Letting Someone In

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Letting Someone In

Post by Shokkou on Thu Dec 24, 2015 6:39 pm

Okay, so I got bored and decided to write some stories fleshing out my characters' shared backstory and since Live to Serve said I could post them here, here they are. Feedback is greatly appreciated. Oh, and points to anyone who can tell what the thread title is a reference to.

Part One: The Boy on the Stairs (Ages 11 and 12)

The first time they met, it was because someone else was using the lift. Hiroshi had returned from a trip to the nearest convenience store to buy coffee to see half a dozen people crowding into the not especially large lift. Deciding that that was too many people to share a lift with, he opted to take the stairs instead.

He’d only just started to walk up them when he noticed a noise that sounded like something repeatedly hitting the wall. Wondering what it was, he continued his ascent. He’d reached one of the half-landings when the noise abruptly stopped and a ball dropped down from somewhere above. Bending down to pick it up, he heard a distant curse that probably wouldn’t have been audible to a human, followed by the sound of someone running down the stairs.

The someone in question turned out to be a boy who looked a bit younger than himself, scrawny wrists and ankles left visible by too short sleeves and trousers, sad looking dark eyes looking out under black hair in dire need of a trim. He looked down at Hiroshi from the next half-landing up, unsure what to do. Hiroshi smiled up at him.

“Hi. Is this your ball?”

“Yeah. Can I have it back?”

“Sure.”

He tossed it up gently. The boy caught it easily but didn’t move.

“Why are you playing on the stairs?”

The boy shrugged.

“It’s too wet to go outside.”

“Why aren’t you at home then?”

The moment that the question was out of his mouth it occurred to him that he probably shouldn’t have asked it. The boy hesitated for a moment before answering.

“Mum and her boyfriend are having a fight.”

“Oh.”

Hiroshi resumed climbing the stairs. The boy didn’t move until Hiroshi had caught up with him, then walked up with him until they parted ways on the next floor.

That might’ve been the end of it but a little over a week later Hiroshi was on his way downstairs to go to the convenience store in search of manga magazines when he found the boy sat in the corner of the second floor landing wearing a school uniform and coat with a bag next to him. He had a scrape on his chin, he looked like he’d been crying recently, and he was scribbling away furiously on a notepad on his lap. He looked up when he heard Hiroshi approach.

“Hi.”

“Hi. I got locked out.”

“Oh.”

That didn’t explain why he was upset, or the injury.

“What happened," he asked, gesturing at his chin.

The boy hesitated, looking up at him as if he wasn’t sure if he’d heard him right, before replying.

“Some guys at school.”

Hiroshi could’ve kept walking; he probably should’ve kept walking. But the boy looked and sounded so alone and miserable that even though he was human and Hiroshi wasn’t, instead of walking on he sat down next to him. The boy didn’t seem to know what to make of this and tensed up.

“I’m Hiroshi.”

The boy gave him an odd look.

“That’s my name too.”

Hiroshi grinned.

“Really?”

The boy nodded.

“Ando Hiroshi.”

“Yamada Hiroshi. Pleased to meet you Ando-kun.”

Ando didn’t say anything in reply but he smiled slightly and relaxed noticeably.

“So, what were you drawing?”

Ando hesitated for a moment before showing him. The pictures covering the lined paper had obviously been sketched rapidly but not without a certain amount of talent and depicted a variety of people meeting an assortment of creatively grisly fates. Other people would have probably been horrified but as a ghoul Hiroshi wasn’t really in any position to judge and knew it. Plus, he was also a twelve year old boy.

“They’re good. Pretty gory, but good.”

Ando stared at him in amazement.

“Really?”

“Yeah. I wish I could draw like that.”

Ando smiled properly at that.

“Thanks. I don’t always draw stuff like this, it just makes me feel better sometimes.”

Hiroshi suddenly had a good idea as to the identities of the people in the pictures.

Since he hadn’t been on his way to do anything important he sat with Ando for a while, the two chatting about nothing of any importance. Eventually though he stood up and stretched his legs.

“Sorry but I’ve got to go. My mum is probably starting to wonder where I’ve got to.”

Ando nodded and checked his watch.

“My mum might be home by now. She never takes the stairs if she can help it. Thank you for sitting with me. I hope I’ll see you again.”

“I hope so too.”

Ando gathered up his things and with a final “good bye” stepped through the door connecting the landing with the second floor corridor, while Hiroshi went back up stairs to his own apartment. The lack of magazines didn’t go unnoticed by his mother.

“Where’ve you been? It doesn’t take you this long to get to the convenience store and back.”

“I know. I didn’t go to the convenience store.”

“Where were you then?”

“I was talking to someone.”

“A human?”

“Yeah.”

For a moment she looked like she was going to tell him to stay away from said human, but instead she just sighed and shook her head.

“Just be careful, okay.”

“Don’t worry, I was. All we did was talk about him and random stuff.”


The third time they met was on the roof. Hiroshi had recently discovered that the lock on the door was broken and went up for some fresh air away from other people, only to find a familiar figure already up there.

“Hey. Are you stalking me or something?”

Ando grinned at him.

“I could ask the same thing about you.”

“True. What’re you doing?”

Ando was sat cross-legged with a sketchpad in his lap and a slightly worse for wear manga magazine open in front of him so he could’ve guessed the answer but that wasn’t really the point of asking.

Ando shrugged.

“Just copying some of the panels. It seemed like a good way to practice.”

Hiroshi nodded in acknowledgement before sitting down next to him and sneaking a look. Ando’s attempts to duplicate the artwork were pretty good, although the manga itself looked too old for him, with a lot of unfamiliar kanji, and he said so.

“It is. My mum’s ex left it behind. I need to use a kanji dictionary to read it but I like the way the pictures are drawn.”

“Hmm. Drawn anything else recently?”

Ando flicked back a few pages in his sketchbook than handed it over.

“See for yourself.”

The first couple of pages were fairly mundane; an attempt to draw buildings across the road and a dog respectively. Then there was a page of what was obviously copied manga artwork, followed another of Ando’s venting pictures (this one depicting half a dozen terrified schoolboys attempting to flee from or being devoured by what looked like a dinosaur, complete with blood), then another couple of pages of manga artwork.

“Pretty good. Why a dinosaur?”

Ando shrugged.

“That’s just what I felt like drawing.”

Neither said anything for a moment, then Ando spoke up.

“You know, I’ve been meaning to ask; how old are you?”

“Twelve. How old are you?”

“Eleven. My birthday’s in January.”

That was still a few months away. Hiroshi considered joking that if they went to the same school then Ando would have to call him sempai, then realised that it would probably draw attention to the fact that he didn’t go to school and decided against it. Instead he just nodded in acknowledgement.

They spent over an hour on the roof, Ando trying to teach Hiroshi how to draw and, when that got boring due to a lack of progress, talking about manga and other important things, then it started to get dark and Ando’s stomach growled.

“Sorry. Guess it’s time I went home and had something to eat.”

He started to gather his things.

“It’s okay. I should probably go home too.”

They stood up and walked towards the door.

“See you around.”

“See you. Bye.”

Shokkou

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Re: Letting Someone In

Post by Shokkou on Fri Dec 25, 2015 6:49 pm

Part One, Continued

The fourth time they met was on the street outside the convenience store. It was raining and Hiroshi had been sent to buy coffee again. Mission accomplished he headed back home, umbrella in one hand and two bags containing canned coffee and a couple other cheap food items that had been bought for the sake of appearance and would inevitably end up in the bin in the other. He hadn’t got very far however when he saw a familiar, if slightly sodden figure trudging along ahead of him, a school bag on their back. Quickening his pace to catch up, a discreet sniff confirmed that yes, it was in fact Ando, so he matched his pace and adjusted the position of the umbrella so that it shielded both of them.

“Hi.”

Ando looked up, his formerly miserable expression brightening.

“Hi. Still stalking me?”

Hiroshi laughed.

“Nah. I was just picking a few things up from the convenience store and I saw that you could do with an umbrella.”

“Thanks. This coat is useless at keeping the rain out.”

The rest of the walk passed in companionable silence. It wasn’t until they were about to part ways that Ando hesitantly spoke up.

“Um, would you like to come to my place later? I’ve got some new manga.”

The nervous, hopeful look on his face seemed out of proportion with such a simple invitation. Hiroshi wasn’t sure how to reply. He’d never been to anyone’s home before and wasn’t sure if there would be a risk of doing something that’d give him away, but on the other hand, given the look on Ando’s face, he didn’t really want to say no either.

“Won’t your mum mind?”

Ando shook his head.

“She won’t be home for a couple of hours.”

“Oh. Will anyone else be there?”

“Nope.”

He thought for a moment.

“Okay. No promises, I’ve got to ask my mum if it’s okay but if it is then I’ll see you in half an hour or so.”

The smile that broke out on Ando’s face was the biggest that Hiroshi had seen so far.

“Okay. See you then.”

In his own apartment, several minutes and half a can of coffee later, Hiroshi worked up the courage to ask.

“Mum?”

“Hmm?”

“You know that boy I told you about?”

“Yes?”

“Well, I ran into him on the way home and he invited me to his apartment. Can I go? It’s just for an hour or two and no one else is going to be there.”

For a long moment his mum looked like she was going to say no, but she didn’t.

“How old is he?”

“Eleven.”

She looked surprised at his age, then a bit disapproving.

“And no one else will be there?”

Hiroshi shook his head.

“No. He said that his mum won’t be home for a couple of hours.”

She sighed.

“Well, I suppose that it might help us look normal. Okay, you can go but only until his mother gets home. An adult might be more suspicious than an eleven year old. You know what you’re supposed to do to avoid suspicion?”

“Yep. If offered food and I can’t refuse it then choke it down with a smile on my face and pretend to chew. Avoid anything that might lead to questions about home or school. If they ask, say I’m being homeschooled because I was sick a lot last year and fell behind. If in doubt, make my excuses and leave.”

“Good.”


Ando’s apartment turned out to be bigger than theirs, a 2DK rather than a 1DK, although not as clean. The tiny kitchen/dining room looked like it was used a lot more than theirs which it probably was, although the unpleasant odour of human food was a lot fainter than he expected. Much stronger was the smell of old cigarette smoke and traces of an absent woman’s perfume.

Ando, who looked like he couldn’t quite believe that he was there, stood awkwardly next to the tiny table and rubbed the back of his neck.

“Um, can I get you anything?”

“No thanks. I had something to eat not long ago.”

Technically this was true, at least by ghoul standards. He’d put away the better part of an arm the night before and would therefore be good for about a month. He wondered if Ando would be so keen to spend time with him if he knew what he’d had for breakfast; probably not. Odds were that he’s scream, try to run, look at him like he was a monster.

Hiroshi tried to push those thoughts to the back of his mind. Right now he was just a boy visiting someone who may or may not count as a friend who he’d recently shared his umbrella with. Not a monster.

Ando still looked awkward.

“Um, okay. My room’s over there.”

He pointed at one of the two doors leading off from the kitchen. Hiroshi guessed that the other one led to his mother’s room.

Ando’s room was tiny, most of the space taken up by a small built-in closet and a bed with faded bedding that wasn’t made so much as thrown together, but it looked like it had been recently tidied. A few pictures that were recognisable as Ando’s work were pinned to the walls, although none of them were his more ‘interesting’ drawings and a collection of several months worth of manga magazines was piled up under his bed. Instead of a window there was a glass door leading out to the balcony.

“So, what do you want to do?”

“I don’t know.”

There was an awkward pause.

“Didn’t you say that you had some new manga?”

“Yep.”

He pulled a magazine off the top of the pile and held it out to Hiroshi, who accepted it and, for want of anywhere else to do so, sat down on the bed. As it was, this whole visiting someone else’s home thing was turning out to be painfully awkward.

About an hour later the awkwardness had been replaced by a surprisingly heated argument about who’d win a ninja vs. shinigami fight. Hiroshi was about to repeat the assertion that the shinigami had a massive advantage in the form of the ninja being unable to see them when he heard the front door open and close. Ando must’ve heard it too since he looked towards the door with a frown.

“She’s home early.”

Hiroshi expected Ando’s mother to look into his room or at least greet him. Instead he heard her get something from the fridge, then go to her room and shut the door. A moment later he heard a TV being turned on.

“Is she always like that?”

Ando looked down at his feet and shrugged.

“Usually."

Remembering what he’d been told, Hiroshi stood up.

“I should probably go home. Mum’s probably expecting me.”

To his surprise he felt kind of bad about leaving him. From what he’d heard and seen so far the kid’s home-life kind of sucked.

Ando nodded.

“Okay.”

“Hey, maybe we could do this again some time. Or maybe go to the convenience store or something.”

Ando looked at him like he’d just offered him the world.

“I’d like that.”


Three months later Hiroshi was stood waiting at a bus stop. A bus pulled up, people got off and a moment later he got tackled.

“Big bro! Were you waiting for me?”

“Yeah.”

“Why?”

He shrugged.

“It’s your birthday. I thought that I should do something different.”

While they talked and he extracted himself from Ando’s tackle-glomp, he covertly checked him over for new injuries. Thankfully, as far as he could see and smell there weren’t any.

“I got you a present too.”

He held out the brightly wrapped small package. Ando’s grin widened.

“What is it?”

“See for yourself.”

Without further ado, Ando ripped the wrapping paper off to reveal a set of proper artist’s pencils. He reacted by hugging Hiroshi again.

“Thank you. You’re the best friend ever.”

Hiroshi hugged him back. Maybe he was a monster but if he was, he was a monster who made someone smile when he probably wouldn’t otherwise and that was okay with him.

Shokkou

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Re: Letting Someone In

Post by Shokkou on Wed Dec 30, 2015 6:16 pm

Part Two: Suspicions and Trust (Ages 12/13)

Ando was twelve and he was starting to develop suspicions about his best friend.

This was largely the fault of his mother’s latest boyfriend. To be fair, Morita Daiki was probably one of the better guys she’d dated, even if he was a bit of a free loader who was clueless enough to to think that he could somehow win points in the relationship by trying to be buddy-buddy with Ando, but the guy had a serious obsession with all things gory and apparently thought that watching horror movies and only marginally less gristly documentaries on ghouls with his girlfriend’s pre-teen son was the perfect bonding activity. Some of the stuff mentioned in those documentaries rang a bell and sometime after the third documentary the ringing was too loud to ignore. Fact was, when you can a mother like Ando’s who had the taste in men that she did and had to deal with even more crap at school, you learnt to be observant and not ignore things in the interest of self-preservation, and unfortunately the same skills that allowed him to spot trouble coming and get out of the apartment before it arrived or to tell when his classmates were planning something had resulted in him observing certain oddities about his best friend that fitted with some of what he’d learnt from the documentaries a bit too well.

Point one: Ghouls couldn’t eat human food and it would taste absolutely foul to them. Ando had never seen Hiroshi consume anything other than water and unsweetened black coffee. To be fair, he said that it was because he had allergies and Ando didn’t know how the coffee would fit in if he was a ghoul but still…

Point two: To avoid detection, ghouls didn’t send their children to school. Hiroshi was homeschooled (something which Ando was actually more than a little envious about), apparently because he’d been sick a lot when he was younger and had fallen behind so regular school would be too much of a struggle until he caught up, but it had been almost a year and there had been no mention of him going back to school yet, even though he was thirteen and should be in his first year of middle school by now.

Point three: Ghouls didn’t get sick, they healed extremely fast, and their skin was largely impervious to injury. Despite his supposed past ill health, Ando had never known Hiroshi to get sick or to have so much as a scratch on him, even when he probably should. Not that suspicious in itself but worth noting none the less.

Of course, there was the fairly compelling counter argument that Ando had been friends with him for almost a year and had been alone with him on numerous occasions and nothing had happened. Going by what the documentaries and the Daiki’s magazines said that ghouls were like, a ghoul should have tried to eat him by now, but there hadn’t been so much as an attempted nibble. In fact, Hiroshi had never harmed a hair on his head. So, either he wasn’t a ghoul or if he was he was nothing like how everyone said ghouls were.

Either way, Hiroshi was still his best friend, the only person to honestly care about him and stick around for more than a couple of months when he didn’t have to, and Ando didn’t want to do or say anything that might ruin things between them. So he just did his best to push his suspicions to the back of his mind and focused instead on being a good friend.

Currently they were hanging out on the swings at the local playground, even though they were really too old to be there. However, being February it was pretty cold, it was getting dark and there was a suspicious looking guy lurking around who Ando was pretty sure was watching them. Hiroshi was the first to voice what they were both thinking.

“We should probably go home.”

Ando nodded in agreement, then checked his watch and sighed.

“Can’t. Mum’s got a bunch of her friend’s around and she told me to stay out of the apartment until eight at the earliest. It’s only five thirty.”

Hiroshi seemed to think hard for a moment, glancing a couple of times at the guy who was trying not to look suspicious and failing, before apparently reaching a decision.

“You can come back to mine. Mum’s working late so we’ll have the place to ourselves for a while.”

Ando’s suspicions reared their heads but were forcefully pushed down as he smiled at his friend.

“I’d like that.”

Twenty minutes later Ando was taking his shoes off in the genkan of a 1DK apartment in another part of the same building as his own. Hiroshi gestured around the tiny apartment awkwardly.

“Well, this is it. I know it’s not much, but it’s home.”

“I like it.”

He meant it too. It was cleaner than where he lived and it seemed cosier, more like a home. He couldn’t quite put his finger on it but it felt a lot more like somewhere where a family lived, rather than just somewhere where two people slept, kept their stuff and spent time in when they had nowhere better to be.

“Can I get you anything? I’m afraid that we haven’t had chance to go food shopping for a while so your only options are coffee and water.”

He looked a little embarrassed.

“Nah, it’s okay. I’m not thirsty or anything.”

In Ando’s head however his suspicions were stirring again.

In the main room most of the wooden floor was taken up by a thick rug, in the centre of which was an electric kotatsu, which the boys didn’t waste much time switching on and getting their legs under. As his feet warmed up, Ando yawned.

“Tired?”

“A bit, yeah.”

If he was honest it was more than a bit; he hadn’t got much sleep the night before because his mother and Daiki were loud, the walls were thin, and sticking his head under his pillow could only do so much.

The two watched TV for a while, then Hiroshi got up to go to the toilet. Ando’s curiosity got the better of him less than two seconds after the door closed. With maximum stealth, he got up and had a nose around the kitchen. Hiroshi hadn’t been exaggerating when he said that there was only water and coffee available. The cupboards were empty apart from a couple of different kinds of coffee, while the fridge was completely empty and spotless. No rice, no tea, no soy sauce, no juice, no anything.

A little voice in his head pointed out that this was very suspicious and that ghouls probably wouldn’t have anything in their cupboards or fridges either, except maybe human body parts. Ando was however prevented from dwelling on these thoughts by the sound of the toilet flushing. With as much stealth as he could muster he dashed back to the kotatsu and sat down. By the time Hiroshi emerged from the bathroom it was like he hadn’t moved, or so he hoped.

“Did I miss anything?”

Ando shrugged, his suspicions once again mostly buried under a pile of ‘he’s your best friend’ and ‘it’s been almost a year without so much as a nibble.’

“Not really.”

For a while they watched TV in companionable silence that was broken only by Ando’s increasingly frequent yawns. The rug was soft, the kotatsu was warm and despite his best efforts to fight it off, he was becoming increasingly sleepy.

He yawned again. Maybe if he just lay down and rested his eyes for a little while…


Hiroshi looked at the sleeping human with a smile. He’d been a bit worried about bringing Ando back here even though the apartment was currently free of anything incriminating, but the kid had nowhere else to go and he was fairly certain that the guy in the park had been eying up Ando for dinner. He’d been a bit more worried when he was pretty sure that he’d heard him creeping around the kitchen, but given that he was currently sound asleep on his floor it was probably safe to say that he didn’t have any suspicions. To be honest, the thought that Ando felt safe enough to fall asleep in his presence was kind of nice, even if it was due to ignorance on Ando’s part. Turning down the volume of the TV so as not to disturb him, he reached over and adjusted the kotatsu’s blanket so that it covered more of Ando’s chest.

An hour or so passed without incident, Hiroshi alternating between watching TV and checking on Ando who remained out like a light. He was considering having a nap himself when he heard the front door open.

“I’m home.”

Ando didn’t so much as twitch as he scrambled out from under the kotetsu to meet his mother as she stepped out of the genkan.

“We’ve got company.”

“Who…?”

She trailed off as she spotted the human snoozing on the rug.

“Hiroshi, what did you do?”

For one brief, slightly mad moment he was tempted to say "he followed me home, can I keep him" but thought better of it.

“Don’t worry, everything is fine.”

“No it’s not”, she replied before lowering her voice to a volume that it would be hard for humans to hear. “There is a human in our home. Do you have any idea how much of a danger that is? What is he doing here?”

“It’s okay, he doesn’t suspect anything.”

“How do you know?”

“Because I doubt that he’d be asleep on our floor if he did.”

She paused for a moment to consider that.

“Good point. That doesn’t change the fact that he shouldn’t be here. What were you thinking?”

“I know, but can I save the explanations for after I’ve sent him home?”

She sighed.

“Very well. Wake him up and get him out of here then.”

He nodded, then knelt down and shook Ando’s shoulder.

“Ando, time to wake up.”

The human groaned, then his eyes fluttered open.

“Oh. Was I asleep for long?”

“A while. It’s almost eight.”

“Oh.”

Sitting up, he rubbed his eyes and yawned, before noticing that there was a third person in the room. Three things happened in rapid succession; he blushed, scrambled to his feet almost tripping over himself in the process, and bowed a bit more deeply than was strictly necessary.

“You must be Hiroshi’s mother. I’m pleased to finally meet you. I’m sorry for falling asleep, but I was tired and it was really comfortable and…”

She cut him off mid-babble.

“It’s alright Ando-kun. I’m pleased to finally meet you too. Hiroshi has told me a lot about you.”

He visibly perked up at that.

“Really?”

“Yes, you sound like a good friend.”

He smiled.

“Thank you. Again, I’m sorry for just falling asleep like that. I’ll be going now.”

Hiroshi saw him to the door and waited while he pulled his shoes on.

“Sorry to chase you out the door like this.”

“It’s okay. Your mum seems really nice.”

There was the tiniest trace of something sad in his voice when he said that.

“She is. I’ll see you tomorrow then.”

“See you then. Bye.”

As soon as the door closed behind him, Hiroshi’s shoulders slumped. Time to face the music.

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Re: Letting Someone In

Post by Shokkou on Sat Jan 09, 2016 11:46 pm

Aiding and Abetting a Ghoul (Ages 14/15)

Early one Saturday morning when Ando was fourteen, the CCG came to his apartment building. By sheer chance he happened to be up unusually early that morning, having woken from a bad dream and failed to get back to sleep, and was sat on the balcony getting some (relatively) fresh air when they arrived. A fraction of a second after he realised who they were, he realised who they might be there for. He’d carried his suspicions about his best friend Hiroshi around in his head for years but had never acted on them or even spoken of them for fear of ruining their relationship. Now, with the CCG on the doorstep, he had to make a choice. As it turned out, it was a very easy one that he made in a heartbeat before bolting back into the apartment, grabbing the phone and dialling Hiroshi’s number.

“Come on, pick up, pick up.”

The men who’d exited the vehicle outside were probably in the building by now. Hiroshi’s apartment was on the opposite side of the building on the top floor and by sheer dumb luck the elevator was out of order which should slow them down a little, but would it be enough? The seconds dragged by as a knot of fear formed in his stomach. If only someone would pick up the damn phone.

“Hello.”

The voice at the other end sounded half-asleep but it was unmistakably Hiroshi. Ando practically sagged in relief.

“Hiroshi, the CCG are here.”

There was a pause.

“What…”

“Look, I can explain later but right now there’s a couple of guys with long white coats and suitcases in the building.”

There was silence on the other end for a moment then the line went dead. Ando re-dialled a few times but every call went unanswered, which to him seemed to confirm that his suspicions had been correct after all. He spent what seemed like an eternity pacing, fretting, and looking out the window, the knot in his stomach getting worse and worse until he thought he might throw up.

Eventually the men he’d seen enter the building came out. No one else was with them and from what he could see they seemed annoyed. Ando prayed that this meant that Hiroshi had got away.



He spent the rest of the day worried, restless and hopelessly distracted, wanting to go upstairs to see what had happened but not daring to for fear that he’d attract attention to himself and somehow endanger Hiroshi. He also worried that someone would connect the two of them and that investigators would come to question him.

His mother either didn’t notice the state he was in or did but didn’t comment on it. Either way it was pretty much standard, as was her leaving him alone in the apartment that evening to go out with her friends. He spent most of the night too worried to sleep and thinking of lies to tell the CCG if they showed up at his door, before finally passing out from sheer exhaustion in the early hours of the morning.

Sunday was much the same as Saturday in the worry department, with the fear of Hiroshi being caught being joined by the fear of never seeing him again. His sketchbook acquired some fairly graphic drawings of CCG investigators meeting messy ends, usually at the hands of ghouls, which helped a little but not much. His homework suffered greatly as he was too anxious to focus on it.

By Monday he was emotionally rung-out, tired and seriously considered skipping school that day, but none the less he got ready, retrieved the four thousand five hundred yen his mother had taken to leaving on the kitchen table every Monday to pay for all his food and bus fares for the week since she'd decided that he was old enough to take care of himself and that food shopping was something she'd rather avoid when he was thirteen (it was barely enough), and dragged himself to school.

He was almost at the bus-stop when he was abruptly grabbed and dragged into an alley, a hand clamping over his mouth before he could draw breath to scream. He struggled briefly, then stopped when he realised who it was.

Hiroshi stared at him from under the hood of a sweatshirt, an unreadable expression on his face, with one hand over Ando’s mouth and the other gripping his collar. Given that he was eight months older and on the other side of the growth spurt, he did a fairly decent job of looming over him.

“I’m going to remove my hand. Don’t scream, okay?”

Ando nodded and Hiroshi took his hand off his mouth.

“You’re okay.”

The relief in that statement was audible, even though some primitive part of his brain was very aware that a predator had him by neck and was freaking out about it. The other boy – the ghoul- looked at him oddly.

“You said you’ll explain, so explain.”

Ando shrugged awkwardly.

“I woke up early and saw the CCG show up. I thought that they might’ve been there for you, so I warned you.”

“Why,” he asked, his tone conveying that he didn’t have a clue why anyone would do such a thing.

Ando shrugged.

“Because you’re my friend,” he replied, as if it was the most obvious thing in the world.

Hiroshi just stared at him for a long moment, then let go of his collar and sighed.

“How long have you known?”

“I’ve only known for sure since Saturday, but I’ve suspected for a long longer.”

“How long?”

“Since I was twelve. Since before that time I fell asleep at your place I think.”

“Really? That long, huh. Did you tell anyone?”

Ando shook his head vigorously.

“No, of course I didn’t. I never said anything to anyone; I was too scared about what might happen if I did. You’re my only friend, I didn’t want to risk losing you.”

The ghoul gave him another odd look.

“You know, if it was anyone else I probably wouldn’t believe them, but with you I can believe it.”

Unsure what to make of that statement, Ando just nodded. A thought occurred to him.

“Where’s your mother? Is she okay?”

To his dismay, the question caused Hiroshi’s tough guy act to crumble away before his eyes.

“No. She….She’s….”

He looked and sounded like he was on the verge of tears. Ando’s heart sank. He’d liked Hiroshi’s mother, she’d always treated him nicely and it had been obvious that she’d loved her son very much. She hadn’t deserved whatever the CCG had done to her.

He reached out and put his hand on his friend’s shoulder.

“Hey…”

It was like a switch had been flipped. The next thing Ando knew Hiroshi was crying into his shoulder. Slightly awkwardly he wrapped his arms around the taller boy and rubbed his back as he sobbed.

“Fuck the CCG. Fuck the lot of them.”

He meant it. The boy in his arms wasn’t a monster, he was his best friend, the only person in the world who actually cared about him, and they had hurt him. Ando couldn’t forgive that. He couldn’t do or say anything that would make things better either, so he just stood there, trying to offer what comfort he could and letting his uniform get soaked with tears, as he wondered what was going to happen next.

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Re: Letting Someone In

Post by Live To Serve on Wed Jan 20, 2016 9:37 pm

Dude! This whole thing is like reading a novel. This is REALLY good. I don't normally get in to stuff like this, but dang you drew me in. I might have to do something like this.

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Re: Letting Someone In

Post by Shokkou on Thu Jan 21, 2016 8:19 am

Really? Thanks.

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