Courtship - Part 3 (AjinWeek21/1)
Notes: So I decided to continue this for Ajin Week 2021! (although I was torn between making this a Sato fic cause you know. Hat.)
Day 1: Favorite character / summer break/ hat
Favourite character: Both Kei and Kou are among my favourite characters, Kei especially is one of my favourite protagonists of all time, and summer break, because this place during the sweltering time that is training camp. (fun! :D)
“Really?” Kei asks with growing annoyance as the vampire movie plays out on the screen in front of them. “Really?!”
“I can’t believe you haven’t seen that!” Kou defends himself, depositing the bowl of chips into Kei’s lap so his hands are free to adjust the volume.
“This is not what I had in mind when I agreed to…well, dating you.” Kei says, lowering his volume at the last three words that seem a little too foreign too pronounce.
“Why not?” Kou replies, “Movie nights are a super normal thing to do, not even for a date-“ He in comparison, has zero trouble adequately naming their current situation – “or with friends!” He smirked, which could never mean anything good: “Which you’d know, if you had any-“ Kou winces as Kei’s elbow rams into his side.
“I did have friends.” Kei grumbles through his teeth, stretching out his feet over the old and battered, but still quite comfortable couch. This is, surprisingly, afar more relaxing activity than he had initially anticipated.
Even if the movie is grating on his nerves.
“Why is everyone trying to befriend her?” he asks, exasperatedly. Bella Swan had made it perfectly clear that she was not interested in socializing from the moment she had arrived in her father’s rainy suburban town. And yet, in the first half an hour, not only had her childhood best friend shown up, she’d also been introduced to numerous classmates and faculty, and on top of that, was subtly encouraged to take a glance at a family of – vampire’s, that was his most likely prediction based on what he’d heard of the plot.
“Well, she’s new and people wanna get to know her. Nothing wrong with that.” Kou said diplomatically.
“Ugh.” Kei groans, and takes a sip of his coke. Eriko had always tried to make him watch these movies, which, if he was correct, were five in number, because apparently it was no enough to have a fourth movie. No, it had two be dragged out across two volumes. So far, he had been able to avoid it. Until training camp.
“Which you’d know, if you’d had-“
“Shut the fuck up.” Kei snaps, and the mood sours for a moment.
“Right, right, I’m sorry.” Kou says, after a beat of silence, and then his hand reaches over to grasp Kei’s.
“Is that really necessary?” Kei mutters, feeling his cheeks heat up. He prays that the darkness of the room, only lit up faintly by the TV, serves as enough cover.
“Well, it’s a date, right?”
“Stop saying that all the time.”
“Date. Date. Daaate.” Kou sing-songs, grinning at Kei knowingly.
The latter glowers: “Are you in elementary school?”
Kou laughs. He still doesn’t let go of Kei’s hand.
Kei feels his heartbeat quicken, ever so slightly, nervousness manifesting in the pit of his stomach. He chalks it up to the unfamiliar situation. After all, he really doesn’t know whether the movie will provide suitable entertainment for the next one and a half hours. There is no way it has anything to do with Kou.
At least, it shouldn’t.
“If you could choose between being a vampire and an Ajin, what would you pick?” Kou asks, out of the blue.
The movie had ended just a little while ago, a pointless two hours and six minutes of a supernatural romance that Kei couldn’t care less for. It was a little past ten, and they were not finished for a long while, apparently, if the cover for the second movie, blinking traitorously in Izumi’s streaming library, was anything to go by.
“Not this again.” Kei sighs, “Do you spend all day on these unlikely scenarios?”
“It’s that not unlikely.” Kou argues, “Come on, a few years back, you didn’t even know Ajin existed! And now you’re one!”
“Of course I knew they existed. It’s part of the school curriculum.” Kei deadpans, this particular lesson still rather unsettlingly fresh in his memory.
“Which you’d know if you’d gone to school.” He adds, acidly.
“Wow, harsh.” Kou pouts, “I did go. I just…dropped out. There’s a difference. Everyone knows that.” He mumbles.
“Keep telling yourself that” is on the tip of Kei’s tongue, but he swallows it down, if only to retain the peace. And perhaps because he would feel the tiniest bit guilty further prodding at that sore spot.
But school is something he does not want to think about for a good while again. The memory brings only pain. Betrayal from his classmates, from teachers, a jealousy- one that Kou would never be able to comprehend - on missing out on education that is a given for his former classmates.. A High School degree that he will never receive, if the government has any say in it, after all the years and effort, the hours of studying and revising he has put into it. A bleak future with all paths to prestigious medical universities blocked irreversibly. His only crime had been crossing that road that day. If only I could be reborn, Kei thinks miserably, then I could get a new chance. chance. He is in dire need of a new identity. Perhaps he can later guilt Tosaki into creating one for him.
“So circling back to the topic at hand, vampires.” he says, reluctantly.
“Heck yeah.” Kou agrees, excitedly, “So?”
“There are pros and cons on both sides.” Kei shrugs, “If you were a vampire, you wouldn’t be able to age and have a career, build a reputation. You’d have to get a new identity every few years. That sounds like a hassle. And don’t get me started on the…blood lust.”
The vampires and even humans in the movie had looked hungry in a completely different way whenever that topic came up. As though sucking your body’s circulatory system dry was desirable under any circumstance. Kei shuddered at the thought.
“You mean, you wouldn’t be able to build a family, live out your life with your friends, that kinda stuff?” Kou asks.
“I was referring to the important things, but I suppose.” Kei says loftily.
“Yeah, well, you’re wrong about that. Even vampires enjoy having relationships.” Kou argued.
“Bella seems pretty happy with the Edward guy.” his teammate emphasizes, “No matter if he’s a vampire or not.”
“But it is going to be a problem in the future.” Kei argues, “Honestly, she should have just stayed with Jacob and been done with it. It’s a suitable match, why put in any extra effort? She’s just going to grow old while he stays young forever.”
“Figures you’d go with the childhood best friend.” Kou mutters, flicking crumbs of his trousers.
But Kou – strangely, for once in his life- doesn’t seem to haven an emergent need to elaborate further on the matter.
Kei probably should have said something a long time ago.
Perhaps he should have stopped Kou from starting the blasted second movie, but “Kei, it’s not that late! And how else will you know how it ends?” (Apparently, never was not a viable option.)
So here they are, sitting through another two hours of what Kou calls an “iconic classic” and Kei under his breath refers to as trash, but not the recyclable kind.
The cinematography is stunning, he has to admit begrudgingly, and the plot, albeit ridiculous, still manages to draw him in enough for him to forego his plans of turning the movie off several times, which is quite bothersome.
Well, fine then, Kei thinks to himself, at least now if Eriko badgers him about those movies again, he can give her a detailed review of every single logical error he has discovered so far.
He is considering starting a list, just so as to have some backup proof. His little sister’s education doesn’t have to suffer any more than it already had.
“Is she really going to sit around for months and wait for him to come back?” Kei complains, grabbing a fist full of popcorn from the bowl Hirasawa had made for them, “That’s a complete waste of time.”
“I don’t know, don’t you think some people are worth waiting for?” Kou threw in, giving Kei a knowing -sort-of-look that he couldn’t place.
It was the first sentence he had spoken in a while. Apart from his rambling monologue to get Izumi to join them a while prior when she came in to check if the streaming service was working.
“Did you see these movies already, Izumi-san?” Kou had asked and Kei surely hadn’t imagined the blush pinkening her cheeks.
“Oh, those? Just…once.” she’d replied, her voice sounding a little too high-pitched for that to be true, “It all seems fine, so I should get going-“
“Ah, already? Take a seat, take a seat!” Kou says generously, gesturing to the couch, “You need a break too, right?”
And Izumi did, albeit only tentatively on the edge. “I’ll be gone in a few minutes.” she promises.
She lied. Fifteen minutes later, she is still there and Kei doesn’t have the heart to kick her out, despite this being a a date, as he not so subtly communicated to Kou via verbal cues – all of which the other successfully ignored -but then, he bitterly thought, what chance did their pseudo-trial stand against Kou’s immortal woman of his dreams?
His thoughts screech to a halt. What does he even care what Kou thinks about either of them? It was all beyond ridiculous.
“It depends on how long you’re waiting for them.” Kei says, in response to Kou’s earlier question, “What about you, Izumi-san?”
“I think some relationships are worth preserving.” Izumi replies meaningfully, but right before she can say anything else, her phone goes off, the Caller-ID flashing with a familiar name.
“It seems Tosaki-san needs my assistance.” she says, barely concealing a wistful sigh, “Have fun you two.”
“He really needs to stop working you to the bone.” Kou complains.
Kei has the decency to feel guilty about the relief that settles in him when she leaves.
The motorcycle ride looks engaging. An activity Kei himself wouldn’t mind doing, seeing as there was zero risk involved to his safety with his newfound Ajin status.
As he verbalizes all of this, Kou gives him yet another of these knowing looks.
“Well, you were always one for motorcycles, weren’t you?” he says, tone bordering on smug.
Kei frowns. “Where did you get that idea from? I’ve only ridden one so far, but that was with Kaito.”
“I know.” Kou says, and then downs the rest of his coke.
“Refill?” he asks, holding out his hand for Kei’s glass.
“Sure.” Kei says, passing it over. He eyes Nakano skeptically, for any hint as to why his demeanor kept fluctuating.
“Here you go.”
“Thanks.” Kei cautiously takes the glass from him. Their fingers brush, lingering just a second too long to be casual. Kei notices how the tips of Kou’s ears redden and uses his momentary distraction to his advantage.
“You really hate that Jacob guy, don’t you?”
Judging by the look on his teammate’s face, he hit the nail on the head.
“I, uh, well hate is a kinda strong word.” Kou hesitates, stumbling over words, “He’s just not my favourite.”
“Really?” Kei asks, raising an eyebrow. In all honesty, he isn’t very interested in either of the characters, but psychoanalyzing Kou is what gives the evening its spice.
“Why is that so surprising?” Kou pouts.
“Because he’s just the same sort of muscle-brained idiot that you are.” Kei responds, gracing Kou with an exasperated look, before turning back to the movie.
His words seemed to have had a profound effect on his teammate. Whatever sort of enlightenment had reached Kou, it had visibly brightened his mood.
“He is, isn’t he.” Kou says, with a small laugh.
“I don’t know why that is so surprising.”
“Guess I never thought of it that way.”
Which was exactly why it fit so well, Kei thinks to himself. Kou looks positively thrilled with the new discovery. As much as it pains to admit him, a lot remains about his teammate that he still doesn’t understand.
“I think he might be becoming my new favourite character.” Kou says, conspiratorially, sliding closer to Kei and slinging arm around him.
As the movie goes on, Kei starts to feel more and more tired. The comfortable atmosphere and the constant stream of voices from the TV serve to lull him a sleepy state. “Wake me up when they reach Italy.” he mumbles, the exhaustion of another day spent training finally catching up with him.
Kou mumbles an affirmative, and that’s where Kei’s memory cuts off.
The next thing he knows, someone is prodding at him from the side, instructing him to wake up.
“Fine, five more minutes.” Kei says, swatting the offending hand away.
He blinks as he comes too, shielding his eyes against the sudden brightness of the room.
The movie has ended, but even if hadn’t, Kei wouldn’t have been able to see much of the screen.
Not with Tosaki blocking their view.
“It’s almost 1 am.” he informs them through clenched teeth, “Get upstairs before I sever the internet connection.”
It’s a substantial threat. Substantial enough to briefly distract Kei from the fact that he had fallen asleep right on top of Kou.
“Fuck.” Kei swears under his breath, sitting up straight.
His teammate seems less perturbed.
“You missed the ending.” is all Kou has to say for himself, with a shit-eating grin.
(“It really is pointless.” Kei whispers, later that night, as they are both lying in Kou’s bed, a hair-brained decision that Kei blames his tiredness for.
“The whole being with a vampire. She can’t be, unless someone turns her into one, but that would be the epitome of a ridiculous clishé".
“Oh God, please tell me I’m wrong.”)