Blood Orchid

By Squid


There was someone at the door.

Kazuhiko pushed the sheets back, away from him, and glanced groggily at the clock, reflective hands glowing faintly from the dim neon blue that bled from the open windows.

The air smelt of electricity, exhaust, and ozone, something like desolation.

It was somewhere around five-twenty in the morning.

The doorbell rang again, more insistently this time.

"Coming." He called; bare feet on the floor as he went to answer the door.

It was Gingetsu, in uniform.

The light from the hallway behind him was so intense compared to the comfortable darkness of his room that he had to shield his eyes with his left hand.

"What are you doing here?" He asked; his voice roughened by sleep.

"I need your help."


"I ran out of bandages."

He noticed then, how Gingetsu's breathing seemed a little more unsteady than usual, and how he was favouring his right side, imperceptibly.

"Yeah, sure. Come in. It should be by the bed."

As Gingetsu moved past him, Kazuhiko noticed the sword still in his hand.

"I suppose it's going to be classified."


The fingers were clenched so tight around the slender hilt he could see the tendons drawn taut like bowstrings on a strung bow.

It was on the tip of his tongue to ask why he had run out of bandages to bind up his injuries again, but he managed to check himself in time.

Things were different now that Lan wasn't around.

He bent down and reached for the first aid kit, drawing it out before he turned to face Gingetsu.

"Where do you want it?"

"Abdomen. Left side."

Gingetsu made as if to unbutton his uniform, but it obviously pained him, so Kazuhiko reached over and did it instead, leaving the belt buckle that cinched the uniform together about Gingetsu's waist.

He pulled the clothing away from Gingetsu's shoulders, exposing his waist and torso, and also the old bandage that Gingetsu had received at the hospital, hiding the huge contusion that blossomed like a blood orchid around a jagged tear held together by stitches.

"Want a cigarette?" He offered, reaching for one himself.

Gingetsu nodded. He lighted one, and smoked from it before he passed it over.

"It doesn't look that bad." Kazuhiko murmured through a mouthful of cigarette smoke, as he smoothed antiseptic ointment along it.

Gingetsu looked past him, exhaling the smoke in thin plumes from his nostrils. It drifted lazily upwards, a living shadow in the dusky half-glow of daybreak and blue neon that struggled into the room.

He placed the gauze directly over the wound, sticking it in place with surgical tape, breathing in a mix of secondhand smoke and air as he leaned in, careful not to get the adhesive on the wound as he taped along the back.

He felt Gingetsu's chest rise and fall as he drew the smoke into his lungs.

"Don't get ash on my bed."

Gingetsu made a noise, and smoked some more.

Kazuhiko snorted, and stuffed the bottle of antiseptic back into the kit, getting up to put the box back.

As he crouched to open the cabinet, he heard the mechanical sound of something chirping.

He tilted his head up in surprise, managing to catch a glimpse of wings and metallic fluttering as something took wing from his window.

"What was that?"

"A stray pet."

The sun had risen far enough for Kazuhiko to see the shadows under Gingetsu's eyes that had strayed past the confines of his visor and his heart contracted in empathy.

"Want to stay a while? You look like you need the sleep."

"I need to work-"

"Right now?"

It must have come out more forcefully than Kazuhiko had meant for it to be, because Gingetsu complied instead of ignoring it like he used to, unbuckling his belt, letting his uniform fall off him, exposing a torso that glinted cream and the turgid bluish-purple of clogged blood in the dawning light.

He turned to lie on the other side of the bed, a careful distance between them. On the left side next to the windows, eyes only half open.

It felt strange to be sleeping with the weight of another body on the same bed after so long, but the warmth that radiated off Gingetsu's back was not unpleasant.

Kazuhiko would fall asleep this way; something that Gingetsu waited for before he got up, dressed, and left.

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