There is no god.
Haruki knew this, even without this guy reminding him. It was a lesson taught to him from days spent starving, nights spent kicked-out of his home, and years of suffering from beating after beating at the hands of his own father. Yet, out of all his problems, addiction was the scariest one. Despite injecting since he was 10, his malnourished body had never built up any tolerance. His sister was the same way. For a while, they both honestly thought they could run away and live off of swiped pills from the convenience store only to get caught and sent back to the clutches of their father. Except, this time there was no home to go back to.
Whoever this no-god was, it had a sick sense of humor. After being arrested in a drug-den, questioned and lectured for nearly a day, a bi-focaled policeman with too many kids decided to drop him off here. It was a wealthy, quiet property on the outskirts of the city. The building was fitted with automatic gates, employee parking, and a colorful flower garden. At the very front sat a lighted sign with the name "Safe Heaven", which Haruki guessed was supposed to be a pun on "Safe Haven" as a better way to make money. The boy soured.
With a sigh, Haruki slumped further down in his chair, finally turning his eyes away from the yellow walls, up to the plain white ceiling. Idly, he heard the police officer finish up explaining the situation to a pink-haired receptionist. The woman picked up the phone and called for a doctor. Haruki felt his muscles tense immediately, head locked in position. He stared with wide eyes, unable to blink, as he willed himself not to cry, shake, or bolt.
What were they going to do to him? The handful of his sister's boyfriends used to mutter things about rehab in their intoxicated state. It was a place people went to, trapped and locked up, never to be heard from again. Or it was the final straw, where people overdosed immediately after being released, now knowing how hopeless and broken they were. So what did that mean? Were they going to tie him up in one of those white jackets and leave him in a room? Or strap him to a hospital bed and inject him with sedatives?
"It'll be okay, kid." A deep voice grumbled above him. Officer Baki stood over him with a warm smile behind dirty glances. Haruki flinched away, nearly snarling as the man laid a heavy hand on his boney shoulder.
"You got accepted into a good program; the people here are kind. They're doing wonders for my daughter and nephew and I know they'll do the same for you. You will find yourself at home."
Haruki wanted to gag.
The officer gave the boy's shoulder a small shake before making his way through glass doors, waving goodbye to the receptionist over his shoulder. Haruki watched him get into the cop car and wondered if he would be able to run out the door after the man was gone. While considering his plan, Haruki reminded himself that the only place he had ever had close to home was being with his older sister. It wouldn't be the first time she or one of her boyfriends ended up in a place like this rehab facility. If Haruki wanted to have better chances at finding her, he would have to stay here and search for her.
Eventually he slid his eyes back to the receptionist and froze. The doctor was already here, a very young woman with long brown hair and round brown eyes. She couldn't have been older than his sister yet her looks indicated higher education and upbringing. She was wearing a white lab coat and was carrying a clipboard in her hands. The receptionist stood up to hand the doctor papers and started speaking to her.
Haruki bristled. They were talking about him, their eyes trying not to dart in his direction. He stuffed his hands in his sweatshirt pockets and tried to look away but their shrill voices carried across the pristine wood flooring.
"...perfect for Yatty!" Said the receptionist. The doctor, on the other hand, grimaced. Their voices faded in and out and it was hard for Haruki to eavesdrop.
"No, Kofuku, I don't want him to scare…. too much…still mad at him from his last…"
The doctor appeared to struggle to communicate with the grinning receptionist, blushing at the girl's words. After some teasing, which Haruki had to confirm wasn't directed at him, Kofuku seemed to lose some of her playfulness. She laid a hand on the doctor's shoulder with a caring expression. Once again the doctor looked at the teen in the room, who refused to look up from the floor.
"...hurt he'd be if you don't tell him, you know?" She suggested, to which the doctor bit her lip and nodded, finally making her way over to Haruki. He heard her nice shoes click against the polished floor. When he looked up she had a smile and offered a wave, which he glared at.
"Where's Yuka?" Yukine cut in, getting right to the chase. After all, he wouldn't escape this facility without his sister.
"U-uh?" The doctor stuttered, taken aback. Haruki was irritated with her slow-mindedness as he watched her blink back into focus.
"I-I'm sorry? What do you mean?"
Haruki's teeth grit but he didn't want to incur the doctor's wrath. "Yuka. My sister. Yuka Tajima. Is she here?" He couldn't stand to watch her baffled expression so he looked to the floor, fuming at how nice her outfit clearly was.
"O-oh! Do you have family here? I'm sorry I didn't know… Um… I don't know anyone with such a name here but I can ask someone else…?"
"You don't know? Aren't you the doctor?" Haruki accused, glaring back up at her.
"I'm actually one of the PAs! But I'm fairly new and there are other doctors here on campus, so even though your sister is not one of my patients it doesn't mean she's not here! I can ask for you once we get you all settled!" The woman seemed to hit her stride, smiling confidently at Haruki.
She offered Haruki the clipboard, who snatched it from her. His eyes skimmed the paper, which brought on a headache. It had been a while since he'd read something so dense. Annoyingly, the doctor stood by and waited for him to fill out the questions. Name, date, age, date of birth, health history, drug history, any current issues, etc. To Haruki's surprise the second half was filled with ridiculous questions about personal hobbies, cleanliness and sleeping habits. He opted not to fill any of those out and handed the paper back to the doctor without saying a word. Staring, he waited for her to mention his failure to finish filling out the paper completely. It was clear she wanted to, but she quickly brushed it off.
"Okay then, Haruki! I am Dr. Hiyori Iki, but you can just call me Hiyori! Follow me, I'll show you to your room."
Dr. Iki gave a funny half smile as she gestured for the boy to follow her. Haruki didn't miss the way her eyes darted to his feet, probably searching for a bag, and it only added salt to the wound. They walked past the receptionist, the petite woman with the obnoxious, curly, pink hair, who was giving him a wave.
"I know this place seems really big at times, but I promise you'll get used to it! There are a lot of amenities here and there are signs to let you know where they are," Dr. Iki droned on happily. They passed by some signs on the wall pointing in different directions.
"Most of the activities are that way, along with the cafeteria. Dorms are this way," she turned to the left and Haruki followed. The doors were labeled with name tags, most rooms having two names.
"Am I going to have a roommate?" Haruki interrupted her babbling.
"Oh! Uh..." the woman suddenly fought a grimace, forcing a smile. "Well, uh, your room actually doesn't accommodate another person right now. That could change, depending on some things…" She trailed off. Haruki sent her a glare at that kind of answer and she put another smile back on.
"Don't worry! This first week is going to be spent making sure you're comfortable and getting to know you! So if there's anything you want to do or change, feel free to ask anyone at any time!" Dr. Iki stopped before room 080, pulling out a key and opening the door with some difficulty. She smiled awkwardly when the door finally clicked open and gestured for Haruki to enter first.
"There we are! Your room!" She watched as the teen crept into the dorm. Haruki peaked around the square space. The walls were a plain light blue with an extra long twin bed, mattress bare. There was a dark wood dresser with a landline and lamp beside the bed that matched a short dresser with three drawers. The right side of the room mirrored this set up, separated by a window, and held a door.
"Okay, so," Dr. Iki said from behind him, "welcome to your new room. Since you're part of the Vaisravana Program you're going to be here for the duration of summer. In that time you'll have therapy, emotional support groups, and all sorts of fun activities-!"
Her chattering was cut off when Haruki loudly fell face first into the bed. Worried, she took a step forward only for the teen to turn his head with a glare. She backed off, trying to put on a weak smile as her fingers tapped his clipboard. Finally, she sighed.
"Well, those are all things we can handle tomorrow. You'll settle in and be able to find what you like here eventually." Dr. Iki said as she hung up his clipboard next to the door. Haruki almost let himself relax when she turned to step out the door only to watch her pause with annoyance.
"Oh, and, um," she scratched her cheek, "if, someone else comes in here to, uh, talk to you today…you can just tell him to leave, okay?"
Haruki felt his face bunch up in confusion but said nothing. With a nod the doctor finally left the room, shutting the door behind her.
Haruki let himself sigh. Deflating like a balloon, he nuzzled his face into the pillow. It was the cleanest, softest thing he'd felt in a while. The bed was like heaven, and the peace and quiet of a closed-off space that belonged to him, and him alone, was like a cradle. Idly, Haruki realized he forgot to remind the doctor to ask about Yuka but his eyes had already been shut for a while. Despite suddenly feeling hungry, which was probably postponed by stress, the ability to finally relax his bones took over and the child fell into a doze.
Until that guy walked in.
'Walked' was an understatement. Haruki had been in situations where cops needed to break down the door, or worse - when his father wanted to get ahold of him - and this was definitely something similar. The boy couldn't have been asleep for more than half an hour when the door burst open with a mighty boom that sent Haruki's heart flying above him like a high-striker at the carnival. Poised on the tips of his toes and fingers, Haruki whirled around to see a young man standing in the door-way. The light from the hallway shone from behind him like a halo or a terrible spotlight and Haruki had to blink to focus on the intruder.
He was dressed in tracksuit pants, a white scrub shirt and a pair of patient slippers with grippy socks. His dark hair was long enough to pull back into a short ponytail and his bangs reached past bright, bright azure eyes that focused very intently on the child's own fearful ones. Just as Haruki began to panic, his breathing trying to match his heartbeat, the man straightened up and switched on a cheerful smile that put the doctor's one to shame.
"Hiya! My name's Yato! Starting today I'm going to be your new accountabili-buddy!" He very loudly declared. With his heart still hammering, Haruki's mouth opened and closed like a fish as he stared at the man's - Yato's - smile incomprehensibly. Was this 'Yatty'? Who did he think he was? What did he say he was? And that doctor had said-
Haruki scrambled to sit atop the pillow, hugging his knees to his chest while glaring at Yato, "Get out," he ordered.
"Oh, come on, don't be like that!" Yato chirped. He flicked on the lights in Haruki's room - when did it get so dark? - and the teen hissed.
"I'm not kidding. Dr. Iki said if anyone came in I could tell them to leave, so leave."
"You spoke to Hiyori?" Yato squealed. He pressed his hands to his cheeks as he swooned and Haruki idly wondered if this man happened to be a loose deranged patient.
"She's so great, isn't she? You're lucky you were assigned to her. But don't get a big head! I'm the one who will win Hiyori's affection so keep your grubby teenage paws off!" Yato pointed at Haruki in accusation, who narrowed his eyes. For all the man's theatrics, his feet remained rooted to his spot in the doorway, not attempting to approach.
"What does that even mean? I have no idea what you're talking about." Haruki spat. The answer seemed to satisfy Yato who put on that stupid smile again. Then he grabbed Haruki's clip board off the wall.
"H-hey!" Haruki sputtered. Surely that information was confidential for the doctor… Even though there wasn't anything too important there. Still, Yato flipped through it, his smile dropping to a frown. Haruki felt a spike of anxious shame which he quickly smothered.
"You didn't put anything! How are we supposed to hang out?" Yato pouted as he waved the clipboard.
"Hang out?" Haruki spat like venom. "I am not here to hang out, you moron, and we are not friends."
"Of course we're not friends," Yato agreed, and for some reason it hurt Haruki to hear that.
"We're accountabili-buddies!" He cheered. As if he expected confetti and trumpets to blaze at the idea. Yato trucked through Haruki's lack of enthusiasm.
"We're partners! I hold you accountable for your actions and you hold me accountable for being responsible for you! We're each other's guides!" Yato explained.
Ah, so that's how it was. Haruki felt bile bubble up his throat like acid. He wanted to laugh. To cry. To beat that stupid grin off this idiot's face and drag his innocent nobody into the real world and watch him burn. This place was just as willfully ignorant as the people that sent him here. They didn't care. They just wanted to pretend that 'we're in this together' and that through the power of love, friendship and teamwork Haruki would walk out, magically fixed.
"I am not your partner," Haruki condemned. "You think that filling out a stupid sheet and doing some arts and crafts is going to make me feel better? You're stupid. You don't actually care. None of you do! You're just paid to make yourself and society feel better! I'm not just some sorry teen that got addicted to painkillers, the only thing to eat in my house were the painkillers! I've been forcibly injected by my own father and then beaten for taking his stash! He used to trade my sister and me for drugs, and sleeping in the drug den actually made me feel safe! How messed up is that?"
Haruki felt himself grin mockingly at the man in the lighted doorway. The hands that had come up to cradle his head pulled at the knots in his greasy hair, and his nails scrapped at his scalp.
"How messed up is that?" Haruki repeated sadly.
He would not cry, but Yato's smile was starting to hurt him. Why couldn't they just leave him alone? Why couldn't they just stop trying and let him curl up somewhere, not having to wake up again…?
"So, no." Haruki's smile dropped and he met the bright blue eyes with his own."I will not be joining your little activities or charades."
Silence filled the room.
All that yelling and holding back tears had brought on a splitting headache that pounded his skull. He watched Yato and took in the complete lack of emotions on the man's face. For someone so exaggerated Haruki anticipated a dramatic recoil as the man's illusion crumbled around him at the knowledge of how truly broken and disgusting Haruki was. Maybe that's what it was. Maybe this Yato was just so in shock that he was frozen in place. Haruki sneered - almost like a grin - and took in another breath to finish this by telling the man to fuck off.
"1st and 2nd or 44th?" Yato asked.
"You said you spent a lot of time in some drug dens, right? Which one was it, the one on 1st and 2nd or the one on 44th?" Yato repeated, completely straight-faced. "Personally I prefer the one on 44th, the blankets get rotated out more since everyone steals them, I certainly have. But I've always wanted to get a second opinion."
Yato's smile was back on, but it was more of a taunting grin. Haruki sputtered through his growing irritation and Yato leaned to rest against the doorframe, lazily kicking his leg to cross over the other.
"My dad did the same thing to me and my sister. Of course my dad wasn't some common druggy, so the people we were traded to were, you know, actual dealers," Yato turned his smirk back to the kid. Haruki bristled at the challenge, his whole face turning red.
"W-what does it matter?" Haruki snarled, offended.
"It doesn't." Yato said seriously. Haruki swallowed as the man returned to his full height, holding the frightened child's stare with steady clarity."What happened in the past doesn't matter anymore. You're here now, and that's all that counts." Yato spoke solemnly.
For a few long seconds, Haruki was speechless and he almost bought into Yato's words.
"Bullshit," Haruki seethed, "people who leave rehab always get right back to their addictions. I already told you this place is a joke and I won't fall for your scripted bullshit."
"I won't let that happen to you." Yato shot back with such conviction that Haruki's heart flinched back.
Then, like flipping a light switch, Yato's smile grew in wattage and Haruki nearly groaned at the thought of what was coming next.
"After all I'm your accountabili-buddy!" Yato bubbled with imaginary balloons and parades. Defeated, Haruki let his body slump as he pressed his forehead to his knees.
"By the way, they still haven't found your dad yet, right?" Yato asked flippantly.
"How did you know that? Did that cop tell you?" Haruki's head popped back up.
"Nah, I googled it before walking in here." Yato waved his wrist. He was looking at Haruki's paperwork very intensely, like he was reading a life contract rather than a simple questionnaire.
"Is he the type to come after you? If he finds out you're actually enjoying yourself?" Yato asked. Haruki gave no response, only bit the inside of his lip and willed himself not to cry.
Yato finally lowered the clipboard to look at him. "You know I won't let that happen either."
"Ha! Yeah right," Haruki's voice wobbled as his shoulders trembled.
"It's true. He's not getting in here even if the doctors let him. This is strictly off the record. I just wanted to know what type of guy he was, but considering your reaction…" His blue eyes trailed up and down the tiny frame. "I think I already know."
This was all too much. Everything was too much, why was this guy still here? Couldn't they just leave him alone to rot? Why did he have to keep pushing?
"Alright, that settles it!" At this point Yato's jumps between personalities were growing old to Haruki so the sudden chipper declaration hardly batted an eye.
"I'm going to give you a new name!"
Yato's new decree was, of course, stupid.
"No." Haruki said.
"Because…" He paused for a long moment. "Because then I won't be able to find my sister." He felt Yato's eyes on him and he refused to meet them.
"You mean your sister won't find you?" Yato tried. Haruki said nothing.
"Don't worry about that, I'll look for her. I know how to find people."
"Dr. Iki already said she would."
"I'm sure she'll try her very best, but I meant more like actively searching in the community. Word of mouth and street talk and all that." Yato said. Haruki finally looked back at Yato with a feeling similar to hope.
Haruki had been searching all this time, trying to find the girl who he woke up without and who never returned to that empty house. Part of Haruki, the cynical part, reminded him that if he couldn't find Yuka there was no way this person would. But the other, younger, vulnerable part of him prayed that an adult with more strength and some actual knowledge of the streets would have better luck.
Yato just shrugged. "Yeah, why not? Get settled in. I'll head to town and poke around a few places I know. Couldn't hurt, right?"
He said it so simply, as if anyone would just drop everything for a strange kid they had just met. Still, Haruki believed in evidence rather than false promises and he clicked his slack jaw shut.
"Anyhoo, back to your new name!" Yato returned his feverish grin to the clipboard.
Haruki decided to stop trying to reason with a lunatic who was just going to do what he wanted anyway. Besides, it wasn't the worst thing in the world. It's not like his name mattered in any way and maybe it would stop his dad from finding him. At least for a little while…
"What about the computers?" Haruki mumbled.
"I'll change it there too" Yato waved off his concerns. "For starters, let's give you my last name…"
Yato was too engrossed in his writing to see the way Haruki perked up. That… had to be a joke, right? There was no way a stranger was willing to just give him his last name. That was basically- was it even legal? Haruki forced himself to settle down. Maybe it was just a really common last name. Yeah, that had to be it. This guy was plain looking enough.
"Okay so, what kind of name do you want? Something cool, something to match that pretty face. Oh! Or maybe something with a fresh start! Clean slate! Oh, slate is a cool name! But, nah…we should factor in your temper, too…like Kagu-tsuchi!"
"No, that's lame." Haruki said before he could stop himself. He looked away from Yato's knowing look.
"Okay then, how about snow? It's clean and fresh, it's about new beginnings, and it's chill!" Yato gave a stupid pose but his joke still fell flat.
"And biting cold, like your words and dry-ice personality." Yato muttered. "Well, more like a nip from a small dog." He ignored Haruki's searing glare as he wrote down 'Yuki.'
"Alright! Hmm… But we should still say something about your jerky temper."
"I am not a jerk!" Haruki shot. What kind of reality was he in? Was nobody going to stop this hooligan from renaming a child? Where was the help button these places usually had?
Yato gave a mock flinch at the volume. "Oof. And you're loud, too. But it's always good to be vocal." Satisfied with the name he decided all on his own, Yato happily completed the top part of the name sheet.
"Yukine it is!" Yato announced. Haruki said nothing and watched, passively, as Yato wrote on his sheet.
"Alrighty then! Now that that's taken care of… Dinner's in an hour, make sure you wash- I'm sure Hiyori told you, but the bathroom is right here - and put on the outfit in your drawers! Oh! And if you do somehow try to break out I'll have to be the one to catch you, and… Oh!" This last gasp was louder than the rest and startled Haruki - Yukine? - out of his lull. Yato's eyes were bright and starry and Haruki -Yukine - worried he would go into another lecture about acountabili-whatever.
"We should be roommates!"
"No." Haruki - for crap's sake, Yukine - spat. This was the first time in his life he got to have a room all to himself and he knew for a fact he would not be able to stand-
"Ah! This is going to be so much fun! I always wanted to have a roommate but Daikoku said I had to stay in the attic!" Yato leaned out of the door and scribbled something on the door number. He then took the paper out from the clipboard and finally, finally, stepped out the door.
"Okay! I also signed you up for cooking next week so we can do it together! I'll go and retype your paperwork and leave you to get ready for dinner, mmkay biiiii!"
And just like that the loud, obnoxious, overly excited weirdo was gone and the teen was left alone once more.
Turning, he flopped back onto his pillow with a strained groan that brought on some tears of frustration. Wiping them away, Haru - Yukine - felt better. Well, empty or nothing was a better way to put it, but at least he wasn't on the verge of ripping someone's head off.
Quietly, almost like a whisper, the name 'Yukine' was tested out on his tongue. It settled in his head like new sneakers, a nice thing but still uncomfortable and not quite fitting the same as the old. But still, better in the long run. After a moment, Yukine thought of the man who gave it to him and his pushy, overly-bright nature… And the fact he had said something about cooking…? Heaving another deep breath, the boy groaned louder. Why couldn't he catch a break? Why did he get stuck with the weirdos?
There is no god.