Yamapi glanced up at him while Kazuya kept walking. “You’re hurt,” he pointed to Kazuya who quickly hid his wrists away, “so are you!” He pointed to Yamapi who tugged self-consciously at his head bandaging, “and we’re stranded!” Jin continued hopelessly, “in a forest! In the middle of nowhere-!”
“We’re heading back to the mansion, chill out-,” Kazuya muttered.
“Chi… ‘chill out’?!” Kazuya rolled his eyes, “hello! Hi! Earth to mental patient! Where the fuck are we heading right now with Yamapi’s broken ass phone – please tell me you don’t actually think everything okay here-!”
“But everything is okay,” Yamapi mumbled like he actually believed so.
“It is not!” Jin barked, “what’s wrong with you people?! We’re stranded, for God’s sake, with no service! What if we starve and die-?!”
“We won’t starve and die, Jin,” Kazuya sighed insufferably.
“- I mean doesn’t a person die of dehydration if they don’t drink water for three days-?!” Jin ignored him.
“Technically people have survived for longer-,” Yamapi started.
“WE’RE GOING TO DIE!” Jin screamed over him, “IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE – WE’RE GOING TO DIE IN THESE FUCKING HUNTERS’ TRAPS AND NO ONE-!”
“Jin.” Kazuya snapped sharply, finally turning back – eyes narrowed in irritation, “THINK. I’m too important to just come out here and drop dead,” because in reality Kazuya was as much in favor with government as a Kamenashi Lord as he was with Asia’s strongest mafia considering that he apparently meant something to said mafia’s next leader. “People are looking for us by now, they can’t not be,” the continued as he turned back and started walking again, “they’ll find us soon enough so calm the hell down.”
He wasn’t deigned with the courtesy of a response however - Jin choosing to remain irksomely silent as he stalked away - so he sighed and rolled his eyes, meaning to ignore Jin all the same.
But then Yamapi stopped him a moment later with a weary sigh of, “dude,” eyes lingering over his shoulder; and Kazuya reluctantly caved and turned.
Behind them, Jin was just staring – eyes wide and disbelieving – seemingly paralyzed with what could only be understandable panic and fear.
“Jin…,” Yamapi grimaced while Kazuya’s brow twitched. “Jin – he’s right, this is nothing-,” the older of the two started as he turned back, “just think about it like it’s an adventure or somet-.”
“Have you two done this before?”
Kazuya and Yamapi halted and blinked.
Jin continued shakily, “have you?" He asked again, before shaking his head, "you have - you’ve done this before, haven’t you?” He swallowed, “you’ve been through this before – stranded in the middle of nowhere. Stuck in a forest or somewhere, anywhere – by yourselves; you’ve been through this, haven’t you?” He took a step away from them, cautious and wary and paranoid beyond reason, “that’s why you’re so calm! No other person in the world would act like this, you know?! You’re acting like this is nothing-!”
"Becuase this is nothing," Kazuya made a face.
"We are stranded in the middle of a fucking jungle made out of hunter's traps, do not start that bullshit again," Jin retaliated, agitated, "have you done this before or not? Are you just winging it or do you actually know what you're doing?"
“I mean – yeah, we sort of do," Yamapi rubbed the back of his head, strategically staring at anything that was preferably not human, “we’ve kind of been through something like this before-.”
“When?!” Jin wheezed disbelievingly, “where – why?!”
“It was for training –,” Kazuya turned around when Yamapi shrugged, making to walk back as he continued, “Kei threw us into Aokigahara and sent mercenaries chasing after us for a month-.”
“WHAT THE FUCK KIND OF PERSON THROWS PEOPLE INTO THE SUICIDE FOREST?!” Jin scrambled further away and Yamapi cast an irritated glance back at Kazuya who just wasn’t making things any better -, “Kei does,” Kazuya tilted his head obliviously and Pi faceplamed, unsure of whether or not he was doing this purposely.
“That’s not the point though,” the man glanced through his fingers as Kazuya breezed past him, getting up in front of Jin and cornering him against a tree, “okay?” He tilted his head, “I’m not saying this to freak you out, I’m telling you we know how to deal with shit, so-,” the brunette lifted a finger to push his bandmate’s chin up carefully. “Jin,” Kazuya shook his head as he looked into his bandmate’s eyes, “it’s okay. Everything’s going to okay, I swear,” he smiled reassuringly, “this is just some freak accident-.”
“Freak accidents don’t happen with you, they happen with normal people,” Jin hissed back frantically, “don’t be a liar right now, Kazuya – if this is some mafia scheme, tell me now.”
“Why would you think...?” Kazuya started with a frown before shaking his head, “Jin, I’m serious. This is nothing-.”
“Oh, so we just happened to take defective boat that just happened to break down in the middle of nowhere, and we just happen not have any phone service?!” Jin flung his hands in the air as he stepped away from the younger, “and now we just happen to have ended up on a weird beach we can’t stay on? – Actually, no. Why can’t we just wait for Tatsuya to freak out and come find us again?”
“Because waiting on the damn beach won't do anyone any good, might as well move before we're all force to sleep underwater,” Yamapi sighed vaguely, scrubbing his hair and picking at his bandaging as he trudged closer, “while we’re at it, we might as well move towards Tokoro’s place – we might get cell service somewhere along the way too. Don’t read too much into this,” he cocked his brow as he glanced back, “coincidences are a thing, you know?”
“No, they aren’t,” Jin wrinkled his nose back skeptically, “not with you guys,” he glanced down at Kazuya who gave him a tired look.
“It’s nothing,” the younger replied insistently, “stop being paranoid, Jin – bad things happen to good people-.”
“You aren’t good people.”
Kazuya ignored him while Yamapi flinched. The implication of the fact that Jin had included him in that statement wasn’t lost on him, and he stared blankly at nothing as the familiar feeling from before returned threefold.
“Shit happens.” Kazuya snapped back curtly as he spun on his heels and started walking back – eyes lingering for only a second on Yamapi. “Let’s go.” He demanded as he stormed ahead-.
And the brunette sitting on the massive couch in the living room glanced up to find Yuya waving at him as he walked over, grinning as he leaned over Ryo and forced him to hunker down into the coffee table. “What’s up?” The elder grinned as he watched Ryo flail.
“Not much, seen Yamapi anywhere?” Yuya asked back, smiling back the same shit-eating smile as they both just took a moment to listen to Ryo wheeze and groan.
“Pi?” Tatsuya’s eyes wandered as he glanced around after the moment had passed, only just then noticing the lack of general chaos that had dominated their little beach getaway yesterday. “He didn’t sleep in his suite last night?” He asked.
“Not sure,” Yuya shrugged, “he wasn’t there when I checked this morning, still isn’t there now.”
“Huh,” the latter mumbled, turning back to his laptop, before that information actually sunk in and a frown dawned. “Hey, have you seen Kazuya anywhere?” He turned back up to Yuya who’d just been about to walk away.
“Kame-chan?” Yuya glanced over his shoulder, stealing a juicebox from a passing junior, “no, don’t think so. Why do you ask?”
“No reason,” Tatsuya sighed shrugging back, “he didn’t sleep in our suite last night either, I figured he and Yamapi were…,” he waved his hand around vaguely beside his head, “you know,” he muttered.
“Hn,” Tegoshi hummed thoughtfully around the straw in his mouth, brow pinching in concern as he shook his head, “News’ suite is right across from Yamapi’s but I’m pretty sure we didn’t hear a peep all night,” he shrugged, “they might’ve crashed in some other room somewhere else in the mansion, I’ll go ask around,” he nodded to Tatsuya who ducked his head in thanks as he idled away.
“Is someone following us?”
Yamapi froze, eyes widening when Jin asked the question, and Kazuya stopped mid-step.
“Tell me that much at least,” the man grimaced, “is someone following us? Is that why we can’t stop anywhere-?”
“Why would you think that?” Yamapi started at the same time Kazuya turned back to vigorously shake his head in the negative.
Jin sighed at their questionable antics as they did, patience beginning to run thin. All these months they'd spent lying and they couldn't even scrounge up a credible excuse,"tsk-!"He hissed to himself as he tuned out their hesitant babbling and dropped his head to study the greenery underfoot. He took a deep breath before turning back up and interrupting a moment later.
“Tomo,” he called quietly, “your left hand,” Pi glanced down, eyes flickering self-consciously to his arm, “it’s been in your pocket for a while now – I remember – that’s where you always keep your switchblade because you’re right-handed and people don’t expect you to attack with your left hand, it gives you the advantage in fights,” he met his best friend’s eyes when the younger glanced over his shoulder, “you’ve done that since before we got out of Ishiyama - since that senpai beat us up in alley behind the schoolyard, it’s a habit – and you,” Jin’s gaze switched to Kazuya’s back, “you should’ve walked behind me if you didn’t want me to see you checking behind us all the time-.”
“I’m just making sure you’re-!”
“No, you’re looking behind me,” Jin wrinkled his nose at him, positively irked by the gall both of them had to even think he’d missed the subtle signs they’d been failing to completely mask over. “You’re not looking at me, you’re looking behind me,” he repeated, “someone’s following us and you’re making sure they haven’t caught up with us yet.”
And Kazuya rolled in his lips, biting down on them as he eyed his bandmate silently. That gaze switched to somewhere just above and across Jin’s shoulder a second later where it lingered before it dropped back to the idol in question and Jin expectantly flung out a hand – “you just did it-!”
“Let’s just go already,” Kazuya returned, quickly turning away.
Jin’s brow twitched. Impatience rushed through his every vein and artery as he ground his teeth.
“Jin, come on-,” Yamapi called-.
“NO.” Jin promptly sat down, cross-legged on the forest floor, “talk or I’m not moving.”
“What’re you, a child?” Kazuya groaned, turning back, “get up, Jin – let’s go.”
“What’s the hurry? Not like anyone’s following us.” His bandmate shot back, and Kazuya rolled his eyes.
“Can we just-“he pinched the bridge of his nose as he shook his head trying to ward off the migraine that was beginning to bloom, “talk about this later? We don’t have time for this right now, we-,” he stopped, eyes landing on Jin who sat stubbornly in the undergrowth, glaring skeptically at him. His hazel flickered, wandering off to that place behind Jin for a moment before he cast a worried side glace at Yamapi.
Yamapi just shook his head and rolled his eyes, turning away. Kazuya grimaced.
“Okay,” his gaze flicked above and behind Jin again. “Okay, so someone might be following us,” he hurried to clarify, “we aren’t sure if anyone actually is –.”
“Who?” Jin interrupted, “Kai? An assassin? A mercenary? Aoi blacklisted me right-?”
“We don’t know,” Yamapi answered this time.
“How do you not know who the hell you’re running away from?” Jin gasped back.
“Like I said, we don’t actually know if anyone’s even following us,” Kazuya frowned as he started turning away again, “we’re just-.”
“Then WHY are we running?!”
“-Taking precautions,” the youngest finished irritably, “better safe than sorry.”
“And what if no one is following us?!” Jin scowled at him, “what if we’re just making it harder for Tatsuya’s people to find us? What if-.”
“Jin,” Pi stepped up, palms flattened as he held them out to his sides, “safe means alive,” he weighed one side of the symbolic scale, “sorry means dead,” Jin flinched. “Better safe than sorry,” Yamapi concluded, “if the mafia set this up as a hunt, one of us should’ve been dead by now – the fact that we aren’t means that something else is going on here. We just don’t know what-.”
“So, this is a mafia thing,” Jin cocked his brow impatiently, “you couldn’t have just told me that? That we’re running from the fucking mafia? I would’ve shut up and come with you, you know-?”
“Will you shut up now?” Kazuya prompted dryly, “besides, we don’t know. Yamapi said if the mafia even set this up which-,” he digressed, “they probably didn’t because this is shabby as shit, and Kei can’t have me going missing at a time like this-.”
“Why do you have to make it so confusing?!”
“Because we can’t explain it to you anyway – so for the last time,” Kazuya took a breath, “LET’S FUCKING GO, JIN.”
When the latter dared to open his mouth a second time, Kazuya regarded him with eyes that could've frozen over the fiery terrains of hell. "So help me God," he hissed quietly, curling a fist that Jin knew he would be taking in the face if very well didn't shut up right then and there. So he did, mouth snapping shut as he thought not to piss the irritated man off anymore becuase a fight was the last thing anyone needed on top of this entire mess.
"Let's go?" Yamapi pitched in when the tension between them refused to dissipate, "we still have a while 'till sunset, we should try getting a little further...," he trailed off as the other two continued glaring at each other for a long minute before Kazuya stomped off and Jin started grumbling to himself.
They walked begrudgingly for a few hours like that.
At some point when the sun began to fall from the apex of its arc in the sky, Kazuya started singing while they were at it. It was a new song, one of his own too; his voice soft and low, but just loud enough. It took a while for Yamapi to notice that it wasn’t just the manifestation of his boredom, some pointless gesture. No, it was for Jin, Yamapi realized when he caught Kazuya’s attentive gaze – hazel irises lingering so far at the edge of his line of vision he could only be looking at Jin out of the corner of his eyes.
Despite everything, the fact that they supposedly hated each other, the fact that they were on the outs – even more so considering their latest tiff - it was still for Jin. He was singing for Jin.
Yamapi glanced back, his own eyes flickering curiously as he watched his best friend now.
Just like that, just minutes into Kazuya’s song, Jin visibly began to relax – wide eyes easing back to hints of normality, gait melting away from tension and towards the rhythm his bandmate was spinning; his arms fell slack and swung comfortably at his sides, head turning down as the strain in his neck subsided. He mellowed out, tense still – but no longer as paranoid. He didn’t even notice – didn’t even notice the effect Kazuya had on him as he kept walking.
Yamapi groaned as he watched, rolling his eyes and shaking his head as Kazuya continued singing.
“Get a room,” he muttered under his breath to the younger who cast him a warning glance, just daring him to break the calm he’d spent minutes bringing over Jin. ‘Don’t,’ he mouthed in between verses.
And Yamapi wrinkled his nose dramatically. “Go get married,” he sniffed haughtily.
“Quit being jealous, bitch.”
“I’m nottttt,” Yamapi drawled scrubbing back his hair before he grinned a shitty kind of grin. “You know, they say the opposite of love isn’t hate,” Kazuya glanced irritably at him, humming now, “so technically,” Yamapi shrugged, “you can hate and love someone at the same time-.”
Kazuya pushed him into a net trap for that, knowing full well that Yamapi did indeed have his switchblade with him to cut himself out the ropey mess.
Yamapi did so, laughing the entire time.
Jin watched on, vaguely horrified. His life was a movie, he could only think when his best friend shoved Kazuya into a snare trap a few minutes later.
Tatsuya frowned. It was getting late. And Tegoshi still hadn’t found a single trace of either his former band leader or Kazuya, or Jin – for that matter. All of them, wherever they were, had kept to themselves; had remained quietly busy for the entirety of the day and that in itself was just a bit too strange considering their typically boisterous, loud selves.
He sighed as he scowled into his laptop, brain positively aching. He’d been through the list of mansion’s workers and their profiles twice and both times he’d found the same things. Apparently no servant had been assigned to bring them food because Tokoro-san had already stocked their fridges with snacks before they came; he’d thought to let them sleep off their lethargy – as far as anyone was concerned no servant of any sort was supposed to have disturbed them that afternoon.
Weirder and weirder the situation kept getting.
And now Kazuya was missing. Tatsuya groaned, slumping into his sofa as he jerked out his phone from his back pocket. “Oompa loompa,” he flung the device at Ryo, who sat on the floor near his legs.
“Tsk,” the younger groaned as the phone dropped heavily onto the tip of his shoulder, “Tatsuya,” he only muttered reluctantly as he gingerly picked it off his lap where it had ultimately fallen.
“There’s an app on the third screen,” the elder ignored him, belting out orders once more, “click it.”
“It’s a map,” Ryo said when he did.
“Search for the blue dot,” Tatsuya returned.
“Swipe around a little bit, it can’t not be there.”
A few minutes of silence passed as the younger did as he was told. “Ummm…?” His mouth twisted after that while, “but it’s really not there-.”
“Tsk! Stop being an idiot,” Tatsuya snapped, snatching his phone back, muttering, “can’t do anything right unless you do it yourself.” He swiped around with all the ferocity such a task could possibly demand and after seven whole minutes of slowly but steadily rising panic, he shot up, sitting up straight, eyes wide.
“It’s not there…,” he breathed.
“That’s what I said-,” Ryo started.
“It’s not there,” Tatsuya whispered again, thumbs moving furiously against his screen, eyes so wide it was a wonder that they hadn’t fallen out of his head yet, “it’s not there, not there, not there – it’s not there!” He nearly shouted as he flung his phone aside and grabbed his laptop, typing furiously while Ryo scrambled to save his phone from certain death, returning with concern etched into his face.
“Tatsu-?” He started as others began to look over.
“That’s Kazuya’s monitor!" The elder gasped back, "it monitors the satellite waves his tracker runs on – even without cellular signals it should be running-!” He broke off, jaw dropping as he stared at something on his laptop screen. It was another map, Ryo noticed as he tilted to look; a little window labeled ‘target coordinates’ was opened on the upper left of it, but in the two spaces beneath the search bar Tatsuya had typed Kamenashi Kazuya in, there blinked two dashes instead of numbers.
‘Tracker inactive,’ the little window concluded in a box next to Kazuya’s name.
“Where is he…?” Tatsuya whispered to it.
Ryo flinched at the utterly panicked tenor of his voice. “Tatsuya, I’m sure it’s just-,” he silenced when the latter turned to him, paler than snow – eyes completely dilated and horrifically glassy.
“Where is Kazuya?”
Kazuya poked his tongue into his cheek, pushing it against the tooth in which his tracker was imbedded. While Jin had been raving frantically about Tatsuya sending their people out to find them, he’d neglected to mention that if someone had been smart enough to hijack their boat engine and scramble the area’s phone signals, they wouldn’t overlook the satellite signals on which his tracker ran.
That Tatsuya still hadn’t found them, attested to the fact that someone had accomplished the task: someone had hindered the satellite waves that corresponded to his tracker. It would mean that that his signal wouldn’t show up on Tatsuya’s monitor so Tatsuya would know something was wrong; but he wouldn’t know where he was, or what had happened. He was going to FREAK OUT.
Kazuya sighed to himself as he pictured Tatsuya doing as much in his head, and he clamped his teeth shut, pulling his tongue out of his cheek as he lifted his head back to glance up at the sky. Through the thick of canopy above them, deteriorating rays of sunshine sank lower and lower. “Hey,” he called over to Yamapi, supporting himself on a massive tree trunk as he lifted his foot, “boost,” he requested with a tilt of the head.
“Are we going to tell him that Tatsuya’s probably not coming?” Yamapi asked quietly as he came over and put his hands together.
“And freak him out even more?” Kazuya huffed as he grabbed around until he found solid purchase on one of the higher branches, “no,” he cocked his brow down at the elder as he used him to hop up onto it.
Yamapi just shrugged, shoving his hands back in his pockets and turning back to Jin.
“You good?” He asked as Kazuya disappeared into the leaves.
Jin shook his head back, no. “Where’s he…?” He nodded to where branches and leaves rustled in Kazuya’s wake instead.
“To check the position of the sun,” Yamapi lifted his head, “it sets in the west. We need to be heading a little north of it – also, he’s checking how much further we need to go, if we still don't have cellular service, how far the tide's come in - stuff like that,” he added as he turned back, quieting quickly when Jin gave him that strange look he’d been giving the both of them all day. “What.” He sighed when Jin stayed wordless for too long, letting the white noise between them get too loud.
“Nothing,” his best friend shook his head back, “just…,” he grimaced, “normal people wouldn’t know to look out for things like that.”
Yamapi shrugged, “feral wolves are native to Aokigahara – pretty sure Kei knew that when he threw Kazuya and I into their territory – we got pretty accusto– ‘kay, I’ll stop talking now,” he muttered to himself when Jin’s eyes just grew wider and wider.
“Why would he even…?” The man wrinkled his nose back.
And Pi grinned sheepishly, tugging his hair, “it was kind of on whim to be honest. He said we’d thank him if we ever got stuck in the middle of nowhere like this-,” he glanced up when the rustling in the tree Kazuya had disappeared up into grew louder, “guess he was right. Kei’s sort of crazy paranoid,” he added, like the fact of the matter would explain things better as he glanced back at his best friend while Kazuya’s head popped out of the canopy.
“Compass is working fine!” He called over as he wiggled the rest of himself out of the greenery, “we’re heading in the right direction – you can see Tokoro’s place if you get high-,” he leaped out of the tree, landing in a crouch next to Yamapi, “enough,” he finished as he straightened and dusted himself off. “Should we call it a night?” He continued, carefully avoiding Jin and glancing at Yamapi instead, “the sun’s gotten pretty low – we won’t be able to see much soon.”
“Yeah,” Yamapi nodded, turning back to him and craning his neck to glance around, “higher ground,” he pointed out somewhere to their left where an outcropping of oddly put together boulders stood tall. And Kazuya nodded, finally offering Jin a glance, “we’re sleeping there tonight,” he called over and started walking before the elder could ask.
Though Jin had learned by now, over the course of this terribly strange day, that it was better just not to.
So he followed the two without questioning if sleeping was okay, considering that they ‘may’ have people following in their steps. That being said, sleep came to him mere minutes after his head hit the rock, with Yamapi curled up beside him and Kazuya sitting on the edge of the outcropping in front of them.
“I’ll keep first watch,” Kazuya glanced back at Yamapi with a wry grin, “he won’t sleep if I’m beside him.”
“Ahhh, I hate him, he says,” the elder mocked back as he rolled his eyes, “I hate his fucking guts he says, he should just go drop dead he says-.”
“I’ll throw you into a trap when you’re asleep, jerk,” Kazuya narrowed his eyes at him.
And Yamapi snorted, huffing as he flopped back down beside his best friend.
The stretch of time that passed following that moment went undisturbed far into the night as it settled with a gradual blackness that was saturated with white noise; nothing more than the usual din of crying cicadas and crickets, the rustle of trees and the whispering breath of the wind. So it was late – nearly midnight, with the moon high on the horizon, when a vague series of cracks broke the still of darkness.
Kazuya and Yamapi snapped to attention at the same time, taut and immediately alert.
“Did you hear that?”
“Footsteps,” Yamapi hissed.
Kazuya didn’t reply. Eyes focused onto the darkness before them until they ached, body wound tight with his every sense amplified.
When no noises permeated the air for the next few minutes, he finally moved – crawling back and shifting to stretch his arm and place his hand near Yamapi’s leg on Jin’s opposite side as he made to hover protectively over him. “We’re staying up,” he informed the latter quietly.
“Hn,” Yamapi scowled his assent into the night as he shuffled closer to the man between them as well.
“He’s not jealous of you,” He decided to mumble cryptically into the dark at some point during the task when the silence became too loud.
“Hn…?” Kazuya replied absently, enchanted by the stars and unwilling to turn away as he listened to everything around them.
Yamapi chuckled to himself as he stared at the same sky, “he’s not jealous of you being so close to me, Kazu.”
“Hm,” Yamapi hummed softly. He let a comfortable silence settle before he murmured, “it's the other way around, he’s jealous of how close I am to you.”
Kazuya blinked, belated consciousness returning to him as he tilted his head back over Jin’s stomach. “What?” He laughed incredulously, “Jin hates me, he doesn't care who I mess around with - where’ve you been for the last three years?”
“Right here,” Yamapi tilted his head back as well so that their hair mingled on Jin’s chest, “and Jin’s never hated you. He’s only ever reacted to you,” Kazuya pursed his lip, biting the inside of his cheek as he tilted his head forward again, “you know that,” Yamapi finished.
“Jin hates me,” Kazuya insisted.
“Jin loves you,” Yamapi replied.
“Does it matter?”
Yamapi blinked, eyes flickering backwards as he studied Kazuya’s stiff back for a minute before he turned back to the stars. “… Guess not,” he mumbled absently and fell silent as the night settled between them once more.
When Jin awoke the next morning, it was to Yamapi using his stomach as backrest and Kazuya doing the same for his back as they leaned against him, awake and staring blankly in opposite directions. “You should’ve woken me up if you two were already up…,” he yawned quietly, rubbing the sleep from his eyes as Yamapi turned to glance at him with a tired grin, “sleep well?”
Jin blinked, glancing over his hand – mouth stalling as he eyed the bags under his best friend’s eyes. “How much sleep did you get?” He frowned back.
“Enough~,” Kazuya replied for Pi, stretching with a groan as he got to his feet. “Let’s go?” He prompted, turning around a moment later, and Jin immediately noticed the dark circles under his eyes as well, “If we head that way,” Kazuya pointed somewhere ignoring his bandmate’s insistent stare, “we’ll be hmm~,” he stretched his arms above his head this time, cracking his back again, “a little more than two-thirds of the way there by sunset if we start now.”
“Haaaaaahhhh?” Yamapi grouched, scratching lazily at his head as he made a face, “we’ll be walking all day for just a ‘two-thirdsish’?”
“You can walk all night too if you want,” Kazuya shrugged as he idled past the two of them.
“You’re not funny, Kazuya,” Pi grumbled back as he followed after him all the same, feet dragging.
“I’m funny enough, Grump McGloomy,” the younger punched him the shoulder, ignoring the exaggerated whine Yamapi played up in response.
Jin hesitated as he trailed after the two.
He knew both Kazuya and Yamapi well enough to deduce how much sleep they’d gotten based on their morning states, and given their current states… “Why didn’t you guys sleep last night?” He asked after a few minutes of watching their backs.
“Hah?” Yamapi turned over his shoulder, irritation personified.
“We slept, Jin,” Kazuya replied, maneuvering over a tangle of thick vines up ahead.
“Doesn’t look like it.”
“Just the stress,” Kazuya insisted.
“At least try to pretend you’re lying,” Jin sighed.
“I wasn’t sleepy,” Kazuya glanced back at him.
Jin gave up and glanced at his best friend who just shrugged and grinned sleepily.
“Tsk,” he wrinkled his nose back, temper shot before the day had already begun. He wasn’t up for this anymore – all this mafia nonsense, the sheer lack of rationality and excess bullshittery it was governed by – he wasn’t up for it anymore. He was drained, and goddamned starving. Fighting either of the two on prospects of their bleak situation would only tire him out because Kazuya and Yamapi had already proved they could tirelessly lie circles around him and back.
He sighed softly, silently taking in the sights with idle notice as he followed silently behind the other two instead.
If there was an upside to this situation, it was that they were both protecting him. He could see that – for all the stoic irritation Kazuya had centered on him, the guy was still walking in front of him. They wouldn’t let the traps touch him for God knew what reasons, considering that Kazuya supposedly hated his damn guts and could care less if he dropped dead.
Then again, that wasn’t completely true.
Jin sighed again, ballooning his cheeks as he followed in Yamapi’s steps with an obsessive sort of precision. He and Kazuya had, without doubt, already set multiple records of strangeness when it came to their relationship; pondering about the details of it wouldn’t change a thing. He glanced up, eyes wandering back to Kazuya and Yamapi’s backs once more.
They weren’t running into as many traps as they had been yesterday, but the few they’d managed to set off and get out of in the next thirty minutes cut a tad too close. The agitation was beginning to visibly appear in Kazuya’s form – taut body, his fist curled around a phone that wasn’t built to sustain the pressure he was putting on it. Yamapi had – right from the get go – pulled out his switchblade and was casually flicking it around over his knuckles, backward and forward, open and closed, without bothering to hide it from Jin today.
The traps, though fewer, were significantly more complex, with modified triggers that were camouflaged just a little too perfectly and strange, dangerous contraptions flying out of the most uncanny places; multiple knives and nets that seemed far too large to capture just animals; complicated setups that seemed pointless until someone had something flying at their head – “WHAT the fuck-!” Kazuya yelped shoving Yamapi one way and pulling Jin another way when what appeared to be a massive wooden spike came swinging down from the canopy in a downward arc toward them two hours later.
“Okay this,” Kazuya started incredulously a few minutes later when Yamapi had more or less finished reducing the trap to its component atoms powered by sheer frustration, “is not normal.”
“You think?” Yamapi snarled as he straightened from the wreckage, “I’m going to being sleeping on splinters for the rest of my life, what the fuck,” he grouched angrily while Jin glanced around, hands reaching hesitantly for one of the pieces of the trap, “who the hell builds stuff like this?” Yamapi continued fuming, “who the hell even has time? This medieval ass bullshit-.”
In the undergrowth, Jin turned over the piece of wood he’d picked up in his hands. He frowned as he studied it for a moment longer before mumbling: “This is fresh…”
“Hah?” Kazuya glanced down impatiently, “what’re you still doing on the ground? Get up, we-.”
Jin turned up to him, head tilting, “this trap is fresh,” he repeated, “someone just built it.”
And the younger’s brow rose, surprise bright on his face as his jaw unhinged. “Uwah~,” Yamapi stuck his head in, grinning once more, “you can see it too?”
“It drizzled last night,” Jin tugged his damp shirt, “this wood is dry though, there’s no moss on it either-,” he broke off abruptly before he got to the point he was making. It had struck him just a moment earlier that this trap was fairly large and fairly new, that the previous trap had been even larger, and that the first one they’d run into that day had seemed powerful enough to fall even the largest of animals.
He glanced up, mouth cramping shut as he stared silently at Yamapi and Kazuya who stared back curiously.
Did they already know?
Did they already know that the hunter who’d set up these traps was setting them up with the purpose of catching humans?
Was that hunter the person they were running from? Why hadn’t the hunter already killed them if he or she had already passed them? Were they actually even running away from someone?
He lifted the shard of wood in his hand, “this wasn’t an animal trap.”
Kazuya’s brows rose higher. He seemed to stutter wordlessly for a second before Yamapi leaned in further and popped a peace sign. “Yeah, it’s a human trap,” he grinned triedly like the fact of the matter wasn't actually damn horrifying.
Kazuya whacked him over the head for that, hissing something to the effect of ‘don’t freak him, you animal,’ before turning back down to Jin. “Don’t freak out,” he repeated again and rushed on before the elder could open his mouth, “and don’t ask. I don’t how to explain it, whoever was following us – if we were being followed,” he stressed with a pointed glance, “isn’t behind us anymore, but we aren’t dead, God knows why – I don’t know what’s going on,” he frowned slightly, “this isn’t the way stuff like this usually goes-.”
“Isn’t that bad?!” Jin wheezed, dropping the wood in his hand.
Kazuya shrugged, turning away again, “it’s good,” he yawned and cracked his neck as he walked away, “at least we know whoever this is, isn’t trying to kill us – they had the perfect chance to do it last night but they didn’t-,” he refrained from mentioning the fact they probably hadn’t was because he and Yamapi had stayed up the entire night to ensure no such thing would happen.
Jin didn’t mention it either, deciding to drop the subject all together when Yamapi cast him a pleading glance.
“Let’s just thank our lucky stars?” He smiled kind of desperately at Jin looking terribly sleep deprived as he helped him off the forest floor, “at least we’re still breathing, no?”
“That shouldn’t be how someone defines being okay,” Jin muttered back, rolling his eyes but leaving it at that because even if he wasn’t saying it, Yamapi was begging him not to start another fight with bloodshot eyes. “Tsk,” he clicked his tongue, pulling away from the younger as he glanced away, “why didn’t you sleep last night…? You’re a dead man walking, I swear,” he sighed as he followed wordlessly after the youngest of their group nonetheless.
Nearly five more hours and nine horrifically complicated traps later, Kazuya wormed a hand into Yamapi’s pants.
“Just ask for it, you pervert,” the elder grumbled as the latter pulled his switchblade from his pocket.
“Mh,” Kazuya just grunted, flipping open the knife and rolling up his left sleeve and bandaging until the gash he’d suffered earlier appeared above the older gauze wrapped around his wrists.
Yamapi watched out of the corner of his eyes.
“Kei calls it a Connector.”
Yamapi glanced up, “a Connector?”
“Yeah,” Kazuya tapped the inside of his wrist, “that link Jin and I have-.”
“The pain-pleasure thing?” Yamapi leered.
Kazuya threw his watch at his head. “What does it do?” Yamapi prompted, laughing as he dodged it, “is it a kink? Sexy kink, hot damn~.”
Kazuya waved a pen warningly at him, “don’t test me, jerk,” he cautioned him, then snapped his pen against his wrist before Yamapi could
start, “it’s a monitor,” he said, “it was supposed to activate the minute Jin started remembering about 2012.”
“On new Year’s.”
Yamapi blinked, “when he was kidnapped?”
Kazuya nodded, “he said the way he found me after Kai took me away was through the Connector – said the closer he got to me, the worse
the pain became.” Yamapi sobered with a grimace. “What’s the point of it?” He asked, reaching over to take Kazuya’s wrist in his hand, so
that he could examine the thin skin there, “besides connecting your… sensations and all.”
“Monitor,” Kazuya reminded him, leaning forward, “it’s an indicator too.”
“When The Second Hunt begins.”