His eyes glanced to the side, and met another pair of eyes meeting his own. Takuto was met with the gentle touch of a hand on his left cheek. Then a kiss, passionate yet tender, before an eager arm gently tugged him into a warm embrace. It brought reassurance that the morning wasn’t an one-off, a mistake; that it wasn’t merely a dream. That morning, waking up was like coming home. Soft hums and murmurs, Zenkichi’s gentle singing filled the silence in the kitchen. His heartbeat grasped Takuto’s attention in quiet, peaceful beats. “I fixed you some breakfast.” Zenkichi said, “I know it's just some curry and rice, but those are the only things I’m sure I won’t burn.” He pushed a bowl towards Takuto, giving a chuckle. “Thank you, Zen,” Takuto murmured as he rubbed his eyes. He poured himself his cup of coffee with a small yawn, then added some milk and sugar. “...What time did I fall asleep, if you managed to catch it?” Zenkichi helped Takuto settle on the dining table, bringing his bowl as well as his own. As Takuto sat on one of the seats, Zenkichi reached for his coffee then sat across from the other man. Zenkichi answered with another chuckle. “About close to three, if my memory serves me right. You were pretty exhausted after finishing your last painting. Hell, you even collapsed and fell asleep the moment you were laid on the bed. DIdn’t even give me a chance to ask about the painting session.” A sheepish smile emerged on Takuto’s features. “Apologies.” “Nothing to worry about, Maru. You can just tell me after eating.” The curry smelled delicious, looked exquisite, and Takuto didn't hesitate to pick up his spoon. Alongside the fluffy rice, the spoonful was wonderful on his tongue. The flavors reminded him of his Tokyo home, and his regular visits to Cafe Leblanc. The very small shop in the middle of Shibuya where they first caught each other's names from the teen they accepted as family. And after half an hour, the empty dishes were brought into the sink. Porcelain gently clattering against the steel. Ignored for a moment as they briefly met gazes again. "I hope we can do this more often," Takuto whispered, a silent hope to fate. He would love Zenkichi until the mornings would run out. Then he would love him in the dark. Without pause, without a doubt, in a heartbeat. He continued, the light discretion in his words. “Sitting together... Eating together...” Being together. “Just the two of us.” Alone as we could be. Zenkichi smiled, “I hope so too.” He grasped Takuto's hand, and brought themselves to the couch. He was the first to sit, and pulled Takuto to his side. Takuto curled himself, letting Zenkichi play with his hair. Whilst he traced shapes on Zenkichi’s thigh. A wave of drowsiness hit them, but neither of them succumbed to it. Although they appreciated fate for the opportunity for more sleep, they decided to stay awake and savor the silence between them. Takuto’s heart swelled. Sometimes daylight brought him solace. He wouldn’t trade the morning for another dream.
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Consistency: 08/17/2022
In Discord Challenges
wild_selenite_caffeine
Aug 18, 2022
falling asleep Word Count: 390 Summary: Soft pitter patters, the rain grew sadder on his window. Each heartbeat brought him deeper into the evening in quiet, peaceful beats. AN: Sorry for the short work, didn't have many ideas for this one, so here's a small in between after the events of a new chapter (Day 6) and a moonless night (Day 1). Happy reading! “Can you promise me that we’ll talk, once you’re out?” “I promise we’ll talk again.” It had been hard to admit it to the teen at first. If he was being honest with himself, he deserved rest, love, and more. He was a good man and all, but he wasn’t stable. He was self-destructive, and something in him still reminded him of it. That in another time, another world where the teen did accept his deal, he would have abandoned everything. He would have disappeared. He had tried so hard to move on, even seeking out hobbies and activities that brought happiness to him. He had been sure he wouldn’t involve himself with any cognition-related matters anymore, even if it would leave the entire concept and world unchecked. And he vowed to take care of himself, and he was alright being alone, and he was doing well with the loneliness in his apartment. And until now, falling asleep often felt like a heavy black curtain being pulled down. It has been a headlong plunge into darkness and oblivion, with echoes of speculation if he would wake up. Sometimes hastened by substances he was better off without, while others worn out by his thoughts. It has been losing consciousness, still wearing old bandages on his unkempt bed. It has been crashing at odd hours throughout the day, or passing out in the early hours. Tonight, falling asleep was like drifting into a warm, safe space, into a pool or onto sun drenched earth. It was the aroma of fresh linen, and the pleasant scent of soap in his hair and body. It was feeling relaxed, after what felt like long hours of sweat, and fighting off the roars in his head. It was being underneath the warmth of his blanket, soothed and protected. That evening, falling asleep was like falling in love with himself again. Soft pitter patters, the rain grew sadder on his window. Each heartbeat brought him deeper into the evening in quiet, peaceful beats. As the night passed him by in silent ticks on his clock, memories and words he said occupied in his mind. It weaved him closer to a beautiful sunrise. When he would inevitably wake, and seek out his own smile. The thought brought a smile to his face, and slowly lulled him to sleep.
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4
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Consistency: 08/16/2022
In Discord Challenges
wild_selenite_caffeine
Aug 17, 2022
Even Wounds Need Air Word Count: 355 (of 1k) Summary: There was only a split second where the pain didn’t exist. Everything before and after was filled with pained breathing. AN: This is an excerpt of the full work, which can be read here! The full work involves descriptions of injuries and past experiences, descriptions of chronic pain, implied drug use, and an officer experiencing the effects of his injuries; as well as other sensitive subject matter, so please be warned! Enjoy this excerpt from the complete story. The pain in Zenkichi’s chest, the darkness creeping at the corner of his eyes, and the pressing anxiety of collapsing snowballed to the front of his mind. He knew he would only end up working himself into unconsciousness, or a panic attack; worsening the pain when he attempted to recollect his breaths. Yet as the expedition dragged on, Zenkichi insisted on moving. Despite the constant offers to leave and take a breather. He couldn’t afford to show his weakness, not in front of the teens who needed him to keep their hearts straight. It pained him to trek through the large cognitive reflection of the city, but he could live in the aches and pounds on his body. It was miles better than slowly dying in a haze, fueled by substances that caused his state in the first place. However, it was exhausting. At times, it was nice to think about his other options. If he did decide to leave the cognitive world and return to reality. He would be able to drug away the pain, even for a short time. Although he knew the returning pain would be immense, suffocating him almost instantly, the fear didn’t stop him from entertaining the thoughts. The appeal of dulling the pain for an hour or two with a few bottles. Zenkichi shook his head. He would find himself in that dangerous, unhealthy position sometime. Just not the present. He slipped a finger between his collar and his neck, carefully taking in another breath. The brief second of air entering his lungs allowed him to savor the moment of nothingness. It was relieving, heavenly to him. He didn’t hurt. It gave his body hope that he’ll recover well enough to accomplish what he needed to. To be there for the teens to the end of their case together. He silently wished he could live there again, and not suffer beneath the weight of his body. Zenkichi always felt somewhat heavy, somewhat broken, and somewhat sore. He held his breath to keep it, but it backfired. It was followed by forced breaths, short and frantic, which only hurt more.
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3
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Consistency: 08/15/2022
In Discord Challenges
wild_selenite_caffeine
Aug 16, 2022
reminders and memories Word Count: 1.5k Summary: Takuto and Zenkichi always told a different story as to how they met, and how their relationship developed. One of them was accompanied by the seasons. There were many stories as to how they met, and the true version was fragmented amongst the many they told. Only a few facts remained consistent in those many versions, but the whole story was still known only to them. There was one variation they fondly remember, taking inspiration from the seasons that accompanied their relationship. Takuto met Zenkichi in the summer in Sendai, in an unexpected crossing of paths. They only knew each other by name when they encountered each other, thanks to their mutual friends in a group of teenagers, but they managed to hit it off surprisingly well. They were quick to keep their continued encounters a secret, as they would visit each other in the evenings and leave when the other had to end their day. The summer flew by without any worry, and they managed to explore most of the country's cities. They would sneak away from the eyes of society, and continue to grow their love for each other. They witnessed the cherry blossoms bloom again that year, despite all the damage they carried in their hearts. Yet, there came the time when their secret lives were revealed. But despite their shared mixed feelings and emotions—confusion, worry, concern, fear, fascination—they had loved and accepted each other without hesitation. They shared fond smiles, and announced their love as the world around them succumbed to another inevitable distortion. They promised each other to meet, and sought each other's safety, before the summer ended. And within hours, they were in each other's arms again, finding relief as the colors in the sky turned pink and yellow. Eventually, the days passed and the warm air slowly kissed their skins. The leaves turned brown, and fell from the trees. They maintained contact since returning to their normal lives, as the brief taste of the cognitive world left imprints on their souls. Days passed, and they found themselves underneath the same roof in the Hasegawa household. The skies turned melancholic, as slowly memories of sorrow took over their minds. They tried to hold onto their lingering joy, but as they held the fallen leaves, the blurry memories of them and their past lovers, it crumbled in their touch. It was slowly disappearing the more they held on. They turned their silences and nights into words. What was unutterable, they traced down on each other’s skin. The memories made the whirling world stand still. Despite their hardships though, their love, both past and present, persevered in the winter. And now, they found themselves in Osaka on a weekend. Exploring the city, and having a taste of the city's ramen in a small shop. The meal was brief, but savored. And outside, the afternoon sky was painted blue and sharpened by the puffs of clouds passing by. The cold wind hit Zenkichi's face, but the sun was warm on his skin. Osaka was nothing but noise that afternoon, which did little to ease the aching in his head. He sighed, pinning the cigarette between his teeth. Many tasks ran rampant through his head; he had to participate in a few meetings, he still had some phone calls to make, he had to update Kaburagi with where the investigation was headed... Zenkichi leaned his head against the wall behind him. His free hand weaved through his hair, unraveling his long black hair from knots. The hand lowered and Zenkichi tugged his coat closer to his body, shivering a little. He wasn't quite ready to attend to his growing list of tasks yet. A part of him guessed Kaburagi would understand if he was late; He already did a few major cases that year, and she insisted many times for him to get some rest. Though usually, he would refuse and persisted with working. The ramen shop door beside him slid open, and Zenkichi felt a hand wrap itself around his own. He glanced down, and his gray eyes met Takuto's hazel irises. A smile crept up on his features. His lips moved the cigarette he had, as if offering the other man if he wanted to take a moment to smoke. Takuto shook his head, and moved to Zenkichi's other side. He pressed his back against the wall, and gazed upwards. Quietly listening to the birds singing their songs, and watching where flowers peaked between the leaves of trees, bringing color back into the city. Before Zenkichi could light his cigarette, he found himself staring at Takuto for a moment. It was only then he noticed how Takuto looked, how he became the brightest he had been in the nearing spring. The former counselor, now his partner in the force, blossomed with the flowers that returned to the front of florist shops. The arrival of spring held his face in its hands. It made him feel warm, and soft, like a home he never knew. Zenkichi adored watching him as he took in the sights of Osaka, reveling in the new scenery. A small part of him missed the excitement of Aoi, who found the late winter and early spring as her heaven in time, but that part seemed to shrink with each passing day. All of Aoi couldn't measure up to the sight of Takuto beside him, glowing with happiness. Zenkichi tensed, the cigarette's light dimming as he sucked in a deep breath. The rush of nicotine was brief, as sorrow replaced its path. Winter was harsh on him on some days. The snow pounded on the sides of his head in storms, and the rain adorned his window as the sky cried in the loss of color. But, he found them beautiful, fascinated by the gray melancholy. Memories of the many nights he sobbed in the winter returned to him in fragments, each one stronger than the last. There was something in the cold that made him recall the night he got the news of his late lover’s passing, and it came from the very lips of his daughter who witnessed it. He held Akane through those long nights, whispering empty words in her ear to comfort themselves. Everything he once loved about the winter reminded him of all the things that he lost. He just couldn't bear the cold anymore. But, it was all over now. Her killer was rotting in a jail cell, and he was living with Akane as happily as he could be. And... Takuto in the spring was beautiful. Although the shadows of his past never quite left his face, the carefree and relaxed pleasure in living his life to the fullest returned to him. Sometimes, Zenkichi expected the other man to tell him to do the same. Grasping his hand and leading him to anywhere he wanted, doing anything they so desired without worry or fear. They would never reclaim those days with their past lovers, or the innocence they had of the world around them, but they could come close enough. The rest of the month instilled hope and optimism, as far as Zenkichi knew. He felt it, however slightly it was; The feeling that things were where they had to be, that things would work out in the end. It dusked bright and cold, with the faint promise of a warm evening. Zenkichi put out the cigarette, and tossed the bud into the box before returning it in his pocket. He grasped Takuto's hand, and guided him as they wandered the Osaka streets. Enjoying the outdoors, the remnants of the sun, the cool air. A fresh breeze blew through their coats, as the sun coated its warmth on their cheeks. They felt at peace, hopeful. However, Takuto was slightly hesitant whilst he held his breath, walking beside Zenkichi. His pace was a little behind the other man. Zenkichi stopped and glanced at him, pulling themselves to the side. He followed, and his hazel eyes caught Zenkichi's gaze. He wasn't sure what made Zenkichi stop, or what he saw the brief moment their gazes met. Was it the indistinct and quietly present feeling, that his future doesn't look so bright in his irises? Or was the other man concerned if he could handle being around other people, after months of being cooped up in the house? Takuto's head ran rampant with thoughts. The other man's voice brought him back to his senses. "Is there something worrying you, Maru?" Zenkichi murmured to him. "You're alright here, you know." Takuto's heart briefly stopped, missing a beat or two. His legs trembled, and he leaned his head against Zenkichi's chest. He felt warm as if it was the summer, assured that he wasn't alone. A hand ran through his hair. "...I'm okay, Zen, just had something on my mind for a moment there." Takuto tilted his head upwards, and caught Zenkichi's lips in a light kiss. He let the other man's fingers trail down from his hair and lightly on his face. He knew it was a fleeting moment, when two beings overcome with grief and loneliness found comfort in each other. They stayed a long time in an embrace and watched the sun decline, letting its last rays fall upon the city.
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5
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Consistency: 08/14/2022
In Discord Challenges
wild_selenite_caffeine
Aug 15, 2022
back on the train Word Count: 1k Summary: Akira Kurusu decided to go through it all again. Was it his impulse? Was it his recklessness? Or was it because he was curious? Akira knew there wasn’t an answer in the world that explained why he made the oath. But it didn’t stop him from being angry at himself. Warnings: Brief descriptions of death, implied death loop, implied timeline manipulation AN: This story is connected to to start again, with past scars. While that entry/story is focused on Takuto, this story is focused on Akira! Maybe I'll make a Zenkichi version, if the prompt allows that idea to flourish. Happy reading <33 Maybe when the time was right, he would be able to find peace for everyone. Especially for himself. The Tokyo train emerged from a tunnel. Light beamed from the morning sun and shined onto the groups of passengers. The entire car was quiet, with only chatter between students and mutters of businessmen preventing it from becoming silent. The many city buildings flew across the transparent panes. Although the panes were fogged up because of the cold evening before, Akira could spot structures he was familiar with. Many faded from their colors over the years, yet they still adorned the view from the train. Akira’s body tensed. He was groggily still from his two hours slumber from his town to the city, but a wave of familiarity washed over him. Sorrow was quick to plague his mind once more, and the previous year events fatigued him. He gasped to himself. ‘A-Again… I have to correct my mistakes… I have to fight back until the very end.’ However, as quick as those thoughts came, they vanished and left him confused. His obsidian eyes lowered and assessed his surroundings, wondering where he was at the moment. His breath became sealed by the ghosts he couldn’t quite recall. Everything around him was different again. All too familiar, all too routine to him. But reeked of unusual circumstances. At that moment, Akira didn’t bother to glance at his watch. He was going to get to his destination on time; He was certain because he had done it before. But the certainty was warded off as his head was driven into a wave of aches and pain. He tried clinging to that hope in him, that he’ll get an outcome where he also has happiness and peace, despite contemplating many times before if giving up was the better option. He knew what would happen if he even took a step off his destined path. If he tugged too hard at fate’s strings— Akira discovered the first thing that he always saw was his Tokyo train emerging from a tunnel. He would always wake up because of the damn sunlight beaming into the car he was in. He wished he could have a car to himself, with only silence as his company. He wondered if the buildings aged the longer he repeated the routine. He shook his head and closed his eyes. His memories were fragmented, too disjointed that it was hard to recollect any of them. The struggle to remember previous years remained unchanged. Especially the first. He needed those memories more than anything else. It reminded him he had a choice. It reminded him of every choice that brought him indescribable joy, unmatched adrenaline, inimitable sorrow. It was the slightest bit of control he had. It was enough to keep him from stepping onto the train tracks. From bashing his head against the cement. From disappearing before he ever existed. The first was always different. The repeats could never compare. And despite wanting to detach himself from his repeats of fate’s trials, those shadows of his past mistakes remained present. They followed each step he took in another new year. Akira thought he left them all in the past once he succumbed to the darkness his choices stranded him in. But he was wrong. He didn’t count how many times he met those shadows, all he knew was that he lost. “What is he doing?” Quietly, voices returned to him. However he couldn’t place them on faces or names. “Dude— Akira, is that blood—” His body was weak and pale. His eyes were glossed, yet empty. Akira felt cold metal wrap themselves around his palms and beneath his chin. The voices were loud, unbearable and distinct all at once. Some were begging at him. Some were shouting at him. The ground pounded with heavy footsteps, as other teens rushed to stop him. “Please. Drop the—” A loud reverberated through dark walls, and then echoed in Akira’s mind. Like glass shattering and his reflection smashed into pieces. Darkness consumed him for a short moment, and collected the remnants of his consciousness. Then without a second thought, brought him back to the train. First came the blame to himself, all for things he couldn’t control. Then anger and frustration for all his choices that led him to his own demise. And maybe, there was the contemplation; he felt like even if things would get better in the next year, he would still never be happy. But he didn’t know, if he didn’t try. It blurred his understanding of time, but that was always inevitable. Akira slowly opened his eyes upon hearing the train announcement. Most people around him gathered at the doors whilst they opened, blind to the loop he was on. He followed suit in a sulk until he emerged in the middle of Shibuya. Akira pushed his glasses onto the bridge of his nose, raising his head in time to watch the cars take the intersection. A faint blue butterfly fluttered close by, and rested on a bouquet of yellow flowers left on a bench near the road. As if awaiting Akira’s path to cross with its own. He felt as if his legs were to give out at any second. He recalled he was seventeen, but no one could confirm if that was true anymore. His soul had long passed it, and was nothing more than exhausted at his predicament. Akira promised someone, he didn’t remember who, he would spend the rest of his days in happiness. He stopped a sarcastic chuckle from escaping him. He made the choice to repeat the year. But then again, it would be devastating if he kept breaking that promise a thousand times over. It was almost like an oath—a sacred promise between himself and a being he couldn’t see. He would show them his ugly writhing, if they showed him theirs. If they displaced their distorted perceptions of humanity, he would show them his own. It was their own unspoken promise. Replacing the one he had broken and ground to dust. Akira peered at the road leading to the Shibuya center with newfound determination, hoping the year before him would be the last time he had to challenge fate.
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3
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Consistency: 08/13/2022
In Discord Challenges
wild_selenite_caffeine
Aug 14, 2022
sleeping alone Word Count: 1k Summary: Akira didn’t sleep anymore. Some feelings stayed with him, even a year later. Akira didn’t sleep anymore. It wasn’t that he couldn’t, but rather, he wouldn’t. Takuto thought the bags underneath his eyes were leftover from the first few nights of adjusting back to a proper sleep schedule. And Akane thought he needed some time off from working cases with her father, Zenkichi. Neither of them realize they were wrong. They didn’t understand how Akira’s head raced with disjointed and fragmented thoughts. But they weren’t there in an interrogation room. They didn’t need to put in the effort to find out at the moment. Yet Zenkichi did. He knew Akira didn’t sleep on some nights, and he knew it wasn’t because of the nightmares of his past. Akira didn’t sleep because he couldn’t bring himself to close his eyes. Some drugs were still in his system, unable to be flushed out completely because of the high doses. It neared life threatening, always able to send fear coursing through him without pause. It still had its tendrils wrapped tight around Akira's heart, veins, and lungs. But more than that, it still had his mind in its clutches. Zenkichi knew that now, after being interrogated himself the previous summer. When Zenkichi found Akira sobbing silently outside of his Kyoto home, having only his phone between his fingers, he didn't have anything to say at all. Akira did all the talking. "It still hurts," he murmured. He was taking in heavy breaths, worn out from running from Tokyo all the way to Kyoto. It surprised him how he managed to do so, and he always found himself thanking his instincts for keeping him alive. He was seated at the couch, whilst Zenkichi brought him a glass of water. The older man took the other side of the couch, and let the teen vent out what he needed to. "I know it's been two years now, but I still feel the pressure on the side of my head. I want it all to go away… I just want to go to sleep in peace." Zenkichi didn't make any comments, or responded to anything. Instead, he let Akira lean on his shoulder, hugging the exhausted teen until he was calm. Zenkichi could barely move, but he didn't mind. It was a task only fit outside of the cognitive world, then again, it was neither task nor service. It was a father lending a teen his shoulder to cry on, and an ear to listen to. It was one of those nights. When it was hard because Akira merely wanted to fade away. Fade away into nothing, leave it all behind, instead of holding onto Zenkichi's chest like it was the only anchor while he cried his heart out in a quiet house. He could only hope that all the crying he was doing would exhaust him enough that he could actually get some sleep, maybe he would even fall asleep still in Zenkichi's embrace. Every night after that, for two weeks, Zenkichi helped Akira adjust to his normal routine, and his day-to-day activities. He attempted to ease the aches of that night, of his rehabilitation and his sadness, starting with a pot of tea. Turns out, Zenkichi had learned to brew something else than coffee in the months after the summer. Akira didn't usually drink it, but it filled the Hasegawa home with a lovely aroma that helped the teen to nod off on the couch. Or when he had school the next day, eased his nerves before Zenkichi drove him home. It was the simple routine that aided Akira to keep his sanity. It had to, because he was far from weak. He was the strongest teen Zenkichi knew, one that managed to punish gods, and challenge fate time and time again. And yet, beneath all the pain, pressure, and will of rebellion, was a young teen trying to make the best of his short time alive. Despite Zenkichi's insistence on lending the guest room, Akira stuck with using the couch. Although it wasn't as comfortable as a bed, it was miles better than a thin mattress on empty bottle crates. And the peace of mind that came with it was a godsend. The Kyoto atmosphere was a plus as well, a new environment he didn't mind getting used to. Because Akira didn't like sleeping. Not when he was alone. He would lay awake for hours—Zenkichi knew, since he caught Akira still awake whenever he came home from a late shift at work. He had also counted those hours whenever he was also unable to sleep. Akira's breathing was light and faded as though panicking, and relying on himself to bring ease. He twitched sometimes as well, cursing as he fought to control the involuntary muscle spasms. His body ached. It stung, and it hurt. However, he couldn't do anything because there was only emptiness. The feeling was describable, when he was able to connect his thoughts to coherent descriptions. It was as though his soul outgrew his skin, discarding it and throwing it away. Except, he was stuck in that husk. In the shell. With his insides buckling under the pressure. And it was okay, Akira told Zenkichi, because the pain of not feeling was better than the pain of feeling. If he couldn't feel, then he couldn't hear the judgement on him. He couldn't hear the comments of weakness, of inadequacy. The sensations of drugs and substances flowing in his system wouldn't be there. The taste of his own blood and sweat on his tongue wouldn't exist. If he couldn't feel, then she could pretend the night of the interrogation didn't hurt him. And yet, he refused to sleep. He forced himself to stay awake until his body gave out. It only happens on bad evenings, but those were all too common in the past two weeks. And the nightmares return to him as vivid as they were a year ago. They arrive in sporadic bursts, and manifest through shivering and crying. Neither Akira nor Zenkichi knew when it changed for the worse. It only happened. But on those nights, Akira would curl underneath the blanket Zenkichi gave him. Zenkichi kept an eye on him, until the teen stopped trembling and his tears had dried. Akira was going home tomorrow. He didn't like sleeping alone. But that's okay. He didn't have to.
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Consistency: 08/12/2022
In Discord Challenges
wild_selenite_caffeine
Aug 13, 2022
the soft morning hour Word Count: 1k Summary: It was Takuto and Zenkichi's day off. To some, a day off from work meant a nice day out. Taking a stroll in any of Japan's cities, or going out to eat. But to Takuto and Zenkichi, days off were rarer than blue moons. Those days meant staying in, basking in the morning sunlight curled next to each other. They cooked meals together in a cramped kitchen, arms around the middle of whoever was stirring the curry or washing the dishes. Both of them weren't the best of cooks, but they were open to trying out new recipes. As well as learning to lessen the damages to their home in doing so. Nonetheless, those days were more valuable than any treasure. They did their best to treat it as such, so they could look back on them and recall with fondness. And that morning was slowly becoming another of those scarce days. Takuto took the chance to start reading one of the books he has recently brought. He was seated at the right end of the couch in the living room. His legs were folded beside him, making him take up most of the couch. Zenkichi didn't mind though. He was seated at the other end, head resting against his hand. The television was off, and he didn't have a book of his own. Yet not a slick of boredom glossed his eyes. He stared at Takuto, his other hand rubbing one of his thighs. The other man was impossibly warm like always, and Zenkichi was careful to not disturb him. They were still tired and they wanted to spend the rest of their day there, where nothing could bother them. Where there was nothing to be stressed about. Zenkichi could see the iris clearly. His surroundings were indistinct, muted, to him. The sounds around him had fallen away ages ago. His world reduced to mere centimeters of space and time, nearing the realm of abstract thought. Unable to be comprehended the more he focused on Takuto. The other man's eyes seemed fabricated from textiles, from wool threads. The strands overlapped each other and created an intricate, organized mess. Especially against the warm light above them, and the rays of the sun slipping through the window to their far left. Like fate lines leading up to a single point, Zenkichi thought. The hazel hue of Takuto's eyes never failed to impress Zenkichi. He had always expected to see only tones of brown. But to see different tones of yellow and brown mesh so well together, it gave away the allusion of gold. Yet, as much as the idea made him smile, the iris was purely hazel. Purely mesmerizing in its simple tone. The iris fell away to the pupil, a black dot growing as it skimmed through the letters of Takuto's chosen book. Zenkichi didn't catch what the title was, nor what it was about. But with few words he could read Takuto silently say to himself, he guessed it was about an ex-convict in 19th-century France. Zenkichi could see the reflection of the window in Takuto's glasses, and some glimpses of it on his own. The sun gently flowed through the curtains, and framed the room. The rims of their glasses started to glow with the soft morning light. And slowly, even their clothing became rimmed with it. It was ethereal, the way their comfortable clothing took on the sunlight. The curtains moved loftily in front of the window, silent and graceful whilst Takuto turned another page. He felt a breeze caress his ankles. Cool enough for him to sift his legs tighter together, but warm enough to be able to suppress a shiver. Zenkichi carefully returned his hand on Takuto's thigh, and continued to watch the other man read his book. Takuto's eyes were something else. They were complex, with different hues and layers, and he could never quite seem to crawl out of their depths. He could never find the will to, either. They were a beauty Zenkichi had never believed he would be able to see again. An inescapable beauty he was content to lose himself in the remaining days he lived. Takuto's gaze flickered over Zenkichi's face. His hands closed the book for a moment. A smile emerged on his features. "Did something catch your eye?" Zenkichi supposed he had meant it to come out as teasing and self-assured. But he could only hear the softness in Takuto's voice, his breathlessness. "Nothing really," Zenkichi murmured with a quiet laugh, refusing to move away from Takuto's gaze. "Just trying to remember when's the last time we had a day off together." Takuto reached to grasp Zenkichi's hand on his thigh, and stroked the back of his palm. "It was…" Takuto pondered, head tilting gently to the side as he pondered. Then responded, "Three weeks ago, on a Sunday." His voice was ever so soft, so fond. "You're lovely." Zenkichi exhaled. Framed by the soft morning light, brown hair swept back and pale blue robes not even slightly rumpled, Takuto looked almost inhuman. Not keeping his compliments to himself was new, since he never found the right string of words to convey them. But he was willing to try again, for his and Takuto's sake. "Can't believe that after this, we won't be having another day off until weeks later." Zenkichi shared one more breath with Takuto before he rasped out, throat suddenly tight. "I couldn't help but miss you at work this week, could've used your help in making some profiles for some cases." "Sorry I couldn't be there this time around, I had some errands to run." Takuto chuckled, "Maybe next time, I'll have some time to look over cases with you again." Zenkichi sighed, eyes still unflinching from Takuto's. "I'm not sure though, cases have been pretty gruesome as of late. Something about bodies being found on telephone poles…" He trailed off. Takuto maneuvered himself to lay on Zenkichi's side. He intertwined his hand with Zenkichi's, and ran his fingertips on the back of his palm with the lightest caressing. "As long as I'm helping you make the world a little more safe, I'm alright with anything, Zen." Takuto raised his head, and Zenkichi's eyes finally left him to focus on his lips instead. With a soft kiss, shallow, long and full of meaning, Zenkichi was happy in leaving everything else he needed to say unspoken.
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