Step in Step, Chapter One: It's Alright! It's Really Not
(Gen, Blue Exorcist, One Shot Collection)
Main Relationship: Yukio Okumura & Rin Okumura
Main Characters: Yukio, Rin
Other Characters: Sugaro 'Bon' Ryuuji, Moriyama Shiemi, Shima Renzou, Paku Noriko, Kamiki Izumo
Word Count: 2.5k+
A collection of one shots focusing on the Okumura brothers.
Read on Ao3: https://archiveofourown.org/works/32927092/chapters/81719575
Around the class the temple crumbled. Stone pillars that stood steady for centuries lay scattered across the floor, knocked out of place. The ceiling they upheld collapsed, falling in pieces and raining down to smash at their feet as more supports failed.
“Everyone out!” Yukio shouted, panicked. Blood ran from a cut on his forehead, dripping in sticky and warm streams before his gaze. He cast a frantic look around, grabbing a nearby Shiemi as she stumbled and shoving her in the direction of the exit.
“Yukie?” she said, eyes wide.
Larger sections began to fall, walls caved—in moments, they would be buried.
“Let’s go!” He ran, tugging Shiemi along at his side, towards the gap of light he could see shining through the surrounding cloud of dust. Stones and wooden splinters embedded the floor in their wake. Pink hair dashed through the opening ahead—Shima was safe, at least.
Shiemi stepped wrong on the uneven floor, her ankle giving. She staggered and winced. Yukio clutched her upper arm, heaving her up and practically dragging her the rest of the way as she struggled to help their progress.
They reached the exit, barreling into the outdoors and inhaling clean air hungrily. Shima was bent over nearby, hands on his knees as he recovered himself. Sugaro stood at his side, patting his back as he choked.
Kamiki and Paku sat in the grass a little further, the purple-haired girl pressing her discarded sweater against her friend’s shoulder, blood leaking through the cloth.
Shiemi, Shima, Sugaro, Kamiki, and Paku. That’s five. But what about...
“Stay here,” he told Shiemi, releasing his grip on her upper arm and pushing her further away from the temple.
“But what about—”
“I’ll be right behind you!” he promised, already diving back inside.
The shouts followed him, soon drowned out by the shifting of stones and cracking of wooden beams. Yukio dodged larger debris as he plunged through the temple. A beam crashed down beside him and he just managed to dodge, the effort sending him to the floor, his head landing against something hard and steady. Pain burst across the side of his face, and he shifted with a groan, the crinkle of glass joined the din.
The shattered right lens of his glasses and the haze of pain left his eyesight half blurry. He got to his feet anyway, only to double back over as another section of ceiling landed before him.
The temple was in shambles, only a skeleton of the former foundation intact, a few groaning braces remaining. It would only take one to fail for anyone inside to be flattened.
Rin, he thought desperately, whirling around and searching desperately. Where are you?
Overhead the main beam creaked.
“Rin!” Yukio cried out. “ Rin!”
A warm weight grasped his shoulder, yanking him back. Yukio jumped, giving himself whiplash with how fast he turned his head. Rin—?!
It was Sugaro.
“We got to go!”
“No—!” Yukio argued as Sugaro yanked at him again.
“If we stay here we’ll die,” he insisted. “C’mon teach, we gotta move!”
“I need to find Rin—”
“Yukio,” Sugaro hissed, dark eyes boring into his own. “We’re going to die.”
Yukio paused at that. If it was just him nothing could have convinced him to make for safety without Rin. But Sugaro was there too, and Yukio had a feeling the other teenager wouldn’t be turning and running, leaving him to die alone. They would leave together or they wouldn’t leave at all—and it was Yukio’s job to keep his class safe.
Sugaro seemed to realize he’d struck a chord when he hauled Yukio along again and this time he didn’t struggle. Together they dashed forward, lurching over obstacles and choking on the contaminated air. His stomach seemed to clench painfully and his mouth tasted sour as he moved, blatantly aware of the fact Sugaro stayed at his side, not Rin.
It wasn't an exaggeration to say they just made it. As they reached the opening and staggered free the temple fell to pieces, a wave of dust expanding from the wreckage and enveloping them in its gritty sting.
“Nii-san!” Yukio screamed into the smog.
Rin had been inside . He was still inside, where Yukio had left him. Crushed and battered—because what good would his fire have done to protect him against stone? Not that they’d seen any sign of the blue flames. He was probably pinned, hurt, or, or...
He lunged forward, towards the shattered remains of the building they’d just escaped, only to come to an abrupt halt as Sugaro got a hold on him. “Let me go!”
Suddenly Shima was there too, his face right in front of Yukio’s, expression crumpled, eyes wild, hair astray.
“It’s dangerous—” he warned.
But Yukio didn’t listen.
“I have to find him—” he explained hurriedly, wrenching himself free from Sugaro’s grasp. I have to protect him.
Kamiki came up beside the trio, stepping into Yukio’s way. “Just calm down,” she implored, though her voice sounded strained. “We will find him—but get yourself together. You’re no good to him if you’re not thinking.”
“We know how you feel,” Shima added. “But just rushing over to haphazardly sift through the wreckage could make it unstable—it could even hurt him more.”
We know how you feel?
Yukio exhaled shakily. The cloud of dust began to disperse, tendrils still remaining at their feet. The wreckage of the temple shifted and groaned, settling on itself, and all Yukio could think about was the limp form of his brother. Buried. Bleeding. Bones snapped. Body trapped. God, Rin hated being confined.
He couldn't calm down. They didn't know how he felt.
But his class did have a point. They needed to do this in a way that made sense. Yukio closed his eyes tight enough to be painful and forced them open, looking from face to unsure face. He forced away the panic threatening to overwhelm him. That wouldn’t do Rin any good.
“We need to split into groups,” he ordered abruptly. “Shiemi and Kamiki, summon your familiars. The more eyes the better. Sugaro, Shima, you two take the right side. Shiemi and I will take the center. Paku, Kamiki, you have the left.”
Yukio stalked forward. “Everyone watch your step and be careful."
For ten minutes they searched.
As the second ticked away, they picked their way through more wreckage. Even as the unsearched section of the rubble grew smaller, no sign of Rin showed up.
Soon, Yukio’s hands were shaking, his throat felt dry and his eyes itched painfully. Everything seemed surreal and confusing. He didn’t know what to do, how to act. He felt dizzy and weak and wanted to both claw through the rubble with his bare hands and collapse at the same time. He wanted his brother safe, alive.
The others were affected also. The pieces of debris Sugaro shifted through landed harder when they were cast away. Shima was whiter than a ghost. Paku continued to look to a stone-faced Kamiki more often, who had chewed her lip enough to draw blood. Shiemi's face was washed with silent tears.
They were all thinking the same thing.
Rin should have been found by now—at least a sign of him. In the confusion of the battle with the demon who caused the temple's collapse, no one could remember where Rin had ended up, but the temple's grounds didn't span a large area, and they'd combed through enough space that something should have turned up. If Rin was buried he would have heard their efforts, would have known they were searching for him.
So why didn't he say anything? Call out?
Yukio didn't want to know—didn't like any of the answers he could think of.
Grimly, robotically, he reached down, moving aside a beam split down the middle, wood creaking in protest as he shifted it away from it's resting place.
The silence was peppered with grunts and the sound of work. It was Kamiki who broke it next. They'd all called out at some point, sharing updates, casting for any hints or signs even though they all knew the moment someone found something everyone would know.
"Anyone got anything—"
And it was so ironic, so unexpected, so infuriatingly like him that Yukio shouldn't have been surprised with what happened next.
“Heeeeeey!” a voice interrupted her. It cleaved through the air, vibrant and loud. “Guys! Is everyone okay!”
He was so focused on the idea of Rin trapped beneath the wreckage, he couldn’t believe his ears. But everyone else…
“Rin!” Shiemi called. She jumped to her feet where she'd been picking through a pile of stones, favoring one, hands clasped around her mouth and tears gathering in the corners of her red eyes.
Yukio spun around.
Rin marched towards the group, an easy grin crossing his face when he saw them all mostly unhurt and alive. His sword thumped against his side with each step. There was gray dust in his hair and his white shirt was marred by streaks of dirt but he appeared otherwise intact. As he drew closer he gave an explanation.
“There was a basement—who would have thought?” he laughed. “I managed to slip out that way—but the only way out was this really cool passageway that led all the way over to the woods so I had to race back after I found my way through it." He rubbed a hand along his nape, shaking his head. "But wow, talk about a close one, right....”
As one Yukio's students scrambled over the wreckage to join him on the safety of the grass. Yukio followed, feeling cloudy and heavy and absentmindedly finding his steps in the minefield of rubble.
“Dumbass!” Sugaro shouted, socking him in the shoulder as soon as he was within reach.
“Ow!” Rin complained, lurching away to hide behind Kamiki, eyes wide. “Bon—hey!”
Kamiki had delivered a punch of her own to his opposite arm. “Idiot,” she mumbled, but the way her nails dug into her palms betrayed her.
“What’s the deal? You guys are so violent ,” Rin whined, only to stumble back as Shiemi gathered him into a gentle hug.
She gave a small sniffle. “You’re okay!” she stated, relieved.
“Uh, yeah?” Rin agreed, baffled, but happy with the turn of events.
“I’m glad,” Paku told him as Shiemi tightened her grip for a brief moment and released him. “We were all so worried…”
“Yeah, dude!” Shima joined in. “Don’t scare us like that next time!”
He clapped Rin solidly on the back.
Rin looked around at them all, understanding dawning in his eyes as he took in his friend’s expressions and the ruins behind them. Sheepishly he lowered his head. “Sorry…I didn’t mean to make you guys worry...”
He looked down at his feet, face twisting guiltily, tail twitching sadly at his side. Satan's son or not, he looked like a kicked puppy.
“It’s alright!” Shiemi assured him.
“It’s really not—” Sugaro began heatedly.
“As long as you’re okay,” Shima said easily, though his skin tone still looked a few shades too pale, “All’s forgiven.”
“Says who—” Sugaro tried again.
“It was Mr. Okumura who was really worried anyway,” Shima continued, talking over the other teen, whose mouth closed with an angry click. “He flipped out really—not that anyone could blame him—”
It was then Rin finally turned to Yukio, who had been silently staring at him for the duration of his return.
“Yukio…?” Rin scanned him, taking in his shaking, red eyes, and the way he bit his lip. Rin’s shoulders slumped and he sighed. “Yukio.”
At this he unfroze. Rin was talking to him. Rin was safe. Rin wasn’t buried. Rin was right there . The relief consumed him and a tightness in his chest eased away.
Before he could think about it, the teacher rushed forward, grabbing hold of Rin and wrenching him closer, arms encircling his twin in a tight embrace that knocked the breath out of him. He lowered to head to rest against Rin’s shoulder, which smelled like smoke. Quietly, into his sleeve, he mumbled, “Nii-san…”
The rest of the class fell silent around them, staring, unabashedly shocked.
Rin didn’t seem overly surprised though. He only raised his arms and hugged him back. “It’s okay—I’m okay. We’re good.”
Yukio wasn’t crying, but the pressure behind his eyes grew and his throat felt rough. He curled his fingers around the fabric of Rin’s shirt and squeezed.
Everyone else came to life and started finding reasons to wander away from the pair, awkwardly shooting them not so discreet glances but also trying to ignore Yukio’s sudden transition from professor to teenager. Kamiki and Shiemi became increasingly interested in Paku’s wound and Sugaro was examining a deep scrape on Shima’s knee further away, all out of earshot.
Rin patted Yukio on the back. Quietly he asked, “Are you crying?”
Yukio shook his head and Rin nodded. “Good...there’s no reason to, you know. I’m right here.”
“You almost weren’t—” Yukio pointed out.
“But I am.”
And he was—right there in his arms. Yukio nodded. It was the first actual hug Yukio could remember them sharing in recent memory, and he hadn’t realized how much he had needed one until then.
"I thought you were dead."
Rin just tightened his hold. They stayed there for a little longer.
Finally, Rin grabbed his shoulders and pushed him back lightly—Yukio let him. They made eye contact and Rin smiled softly, reaching out to snag his broken glasses, tucking them into his pocket. Yukio looked down at his feet.
“Don’t do it again.”
He didn’t quite know what he was asking—and was aware Rin had only saved his own life by taking the backdoor—something Yukio was grateful for. But the words felt right.
And Rin nodded anyway. “Promise.”
Yukio swallowed thickly and stepped out of his brother’s hold.
He rubbed a hand down his face, pressing against his eyes. The rest of the class had wandered further off. Sugaro and Kamiki had started arguing, Shiemi’s efforts at keeping the peace made senseless by Shima’s attempts at egging them on. Paku watched onward, sighing at their antics.
After a moment Yukio sighed.
“We should head back to the academy,” he said, voice steadier.
“Okay,” Rin agreed. He glanced at the class and lowered his voice. “You ready to join the others?”
“Yeah,” Yukio confirmed.
Rin grinned widely. “Alright then—If you're sure.”
In sync they made to join the group, naturally falling into step with each other. This turned out to be a good thing because Yukio, as soon as he began to walk, realized the world was spinning slightly, and his steps were uneven as a result. Without the purpose of searching through the temple, suddenly each movement didn't agree with him. Rin’s hand reached out and curled around Yukio’s waist, who leaned against him not half as reluctant as he expected to be.
Yukio shrugged. “Concussion maybe.”
It hadn't seemed like a big deal, considering the circumstances.
Rin eyed the blood, dried and otherwise, covering his brother’s face with a sigh. “Alright, I’ve gotcha.”
Yukio believed it. He rested against him, allowing his twin to steady and help him over to the class, the crumbled remains of the temple looming behind them. Rin was okay.
They were okay.