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[BOMBERMAN] School Daze. 
11th-Oct-2015 11:02 pm
red night sky
Title: School Daze.
Fandom: Bomberman (Ariaverse).
Pairing: Shiro/Regulus.
Words: 5479.
Summary: It’s time to get schooled in life, love, and loving life with a half-crazy bomb-throwing receptionist hero and his emotionally dead shadow elemental boyfriend.
Rating: PG-13.
Notes: Another themeset that turned out accidentally long. I tried to name the themes with things that would or could be associated with school, considering Shiro's new job.

#01 - First day

Lemuel Chayton College Preparatory Academy, located towards the southern end of the heart of downtown Cerbera, goes through employees like toilet paper in a food-poisoned household. Teachers, janitors, office assistants...the student population is notorious for being terrors. Truth be told, the employees often aren’t much better, either: one of the longest-employed individuals had been the main receptionist, a crotchety old lady who was as tough as a wad of old chewing gum stuck to a bike rack and equally as pleasant to think about. Though not particularly well-liked, she had been at the school for so long that she was considered as much of a part of the school as the spray-painted statue of the school’s namesake in the central courtyard. So it comes as a great surprise to everyone when she suddenly retires one year, and even more of a surprise that she is replaced in the next school year by a young man who barely looks out of high school himself.

Naturally, news of the new receptionist spreads like a flu epidemic, with students dropping by to get a glimpse of him. And it takes less than a month for Shiro Yogeki to cement his reputation as the school’s new legend.

#02 - Lunchtime

“You realize you have the refined tastes of a five-year-old kid, right?” Shiro wryly comments after Regulus once again bypasses a standard meal at a restaurant and orders dessert right off the bat.

#03 - All-nighter

After a particularly trying day at work, Shiro wants nothing more to curl up in Regulus’ arms and pass out into silent oblivion.

But when the demonic static in Shiro’s mind grows louder as he approaches Regulus, Shiro resigns himself to a sleepless night devoted to figuring out what the hell is going on and fixing it.

#04 - Self-study

“The connection is bothering you again,” Regulus says.

Shiro rubs at his eyes, as though to erase the dark circles beneath them. Pale as he is, they stand out like bruises. “It’s fine,” he insists.

“I hardly think so, not when you yourself have stated that it has been strengthening with time. Besides that, you nearly tripped over the coffee table at least twice today, to say nothing of leaving your phone inside the fridge.”

Shiro’s face flushes red. But the blood fades soon enough, as though even his circulation is too tired to do its job.

“You are sleeping with me from this point on,” Regulus concludes.

“What? No, it’s — I can — I want to manage this myself!”

Regulus can normally appreciate attempts at self-sufficiency and independence. Arguably, they’re the traits that garner the most respect from him. Yet somehow Shiro has managed to turn even those into reprehensible vices. But, then again, perhaps all vices are simply virtues in excess. “You will be much less likely to survive your already suicidal heroic ventures if you are not well-rested,” he says. “There’s no point in martyring yourself over this.” He tilts his head slightly. “Unless you are bothered by sharing a bed with me?”

Shiro blushes again, frowning. He runs a hand over his face with a sigh.

“Well, no,” he mutters, “but...”

“Then it’s settled.”

#05 - Handwriting

A week and a half spent trying to decipher Shiro’s chicken scratches convinces the office staff at Chayton Prep to shuffle around his duties and provide extra technical support so that he has to handwrite as little as possible.

#06 - Supervision

“You own this entire complex?! Why didn’t you let me have my own unit when I first moved in here?”

“It was simply easier to keep track of you this way.”

“Wow. Way to take that to a creepy place. Why am I dating you, again?”

“You may wish to ask Zoniha about that, instead — as I understand you’re inclined to do.”

#07 - Homework

A chance visit to the Akashic Records to investigate something else reveals a method for strengthening the shadow energy in Shiro’s ring to the point where he no longer requires Regulus’ presence to completely mute his cosmic connection and the sensations that comprise it. He only needs the ring to be recharged every now and again, with maintenance on the actual enchantments even less necessary.

Regulus doesn’t think much of the development at first. Practically speaking, he’s pleased that Shiro will no longer be handicapped simply by being too far from him. It’s less for him to worry about. (So strange to be worrying about another person...) But leave it to Zoniha to unearth some trivial thing for him to be bothered by.

“So do you miss being Shiro’s lone bastion of sanity?” Zoniha says to him over tea. Hers is black, burnt almost like coffee.

Regulus stirs his own tea, caramel vanilla with heaps of sugar and milk added. “I don’t see any reason why I would,” he says, and instantly knows that he does, a little — though he doesn’t know why. “This arrangement simplifies matters greatly.”

“Aww, you didn’t feel like his special savior or anything? Didn’t enjoy the built-in excuse for him to cling to you?”

He levels a mild glare at Zoniha. It’s more for effect than anything. She rarely evokes genuine irritation or ire from him. “Even if that were the case, there’s no point in dwelling on it now. Things are as they are.”

She rolls her eyes. “I’m trying to help you get back in touch with your emotional side here. It’s kind of important when you’re dating someone as normal as Shiro, and not a messed-up bitch like me.”

Memories of a more vividly felt time bob to the surface of Regulus’ consciousness like bloated corpses. He gives them a cursory glance before shoving them back under. “Shouldn’t I be more concerned with how Shiro feels about this situation? I assume he must be equally as relieved, thus settling the matter.”

“You know what they say about assuming. I wouldn’t be surprised if Shiro also felt a little sad at losing that connection to you, troublesome as it was.”

She takes a sip of her tea before continuing, “But you should do the boyfriendly thing and actually ask him how he feels,” and laughing at the dismayed look on Regulus’ face.

#08 - Networking

Unwilling to talk about his past as Bomberman but needing to get a job that was halfway normal, Shiro takes on a series of temporary positions acquired for him through Zoniha’s connections in order to build up a decent job history for his resume. But it’s the referral from someone he once helped and subsequently struck up an acquaintanceship with that gets him the receptionist job at Chayton Prep.

#09 - New

With his youthful looks, Shiro would be mistaken as a student in the school by faculty and students alike if not for the fact that his reputation as the new receptionist has begun to precede him.

#10 - Cheating

There’s one bright spot to Shiro’s cosmic connection, and it’s that Regulus can no longer get the drop on him as easily because he feels noticeably saner the closer Regulus is to him.

(Though the excuse to cuddle him is nice too.)

#11 - Competition

“Where did you get those?” Regulus asks Shiro, who’s curled up on the living room couch watching TV.

“These?” Shiro says through a mouthful of food. He holds up a plastic bag of sugar cookies. “A student made them for me. Want one?”

Regulus plucks one out of the bag. After a brief visual inspection, he takes a thoughtful nibble.

“Greasy,” he concludes. “Whoever made this used butter that was too soft. Unevenly baked, too — the dough was rolled too thick.”

Shiro stares at Regulus in mid-bite, incredulous. “Are you seriously critiquing the baking skills of a sixteen-year-old girl?”

Regulus only gives him an unapologetic glance as he turns to leave. “What does the age or gender matter? Poor baking is poor baking.”

Somehow, Shiro isn’t surprised when he finds a batch of perfectly baked sugar cookies left for him on the kitchen counter two days later.

#12 - Incomplete

Shiro’s main supervisor gasps when Shiro comes into work with a prominent black eye. “Shiro, are you...”

He laughs. “It’s fine, it’s fine! My boyfriend and I were — ”

But he’s called away for a task by another supervisor and never finishes his story.

#13 - Home economics

Regulus’ kitchen, custom-made and outfitted to his specifications, seems like more of a sanctuary for Regulus than his own bedroom. For this reason, Shiro often feels as though he’s trespassing on holy ground whenever he wanders into it to cook something for himself that doesn’t contain ungodly amounts of sugar. It isn’t helped by the fact that Regulus — being quite picky about his process — typically refuses to let him help in even the simplest of food preparation tasks.

Still, Shiro finds it relaxing and soothing to watch Regulus go about his baking. It’s a nice reminder that there’s at least one mundanely human thing about him.

#14 - Intervention

Fights and altercations are common in the weathered halls of Chayton Prep, necessitating security guards patrolling the halls on the regular. In the first few weeks of his job, though, Shiro misses out on the action, only hearing about such things secondhand (mainly through doing the paperwork to write students up for violations).

But on his way back from an errand one day, Shiro witnesses one student bullying another and can’t help stepping in.

“Is there a problem here, guys?” he casually asks, sauntering over to them.

The bully stands at Shiro’s height and sports a similar build, but he’s dressed much more sloppily. A scowl cuts across his face. “None of your business, fag,” he growls.

“News to me,” Shiro deadpans. “My job description said I was supposed to ‘see to the well-being of the students’. So here I am.” He turns his attention to the victim, who is actually taller than the both of them. “You all right? Did you need any help?”

The bully takes that chance to throw a punch at Shiro. Shiro simultaneously dodges and shoves the victim out of the way into the arms of another student, presumably a friend. A crowd gathers as Shiro effortlessly dodges the flurry of strikes the bully throws his way (at least literally in one case, with the bully flinging a textbook at him).

“Feeling better now?” Shiro asks after the umpteenth attempt to land a hit. “I don’t mind a good fight, but I still gotta get lunch.”

The bully snarls. “I’m going to kill you — ”

“All right, all right, break it up, you guys!” a security guard barks, his voice cutting through the commotion. “Camos, buddy, are you itching for another slave day already? Never mind, don’t answer that. And as for you” — addressing Shiro — “you’d better learn to keep your head down if you want to keep your job at all.”

Shiro refuses to dignify such a suggestion of passivity with even a nod. But news quickly travels of one of Chayton Prep’s most notorious troublemakers being completely humiliated by the school receptionist.

#15 - Snacks

“I hope you know that someone has been stealing the cookies out of my lunches ever since I shared some of them with the office,” Shiro tells Regulus one day.

“Perhaps you should keep your lunch in a more secure place,” Regulus quips, barely looking up from his computer.

From that point on, though, Shiro’s share of baked goods doubles in quantity.

#16 - Correction

The ursine demon peers curiously at an imprisoned Shiro. “This one...he is beloved of the Prince of Shadows, is he not?” he asks his superior standing behind him.

“‘Tolerated by’ is the more accurate term,” Shiro deadpans.

#17 - Sick

“Trust me, Reg,” Zoniha says, “if my healing powers could be used to heal actual sickness, I’d be making scads of money working at a hospital. You’re just gonna have to nurse Shiro back to health the old-fashioned way.”

#18 - Club

Shiro’s in the middle of talking to members of his fan club (quite literally a declared fan club, although formed under the pretense of being a joke to hide the very serious crushes of many of its members) when Regulus shows up at the school to collect him for a meeting with the knights later that afternoon.

As the two of them walk away, one of the few male members is heard loudly exclaiming: “Damn, they two sooooo hot together!”

#19 — Admirers

So much for fading from the spotlight, Shiro muses, eyeing the pile of random gifts his student admirers have left on his desk.

#20 - Distraction

Quicksilvered Juraiel kidnaps Shiro one day, an ordeal he takes gracefully with a touch of boredom up until Juraiel — on a whim — steals the shadow-infused ring that mutes his connection to the cosmos. Enamored by her new treasure, Juraiel abandons him, completely forgetting that she was supposed to be bringing Shiro to someone else. And so Shiro is left tied up for hours in the middle of a large, sprawling graveyard, with no protection against the spiritual energies and entities that tear through the place. They’re mostly harmless, technically...but mortals were never meant to witness certain things.

It’s the middle of the night when Regulus finally tracks down the delirious mess that is Shiro. Drained as he is from bearing the full weight of the connection for so long, Shiro passes out the instant Regulus is near enough to grant him the first moment of relief. So Regulus has to carry him back to the car in his arms, depositing him in the backseat before driving back home to get him to a proper bed.

When Shiro inevitably sleeps through his phone alarm the next morning, Regulus heads things off at the pass by calling Shiro’s workplace to inform them of his absence. Minutes later, he decides to call Zoniha to reschedule his own obligations, allowing him to stay by Shiro’s side for the time being. He sets his phone back on the end table, curls himself slightly around Shiro, and wonders why he cares so much about Shiro’s well-being.

#21 - Vacation

“A week?” a just-awakened Shiro says to Regulus. “You requested off for me for an entire week?”

“I did not know how long you had been exposed to the full power of your connection. I was erring on the side of caution — a decision that has clearly paid off, considering it is now the fourth day since you initially passed out.”

And despite the days of rest, Shiro still feels wrecked from his experience with the unfiltered cosmos. It hadn’t been as strong before, when Shiro first arrived on Thantos, and he hasn’t had to manage it without his ring for quite some time. He doesn’t even actually remember Regulus coming to get him; there is only a jumble of half-remembered, barely-comprehended sensations before the sudden descent of a heavy curtain of black. A headache tap-dances in his skull, the sharpness muffled by Regulus’ shadowy aura enveloping him. With a sigh, Shiro manages to get his limbs working well enough to settle himself better into Regulus’ arms.

“Where is your ring?” Regulus asks.

His ring? Shiro rubs his thumb against his index finger, a movement guided by habit, and — “Oh.” He shuffles through his brain with all the grace of a drunken man. “Uh. I think Juraiel took it from me.”


“The seraph who kidnapped me earlier that day. Not sure why. I think she was supposed to be holding me for someone, but instead she stole my ring and took off.”

“I see. Then you are useless until I can create another one.”

Shiro grimaces. “Thanks, Reg. You really know how to make a guy feel better about losing his mind.”

“Do you deny the truth of it?”

“I’m just saying, your bedside manner sucks.” He nuzzles the side of Regulus’ neck, savoring the warmth and scent of it. “Well...I guess it’s fine as long as you keep your mouth shut and just look pretty.”

“One might say much the same about you.” Before Shiro can respond, Regulus continues: “There are things I need to do today that cannot wait. I will be back as soon as possible. Do you need anything?”

“No.” After an answering rumble from his stomach, Shiro concedes: “Well, food, I guess. Fruit or something.” Nothing sounds appealing to him despite his hunger, though, and when Regulus gets up to leave, the return of his cosmic connection dwarfs almost all corporeal concerns. Closing his eyes and pulling the blanket over his head helps with blocking most of the unearthly visions, but a large part of the connection is tied directly to his mind, especially the soundscape of the universe. Even if Shiro had thought to ask for his music player before Regulus left, it would not have been able to drown out some of the more unsettling harmonies now resonating in his bones.

It’s embarrassing how fast Shiro attaches himself to Regulus the moment he returns to the bedroom, arms around his waist and cheek pressed against his chest. Though the shadow-charged ring mutes the connection, only Regulus’ presence removes the full weight of it from Shiro’s mind. Normalcy is his drug of choice and right now Shiro desperately needs his fix.

#22 - Teacher

“You know,” Shiro says after Regulus clarifies the trick to a particular counter, “sometimes I wonder why you don’t take up a teaching job yourself. I mean, I’ve learned a lot from you since we began sparring together.” He smirks. “Then I remember what an antisocial grumpypants you are.”

“I have little time and patience to waste on hopeless causes,” Regulus answers.

“Hey, now, you don’t know what kinda people might end up in your classes. You might find someone even better than I am, if only they had someone to teach them properly.”

“Training you is enough trouble for me.”

“Have I mentioned that I’m glad I have legitimate reasons to try kicking your ass on a regular basis?”

#23 - Concern

His supervisor is the first to bring up the subject with him, taking him aside just before he leaves school for the day.

“Shiro, is everything all right with you?” she asks.

“Huh? Yeah. Why?”

“Ah...I was just wondering. You’ve been looking a little run-down lately.”

He smiles and shrugs. “I, uh...it’s just been a long week, that’s all.”

“Troubles at home?”

“Mm, you could say that, I guess.”

She pats his shoulder. “Well, let me know if you need anything, all right? I promise I’ll be there to listen whenever you need me. You have my number; don’t hesitate to give me a call if something’s wrong.”

Shiro goes home that afternoon touched but a little confused. His fellow office assistant is much more direct.

“You need to leave his ass,” she declares over lunch a few days later.

Shiro blinks at her. “What?”

“Your boyfriend! You gotta leave him. He ain’t treating you right.”

He shakes his head. “It’s not like that! He’s just...weird, is all.”

She gives him a disbelieving look. “Really? ‘Weird’ is the best you can come up with? I think he goes way beyond that.”

You don’t know the half of it, Shiro thinks. “Look, it’s fine. If I seem tired all the time, it’s because I’m kind of an insomniac.”

“Yeah, and whose fault do you think that is, huh?” When Shiro refuses to answer, she continues: “Hey, I’m just worried. You’re a great guy and you deserve better. There’s nothing to be ashamed of. Some people just don’t know how to treat people right, that’s all.” She reaches into her purse and pulls out a pamphlet entitled Abusive Relationships. “At least read through this, all right?”

Shiro does, when he’s off the clock and eating at a local restaurant. He doesn’t expect to find anything resembling his relationship with Regulus in it. But he also doesn’t expect a weird sense of discontent to creep up on him after confirming this. It would almost be easier if things did match up, in a twisted sort of way, Shiro muses. At least then it would be somewhat “normal,” and he could start making better sense of how he’d fallen into this...thing...with Regulus. And if there were a way out of it.

Disconcerted as he is, Shiro idly wanders the city streets to clear his mind. He doesn’t return to the condo until much, much later.

“Any particular reason you’re home late?” Regulus asks dryly as Shiro passes by the kitchen. He’s in the process of rolling dough.

Shiro stops in his tracks and gazes at Regulus for a while, wondering if any of the emotions listed as warning signs in the pamphlet — fear, shame, wariness — well up in him at the sight of the man. But he only finds himself thinking that Regulus looks hilariously good with his hair tied back and a flour-powdered apron tied around his waist, and that of course he would be in the kitchen in the middle of the night making delicious things.

He laughs. “Not really. I just got distracted, that’s all.” He walks over to give Regulus a kiss on the cheek before heading to his bedroom to get changed, leaving Regulus slightly perplexed.

#24 - Tragedy

“Something happened today,” Regulus says when he sees Shiro dejectedly shuffle into the kitchen after coming home from work. There’s no question of that, for Shiro wears his heart on his sleeve and then some. It’s only a matter of whether Shiro will talk about it.

Shiro dumps his backpack on a chair before heading for the fridge. “A student I know got killed last night. Gang-related stuff. I’m sure you know how it goes.”

Regulus lets that slide into silence, feeling no need to dignify such an obvious observation. “How well did you know this student?”

“Better than most. Less than some. It just sucks because I really thought he was making progress, and then he goes and gets himself mixed up in some stupid drug deal gone wrong...” He pulls out a can of orange soda, but only gives it a morose stare for a moment before putting it back and closing the fridge door. “Whatever. It’s the same shit, different day.”

Regulus can relate, albeit not in the way that Shiro would wish. Given his line of work, it’s not uncommon for him to encounter or hear about young victims of urban hell.

So while he’s fairly certain that Shiro is talking about someone completely different, Regulus can’t help but idly wonder if this student happened to be the same teenager he ran into while overseeing the termination of a group of persistent freelance drug-pushers blatantly taking over Phoenix territory.

#25 - Gossip

Chayton Prep is an enormous school, but of course Cerbera is bigger still, and so as long as Shiro stays away from the immediate radius around the school, he can avoid running into anyone he knows from there — a number that is growing distressingly large for his comfort. It’s not that he doesn’t like those he’s managed to befriend, student or faculty, but he’d prefer for them not to get caught up in the strange life he leads outside of school. On the other hand, he can accept that the attention he’s earned is merely the price he has to pay for refusing to stand by when students are in trouble (or causing trouble, for that matter). He knows he wouldn’t have been able to live with himself if he had let such things pass.

So when he runs into one of his biggest student admirers being terrorized by some low-level ogres wandering around, Shiro doesn’t hesitate at all in spiriting her away from danger.

Her eyes are wide with wonder. “Sh-Shiro?”

He gives her a reassuring smile. “Hey, no worries. I’ll deal with these guys. Just run for it, okay?” Another thought occurs to him, and he leans in close to whisper to her: “Also, I’d really appreciate it if you could just keep all of this a secret between us. It’d be a problem if it got out.”

She looks like she’s about to ask more questions, but the ogres catch up to them then, and Shiro has to turn his attention into bombing them into submission.

When Shiro sees her in school again the next day, she ducks her head shyly and puts a finger to her lips, and Shiro knows she hasn’t said a word about the details of their encounter.

(Unfortunately, it quickly becomes known that the student had some sort of encounter with Shiro outside of school, and — with no other explanation forthcoming from her — inevitably most people who hear of it assumes that the two slept together, leading to an embarrassing lecture from his supervisor about her disappointment in his lack of discretion and the inappropriate nature of his supposed relationship with the student before Shiro hastily explains the generalities of the situation.)

#26 - Disrespect

“Granted, I haven’t gotten a chance to talk extensively with you,” says Baelfael. “But I don’t think I’ve ever seen you be as testy about anyone as you are about Regulus. Not that I blame you, mind. But it is an interesting phenomenon. Hearing the vitriol that comes out of your mouth with regards to that man would make one question why you’re with him in the first place.”

Shiro shrugs. “Well, I don’t really mean it. I mean, I do, but not like that.

An amused look. “You’re not clarifying the matter, you know.”

He huffs good-naturedly. “Things are confusing all around, all right?” He grins a little. “But you know, it’s kind of nice to not have to worry about being nice to him. I can at least relax about that...even if almost everything else about him frustrates me to no end.”

#27 - Skipping

What Regulus wouldn’t give to be able to hire Shiro directly into the Obsidian Phoenix without Shiro protesting the matter on moral and ethical grounds...

#28 - Immaturity

“I can’t believe this. We’re really going to save those scumbags?”

“Only for long enough to interrogate them, after which point I intend to dispose of them like the waste of space that they are. You are the one defaulting to saving them, a notion I don’t recall you having any objections to when we initially discussed this over dinner.”

“...you know, coming from anyone else, that might almost be a really convoluted that’s-not-what-you-said-last-night joke.” Pause. “And anyway, it’s not an ‘objection’ so much as it is a ‘request for clarification,’ since, yes, that is definitely not what you said last night when you asked me to help out.”

#29 - Valediction

They stand side-by-side at the top of a rocky cliff overlooking the roiling ocean, their hands clasped together. Before them, just past the narrowed edge, floats a portal of glowing glyphs leading to the Aethyric Citadel, where a seraph will attempt to nullify the demonic amplification placed on Regulus’ emotions.

Shiro takes a breath, tasting the salty air. “Well,” he say, “I guess this is it, then.”

Regulus shoots him a crooked grin. “Don’t make it sound like I’m leaving for good.”

“What? You kinda are, in a way.” A headshake. “But you’re right. I’ll be right here waiting when you come back.” After giving one more reassuring squeeze, he quickly drops Regulus’ hand before he changes his mind and decides not to let him go after all.

But Regulus doesn’t move yet. His eyes go distant as he stares at the portal, the glyphs throwing jagged shadows and shards of light across his face.

“Reg...?” Shiro says tentatively.

Regulus turns. Holds a hand to Shiro’s cheek. Shiro closes his eyes, expecting a kiss.

“I love you, Shiro,” Regulus says instead. “I thought it was best to say it while I still could.”

Shiro blinks up at him, lips parted. His throat tightens. He swallows and tries to ignore the tears burning behind his eyes.

“Just go already,” he pleads with a weak, trembling laugh. He reaches up to touch Regulus’ hand; stops himself before he can make contact. “I don’t think I can handle you like this anymore.”

Regulus smiles sadly — an expression Shiro has never seen before on him nor will ever see again — and walks into the light to reclaim himself.

#30 - Graduation

Shiro sits with his back resting against a large rock, head in his arms as he waits for Regulus’ return. He doesn’t need to see him to know when he emerges from the portal. He can feel the cosmic weight being lifted from his mind, the pressure behind his eyes easing, before he hears the soft scuff of boots grinding stray sand into the ground. Any solace gained from that, though, dies the moment he looks up to see a stonefaced Regulus staring down at him.

“Welcome back, Reg,” Shiro says, forcing a smile. “Told you I’d be here.”

“I would not have expected otherwise. How long have I been gone?”

Shiro gets to his feet and shrugs. “Hell if I know. I wasn’t paying attention.” He pulls out his phone for a moment to check the time. “Maybe twenty minutes or so.”

“I see. It felt considerably longer in the Citadel.” Regulus steps past Shiro to head back down the path that took them up the cliff, a sloped trail of beach grasses and jagged rocks and pebbles.

Shiro follows after him, unnerved by the sudden silence between them. He supposes he should have expected it, but truth be told he’d been hoping for a little more of a grace period. “So, uh...how was it?” he asks after a few more moments. “Getting the amplification removed, I mean.”

“Unpleasant. But a relief compared to what preceded it.”

“The anticipation was killer, huh?”

“...” Regulus carefully avoids a particularly jagged rock in his way. “I was referring to my sudden inability to control myself.”

Shiro slows his steps, finding himself growing colder in the humid edge of twilight. It would figure, wouldn’t it, that the man he fell in love with would think of the normal emotional spectrum as a loss of control. Like some sort of pathological disorder.

Why am I in love with him, again?

He wonders if it’s even really love at all, or just a twisted form of desperation on his part. Their relationship is not equal by any means, dependent as Shiro is on Regulus’ charity merely to be a functional person. But perhaps the disparity wouldn’t bother Shiro so much if not for the fact that they also share very little of the same morals, or ethics, or even life expectancy. Perhaps he shouldn’t have let Regulus return to his old self, after all; it hurts having the memories of how things could have been better, rather than half-born wishes. For once, Shiro wishes that he had been selfish enough to demand at least one concession of normalcy for himself.

But the thought passes like a pinprick. No, this had been the right choice, and Shiro can find some satisfaction in knowing that. There had been too much at stake for there to ever have truly been a question of Regulus regaining control over himself. This way, another crisis is averted. This way, Shiro is the only victim.

“Well, then,” he manages, “you must be just pleased as punch with how things’ve turned out.”

Regulus gives him a questioning glance. “Why would I not be?”

“Never mind. Forget I said anything.” Shiro quickens his pace again, passing Regulus’ side. The path they’re taking is not meant for swift travel, but right now he needs to pretend like he can leave Regulus behind. In his haste, however, Shiro inevitably slips on an unsteady foothold.

Instantly Regulus grabs a hold of his arm to steady him — and refuses to let go.

“I do not regret a single thing I did or said to you while I was not myself,” he says in response to Shiro’s startled look.

A silence.

“...technically,” Shiro begins, “you were yourself during all that. Just with the volume turned up, like Mumzhiram said.”

“I am well aware of what Mumzhiram said about my mental state. That doesn’t change what I said.”

“I know. I’m just being a jerk.” Shiro tries to extricate his arm from Regulus’ grasp, to no avail. “So, uh, are you gonna let me go or what? We need to be getting home.”

Regulus lets go after a moment longer. But he quickly takes Shiro’s hand in his, and Shiro lets him lead the way down the increasingly darkening path.

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