Author's Note: Hello, everyone! So, it's been like three years since this story has been updated, so I know that there isn't anyone left out there, but I'm on this kick where I'm going back to my older stories and giving them a little bit of loving that they deserve. I am also hoping to help breathe life back into some of these wonderful fandoms. I know that this story isn't the best and it needs a lot of TLC but I wanted to keep pushing forward with it to get this story finished. Thank you all for the support you offered me and I'm sorry that this story has really taken the back burner to a lot of my other ones. I hope everyone has a wonderful day! Enjoy!
Six days later, Tatara was finally allowed to leave the hospital without too much protest from the rest of Homra. Didn't mean they weren't hovering around him at all times, anxious that he would somehow hurt himself. The doctor blatantly said that he was in awe at Tatara's healing and that Tatara would probably be the fastest to recover from such an injury that he has ever seen. He knows it has a lot to do with the power of the Red King that he's healing so quickly, but Tatara has to wonder how many body wounds from bullets this doctor has seen.
Tatara began to get the feeling that people thought that he was a strain when more and more of the staff would stare at him as he would walk through the hall as a way to build up his stamina again after being in bed for so long. Strains were still a bit of a new thing but more and more people were becoming aware of them especially in their city were is seems the strange and unusual run rampant. But they had no idea the extent of just how strange and unusual things could really get. People knew about the bands of people that travel together, about people, animals and sometimes even objects that have strange, unexplainable powers, but they didn't know the full extent of the Kings and their power.
"I just can't believe it," Tatara's doctor admitted, looking down at his chart for the thousandth time in the ten minutes he's been in the room with Tatara and the Red Clan. Tatara isn't sure if there is something written on there that he keeps looking at, or if it's to avoid looking at Tatara's friends who were scattered around the small room staring back at him with impassive faces. "You're healing is beyond anything I've seen."
That made the members of Homra glance around at one another, smiling secretly to each other. Everyone getting the hidden meaning. Not in the doctor's words, but in Tatara's little smile that he sent around the room. It was because of the red clan mark on his left shoulder blade. It wasn't something that was unexpected, though. Any of the other clansmen, when they got hurt, would start to heal quickly so it wasn't any surprise that he was healing quickly from the wound. In fact, if anything, he's just thankful that he was healing at all.
"Are you excited?" Kamamoto asks, smiling down at the brown eyed hobbyist as he packs up the last of his things that had managed to scatter themselves around the small room. "To finally be able to go home, I mean."
Yata hits him on the back, glaring up at the large blond. "Well, of course he is! All he's been talking about since he got here is how much he wanted to leave! Are you an idiot?"
Kamamoto blinks in confusion for a moment, looking at the air around his head as if the answer was floating around there. He blushes in embarrassment, looking around for a moment more before laughing sheepishly. "Okay, yeah. I guess that makes sense. Sorry, Yata."
"It's alright, Yata," Tatara says softly, reaching out to pat the young vanguard's shoulder before looking at Kamamoto. "Thank you, Kamamoto. I am very excited to be able to finally go home. Thank you for asking."
Shohei, sweet and smiley Shohei, makes sure to grab Tatara's bags and guitar case for him so that he didn't have to carry them himself. Tatara pats his shoulder too, murmuring his thanks as they go to leave. As much as he is enjoying the bit of pampering they are giving him, he's ready for everything to go back to the way they were before all of this happened. Tatara stops by the front desk to speak with them really fast and get the rest of his paperwork figured out and where he was going to get his pain medication sent to so he can pick it up later before they all finally pile out into the street.
Despite the wound having started healing nicely, and Tatara is no longer in any immediate danger, he still has to be careful for the next few weeks so to not tear open his stitches. He also has to be worried about bruising and infection and all that wonderful stuff, so Homra isn't going to let him have a moment of peace until that danger passes, no doubt. And not just that, but Tatara is still in a lot of pain and it's hard to walk for long periods of time. Still, he's so happy to finally get out of the hospital and be able to feel the breeze on his skin and the warm sun on his face. It's been too long.
Somehow he can spend days in Izumo's bar and not see the light of day and be fine, but being in that hospital for so long has made him starve for it. His friends wouldn't give him a moment's peace either for fear that he would check himself out and run for the hills against the advisement of the doctors. Tatara isn't all that sure that he blames them for feeling that way. He may have saw his chance at freedom and may have just taken it without much of a second thought. Maybe they were right about no offering him a moment away from any one of them.
Like it comes naturally to them - and it does - they all scoot in close to one another, walking together as a unified group down the street, taking up one side of the sidewalk. People go out of their way to avoid Tatara and his friends' path as to not somehow draw their ire and attention. Tatara walks behind Mikoto - for which the seas tend to naturally part for anyway - Anna holding onto Tatara's hand tightly as they walk. Izumo is flanking the King on his right - as a right-hand man should be. Mikoto sets their pace, walking slow and purposeful, hands stuffed deep into his pocket, cigarette dangling unlit between his lips as he looks about uninterested.
It makes Tatara smile secretly to himself knowing that their slow pace is in part to not put too much pressure on Tatara and his healing wounds, but mostly due to the lazy lion king not having the energy to move any faster than he already was. That was the part that made this the best. It worked for Tatara, but no matter what, Mikoto was not going to change. Their wonderfully lazy king.
Tatara likes being out there, walking down the street. It is such a simple, mundane thing, that at one point he wondered if he would ever be able to do again. Had Tatara died, he never would have been able to do any of the simple things that he enjoyed ever again. They usually weren't much or extravagant things that he wanted to do, but they meant something to him. They were things that he was used to. Things that he enjoyed. He wasn't overly loyal to the things that he used to pass the time; playing guitar, skateboarding and the like, but he would always be loyal to the crazy, but wonderful people he had the privilege to surround himself with.
He was going absolutely stir crazy in his hospital room. He was really feeling it when everyone really started going back to school and work and he was left relatively alone during the day. Mikoto and Anna stayed with him, mostly, as Izumo needed to go back and open the bar, but neither was that good of company in a boring hospital room. And it sort of forced Tatara to suffer through any and all of Anna's shows. He loved her and loved being able to spend time with her, but if he was asked another pointless question, "where is this?" or "Where can I find this?" with it present on the screen, he's going to scream.
He turns his gaze up toward the sky, closing his eyes for a moment, enjoying the heat of the sun beating down on his face, arms and chest. He's wearing a long-sleeve, white button-up that feels paper-thin. He feels like he's half in an iceberg, he's got a chill about him. It's nice to be out of that claustrophobic hospital room with all of Homra squished in there together, though. He liked having them all together, but he didn't like that it felt like they were all restrained in that small space without any real privacy. Plus it never failed with so many people in that small room that they would crank the air conditioner and then leave. Tatara and Mikoto were always too lazy to turn it down or off.
There was a lot of chilly nights spent with Tatara cuddling up to the warm king or on the rare nights that Anna stayed with him, he would wrap himself around her like a viper both to keep her warm and to absorb the heat radiating from the little girl. Anna likes to cuddle, it seems. She welcomed Tatara pulling her into his arms and wrapping around her while Mikoto snored away on the couch.
"What are you going to do, Tatara?" Bando asks. "You aren't going to be going home tonight, are you?"
"Of course he isn't," Yata snaps, glaring over his shoulder at the taller boy. "He's going to be staying at the bar, isn't he, King?"
Mikoto, still leading the pack with slow, purposeful movements, stares forward for a long moment, as if he didn't hear them before he stops, causing his pack to stop to avoid running into the back of him, and turns around. Everyone stops and stares at the red-haired man as his eyes fall onto Tatara's dark brown ones. "What are you going to do?"
That surprised him. He honestly thought that they weren't going to give him a choice. They were just going to force him to stay at the bar, as Yata said. He likes that Mikoto was giving him the choice, but now he felt like he was going to be asking Izumo and Mikoto - and Anna by default - to make arrangements for him to stay in the bar, as opposed to them just telling him that he didn't have any choice in the matter. He knew that no one would be mad at him asking to stay, but at the same time, after everything he's made them go through these last few weeks, he really shouldn't be asking anything of anyone for a while. Or ever again considering how many times his poor King had to sleep in that uncomfortable hospital room with him.
Tatara didn't want to go home yet. He didn't want to be alone in his little, empty apartment. He was claustrophobic in the small hospital room, but it doesn't mean that he wants to be alone. He wants to be with the rest of Homra. He didn't want to be alone. Ever since he was shot, he hasn't been alone for very long, and he's not sure how he's going to adjust to it once the newness of the protective nature Homra has for Tatara at the moment has worn off and things go back to the way they used to be, but for right now, he's not ready for it.
It's ironic. He wants things to go back to the way things were before. But he doesn't want to be alone as he was before. Not that he was alone all that much, seeing as he spent so much time at Izumo's bar anyway, but he did enjoy the bits of time alone. Not a lot, and not for long, but it was always nice to be able to go home whenever he wanted to, and be alone if he wanted to, but now... he's not ready to be alone. He's not scared, he just doesn't want to be alone just yet. Maybe in a day or two. Maybe three, depending on how he's feeling.
"I was thinking about staying at the bar until I'm completely healed, or at least ready to head home," Tatara says easily, trying to keep his voice even as if that wasn't his way of running from his fears. He's not sure that anyone would call him out on it, even if they knew, but he's still trying to keep strong. Whether Mikoto or the rest of them saw through him, he didn't know - nor was he so sure that they cared so long as he stayed close them or specifically, close to Mikoto - for none of them said anything.
He hated that. He hated asking them for more when they all already gave him so much, but he's just... he's not ready to go home and be alone. He's not ready yet.
Mikoto nods, pretty melted gold-colored eyes study the dainty blonde's face for a moment before he grunts, casting a sideways glance at Izumo, who shrugs as if it didn't bother him one way or the other, before the King turns around and keeps walking at the same pace as before as if he hadn't stopped in the first place.
After a few more minutes of walking, Izumo gives Tatara a side-ways glance before suggesting that they find a spot to rest for a moment so that Tatara could catch his breath. He wasn't tired, but his stomach was starting to hurt a bit and it was giving him a bit of an awkward limp. They find a large stoop leading into some very big, posh building and basically take up most of the stairs leading into it. They were being a major inconvenience, but one look at the delinquent group was enough to deter anyone from just telling them to leave.
Feeling spontaneous, Tatara looks over at Shohei who was at the top of the three steps with Bando, Eric, and Izumo.
"Shohei?" Tatara calls out to the light brown-haired boy.
"Yeah?" Shohei pushes his cap off his head for a moment to rub some sweat from his brow, before putting it back on. It was a warm day despite winter being just around the corner. They should be getting snow here any day now.
Tatara half turns to be able to look at the other boy, trying not to wince at the bit of pain in his stomach. Yeah, his body does not like this position in the slightest. "Would you be able to bring me my guitar. I feel like playing it a bit."
Shohei stares at him for a moment, as if the words didn't compute with him right away, but when they do, his entire face lights up in surprise. He quickly grabs Tatara's guitar amongst his pile of things, opening up the case and grabbing it out before standing up and holding it out to the dainty brunette. Tatara takes it, slinging the strap over his shoulder before settling it on his knee and playing a few notes, listening to see if it was still in tune.
A little out of tune. He messes around for a second using his trained ear to get it as back into tune as possible, knowing that it was probably still a bit off, but it was enough that he could play a little bit without it being too bad.
He takes a moment to go through the scale a few times to warm his voice up. Days without practice and sitting down isn't going to make this pretty but hopefully, it is going to at least be decent. He doesn't get the bug a lot but when he does it's hard to fight. Plus, his friends seem to enjoy listening to him sing.
Or, at least, they are too respectful to tell him to stop. And Anna seems to enjoy it. No one would dare disrespect the Princess and her desires. She never really asks them for anything.
Once he's warmed up enough, he falls back onto one of his usual songs. It isn't as loud as usual or as fast. He slows it down and keeps it soft so he doesn't have to strain himself. Even if singing softer is so much harder. Well, he's nothing if not lacking in forethought.
He closes his eyes to concentrate on not singing too bad. His voice sounds rough in some places, but keeping quiet helps hide it. Kind of.
When he opens his eyes, he takes a moment to appreciate the people around him. Some people across the street - no doubt too scared to get too close to the Homra gang - had slowed down to listen to him sing, and to watch them, but didn't stay still for long before moving on with their day. Homra, though, were all looking around or leaning back enjoying the heat of the sun beating down on them.
Izumo was lighting a cigarette after lighting Mikoto's, looking around the area with keen hazel eyes behind his sunglasses, keeping an eye out for anyone who would attempt to harm them. He may be one of the most laid back members of Homra, especially since he was one of the oldest, but no doubt the recent chain of events have made him even more vigilant than before.
Bando and Shohei were sitting side by side on one of the steps. Bando was leaning back on the stair behind him with his face turned up toward the sky with his dark eyes closed. Shohei looks around too with large brown eyes, running his fingers over the rim of his hat, thoughtfully. There is a serene look on his face as he seems lost in a pleasant memory.
Chitose and Dewa were on the top step, both laying back against as many stairs as they could cover, no doubt uncomfortable but they weren't complaining. Pretty, womanizing Chitose was staring up at the sky with a soft look on his face, lost in his thoughts. Calm and composed Dewa was on his phone typing away while jiggling his foot to the beat of the song that Tatara was playing.
Fujishima and Eric sat next to Tatara, on either side of him. Fujishima was staring out over the streets with soft, but bored brown eyes. He seems to have spotted a stray cat wandering about and was watching it with interest. If they stayed around here for too long, Tatara is sure that little white cat will find its way into Homra soon enough. Eric, though, isn't even bothering to look around them. His pretty blue eyes are locked onto the long blond bangs in front of his face. He pulls at them seemingly disinterested with what was going on around the group.
Kamamoto and Yata are on the bottom step. Kamamoto is smiling as he looks around, half-turned toward Tatara as he listened while Yata was pushing his skateboard back and forth with one foot, thoughtfully. The vanguard was rubbing at the back of his head as he adjusts his hat.
Anna was sitting on the other side of Mikoto from Izumo. She was looking through her marble at the world around her as she leaned into Mikoto's side.
And Mikoto was smoking. He was staring out at the street, vacant-eyed and bored. He accepted Anna's weight against him without protest and looked around the city as if he's never seen it before a day in his life. Tatara aspires for that level of disinterest. He just doesn't seem fazed by anything going on around him. Nothing ever seems to bother him. Tatara wishes he could be like that. Especially recently, he doesn't seem to be on very good terms with his thoughts. They are always racing and offering him images that he would rather not see.
Those beautiful, lazy golden eyes turn toward Tatara and the two pairs lock together. For the first time since he was shot, finally, Tatara is starting to feel better. Not in the physical sense. No, he's still in pain and will be for some time yet. But he's out in the world, wondering the streets with the people that he loves most in the world as if nothing had happened. That they were all the same people that they were on December 6th. Or December 5th. Or any other day leading up to the day that changed all of that.
At least for Tatara.
But he doesn't want it to change anything. He wants to go back to those moments. Fear and traumatic moments don't stick to him easily. Tatara doesn't become paralyzed with fear. He doesn't stay awake at night afraid and confused. Stuff just doesn't stick to him for long. So he feels out of sort that this is. Sure, this is probably the closest near-death experience he's ever had, but he's still not used to the trauma and the fear that follows. It's easier, around his family, to hide how much it all hurts him. But sometimes, he can't breathe. Sometimes, he's so scared that his hands get clammy and his eyes would wander around the area looking for that shock of white hair.
He swore to himself that he wanted to move on and that he was going to be okay. And most of the time he feels that he is okay, or he can fake it well enough, but sometimes he was so not okay that he didn't know how to function. Thankfully, Tatara isn't usually alone for long so these episodes don't last but they always seem to feel like an eternity even when Tatara knows that they aren't.
Tatara stops playing and they falling into silence, listening to the sound of the city around them. Mikoto and Tatara continue to stare at one another as the peace and silence settle around them. Tatara offers a thin smile at his King and for a moment, the King didn't respond right away, as if he didn't see Tatara's change in expression before Mikoto's normally bored, disinterested face softens until a small smile touches the corners of his lips.
Tatara's fears, touching gently in the corners of his mind are blasted away in that instant. Tatara's breath catches in his throat a bit as he stares back at his King, so happy and thankful that he was able to live to see this beautiful expression. To Tatara, at the very least, Mikoto was worth living for. Those beautiful, soft expressions of Mikoto's are so precious and rare. Tatara's not sure how many of them Mikoto's able to muster in his life, but Tatara wants to see every single one of them.
Tatara runs his fingers over the strings of his guitar for a moment before passing it back over to Shohei to put back into its case. He smiles back down at the King before nodding a bit at him. "I think I'm good now, King. I'm ready to go home whenever you are."
Mikoto's expression falls neutral once more as he faces forward again, enjoying the heat of the sun.
About ten minutes more of rest, the lazy King finally pushes himself to his feet, stuffing his hands into his pocket and shaking the stiffness from his legs as the rest of Homra stands and stretches around him. Anna pops up easily reaching out for Tatara's hand which he is more than happy to give and the Red Clan makes their way back down the street.
Finally heading back home together.