The Perfidious One, amethyst_hunter (amethyst_hunter) wrote in 30_kisses,
The Perfidious One, amethyst_hunter

Fanfic: First Kiss, part 3 (Get Backers, Ban/Akabane, #30 - "kiss")

Title: First Kiss (part 3)
Author/Artist: Amethyst Hunter
Pairing: Ban/Akabane
Fandom: Get Backers
Theme: #30 – “kiss”
Rating: R (m/m adult content, swearing)
Warnings/Spoilers: Takes place during the scene of their big fight near the end of the anime.
Notes: A slight AU twist as Ban does something that’s a little unexpected.
- I'm in the process of uploading my fics, including this series, to my A03 account. In the meantime, this and others are all archived on (not yet updated), and my journals here and on Dreamwidth (same name). Many thanks for your kind comments. :)
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em. I just plays nice with 'em.
Summary: How Ban and Akabane got together in the first place.


Outside, the night has cocooned the world in its shroud of stardust. The only light in the bedroom is that of the lamp on the nightstand, which lends the room an expectant ambiance in its glow. A bower has been prepared for him, for them, for this moment that will forever alter the course of their fates.

Nervousness races in Akabane’s chest, his stomach, but it’s become a pleasant sort of palpitation now, the kind that one feels when knowing some monumental transformation is about to take place. He cleaves to Midou-kun as the other brings him in for a heated kiss, the two of them winding their limbs around each other as the challenge begins. He’s fairly purring as he rubs against his seducer, his body thrumming with an electricity that Ginji-kun could probably tap if the Raitei had it in him to do so – which given his unique abilities is quite probable. Everything feels so hypersensitive, from the uncomfortable cling of crisp fabric against his damp skin to the heaviness of the air to the escalation of breath that’s coming from both of them as they indulge themselves.

Akabane is not picky about his lovers' gender. Mechanics interest him far less than does the potential for exploration, the discovery of horizons new and enthralling, and both sexes possess this capability in generous amounts, depending on the individual. He has known both men and women who have shared with him priceless experiences, the memories of which have endured long since the ebbing purges of their physical climax trickled away.

It's quite an unexpected thrill to find that Midou-kun evidently holds the same view.

Midou-kun fists one hand in Akabane’s jet dark hair, the other running down his back to grasp his hip and then his rear, pressing into him more fully. Fingers attack his vest and unbutton it before reaching inside to yank out the front ends of his shirt and go after those next. Impatient with the speed at which the stubborn buttons are yielding Midou-kun jerks roughly on the shirt and for a second Akabane thinks he might just tear it off him, but the Jagan master calms himself and instead his hands lift to Akabane’s neck. The tie is much more cooperative in being undone and the two top shirt buttons are likewise as obedient.

Midou-kun buries his face in the hollow of Akabane’s throat, his mouth hot and moist, and sharp teeth nip lightly at the skin there. Purple eyes slip shut as he sighs and the wisp of breath trails across the side of Midou-kun’s head through his ruffled hair. Sultry blue eyes rise and gaze into his own and the kisses, those maddening kisses, rain anew upon his mouth. This time he welcomes them with parted lips, inviting Midou-kun inside for a taste and tasting him in return.

Tongues twine as lips explore salt-slick skin and Akabane feels something hard nudging the inside of his thigh, and with a delicious shiver he realizes it’s Midou-kun’s own erection. A small moan issues from his throat and he clutches anything he can grab at - handfuls of the other man’s tank top, his mussed brown hair - rocking his hips eagerly against Midou-kun and savoring that promising friction as their kiss deepens.

“Ah – ah!” Suddenly Midou-kun is wincing and pushing him away. Confused as to what’s happening now Akabane blinks at him, staring, clueless as to what's wrong.

Midou-kun raises a brow and his eyes dart to where Akabane’s fingers are digging into his scalp, giving the transporter a meaningful look. Akabane lets go of his hair and lifts his hand, and it’s then that he understands why the other wanted him to stop.

Four shiny tips, all razor-sharp in their lethality, are partially protruding from between his fingers.

Akabane’s lips form a small o of surprise. It’s extremely rare for him to forget himself and lose control like that; indeed, such an occurrence is nearly unheard of. Such inexcusable conduct could cost him a higher toll than he’s prepared to gamble. And this is the second time tonight (or third, if their earlier skirmish in the alley still counts) he’s disregarded restraint and let emotion sweep him away. His face warms with humiliation. He ought to know better than this.

Fortunately Midou-kun doesn’t seem to be terribly put-out, although his desire has been muted by the unexpected intrusion of Akabane’s scalpels into their haven. “Yeah. Let’s take care of something before we go any further.”

He disengages from Akabane and goes over to the closet. Upon opening it he steps inside and emerges a moment later carrying a large wooden chest that looks heavy. It’s very old though it’s been crafted with an expert’s skill; that much Akabane can recognize. It’s obviously an antique. The worn wood has a lovely dark patina to it which says it’s something that’s been kept well for many, many years. It has no padlock on it however, which means the key he transported earlier also does not fit this scene.

Midou-kun sets the chest on the floor at the end of the bed. He looks at Akabane and starts talking. “I asked Maria Noches if she’d let me borrow this. She used to look after me when I was a kid, you know. One day Natsuhiko Miroku and I were screwing around in my grandma’s attic, looking for stuff to entertain ourselves with. I found that chest in one corner and we were playing hide and seek with it when Natsuhiko, that bastard, got it into his head to trip the latch shut on me when it was my turn to climb in it. Neither of us knew it then but that chest had had a spell put on it by Maria. She only found me when Natsuhiko panicked and couldn’t figure out how to undo the latch to let me escape, so he ran to get her. She told me if he hadn’t gone to look for her, I’d have died in there. Anything that goes into it can’t be brought out again unless the magic is properly manipulated.”

He displays the chest’s ability, kneeling down and turning the latch’s pin. It snaps apart with an audible groan and Midou-kun lifts the lid on it, tilting the top all the way back so Akabane can come nearer and see inside. It looks quite ordinary aside from some dust.

Midou-kun stands up and looks at the chest, then at Akabane. “Give me your tie.”

He nods and pulls the loosened garment away from his shirt collar, handing it to the other man who tosses it into the chest. Midou-kun shuts the lid and trips the latch.

“Try to open it now.”

Akabane cocks his head to one side as he approaches. Looks easy enough. The latch is plain and could probably be pried off if there was a real need to do so. He leans down and tries to unhook it, but the metal refuses to give an inch. He attempts to use a scalpel as a screwdriver, thinking that it will be easier to jimmy the device open, but some invisible forcefield protecting the latch sends a sizzle of current along the blade and he nearly drops it in his surprise.

“Doesn’t work, does it?” Midou-kun smiles knowingly. “I told you. Magic. Watch.”

He gently nudges Akabane out of the way and easily spins the tumbler loose. The latch opens as if it’s been freshly greased, without a sound. Midou-kun lifts the lid and retrieves his tie, handing it back to Akabane.

How interesting. He always suspected that there was far more to Midou-kun than the man would ever let on.

Akabane gives him a small smile of his own as he folds his tie into a neat rectangle and places it over the back of a chair nearby. “What does this box have to do” Saying that feels strange on his lips, as if giving volume to the words will make this dimension dissolve into the ether of a Jagan. Some part of him, a part he refuses to give credence to, fears exactly this, even if his conscious mind won’t acknowledge it.

Midou-kun gives him an appraising glance. “How many of those knives you got on you, Jackal?”

That’s an odd question coming at a time like this. Akabane thinks. “At any given time? It depends on what I want to do during a fight,” he says with a shrug. “If you are asking me how many different types of scalpels I own, then your answer is more concrete.”

An eyebrow poises in a caterpillar’s arch. “Types?”

“I can change the materials they’re made from into others. Ask Ginji-kun about it sometime, I’m sure he’ll be happy to explain it.” Akabane half-smiles as he remembers the look of comical horror on Ginji-kun’s face when he told him about that little trick.

Midou-kun will probably not find the story as amusing, however. He looks now at Akabane and says, “Fine. How many different types of knife material do you have?”

“One hundred and eight,” Akabane replies with a peculiar note of smugness, the threat of passion temporarily receding in the wake of professional pride. “Though I suppose technically it would be one hundred and nine now, after my meeting with Kagami-kun in Mugenjou...” He raises a hand to demonstrate, plucking forth scalpels as he starts to list them off. “I have all the basic metals. Ceramic ones, titanium ones, plastic ones, glass, iron, the diamond of course, silicon, ivory, copper, platinum – “

Midou-kun holds up his hands. He looks thunderstruck and he hasn’t even heard one tenth of Akabane’s list yet. “Okay, okay, I get the idea! Holy shit, Jackal. How the hell do you fit all that crap inside you without setting off alarms everywhere you go?”

Akabane pouts slightly. “They’re not solid when they’re inside me.” He sighs, lowering his gaze to his hands. Without the gloves to conceal them the scars are vivid in their implications. “It’s complicated. In their primitive matter the materials are too small to be viewed with plain eyesight, but I know they’re there. When I need them, I for them, and they solidify as they should.” He fingers one of the knives, studying its blade before letting it retreat with the others save but one, which he keeps out as an idle distraction. “I can change their shape as well, and amplify the amount of source material to form as many knives as I wish. I can make the blades longer or bigger as I need. Or alter the sharpness itself...”

Midou-kun lets out a long, slow whistle. Clearly he’s impressed. “Where'd you get all that junk? Did you just swallow a whole bunch of knives from some stray circus act, or do you need a source material to base their creation from?”

“I started with one of the simpler scalpels.” Akabane delicately licks his lips as he ponders how much information to share. “You might say that it’s the progenitor of them all...but it isn’t in its original shape either. My powers converted it into a base long ago. I require a source to give the knives their solid form – that is how Ginji-kun was able to defeat me when I first met you two. They were all made of plain metal then and he used his electromagnetism to pull them out.” A fine shudder races through Akabane as he relives the memory of that exquisite agony. No one has ever done that to him either.

His fingers turn the lone scalpel over several times. Come to think of it, the Get Backers are the only people he’s known who can do things to and with him that he’s never experienced or felt wonder he wants to play with them so often. Novelty is a wonderful stimulant.

“What about that sword of yours? That’s not sourced too, is it?”

Akabane shakes his head. “It belongs to me,” he says softly, meaning it is not from any outside element.

Midou-kun nods slowly. “I didn’t think that one was any regular material. Where did you get something like that?”

Purple eyes wander hesitantly to the floor. “It’s a long story.”

“You can tell it to me later,” Midou-kun says, not sounding bothered by Akabane’s reluctance to discuss the subject further. He opens the chest lid all the way and hooks his thumbs in his pants pockets expectantly.

Akabane looks at him, elegant brows creasing with consternation. “Surely you can’t mean – “

“Oh yeah. Go on, Jackal. I want them all. Every last piece of source material.”

Unsuccessful at quelling the spike of unease by the suggestion that he deprive himself of his weaponry he shakes his head again. “They’ll only return to where they came from. Don’t forget I have complete control over their actions,” Akabane solemnly reminds him.

“Maybe not so much as you think you do.” Midou-kun’s smile is calm. “What just happened – “

Akabane looks at the remaining knife still in his hand. He flexes his fingers and the scalpel recedes. “I apologize. An impulse. It won’t happen again.”

“No, it won’t,” Midou-kun agrees, his voice cool and in control. “When I gave you that package, when you came here tonight, we both accepted a new itinerary. Part of our bargain means that I’m going to teach you some new tricks to replace the ones that aren’t working anymore. So if you still want to test those limits, you’ll empty out every last one of those skewers and put them inside this chest for temporary safekeeping. At least until we’re done here. Then you can have them back. I promise.”

“What about your Jagan? I don’t see you rushing to give up your power when you ask the same of me.”

“Because the Jagan doesn’t activate unless I consciously invoke it.” Midou-kun’s eyes twinkle with devilish intent. “Which I have zero intention of doing. I want to see if I can beat out your fantasy and the only way to do that is to live it in reality. Right, Jackal?”

Akabane stares at the chest and then at his hands, at the scars mottling the surface of his palms. Except for when he’s switching out source materials he’s never voluntarily given up his knives, not even for a measured period of time, and he isn’t about to start now...

“I can control what they do,” he insists, using the anxiety he feels at the thought of being defenseless to infuse his tone with a coldness to match Midou-kun’s.

But the snake won’t relent. “Can you? That would really suck for both of us, Jackal, if when we’re rolling around in bed together enjoying ourselves you accidentally stuck me in some crucial spot with a sharp object...”

It could happen. Nagging doubts about his self-control have dogged him from the moment they met in that alley. Akabane visualizes this and has to admit it would truly be a disappointment. He shoots Midou-kun a skeptical look. “I’ll get them back? All of them?”


The other man’s face betrays no sign of what he’s thinking. For all he knows it could be a lie...or it could be the truth. Cynicism wars with intrigue for several minutes as Akabane weighs his choices. Midou-kun usually gives as good as he gets...

You’ve never lied to me, Jackal...

Common sense tells him that a reptilian in hand is far safer than one unfettered. Dare he risk trusting against that deadly bite for him to keep his promise?

“You’ve come this far,” Midou-kun says evenly. “Don’t tell me a professional like you is gonna back out now.”

Akabane hugs his arms to his sides, clenching his fists protectively underneath his arms as if fearing that his knives will be systematically yanked out of his body just like they were the first time he fought Ginji-kun. Though Midou-kun emits no such electromagnetic power, there are other ways of getting around that, he’s sure.

Time drips by as slowly as syrup oozing from a bottle while he considers this proposition. It isn’t as if he’ll be left completely weaponless, he reminds himself – there are other things he can do in case Midou-kun turns vicious fangs on him – but his scalpels are his first and foremost means and he’s come to rely on them so much, so long, that he’s used to thinking of them almost as actual extensions of his body, and sometimes he’s not even sure where he ends and they begin.

He squeezes his eyes tightly shut, having unconsciously lifted a hand partway. His fist is clamped to his chest, his knuckles aching with the strain as the bones crack audibly from the tension in his muscles.

Don’t do it, his jackal’s nature is warning him.

Akabane takes a long, deep breath...and exhaling carefully to keep it from coming out in shaky, jagged edges, slowly – slowly – extends his hand towards the chest.

He can’t bring himself to look directly at Midou-kun as he does this, dreading what might be lurking in those sapphire depths. Pity would be a mercy compared with something else... Instead when he opens his eyes he focuses on the chest itself, willing his arm to hold steady and not quiver from the inky darkness inside it. He almost stops when his hand is stretched out over the top, fingers spread into partial claws, almost gives in to the impulse, the instincts that are screaming for him to use the blades in a slashing self-defense rather than surrender their protection.

Instead he swallows a painful lump of anxiety that’s stuck in his throat, and releases scalpels in a shower of metallic energy.

They drop to the chest in a hailstorm of musical rattling depending on the majority of their respective source material, which at the moment happens to be titanium, his preferred source when he isn’t using the ceramic. Other scalpels, too, made of materials both foreign and domestic to humankind, emerge in turn, shining brightly in their lethal edges. Akabane reassures his frayed nerves that all he has to do is call for them and they will return in an instant, despite the purported powers of this stronghold. Surely Midou-kun cannot be expecting this old wood to contain the strength and fury of over a hundred scalpels spearing through it all at once.

He dares to glance up at Midou-kun, pulse pounding in his neck, and awaits a response.

Much to his relief there is no censure or encroaching portent of attack in the other’s composed features. “Is that all of them?” the snake-master asks quietly.

Dismayed, Akabane splays his fingers apart once more. A solitary scalpel surfaces from the center of his scarred palm and reluctantly separates itself from his flesh. It lands on top of the pile with what seems like a deafening plink. He looks at it more closely and realizes it’s the original generator, the one he started out with all those years ago. It hasn’t lost any of its luster, gleaming fiercely as the light touches reverently upon its angles. If ever it could be said that Akabane was a nostalgic, it would be this singularly devastating blade that he would consider his favorite of the collection.

He lowers his arm to his side, clutching it with his other hand as he keeps both arms in close to his body. Warily he looks to Midou-kun for approval.

It isn’t long in coming. Blue eyes soften and his smile eases lazily across his face. “Good.”

Muscles sleek with the effort Midou-kun closes and picks up the chest – how much heavier must it be now that it’s full of knives? – and without showing signs of strain carries it out of the bedroom. “I’ll be right back,” he says over his shoulder. “Just going to put this in the other room for a while. I don’t want any distractions. Out of sight, out of mind, as they say.”

Hardly, Akabane thinks to himself. He knows they’re out there, and that’s all that matters. He soothes his restlessness by telling it this is all for the sake of discovering new avenues of interest. Midou-kun is young and strong; he is certain to provide a great deal of pleasure when they join together in mutual mating.

His would-be partner returns and he looks up from his musings. Eager to forget these disturbing reminders and resume their foreplay Akabane wraps himself around Midou-kun once more and tries to kiss him, but hands on his shoulders stay his advances. There is one last surprise in store for him, it seems.

Midou-kun reaches into his pants pocket and brings out a small object – the key he’d hired Jackal to transport. “Remember how I promised you I’d push a few boundaries with you? Well, this is the other part of our deal.”

Akabane regards it with a sudden looming sense of foreboding. “What does it go to?”

Midou-kun doesn’t answer right away. He puts the key back in his pocket and goes over to the nightstand drawer, opening it. A box, a rather colorful one, is brought out and opened. Something clatters as he withdraws it and brings it into Akabane’s full view.

“It goes to these.”

Akabane’s heart feels like it’s just seized and turned to a knot of cold stone in his chest.

It’s a pair of handcuffs. Manacles, to be more precise. The wristbands are thick and look more than adequate at holding a potential prisoner. He knows without being told that these implements too are the bearers of some strange magic that prevents all but the one aware of its secrets from escaping.

Before he even realizes what he’s doing Akabane is shaking his head and backing away. “No.”


“No,” Akabane repeats, unable to hide the loathsome note of fear in his voice. “I never agreed to – to this.”

Midou-kun continues to approach him, dangling the manacles from his fingertips like some sort of deranged toy. His expression isn’t menacing but this is of little comfort to Akabane. “Yes, you did, Jackal. From the moment you accepted my proposal you’ve been following my every lead, just as I knew you would. It’s your fate as ordained for you by the infinite casting of Mugenjou.”

“We’re not in Mugenjou anymore. The gods of Babylon hold no sway over this outside world,” Akabane growls, fright galvanizing him into icy anger. He holds up a hand when Midou-kun takes another step towards him. “Come any closer with those things and I’ll cut you.”

Midou-kun stops and folds his arms across his chest, the manacles’ bands crawling over his skin with a sibilant rasp. “With what?”

Akabane flings his hand out, fingers spread wide and palm outstretched. He calls.

Nothing happens.

Worried, he wills the scalpels to bore through the chest and come to him, fill his body with their fatal force –

- and nothing but air rushes through his palm.

Sinking realization dawns on Akabane. Midou-kun told him the truth. The scalpels cannot help him now. His stare whirls accusingly on the other man.

“It was still your choice,” Midou-kun says in measured tones. “I didn’t force you to give them up. Just as I won’t force you to wear these.” He tosses the manacles onto the bed and starts walking towards Akabane again. “When you come to me, Jackal, it will be because you choose to, not because I made you, and not because you feel obligated to.”

“What are you doing to me?” Akabane whispers helplessly. “You speak in riddles but give me no clues. How am I to understand the puzzles you throw at me when I cannot even match the pieces?”

Midou-kun reaches out and grasps his shoulders gently, pulling Akabane into his embrace. “You won’t,” he says simply. “Not until you have all the pieces in place will you ever be able to see the whole picture, Jackal. Isn’t that why we retrievers and transporters always complete our jobs to the very end?”

The answer fails to satisfy Akabane. He raises his hands to push the other man away from him, alarmed by the way his treacherous body is responding so readily to Midou-kun’s closeness. “I need – “

“What you need is me.”

Damn Midou-kun and his infernal kisses!

The master of all snakes wields his seduction the same way he wields his strength: with exacting precision and serious mercilessness. Anger, fear, all swiftly evaporate in the wake of that consuming passion as it overtakes them both. Akabane’s hand fists around a handful of Midou-kun’s tank top; the other hand grasps his back and claws at his spine for purchase while he drives his hips against those of his rival.

Midou-kun, far from becoming annoyed by this urgency, responds by running a trail of kisses all over his jaw, his neck, down his exposed throat as his head leans back in supplication. Amethyst eyes flicker open and he catches a glimpse of the two of them in the mirror.

The reflections rippling across the glass are heedless of anything else but each other, as the brown-haired one finally finishes fumbling with the buttons of his ebony-haired partner’s dress shirt, and large hands roughened by experience though their touch is anything but rough slide the shirt along with its black vest off his shoulders. White and black fabric billows to the floor and that spiky head is dipping, mouth pressing against a bare chest now, lips suckling at the length of scar that stripes his torso in a vertical line, and when they pass by a tongue unfurls and swipes over his nipple. The wet heat coupled with the suddenness of the touch makes the pale-skinned man in the mirror moan and arch against his lover who repeats the caress, adding a tender love bite to the sensitized flesh for good measure.

In that spiraling moment Akabane knows what he will do, and the knowledge sends chills through him. He wants this. He can’t deny it. He longs to lie with Midou-kun as lovers do and give him leave to plunder the secrets of his body, his soul, even as he desires to explore and stroke each sensuous plane of the other’s and stake his own claim. What he doesn’t want is to have to concede so much vulnerability that in the process he becomes a victim to the very thing he both fears and wants...

Midou-kun’s mouth is warming the side of his face, lips teasing his earlobe with a whisper. “Trust me, Akabane. We’ll both enjoy this. I won’t hurt you. I swear on my blood.”

Whether it’s the use of his name instead of the alias, the quiet coaxing behind it, or just the mention of blood that does the trick neither of them will ever know, but regardless, it works. Their eyes meet, holding in the space of a heartbeat...

Body trembling, palms damp and heart drumming a thunderous dance in his chest, Akabane reaches out...and offers his hands to Midou-kun.

The other man silently takes hold of him and guides him back over by the bed. He brings his arms down, around behind his back. Akabane feels cold, smooth metal encircle both wrists then and hears a crisp click as the cuffs are locked. In the silence, the sound seems both ominous and promising. He tests his bonds – the manacles are firmly enclosed around him, with just a very short lead of chain separating them. He is now a captive in every sense.

The full understanding of his situation slams into cold focus and nearly throws him into instant rebellion. Words come to his mind, the eternal question of someone long since relegated to the farthest corners of his memory.

What is this thing called death?

It’s staring him right in the eye as Midou-kun comes around to face him again, no mercy, no relief from its demands. Anxiety seizes his chest in a painful, crushing grip and forces a thin whine from his lips. He was foolish to agree to this. What has he done?

Akabane wants his knives back. He needs to feel their razor-sharp edges, the blades soothing in their lethal familiarity. The scalpels will never let him down. The scalpels are always there for him, ready to offer their bloody comfort when he needs it. Even now he can feel their frustration as his own as they claw and clink against the restraints of their prison, that strange box Midou-kun made him put them in before they started in earnest.

He truly has no defenses now. He can’t use his other weapons, the Cross or the Sword, because of the manacles. There’s nowhere to run to safety. He’s helpless. Weak. And he is at the mercy of a master predator with the power to take him as surely as a snake chokes down its prey: devoured whole, without remorse.

The prospect terrifies him to – well, death.

“You’re scared of losing control, aren’t you?”

Akabane can’t breathe or speak. The stone in his chest is twisting so viciously he wonders if he’s having a heart attack.

Midou-kun comes closer, the light in his blue eyes unchanging, motionless as a reptile’s steady gaze. “Is that why you really fight? To be strong so you’ll never hurt.” That blue is close, so close, too close, and Akabane’s trembling harder now, shaking so badly he can’t stop even if he wants to. “What hurt you?”

This time he can’t stop the sob that bursts from his lips. Shame floods his whole body at this wretched weakness and he looks away from Midou-kun’s unrelenting stare, unable to bear the weight of these truths any more. His head is spinning, aching under the assault of memories, many of them, too many and too furious for him to sort out with any level of coherence. A black flashfire of rage boils up inside him as images of a life long discarded flicker into sight, and he longs to lash out in defense against the feelings, the emotions surfacing but he can’t, not chained like this and not without his scalpels, not trapped in this cage that Midou-kun has built for him, for them. He bares his teeth in wild desperation at the other man, composure well past the breaking point; the only thing that matters now is freedom, safety from this hell of feelings and thoughts and mortal emotions –

- but Midou-kun is reaching up to touch his face, pull him carefully into his embrace and hold him tightly, and he’s being gentle with him, so gentle, and so kind and this hurts far more than any blade ever could because it’s so tender and caring and genuine, and Akabane doesn’t understand it at all but it’s been so long, so terribly long since anybody behaved this way towards him, only Ginji-kun, dear sweet precious Ginji-kun with his childlike innocence and soft heart ever came close to it even though he always ran from Akabane in utter fear, which is what he has learned to content himself with because that is all he has ever known and all he has ever expected from his lot.

Midou-kun rocks him slowly, soothing him as one might a frightened child by rubbing a strong hand over his bare back, warming his skin and banishing the tremors that are causing his body to quake with repulsive fragility. He brushes his lips next to Akabane’s ear and speaks in a near-whisper. “Sometimes, Jackal...weakness is the greatest strength there is.”

That makes absolutely no sense to Akabane and he says so.

“Yeah, I know you don’t get it right now. Maybe someday you might, though. For now, just know this: when you fall, you won’t go alone. I’m here to catch you. You have my word on that. Remember? I have to protect what's important. Including you.”

Fingers start carding through his hair, gathering the heavy mane up and lifting it away from his face and neck. Akabane casts him a bewildered look and he explains. “Can’t see you if you’re hiding under all this, you know.”

From somewhere Midou-kun produces a red elastic band that he uses to twist and tie his hair up in a loose bun, lightly snapping the band in place to be certain it’s snug. “If we do this, Jackal, we do it right. That means we’re honest with each other. No hiding behind anything – hats, hair, whatever. I want to see you while we’re together. You have the most fascinating eyes, you know that? Way more intriguing than mine, evil eye or none. And I do like that crazy mane of yours. It's better than the threadspool's as far as I’m concerned.”

Akabane makes a disgruntled noise in his throat at the comparison with the Fuuchouin heir. Not that he has anything against Kazuki-san – someone who goes by the title of Battle Prince must have more to offer than meets the eye – but he’s eavesdropped enough around Ginji-kun and company to have picked up on the inside jokes regarding the weaver. He’s aware of the potential for misunderstandings concerning his own physical appearance, but Midou-kun doesn’t really think him to be that exaggerated...does he?

“Sorry. Guess I should’ve used a better description, eh?” Midou-kun smiles at him and nuzzles his nose. “You’re fun when you’re pissed though, Jackal.”

In the midst of all this excitement Akabane finds his voice returning to him. “Do you even know how to pay someone a proper compliment?” he asks, somewhat indignantly.

“Probably not. You’ll just have to teach me better manners as we go along. Fair warning, though – I’m liable to drive you nuts before I actually take any of your advice to heart.” Midou-kun grins unrepentantly and that rogue expression makes Akabane want to kiss him again.

Midou-kun tugs at a strand of black hair trickling over Akabane's forehead. “I was serious when I said that I wanted to see you, Jackal. You're the most bewitching angel that I've ever seen, one I couldn't stay away from no matter how hard I tried. You might have heard slick words from a few folks – if they did ever get to see bits of the real you underneath the shadows, that is - but did they ever mean it as something more than just an easy compliment or a means to an end?”

No hat, no knives, and now no curtain of hair. Akabane is more exposed than he’s ever felt before and he doesn’t like it one bit. Midou-kun's words, however, have stirred an unfathomable heat in his insides, one that isn't entirely due to physical arousal. He can’t suppress another shiver, tilting his head to one side. The few tendrils of hair that have escaped capture trail teasingly along his nape and forehead, some so long they dangle alongside his neck and create a ticklish sensation. He’s worn his hair loose in its customary shaggy style for as long as he can remember and to be suddenly deprived of its mantle is unnerving.

Midou-kun spreads feather-light kisses over Akabane’s eyelids and mouth while he works at undoing the belt and buttons of his trousers. “Still want to search out your potential with me?”

The exhalation is a stream of shared desire when he feels a hand dipping past the waistband of his trousers, a smooth palm gliding down his abdomen. “Yes.”

Akabane's voice morphs into a ragged moan when Midou-kun’s fingers delve through the thatch of softness at the base of his belly and curl around his stiffened sex. No longer caring what he must look like or what demons he might face he thrusts into that grip, body quivering with a new sort of pleasure that’s swallowed him alive in its torrents.

Midou-kun chuckles huskily. “No need to rush this. We’ve got all night.”

All night...all night... The words dimly reverberate inside Akabane’s head, but all he can think of is how good that thumb feels rubbing across the tip of his arousal as Midou-kun slowly strokes him. He pants into their kiss as he shamelessly presses his hips to his lover’s in a silent demand: take me, claim me as yours, pleasure me divinely and I shall gladly do the same for you.

The hand rudely refuses to oblige him by unfolding and withdrawing from his trousers. Akabane makes an upset noise.

“It has been a long time for you, hasn’t it?” Midou-kun says with some amazement as he helps him sit on the edge of the bed. “I haven’t even wound up to the good stuff yet and you’re ready to blast off like a firecracker.” He’s piling the pillows up into a stack, which he helps Akabane lean back onto, making sure that too much pressure isn’t put on his bound arms. He gets one of the smaller pillows from the chair and slides that underneath his head as a finishing touch. “Okay?”

“Yes. Thank you.”

He makes short work of Akabane’s boots and socks, pulling those off and flinging them carelessly aside as they land haphazardly on the floor. “Lift your hips for me.”

He obeys and Midou-kun grabs the waistband of his trousers, along with his underwear, and drags both garments down the lower half of his body, peeling them off with a flourish. The air is initially cool against his skin and he squirms against the bed, interest stirred by the sensation of the bedspread against his bare flesh. He’s been stripped naked in more ways than one and the thought of Midou-kun having such intimate knowledge of him is powerfully erotic.

Desire wins out over fear this time. Almost as if in a dreamlike trance he settles against the pillows, head back, throat bared. His body arches slightly as he parts his legs, one raised into a lithe slope at the knee, a clear invitation as he watches the other man with hooded violet eyes.

Midou-kun’s eyes have darkened to a storm cloud’s blue. “God, Jackal...” he breathes. “You have no idea how damned hot you look right now.”

He starts ripping his own clothes off, not quite in a frenzy but he’s clearly caught up in the whirlwind of their excitement. Akabane watches him intently, gaze tracing the shadows and light reflecting off of Midou-kun’s lightly tanned muscles as they stretch and bunch with each movement he makes. Beautiful, so very like the silken grace of his animal namesake. He licks his lips in unconscious anticipation at the realization that very soon that powerful body will be beside him, on top of him, inside him. They’ll move together in an ageless dance as they search for those perfect heights, and it will be good, very, very good.

Triggered by those thoughts he feels himself harden more and he utters a whimper of want. It’s been so long – too long – since he’s done anything like this..! Finally Midou-kun’s skin is as bare as his own and the other man is looming over him, dipping in for a kiss as he crawls onto the bed. He places one of his hands on Akabane’s chest, and he can feel the invigorating heat radiating from the center of his palm.

As Midou-kun pulls away briefly for air he asks, “Let me see you?”

Midou-kun’s gaze is steady. He nods, and helps Akabane sit up before settling back on his knees, hands resting on the tops of his thighs. Like a snake coiling its body not for a strike but drawing itself into casual watch. He’s beautiful. There’s no other word for it. The light from the lamp casts its flattering glow on everything, but on Midou-kun the highlight is everywhere, glistening along his sleek form, toned muscle, flickering in his cool blue eyes, no glasses now to get in the way of that crystal perfection's own pure light.

Akabane’s eyes are drawn to a mark on his right side, near the point where his shoulder and chest meet. A two-inch long slit mars the skin in a shading of scar tissue. Now Akabane remembers – that’s where he stabbed Midou-kun when he and Ginji-kun were fighting once.

The other chuckles knowingly. “Believe me, it was the last thing I wanted to do.” He shrugs. “But, desperate times and desperate measures and all that shit...”

Akabane longs to touch the scar, trace its thin line with reverent fingertips. Truly, they are more alike than either of them realized. They have shed blood, theirs and others, in search of the desires and answers they seek, but perhaps now, fittingly, it is with each other that they will finally grasp their shared glory. He settles for leaning forward, carefully, so he doesn’t overbalance and flop flat on his face, and presses his lips there gently at first, then more firmly, as he kisses Midou-kun’s scar. The skin is warm and smooth, and he runs the tip of his tongue along the edge of the mark, little nips of teeth trickling across it.

Midou-kun grunts and exhales a slow heavy breath. He seems to like this. Emboldened by the response, Akabane continues up to his collarbone, scraping the skin over the bone lightly with his teeth, then soothing the roughness with wet kisses. Midou-kun smells like hot musk, a heady scent that tickles his nose and makes him hungry for more of this man. He bites and sucks a path up along his lover’s neck with increasing urgency.

Midou-kun twists away and when Akabane begins to protest he lays a finger against his lips. “You’ll get your turn, Jackal,” he assures him. “But right now it’s mine.” And he tilts Akabane back onto the pillows and covers his mouth with his own.

Hands splay across his chest, slide down his breastbone over his ribcage, palms hot against the softer skin of his slightly concave abdomen before they deviate from their southward path. His erection twitches and he whimpers softly in his throat as Midou-kun’s hands continue to stroke along his hips, tracing each flank before smoothing down sleek thighs, never once venturing near their apex – where he most wants them to go.

A dark chuckle interrupts their heated kiss. “Oh, no, Jackal. You don’t get to get off that easily.”

And then Midou-kun’s mouth is taking the same trail his hands passed over, making Akabane writhe and gasp as lips and teeth and tongue inscribe their marks on his flesh. No one has ever touched him like this in ages. As if they expected to. As if they had a right to.

As if they trusted him with all they had to offer...and with what he would choose to offer in return.

Others might say that sex is as imperative a need as breath itself. And within a certain context, they would have a point. But to anyone who takes it seriously, the act of physical union when treated callously or carelessly seems so trite in comparison with the type of entertainment Akabane prefers. On the occasions he feels such urges, it is simply a matter of attending to his own satisfaction – he enjoys games but has no patience or interest for most of the ones people engage in as a prelude to intimate relations. A true coupling is more than just the joining of bodies, the interlocking of flesh and exchange of essences: it is a covenant bound by two spirits seeking the unique truth of their existences, the recovery of an unconscious reality eternally held in their hearts as shared pleasure transports them into the ultimate power they have both long sought, but could never truly enjoy without doing so together.

For until this moment, this one minute, neither serpent nor jackal could ever have named that face which they thought might contain such power – at least, not correctly. Names themselves are power...and the most powerful ones often live and breathe and bleed in plain sight.


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