Pulling Into Harbor - Fated_Despair - 文豪ストレイドッグス (2024)

Now that the tripolar singularity situation has been resolved, the only thing registering in Tecchou’s brain is that he needs to find Jouno. Teruko is gone without so much as a body to bury, the captain is beyond anyone’s help, and Tachihara has evidently defected to the Port Mafia of all organizations. Jouno was still unaccounted for and, so far as Tecchou knows, is the only one left of their group. Tecchou’s mind flashes to meetings the five of them had argued through, missions they had gone on together and only made it out by the skin of their teeth and the strength of their bond, nights they spent trying to manage the captain when he had a little (a lot) too much to drink.

No, he had to put those thoughts out of his mind. Tecchou would be unable to find Jouno if he wasn’t properly focused, and if his emotions caused him to lose all that he had left… well, he’d never find the strength to forgive himself. He didn’t even know if Jouno was in any position to have survived what just occurred at the airport, if he still draws breath at all. What if he was still a vampire? Would Tecchou have to figure out some way to save him from that fate, to bring the humanity back into his eyes? He was the strongest, he could not (would not) allow himself to be the last surviving Hunting Dog.

“Tecchou,” Kenji pipes up brightly, noting the seriousness in the man’s expression. “Don’t you worry. We will find your friend even if we have to search until our feet blister and we can’t walk anymore. The universe will reward our earnest intentions.”

Tecchou stops walking and gives him a blank look, processing his words and finding that they soothe his soul. “Right, of course. I need only strengthen my determination to find him even more and nothing will stand in our way.”

“Exactly!” Kenji smiles widely and continues walking with a bounce in his step. That nap certainly replenished him more than it did the brunette, and it makes him wonder… Well, so much about this kid makes him wonder, but he knows one thing: this child eagerly agreed to help him, a complete stranger who had harmed people closest to him, find his friend without requesting anything in return. “This is just a matter of time, and I have complete faith that your friend will be returned to you unharmed.”

Tecchou follows after Kenji, his eyes anxiously darting around in every direction that his enhanced vision could see. Eventually they come across a delivery truck with the back cracked open and a gloved white hand sticking out of it. Tecchou stops and, without saying so much as a word to Kenji, takes one charged leap in the direction of that glove. He unleashes his blade to clear all of the rubble and flaming airplane parts that stand in his way until he reaches the truck. Tecchou’s spirit stills as he approaches hesitantly and pushes the door of the delivery truck up until it is completely open, the breath returning to his lungs when the action uncovers the white hair and red uniform of his partner. This alone doesn’t soothe him completely, and so he presses two fingers to the side of Jouno’s neck that is not covered in dried blood. The steady, albeit faint, pulse finally allows him a moment of relief and he slumps into a crouched position on the ground with his head in his hands.

“Missed me that much?” Jouno’s voice is hoarse but strong. That’s a positive sign.

At the smugness in the tired man’s words, Tecchou springs himself back into a standing position and clears his throat a few times in an attempt to wring the concern out of it. “That isn’t the case. I thought that we should regroup with each other to discuss next steps… as the only remaining members of the Hunting Dogs.”

A heavy silence sits between the two men, a silence as Jouno’s investigative mind pieces together what must have happened to the others. “I know the Captain was planning something, but Teruko and Tachihara…?”

“Teruko was slain by the captain himself,” The words choke Tecchou on their way out, threatening to suffocate him with the accompanying emotion. He has to steel himself, as the next words will not be any easier for him to share. How he wishes he didn’t have to be the one to burden Jouno with these harsh realities, though in his heart of hearts he hopes that hearing them from a close companion softens the blow, however little that may be. “Though he was not himself at the time… He had been turned into a war-mongering monster who feasted on power and destruction. I’m told that she smiled as he ran his sword through, and I do not doubt that.”

“Neither do I,” Jouno’s voice is less harsh than it normally is when he speaks this time. Tecchou’s heart warms at the rare softness he is seldom privileged enough to witness. “There was always some bond there that I couldn’t understand myself. And Tachihara?”

“He’s found himself a new organization,” Tecchou hesitated momentarily before proceeding, but ultimately, he wants Jouno to know the truth of everything. Betrayal is not something they have often had to bear in a group as tight-knit as theirs… He vows silently that Jouno will never suffer such hardship from himself. “Well, not an entirely new organization. He’s decided to remain with the Port Mafia.”

Jouno groans in response and tiredly rubs a hand over his face. “I doubt that will end well for him. He still needs our monthly surgeries. He’ll be back, if you ask me. Now help me get up, I can hear someone coming.”

The brunette turns his head in the direction Jouno points, and sure enough, Kenji is rushing towards them. He slots his hands underneath the man’s arms and gently hauls him up into a sitting position against the inner wall of the back of the truck, then swings his legs around so that they hang off comfortably. Their faces linger too closely for a moment, and Tecchou feels a sudden irrational urge to lean in closer. The white-haired beauty looks beyond heavenly in the sunset lighting, even with his hair sticking to his forehead with sweat and blood drying against his neck and the ever-present scowl his lips are twisted into. He’d never admit it but he would sell his soul for the chance to kiss that scowl away and see his lips curled into a genuine smile.

“Is this the friend you were looking for?” The small blonde slows down as he comes within earshot. Right. Time for Tecchou to back away from Jouno’s face and shake those thoughts out of his mind. “Jouno! I’m so happy to have found you, Tecchou has been worried sick! Even when we were fighting, he kept going on and on about how he just had to find you.”

“Is that so?” Jouno’s voice is more smug than it has ever sounded in the history of their partnership, and is that…? Yes, that’s a smirk on his face. “I didn’t realize you cared so deeply for your partner. I feel incredibly flattered.”

“No no,” Tecchou’s face goes red and his left eye twitches so hard that he can only pray Jouno can’t hear it. There is no way this is happening to him right now. This kid is single handedly ruining the nonchalant front he had so successfully put up when he first came across his partner. “I was only concerned with regrouping with the other Hunting Dogs. It was merely professional concern, nothing more.”

“What are you talking about?” Kenji’s head tilts so cluelessly that Tecchou knows he’s done for with the next words out of the kid’s mouth. He also knows he’s too late to stop the damning words. “You didn’t mention any of the other Hunting Dogs. Practically every other word out of your mouth was your friend here’s name.”

“That doesn’t sound like professional concern,” The tone Jouno speaks in is the only confirmation that Tecchou needs to tell him that he is well and truly doomed. “I’ve never heard of you being so obviously shaken, especially not on behalf of little old me.”

“I was not shaken,” Tecchou insists, but he can tell by the lingering look on Jouno’s face that he doesn’t buy it whatsoever. “Believe what you will but I was not falling apart because of you. I was. Just..”

“See?” Tecchou has never seen Jouno so pleased with himself, his feet are even swinging leisurely. Yet the brunette can’t find it in himself to be upset that something has lightened his partner’s mood in this dire situation. “You were worried about me specifically, weren’t you? And I bet you’re so grateful to have found me safe and sound.”

“I would hardly call you sound,” He levels the white-haired man with a withering glare but can’t seem to keep lightheartedness out of his tone. “You’re bleeding from your neck and you look like you haven’t slept in days.” Nevermind the fact that Tecchou was yearning to kiss that tired face a moment ago, that was not important now.

“Oh please, you can only wish you would look this stable after enduring the kind of day I have.”

“I wouldn’t look like that because, as the strongest, I wouldn’t be caught by the enemy in the first place.”

“That’s easy for you to say. You wouldn’t be able to brute force your way out of the trap the captain set for me, so it’s safe to say that you’d fare worse than I did.”

“So strange,” Kenji speaks up for the first time in the last few minutes, the finger scratching his head matching the confusion on his face. “You city folk behave so oddly when you’re reunited with each other. Back in my village when we found a lost loved one, we threw a little party together and gave them some fresh jams from our crops.”

The two men stared blankly at him and remained speechless for so long that even he sensed the awkwardness in the air. “In any case, now that you’ve found your friend, I’m going to go find mine.”

Tecchou nodded his head solemnly and tipped his hat in the blonde boy’s direction. “Thank you for all your help, friend. Your kindness will not be forgotten by Jouno or myself.”

Kenji leaves the two men to their own devices and an uncomfortable silence settles between the two until Jouno reluctantly interrupts it. “The captain probably wouldn’t be too pleased with us carrying on like this.”

“Well he certainly wouldn’t be shocked,” Tecchou responds with a note of dry humor in his tone. It seems the tension between them is lifting and now they’re falling back into a more typical rhythm. “At the very least our relationship is consistent. In fact, it might be the only constant in this whirlwind life of damage and violence.”

“It’s my only constant as well,” Jouno’s voice has a quietness to it, a stillness, an aura akin to that of a leaf falling onto the surface of unmoving waters. “All my complaints about you be damned, it’s a comfort to have you around at times.”

His eyes dart up to search for any sign of insincerity or sarcasm in the other man’s face but surprisingly finds none. “You mean those words.” It isn’t a question, and they both know it. Tecchou realizes this may be the only fitting moment to say the words that have plagued his heart since the first moment that he felt them to be true and so he opens his mouth to release them, regardless of any possibility of rejection. “Jouno, I lo-”

He never gets to finish his sentence because at that moment Jouno, as if sensing the terrifying yet beautiful words, wraps his legs around his own and pulls him stumbling forward. He barely catches himself with his hands framing Jouno’s thighs on the truck’s floor before they crash into each other completely, and even then their lips still collide. It takes a moment for everything to process but he comes to understand that it was on purpose given the way Jouno’s arms curl around his neck and his legs only pull him in tighter. Tecchou relaxes into the kiss, into the embrace, and glides his lips against the other man’s with all the fervor that he has been holding back for almost their entire partnership. He finally lets his ship pull into the harbor.

Pulling Into Harbor - Fated_Despair - 文豪ストレイドッグス (2024)
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