Like real people do

Isaac stood in front of him in the middle of the room, still in his unbuttoned shirt and hair a mess, clearly waiting for his return. It was a sight, honestly, the always put together and proper official now so much in disarray. His features first held the usual smile that waited for him every time he returned to him, but it was soon replaced by shock and then worry.
Aiji couldn’t possibly blame him for it, when he left a few hours before, he was – for the most part – pristine, in his usual hunter attire, hair in a tight bun, weapons neatly slotted in their holder. Now however, his dark clothes were stained with blood, a lot of it. On top of that, he was covered in dust from head to toe and it seemed he didn’t put pressure on his right leg. At some point he must have had the chance to wash his face and hands briefly, mostly just muddying up that was on there. Worst is he looked absolutely drained, eyes sunken in a bit, there was no color in his face and small scratches littered his hands. At least that is all Isaac could see of him at the moment. Who knows what was under the layers of clothing too.

– I’m home…- He tried with a half smile, but was aware how he must look. Good thing the streets were empty at this time of the night, seeing a demon hunter in this state was not common in these parts. – I’m sorry I took a bit long, love, but there was a little…problem.
– I can see that…Do I need to run for a healer or… – His eyes were roaming his body for any more serious injuries.
– No, no I’m fine. It’s not my blood. – He paused a little thinking. – I only got away with scratches. No need to worry.
– I have no idea if I should be relieved or not… stay put I’ll get you a bath. Then you can tell me what you’re allowed to. – Isaac said, stepping aside and out. He was such an attentive sweetheart.

While he was away Aiji started to unbuckle his outer layers, the stiff leather chest plate that went to his back and held his swords there, the arm guards and his boots. By the time he got everything that was not clothes off, Isaac came back, with a young boy bringing hot water in two buckets. That was unusual so close to midnight, he had no idea how Isaac got them to boil water for him but he was not complaining. The small boy wasn’t either. He was happily pouring the content in to the cold one already in the wooden tub, eyeing the hunter and his state. Once he was done he left without a word, Isaac thanking him for his work.
– You got the poor boy up in the middle of the night? I would have been fine with a cold wash. -Aiji said with a smile.
– I also got Miss Clorette to boil it up. And she agreed that the last thing you need is catching a cold. With your luck that will be case. – Isao frowned at him. – Now strip and get in there.
– I like it when you show authority. – Aiji grinned but did as he was told. His clothes were soaked and getting stiff with the blood. He wondered if he should even try to get those clean at all.
Isaac’s eyes never left him as he stripped, looking for injuries, but found nothing that was anything to note at. Aiji started to sport a nice black spot on his right tight, where one of the bricks hot him. Finally he sank down to the heavenly warmth of the bath, relaxing his muscles, a relieved sigh escaping his lips. He was so tired.

Isaac went around, sitting down next to the tub, asking for his hand, examining the cuts and cleaning them up. They were not deep fortunately. He remembered cleaning deep gashes a few times, even ones that were healing up by the time Aiji made it back home. He was glad that today was not like those.
– Is everyone else fine too? – He asked but Aiji knew the question was if his friend was alright or not, first and foremost. Isaac tried to keep calm. He gathered as much that tonight had something to do with the two foreigners and his friend, who were still on the wanted posters. Those were just put up today, before noon, but it was far too many hours now for the little gnome to be in such a position. His good heart an naivety getting him in trouble was something ought to happen one day, but Isao hoped it would be still a few years till then. Then again, at 40, it can be summed up as his teenage rebel years, if one converts it to human years.

– Lorenzo is fine, not a scratch on him as promised. He was quite the hero tonight too. Surprisingly. The other two are good too, battered by waiting it out in the slums, but good. – Aiji paused a little. The image of a hysterically laughing Angelica still quite vivid. – Angelica, the priestess who was here, almost lost a leg…well to be honest, almost died.
– Emphasis on the almost, right? – Concern was evident in his voice. He didn’t knew the priestess personally, but it would still have pained him, if Aiji lost someone today.
– Remember the ruins that I told you not to be around? Well it was a hideout. She bought the whole thing down when she was searching for a hidden passage. The three of them got out, but she was left behind, the ruins still caving in.
– Please tell me you didn’t ran in to a crumbling building. – Isaac pinched the bridge of his nose closing his eyes, the mental image already forming.
– My story would be really cut short then. No one else did, there was no time to think about it. Her leg was trapped under one of the rocks, then as I tried to free it there was another that fell on the other, cutting it clean off. I managed to get her out of there but she refused any potion until she had her leg. That’s when your little friend ran it there and in a few minutes came out, appendage in tow, without any injuries. By the time he got there I had fed Angelica my blood, hence the fatigue.

By the time Aiji was done with the story, Isaac had cleaned both his hands and was working on his hair now, massaging the tension in the back of his neck too. He felt the man relax as he told him what happened, needing to talk it out.
– So tell me, dear hunter of mine. How many idiotic decisions did you make today and how many times did you almost die? – There was a tease in his voice, but a little bitterness too.
Aiji looked up at the ceiling and started to count on his hand. Then on the other. Isaac rolled his eyes behind him.
– About 5 to one. I wouldn’t call this a near death experience. That was earlier when the little monster bit me.
– What little monster?
– Awh shit. You probably shouldn’t hear about that… although you did say that you went and checked what happened at Lorenzo’s place. People did see me go in there…
– I did, there was a huge commotion and even heard it in the other parts of the town people talking about how a hunter and a priestess cleaned out the place where many guard died. They think you purged a demon out.
– They are not wrong but it wasn’t a demon. The things in question had an ability to be invisible and their sting was poisonous. That’s why so many died. I probably just got lucky. The first stages were paralysis, that was concerning if it will reach my lungs or heart first. The poison spread like wildfire, those guards didn’t stand a chance against it. – He felt Isao’s hand stop in his hair. – The fever probably helped, it was nothing like I’ve ever felt before, burning up so quickly. Then it slowly stopped, it was clear then that I will live. You should have seen the faces of the guards that were there. – He grinned but was only met with silence.
– Would have anyone told me? – He heard the shaking voice.
– Told you what?
– That you were stupid enough to go and get yourself killed on your days off! Would have I known or would I need to see it in a statistic a week later?!
Aiji turned around in the tub to face him, the distress that was now clear in his voice written on his face as well. Aiji’s face turned serious, not a hint of his happy-go-lucky self now.
– You knew what my job was when we got together. I clearly made it a point that I can die on any mission I take and that I probably will. No matter how much I would like to come home to you after every one of them, the possibility that one day I won’t is always there. You know this.
– I know… and I know I asked you to keep an eye out for Lorenzo when I saw him with the foreigners. – Isaac lowered his head. – But I didn’t anticipated that this was such a big issue. Had I known…
– They were lucky I was there. If I hadn’t, then Angelica were surly have died in that house, the guards might have had a chance to slip out but I’m not sure about that either. So many more would have lost their lives to try and kill those beasts. And I don’t want to think about the possibility of those getting out on the streets, maybe even hurting you. That is why I went with it when Angelica asked me. And when Tanaka asked me to hunt the foreigners down. Better me than any other sword for hire.
– But would have anyone who was there would have told me if you died? I can’t even loose you in a normal manner.
Aiji looked at his face, seeking the true meaning behind his words. Why was this important now? Then it hit him. If he were to fall outside of the borders, Isaac would be somewhere in first line to know. Weeks later, granted, but with his connection to the church, he would know, even if it was not an official chain of information. If he died here, now, those who were there, the guard, Angelica, anyone, would have not know to contact him. Because they are not officially bound to each other, it’s not like when a guard dies and they let his family know.
Keeping their relationship casually hidden, to not be in the public eye too much, not even those who were considered family knew, came with this. And it was the same for Aiji, if anything happens to Isaac, he probably would be the last to know, if even. They were not like the others in many aspects, and one of those came with a hint of shame and judgement and many boundaries.

Aiji washed up in silence after that, he was terribly tired, but his brain was going a hundred miles per minute. Then, as he unconsciously reached for his ring finger a light bulb came on. He knew exactly how they can officiate their relationship. Now he just needed to hone in some favors and hoped to both gods that it can be done. It would not exactly be traditional, but still a nice alternative. A nice gesture and safety net to ease the worry.
– I think I will go home after the gates are open tomorrow. – whispered Isaac, as he lay down beside him. – I’m sorry I bought it up.
Aiji turned to him, but only met his back. Scooting close he buried his face in the golden locks on the back of his head.
– No, I’m sorry love. You would deserve a normal life with a normal relationship.
– I couldn’t and you know it. I wouldn’t want to burden any woman with my so called affliction.
– I think the general term now is malaise.
– Preferring men is not a malaise. It’s not something that you just catch or can cure.
– Would it be better if they called it a deviance? I think I got that a few times before I met you.
– You got that because you are a deviant. – Isaac chuckled.
– Hey now, don’t judge just because I don’t restrict myself to either genders. – Aiji snaked a hand around the other’s waist, playing with the soft skin. – The dszad, he has an elf wife. I needed to get her to safety before I came home. It made me think about you. How I would also do anything to protect you.
– I’m generally pretty safe in the capital. But that’s sweet of you. – Finally he tuned to face the older man.
– That’s why it’s so easy for me to be reckless. I know you are safe. When I was laying there, unable to move, I thought of you. How stupid I was when I could be with you in that moment. How weak I was because if I don’t kill these things, they can harm you. I can’t promise to be here forever. But I can promise that I will always do my very best, to get home to you. And if I could, I would have asked you to join me in marriage a long time ago. As things are, we can’t officiate it…but I will search for the next best thing.
He saw tears welling up in Isaac’s eyes, all the hurt and frustrations washed away by it.
– Don’t go tomorrow. We’ll have a proper date once this is over. You can take me to your cute gnome family and introduce me as you wish, we can hold hands watching a godawful soap opera on the square and once night falls and the music starts, we can dance and we should just kiss like real people do.