Genre: Western, Drama, Romance
Warning: AKame pairing; vulgarisms, violence, angst
Summary: Once upon a time in the west... During the wild period of the United States formation, two young men became close friends and lovers, before they had to go separate ways... After a furious search, Jin managed to find his younger brother Leo, who is now a leader of the feared gang - ´Black Riders´. And after Kazuya helped the remaining Indians of Blackfeet Tribe to move into the reservation, he was able to track them down and so the two met again... But will they overcome the new obstacles and old enemies? And does their affectionate relationship even have any chance in these cruel times?
Thank you: To seiko22 for always supporting me; To atago4 for awesome beta-reading; And to Kamenashi Kazuya and Akanishi Jin for being who they are...
Dedication: To theblackheat as a belated birthday gift ^_^
AN: From some reason I´ve got nothing I´d like to tell you today. I think I´ve exhausted my brain with this chapter. XD
There is something!
Have you seen Jin´s ass yet?
Seriously, it made my day yesterday. ^^´
I´m really grateful for every opinion or advice and always happy to know my readers.
Your comments are my best reward and kick me off to try harder and keep writing.
Thank you for them, no matter how long or short they will be.
Chapter one // Chapter two // Chapter three // Chapter four // Chapter five // Chapter six // Chapter seven // Chapter eight // Chapter nine // Chapter ten // Chapter eleven // Chapter twelve // Chapter thirteen // Chapter fourteen // Chapter fifteen // Chapter sixteen // Chapter seventeen // Chapter eighteen // Chapter nineteen // Chapter twenty // Chapter twenty one // Chapter twenty two // Chapter twenty three // Chapter twenty four // Chapter twenty five // Chapter twenty six // Chapter twenty seven // Chapter twenty eight // Chapter twenty nine // Chapter thirty // Chapter thirty one // Chapter thirty two // Chapter thirty three // Chapter thirty four // Chapter thirty five // Chapter thirty six // Chapter thirty seven // Chapter thirty eight // Chapter thirty nine //
Someone was shaking with him in attempt to make his brain spill out from his ears. Whoever it was, he wanted to kick the darkest place of that idiot´s body and go back to sleep. But then he remembered that he hadn´t intended to have any nap; he had been looking forward to a good fuck.
Math Grenet opened his eyes. His sight was a bit blurry and it took him a while to focus on the face hovering above him. And it wasn´t Kamenashi…
“Chief!” Danny exclaimed. “Thank God, I already thought…” the obviously frightened boy was still clutching Grenet´s shoulders, but at least he was not shaking with him anymore.
“What the…?” Math murmured, surprised to find himself lying on the floor. His tongue felt heavy, as if he drank too much whiskey, which wasn´t the case this time. “Where´s… Kamenashi?”
Danny´s expression told him, that he wasn´t about to hear any good news, even before the boy spoke: “I don´t know, Chief. He took my gun and locked this room. I guess he´s hiding somewhere…”
“That little bitch…” Grenet growled, as he braced himself on his elbows and with Danny´s help he sat up.
“Can you move, Chief? We really need to get out of here,” the boy urged on him worriedly.
“…course I can,” Math grunted. “Why wouldn´t I?”
“You hit your head quite badly…” Danny replied a little shakily, looking at the stained floor behind his boss.
Grenet reached out and touched the nape of his neck, where he felt a strange tingling since the moment he woke up. His palm was all bloody when he brought it back to his eyes.
“Shit… Help me up.”
The upset gunman used the support of Danny´s thin arms to get up on his feet, realizing that moving his limbs was more difficult than usually. The room started to spin around him, once he had straightened up.
“What the hell happened?!” he snapped at the boy.
“I… I don´t know, really! I´ve found you here like this!”
Grenet gritted his teeth in anger. The last thing he remembered was the white round ass ready to be fucked and after that… There was nothing but an empty blackness.
Kamenashi had to push him off again and he fell off the bed because of that, hitting that shitty piece of furniture, which belonged to Cameron, with his head. For that, he was not going to make that baby boy scream, but beg for mercy.
Then he noticed the strange noise from the outside and frowned: “Danny… What the fuck is that?” he asked looking at the thin trickle of dark smoke infiltrating the room through the gap under the door.
“Fire at the warehouse, Chief,” Danny explained hastily, still supporting him, since Grenet was staggering on unsecure legs. “It looks like it spread to this building. We need to get out somehow!”
Fire? What fire? What were those idiots doing while I was out? he wondered. It was difficult to put any thoughts together, when his head started to ache like hell…
A sudden nausea made Grenet bend at the waist and throw out the remains of his last meal – beans with sausages and some bread.
“Shit…” Math cursed again, as his head protested quite loudly against such a sudden movement. It was as if an army of red skins performed their stupid dance with drums right inside his skull.
Danny watched the older man rather horrified.
“Don´t stare at me like that and try to break out the door,” Math pushed the boy away and leant on the wall heavily.
“I already did, Chief… But the lock is too solid,” there was an unhappy reaction.
“Then check out the window and what´s under it!” he snapped impatiently. “Are you so backward or what?”
Danny almost ran away from him. As the boy opened the window and leant out, the cracking sounds of fire and yells in attempts to control it, got clearer.
“There´s a compost a little on the left, Chief…” Danny reported the result of the view. “But… it´s small and we´re at the first floor…”
“And? Do you want to let yourself be grilled here?” with his head spinning, Grenet carefully crossed the floor to the window and pushed the boy aside, to check on the situation himself. “It might work for you… Hurry up and jump out,” he pulled Danny back to the frame again. “And then get somebody to bring the sacs with flour or something under this window.”
The scared boy stared at him wordlessly.
“What?! You´re still staring, Danny and this house is burning!” Grenet yelled and right after that he bent in another seizure of vomit.
At the sound of a hoarse voice, Indians´ fingers on the chords of their bows froze. The Riders held the positions with their weapons ready, but didn´t dare to make any suspicious movement. The scream came out from just recently freed Sioux, who was desperately trying to get up to his feet.
“Ayúštan!” he repeated urgently, when he finally stood up. “Awi le… mita cola!” the red man continued breathlessly, as he staggered two steps forward, getting on the same level as Cullen and Nick.
The figures in the dark didn´t react for a while, before one of them spoke incredulously: “Nepotonje?”
“Ai,” the exhausted red man replied in a relieved tone. “Théhan wančhín yankešni…”
The Indians started murmuring excitedly and then somebody lit up a torch, bringing it closer to the Sioux´s face carefully. Many surprised and delighted huffs followed.
Then the former Grenet´s prisoner turned to the armed Riders and said something. It could mean anything and they would never know what, if not for a certain young man, who had spent the whole years living among Indians…
“Lower your weapons,” Kame´s voice was heard, much weaker, but equally hoarse as the Indian´s. The youngster was still sitting on the ground, but he was listening to the Indians´ conversation carefully and translated the Sioux´s request to them.
“We won´t give up without a fight,” Ryo growled disapprovingly.
“Damn right,” Koki agreed right away.
“Don´t worry, they won´t kill us,” Kame assured them quietly. “That Indian belongs to them. He told them that… we saved him.”
“Are you sure?” Leo asked tensely. “I know that their language is quite difficult.”
Kame looked in the young leader´s direction: “I don´t understand everything, but this was pretty clear,” he confirmed.
“All right… Put them down, guys, but keep them ready,” Leo ordered, lowering his revolver slowly as the first. “And no unnecessary movements.”
“There´s too many of them anyway…” Cullen muttered under his nose, following Leo´s example.
The others, though not very willingly, also put their weapons down and made a step back, away from the Indians. Only after that the red men did the same, loosening the taut chords in their bows. Only third a mile away from them, the main part of the Sioux forces continued their attack on the quarry and the air was still filled with gunshots and screams.
Their Sioux speaker limped forward to end up in the supportive arms of his Indian brothers. When he started to explain something in an urgent voice, Kame shifted restlessly.
The older Akanishi turned away from his brother hearing Kame´s voice, which was so weak that it brought chills all over his back. Burdening his throbbing leg as little as possible, Jin carefully avoided some sharp stones on the way, as he approached the younger one.
“Help me get up, please,” Kame asked him quietly.
Jin didn´t really agree with his boyfriend moving more than was necessary, but he figured that Kame was the only one who understood the Sioux language a bit and they needed his skills right now.
The blonde Rider also overheard the request and rushed to support the younger Rider from the other side. They both took Kame gently under his arms and raised him up on his feet. Jin could feel the shaking of the younger one´s body in effort to remain standing and that made him feel only more anxious about Kame´s condition.
“Kame?” also Koki observed his favorite cook worriedly. “Are you…”
“Fine,” the younger one interrupted him in a strained voice. “Let´s just… move slowly.”
The three of them approached closer to the encirclement of Indians cautiously, ready to retreat if it was necessary.
“Awi ka?” one of the Sioux, probably the leader of the group, very tall and - from what could be seen in the poor light of one torch - with the highest number of ornaments in his hair, just asked his rescued red brother.
“Miyelo ca kola,” Kame replied instead, as they remained standing in the hopefully safe distance. “Zunte, Math Grenet miye hohe.”
The curious stares of all Indians focused on Kame now, while anxious Riders watched the backs of three of their members with the mixture of hope and doubts.
“Nepotonje hahíyate. Tan kala… kaga da. Lakota kokipaka ganai,” Kame continued seriously, hesitating at some words, choosing them carefully. Lakota Sioux language was quite different from the one used by Blackfeet Tribe.
“Kaga,” the tall Sioux agreed darkly, evaluating Kame with his dark eyes. Then he looked all over the other Riders behind them. “Colapi ka?” he asked, pointing at them.
Kame nodded: “Ai.”
The tall leader nodded and then he talked shortly to his warriors. Half of them disappeared in the dark right away. Then the Sioux talked to Kame again. The more Jin heard from the language, the more he admired the younger one to be able to understand it. For him, it was just a pile of incomprehensible syllables.
“Philámayaye,” the younger one reacted thankfully to a short speech for the last time in the Indian language. “We can go back to the others now,” he said to Jin and Koki.
Leo, Cullen, Nick, Ryo and Jane were waiting for them standing in a small circle; only Jack didn´t move away from the horses, as the animals were quite startled.
“They will let us go,” Kame announced in a tired voice. “But we have to stay here under their watch until the attack on the quarry is over.”
“Ugh, that´s a relief,” Koki breathed out and immediately sat down on the ground, leaving Kame in Jin´s hands. “I´m done.”
But Leo frowned unsatisfied and Cullen didn´t seem very happy either.
“That´s not exactly convenient for us,” the Rider´s leader murmured, counting ten Indian figures around, who remained to watch over them.
“I don´t think we have another choice,” Jin spoke before Kame could think of a right argument.
“How can we be sure they´ll let us go after it´s over?” Cullen growled, staring at the impressive bows in the Indians´ hands.
“We can´t,” Kame replied sighing.
“Well, but we´ll definitely figure it out,” the Rider sitting on the ground assumed.
“I´ve really missed your careless remarks, blondie,” Jane noted sarcastically.
“I´m sure you´ve missed my whole being and you´re just afraid to admit it, sweetheart,” Koki reacted with a wide smile.
Ryo rolled his eyes: “Some things never change…”
“Especially not you kids,” Nick noted kind of annoyed. “I´ll go to calm Jack down, he didn´t hear a thing from this and he seems more nervous than the horses.”
Which was damn right, since a half of the Indians tactically gathered around the youngest member of the gang and their animals.
“Damn, but let me tell you that you look like shit,” Cullen evaluated in the rising dawn, observing the clothes and faces of the three runaways from the quarry. “Without a supervision for like how long? Two days? And this is what we find.”
“It wasn´t exactly our fault,” Jin retorted.
“Try to use a more thankful tone, kid,” Cullen reminded him.
“Thank you… for coming,” Kame said before Jin could snap at the older Rider with something very ungrateful. “Just… Don´t do anything to… provoke the Sioux…” he pleaded. “They will…”
The younger one´s voice died out and Jin almost collapsed under the sudden weight in his arms, as he grabbed the falling body.
“Kame!” Jin feared Kame´s possible breakdown, and expected it, but it still squeezed his heart.
“Put him down, Jin,” the brunette was the first one to react and helped him to let Kame lie down on a coat, readily spread by Koki.
Jane checked Kame´s pulse and breathing, before she looked up to Jin: “It seems he just passed out…”
Jin slid down to the ground as well, already too tired to stand and ignored the clear question in the brunette´s eyes: What happened to you down there?
At daybreak, Jin found himself standing at the edge of the slope and staring towards the pile of black debris - the only proof left from the building, which added some new bad memories to the ones he had already had.
The quarry was very quiet now. The bodies of Grenet´s men lied all around, pierced by arrows. Some of them escaped, but the lives of at least half of them ended down there. For a fleeting moment, Jin considered if he should feel guilty for doing nothing to prevent such a massacre, but if he was honest to himself, he couldn´t find even a bit of remorse inside him. There were other people he cared about and those gunmen didn´t belong among them.
No Indian casualties could be seen, as their red brothers dragged them away already. Also, no quarry worker appeared yet and it was supposed to stay that way for another hour. Jin hoped that they would be long gone before that, as it was certain that somebody would call the Sheriff or the Army eventually…
Only a few meters behind his back, Kame was sitting on the ground again, very slowly sipping on water. It took less than ten minutes before the younger one regained his consciousness, but he didn´t look any better.
After Jane got horrified by checking the state of their wounds, she pulled out some disinfection and bandages and began to clean them quite drastically. Jin almost choked on suppressing the screams of pain, when the brunette poured the liquid all over his thigh. He could clearly imagine what it felt like for Kame, when Jane unmercifully proceeded to treat of his lacerated back. Watching the younger one´s face contorted in pain made him feel awfully helpless again.
Jin had also noticed a few significant looks, which Leo threw in his direction, but he ignored them deliberately – he didn´t really feel for another talk about his relationship. Ryo, Koki and Jack watched over the horses, while Cullen and Nick were cautiously checking on the situation down in the quarry as well as on their Indian guards. The Sioux were still there, surrounding them quietly, but it seemed they would not hold them back for much longer.
“It looks pretty much dead down there…”
Jin glanced to the side to find the blonde Rider, who joined him at the view.
“Yeah…” he agreed. “By the way, thanks for the rescue. Though I almost lost my hope in you.”
“Wow! I expected no gratitude anymore,” the blonde one reacted caustically.
“Everybody gets what everybody deserves,” Jin reacted calmly.
“Bah…” Koki snorted. “I hope that counts for that bastard too.”
“You mean Grenet?” Jin frowned.
“Naturally. If he remained in that room as Kame said, he´s dead.”
Koki looked at the older Akanishi rather surprised: “How can you be so sure? He couldn´t get out so easily; it´s highly probable he perished in that fire.”
“He didn´t,” Jin gave him another short answer. “I just know it,” he added darkly, looking directly at the ruins.
“Guys! It seems we will be free to go!” Ryo´s voice called after them.
When they turned, they could see Kame leaning on his mare and talking to the tall Sioux leader and his Indian buddy from the stakes.
“Can´t he just stay still for one damn minute?” Jin mumbled for himself irritated.
The blonde Rider watched the older Akanishi limping in his boyfriend´s direction with a rather amused expression. As if Jin was any different in that matter… But the truth was that Koki was worried about their Handsome as well. Kame was somehow able to move on his own, but his face was bloodless and he looked really ghastly overall. The sooner they all would get some rest, the better…
In the end, their Indian ´friends´ disappeared just as quickly as they popped out from the dark before. After a short talk between the two Sioux and Kame, the rescued Indian grabbed Kame´s arm in the gesture of gratitude, then they gathered all the warriors and retreated from the valley on quick unsaddled horses.
The Black Riders were finally allowed to leave as well. And it was really about time; they had already risked enough by staying on the hill with the view at the dead quarry for so long. Not to mention that considering Jin´s and Kame´s condition, they couldn´t move too fast or too far. Especially Jane insisted that they should stop at the first convenient spot to get some rest and proper treatment and Leo agreed without any objections. After a short counsel with Cullen, they decided to remain in the foothills, where they could hide better. Once they would head further east, in their original direction, they would have ended up to be too exposed in the plains.
As it turned out, there was no other option than this decision. Just a short ride south away from the sandstone quarry was enough to prove that both Jin and Kame were at their limits and if not for Ryo and Koki, who kept an eye on them, they would have fallen from the saddles as ripe pears from a tree.
They encamped in the pass of two hills just two miles southwest from Laporte. Jane managed to make Kame and Jin drink and eat something, before they both dropped off. Koki followed them just shortly after that.
No matter what noise the others did or how loudly they talked, nothing could wake the three of them up for the whole day. Nobody suggested that they should move on as quickly as possible, even though they all had their disrupted journey to Hereford on their minds. But no Rider had the stomach to tear those three off their needed rest. And everybody needed some relax as well, after rushing towards the quarry through the whole night…
Kame woke up covered in sweat and with his heart beating as crazy. He found himself lying on his side under the two blankets. He stared at a cluster of gnarled pines throwing long sharp shadows in the late afternoon, and listened to the known voices somewhere behind him.
Only after a couple of long seconds Kame was willing to admit that he was not in the quarry anymore. He took a few deep breaths to calm down, desperately trying to suppress the effect of that nightmare, in which he couldn´t defend against the harsh hands holding him down on his stomach, while something hard was trying to tear him apart from behind.
Finally, his heartbeat slowed down and Kame turned to lie on his back, finding the previous pain much bearable. He was still tired and his face didn´t feel right, as it was probably swollen after those slaps he got, but at least that awful nausea and dizziness seemed to be gone.
Kame turned his head to the side, searching for any other calming element. And he found it there in the form of Jin´s sleeping face. No matter the new bruises, Kame found that view more breathtaking than ever and it was hard to tear himself off it.
Carefully, as he still didn´t feel quite all right, he sat up to find the Riders´ leader, his girlfriend and the blonde one gathered around the tiny fireplace, discussing something. Jane was just throwing some herbs into the kettle with hot water and she was the first one to notice he had woken up.
Kame hadn´t even decided if he should try to get up on his feet or not and Jane already approached him with a tin cup full of hot digest from nettles, as he could tell by the smell.
“How do you feel?” she asked, as she kneeled to his side.
“Better,” he replied carefully, almost not recognizing own voice, how creaky it was.
“Here, drink it slowly,” Jane handed the cup over. “And there´s some fresh water,” she nodded towards the flask, which was lying between his and Jin´s blanket.
“Thank you,” Kame took the cup into both hands, pressing the palms against the warm material, but didn´t drink from it yet. He looked at the shadows around again. “You let us sleep for long…” he noted.
“Leo decided that we won´t continue until the two of you will be ready,” Jane reacted softly.
“But what about the medicaments for Hereford?” Kame felt bad about disrupting the whole journey to the city hit by the epidemic. The Riders had lost too much time by coming back for them…
“Don´t worry about it, Kame,” the brunette assured him. “Nick and Jack had already set off in advance, only the rest of us remained behind. Also, Cullen and Ryo are walking the perimeter, in case that the authorities would search that far. You can stay calm and rest,” Jane demanded with a smile got up on her feet again.
Kame didn´t have the strength for any objections, so he just watched Jane as she headed to their limited supplies. Then he felt someone´s glare and turned back towards the fire, where he found Leo looking at him with an unreadable expression. Kame gulped and rather lowered his eyes to the cup, which seemed to be a much better object of interest.
Everything happened so damn quickly and he was not ready to deal with anyone´s judgment now. At least, he was among his friends, under their watch, hidden in the mountains, as safe as he could only be under the circumstances… But still, he felt a strange tension, which made his hair stand. Maybe, it was only because of that dream…
Kame sipped on the hot tea carefully. It had quite an awful taste, but he appreciated Jane made it – he knew that it should help his body to deal with the blood loss.
Ukushi snorted quietly and Kame´s bad feeling was right back. He looked around again. The crackling fire, the soft wind in the trees nearby, Jane moving with the tin dishes, Koki bringing up the wood for fire, the other horses exploring the awakening ground under their hooves… Everything seemed to be just fine, only his mare was unsure about something. And he himself as well. He felt it as something bugging inside his head…
A deep, and a little unusually colored voice dragged Kame´s attention from his own stupid hypersensitivity to its owner. Jin was still lying on the ground, in the same position as Kame had found him when he woke up. Only his eyes were open and looking directly at him. Those dark, deep eyes, which always stirred something in his heart. And which felt as if they could see through any of his masks… Kame looked away hastily.
“Hi…” he reacted quietly. “How was your sleep?”
Jin sat up and yawned: “Not long enough,” he evaluated and then looked at the younger one again, this time more carefully: “What about you?”
Kame remembered the disgusting nightmare and subconsciously shuddered: “I´m better,” he used the same response as in Jane´s case, not really daring to evaluate his sleeping time truly.
There was only silence for a while.
“I´ve already told you not to lie to me,” Jin´s voice was more quiet now, but still the younger one heard it clearly, as the other leant forward to him.
Kame just glanced at him: “I´m not lying, Jin…”
The older one wanted to react, but he noticed some steps approaching them and he gulped the words down. Both of them looked up to the face of the Riders´ leader.
“Hi, guys,” Leo´s attempt to smile turned out to be a little anxious grin. “Once you feel up to it, I´d like to talk to you.”
The sun was just setting beyond the rocky hill, which covered their little camp from the north, when the three of them sat by the fire. Neither Cullen nor Ryo had returned from exploring the area yet and Jane dragged Koki away to their horses, to groom them properly. But despite having enough space for their private conversation, for a long while, none of them talked. They just listened to the blonde´s one loud complaints, that grooming horses was not created for his precious hands, which were already tired by saving the day by setting up the fire in the quarry.
Kame was huddled up in one of the blankets, looking a little absent-minded, while Jin was stretching his wounded leg towards the fire, sipping on water. Leo sat across from them, slowly breaking some dry sticks into smaller pieces. He created quite a pile from them, before he finally leant over his bent knees and looked at the other two.
“I´m sorry,” he stated seriously. “I overreacted, Bro.”
Jin didn´t say anything on that and just kept tossing the flask of water from one hand to another, while Kame was watching the flickering flames. Leo fidgeted uncomfortably.
“I was just too… surprised,” the younger Akanishi continued carefully. “I didn´t expect… something like that from you.”
Kame´s expression didn´t change even a bit, but Jin frowned a little. Neither of them reacted even this time.
“What more do you want me to say?!” Leo raised his voice impatiently, attracting the worried glances of Jane and Koki towards the fireplace.
Only then, Jin focused on his brother: “Two things. First, apologize to Kame, too.”
“I already did,” Leo murmured huffily.
Jin kept looking into his eyes without a word.
“Fine…” the Riders´ leader sighed and turned directly at Kame. “I apologize to you both. I overdid it.”
Kame repaid his look shortly: “It´s all right, Leo. I get it, why you reacted like that…” he said in such a strangely reconciled tone that it made Jin look at him curiously.
“And that second thing?” Leo asked.
“Tell me the truth,” his older brother demanded a little tensely, but relentlessly. “I want to know why exactly me and Kame being… together made you so angry.”
Leo stared at him for a moment before he looked away.
“Mainly because you kept it secret all along…” he replied quietly.
Jin observed the strangely sad expression of his brother: “Fair enough, and I apologize for that. But that´s not all, right?”
“No…” Leo sighed, focusing on the place, where his girlfriend and the blonde Rider pampered their horses with portions of oat. “It´s not something we usually talk about and… basically nobody except Cullen knows about it.”
Both Jin and Kame noticed that Leo was getting to a very difficult topic; the Riders´ leader was rarely so hesitant about what to say.
“I can leave you two alone, if you want to, Leo,” Kame suggested without any accusation. “You don´t have to…”
“No, stay here,” the younger Akanishi interrupted him. “I just… I want both of you to know, because… Damn it…” Leo half-covered his face for a moment, before he spoke again, quietly but this time without any hesitation. “Something happened to Jane in the past and she cannot bear children.”
The deep silence fell upon the fireplace. Both Jin and Kame didn´t really expect such an information.
“That´s… I´m sorry to hear that, Leo,” Jin ran a hand through a little overgrown hair. “It must be tough on her.”
“She had given up on having an own family long time ago, even before she joined us,” Leo threw another look in the said woman´s direction. “But it still hurts her…”
“That´s understandable…” his older brother reacted thoughtfully. “But… what does it have to do with…” Jin stopped talking, as he remembered a certain part of their argument in Fort Collins and realized what was probably on Leo´s mind.
“Look, I was thinking too much ahead, Jin,” the younger Akanishi rushed to assure him about his current attitude. “I love Jane and I won´t leave her because of something like that. But… when I realized that I might never going to be a father, naturally I thought that I´d like to be an uncle, at least. And I just couldn´t help it and be… disappointed when it turned out that you two… You know what I mean,” Leo finished his speech rather helplessly. “I realize that it was a hasty conclusion…”
Jin stared at his little brother, who suddenly didn´t seem to be so ´little´ anymore. It was hard to comprehend with the fact, that Leo was thinking so much ahead of time and so seriously. It never occurred to him to think about his relationship with Kame from that point of view…
“Wow… Now you got me,” he blurted out. “You´re twenty, Leo. I wouldn´t expect that you´d like to have a family and a farm by the stream already,” Jin tried to joke a little.
And partially it worked, at least Leo chuckled sadly: “You know, circumstances… Sometimes, they make you think about various things.”
“That´s… quite true,” Jin admitted and glanced at Kame. If anything, the younger one was even paler than before and very silent.
“But still, I shouldn´t drag this into… my reaction before,” Leo continued, now bolder. “It´s your life and I have no right to tell you what to do and what not. You´re my brother, no matter what.”
Jin smiled, feeling much calmer now: “I´m really glad to hear that. And… I wasn´t exactly calm the last time we spoke either, so… I´m sorry, too.”
“It´s all right,” Leo repaid his brother´s smile, before he turned to Kame again: “And… Kame, as for you, I hope you understand that this is… difficult to accept for me,” he stated a little hesitantly. “But that doesn´t mean I´d hate you or anything like that.”
Kame raised his head slowly and his expression was unreadable, when he reacted: “Sure… Don´t worry, Leo, I understand.”
The younger Akanishi seemed to be relieved, but from some reason Jin really didn´t like the tone of Kame´s voice.
“So… are we fine now?” Leo grinned a little nervously.
“Well…” Jin pretended to be thinking about it. “Since you rushed back to save us from the quarry, I´d say you remedied your burst out even before that apology, little brother,” he winked.
“Douchebag,” Leo laughed and threw the nearest dry cone at Jin, which the older one easily avoided.
“It seems we have a clear sky in Akanishi´s paradise once again!”
Both brothers turned to see Ryo and Cullen approaching them. The black-haired one leant down to them and placed a hand on one of each brother´s shoulder.
“And it´s quite a relief, I must say,” he said with a wide smile. “Separately, you´ve even more difficult to deal with.”
“Shut up,” both Akanishis murmured at once.
“Cullen! Give that bottle which you´re hiding for yourself over here!” Ryo requested.
“No way,” the older Rider snorted, putting aside the fresh catch – two hares. “It´s your problem you´ve already wasted all the common supplies.”
“Oh, come on, don´t be a cheap stake!” the blonde Rider rushed to support his buddy very quickly, noticing that the serious part of that evening was probably over. And he was also followed by Jane, who checked on their expressions carefully first, before she smiled relieved.
The heated argument about a single bottle would have continued even during the dinner, if not for Jane, who threatened not to give Koki and Ryo their share of meal, if they didn´t stop. But it definitely didn´t spoil the relaxed atmosphere.
Even though Cullen and Ryo hadn´t noticed any suspicious tracks or movements within a mile in their direction, they kept the fire as small as was possible for the night, which was still damn cold so close to the Rocky Mountains. With that, they all ended up squeezed almost shoulder to shoulder around it, trying to get some warm into the numb fingers.
“I think we´ve heard more than enough of your boasting,” Cullen interrupted another Koki´s speech about how heroic he was, when he sneaked into the quarry as one of the workers and had to work hard for the whole day.
“Thank you, man,” Ryo breathed out in overreacted relief. “I almost fell asleep.”
Koki was so offended that he didn´t even consider them worth of talking with anymore and crossed arms across his chest.
On the contrary to the blonde Rider, Jin and Kame were not very talkative and didn´t react on any questions well, but still, the oldest Rider turned to them now: “So, what about you two? Will you be able to travel tomorrow?”
“If you want to continue with us, of course,” Leo added, looking at his brother seriously.
“Well, I think I´ll be fine…” Jin looked at Kame, who was seated next to the blonde one now, but didn´t manage to catch his look. The younger one was all tense, his eyes looking somewhere between the dark trees. “Kame? What about you?”
But Kamenashi didn´t react.
“Handsome?” Koki gently touched the other´s shoulder, but it still made Kame flinch. “What is it? You look as if you saw a ghost,” the blonde one joked, but it didn´t meet with a good response.
“I just…” Kame started hoarsely and stopped, hesitating.
“Kazuya, what´s wrong?” Jin asked quietly, but in a tone which finally made the younger one look at him.
Kame took a deep breath: “I think that… that he is somewhere close,” he explained in a quiet, tense voice.
Jin didn´t have to ask to know whom Kame meant. Looking into the younger one´s worried eyes made him realize that something was bothering him for quite some time as well. The woods around them sometimes got simply too quiet. He didn´t pay much attention to it, relying on their faithful animal friends to let them know if anything was wrong, but they couldn´t feel everything. Kame´s instinct, or sixth sense or whatever it was, helped them out more than once. It would be foolish to ignore it now.
“What do you mean by that, Kame?” Jane asked him in astonishment.
“He means Grenet,” Jin replied darkly instead of Kame.
“You saw him somewhere?” Cullen asked frowning.
“No… I just… feel it,” Kame seemed uncomfortable saying that, but nobody laughed at him.
“You know, sometimes, you scare me a little, Handsome,” Koki commented with not even a hint of humor in his voice.
“I think we´d have noticed if somebody followed us from the quarry,” the oldest Rider said incredulously.
“No offense, but you have no idea what Grenet is capable of,” Jin leant closer to the flames, lowering his voice even more: “So, as it seems we won´t leave with you in the morning…”
The other Riders seemed to be confused, but Leo understood his brother´s intention.
“I think I know what´s on your mind, Bro,” he nodded seriously.
- To be continued -