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the one who has to do the hard parts

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When the fake can't handle things anymore and gives up, it's like surfacing from deep water: colors crystalize into sharper shapes, the weight of the body feels lighter, and distant sounds resolve into clear words. They're trapped in some kind of stupid restraint device this time, but that won't be a problem. Id lifts his head to stare down the man who's talking to him. "Fei" couldn't cope with this. It'll be Id who takes care of their problems, just like always.

"—take our time and talk... Id."

Well, two can play the smug-asshole-who-knows-it-all game. "You understand well. Just as I expected, Citan. Or was it 'doc'?"

Citan adjusts his glasses, looking entirely too comfortable. He must think he's safe here. "I have been wanting to meet you, Id. I wanted to talk with you."

"This is hardly a friendly way to start a conversation," Id interrupts before Citan can keep going. "You think you need this thing to keep me from hurting you?"

"Well," Citan says. "You have seemed uninterested in distinguishing between friend and foe. Some precautions seemed prudent."

Id could point out that he doesn't have any friends, that they only like the "Fei" who alternately denies him and relies on him, but that's more information than he wants to volunteer. He snorts. "Next question. You think it'll work?"

Citan frowns up at him. "That device severs nerve responses. You can't—"

"He can't. You still don't understand how much I'm capable of." They have—he has—so much more power than some pathetic ordinary human. Id focuses his energy, gathers it into a weapon that will serve his purposes, and blasts the restraining harness as hard as he can. The thing cracks, splits down the middle, and he drops to the floor below.

For a few seconds the world flickers, fading, as the exertion threatens to wake the other one back up, but Id rides it out, pushing "Fei" back down into the dark, and the feeling ebbs. He's in charge here. He's the one who can do what needs to be done.

Citan doesn't look so relaxed anymore.

"What's the matter?" Id stalks toward him. "You wanted to talk. Let's talk."

"Most people would assume a less threatening attitude for a conversation," Citan says. His hands rise up into a ready blocking position, because whatever else he is, he's not stupid.

"I'm not the one who needs to have basic human interaction explained to me," Id says. "He's asleep right now and can't hear you."

"Well, that would have been my first question," Citan says. "What happens—"

Id throws a punch, experimentally, not putting all that much force behind it. Citan's eyes go wide behind the thick lenses of his glasses and he blocks reflexively, but then he stops himself from following up with a return strike. Interesting. "Trying not to escalate?"

"You don't seem to have any sense of restraint," Citan says. "You push yourself until your opponents are completely destroyed and your body is at the point of collapse. I'm not trying to provoke another incident of that sort."

"Then what do you want me around for?" Id demands. It comes out sharper than he means it to. It's true that he's not the one who's good at holding back. That's never what anyone has wanted him for.

Citan gives him a smile that's probably supposed to be reassuring, but Id knows that's the way people look at you when they're about to be bloodlessly vicious. "I want to understand you. I want to understand the relationship between you."

"There's no relationship," Id snarls. He grabs Citan by the front of his coat and slams him back into the wall, and Citan's stunned huff of breath is good but not enough. "The one you've been coddling all this time doesn't even acknowledge that I exist!"

He draws back one hand to throw another punch and that gives Citan the opportunity to wrench loose of his grip, so Id's fist slams into the wall instead. The screen he hits goes dark, cracks spiderwebbing the glass and sparks spitting around his hand.

Citan is trying to put some distance between them. Id laughs, the sound bubbling up almost involuntarily, bitter and bile-hot. His knuckles throb. He lunges before Citan can get near the door. "What happened to not provoking another incident? You dragged me out here, and now you want to run? Don't go. We still have so much to talk about!"

His kick this time connects, snapping Citan's head back and bloodying his lips.

"You seemed uninterested in that possibility," Citan says, throwing a punch of his own. It catches Id by surprise and connects just below his ribs, stealing his breath.

"I never said that." Still, it wasn't enough of a punch to slow him down for long. Citan's trying not to hurt him. Or, probably, trying not to hurt Fei. "But I want you to know what you're dealing with. And what you're not facing right now."

"And what's that?" Citan feints, trying to get past him, but there's no way Id is letting him out of this room now.

"The miserable little failure who's so fond of you." Two punches in quick succession, and he's not using all his strength but it's enough to make the thud of flesh on flesh satisfying. Citan grimaces in pain. "I can't believe you're still going on as if there's nothing between you."

"What?" Citan says. Ether light rises around him and washes away the bruise forming on his face. That won't do.

"You need everything spelled out for you too, huh?" Id closes the distance and grapples, sweeping Citan's leg out from under him and knocking them both to the floor. "You're everything to him. You're his... his anchor, his compass. That man created him, but you made him into the person he is. You taught him how to act like a person at all. He thinks that's love, as if love were anything but a way to get people's guard down."

Citan looks like those words have hurt him as much as any punch Id has thrown. He isn't trying to get up off the floor. "I didn't know," he says quietly. "I knew he looked to me for help, but...."

Id fists his hands in the front of Citan's jacket and shakes him. "Lies! You know everything about him. You know him better than he knows himself. But you don't care about him, do you? This whole time, you've just been sticking around trying to get to me. Well, congratulations! You have me here now! And I'm taking what you wouldn't give us, because I'm always the one who has to do the hard parts."

"Id, it's not like that, it's—"

Id backhands Citan hard across the face, leaving streaks of his own blood there. That buys him a few stunned seconds to reach down and tear open the center seam of Citan's pants, stitches giving way with a raw, satisfying ripping sound.

"Don't do this," Citan pleads then, trying to push him away. "He wouldn't want this. I don't want this. You—"

Id gets one hand around his throat and leans on it, choking off the words. "You haven't cared about what he wanted since my Gear first landed in Lahan. And you definitely didn't care what I want." His voice drops, hushed. "Nobody cares what I want. Nobody ever has."

Citan's mouth works soundlessly, his face flushed and swollen, his hands scrabbling at Id's grip. Id reaches down with his other hand to unseal his flightsuit enough to bare his cock. It feels like all his frustration, all his fury, is gathered there, pulsing heat that needs an outlet. If there's one thing he's good at, it's outlets.

It only takes a few quick jerks to get his cock hard. He loosens his grip on Citan's throat for just a second, long enough to let him get a breath or two—there wouldn't be much point to this if Citan lost consciousness, would there?

"Id, this isn't going to get you what you want," Citan says with his first breath. "We can talk about what you need. We—" Id chokes him off again before he can keep going. His stupid rationalizing isn't even entertaining anymore.

When the lack of air has reduced Citan's struggles to feeble trembling, Id shoves one of his legs up and out, exposing him. This whole thing is awkward, bodies so much harder to fit together for this than for combat, but Id refuses to be defeated. After three tries he gets them lined up correctly at last, and he pushes, and Citan's body shudders under his in one more futile attempt to escape.

It's hot, and almost tight enough to hurt, and Id pushes in deeper. The heat he was expecting—any number of battles have taught him how hot bodies are inside, at least when he first gets to them—but the tightness takes his breath away. "Are you still fighting me?"

Citan shakes his head. His face is flushed and swollen, skin darkened with blood. His hands are still on Id's arm but not moving, just resting there in defeat.

Id lets go of Citan's throat and grabs his wrists instead, pinning them against the floor as he leans into what he's doing. He's so hard. The friction and heat are so good. He can't stop moving. His own breath is shaky and loud. With the pressure off his throat, Citan's face goes back to normal, but he's still panting through clenched teeth as if he's in pain.

"What's the matter?" Id demands. "Something happen that you didn't plan for? One of your pawns didn't do what you expected?"

"You're not a pawn," Citan grits out.

"That's right," Id says.

And Citan ruins it by going on, "None of you are my pawns, Id, that's not what I'm doing here—"

"Shut up! I'm tired of listening to you lie." His grip tightens on Citan's wrists until Citan thrashes under him, actively struggling. "Do you want him to wake up on top of your corpse?"

"No," Citan says. It's an admission of defeat, especially with the way the tension ebbs out of his body. Victory always feels good and it turns out it feels even better like this, with Id's cock buried in trembling tight flesh, with Citan making that face like he's suffering a lot more than a little physical injury can justify.

He finds a rhythm that feels good and after a minute he realizes that Citan is moving with him, hips rocking up to meet his strokes: coming around after all, or just trying to appease him to avoid getting hurt again? It doesn't matter, not really. Someone is giving him what he wants for once, and that's almost as good as the physical sensations.

All too soon he realizes the pleasure is rising toward a peak, tension building and drawing down toward the pit of his stomach. His breathing is coming short and fast, his strokes staccato and needy—and when he comes, it's almost the same kind of release as the blast of power that got him out of the harness at the start of this little adventure. His body shakes, and for one stunning moment everything feels too good to be a problem.

When he opens his eyes, Citan is looking up at him warily. "Fei?"

"No," Id says. He pushes himself backward, off Citan, pulling his cock free. The pleasure is already dissolving, the momentary delight dissolving into the reality that everything is still garbage. "But here, if you're so anxious to see him again, let me help."

He drags Fei up from the dark and shoves him to the front of their mind.

"Oh my god—doc, what happened, you're—I—" Fei looks down at his hands, looks down at his cock, his raw cold horror washing through the body.

"It's all right," Citan says, but he's bruised and bloody and his voice is hoarse, shaky enough that even Fei can't miss it. "Don't panic, Fei. It's all right."

It's not all right. Id relaxes, settling back into the background of their mind. It's not all right, and for once, finally, that's Fei's problem, not his.