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There’s about five hundred damn good reasons why Akira shouldn’t go to nightclubs without Ryo. Granted, there’s just as many reasons why he shouldn’t go with him either, but at the exact moment, none of those are coming to mind. He already feels like some kind of traitor, playing wallflower while sipping at a drink that burns from tooth to stomach, knowing that he isn’t supposed to be here in the first place. If Ryo knew he was hunting a demon without hauling Ryo along to play overseer—

Akira grimaces at the thought and downs the rest of his alarmingly neon blue drink in one go.

Sabbath should have been a good indicator on its own. It was his first time in anything even slightly resembling Tokyo’s underbelly, and between the topless pill-flinging demon girl and everything else, it should have been enough for Akira to swear off nightclubs for the rest of his life and well into his next. He should have put his foot down after he woke up built like a bulldozer with permanent eyeliner sharp enough to stab a man. He should have resolutely told Ryo that he was now going to join an old ladies’ ikebana club and start collecting a pension before he even had a job.

He should not be in another debaucherous nightclub, waiting for some scantily-clad or possibly naked clubgoer to go berserk and start eating everyone. But there he is, an hour into his hunt, dressed from head to toe in different iterations of tight black fabric. And he’s overdressed.

Circle2 is awash in every blaze of color imaginable, pulsing in rainbow strobe over a mass of sweaty, half-naked people clumped together like seaweed. The music is so bass heavy that Akira couldn’t make out the song even if he knew it. He watches a topless girl with neon green bottoms grind up against another girl with her hair shaved down to the scalp on one side of her head. A guy in black pleather and tiger stripes of day-glo body paint grinds between a tall man with a shock of orange hair and a girl with her face hidden behind a gas mask splattered in UV paint. A few couples or groups have already retreated to concealed or not-so-concealed corners to make out or fuck or whatever they’re doing. Someone back by the bar is snorting some strange purple powder off a mirror through a rolled up ten-thousand yen bill.

Akira wants to leave very badly.

He lingers between getting another drink before he leaves or just calling it quits while he still has the chance. It’s not too late to retreat back to Ryo with his proverbial and literal tail between his legs.

He barely registers someone sidling up beside him until he feels the glass in his hand getting changed out for a new one. He looks down to see a cheery purple paper umbrella floating in bright blue liquid, and then follows the source to a gorgeous young man taking up station against the wall beside him. The man is all smiles, grinning like a fox and immediately reminding Akira of those kitsune masks he’s seen at festivals. His hair is auburn red, mussed but not messy, and a pretty contrast to his dark complexion. To Akira’s slight relief, he’s dressed in a black button-down with the sleeves rolled to the elbows and skinny jeans.

“You look like you needed another drink or six,” the man says by way of introduction, his voice cutting clear above the thundering bass. “You new here?”

Akira just nods, already sipping his drink gratefully. The burn doesn’t seem so bad now.

The man keeps smiling and shrugs his shoulders. “No offense, but you looked a little out of place.”

“That bad, huh?” Akira shouts over the music.

The man laughs and shakes his head. “Not a bad thing! Just obvious.”

They fall into a companionable pseudo-silence, if it could be called silence at all. Circle2 is all noise, rumbling and thrumming down to Akira’s bones. Even so, he doesn’t feel so awkward and wrong now.

“Wanna dance?” the man suddenly asks. Akira sees his eyes now, liquor dark in color but bright like embers.

Akira almost chokes on his drink. Honestly, he was expecting the floor of the club to run gold in demon blood by this point; not dancing with an attractive man. Part of him almost says that he can’t because he has school tomorrow he shouldn’t be here in the first place. Another part of him gleefully reminds him that Ryo is waiting for him and Akira went here against his wishes.

Amon, though, takes possession just long enough to send a few synaptic signals to Akira’s neck muscles, forcing him to nod. To make things worse, the fucker even gives Akira’s tongue and jaw a test drive, sliding against his vocal cords and causing a too-eager, gravelly, “Hell yeah,” to exit his mouth.

The man just keeps grinning and nods towards Akira’s drink. “You can finish that if you want. I have an unlimited tab at the bar so I can just go get you another.”

Akira’s eyebrows go up as he sips it, albeit almost serendipitously now. He swallows it, the burn like a blue flame down his esophagus. “Oh yeah?”

The man nods again and laughter dances like foxfire in his eyes. “It helps when you own the bar,” he says.

“Shit,” escapes Akira faster than he can contain it, but he smoothly follows it up by depositing his drink on a glass-topped endtable nearby before jerking his head towards the dance floor, towards the pulsing throng of neon-splattered humanity. “You own that, too?”

“And the bricks of the foundation,” the man happily supplies, sidling up besides Akira without prompting. There’s no ignoring the way his arm snakes around Akira’s waist, thumb hooking into a belt loop. “I can take you on a tour, if you want.”

Akira doesn’t have a proper response. His tongue feels twisted and caged behind teeth that just want to show off in a grin. He has an arousal he can’t explain away, and Amon is in far too primal of a state to say anything halfway to eloquent. He wants to grind against this man like tomorrow’s never coming, and Akira... Akira can actually agree with that.

“Later,” is all Akira says, finding himself pleasantly breathless.

“Fair,” the man replies easily, and then tugs Akira along into the tumult.

Akira’s never really danced like this before. He’s done some fake ballroom, twirling Miki around the living room in a playful waltz. He’s nervously done tap dances at the track. He’s done some embarrassing dances in his own bedroom when no one’s watched. But this kind of dancing is new to him. He’s dizzy with the heat generated by hundreds of bodies, dizzy with the reek of sweat and sex and dozens of perfumes and colognes, dizzy with the close proximity of people at his back and the foxfaced man at his front. He wonders what Ryo would think, watching the man grind his hips against Akira’s one arm hooked around his neck and pulling him close.

He’s actually afraid of what Ryo would think.

The man pulls him in, their noses nearly touching, the edge of his pelvic bone sharp against Akira’s. “Stop thinking so much,” he says, almost growls, and his voice is for Akira’s ears only. “Just do what feels right.”

The music changes then. It’s bass-free for a second, high and euphoric. Synthesized tones fill the topmost reaches of the ceiling. Prismatic white light fills Akira’s vision, cut in two by the dark eyes of his partner, illuminated to whiskey-gold. He’s close enough that he can feel the man’s breath fanning hot against his face. He smells like alcohol and sweat, and something spicy and heady burning an undercurrent. He smells like literal fire, and both Akira and Amon crave it in tandem.

The bass drops, the lights turn into a fiery strobe, and Akira kisses him hard enough to bruise.

He tastes blood and vodka on his tongue, and he follows it along the sharp ridge of the man’s bottom row of teeth. Both of Akira’s hands are on the sides of his neck, holding him close, hips pressing and grinding in time to the music. The man’s erection is prominent and demanding, and if Akira were any less in control, he’d take him right on the floor in front of all these people.

Time and space are two off-kilter blurs. All Akira knows is the arm around his neck and the hand on his back, holding him in place. He knows the taste of this man’s mouth, the distinct sense of electricity and fire between them, and the thunder of the bass and the tempo like a tempest inside of him. He knows the rapid-fire thoughts lancing wild and unchecked through his head, forming sentences with no punctuation, no pauses. His thoughts are his own, are Amon’s, are something completely unknown and arcane. They’re in his language, and in languages long dead and unspoken.

Long fingers card through his hair, press against his scalp, pull him down and away from the kiss so that his face rests against the man’s shoulder.

“I want you right here,” the man says wistfully. “Here, on one of those couches, against the bar, on the roof. I don’t really care.”

Akira is well beyond words. He just nods frantically. He doesn’t know what he’s doing, and Amon is no help at all. He doesn’t even know this man’s name. All he knows is that every atom of his body wants this man, wants to absorb him be a part of him and never been torn apart. He wants him intrinsically down to a cellular level, down to a spiritual one. He never wants to know anything or anyone else.

It might be an hour, ten hours, five minutes, or any passage of time before he feels himself being steered away from the dancefloor. He’s completely reliant on this man’s sense, following him along blindly through fog machines and lasers and flickering lights, past the cool blue mood lighting of the bar, by a long, glowing fish tank with dozens of neon tropical fish, on and on and on—

Ariadne leads Theseus through the Labyrinth, his mind supplies, literally from nowhere at all. To find the monster at the end.

He shakes the thought away as soon as it comes, not knowing the names or meaning; it has to come from Amon’s corner of the property, then.

They go through a few doorways before Akira finds himself in a plush room, resplendent with dark claret and violet, edged at every corner with gold and presided over with a real gaslight chandelier. There’s an enormous bed, larger than anything Akira has ever slept in, curtained on all sides with wine-red silks. Even the floor is meant for laying on, covered wall to wall in soft crimson rugs and cushioned with silk-covered pillows. A black marble minibar flanks the room on the left, but it’s promptly forgotten as the man pulls Akira onto the bed.

Wait,” Akira gasps. “Wait, wait, wait.”

The man just keeps smiling at him. “Hey, I’m clean. I have condoms, lube, whatever. I won’t tell your wife. No secret cameras in here,” he says, sounding perfectly reassuring.

Akira has to take a second to parse all that information out, but he shakes his head after it settles a second. “No, no, it’s not that,” he says. Then, he scrunches up his face. “I don’t even have a wife.”

“Oh.”

“I just...” He doesn’t actually know what he wants to wait for. He still feels like a traitor, and damn if he doesn’t feel like Ryo’s eyes are burning into his back from a distance. Akira even went out of the way to leave his phone back at the Makimura residence so it couldn’t be traced and he couldn’t be recorded. Ryo still has his ways, though.

He blinks hard, his eyes burning, and he shakes his head again. “I don’t... I don’t know your name.”

The man looks up at him, amused. “Is that all?” he asks, laughter riding his words. “You can call me Kamen. It’s pretty easy.”

Kamen. Mask. It suits him.

“Akira,” he introduces himself, although it feels weird doing so with Kamen underneath him, legitimately seconds away from being naked.

“Cute.”

He furrows his brow. “Cute?” he repeats.

Kamen shrugs, and his damn smile doesn’t fade a fraction. “In its own way. It fits you,” he says, reaching up and pushing some of Akira’s hair behind one ear. It’s painfully intimate, and something about it strikes Akira dangerously close to his heart. “Was that all you were worried about?”

He imagines Ryo’s expression on finding out what Akira’s doing, what he’s done. He can imagine the pinch in his brow, the low set of his eyelids, the slight downturn of his lips. He can imagine Ryo dismissing him, crossing his arms to put extra space between them, saying something terse and cold. He doesn’t want that, but at the same time, he desperately wants this thing he has with Kamen.

“I’ve never—” Akira pauses and clears his throat, looking down sheepishly. All he sees is a sliver of dark skin where Kamen’s shirt is riding up. He swallows hard. “N-never done this. With a... a guy.”

Kamen blinks up at him, gold eyes dancing with amusement and surprise. “Really?” he purrs. One hand gently goes up Akira’s left arm, encircling it in a comforting, warm grip. “Would it be easier if it was with a girl?”

Akira frowns. “Huh?”

“Just curious,” Kamen replies in sing-song. “I’m usually good at gauging someone’s type. Kind of a fun little party trick of mine.”

Even though there’s a pang of confusion in Akira, he allows a grin and leans down, gently mouthing at the right side of Kamen’s neck. He feels his pulse, steady and calm and slow, and tastes the heat and sweat of his skin. “Did you get mine?” he asks into his skin.

“Mmm, I thought I did,” Kamen muses. “Young, hot, rich boy. You wanted someone submissive.” He runs his fingers through Akira’s hair again in slow, methodical strokes. Akira growls in pleasure in response before licking close to Kamen’s jugular. He can almost hear and smell the rush of blood beneath the surface. Kamen moans softly and arches his back slightly underneath Akira. “I wondered if you were into girls. Maybe both.”

“Both,” Akira agrees before scraping his teeth against the hot skin. He pauses just long enough to grin up at Kamen. “Actually, I learned I really don’t care one way or the other.”

“Gender’s a human construct anyway,” Kamen says like he’s agreeing. He tilts his head back against the pillows and hums in pleasure as Akira continues. “And they’re so focused on it that they hardly budge. They don’t get the big picture and they never will.”

His use of they almost escapes Akira, but he catches it and looks up, perplexed. “They?”

Kamen smiles, showing his teeth. “They. Humans. Not like you.”

Akira’s eyes widen and he sits up, still straddling Kamen. “What are you talking about?”

Kamen actually laughs out loud, rolling his eyes. He adjusts himself with his elbows so that he’s propped up against the pillows, his eyes half-lidded and dark. “You don’t have to play coy, Akira. I could smell it on you when you walked through the door. I know you either wanted to fuck something or kill it, and for the sake of my club’s standing, I’d prefer the former.”

A heavy weight sinks in Akira’s gut in time with the ice running up his spine. The Minotaur, his mind whispers, in Amon’s voice and Ryo’s combined. Monster. Devil. Demon.

“You...” Akira starts, but Kamen moves one hand so that his finger gently presses against Akira’s lips.

“For formality’s sake, yes, I’m exactly what you think I am,” he says smoothly, unhindered by any rising threat he might sense radiating from Akira now. “But I’ve been around far too long to be moronic enough to cause chaos in my own den. That’s all the handiwork of a child.”

“Then why—”

Kamen pulls him down hard, kissing him with the intent to hurt. He bites on Akira’s bottom lip, drawing blood, and any argument Akira had in the forefront of his mind dissipates instantly. Amon roars to life inside of him, liquid fire crackling through his veins and down to his smallest capillaries. Red fills his vision, and he slowly starts to see Kamen for what he is. He sees a face that’s a blur, switching like the frames in a projector. Hundreds of faces flit through Akira’s vision, some familiar, some strange and inhuman. The only constant is a burning crown above his head, shining like molten iron.

Then, the blur stops abruptly and settles on the form of a gorgeous woman, her hair in perfect jet-black ringlets, her lips set in a crimson grin, her gold eyes peering at him under long lashes. Akira’s surprised to feel the press of an ample chest against his own, and he looks down to see her cleavage (perfect, of course) pressing insistently against Kamen’s button-down.

“What the fuck,” is what Akira ends up saying.

“Not your type?” the woman asks in a low purr that goes straight to his groin. His cock must twitch against her thigh, because her eyes light up in amusement. “Or maybe it is?”

“How did you do that?” Akira hisses between his teeth, desperately not wanting to be turned on but failing miserably at it.

The woman—her grin is all Kamen—hums in pleasure and uses the opportunity to hook a leg around his waist, pressing her heel against his tailbone so that he can’t help but thrust against her. He moans despite himself. “It’s my thing. I know what people want,” she explains, and tilts her head up to lick at the outer shell of his left ear. He shivers in response and finds that it’s very difficult to get away; that is, if he wanted to at all.

Akira squeezes his eyes shut, but Amon has not only lit the fuse but is eagerly fanning it along on its path to detonation. He grinds against her, panting as he does so, and Kamen just sighs in delight. “Wh-what if it isn’t what I want?” he asks, half-desperate.

“Oh?” Kamen asks in a bright voice. “Not into curvy, leggy brunettes, huh?”

He is. He might be. If Kamen looked at his search history on the family computer, she’d find she was right on the money. But as it stands, curvy, leggy brunettes aren’t what’s occupying his mind, regardless of how badly Amon wants to settle for it.

When he doesn’t reply, Kamen makes another thoughtful hum before reaching up and stroking at the back of his head with her nails, causing his hair to stand on end. He groans softly and thrusts again, more than aware how hot and restricting his clothing feels right now. Amon wants to tear through every damn layer of fabric, wants to thrust into her and be enclosed by her tight heat, wants to see who else she can be.

That isn’t what Akira really wants.

“You’re a challenge,” Kamen says, and it sounds like a high compliment. “I don’t often do special requests, but you’re something special on your own.”

Before Akira can ask what she means, there’s a shudder that runs through the air. Akira looks up and feels his breath catch in his throat, freezing in his lungs.

Even Amon goes uncharacteristically quiet.

Ryo is looking back at him, wearing the black button-down and the skinny jeans, grinning at him with a fox’s smile. In nearly every respect, it’s a perfect copy. Every curve that Akira knows from careful observation is there. The gentle slant of his cheekbones, the soft slope of his nose, the perfect cut of his jaw; it’s all there.

The only difference is that there are gold eyes where there should be blue ones.

“Akira,” Kamen says in Ryo’s voice. “Do you want to fuck me?”

Akira’s mouth goes dry, and his head is suddenly full of static like a TV channel tuned wrong. Every muscle is frozen in place, and his instincts scream at him to start running.

He nods slowly.

“Do it,” Kamen says softly, with that perfect sheen of ice in his voice the way that only Ryo can have.

The real Ryo wouldn’t want this from him. He wouldn’t want someone like Akira at all. Aside from containing Amon, Akira knows that he’s not anything special on his own. Before Sabbath, he was quiet and nervous, eager to please, with average grades and average performance at sports and... just average. He couldn’t even defend Miki correctly. Ryo wouldn’t want someone like that, and Ryo wouldn’t actually lay underneath Akira, gazing at him with hooded, lust-filled eyes, wanting him and craving him the way Akira wants him.

He doesn’t anticipate the sting that comes with that thought. With Kamen looking at him wearing Ryo’s face, everything suddenly feels wooden and hollow.

Ryo wouldn’t want this. Ryo wouldn’t want him. This isn’t Ryo.

Akira grips the sheets on both sides of him, claws already tearing into the soft silk. Amon is railing against his heart; his easily-pierced, too soft heart.

can’t you feel it Akira you have to do it you have to FUCK HIM YOU HAVE TO TEAR HIM APART AND TASTE HIS INSIDES YOUHAVETOYOUHAVETO—

Akira chokes on a sob and shoves his face into his hands, curling in on himself even while he straddles Kamen’s hips. He’d be mortified otherwise, but the raw agony that courses through him outweighs any embarrassment at his situation.

“I’m sorry,” he chokes out, although he’s not sure precisely who he’s saying it to. Kamen, maybe. Ryo, most likely. “I can’t do it.”

Soft hands find his own, wrapping gently around his wrists and urging his hands away from his face. Akira doesn’t want to open his eyes and see Ryo-but-not looking back at him, either in disgust or anger.

“Hey.”

It’s Kamen’s voice. Not Ryo’s.

Akira slowly opens his eyes, tears leaving itching tracks down his cheeks. Kamen—the auburn haired man from the bar—looks at him with sympathy. There’s still a trace of his smile hiding at the corner of his mouth. “Akira, you are easily the biggest challenge I’ve ever had to work with,” he says, quiet and honest. Nothing about his tone is insulting.

“I’m sorry,” Akira croaks miserably.

“For what?”

He shakes his head helplessly. The tears can’t stop coming.

Kamen sighs and pulls Akira close to his chest, falling back so that he’s propped on the pillows again, Akira’s head up against his sternum. He idly strokes Akira’s hair back from his face. “I can at least say that no one’s ever burst into tears in here. That’s a first.”

Akira snorts humorlessly.

There’s a long lull there where Kamen just keeps running his fingers through his hair. Akira can hear the sounds of club close by, but through layer after layer of soundproof wall. He settles down to sniffing, and slowly feels the cold crawl of mortification creeping through him like frost.

He was about to potentially get some of the most awesome sex of his life and he started sobbing.

Holy fuck.

He curls up and cringes, ducking his head down so Kamen doesn’t see it. It feels even more awkward now to suggest they keep going. The room is obviously made for lavish orgies or marathon sex, but the mood is all wrong. He’s just cried on a shapeshifting demon because he couldn’t bring himself to have sex with a copy of his best friend. That thought on its own makes him feel like he’s seconds from withering to a husk. He’d very much like to burrow under the plush carpets and maybe dig a hole through the concrete underneath and live there forever.

“You love that guy, huh?” Kamen asks suddenly. He stares up at the chandelier in thought.

“Huh?”

“Whoever the man was in your head. Your fantasy.”

Akira frowns and decides to put all his focus on a loose thread on one of Kamen’s buttons. “No,” he murmurs. He’s not lying completely; he’s just never thought of Ryo in those terms before.

“I’m sure,” Kamen replies. Thankfully he drops the subject, opting to shift enough to roll Akira onto his back. Kamen’s expression is still set with a grin, but there’s a slight quirk to his eyebrows like he’s honestly worried about Akira. Funny, considering he’s a demon as well, and Akira’s still genuinely surprised he hasn’t tried to gore him to death yet. “Hey, no hard feelings. You weren’t ready for this yet. I get it.”

“I was,” Akira counters, feeling oddly defensive. “Totally was.”

Kamen dismisses that with a laugh. “Let me at least get you a drink or something. Something to calm you down a little more.”

Akira crosses his arms over his chest, but can’t help the slight smile that comes to his face. Then, he reaches up and pulls Kamen down to him again, pressing his lips against the corner of his mouth. “Can we do this instead? Just... Just this?” he asks in a whisper.

Kamen smiles against his lips and hums in agreement.

- - -

Akira takes the long way back to Ryo’s loft. He takes a train he doesn’t normally take and ends up walking around Shibuya in the small hours of the morning. Like the rest of Tokyo, Shibuya doesn’t know how to sleep. Its neon lights and LEDs are as dazzling as daylight, and people from every walk of life—from the salaryman coming from a late shift to the giggling teenagers with skirts layered like cupcakes to the old homeless woman picking up a half-smoked cigarette butt from the concrete—they’re all here. Akira just walks and watches, glancing at storefronts and his warped reflection in the glass.

He doesn’t know what to tell Ryo, if he tells him anything at all. According to the list, Kamen was the demon Dantalion, who could wear thousands of faces at will. He didn’t kill him, and in fact walked away with Kamen’s number tucked in the back pocket of his jeans (“In case you need to talk, or you change your mind!” he had said while winking). They didn’t have sex, and really didn’t do anything more than make out on the bed and talk about stupid shit until Akira finally felt anchored again.

But he’s going to have to look at Ryo’s face and know what he thought about his copy. He has to come to terms with the fact that every part of him, Akira and Amon and whatever strange concoction is made of the two of them combined, all wanted Ryo. They wanted him on his back, moaning and whimpering and begging for more, every perfect part of him wrecked in a way only a demon could manage.

The thought literally makes Akira stumble in the Scramble Crossing, and a very sweet old woman asks if he’s alright. He manages to stutter out that yes, he is, and thank you very much for her consideration. He bows twice before literally sprinting off, feeling Amon grinning at the back of his mind.

His walk gets more aimless after that, going up one street, around this building, behind that one, up until he finds a tiny park tucked away in a complex of apartment blocks and office buildings. It’s nothing more than a few trees planted to try to break the urban sprawl, and a swing set to brighten up the place, but it’s blessedly empty. He plants himself on one of the swings under a suffering street lamp and gently sways himself with no intent to do anything else. He hears the wind hissing through the trees, the soft rumble of cars going by, and the gentle creak of the rusted swing set chains.

“There you are.”

Akira just about jumps clear out of his skin at Ryo’s voice. He spins around on his swing to see Ryo approaching, ridiculous white coat cutting through the darkness. There’s an unsettling, too-calm grin on his face.

“What the fuck, Ryo?” Akira barks after he manages to get his nerves back where they belong and his heartbeat down to a decent level. “Why the hell are you here?”

“I could ask you the same question,” Ryo says easily. He sits down on the swing beside Akira, but resolutely does not swing. Because Ryo is a born killjoy.

“I like skulking around playgrounds at two in the morning. Why else would I be here?” Akira replies dryly.

“You were gone all night. Miki said you left your phone at home.”

“You talked to her?”

Ryo shrugs and looks up at a pair of moths flitting around the street lamp. “I called your phone and it went straight to voicemail, and your GPS showed it was still at the Makimura residence. So, the next logical step was to call her.”

Akira groans in irritation and leans back on his swing, kicking his feet out so that he swings a little higher. “So, what, you followed me?”

“No,” Ryo says. He almost sounds frustrated through his carefully-maintained neutral tone. “I couldn’t find you for most of the night until you went to Shibuya. Facial recognition did the rest.”

Akira almost lets out a sigh of relief that Ryo didn’t see him at Circle2. He contains it, though, and keeps swinging without saying a word.

“I assume you were working on the list.”

“Didn’t say that.”

“You didn’t have to,” Ryo says coolly. He turns and watches Akira, his eyes moving back and forth in time with the swing. “Your impulsiveness is a dead giveaway.”

Akira grunts and bends his legs before kicking them out, swinging a little higher. “Okay, so what if I was? I thought you wanted them dead.”

“I wanted them dead on my conditions, Akira,” Ryo says. “We’ve talked about this.”

You’ve talked about it,” Akira retorts. “All you do is point, say ‘that one’, and off I go while you film it. Sometimes you shoot shit.”

Ryo levels a lukewarm glare at him, except now he has to tilt his head back and forth to maintain eye contact around the chain in his way. It’s kind of hilarious. “You’re avoiding the problem at hand.”

“That you couldn’t stalk me around Tokyo for a few hours?”

If he were anyone else, Ryo might have rolled his eyes. “Not the issue. Who did you hunt?”

“Doesn’t matter.”

“If you really want me to take your vigilante justice on the list seriously, then yes it does.”

Akira swings in silence, anger now rippling through him. Half of it is directed at Ryo for prying and tracing his location and calling Miki and whatever the fuck else Ryo’s decided to do with his day. The other half is at himself. For everything. For his whole night and all his feelings and the fact he couldn’t even give in to demonic urges with another demon despite being stupidly turned on. The fact he fucking cried about it to a demon he was supposed to be slaughtering for the good of the world.

Fuck his life sideways.

“Doesn’t matter,” Akira grinds out, hoisting himself up before rocking back in the swing. He’s high enough now that if he angles himself right, it looks like he’s holding the street light between his sneakers. On his next swing, he pretends to kick it. “He isn’t dead.”

“Did you find him?”

“Yeah.”

Ryo glances up at him briefly before looking down at his phone. Akira can only imagine what he’s looking at. Probably stalking someone else or solving world hunger or whatever.

“Did he escape?”

Akira thinks of the paper in his back pocket and snorts. “No. I did, though.”

“You’re not injured.”

“Nope.”

A long silence follows and Akira keeps kicking the street light. If he swings a little higher, he can pretend to kick a lit-up apartment across the street.

Ryo sighs through his nose and pockets his phone. “There’s nothing on any news feed about any unusual disasters in or around Tokyo,” he points out.

Akira grins despite himself. “Not every fight I get into has to end in something exploding or someone getting splattered on the pavement, y’know.”

“But you didn’t get into a fight.”

“How do you know that?”

Ryo shrugs and looks out over the empty park. “You didn’t,” he repeats, and it doesn’t beg any question.

The swing set creaks in protest as Akira kicks at the apartment with some satisfaction. “Nah,” he finally agrees.

“Why? If you were so eager to keep out of sight, it seems unusual that you wouldn’t even finish the job.”

Because I was kind of hoping he’d suck my dick, but then I kind of cried my way out of that, Akira thinks and grimaces at the thought. On his next swing, he does a wild little series of kicks at the apartment in retaliation. “He wasn’t doing anything,” he says, trying to sound dismissive. “No one was dead and he wasn’t planning on changing that.”

There’s a low grunt from Ryo’s side of the swing set. Akira turns enough to see him crossing his arms and looking nonplussed. “Really,” he says. “You let a demon free because he wasn’t acting up at that moment?

“Yeah, pretty much.” Another swing and kick.

Ryo sighs, and it’s that long variety that Miki’s mom usually does when Taro runs into the living room with his underwear on his head and wearing his t-shirt like a pair of shorts. “Can I ask now who he was?”

Akira thinks on it, and wonders if Ryo would go hunt Kamen himself. Then again, Kamen can change his face and body on a whim, so it wouldn’t be hard for him to hide. But in a way, that’s also betraying Ryo, and Akira loathes the idea.

He bites the inside of his cheek. “Dantalion,” he says.

Another silence. A car passes around the edge of the park before disappearing around the next corner. Some night bird chirps merrily in one of the six trees in the park.

“Oh,” Ryo finally replies.

Akira looks at him mid-swing. Ryo looks frozen on his swing like a piece of weird performance art. His hands are on his knees, the bottom half of his face hidden behind the collar of his coat. His eyes are fixed on a maintenance shed straight ahead.

“Oh?” Akira echoes. “You’re not super pissed that I didn’t rip his head off for candid camera or what?”

Ryo silently stands up, still staring ahead. Akira takes that as a cue to slow down his swinging, scuffing his shoes against the mulch and sand underneath him a few times until he stops completely. He doesn’t get up, instead sitting still with his hands on the swing’s chains.

“Ryo?” he calls.

Ryo turns his head just enough to look at Akira in his periphery. “What did he offer you?” he asks. His voice has that clinical coldness to it, like when he’s discussing some of his science junk on his show or something else too technical for Akira to grasp.

Akira blinks and lowers his hands so that his wrists rest on his knees and his hands hang between them. “What do you mean?”

“Dantalion wears thousands of faces, and he’s powerful. He can be anyone you want,” Ryo explains. It’s a strange feeling, knowing something before Ryo can say it, and probably with more detail. Still, Akira stays quiet and lets Ryo go on. “He can slip undetected from one end of the earth to another, and he can topple an empire if he pretends to be the right person.” His voice gets colder somehow and his eyes narrow. “So who did he offer up to get you to let him go?”

That leaden weight crashes into Akira’s stomach again with even more force. Ryo knows. He knows what Dantalion offered to Akira, and as far as Ryo understands, there’s no reason that Akira would have turned him down. If anything, it must seem obvious to him that Akira agreed, coming back unscathed and with the report that Dantalion is unharmed.

Fuck.


Akira struggles with his words for a second, trying to find a suitable lie that he practiced in his head in Shibuya. He wants to say something about Dantalion’s curvy brunette form with a glorious rack and an ass to match. He wants to pretend his sexual prowess outweighed his murderous rampage. Above all, he doesn’t want Ryo to know how the night ended.

“Nothing,” he says quickly. The worst possible lie he could concoct, and he feels like how he did before Amon appeared. You’re too damn honest for your own good, Fudo.

Ryo turns to face him completely. His eyes are frigid as they lock on Akira. “Honestly, I thought we were long past the part where you believed you could lie to me,” he says.

Forget thinking that he might have betrayed Ryo. Everything in Ryo’s posture and tone suggests that’s precisely what he’s thinking. Akira suddenly feels sick at the thought, his eyes already burning.

“He didn’t offer me anything I wanted,” Akira quickly corrects, but even that sounds wrong. I wanted Ryo, his mind supplies. Amon might rumble in agreement. I wanted him so bad that I couldn’t stand when it wasn’t him at all.

“Truly.”

He almost nods, but something stops him. That something might be Amon pulling some shit with him again, or maybe his own damn self. Whatever it is, Akira just stares back at Ryo. Akira, who hosts a demon that could be the scourge of the earth, that tears lesser demons apart, feels vulnerable and horribly exposed. His throat is tight and sore, and anger desperately tries to take the place of self-directed agony.

“Why do you even care?” Akira says, his voice straining. “You wanted me to go out and vent this shit, so I did.” He’s trembling all over, tears already pricking at his eyes. This isn’t how he wanted this to go, and he certainly didn’t want to yell at Ryo at any point. Everything about it feels wrong.

“I didn’t intend for it to be with a demon,” Ryo retorts frigidly.

Akira sneers, staring down at the mulch under his sneakers. “What did you intend, then?”

“Something informal and quick enough to get your head back into this,” Ryo says sharply. “I didn’t need your sexual frustration clouding your judgement. Obviously I was mistaken as to how far you would take that.”

Something in that explanation stings. Akira’s sneer drops just as quickly as it comes and he wants to flinch away from it. Like everything else, Ryo’s approach is calculated and practical.

There’s no rabbits in the moon and there’s no way demons can love.

Ryo sighs again and turns away, adjusting his coat on his shoulders. “I’ll see you back at my apartment, Akira. Hopefully by that point, you’ll be capable of rational thought again.”

As he steps away, Akira’s heart and head woefully disconnect, and he might think it has something to do with Amon. He stands up quickly, causing the chains of the swing to jangle. “Ryo, wait,” he says. He doesn’t shout it, or cry it out. He simply states it into the wind.

Ryo stops.

Akira stares at the back of his head, at the wind playing with the blonde strands. He grips his hands into fists at his sides and takes a deep breath to steady himself. “I... Dantalion and I didn’t do anything,” he finally admits. “I was going to. And we... we made out, or whatever.” He mumbles the last bit. Then Akira shakes his head and squares his shoulders again. “But I couldn’t do it. I really couldn’t.”

Ryo doesn’t look at him. He stands there, under the waxy, cold light shining silver off his hair like a halo. “Why?” he asks. That seems to be the question of the night.

There’s no easy answer. If he makes one up for brevity or ease, Ryo’s just going to keep walking away from him. Tomorrow, things will probably be the same and Ryo might act like nothing happened. But Akira is always going to know and feel it as poignantly as a splinter.

He can’t lie. He never has been able to do that right.

“Because it wasn’t what I wanted,” he says, his voice sounding strange and distant to his own ears. “I know you don’t really get that, but when he did try to give me what I wanted, it wasn’t the same.”

Tokyo moves in its night crawl around them, but Ryo stays painfully still. Akira can’t even boast that as his chest is heaving and his eyes flick back and forth, desperately trying to find any indicator that Ryo understands.

“So it was for nothing,” Ryo says to the street. “Letting him go, that is.”

Akira feels a weight fall onto his shoulders that threatens to crack every bone that supports him. He doesn’t want a rift between himself and Ryo, and when he considered that back at Circle2, deciding between betraying Ryo and being with Kamen, he made the wrong choice. In the end, even if he couldn’t have him romantically or sexually or whatever Kamen made him realize, Akira never wanted to lose his friendship.

“I’m so sorry, Ryo,” he whispers.

Ryo finally moves, lowering his head and letting out a sigh. He puts his hands in his pockets and gazes back out at the empty street. “It can’t be helped now. We’ll simply have to move on to another one and hope that Dantalion stays nearby until we can find him again. Hopefully you’ve learned something from this.”

If Akira was hoping that Ryo would take the line he’s offered to him, it’s been utterly dashed. Akira stares down at the thin grass underneath his shoes, his heart stuttering painfully against his ribs while his head tries to make sense of everything that went wrong. It hurts all the worse when he thinks of what he would have done before, what the pre-Amon Akira would have done. He hates thinking of himself as two separate people, but he can’t help it. The old Akira wouldn’t have gone into Circle2 in the first place, would never have gotten cocky and thought he could do all of it on his own, wouldn’t have given in unless it was to someone he trusted like Ryo, would never have broken Ryo’s trust in him.

He squeezes his fists so tight that his nails break the skin of his palms.

Impulsive, Ryo called him. Really, that’s one of those stepping stones that bridges pre- and post-Amon Akira. He’s always been impulsive. His heart has always outrun his head.

He doesn’t even have to think about what comes next. There’s nothing between him and Ryo but a patch of dying grass. No demon is swooping down on them, nothing is burrowing up from beneath them. Tokyo buzzes like a nighttime cricket and does nothing more. So Akira runs like he always has; one foot in front of the other, until his arms are around Ryo’s waist, his face buried into the fabric of his coat, his eyes screwed shut.

“I’m sorry,” he repeats. He’ll say it like a mantra until Ryo believes him. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry—”

Maybe part of him expects Ryo to shove him away or chastise him, or to say something about how it doesn’t matter. Whatever comes, Akira braces for it the way he’d brace for an expected punch.

He’s not at all prepared for Ryo to turn in his arms so that he faces him, or for cool hands to press against his face, thumbs running along his cheekbones and down to his jaw. He doesn’t expect Ryo’s eyes to gaze down at him serenely and beatifically, like the Apostles in Miki’s dad’s favorite painting on the wall.

And this time, it is Ryo. It isn’t a golden-eyed replica doing a perfect charade.

“Next time,” Ryo says quietly. His voice thaws, and Akira feels a huge wash of relief cascade over him. Ryo’s fingers go up to his hair, combing it back. “We’ll try it again.”

There’s really nothing in that sentence that should stir Akira to do what he does, but he’s far beyond trying to shy away from his impulses now. His hands come up to Ryo’s face, framing it in all its perfection, and he kisses Ryo, as wonderfully clumsy and foolishly as anyone could. It’s not a showstopping TV-worthy kiss, being under a moth-attracting street light in a sorry excuse for a park. But Akira feels his heart soar impossibly high, vaulting and twirling acrobatically in fear and excitement. He waits for the fall, for the telltale plunge in his stomach when Ryo inevitably rejects him.

It doesn’t come.

Ryo kisses him back in earnest. His arms go up around Akira’s shoulders, pulling him down for a better angle, and he kisses him like it’s something he’s waited a lifetime for. He doesn’t feel like Akira imagined, like kissing an ice sculpture or something cheesy and poetic. His lips are warm, and he smells like clean laundry and herbal tea. Akira can taste the tea on his lips, and a fleeting thought that cackles in the back of his mind suggests that Ryo probably tastes pork bun and coffee milk from Akira’s attack on a Shibuya convenience store. Immediately, he wants to pull away and apologize for sucking at making out, for tasting like cheap junk food, for probably smelling like a nightclub and the subway. The doubt is already yanking at him, but Ryo pulls back even harder. His arms lock Akira in place, and he kisses Akira like he knows he has to reassure him.

They do have to pull away from each other eventually, because for better or worse, they’re in a public park in the middle of the night. But Ryo still holds him and Akira still has his hands on Ryo’s face, completely lacking the willpower to let go. He looks at Ryo’s eyes, still searching for that rejection that has to come now, now that Ryo’s gotten him far enough along for the punishment to hurt properly. But there’s nothing like that there. There’s an amused affection, a glimmer in the blue that wasn’t there before.

“Ryo...” is all Akira can say.

“You wanted this?” Ryo asks.

Akira nods, closing his eyes and resting his forehead against Ryo’s. “Yeah,” he says softly. “Dunno when I figured that out, but yeah.”

“And Dantalion?”

Shit. Here it comes.

He sighs and looks away from Ryo, but can’t bring himself to back away. “Made himself look like you. Wasn’t the same.”

“What an awkward way to find out.”

Akira snorts and closes his eyes again. “No kidding.”

Ryo laughs quietly and presses a quick kiss to Akira’s lips. “And you couldn’t go through with it,” he says. Unless Akira’s completely hallucinating, he almost sounds proud of this fact.

“I couldn’t,” Akira agrees.

“What about now?”

Akira’s eyes widen and he tilts his head back to look at Ryo. Ryo’s expression is contained but undoubtedly smug. His meaning can’t be missed.

What?

“I asked, what about now?” Ryo repeats, slower this time. To emphasize his meaning, his right hand drops from Akira’s shoulders and follows a slow, sinuous path down the left edge of Akira’s body, trailing down his ribs to his hips, and low enough to hook an index finger on the waistline of his jeans, tracing his finger around the hem teasingly. “You haven’t gotten it out of your system yet, have you?”

Akira swallows hard, but like at Circle2, Amon is quick to fan that fire in his blood. The whiplash caused by Ryo’s back-and-forth responses aren’t making it any easier to control.

“Not here,” Akira mumbles, casting a quick look around at the park. Of course it’s empty, and with his advanced vision, he can’t see anyone looking out their windows to observe the two of them.

Ryo simply smiles in a lofty way. “Why not? No one’s here. No one will see.”

“Someone might.

“Then we’ll just have to be clever, won’t we?”

Unceremoniously, Ryo tugs him along to a darker spot in the park. It would be gracious to call it a copse, as it’s only two trees closer together than the others. Their meeting canopies do a decent job of shielding the space between them from any street lights. If someone were to see them there, they would have to get closer in order to make out what they were doing.

Ryo presses Akira up against one of the trees, giving him a look that is far too devious. “I need your head clear, and you need to get your frustrations out,” he says as his hands go to Akira’s hips. “Might as well do it here and now.”

Akira is partially mortified, but far more turned on. Ryo definitely doesn’t miss that as he runs one hand down to Akira’s groin, fingers flitting over the straining fabric.

“R-Ryo,” Akira barely manages to say. His body isn’t taking cues from him anymore. It’s like Ryo found the right switch for autopilot. “What if I—”

“What, hurt me? Make too much noise?” Ryo asks, amused. “Unlikely.” He then makes quick work of the button and zipper on Akira’s jeans with far more finesse than semi-public sex demands.

If it weren’t for something like Amon snarling happily in his head, Akira would squeak in surprise. Instead, he gasps and grips the bark behind him like a lifeline. “Wh-what are you gonna do?”

Ryo smiles pleasantly at him. “What do you want me to do?”

Let me fuck you or take my dick so far down your throat that you choke on it—

Akira has to forcefully shove those thoughts aside. This is Ryo he’s dealing with. Ryo, who may or may not reciprocate his feelings, who might just be appeasing him for sake of the mission, but who is definitely palming at his dick through his boxers regardless of what he thinks. And like it or not, Akira’s inexperienced. He’s had dreams and fantasies and an ungodly amount of racked up hours on numerous porn websites. But as of yet, he hasn’t done anything serious with someone else.

“I don’t know,” he says, already sounding wrecked.

Ryo laughs low in his throat, reaching up with his left hand to push some of Akira’s hair away from his face. It doesn’t do much good, but it feels wonderful. “Tell me anyway and I’ll try.”

Akira can only look at him wretchedly, sinking against the tree trunk. “Ryo—”

Akira,” Ryo says, a little more forcefully. His eyes are painfully bright, even in the darkness. “That wasn’t a question.”

If Akira isn’t thinking on it much, Amon has all sorts of creative suggestions at the ready. It’s the best display of self-control Akira’s performed, keeping his jaw set shut so he doesn’t scream out an alphabetic recitation of every porn category he’s ever browsed, plus some interesting video names. Finally, mostly through his teeth, he says, “S-suck me off?”

It’s not a fucking question, Amon snarls through his mind. But he doesn’t have any room to complain in the end, because Ryo’s on his knees in an instant, dirt staining the knees of his pristine white trousers. Amon and Akira have a brilliant thought in unison.

Oh, fuck yes.

Ryo doesn’t rest on any patient laurels before he’s tugging Akira’s boxers down, only raising an eyebrow rather than voicing a remark about how they too are black, like everything else. Akira doesn’t even have the ability to tell him to shut up. He just leans against the tree for desperate support, sending wild glances around the park for the obvious innocent child or yakuza gunman to appear right before he finally gets a BJ proper.

Still quiet. Tokyo hums approvingly around them.

The sight of his own erection beside Ryo’s face is a shocking one. Demonic possession has done all the wonders that porn advertisements have promised for decades. His cock is long and thick, heavy and dark with arousal. He would be absolutely lying if he ever said he didn’t spent hours marveling at it and his newfound stamina (as well as his wrist flexion) after his first transformation. Against the gentleness of Ryo’s features, all soft and luminous as it is, Akira feels like the worst fit possible for him. But he also feels a rush of something hot and brilliant run through him, from the top of his spine to the tip of his cock. Just the sight of Ryo on his knees, mouthing along the edge of his cock is enough to bring Akira to an edge he is not ready for yet.

“F-fuck, Ryo,” Akira stutters before shoving his hand over his mouth to stifle any renegade noises.

“That’s the plan,” Ryo says jovially. He flicks his tongue along the underside; careful, well-placed swipes of his tongue that might be a pattern, if Akira was in the state of mind to observe and think on it. He lathes a long stripe up to the head, and then down to the base, tracing and retracing that route with varying degrees of pressure.

While he does that, Ryo’s left hand moves virtually unnoticed until Akira can feel a featherlight touch behind his balls. The sensation makes him gasp, partially muffled by his hand. Words fail him abysmally, lost to the feeling of Ryo running his fingers back and forth in a place that even Akira isn’t too familiar with, aside from an ill-fated and painful experimental masturbation session.

“Ryo—” he starts, eyes wide.

“Akira, trust me,” Ryo cuts in. He looks up at Akira, eyes half-lidded but clear. “Can you do that for me?”

Akira always has trusted him. Ryo doesn’t have to ask at all.

He nods mutely.

Ryo seems satisfied with this and goes back to whatever madcap plan he has. He swallows down Akira’s cock little by little, starting with the head, then a little further down to the midpoint. There he stays for a moment, adjusting and gauging Akira’s reaction. When Akira makes no further show of protest, Ryo’s hand begins to move again, this time up to grasp Akira’s ass. He massages the muscle with gentle pressure.

Then he makes one of the most obscene noises Akira’s ever heard, sucking down on Akira’s cock so that he almost deepthroats him completely.

Akira grunts and hisses through his teeth. The sensation takes him by surprise, and the sound just amplifies it. Ryo isn’t made for making those kind of noises, or really doing anything like this. He shouldn’t be sucking cock on his knees, with his lips turning so red that Akira can see them in the shadows. He shouldn’t be taking Akira’s cock like this. Hell, if anything, Akira feels like he should be doing that for Ryo, worshipping him like he fucking deserves.

But Ryo doesn’t seem to echo a single one of those sentiments. He pulls away slightly, then swallows Akira down again. Away, and back again. Akira marvels at the feeling, at the wet heat, at the ridge he can feel on the roof of Ryo’s mouth, on the edges of his teeth that he’s so careful to keep away, on the softness of his tongue that constantly moves against his dick. When Ryo makes a soft humming sound, Akira can feel it with what must be demonic sensitivity. It’s like he’s been stunned, and he can’t help but throw his head back so that it cracks against the bark of the tree, a moan tearing free of him despite his best efforts.

Ryo’s left hand holds Akira in place by his ass, but his right hand rises up to fix in a vise grip around the base of his cock. That’s when Ryo gets both clever and downright evil. He keeps up a tempo of sucking Akira off and pulling back, but then begins to twist the wrist of his right hand in time with it. The friction is fucking maddening, and it’s also the best thing Akira’s ever felt in his life.

He doesn’t want this to end, but he also feels that if somehow it didn’t, it would be straight up torture. Ryo’s mouth and hands are a punishment on their own, a way of saying, You thought you could do this without me? You thought you could get something better than this?

No, he knew he couldn’t. He knew he couldn’t the same way he knew that having sex with Kamen was going to be an empty experience. The same way he knew that there was never going to be such thing as normal after knowing Ryo.

His punishment is the divine kind. It’s the kind that lets him know on no uncertain terms that anything after Ryo won’t be good enough. No one can take Ryo’s place or unseat him. Akira’s prospects are ruined, because he knows that Ryo is going to be the only prospect he’ll want.

Ryo swallows him down nearly to the hilt again. Akira can feel the soft ridges of his throat, can feel Ryo’s fucking pulse through his cock. The sensation is gone as soon as it arrives, and Akira groans against his hand, loud enough that it’s obvious he doesn’t care who’s nearby anymore.

When Ryo pulls his mouth off completely, smirking up at Akira like he hasn’t just been gorging himself on cock, Akira wants to snarl and grab him by the hair, making him go back and return to his task. That’s an Amon kind of thought if there ever was one.

YOU DARE ABANDON YOUR TASK YOU FILTHY CREATURE I WILL FILL YOUR THROAT SO FAR THAT YOU SHALL BEG ME FOR THE LUXURY OF BREATHING—

“I thought you didn’t want to be caught,” Ryo teases.

Ryo.” Akira’s voice is already half demonic.

The way Ryo shrugs is so dismissive and easy, it’s like he’s somewhere else, doing something utterly mundane and trivial. It’s practically infuriating. Akira doesn’t want him to back off again, so when Ryo puts his mouth back on his cock, Akira reaches down and fists his hair, staring down at the gold between his fingers. Surprisingly, Ryo hums in something like approval, even though he winces when Akira yanks at his hair to get him to move faster.

A police siren wails not too far away, causing Akira to jump and flinch. Ryo makes an unflattering choking noise before swatting at Akira’s ass and glaring up at him.

“Well hurry the fuck up then,” Akira groans, leaning his head back. He doesn’t miss the quick flash of lights bouncing off a few apartment windows before they fade back into the night.

To Ryo’s credit, he does. He deepthroats Akira again and again, moving his right hand in sinfully good timing. His left hand inches closer and closer to the cleft of Akira’s ass, fingers working their way down the ridge. Thankfully, he doesn’t get too exploratory just yet. It isn’t that Akira doesn’t want to try anal later, but not in a dirty park and when he’s not in any way physically prepared for it.

It’s the combination of Ryo’s fucking perfect blowjob skills and the atmosphere of doing something like this in a place they shouldn’t that causes Akira’s orgasm to build so alarmingly quick. It’s not poetic in the least. If anything, it strikes him like a bolt of lightning, tearing through him from top to bottom and back again. He’s not sure if it’s Amon who makes the sound that comes out of his mouth, or if it’s one of his own, or maybe some bastard combination of the two of them. It’s the most raw sensation he’s ever felt, and he’s transformed into a fucking demon before.

He can’t even warn Ryo. There’s none of that porno talk from him. Like everything else about the situation, it’s quick and dirty and kind of a punishment in itself. He comes in Ryo’s mouth, and when Ryo reaches up to shove at his hips, he comes on his cheek and neck as well. As per Amon’s status quo, he doesn’t stop coming for way longer than any human would. He moans and snarls through the whole thing, until he’s spent on Ryo and the ground.

He’s definitely just ruined Ryo’s jacket collar.

When it’s over and Amon is sated for a little while, Akira comes back into himself with his knees trembling and his body sagging with exertion. “Oh, fuck,” he whispers to himself. Then, he looks at Ryo, and his eyes go wide. “Oh, fuck,” he repeats, with feeling.

Ryo looks completely and utterly ruined, and it’s incredible. His eyes are still bright and clear, if not a little annoyed. His hair is mussed from where Akira pulled it. His cheeks are flushed and his lips are dark. And in an image that Akira is going to use for masturbation fodder for the rest of his natural life, Ryo hasn’t deigned it necessary to wipe the come off his mouth and face yet. He’s the perfect picture of a post-BJ disaster, and Akira revels in it.

At least, he revels in it until he’s apologizing, of course.

“Shit. Fuck, Ryo, I should have said something,” he rasps. He starts feeling around his jacket pockets frantically. “I think I have tissues or a napkin here somewhere. Hold on.”

The real surprise of the night comes when Ryo laughs.

He laughs. It’s a high, melodic sound and it catches Akira completely off guard.

“It’s fine,” Ryo says. He undoes his coat and wipes his face and neck with one of the sleeves, and then reaches to wipe at Akira’s crotch. The soft fabric is almost too much on him after the treatment he just went through. That, and the sight of Ryo’s lithe form underneath a thin t-shirt is practically too much on its own.

“Doesn’t that cost jacket cost more than a car or something?”

“Nothing that I can’t have Jenny sent to get dry cleaned later. Besides, I have more than one,” Ryo replies serenely. He goes as far as tossing the coat off to the side before helping Akira pull his boxers and jeans back up. “We’ll got properly cleaned up later.”

Akira buttons his jeans and zips them back up, trying to ignore how sensitive everything is. He looks up at Ryo with wide eyes. “Later?”

“You know I have a perfectly good shower at my apartment. Or I can have Jenny run you a bath if you want.”

“You want me to stay the night?” Akira asks, baffled.

Ryo rolls his eyes like it’s perfectly obvious, like this isn’t something Akira’s been beating himself up over and questioning. “Considering we’re closer to the apartment than we are to your house, and that I figured you wouldn’t want this to be a one-time thing—”

“But you do?”

Ryo arches one perfect eyebrow. “You thought I didn’t?”

“I... I have no idea what you wanted, honestly.” Someone who wasn’t Akira. Someone who wasn’t possessed by a demon and who had a PhD and a Lamborghini and six mansions. Literally anyone else.

“For now, you,” Ryo says as an answer. It leaves a gap as to what comes after ‘now’, but—

Fuck it, Akira’s happy to take what he can get.

“Just a shower,” he says. “Baths take too long.”

Ryo smiles at him before picking up his coat, stained close to the point of no return, and neatly folds it over his arm. The last surprise of the evening is when he stretches out his free hand to Akira, palm facing upwards, fingers slightly curled. “Come on, then,” he says.

They walk hand in hand to where Ryo’s sports car is parked. Whatever it all means tomorrow, or the next week, or years from now, Akira’s not in the mindset to care. All he thinks about is Ryo as he is at that moment, with his warm hand wrapped around Akira’s in a firm grip. He acts like he doesn’t want to let Akira go for anything, and that’s something Akira allows himself to bask in.

Ryo holds his hand all the way back to the apartment.

- - -

One ring. Two. Three.

Akira’s eye twitches as he stares at the ceiling—recently cleaned—of his bedroom.

Ring.

“For fuck’s sake,” he hisses.

Click. “Hello?” a smooth voice greets.

“Kamen?”

“That’s me.”

Akira sighs through his nose and looks over at his bookshelf—old textbooks and weird, niche novels he’s collected and sports almanacs. He spots a shounen manga he used to read with Ryo all the time when they were kids and he smiles. “Hey, it’s Akira, from the other night.”

Kamen laughs. “Damn, I didn’t think you were going to call. You change your mind?”

“No, actually. I was... Um. I was calling to say that I went through with it. With the other guy.”

“Oh!” Kamen sounds authentically surprised, but not displeased. “The hot blonde?”

“Yeah.”

Nice,” he says appreciatively. “You didn’t cry, did you?”

Akira’s grateful that Kamen can’t see the blush that crawls up his face. “No,” he growls. “It went fine.”

“Well, good for you. Shame to hear you’re off the market, though. I mean, if you’re off the market.”

There’d be an eyebrow wiggle in there if Akira could see him.

“I... I don’t know yet,” Akira says honestly. That’s been something he’s been considering a lot over the past few days. “For now, I guess I am.”

“That’s cool. Well, if you ever change your mind, you know where to find me.”

Akira keeps staring at the ceiling, at a lone contrail drifting and fading in a waxy blue sky. He smiles and shakes his head. “With any luck, I won’t see you for a long time,” he says, and hangs up.