Running Away is for the Young

A/N: Hello, dark side, it seems you’ve somehow sucked me in… NatsunoxTohru is the easiest case to make canonically, and I do think it’s cute, but I never really anticipated writing anything for it. I just find MuroixOzaki to be more engaging, quite frankly. It’s blink-and-you’ll-miss-it, but, hey, it may even get a sequel, so…

Banged out quickly, so probably not as up-to-snuff as my usual fare. Ah, well! Let’s roll anyway!

Running Away is for the Young

When he wakes up hungry and stiff from the cool air, Natsuno is painfully aware that what he has done is something that only a teenager could do. He offered his hand to Tohru, offered his wrist for blood… and then they ran away. Together. Somehow.

And now he is here, Tohru curled up next to him, cold as a stone. He is here, destitution beginning to set in as well as the realization that fifteen year old drop-outs and eighteen year old dead boys don’t have many options as far as the job market is concerned. And that if the only way to prevent your friend from killing anyone is to move elsewhere on a daily basis, it makes the going even tougher.

He can smell a coppery scent coming from Tohru, a scent that nauseates him. A closer look reveals the traces of dried blood on his face, although it wasn’t as if he needed such confirmation. Tohru is hungry a lot, and Natsuno can only help him out so often. He doesn’t want to die. And Tohru doesn’t want to lose his warmth. So it’s a once a week deal, and even this is beginning to strain him too much. The only food Natsuno can get for himself, after all, is whatever Tohru steals from his victims. His wallet has grown too thin to chance it on meals. Because if the money is gone, then…?

So, they just keep moving. It’s much harder than he’d ever predicted it would be, ever predicted it could be. Sometimes they hitch-hike, mostly they walk. When it all started, a bus carried them away quickly through the dark. But as the sky began to lighten, Tohru had grown fidgety and nervous. They couldn’t travel that way, it was too dangerous. Tohru’s terror had been practically unbearable, and it had frightened Natsuno to see him tear desperately at a fresh grave after they got off of the bus. They were in the middle of nowhere. He had to have somewhere to hide from the sun.

So, now they walked. And when they hitched, they only asked to be driven for two hours at the most. It was very easy to get people to drop you off wherever; these nighttime drivers had a skewed sense of the world. They never worried about why a pair of teenaged boys were walking the roads in the twilit hours. Many of them had probably done the same long ago.

Natsuno sighed and looked away from Tohru’s stilled form, his eyes searching the corners of the room for any bit of food Tohru may’ve brought back. He’d gone to sleep before the other boy had returned from his hunt, and had slept soundly through that return. It was probably starting to get dark out by now, but he didn’t dare check yet. Even after a few weeks of living this way, he still went to sleep earlier than Tohru did, and woke earlier, often when the sun had yet to vanish completely. He was still human, after all.

A stack of sandwiches. A bottle of tea. He shuddered – who had made these sandwiches? Had the victim had them already made? Had Tohru stood in the kitchen, merrily fixing them as his victim lay bleeding on the ground? Or, worse, perhaps – shiki could hypnotize those they bit, couldn’t they? So had Tohru made them make the food after the attack?

He ate them quickly with a dry mouth, forced the lumps down with the bitter-tasting tea. It was better not to think on it. It was better to not remember that he was traveling with a monster.

A monster! Tohru, a monster! An awful thought in and of itself. Even if it was simply the truth.

The sandwiches done, he looked back at Tohru again. It had been so easy to suggest this whole wild thing to him in the woods back then. He’d been desperate to not let everything end so terribly. He didn’t want to die. He didn’t want Tohru to die. He didn’t want to part ways. He didn’t want to stay in Sotoba.

But he was a long way from the big city now. Underweight and undereducated, another teenager on the lam. But with a vampire in tow. It was almost hilarious.

Almost.

But it couldn’t stay like this. He didn’t know how, but they had to get to a city, somewhere big where they could slip into the cracks and stay there, far from the prying eyes of Tatsumi and society as a whole. Although they had not been caught up to yet, he didn’t believe that Tatsumi had chosen to merely overlook their escape. And out in the lonesome countryside there was little to keep them safe, keep them hidden away. There was safety in the packed cities, at least; there they could disappear. There Tohru could bite a new person every night and never have suspicion raised.

But how? It was hard to get into the cities this way, with Tohru needing to be hidden from the sunlight every day. And once they got there, they would need somewhere to stay, too, somewhere with no windows. But where? Nothing was certain.

And, so, they wandered. Much of the time, they had no idea of where they were, other than that it was somewhere rural. Where was Sotoba, now? To their north? South? East? West? Were they just circling round to it once again, their efforts to all be destroyed in one single moment when they found themselves passing the temple on the hill?

The most persistent feeling that Natsuno had begun to feel had been one of despair. He had felt so sure when they’d left Sotoba, but now he was baffled as to how he could’ve felt that way. But it was true that he’d generally felt so sure of himself, had had utmost faith in his own ability to take care of himself. He hadn’t felt like he could count on his parents for that – they’d brought him to the miserable village in the first place. No, he’d decided after that that he was the only person on whom he could rely, and that it was by his own hand that he would bring about his return to the urban life – the relevant life.

It was now all so far away. He’d just be happy to continue to keep beyond the influence of the Kirishiki, to have enough to eat that he wouldn’t starve. Forget university, forget opportunity. It was all entirely day-to-day to him now.

And yet…

Tohru stirred in his sleep. Natsuno tentatively placed a hand on his leg, feeling the cruel chill through his clothes. Cold, cold Tohru. His only friend from Sotoba, the one who suffered with each meal. The one who had risked his own destruction by seizing Natsuno’s hand instead of biting it.

He couldn’t regret it at all.

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