Author's Note: Yeah, I did start another story. Sorry. But I really wanted to write this. There is very few, if any, I haven't actually read every single MikotoxTatara story that's multi-chapter so I wanted to write one myself and see how it goes. Let me know if you know of any, I think this couple is adorable. Anyway, let me know what you think. Enjoy!
Warnings: None really, maybe language.
Disclaimer: I own nothing other than any OCs I end up making. :3
Word Count: 5,130
It's okay. It'll all work out in the end.
It was a mantra that Tatara told himself, and others, for as long as he could remember. Well, as long as he's known Mikoto and Kusanagi. For as long as Tatara has wanted to make people feel better around him. It has always come easily to him, even when he didn't want it to. He was a fervent believer in that. Perhaps he always thought that to himself. Perhaps it was something that helped him throughout his life.
So it seems well placed that those words would just keep spinning around in his head.
The manacle laugh fills Tatara's ears. When the white haired man turned to him, it was a shock to see the gun, but before he had the opportunity to even react, he was bleeding. A bullet. He was shot. He blacks out after just a moment, it's the hard hit to the ground that wakes him back up. He can hear the white haired man talking. He didn't catch all of it, but he did catch "Colorless King" and no matter how much he wanted to focus in deeper into the monologue, gather as much detail as possible, all he can do is writhe on the floor in pain.
He must have blacked out again for a moment, before he finally regains consciousness and pulls out his phone and rolling onto his back, letting out a soft whimper of pain. His fingers move and the phone dials. Someone picks up and he's mumbling, staring up the sky. The stars stare back down at him, twinkling. Now these looked like flickering candle lights.
There is a pulsing pain in his gut, radiating throughout his entire body. Pulse. Pulse. Pulse. It's a burning sensation like fire, peeling his skin back bit by bit. He blinks rapidly and slowly moves a hand over the wound, feeling warm blood overflowing into his hand, he presses down as hard as he can bare to try and keep his blood in while he forces himself to focus on the stars. Anything to forget the pain. And true candle light stars they are. Almost as good as the city lights.
That's right! Anna. It's going to be her birthday soon. He won't be able to tell her happy birthday. And that's the true crime. Homra's princess deserves nothing short of the best.
Princess. Second only to the King.
Mikoto. He let Mikoto down. Tatara just has to hope that Mikoto will want to be strong enough to get passed this. Tatara has no doubt that he can, it's just a matter of if his lazy King is willing to put in the effort.
It'll all work out in the end.
That makes a rue smile cross his face. Mikoto is going to be so mad at him. Tatara can just see the dangerous narrowing of his King and friend's eyes. Tatara has been on the receiving end of more of those than he cares to admit into his painfully short life. He was always doing thoughtless things and getting himself into messes that he can't get out of, Mikoto would probably say. Not with his voice, but with his eyes. Even when Tatara met him in middle school, high school Mikoto had an annoyed, if not an angry look on his face constantly.
But over the years, his looks have softened. At least a bit. But the muscles remember and sometimes it easily falls into that scowl. Tatara doesn't even realize he's crying until after he hears the sound of someone calling out his name. It's almost impossible to be able to see through the tears. He blinks slowly and the tears pool up and spill over the sides of his eyes, trailing down into his hair.
Yata's face comes into view. Even in the dark his eyes are wide and filling with tears. He can see Izumo too, looking around anxiously. Yata carefully pulls Tatara into his arms, holding onto him tightly. Both of them have clouds of breath forming around them. Especially Yata, who probably ran a good distance here, or kicked his skateboarding butt into gear.
"Tatara!" Yata says, eyebrows pulled together. "Who did this to you?" Tatara opens his mouth and blood spills over, he makes noises he hopes are not senseless noises. Yata's lower lip trembles.
"Don't make him speak!" Izumo says sharply, glancing over at them, his eyes fall onto the bleeding Homra member for a split second before he looks away again, seemingly unable to keep eye contact. "Come on, let's get him out of here."
Tatara swallows thickly as the cold begins to settle in around him. He can feel the energy pouring out of him. Or maybe it's just his blood. It's getting harder to tell if the blur in his vision is because of the tears or blood loss.
"It's okay. It'll all work out in the end..." Tatara mumbles, coughing weakly and feeling pain in his gut at the action. Which then brings about fresh tears. But he forces a smile onto his face and reaches out to touch Yata's cheek. He feels the darkness swallowing him up. But right before it does, he hears footsteps approaching.
Tatara, or at least a minute part of him, wanted to be mad, upset even, at this turn of events. But he couldn't. He was too tired to be mad about how his life is ending up. What he does have the strength to be mad about is that he won't be able to spend more time with the people in Homra. Dewa, Shohei, Eric, Izumo, Kamamoto, Chitose, Fujishima, Bando, Anna, and Mikoto.
He would give anything at this moment to be able to spend more time with those wonderful people. Every time he closes his eyes, all he can do is see their faces behind his eye lids and hear those words. But it doesn't sound as kind and hopeful as Tatara always tried to make it sound. It sounds, almost mockingly. Like the words were coming back, as if tauntingly.
"Give him to me." A voice above him orders and he feels Yata's grip on him shift. Another pair of arms wrap around him and lift him up, the bending at the waist brings shooting pain zipping though his entire body all the way to the ends of his fingers and toes. He throws his head back and cries out in pain.
"Be gentler!" Izumo's voice snaps, getting closer. "Yata, your jacket, press it against the wound, now."
"U-Uh, right!" Yata exclaims, his voice cracking slightly. The sound of clothes shuffling and then pain again on his burning abdomen.
Tatara cries out again, trying to push away the painful pressure but he doesn't have the strength. With the energy seeping out of him, it's taking the warmth with it, but Tatara was so out of it, he didn't even notice until the warmth started to lay over every inch of his body like a toasty blanket over him. This makes the dainty long haired man relax a bit, making it easier to fall into the blackness.
The darkness that was like syrup swallowed him up, but while he was beneath the surface, it turns into smooth smoke that flutters around him. He moves his hands around, feeling nothing but cool smoke. Off in the distance, there is the light sound of music. A smooth sound that reminds Tatara, almost painfully, of a very wonderful place, both in the real world and in his heart.
When he opens his eyes, he's sitting at the bar in Homra. The jukebox is playing softly behind him. Tatara runs his dingers along the smooth bar that Izumo loves so much. There is seemingly no one in the bar with him. His eyes roam the wall in front of him filled with a wide variety of alcohol. Everything was exactly as he remembers it. He turns to look out the front door to lead into the bar at the wall of windows and the light pouring into it. It's got to be about high noon. Tatara doesn't know how long he sits there, just admiring the space around him.
He's spent the better part of almost ten years sitting at this bar, looking around this room, while the members of the Red Clan flew into the bar, caused havoc, and then went flying out. There were a lot of wonderful moments and less than pleasing moments. This place is more home to Tatara than any other before it. There is such personality in the bar.
A great portion of it is purely Izumo, little touches that is so him. But the rest of it is made up of the rest of Homra's family. Like the jukebox that Tatara got, or the spare skateboard that Yata leaves behind in case something happens to his. The stray hair ribbon here or there that Anna would pull from her hair and tie around things in the bar - a game that she plays with Kamamoto, see how many he can find and how long they are there. A calendar pinned to the wall by Chitose who insisted on it being there so that no one would forget special occasions, birthdays, holidays, etc.
So much more. A true place to live. A true home. Izumo owned the bar, but Mikoto and Anna lived there mostly. Izumo lives there now more than he used to because of Mikoto and Anna. Tatara spends a lot of time there too, but does own an apartment not that far. They make decent money as Homra, both from the bar and bounty hunting.
Mikoto splits the bounty evenly amongst everyone that participates. His portion goes to Izumo, because the young King practically lived off of his friend. Izumo paid for everything for him. He housed him, fed him, and spent a fortune on the cigarettes that they share. Everyone else spends money here and there on both their beloved King and lovely Princess.
No one seems to mind, it's because of their King that they are all together. And they, because of Mikoto and Homra, have found a new family in each other. A lot of them have difficult childhoods or bad home lives currently, and find solitude in the family that they have away from home. There is arguments, there is a clash of personalities, but anyone here would fight tooth and nail to protect each other and their home here.
Tatara reaches up and runs a hand through his long, silky light brown hair, tugging at the ends a bit, laying his head down on his arm and closes his eyes. The room smells of tobacco, cologne and alcohol. It's a nice, relaxing smell, one he's grown used to over the years.
Tatara spends a lot of time there, walking around and reliving old memories. When he first started coming to Homra, regularly. When Mikoto became a real King. When he started meeting his future clansmen. Every moment played through this place like a movie on the big screen. He felt a whole slew of emotions; happy, sad, annoyed, excited, melancholy - a lot of melancholy - but mostly pride.
This wasn't just a bar. It was a home and a storybook. It told the lives of the Red Clan under Mikoto's rule. And it will continue to, hopefully long after Tatara is gone. At least, if Tatara has his way. He's always believed in Mikoto, it's just up to Mikoto to continue to believe in himself.
Tatara finally stands up. He had returned to his seat at the bar and laid his head down. He spent so much time just remembering, just seeing all the reasons he wanted to live just a little bit longer but this time in-between must come to an end eventually. He takes one more longing look around the bar before turning around and turning toward the front door. It's so bright out there. Even though he knows he's got to be there for a long time, it's still so bright out. Could this be the actual 'light' that is always described when someone dies and they have to go into the light to move on? Probably.
One of his biggest regrets is that he died so close to, if not on, Anna's birthday. The little princess of Homra, already had too many heart breaks for Anna's birthday to become just another day that everyone quietly lets pass them by with their eyes closed and willing it away. Tatara can only hope and pray that this doesn't become the case. In Tatara's opinion, he's most thankful for Anna's birthday. It's because of that, a reminder every single year, that their little princess was born. That is a day worth celebrating, every year.
Tatara walks over to the door and lays his hand on the handle before looking over his shoulder at the bar. In his mind's eye, he can see the furniture all pushed to the side and all of the members of Homra and sitting around, playing card games on the floor. They played old maid and go fish with Anna and then poker after she went to bed. On good days, both Mikoto and Izumo would join in. Most of the time they would sit out and just watch. Tatara's been told that he has both a really good and really bad poker face, depending on the day.
The memories make him smile softly. It makes his chest tighten and his heart yearn for those moments again. He didn't want those moments to end. He didn't want to say goodbye to that life. He feels like he's barely lived it. He contemplates going back to the bar and sitting, spending more times relishing in the precious memories he watched over and over on repeat for what feels like forever, only to move on to another and mimic the process.
But there is a nagging feeling, deep within his gut. He has to go now. He can't stay here any longer. He closes his eyes and envisions the wonderful people in his life. The men in Homra that have become like brothers. Anna, the little stoic, ice princess. Izumo, the strict but fair second in command. And Mikoto, the lazy, bored King that cares so much about protecting those important to him. They all come so easily to his mind and he feels that nagging tug in his chest, making him miss those beautiful imperfect people.
Finally, Tatara opens his eyes and turns back to the door, letting out a whoosh of breath before turning the knob and opening it. The light beyond is so bright it's blinding. But as cliché as it is, Tatara balls his hands into fists, lifts his chin, closes his eyes, unable to look at the world beyond without hurting his eyes and takes a step into the bright light.
The first thing Tatara feels is pain. It's strange at first. Shouldn't he be dead? Or, is, while in death, he suppose to live out the rest of eternity in pain from the wound that killed him. Slowly, very slowly, Tatara opens his eyes to see a darkened room around him. He can see darkened out shapes around the room. The only light in the room is the moon filtering in from the window between the two thin white curtains. No, there is a bit more light. Next to him, little lights on machines.
And he's not alone either. There is two other light breathing patterns in the room with him. The shadows of one, to his left, in a chair within arms reach of Tatara, and the other is to his right, on the couch. Tatara can see his jean pant legs, but the rest of his is obscured in shadows. Tatara turns back to the one he can't see at all and squints his eyes.
He moves slightly but whimpers softly as pain burns like lava in his gut and he settles back into the bed, taking a moment to slow down his pain-filled little gasps before he reached out with his left hand, summoning up his aura. It's not as intense or powerful as any of the others in Homra. But it manages to summon up enough power to make some light and slowly moves it closer to the figure next to him.
Inching closer and closer until the shadow shifts and something hot wraps around his wrist holding it in place. Tatara lets out a noise of surprise, straightening up slightly despite the pain, and blinks rapidly.
The red glow that surrounds his hand outlines the hand holding his wrist, moving up the arm, then shoulder and slowly works it's way over the entirety of the man's body, even making his eyes glow red. Tatara recognizes him right away and the tenseness of his body relaxes and he just stares into the fiery red that is just so Mikoto. It flutters around him, darkened and hotter than usual due to his obvious anger.
"You're finally awake," says the voice to Tatara's right. He glances over to see the person, now obviously a man, standing up and walking passed the bed to the little hall that leads to the hallway with the door to the bathroom and the one that leaves the room to turn on the lights. Tatara squeezes his eyes closed at the initial brightness before slowly opening it and letting his eyes take a moment to adjust.
The other man steps into view and it's Izumo. His hair and clothes are all messed up from sleeping and his eyes are squinting a bit from the light as well. He straightens out his clothes and runs a hand through his hair a few times to try and tame it. Tatara turns his head toward Mikoto again to see both of their aura's dying down.
He smiles, hoping that it can out cheerful and stronger than he thinks it is. But judging by the further narrowing of Mikoto's eyes, it probably doesn't.
"Hey, King," Tatara says softly.
Mikoto's facial expressions don't change, but his hand, easily wrapped around Tatara's wrist, tightens threateningly. His eyes are like melted gold stare at him, less than pleased. "Do you have any idea how stupid you are?"
Tatara feels his eyebrows twitch slightly and his smile, which for some reason is hard to hold, falters until it disappears completely. He can feel Mikoto's anger through the heat of his hand and the red flashes in his eyes. He opens his mouth, probably trying to come up with something witty or charming to say, but nothing comes to him and he just stares at Mikoto.
Finally, he says, "I'm sorry, King. Wh-" he roughly clears his throat. "What happened...? I thought..." I thought I was dead, Tatara didn't say but that doesn't mean that the words didn't hang in the air between them and that only seems to draw more of Mikoto's ire.
But it's Izumo, who speaks, stepping up next to Mikoto and laying a hand on his shoulder. The action seems intentional, probably to draw their hot blooded King back from the dark corners of his mind. "Mikoto, Tatara's hand is turning purple."
As soon as the words leave him and are processed by Mikoto, his eyes flicker down to see that, yes, he was squeezing hard enough to cut off circulation to Tatara's left hand and releases it as if it burned him. He roughly stuffs his hands into his pocket and stands up, dislodging Izumo's hand and walking around the bed to the window to look out it.
"Tatara," Izumo says, moving to sit in Mikoto's no longer occupied chair, crossing his legs to give the bed ridden young man a stern look. Mentally recalling the first time he saw Tatara in the hospital. He was beaten up by seniors. They broke his leg, arm and gave him numerous cuts and bruises. He was a middle schooler at the time. Sure, he was just a brat that wouldn't leave Mikoto alone, at first, but after that day, he became part of their friend... group? Izumo had to guess that now that there was three of them, they could be a group. But now, here he was, hospitalized once again.
Tatara slowly rubs his hands together, trying to get the blood to flow back to his hand properly. It kind of hurts and it makes his heart pound. He feels exhausted and his head feels a little light. He leans back into the bed a bit more, looking at Izumo with slightly hooded eyes. "Izumo?"
"Tell us what happened," Izumo instructs, brown eyes locked onto him.
Tatara lifts a hand to run through his hair, but all he can manage to do is tug at the bottom of his light brown hair, noting how gross it feels and wanting nothing more than to take a shower and wash the night away from him.
"I just went up to the roof and film the city lights, the same roof that we went to that one time, King. Remember?" Tatara looks over at the red haired man, still staring out the window, hands still deep into his pockets. He grunts in response, but says nothing so Tatara looks back over at Izumo, blinking tiredly. "I got up there and someone was already looking out over the view. A man... no," Tatara's eyebrows pull together. "He couldn't have been more than a teenager. Just a boy. Maybe sixteen or seventeen."
In Tatara's mind's eye, he can see the figure, hunched over the railing, laughing hysterically at nothing, his shoulders shaking. He runs a hand through his hair, that glowed in the moonlight, before turning around to face Tatara. Something glinted in the light. The young man had a crooked, cruel smile on his lips - just thinking about it now makes Tatara feel sick and want to sink into the ground and never come out again - and then... boom. Instant pain in his stomach.
Tatara has been beaten up a lot in his life. Once it landed him in the hospital, but never had he ever felt pain quite like this. It was one thing to walk - or limp - away from a battle with broken limbs and have to be bed ridden for a while. But as Tatara lay there, bleeding out, all alone, he knew for certain he was going to die. He was going to die and no one would be there by his side.
Shot. Tatara's been shot. He's been shot at before. But this time he was really shot. And it should have killed him.
The thought forms a lump in his throat and his throat just closes around it, making it hard to breath or really focus on anything other than that. He reaches a hand up and wraps it around his throat, then, abruptly, he throws the covers away, seeing the hospital gown and blue scrubs beneath, he roughly pulls up the gown. He can see Izumo stand up in his peripheral.
"Oi! Be careful with yourself!" the bartender snaps.
Tatara doesn't hear, or at least register what the man was saying, as he pulled the gown up to reveal the once smooth, unblemished - which is surprising with how many times he's been kicked in the stomach or chest - skin there is now wrapped up in crisp medical tape. His skin almost appears to be translucent and all the blood rushing through his body because of adrenaline makes his feel sick. And cold. So very cold.
He runs his hand over the bandages when he touches the spot that brings him pain and he grits his teeth, laying his head back to stare at the ceiling. That could have been it. He could have died. He never gave a lot of thought to how he was going to die, but he certainly didn't think it would happen like that, so soon into his life.
But he can't think about that. He didn't think he was strong enough to focus on that. It brought out a pulsing pain to his stomach. He forces the thoughts deep into the back of his mind. He compress those thoughts into as small of a box as he can mentally make it and set it aside for later. He doesn't have the energy to fully analyze the situation right now. His stomach hurts, head hurts, throat hurts and he feels like he hasn't slept in two days. He just has to take his mind off of the pain and onto something else. Like... like... where was he?
Hospital. Yes, he runs his hand over the bandages again. He was in the hospital. Yata and Izumo must have gotten him here. No, there was someone else there at the end. That voice...
"Give him to me." That was Mikoto's voice. It was Mikoto who was there at the end, after Tatara had already closed his eyes and began to pass out. He didn't see him, but he was there.
"King..." Tatara lowers his head to look over at the golden eyed man now staring back at him, no longer angry, now just indifferent.
"You nearly bled out in my arms," Mikoto says, narrowing his eyes. "I cauterized the wound. It was the only thing that kept you alive long enough to get to the hospital."
Izumo flops back onto the chair, an annoyed look on his face. "Yeah, you nearly bled out in my car, moron. You should be more defensive. More wary of the people around you." The look didn't last long, falling into a look of worry. "Are you okay, Tatara? I mean... you almost..." he sighs, shaking his long blond haired head. He finally looks back at Tatara. "How do you feel?"
Tatara shakes his head, forcing a weak smile. "I'll be fine, thanks to the King. I'm just... shaken, is all."
Mikoto walks over to him and sits down on the bed, right by Tatara's stomach, not minding the slight incline of the bed for Tatara's sake. He scratches the back of his head, messing up his already messy red hair. He doesn't say anything for a long time, lost in his thoughts. Izumo and Tatara just stare at the back of the form fitting white t-shirt that the red King is usually found wearing. It fits like a second skin and moves when he does, leaning forward to put his elbows on his knees.
Tatara reaches forward, putting a hand on Mikoto's forearm. As soon as his skin touches his King's he pulls back, burned. Mikoto seems surprised too. He turns toward Tatara and reaches out to take the retreating hand, holding onto it tightly. Tatara almost wanted to pull away from Mikoto's scorching hot hands, but this is his King. There's no need to pull away.
The long fair haired young man, forced himself to relax and focus on Mikoto's face. It was twisted into a look of confusion, and then anger. He turns his head away but keeps hold of Tatara's hand.
"You're freezing," Mikoto says gruffly, eyebrows pulled together, annoyed
Freezing? Yes. He was shaking pretty bad.
With his free hand, he pulled the thin gown down and then the covers up to the middle of his chest, burying one hand beneath it on his stomach for warmth. A moment later, the burning heat dims a bit but spreads over his entire body. At first, it hurts. Not unbearably so, but enough to make him close one eye and grimace. But after a moment, it stops hurting and becomes soothing.
"The date..." Tatara finally says after a few minutes of silence. Everyone just looking around the room at everything but each other. "Anna's birthday..."
"It's already passed," Izumo says, letting out a long sigh. "You've been in here for three days. But don't worry," Izumo smiles. "Our little princess insisted on waiting until you woke up before celebrating."
A small, genuine, but tired smile crosses Tatara face. "She didn't have to do that," he murmurs.
"That's what we told her you'd say," the bartender laughs. "I'll call them all up in the morning. Better late than never, right? I'm sure Anna would agree to it."
"Where is she now...?" the hobbyist asks, eyelids growing heavy from a mixture of previous exhaustion and the warmth offered kindly by his King and friend. "Not home alone... right?"
Mikoto snorts and Tatara can practically see both of his two oldest friends rolling their eyes.
"No," Izumo says, indignant, "what do you think we are? Incompetent? She's spending the night with Yata and his mother." A short laugh escapes him. "She thinks Anna's cute as a button. Anna's a little put off, but you know her. She won't complain if Mikoto asks her to do anything."
Tatara's miles widens a fraction of an inch, before his eyes finally slip closed. "That... that's good. I was worried there for a moment."
Another snort from their illustrious King. "We'll talk later," he orders, eyes narrowed at nothing in particular. "Sleep, now."
"Okay..." Tatara says softly, smile widening just a bit more. "But only if you do something for me in return." Mikoto tilts his head slightly toward Tatara to show he's listening. Just a little more upturn to that smile. "Can you scratch my foot? It's itchy and I can't really move to scratch it... with my stomach all wrapped up." He lets out a tired, breathy laugh.
Mikoto blinks once, twice, thrice, before growling. He ruffles Tatara's head, a little rougher than necessary before gruffly ordering him to sleep once more. And it was an order from his King, who was he to disobey?
And then Tatara slept. Let the horrors of tomorrow be dealt with tomorrow.