stumbled to his feet - now he saw how white Lain's
face was; how he bit his lip with the pain.
He had hurt him! "Lie back," he said, urgently. Lain's shoulder was nudging out from the skin - it must be set back at once. The boy rolled carefully on to his back, both shoulders against the mattress, and Reven bent his arm up at the elbow.
He held the elbow and wrist, as firmly as he dared. "You must let me rotate it back into the socket, OK?" he said, gruffly. "It's the quickest and easiest way to return the joint. Do you trust me?"
Kalain nodded; words were obviously beginning to pain him.
Using Lain's forearm as a lever, Reven began to rotate the upper arm back into its socket.
When Lain whimpered, he paused, but as soon as each muscle spasm subsided he continued, relentlessly. A final lift of the arm, and the shoulder was back in place.
"I'll get you some painkillers," he said. The boy was flushed with his efforts, and his face still tear-streaked. Reven wanted to reach out and touch him, but whatever Lain had said about forgiveness, he was afraid he'd be pushed away.
"I'm sorry," he said again. "For what I did to you - all of it. You say it's OK - it's happened before. But that's no excuse for me. I'll get you a drink, then I think we'd better get some things sorted out between us."
Lain remained on his back on the bed, and accepted the pills and drink that were offered to him, though he wasn't actually allowed to hold them himself. The pills were placed on his tongue and the cup was tilted to his lips by Reven, and he swallowed it all in one gulp before pushing the hands away.
"I'm not a child," he said softly. "And I'm not a toy that's been broken. Please..." He waited until Reven had put the glass down before taking hold of the man's wrist and pulling him close, so that their faces were inches apart. "Calm down. I'm not hurt that badly, and I'm not going anywhere unless you make me."
He hoped that the words he'd stressed would strike home with the man-- assure him somehow that Lain wasn't this Inoue person, not in the least. That he didn't have to worry so much.
The brunette lifted his head and kissed Reven once, softly, before drawing back and settling onto the blankets once more, a small smile resting on his lips.
Reven almost smiled at the boy's response. Yeah, he was more mature than he'd originally imagined!
He'd borne the pain well - he obviously didn't expect to be nursed like some boys might. And he did, truly, seem to have forgiven Reven for his attack.
And he was the most delicious thing Reven had had in his sights for many long months.
"Tomorrow then," said Reven, sliding back into bed beside him. "Tomorrow I go to discuss a new - employment - with someone. If you want, you can come with me. You can be my assistant."
It's a lonely time otherwise, he wanted to say. I'd welcome the company - the support.
"I can't guarantee it'll make you rich, though, Lain. You'll get paid when I do. But I'll keep you in food and clothes if you want to stay here for a while. Then we'll just see how it goes, right?"
He thought the boy murmured something, but he was obviously drifting off to sleep after his ordeal. Reven wondered if he dared sleep himself - he couldn't risk another nightmare like that.
But he knew how it was for him - once the crisis had broken, he'd sleep easier for a night or so, before the horror returned. And by then, perhaps he would have spoken of it to Lain - perhaps he could begin to exorcise some of the terror by sharing the memories.
Only some of them, of course. He looked across at the smooth face beside him, the shallow breaths from the soft lips.
He wouldn't wish the full horror of it all on Lain, even just in the telling.
The boy couldn't be that mature!
Lain woke with a start, sitting upright in the bed. He looked around with darting eyes, and then remembered where he was. His shoulder ached mildly, as did a few other parts of his body, but they were trivial aches. Nothing that could stop him.
He looked down at Reven, asleep, his face contorted with an almost pained frown.
The brunette leaned forward and ran his fingers through the dark curls slowly, and placed a kiss on the creases between Reven's brows. To his surprise, they frown eased up somewhat, and Reven seemed... more at peace.
It only strengthened Lain's unfounded determination. He would make this man happier at all costs. He would!
But still... there were things he needed to tend to in order for this to ever go smoothly. Particularly, there was one enraged blonde he needed to speak with.
"Reven," he whispered softly, not wanting to startle the man awake, "you keep sleeping. But do you mind if I go out for a bit?"
Reven was laughing - in his sleep, of course. His mind played a rare, relaxed occasion - he and Inoue sharing a meal in the old apartment, Inoue was teaching him to cook something other than ramen.
He was angry at Reven for not paying attention, but then he'd caught the look in his protégée’s eyes and known he was being teased.
Reven decided he was learning other things too - how far to go with Inoue - how to please him, entertain him, without irritating the hell out of him, like most people seemed to do. The man had little tolerance for others - but he kept Reven around.
Reven felt the flush of pleasure through his body, even though it was years ago in reality.
The fun of provoking Inoue, just that little way more than he'd done before - the physical thrill of the man's hand on his arm, swinging him round to face him, to challenge him back.
Then the spark that passed between them, often catching them both unawares. The sudden desire - the need. Hard mouth - tight hands - words of command that Reven was more than eager to obey.
He stirred on the bed, murmuring. There'd been a touch at his forehead - it had soothed him.
There were words in his half-consciousness - a request made of him.
He smiled. He nodded. Whatever. He was content for the moment.
Lain stole one last kiss before heading to the closet where Reven kept his clothes. He rummaged through them for a bit and ended up with a pair of blue jeans with rips in the knees, a tight black tank top and a loose black button-up shirt overtop, left undone.
He slipped on his runners at the door and rifled through his ratty street clothes, until he found the key he'd snagged from Reven's wallet when they first met. This he put in his pocket, before heading out the front door, locking it behind him.
Lain headed down the hall towards the elevators, but as he rounded a corner, he came to a dead halt in his tracks, blinking in shock at the same time as Sphynx, who also stopped and seemed to have hidden something in his jacket.
"Sphynx!" The brunette took the last three steps between them, throwing his arms around the blonde's neck and kissing his cheek. "I was just going out to find you. We... need to talk."
Sphynx nodded slowly, wrapping his arms about the boy's waist and placing a kiss on his temple. "My thoughts exactly. But not here."
Lain nodded and they both headed towards the elevators. As the large metallic doors slid shut, the brunette slipped his hand into Sphynx's, his gaze still on the floor and his cheeks flushed slightly.
The blonde blinked in surprise as the chime in the elevator let them know they were nearing the main floor.
Reven stirred, and an eye opened slowly. He yawned. His gaze slid over to his watch on the table beside the bed, and his eyes opened together in surprise. He'd not slept that late for a long time! His body felt relaxed - his mind was calm, confirming that he'd not had another nightmare.
The nightmare! Of course!
He sat up in bed and looked sideways, but there was nothing but a gentle indentation in the mattress to show any evidence of Kalain having been there.
He knew at once that the boy wasn't in the apartment, and he wondered whether he'd gone, after all. He'd been fed and he'd probably taken some clothes, maybe money too.
Then he'd left.
Reven didn't blame him. He felt a strange, dull disappointment, but he didn't blame him. He didn't know why he still felt Lain's presence round him - why he could feel, so clearly, the touch of his mouth on his; the grip of his slender hand.
Reven laughed at himself. He was a mess, that was the problem! He carried out his work as efficiently as ever, but he was a mess in so many, personal ways that it could make him vulnerable to anyone who tried to sting him. To take things from him.
Like he had fuck all left to give!
He lifted his legs over the side of the bed slowly, his good mood dampening.
Lain walked down the hall slowly, his face drawn and expression troubled.
Things hadn't gone as well as he'd hoped. In all reality, he was pretty sure he'd just made the situation with Sphynx even worse than it had been.
He chewed on his lower lip and pressed his fingers into the cold metal of the key to Reven's apartment.
How many Inoues can there be in the world? I'd never heard the name until now. There can't be more than one in the city, either...
But to mention anything was the question.
A decision needed to be made...
He cleared his throat, straightened his clothes, and righted his expression so it wasn't quite as dour any longer. Lain withdrew the key and slid it into the lock on Reven's door, and opened it, walking into the apartment.
Lain fell absolutely silent and still as he felt the familiar cold of a knife pressed to his throat, and a hand gripping his shoulder painfully.
The sound of the door handle rattling had been a shock in the silence of the apartment.
Reven had only pulled on his pants, but within the second he was alert. No-one had come here for months - no-one had ever come here, unless by his invitation, or with malice intended.
The drawer beside the bed slid open, the runners silent from frequent use. Reven's fingers closed around the knife there.
He felt the comfort of its shape - the familiarity of its power. He didn't carry this one as a matter of course any more. It was for his own use.
His body moved swiftly and silently across the apartment, to reach the door even as the knob rattled for only its second time. He stood to the open side, sheltered by the bureau, and knowing that any intruder who burst it open would look the other way, expecting him to hide behind.
The door didn't burst open - it just sprang back, as if he himself were coming home. A body stepped through, looking into the room, and Reven stepped faster than anyone would imagine to stand behind that body. To slide a constricting hand round its shoulders - to position the knife at its throat. It was all second nature to him.
The knife glinted in the light let in from the hallway.
The intruder had precisely ten seconds to state his business before Reven drew his strong hand across the pale, exposed flesh.
Flashes of memory... knife to his throat!
I hate you, Kalain! I hate you! Why won't you just die?!
He winced and made a short cry, his hands going to the one holding the knife to his throat. Words were lost to him; he couldn't make sense of reality for those long seconds.
Different knife, different hands, different body behind him holding the weapon against his skin.
Same icy feeling of metal to flesh, same fierce grip on his body, same cold accuracy.
He cried out again, like a child bursting into tears, squeezing his eyes shut and blocking out the blurred images before him, though refusing to let the tears fall.
This was not his old house! It was not who he thought it was holding the knife to his throat!
"Reven..." he pleaded weakly, his throat choked.
Reven had recognised the smell of the boy even as his eyes realised who he was holding.
His hands had already begun to relax, realising his mistake. Lain's cry startled him, and for that millisecond the knife grazed against the young, trembling throat.
"Where the hell have you been?" snapped Reven, relief at not killing the boy making him angry. "Why are you creeping in and out of my apartment? Fuck, it's not as if I've given you a key -" He paused.
He remembered now - the wallet!
Lain had taken his wallet, and everything in it, all that time ago. There'd been a key - Reven had been to have a new one cut. He had plans for the apartment - plans for enhancing the security system when he was out. All linked to the central key...
He'd forgotten. He never forgot things like that in the past.
He was momentarily shocked at himself.
"You... said I could go," Lain stammered, shaking slightly but fighting the tremors.
He held the cuff of his sleeve to the cut on his throat and looked up at Reven as the man backed away and let the hand holding the knife lower. "I asked you and you said yes. I went to talk to Sphynx, and I came back because I wanted to talk to you. I told you I wouldn't leave you!"
He was suddenly upset himself.
At the fright, at his memories, at what Sphynx had said, and at Reven's reaction.
"I told you!" he cried out, louder this time, reaching forward and taking the knife from Reven's hand. He threw it across the room past the man's head, and then pulled his arm back.
Lain's palm cracked across Reven's cheek cleanly, and moments after he'd delivered the blow he pulled the man towards him in a tight embrace, his arms shaking but holding firmly, unwilling to let him go as he held the dark haired man's head to his chest and nuzzled it.
"I told you," he breathed into the ebon hair, clutching at Reven.
His anger melted into tenderness. "I'm sorry that you thought I left. I know you have no reason to trust me. I'm sorry that I hit you. I'm sorry that I scared you. But I will never, never leave you unless you make me, do you hear me? Never."
Reven had never allowed anyone to take a knife from him except in hostility. Lain had startled him - Lain had wrong footed him.
When the boy reached forward again and slapped him, he'd been caught unawares again.
But he didn't retaliate. His senses were full of Lain, of what Lain was saying, of what Lain was doing.
He couldn't have struck the boy again - not now.
He was swept into the thin arms and hugged, and for a second he relaxed into it willingly.
So Lain had been out - and he'd come back. What was the big deal?
"Sphynx," he said, finally registering what Lain had actually said. "You went to see him."
Reven wondered why his body shivered slightly - why he felt his senses suddenly alert. "Tell me, Lain - tell me what you two are to each other." Tell me what I'm dealing with here.
Lain shook his head and released the man, both of them standing facing each other. "I don't want to talk about Sphynx right now. I want to talk about you. You told me you'd talk about the past, today. I'll answer all your questions later, but first I want to hear you."
His voice softened. "I want you to tell me about Inoue."
He slid his hands into his pockets and removed the key, holding it out to Reven. "You can have this back. I won't leave again. But if you're willing, I want you to walk with me through the city as you tell me about your past, as you said you would. If you're still willing to."
He had no right to ask this man for anything.
But he was, anyhow.
He had to.
There were some things that they both needed cleared up and cleaned out of their pasts before this companionship did anything but got more painful for the both of them.