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The party is slow and drags long, but only during the first hour.

It's been thrown by the Calderón's, a crime family located in the lower states of America, operating through drugs and transportation of weaponry.

They're forgettable and Riko would normally ignore their invitation, but the Calderon's had offered a hefty amount of money for one of the Moriyama's sons to attend, knowing if the most powerful organisation came, more would follow. They're advertising a new drug, Exy, believing it will become a popular street drug, which is an easy income, and they want investors.

Nathaniel hasn't spoken the whole evening, apart from when he's expected to exchange cheap words with familiar people, and Riko's refused to remove his arm from his waist ever since they arrived.

The last time Nathaniel joined him on one of these 'excursions', he tried to escape out of the bathroom window, only to be dragged back by Jean, one of Riko's bodyguards.

People come over to take a look at Riko's husband, a treasure to the Moriyama's, the son of Nathan Wesninski. Riko can see their fingers twitch as if they want to touch his impossibly blood-red hair, as if they want to grab his chin and twist his head around to get a look at his icy blue eyes.

Riko doesn't like Nathaniel's parents at all, especially since Mary ran off with him and Nathan tried to kill him, but sometimes he does thank them for providing him with such a pretty spouse.

And Nathaniel doesn't even need to be able to produce a heir. Riko's part of the second branch, so all he's expected to do is send profit to the main branch, which is what his brother, Ichirou's, in charge of. Riko was envious of Ichirou when he was younger, but now he sees himself as blessed, untouchable.

Just as Riko is almost ready to leave the party and call it a day wasted, his eyes latch onto a familiar figure, and his nails dig into Nathaniel's side subconsciously.

Kevin Day holds himself as he always has, tall and proud and so lovingly fake. Kevin used to be Riko's other bodyguard, and paired with Jean the two had been Riko's most trusted. But then people had whispered that Kevin would be the better Lord, rumoured he would take over, and crack went Kevin's hand.

He had ran and joined up with Palmetto, the underdog crime gang located in South Carolina. When Jean had told him the news, Riko had cackled the whole night because surely the great Kevin Day could do better than them?

Since then, they've seen one another at social events and meetings, and through all of it, one man has been by Kevin's side the whole time.

Andrew Minyard.

Riko hates him. He's a silent bodyguard, his presence like a black hole. He's practically a nobody--is a nobody--and yet power has leeched itself onto him. People listen when he speaks, using that monotone and dark voice of his, and it's impossible for Kevin to die by Riko's hands when Andrew's only a step behind him every damn second.

Riko plasters a pleasant smile onto his face. Kevin stops searching around the room and looks at him, eyes darkening. Both he and Minyard are wearing fully-black suits like they're actually worth a damn, and Kevin takes in a huff of breath and starts for Riko's table after he glances over Riko as well. People gape as the two men approach.

Nathaniel tenses by his side, and Riko spares him a glance. His eyes have been distant all afternoon, but they clear at the sight of an--and Riko internally gags--old friend. It's been a while since the two have seen each other, and Kevin visibly falters when they meet eyes.

Riko praises Nathaniel with a slow pinch to his hip when the red-head does nothing more than look away, but he narrows his eyes when Andrew and Nathaniel look at each other. They've never met before, and it shows.

Andrew looks Nathaniel up and down with heavy-lidded, languid eyes, and Nathaniel actually shifts at that. The blonde doesn't have any emotion in his eyes or on his face at all, but Riko can practically feel the sinful thoughts floating in his head.

He's usually proud of how Nathaniel turns heads, but not now. He looks at Kevin and while he wants them to leave as soon as possible, he won't speak first.

"Sir," Kevin greets after two seconds pass, because any other name would have been blatant disrespect, especially in front of so many people. He says, "We have an offer."

People eye him and Riko raises an eyebrow. "Oh? In front of so many people and not to mention, when the Calderón's are making their offer?"

Andrew says, "I wouldn't worry about it. The Calderón's are the ones that asked for this." He waits a full five seconds before adding, "Sir."

Riko's fingers twist into Nathaniel's hipbone. He makes a quiet hissing noise when his bruise is disturbed, and Andrew's eyes flicker down to his palm and back up, mouth twitching one way down before going back up.

Kevin sends Andrew a look out of the corner of his eye and then looks back at Riko and says, "The Calderón's believe it would be best for Palmetto to be the link between Exy transportation, as the regions they would need to cover are too large. The Calderón's need your funding to help with production rates, Sir, if they want this drug to be a hit."

Riko tilts his head to one side and then the other, pretending to consider. He goes to say 'No' to ruin their hopes and dreams, but Nathaniel says in Portuguese, "It would be best for you to take this offer."

Riko looks at him. Nathaniel explains in Portuguese, saying, "Your pay to Lord Ichirou was less last month," He repeats, "It would be best for you to take this offer."

"And how would you know," Riko asks in the same language icily, "How much the pay was last month? You would have had to sneak around to see the file."

The records would have been in the paperwork stored safely and securely away in his office, and Nathaniel's never allowed to go in there. He learnt that three years ago the hard way, back when they were 19 and 22, fiancés.

There's a flash of the old temper in Nathaniel's eyes, a red strike of lightning to contrast the frozen blue. In Portuguese, he snaps, "You act as if there is anything else to do in that godforsaken apartment. Take the offer and get the money. I am sure that if you try hard enough, you will be able to figure that out on your own."

Riko has a love-hate relationship with Nathaniel's temper. Some days he likes it, likes the snarling curses thrown into the moaning begs when they're tousled and tangled in bed, but other days it's disobedience and needs to be slapped and beaten out of Nathaniel until he's a shaking mess on the floor.

Nathaniel shuts his mouth immediately, clamping teeth together so hard it must be painful. People gape at them, and though they can't understand what's been said, they saw the snap and the anger. Nathaniel shrinks back into Riko's arm at his hellfire-glare, and Riko makes a note to punish him later, at home--as if he could forget.

He turns his gaze back to Kevin and Andrew. Kevin's gone slightly pale, but Andrew's eyes have narrowed dangerously. He and Riko eye each other and Riko looks at Kevin and asks, "What will be the Moriyama's cut?"


They work out a deal. Riko will fund the production and Palmetto will transport Exy all while the Calderón's actually make the drug. The Moriyama's will get most of the earnings and the rest will be split between the two minor gangs.

The whole time the conversation takes place, Andrew's gaze doesn't remove itself from Nathaniel. Riko watches as Andrew observes Nathaniel's jaw, eyes, hair, exposed neck and waist. They linger on the way Riko holds him, and Riko's sure Andrew's doing it all on purpose.

He's trying to get under his skin, trying to say 'If I can take one I can take two', but that's not the worst part.

The worst part is that Nathaniel's looking back. Riko can sense the way his husband has leant forwards slightly, tilting his body to observe Andrew. He's looking over his broad shoulders, glancing at his arms like it's painful to not reach out and touch them. Nathaniel's biting his lip and playing with his hair like a child, and Riko hates it.

Nobody else notices their eye-fucking because nobody else can tell the signs or even think to look for it. Riko fumes silently, and when the two get home later that night, Jean driving them back solemnly, he slams the door shut and turns to come face to face with Nathaniel, who immediately smashes their lips together.

And Riko knows this dance. It's Nathaniel desperately not wanting to get hurt, instead trying to trick Riko into pleasure instead. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

The only reason it works now is because Riko's mind is so heavily under, and he needs to own, to dominant, to possess, and he shoves Nathaniel face-forward into the pillows upstairs and does exactly that.


Riko has to go away for a business trip a few days later.

Nathaniel watches him leave from the windows, face nearly pressed up against the glass, his breath holding until Riko's car disappears from sight. There's silence for a long time, and then Nathaniel turns around slowly.

The upstairs of their apartment room has his and Riko's room, their bathroom, and his office. Downstairs includes the loungeroom and the kitchen, and the gym is settled further down in the lobby of the complex.

He walks into their room and shoves on some extra layers before falling into the too-large, too-hard couch, flicking the television on.

There's no point in trying to run; guards are posted just outside this part of the large apartment complex, so he'll just have to waste the day away with mindless movies. There's not much else he can do, except for going to the gym, but the bruises lining his body would protest way too much.

He spends about two hours watching a fox documentary before realising he hasn't had breakfast, and then he makes a meal that's way too heavy on his stomach to eat and continues his documentary, staring lifelessly at the screen.

Just as Nathaniel's putting his dish away and fiddling with the ring on his hand, the door opens. Nathaniel shoots his head up and stares at the door, and Kevin Day, Andrew Minyard and two of Riko's guards step in.

"Oh," Kevin says in surprise. He stops walking and looks at Nathaniel, and Andrew does the same, his gaze snapping to the bruise at Nathaniel's temple.

It's hard not to look at Andrew, for some reason. Nathaniel's never met the man before, but he's heard of him. Heard of how he's loyal, trustworthy; a protector, a shield. He heard whispers from the guards, their voices carrying on that Kevin ran to Palmetto because he knew Andrew would help him if he made a fair deal.

Nathaniel's never had the pleasure of trusting someone. Maybe he trusted his mother, but he's not sure if trust should be ingrained with fear, embedded into your brain because you have no other choice.

He wants to look at Andrew because he's the embodiment of strength, of power, of standing up to somebody higher than you. And it's not like the muscles and the face and hair is unattractive, either. Nathaniel would gladly look at him just for those qualities alone.

Nathaniel looks away from Andrew and hides his surprise and stands up straighter. He's not wearing appropriate clothes for guests, just trackpants and a large hoodie, but he hopes he manages to look authoritative as he asks, "What are you doing here?"

Kevin bows his head. "Forgive us. We were hoping to speak with Riko?"

"You would need a set date for that." Nathaniel tells him, crossing his arms over his chest. He watches as Andrew looks around the room, stepping forward to look over the paused fox documentary. He glances at Nathaniel with an unimpressed look, and Nathaniel squirms.

"We did book one," Andrew informs him.

He starts poking and prodding at things on the television stand, and Nathaniel walks over before one of the guards can, going to wrap his fingers around Andrew's wrist to pull his hand away.

Andrew twists his hand quickly so Nathaniel's fingers only brush against his wrist, and he captures both of Nathaniel's hands in one fist and then grabs the side of Nathaniel's jaw with his other.

Nathaniel jumps in surprise, and one of the guards jolts forward with an alarmed look. Nathaniel gets one hand out of Andrew's hold--firm, but not hard--and puts his hand up to stop them, and then lets Andrew twist and turn his head around silently.

The man gazes over the bruise on his temple, and Nathaniel looks up into his hazel eyes, as Andrew's wearing fairly big shoes. They're close enough to share breath, close enough to count freckles. Nathaniel would usually freak out if someone else held him this close, but he just feels...odd. Gooey.

Nathaniel opens and closes his mouth and Andrew's eyes drift down to linger on his lips as Nathaniel asks, "Done?"

Andrew hums and then lets go of him, turning around swiftly. Nathaniel swallows and rubs at his bruise, ignoring how the pale fingers that had held him a second ago felt nice. Kevin hisses something at Andrew, who just gazes at him, and Nathaniel steps forward and clears his throat and says, "I do not know why you think you had a meeting with Riko, because he's not here."

He glances at the guards and nods. He turns back to the two and says, "It would be best for you to leave."

As much as he wants to be in the presence of Andrew and Kevin, it's not safe. It would be best for them to stay far away, lest Nathaniel want to get drunk off of the idea of freedom.

Kevin bows his head again, respectful, and Andrew asks, "When will he be back?"

Nathaniel frowns at him. Andrew looks back, undeterred, and Nathaniel hides his squirm and shrugs lightly and says, "Today. Tomorrow. Next week, perhaps. He's away for business."

"Oh," Andrew says, "I didn't know that was something he did. I thought his empire was just made up of beating up housewives and sitting around looking presumptuous."

Kevin takes in a sharp breath and the guards narrow their eyes. Nathaniel steps forward slowly and stops right in front of Andrew's face, tilting his own head up and letting blue meet yellow.

He smiles thinly, eyes trained on Andrew's mouth, and murmurs, "Congratulations. You know big words. Now, as I said, it really would be best for you to leave."

Andrew stares at him, and Nathaniel nods to the door. The guards step forward and the four leave, and Nathaniel takes a deep breath as the door shuts behind them all, clicking shut with a lock.

He stands still for a few seconds, because, well he feels itchy. Shivery, even. His legs are slightly weak, and his neck tingles. Nathaniel taps a finger to his temple and sighs, and then he drifts up to the bathroom. Maybe he's just cold.

He steps into the shower and turns the heating up after he strips, and the hot water feels nice on his skin...but he does still feel weird. Nathaniel feels wound-up and strung-out after gazing at too golden eyes, and he stares at the wall and looks down and bites his lip.

He hesitates under the water for a second before slowly drifting a finger down to his backside, and then he puts his other palm against the marble wall, mouth going wide and eyes closing as his finger goes in and then deeper and deeper, hot water trailing over his back.

He tries not to think about Andrew Minyard, and his...everything, but it happens, anyway.


They return the day after yesterday, and this time only Jean brings them up.

Nathaniel hasn't stopped thinking about Andrew since their visit two days ago, but he doesn't let it show as he and Kevin and Jean step into the apartment again.

Nathaniel looks at Kevin and says, "Riko's not back yet. Why bother coming? Why didn't you just ask Jean to get you a meeting for when he's back?"

"We were being optimistic. Can you blame us?" Andrew asks. He's not wearing his big boots and Nathaniel stares down his nose at him.

"In a world like this? Yes," Nathaniel looks at Kevin and says, "Get out. Riko will not be happy to know that you have visited not once, but twice, without his presence."

"Riko's not happy about anything," Andrew informs him. He starts stepping forward, and Nathaniel sends him a cold glare to get him to halt in his steps. Andrew stops and stares at him, heavy-lidded, and asks, "Surely you're not always this obedient?"

"Only when no-name imbeciles come into my home and don't listen to me," Nathaniel tells him. He points a finger at Kevin and repeats, "Get out."

"Nathaniel," Kevin holds up a hand, "We just need to see his office. Please. You know I wouldn't ask if it wasn't important."

"No." Nathaniel says, "Get out."

Kevin falters and Jean slowly steps forward and murmurs, "They want to help."

Nathaniel stares at him and Jean stares back. The moment must go on for too long, as Andrew swings on his heels and steps up to Nathaniel's ear and murmurs, "Tick tock says the clock."

Nathaniel doesn't manage to smother his shiver. His eyes catch on Andrew's small, quick smirk before it vanishes, and he turns to Kevin and says, "Get out."

Kevin stares at him, open and closes his mouth and then nods and shakes his head. He turns on his feet and yanks the door open, and Andrew saunters after him slowly, giving Nathaniel a heavy look before disappearing out the doorway.

Nathaniel looks at Jean, who's staring at the ground. Nathaniel watches as the man gradually meets his gaze, and then he nods to the door and Jean exits too, closing the door behind him.


He wakes to a floorboard creaking.

Nathaniel's eyes snap open. He automatically slaps his arm away to smack against something, but there's empty air on the other side of the bed. His stomach falls, like he's just jumped off a cliff, and he freezes, staying still to listen for more sounds.

The apartment stands still and silent, and Nathaniel stares through the darkness, his eyes adjusting. Heartbeats pass, and then minutes, and just as he's about to calm down, there's another creak and the absolute sound of a footstep. Someone must be in the apartment.

Nathaniel takes a silent, deep breath. He slips the duvet off of him and gets to his feet silently. Unlike the intruder, Nathaniel knows where to step, knows what makes a sound and what doesn't, knows the architecture of the house, so he should be able to maneuver with ease.

He's only wearing his boxers and a large, black top that reaches his mid-thighs, and the coldness of the apartment hits his legs hard. Nathaniel rubs hands up his arms and then looks around for a weapon.

There's nothing apart from a glass of water on his nightstand, and he can't smash it to get a shard lest he want to make noise. Nathaniel clenches his jaw and slowly starts to make his way out of the bedroom, unlocking the door silently and opening it only enough to let himself out.

He slinks into the hallway, keeping to the wall to make a minimum level of noise. Nathaniel's eyes widen at the sight of the opened office door, in shock, because the imposter must have been able to unlock the door in a mater of seconds. If Nathaniel's curious enough to look inside, it takes him a few minutes to get inside, at the least.

He tip-toes to the door and waits near the frame, holding his breath. He can't hear anything from inside, but he knows somebody is in there. Nathaniel closes his eyes, takes in a silent breath, and then slowly peeks his head in.

Nothing. Riko's desk sits untouched, and the full moon streams in through the window, painting the room and parts of the hallway in faded blue and white. Nathaniel's fingers curl around the door, and he sets one foot in, then two, and then--

A body slams into his, knocking the air out of him. Nathaniel is pinned to the wall in the office, next to the doorway. He gasps when the wood meets his back, and then his legs are knocked apart, leaving room for a body to slot into. His thighs hike up the wall so his feet aren't touching the ground, and his wrists are hooked up in a single grip, pressed against the wall firmly, but not painfully.

Nathaniel turns his face to the side when another presses against his cheek, a mouth to his ear, and a familiar, low voice says, "Oh, sorry. Did I wake you?"

Nathaniel's heart beats fast in his chest, like it might burst from his ribs and splatter the paint on the wall red. He can't see him, but he shakily murmurs, "Andrew," in greeting, anyway.

Andrew's other hand settles on one of his thighs, keeping him in the air. Nathaniel makes a breathless noise he doesn't mean to and gets an amused huff in return.

"Rabbit," Andrew says in lieu of hello. His breath tickles Nathaniel's neck and ear.

"What...what are you doing here?" Nathaniel asks quietly. He wonders how Andrew got past the guards, the security cameras in the hallways outside the apartment room.

"You wouldn't help us," Andrew answers. He presses forward a tiny bit more and Nathaniel lets his head rest against the wall. Andrew continues with, "So, I broke in."

"As you do," Nathaniel replies. His head feels as if it's been plunged in a hot atmosphere, his vision blurry. He can only focus on Andrew, who's so close, so impossibly close.

"Mhm," Andrew hums. He breathes around Nathaniel's neck calmly, and he tilts his head upwards and presses his lips close to Nathaniel's ear and murmurs, "I want to kiss you."

Time stops. Nathaniel's legs are weak and shaky, but his nod is even more so.

"I need words," Andrew tells him quietly.

Nathaniel shivers and turns his head to face him. He gets one of his hands out of Andrew's grip and cups the side of the man's face slowly and gently. He opens his mouth and whispers, "Yes."

Nathaniel's not sure who moves forward first; him or Andrew, but he does know they share the need. The kiss starts slow, a connection of lips that drag and slide, hot puffs of air shared and soft, curious noises escaping them.

Andrew let's go of his hands and attaches his palms to Nathaniel's hips, letting him wrap his legs around his waist, keeping him steady without even an ounce of struggle. Nathaniel keeps his hands to Andrew's head, holding onto blonde curls and brushing fingertips along his cheek.

The kiss grows to something more desperate; more angry, hungry. Andrew spins him off the wall and sets him on the desk, brushing aside important documents as unimportant. Nathaniel keeps his legs spread and kisses down Andrew's neck as the man clears the area, and then moans loud when he thrusts forward.

Andrew lets out a breathless chuckle, and Nathaniel looks up at him, obsessed with the way Andrew's as effected as he is. Andrew leans forward until Nathaniel's back is on the desk, and he grabs onto his hips and starts dry humping him into the wood.

Nathaniel's eyes roll into the back of his head, and he moans and digs fingernails onto the surface as Andrew continues his experimentation.

"Oh," Nathaniel gasps, "Oh, Andrew."

Andrew leans down and captures his mouth in a kiss, keeping his rough and quick and dirty rocking going, and Nathaniel stares at the ceiling with an open mouth as Andrew starts kissing and biting at his neck.

"S'good," Nathaniel murmurs. There's a nip at his neck and he groans, throwing his hips up to meet Andrew. "So good, 'Drew."

Nathaniel's sure somebody would have had to hear them by now, but there's no knock as they continue, no shout or scream or sudden Riko finding them on his desk doing this.

There's nobody in the world but them, and it's everything.


They stand at the door.

Nathaniel keeps glancing at Andrew and then away again, and Andrew's looking at the door with a slightly distasteful expression.

"Why..." Nathaniel starts. Andrew's eyes latch onto him and Nathaniel takes a deep breath and says, "Why did you come here?"

"A document," Andrew answers. "Riko was going to double-cross us. He bragged about it to one of the Calderón's members, saying he was going to use somebody else for transportation for Exy, and Palmetto would lose money and respect because it'd look like we were failing at one of our first collaboration jobs."

Nathaniel gazes at him in confusion. "How did you know?"

"The Calderón told us he had the document agreement with the other gang he wanted to use to sabotage us. The document's proof, will show the other gang Riko's screwing them too." Andrew says, and he holds up the file he collected from the office. When Nathaniel still looks puzzled, he adds, "Nobody likes Riko."

"Oh." Nathaniel says. He fiddles with his sleeve and glances up, licks his lips, and asks, "Why did you bother asking me for help if you could've just broken in?"

Andrew shrugs, "I wasn't sure if just going upstairs alone would trigger some alarm, but after you refused to help I took my chance anyway."

Nathaniel nods and then looks away. His legs are still shaking slightly, and he looks upstairs and then glances back to Andrew. The blonde's snuck closer, and Nathaniel blinks at him. Andrew reaches into his pocket and pulls something out. A phone.

"Here," Andrew murmurs. He grabs Nathaniel's hand and places the object in his palm. "Take this phone. It's a burner; got my number on it. Message me if you ever need anything."

That doesn't make sense. Andrew didn't plan on Nathaniel waking up, right? Otherwise what would the point of bringing a burner be?

Nathaniel stares at the phone and looks up at Andrew and says, "You knew I'd come?"

"I was counting on it," Andrew answers, gazing back. He looks at the door and then shakes his head. He furrows his brows, and it's such a foreign look on Andrew that Nathaniel makes a noise of worry.

Andrew looks back at him and murmurs, "Come with me."

Nathaniel's face softens. His shoulders sag and he whispers, "I wish I could. This world is cruel, Andrew. I belong to Riko."

"Yes," Andrew says, "But I...we can change that. Come with me, join Palmetto. We'll hold the Moriyama's off and we can get money--"

"Andrew." Nathaniel interrupts him softly. "Riko won't let me go, and if I leave he will kill you."

Andrew stares at him, and Nathaniel steps forward and cups his face and says, "I'll call, alright?"

Andrew looks at the door and back and nods once and then twice. He steps away, opens the door, and points at Nathaniel and says, "I'll be back."

And then he's gone.

Nathaniel stands still until the last of Andrew's warmth disappears, and he's forced to return to bed.


Riko notices when they're in the shower.

He's been back for the day, and now it's night and around time for bed. He's already under the water when Nathaniel strips, and he doesn't see it until he turns around, and he freezes. His blood stills. His head goes empty.

His spouse isn't facing him, instead facing the wall as he scrubs his face. Riko slowly brings a hand up and traces at the hickey right on Nathaniel's shoulder. It's...fresh. Fresh. Red, as red as his hair.

Nathaniel must know what he's found. He goes deathly still, and Riko keeps his finger on the hickey as Nathaniel turns to face him. There's no expression on his face, but rigid in his shoulder and engraved in his eyes is fear.

Riko removes his hand and smiles a cold, thin smile. Nathaniel stares at him and Riko turns around to continue his shower, his insides tight and steel.

When they slip in the bed that night, Riko pulls Nathaniel close and whispers, "It's him, isn't it?"

Nathaniel doesn't reply.

Riko grabs his hair and shoves him face-forward into the pillows. His nails dig into his husband's scalp and Nathaniel's fingers draw angry red lines down Riko's arms as he struggles. Nathaniel tries to keep fighting, but Riko doesn't let him up for air until he stops moving, until his body sags into the bed, unconscious.

Riko rolls over and goes to sleep.


Nathaniel shakily makes breakfast the next day, trying to ignore Riko's staring. The man follows him everywhere he goes, not letting him out of his sight, and Nathaniel eventually just settles on the couch so he stops following him.

Riko sits next to him and doesn't watch the television, and instead just stares at the side of his face. Nathaniel continues watching the movie, and tries not to blink or breathe or move. His heart is in his chest, and it is going to explode.


He has to let Nathaniel out of his sight eventually. He's a mafia leader; of course he does.

Nathaniel watches as Riko gets a phone call, and he lets the man kiss him slow and deep before he walks out of the house, closing the door behind him with a click.

The second the door's closed, Nathaniel's off the couch and racing to the room. He's silent even though he's running, and he slides on the wood, into the bedroom. The pulse in his ear is loud like thunder, and Nathaniel quickly finds where he hid the phone.

He rips it from it's place in the bookshelf and finds Andrew's contact name, and he presses it and it dials the three rings, but then--no. The door to the apartment clicks open.

Nathaniel slowly looks up from his phone.

"Nathaniel?" Riko calls from downstairs.

Nathaniel stares at the open bedroom door and then hears the footsteps, and he stares down at the phone, and just as Andrew accepts the call he stands up, shoves the phone in his pocket and turns to the bookshelf.

He pretends to be looking through the shelf right as Riko enters through the doorway, and he affects surprise as he looks over his shoulder at him.

"That was quick," Nathaniel tells him. Andrew's smart enough to not speak, and Nathaniel hopes he's still listening.

"Yeah, well," Riko murmurs. He steps forward and doesn't blink as he says, "Some things just are."

Nathaniel nods in agreement. He continues to look through the shelf, hoping Riko will leave, but he leans towards him and says, " got up here pretty quick, didn't you?"

Nathaniel swallows. Riko follows the movement with his eyes and Nathaniel half-smiles and says, "It's like you said...some things are just quick."

"Oh," Riko agrees, tilting his head and squinting, smiling, "Definitely. Like you, right?"

He takes a step forward. Nathaniel takes a step backward and says, "I don't know-"

"Don't act stupid with me." Riko snarls. His face goes from smiling to angry so quickly that Nathaniel's back hits the wall quickly and his eyes widen.


"Because, I mean, you do move quick. I was gone for, what? Three, four days?" Riko puts a hand up against the wall, trapping him in. His other hand stays behind his back and he says, "People told me a bitch like you would sleep around, and I believed them, but really, Nathaniel? Andrew fucking Minyard? Did it have to be him?"

Despite being very close to death, Nathaniel snaps, "The only reason you don't like him is because he's everything you're not."

"I don't like him because he's an arrogant asshole who takes things from me." Riko spits back. His other hand, the one behind his back, twitches.

"At least he doesn't have to pay for people to get them to stick around," Nathaniel hisses back.

Riko slaps him with the hand on the wall, sending him careening to the floor, and Nathaniel just avoids colliding with the bed structure. He lands on the ground and Riko lands a heavy kick to his side. Nathaniel grits his teeth and glares up at him, and Riko smiles.

"You've heard of Exy, yeah?" Riko asks. He pulls his hand out from behind his back to reveal a needle, and Nathaniel stares at it and starts scrambling back, trying to get to his feet. Riko stomps down on his stomach, and all the breath in Nathaniel leaves him.

Riko crouches down and gets ahold of his chin, hovering the needle near his neck. He says, "I wonder what a dosage this high will do? Ah, and not to mention it's not even properly finished. This is one of the earliest productions. I wonder, I wonder."

Nathaniel brings his knee up, straight into Riko's jaw. Riko drops the Exy and Nathaniel pinches it between his fingers and rushes to his feet, racing out of the room.

Riko's on him in a second. The man launches into him in the hallway, and they crash onto the ground. The Exy goes skidding against the floor and Riko clamps a hand over Nathaniel's mouth just as he tries to scream.

Riko hushes him and slams his face into the ground, side-ways, and presses a knee to his back. Nathaniel struggles, helpless, as Riko reaches an arm to grab the Exy, but then the door bursts open.

They both freeze.

And then Andrew flies up and collides straight into Riko, and they go flying. Nathaniel gets to his feet, and watches with wide-eyes as Andrew and Riko claw and punch and kick at one another.

His heart is in his throat, and Nathaniel grabs the Exy and rushes forward and stabs it right into Riko's neck, punching the drug into him.

Riko freezes. Andrew removes himself and grabs onto Nathaniel, and then they both silently watch as Riko's face goes deathly white. The man chokes on something and grabs his neck with his own two hands, palming around for the needle.

His eyes go red-rimmed and he tilts his face side-ways, and then he goes blue, then purple--and then boom. Nathaniel turns their heads in time, and blood and brain matter bursts everywhere.

Nathaniel can feel it sliding down his back. The disgust is so violent he almost throws up, but instead he slowly looks at Andrew, who's staring at Riko's headless body with wide-eyes.

"Andrew," He murmurs.

Andrew looks at him and says, "Nathaniel," and his voice is monotone despite the sight.

"Where to?" Nathaniel asks.

Maybe it will settle in later that they've just killed a Moriyama, Riko Moriyama, but, well, that's not now. Right now Nathaniel just hears ringing in his ears, a strange form of adrenaline.

Andrew blinks. He glances at Riko's corpse and then back to Nathaniel and says, "A shower. And then...home."

Home. Nathaniel repeats it in his head over and over, and he doesn't want the warmth of it to become cold.

He leaves his ring by Riko's body, and he doesn't look back.