"I know you're awake," Hokuto chuckles at the new patient that suddenly apparated in his small treatment room. The sun was already up when he clocked in, as it usually would be in the long summer days when the patients were scarce and the heat intense, but his clinic would stay open just the same.
He studied the boy who pretended to be fast asleep on the bed he usually kept tidy and sanitary for the overnight patients. Covered in dirt, he looked like he hadn’t bathed in a long while and Hokuto sighed thinking about how he would have to wash the sheets again. But the ‘boy’ was probably around his age and height. Plus, if he had been cleaned, would probably be incredibly handsome.
“What’s wrong?” he asked gently, not wanting to chase away a potential patient, moving closer when the strange young man made no move to ‘wake up’. Poking a finger to his cheek, which would probably be a lot cleaner than his clothes, he called out to him softly. “Heeeey?”
Blinking softly at the skin contact, the youth stirred, then shot up in surprise, playing the part of an innocent lost child perfectly. “W-where am I?” he asked, looking around frantically.
Had Hokuto been a little more naive he would’ve bought the act. But his breathing speed and eyeball movement had given him away. The kid was probably sniffing around for some cash or trying to steal some medicine before he feinted passing out on the bed when he heard Hokuto come in.
“You know where you are,” Hokuto shot him a knowing look. “What were you looking for? Medicine, or gold?”
He caught the twitch in the other’s eye when he knew he had been exposed, and the glance to his satchel at the subsequent questions.
“Or did you already take them?” Hokuto asked as he moved closer, ready to apprehend the little thief should he try to run.
Adjusting the strap of his satchel in preparation to make his escape, the youth’s eyes narrowed in concentration, watching Hokuto’s movements for the best chance to get away. His long slender fingers brushed over the embroidered letters “Taiga” on the leather strap, and when he caught Hokuto following his hands, he kicked himself off the bed, making a dash for the door.
Hokuto cursed, catching him by the wrist and yanking him backwards off his feet so hard they both collided into each other.
The thief named Taiga yelped when Hokuto’s arms wrapped around his waist, trapping both his hands to his sides. “Damn it!” he yelled, wriggling around, but his bony frame hadn’t the energy to fight Hokuto’s stronger, healthier one.
After a few minutes of struggling, Taiga gave up and Hokuto watched as his shoulders quaked from unshed tears. “...I just need this medicine for my brother…” he pleaded. A sob cracking his voice slightly.
Hokuto rolled his eyes. The oldest trick in the book. “For a liar, you’re a good actor.” Hokuto clicked his tongue, losing his patience quickly now that he had sullied his clothes as well.
“I’m not a liar!” Taiga burst out, breaking out from Hokuto’s grip. He turned to face Hokuto, eyes wet with tears. He pursed his lips, about to cry even more.
Hokuto stared at him, raising his hands in defeat, not sure to be more surprised at his anger, tears, or acting skills. Looking down at Taiga’s satchel, he smiled in triumph as he saw the golden drawstring of his herb pouch, that most people mistook for a coin purse, peeking out of the hastily shut flap. “You’re going to be disappointed by the contents of that bag. It’s not gold that’s in it.”
The surprise in his eyes are genuine this time. His gaze tracing Hokuto’s to the bag in question. He crossed his arms defiantly. “I don’t believe you!”
Hokuto groaned in annoyance, reaching forward to grab it back.
Suddenly, he felt Taiga’s palm on his chest, stalling his movements long enough to pull him in for a kiss. He froze, heart pounding in his chest and his mind launching into overdrive. By the time he regained some control of his thoughts, Taiga was gone.
Taiga gnawed softly on his bottom lip as he trudged through the light forest to their gypsy caravans. Why did that Doctor Matsumura have to be so handsome? It wasn’t fair when people were handsome, smart, and most of all, rich, at the same time. He pressed his lips together, willing away the memory of the softness of the other’s lips on his.
By the time he reached the glade, he had a full blown scowl. The sound of familiar laughter snapped him out of his thoughts, and he looked up from the ground to glance at his best friend, Yasui.
“What?” Yasui giggled. “Love troubles?”
Taiga fumed even more, stomping his foot on the ground. “No way!” he protested, denying it to his grave. “Here.” He dug the pouch out from his bag, tossing it to Yasui. “Just pissed that I had to use that tactic to get away with this.”
Yasui raised an eyebrow, his smile still plastered to his face. He opened the bag to look inside. Taiga frowned as he watched Yasui’s smile spread to an evil grin.
“What?” he snapped, already seeing the bad news coming for him. Yasui was only ever that delighted when he knew Taiga was in deeper shit.
He beamed at Taiga and said “You stole the doctor’s drugs!” before he exploded in laughter.
“Huuuuh?!” Taiga burst out, striding over to confiscate the bag from the other boy. His eyes flew wide open when he saw its contents; some herb bundles and compacted pellets of crushed herbal medicine that gave the bag its weight. “Fuck!” he cursed, pushing the bag back into Yasui’s hands like it was poison. He rubbed at his lips furiously before shrinking into a ball of embarrassment, hiding his face in his arms.
Yasui watched him in amusement. “That bad, huh?” He crouched down to Taiga’s height. “Well, you’ve always been easily embarrassed about using my tactics,” he added as he patted him consolingly on the head.
Taiga’s face peeked out to offer Yasui a pout. “He must have gold somewhere! He’s a freaking doctor!”
Yasui nodded in agreement. “Uhuh, why don’t you return this nicely and make him show you where the gold is?”
“Pfft, as if he would now that he knows I’m a thief,” Taiga argued but that look on Yasui’s face was mischievous as always, and Taiga wondered if Yasui was a pesky fairy in his past life.
“Oh so you do want to return it~” Yasui teased and Taiga actually shoved him. Yasui’s arms pinwheeled before he landed on his bum with a loud “ouch”. He wasn’t the least bit mad though, springing up immediately with his usual sunny smile. He offered Taiga a hand to help him up and dropped the topic for the time being.
Juri rubbed at his eyes. Blinking away the last of his drowsiness, his vision seemed clearer and yet that little glow of pink was still hovering around the wildflower patch. He tilted his head feeling puzzled but he sneaked closer anyhow. Trying to be as quiet as he could, so as not to scare whatever it was away, and he was successful for a bit, coming close enough to make out the shape of translucent pink wings fluttering on the back of a tiny blond person clothed entirely in pink and white.
“A… fairy?” he accidentally said aloud, making the fairy jump, spinning around to look at him.
Gasping in it’s tiny voice, the fairy exclaimed “Sakkun was spotted!” referring to itself in third person before zipping away leaving a trail of pink light.
Curious as he was, Juri ran after it, dashing between trees to catch a glimpse of that pink zig zag trail. He grinned, closing in on the tiny glow of light when a sudden flash of pink sparkles made him stop to cover his eyes. He groaned when he realised that the fairy had made its escape. Sighing, he examined his surroundings, knowing that he now had to find his own way home.
Juri was adventurous as a child, but it’s been years since he’d traversed these woods. But as his tired pants faded into normal breathing, he recognized the familiar sound of the running river. In his childhood, the river always led him back to the village so he followed the sound, walking along the riverside and reminiscing the landmarks he used to see as a child. Most things stayed the same, a red ribbon around a tree trunk left by a hunter to mark his way, the huge rock that looked like a monster, all the way down to the clearing that… should have been empty. Except now it was filled with painted wooden caravans, horses, and people.
The sound of string music and singing made its way to his ears, and he was reminded of townsfolk gossip from some years before of gypsies that travelled in caravans that played music and danced in town in the summertime only to steal the coins of unsuspecting citizens. He secured his coin purse under the cloth sash around his hips near his crotch, before he ventured closer to the campsite, feeling absolutely surefire that no one would swipe him there.
Hokuto sighed, rubbing at his temples, feeling a headache building up. Things had been going missing from his clinic every few nights and he had already replaced the locks twice after Taiga showed up. If all else fails he’d have to sleep in the treatment room so he could catch the culprit in person. Half of him was sure it would be Taiga that was putting him in so much trouble. But it was weird that no one in town seemed to know of anyone with that name or seen anyone as he had described him.
The bell on the door jingled lightly as his first customer of the day came in. It was one of his regular customers, a farm boy named Juri, that had a big family that always seemed to have someone falling sick. Hokuto blamed their diet but it wasn’t like he could offer them more to eat when he was tight on cash himself. Contrary to popular belief, doctors in small villages didn’t earn much since most villagers couldn’t pay anyway.
Juri was extremely good at reading others for some reason, so it was no surprised when he asked Hokuto about his troubles instead of picking up the usual medication straight away.
Hokuto couldn’t help but smile, offering Juri a seat and some tea so he could talk about the thief that has been plaguing him.
“Eh, it’s so rare for you to talk about something personal. Not that I’m complaining! But this must be reaaally bothering you,” Juri chatted heartily. He perked up as if remembering something and leaned in excitedly as if to gossip. “I found a camp of gypsies in the forest the other day! If you follow the river Northwest you might be able to find it. But maybe don’t go alone, and definitely don’t go with cash!” Juri warned. After a short pause, Juri added “I could go with you if you want.”
Hokuto blinked at him. “Gypsies?”
Hokuto questions many things. The absurdity of their late night trek through the woods, the chance that he might actually catch Taiga again and he doesn’t know if it’s a good or bad thing, and lastly, the sanity of his travel partner.
“Hey, Hokuto, do you see that little yellow light over there?” Juri asked him in a soft whisper.
Hokuto answers him honestly. “Nope. I don’t see a single light in that direction. You probably stared into the lantern too long so you’re seeing things.” He waved the lantern in his hand slightly in emphasis.
Juri didn’t buy his explanation though, and he looked like he was itching to run after what ever fantasy he dreamt up. He glanced apologetically at Hokuto. “Um, if you just follow the river you’ll find them. I’ll catch up to you later, okay?” he said, pressing his palms together in apology, before running off to chase that ‘little glowing light’ with his own lantern in hand.
Hokuto sighed. This was not a good start. He pressed on anyway, and saw the light of campfire before he noticed the sound of chatter from Juri’s thankfully real ‘gypsy camp’. And to Juri’s credit Hokuto would’ve described it as the same.
Yasui nudged Taiga in the ribs, earning him a pained yelp from the taller male. “Whoops sorry!” he said with a grimace. “But I saw your doctor sneaking around just now!” he added excitedly. “Now’s your chance to seduce him so he can take you home and show you where his gold is~”
The scandalized look on Taiga’s face was priceless and Yasui couldn’t help but laugh.
“You’re still on about that?” Taiga asked flabbergasted. “Can’t I just rob him while he’s here and be done with it?” he reasoned. But Yasui shook his head.
“Nah, he wouldn’t have brought anything important if he’s all the way out here.” Yasui tugged at his sleeve and pointed to the trees at the clearing perimeters. “Look he’s there. Go pretend to get something from your caravan so he knows which is yours!” Yasui schemed like the cheeky mastermind he is and sent Taiga off.
“To think the tables have turned,” a voice called to him from the door of the caravan. Hokuto spun behind to catch Taiga closing the door behind him. “Look who’s the thief now,” he taunted as he moved closer, pushing Hokuto onto one of the padded long benches built into the wall. He gasped as Taiga climbed onto his lap. He knew that gypsies were infamous for their charms but he didn’t expect the extent of it, his body freezing again as he watched Taiga looking down on him. Entirely conscious of the weight of Taiga on his thighs.
He was all cleaned up now and Hokuto was right, he was absolutely beautiful with his long lashes, high cheekbones, and a small sweet smile. But most captivating of all, were his eyes, his dark orbs swimming with a mix of various emotions that Hokuto couldn’t decipher. And yet they still shone with child-like innocence.
He gasped, his gaze falling downward when he felt Taiga grind their hips together. Hokuto couldn’t believe that anyone who looked so innocent could act so bold.
“I’m glad you came looking for me,” Taiga said, his finger snaking under Hokuto’s chin to tilt his face upwards. His voice was sweet and his expression gentle. He leaned down to press a kiss onto Hokuto’s lips, his fingers snaking into Hokuto’s hair.
Even as his conscience screamed at him not to, Hokuto’s arms wrapped around the gypsy’s waist. Pulling him closer as he kissed him back. But when Taiga licked at his lips, he pulled back, suddenly feeling the guilt twisting in his heart.
Taiga looked ready to protest so he shushed him with a finger on the other’s pink lips. “I suppose you’re only after my money and I should stop you now before it’s too late. But I’m actually poor.”
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