"What," Chuuya said, his voice gone dangerous, "is this?" He held up a skimpy nightie, red lace with black trim. Dazai was lying on the futon, head propped on his hand, reading, and he looked up to see Chuuya holding out the offending undergarment with both hands.
(more) "Lingerie," Dazai said, and went back to his book. That, of course, did nothing to answer 99.9% of the questions Chuuya had and frustratingly so. "You know what lingerie is."
"Of fucking COURSE I know what lingerie is, you gigantic asshole." The box had been sitting plainly on the counter, and Dazai had clearly made no effort to disguise its contents. "Why do YOU have lingerie? Who else are you fucking behind my back?"
"Why Chuuya," Dazai purred, sitting up. "Are we exclusive now?"
Chuuya stuffed the gauzy material into a ball and flung it at Dazai's head. "You're a fucking slut, shitty Dazai."
"Mm." Dazai was unaffected, shaking the nightie out and holding it toward Chuuya, eying it and him in a way that suddenly made Chuuya increasingly nervous. "You should take better care of the things I buy for you to wear," he said, and Chuuya went red to the tips of his ears. "You should try it on, make sure it fits."
"I thought there was a ban on overnight guests," Atsushi said blearily, staring into the tea he'd made. Kyouka sat peacefully at the table, seemingly unaffected by the muffled noises of rage that would occasionally make it through the floor.
"Never stops you," Kyouka said, and Atsushi blushed hard.
"I - *we* don't wake up half the dorms," he muttered, refusing to look at her, and Kyouka smirked into her teacup. "How do you know about that, anyway?"
"You think you're sneaky, but you're really, really not."(less)
This didn't make any sense, Akutagawa thought, distracted, pushing Atsushi's face into the mattress at the same time he shifted his hips, muffling the resulting moan from the were-tiger effectively.
He hadn't been able to figure it out. Atsushi was hardly his first, but - anything else hardl(more)y qualified. Sex with Dazai had been detached, perfunctory; Dazai was all about control, and making his partners lose all semblance of it seemed to be the thing that got him off more than the act itself. It was a tool he used, dangled, withheld on a whim; and it was never anything more than a means to manipulate.
Dazai used sex when he wanted something.
So, what did Atsushi want from him?
There had to be something. Something he wasn't seeing, or putting together, some greater plan or purpose. He should be saying no to this, every time... and yet he never did. Hotel rooms, one after the other - and every time Atsushi submitted, on his knees and on his elbows, head hanging as he panted, as Akutagawa fucked him again and again.
What did he WANT from Akutagawa? From this?
Dazai's voice in his ear; wicked, sharp like needles piecing his skin - "you are meant to be USED, Akutagawa~kun" - and Akutagawa shifted his grip, pulling Atsushi back against him, punishingly hard with his thrusts now as he loomed over Atsushi's prone form.
Atsushi's voice had grown shaky, hoarse as he choked out something, might have even been Akutagawa's name. Then he said it again, clearer now, and it WAS his name - Atsushi curled his hand around Akutagawa's arm, before settling his palm over the back of the hand pressed into the mattress and threading his fingers through Akutagawa's.
"Akutagawa," Atsushi said, clear as a bell. "Don't stop."(less)
A few hundred years ago, one in four birds in north america was a passenger pigeon. They were highly social, and nested in great flocks. They numbered in the hundreds of millions.
In reading about the passenger pigeon, stumbled across the concept of predator satiation. The operating principle(more) is simple. A species reproduces synchronously, and prolifically. Its predators exhaust themselves feeding, and couldn't eat enough individuals to compromise the health of the breeding population even if they tried.
Within a couple hundred years of my ancestors' arrival, every last one of them was dead.
I can't blame humanity as a whole. After all, they coexisted with humans for 20,000 years or so before that.
It's hard to know what I've inherited. And at what cost.
These birds were so plentiful and so easy to kill that hunting them was considered unsporting. When a flock flew by, a single gunshot could bring down half a dozen or more, without the wielder needing to aim. Their meat was so plentiful that it frequently became economically worthless.
But we still killed them. Even when we knew they were in drastic decline.
Their strategy was predicated on the assumption that no species would be stupid enough to kill every last one of something. And though it seems cruel from the viewpoint of the sacrificed, for millions of years, it worked.
Then we came.
We saw them as an opportunity to take without giving. Because we are selfish. We are prone to measuring cost in mind of our own bodily existence, and not the billions of evolutions that led up to our being, and the billions unborn who will only remember us for the suffering we've inflicted upon them.
We are the demons made flesh that natural selection could never conceive of.
Okay, maybe taunting Akutagawa while he was drinking hadn't been the smartest plan around - but it wasn't really taunting, was it, that was something Dazai-san did, this was really nothing more than a gentle ribbing. Yes. A joke between friends.
Atsushi's hand curled in the fabric of Akutagawa's yukata, careful not to develop claws and tear the material. He was close to losing his mind, though, so how he managed to not destroy the material was something of a miracle - though his mind was preoccupied with other things, fingernails scrabbling at Akutagawa's shoulderblades.
It had been a light-hearted jab, was all. Certainly not enough to get upset over, or storm out of the common area, leaving Atsushi to trail awkwardly after, wanting to apologize but not knowing how best to address it.
FUCK, he wanted to turn so bad, the blood in his veins scalding him from the inside out; he couldn't, he /couldn't/, Akutagawa's weight on him, holding him, hollowing him-
The door clicking closed behind him, the sense of finality of the lock clicking over, every action screamed /bolt/, run - but he didn't, he wouldn't. Akutagawa's attention focused laser-sharp, hand on his hip, slipping into the front of his yukata, eyes never leaving Atsushi's face. He wouldn't run.
Not from this.
Never from this.
He couldn't even remember what he'd said at this point, brain gone entirely to mush, but it had never mattered, had it? They were right where they wanted to be, Atsushi on his back in Akutagawa's futon, and that feeling boiling in his belly was so much closer to escaping.
It was dangerous, this thing.
He wasn't allowed.
Atsushi bit his lip, slapped his head back into the futon, and met Akutagawa's eye. He wouldn't back away, not from this.(less)
Lance sat tucked against his right side, draining his drink from a straw in the most irritating fashion. "I think I'm gonna call you stumpy," he said, poking the nub of Shiro's right arm.
Shiro had his eyes closed - he was supposed to be resting still, although(more) he didn't much feel the need for it. "They'll be done with my new arm soon," he said, "and then we'll see who you call stumpy."
"Oho," Lance slurped louder, there probably wasn't any liquid left in his cup. "Is that a threat, husband mine?"
Shiro twisted, plucking the cup out of Lance's hands with his one remaining. "Hey!" Lance yelped as Shiro tossed it into the bin halfway across the room. The cup hit its edge, before falling in perfectly.
"Three points," Shiro said smugly.
Lance elbowed him in the ribs. "Asshole." All the same, he snuggled against Shiro in the hospital bed. "You ever gonna tell me how you lost your arm? And got it replaced with a magic, super-advanced prosthetic? And don't tell me it's not magic," he added, tapping one finger to the side of his nose. "I can smell it."
Shiro snorted. "I bet you can." He considered his left hand for a moment - when he closed his fist he could still feel the pressure of his right hand, too - then he sighed. "It's not a story worth telling."
"Is it the same story as where you got your devilishly handsome scar?" Lance tapped the bridge of Shiro's nose, and Shiro let out a small laugh.
"I see through you trying to charm the truth out of me," he said, removing Lance's hand gently. "I just don't ... I really don't want to relive that, just yet."
"You know your past doesn't scare me, right?"(less)
"How is your husband?" Totsuka said when Gotou sat down at his desk, and Gotou's breath caught.
He'd been back for days now, /they'd/ been back, honeymoon over and life resuming around them in the least-fantastical way possible and it honestly hadn't seemed like anything changed. Gotou touched(more) the ring on his finger with his thumb, already oblivious to its weight, and realized, with a giddy sort of delight, /my husband./
"Wondering when you're going to lift his ban," Gotou said dryly, and Totsuka laughed. "He's very disappointed, you know."
"I'm sure," Totsuka said, and returned his attention to his computer. "Maybe when he's calmed down a little, hm?"
Gotou's mouth twitched into a smile, and he took his phone out of his pocket to set on his desk. It vibrated in his hand and he caught a glimpse of a notification, a thumbnail image of someone's face too close to the camera, mask half askew on his face. "I think that might be asking too much," he said, and put the phone face-down on the desk.
His husband, at his own job, goofing off and sending behind-the-scenes photos - and just thinking the words made Gotou feel warm. His husband. /His./
Nick leaned in the door, giving Gotou a long look. "You're making a silly face," he said, and Gotou straightened immediately in his chair and frowned at the junior officer. "That's more like the Gotou-senpai I know."
"Hazama-senpai," Totsuka corrected for him, and Gotou let out a small groan.
"Never should have agreed to take his name," he grumbled. "Makes everything too complicated."
"Glad to have you back, Ha-za-ma-sen-pai," Nick enunciated, and Gotou shook his finger at him as he resumed his door duty.
"So, I was wondering," Atsushi said brightly, "why do you wear a collar, Chuuya-san?"
Akutagawa took a sip of his tea, in no small part impressed by how bluntly the weretiger went straight in for the kill.
Chuuya, for his part, spluttered for only about ten seconds(more) before pointing to the very-obviously-a-collar and saying loudly, "this is NOT a collar! It's a CHOKER!"
"No," Atsushi said, "I'm pretty sure it's a collar. It looks similar to the ones they used to make us wear at the orphanage."
Hold up, what. Akutagawa looked over at Atsushi, brow furrowed, because, uh, what the FUCK, Atsushi, you can't just drop things like that on everyone with no warning. However, Chuuya brushed right past that loaded statement and straight into, "what the fuck, it's NOT a COLLAR!"
Dazai, who had been suspiciously silent this entire exchange, shuffled around on his cushion. Akutagawa's attention moved from Chuuya, who was up on one knee and finger pointed at Atsushi, to Dazai, which was probably for the best because Dazai whipped out a dog leash and in a CLEARLY practiced move, snapped it onto the front of Chuuya's "choker".
There was a moment of silence so heavy it nearly suffocated them all, before Chuuya's voice hit a note so high it almost broke. "DAZAI WHAT THE FU-"
Well, that was their cue. Akutagawa rose smoothly to his feet and grabbed Atsushi by the back of his collar, hauling him to his feet with practiced ease. "For someone who pretends to be so innocent you take great delight in stirring the shit," he said as he dragged Atsushi behind him out of the room.
"But it IS a collar," Atsushi said, squirming free from Akutagawa's grip. "I don't see the point denying it. Dazai-san wanted us gone anyway."
Atsushi registered the soft brush of fingertips through his matted bangs, although it took a few moments for the rest of his brain to come back online. He was hurt - /everything/ hurt, to be fair - but the thing that his poor, overclocked sensory system kept coming back(more) to was the gentle hand carding through his hair.
Finally a friendly reminder hit his brain that, hey, they were in the middle of a fucking fight and maybe you should get the fuck back out there and Atsushi's eyes flew open. He immediately made to fling himself upright but that was abruptly stopped by that gentle hand turning heavy, half-covering his eyes and keeping him down. "Hey-!" was all he managed to get out before the back of his head slapped back into someone's lap.
"It's over." The hand still covered his eyes for a moment - but then slid off, a second hand joining the first and holding his head in place. Atsushi squinted up at Akutagawa, still missing a piece in this logic train. "Stay put."
Well. THAT was distinctly out of character for Akutagawa. Not the being short thing, but the ... seemingly caring about Atsushi thing.
The skin around Akutagawa's eyes was tight, drawn. He looked stressed. "I do care," he said roughly, and Atsushi wondered if he had learned how to read minds. "You're talking out loud, idiot."
"Are you okay?" Atsushi said, realizing there was a splash of blood on his face, and reaching his hand up, concerned. Akutagawa let out a bitter laugh and caught his hand.
"You got half your head blown off and you're asking me if I'm okay," Akutagawa said, amazed.
Oh. That would explain the muzziness. Atsushi frowned. "I don't want you to not be okay. I like you."(less)
Not enough time? Not enough "inspiration"? It all sounds ridiculous, all of the lame excuses. I used to draw from the people and events around me, and that meant I was living a "literary life", I told myself. Am I living a lif(more)e like that now? I work but I don't engage myself whole self in it. Who could? And I come home to relax but now it's with my wife and I love her and I'm just content to hang out with her, so what's literary about that? My personal time is escapism - games and fantasy epics and a little weed.
So what happened to that literary life? Walking down long avenues and exploring foreign cities and having angst-ridden, half-attached romances? I had one foot out the door wherever I went, but hey - that just meant I was going places, right?
Maybe it's all the same story. That character that I made of myself- insecure but bold, a romantic who never wanted to be in love, a traveler who didn't want to travel too far past European bars and cafes... maybe that character is still around. Maybe this is still his life, his adventure. What happens when that character really does feel secure, in love, settled at home?
He'll still walk the streets at odd hours. He'll still long for those student days from time to time. He'll want to write, but he just doesn't see it, doesn't see what's so damn important about this life that he has to tell someone about it. But it is life, and it's still his adventure, and that's worth sharing. He won't make himself great or special or unique, but maybe finally he can connect with someone. After all, he has still so much(less)
"So were you ever going to tell me about this place?" James asked, running his fingers through the dust that had settled on the long counter. "Or were we just going to keep living out of my truck?"
"I didn't know if you'd be comfortable in a Marmora(more) base," Keith said. He picked up a jacket that was thrown over a couch and pressed it to his nose before making a face and tossing the jacket back. He stopped when he realized James was giving him a soft look.
"That's sweet," James said, and smiled at him. "But I'm comfortable wherever you are."
Keith returned the smile, but then it faltered when he realized James had his hand on the handle of the fridge. "Uh, I wouldn't do that if I were you."
James looked at the fridge, and then back to Keith. "What," he said. "You forget a carton of milk?"
"Maybe," Keith said. "Maybe I haven't opened that fridge in two years."
James immediately released his hold on the door handle. "You're kidding."
"How long have you know me?"
"Not two years." James folded his arms. "It can't be THAT bad."
"If you want to open it, go ahead, but give me plenty of warning so I can exit the premises." Keith didn't actually seem like he was hoking, and James was tired anyway.
"So, what. We order a pizza?" He looked around. "Do any pizza places actually deliver here?"
"Pizza AND beer," Keith said. "There should be a take-out menu in one of the drawers. I'll go change the sheets on the bed before we get too trashed to do anything but fuck."
"What about the fridge?" James called after.
"Leave it. We'll torch it in the morning."
James couldn't tell whether or not he was joking.(less)
Atsushi honestly thought he'd gotten off scot-free. He'd made it back to the dorms with just enough time to shower and change his clothes and walked through the door to the office with even a few minutes to spare.
There was only a moment's consideration by Ranpo-san, sitting(more) at his desk and watching the office goings-on with the same calculating expression he wore just to stress the others out, and Atsushi exhaled and opened his laptop, prepared to get to work.
He couldn't believe it. He'd gotten away with it.
At least, until Kyouka-chan frowned at him, and said in a voice that /had/ to be intentionally loud, "why didn't you come back to the dorm last night?"
Atsushi's typing faltered for a split second, and that hesitation summoned Dazai-san from a sound sleep the next desk over, sitting straight up like someone had spoken his activation word. "Atsushi~kun," he said, eyes wide. "Did you break curfew?"
"We don't have a curfew," Kyouka-chan said flatly, which, thank god because Atsushi honestly didn't know if there was one or not, no one had ever told him otherwise.
"I had... stuff," Atsushi said. "Things I had to, uh, do." He looked between Dazai and Kyouka-chan, and then over to Kunikida for assistance. He was, as usual, ignoring them.
Dazai put his chin in both hands, elbows on his desk. "Atsushi~kun," he sang Atsushi's name. "How /is/ Akutagawa-kun?"
This noose should be around /Dazai's/ neck, not his. "I wouldn't know," Atsushi said, and Dazai cocked his eyebrow at Atsushi, in a clear I-know-you're-lying expression. "I have to finish up this report for our last client, Dazai-san. Were you actually going to help with it today?"
"Hmm," Dazai was already on his feet and around the row of desks. "I just remembered an appointment!"(less)
Chuuya woke when the breeze shifted the curtains, casting a thin stripe of daylight over the bed. He had been hovering at the brink of wakefulness longer than he'd care to admit, but his cell phone had yet to vibrate and there had been no insistent buzz from any(more) of the suits downstairs, so there had been no actual need to force his eyelids open just yet.
Finally he squinted his eyes open, only to nearly throw himself backward out of the bed - because Dazai was asleep beside him.
Not close enough to be touching Chuuya, cheek pressed into the dark satin pillow and hand curled close to his face, fucking Dazai. Still in his bed. When had /that/ last happened?
Chuuya's mouth curled into a sneer, about to make a quip - but he realized that Dazai's eyelids hadn't fluttered, his breathing hadn't hitched or changed and, as far as he could tell, Dazai was still asleep.
Chuuya didn't lift his head from his own pillow. There was no reason for Dazai to still be here, really - he never stayed. He always slipped into the shower and was gone before dawn, but here he was, the soft light of the morning sun dusting color onto his cheeks.
He let a small, fond sigh escape. The asshole was asleep, so he was allowed this small bit of affection. Except then Dazai's mouth twitched and Chuuya growled, smacking Dazai's bare shoulder with his open palm. "Fucker, you /are/ awake," he hissed.
"Alas," Dazai rolled with the strike, never opening his eyes and folding his hands on his chest. "I am asleep, ne'er to be woken until I receive true love's kiss from a beautiful woman willing to die by my side-"
No one told me when Nando died. Who would have thought to?
"EL GRANDE. DESCANSA EN PAZ," read a caption under the tribute photo I nearly scrolled past. He was onstage when the photo was taken, blacklit by a blue glow. The tragedy in his face wasn't the(more) scar across his chin, but the fact that even when he smiled he looked bone-tired.
DOMINICAN NIGHT CLUB OWNER STABBED.
It took a few tries to find the article. He was walking home from the club at daybreak. A random act of violence. The header image was a cornucopia of candles and flowers laid at the doorstep of the club. Sala Luna. I lost count of how many times I rejected him on those steps.
"You've just had your heart broken," was the first thing he said to me. We were leaning up against the same wall, smoking. "So have I." Immediately I hated him for being right. The freshness of my pain made me self-absorbed, but Nando had turned outward. I left Spain for two months after that. Sometimes I wondered if his heart was doing better than mine.
I heard about the new club my first week back. When I walked in, I saw the outline of him sitting on the bar, the glow of a cigarette flickering as he surveyed his kingdom. He hopped off the counter, and when a light illuminated his face I saw he was looking directly at me. He looked desperate for something. A safe place to put his wanting. He couldn't make it small like I could.
I couldn't bring myself to say goodbye, but I dreamed about him a thousand times. "Mira que grande eres," I would tell him before disintegrating before him. (less)
He's been off his balance already, spun half around when Akutagawa came flying at him. Atsushi didn't have time to do anything other than react and react he did, using his entire body to slow Akutagawa's momentum, claws dug in and leaving scars in the concrete.
(more) "I've got you," Atsushi grunted, and Rashoumon reacted defensively, sending spiked tendrils into Atsushi's arm and shoulder. He bit out a snarl of pain but didn't drop Akutagawa, falling to one knee instead.
"Didn't-" Akutagawa was winded, badly. "Didn't ask for your help, weretiger."
"Yeah, well," Atsushi winced as Rashoumon disengaged, blood staining his already torn shirt. "You've got it anyway." His attention was pulled by their assailant, the scent of blood and gunpowder, so he wasn't paying attention until Akutagawa wrapped his hand around Atsushi's eartail and yanked. "/OW!?/"
Then, his entire train of thought ground to a well deserved halt as Akutagawa kissed him.
There was too much happening at once, Akutagawa's mouth on his and then he was reacting before he realized it, leaping away as their shared enemy rounded the corner, already firing off thick tendrils of greenery.
Akutagawa slid out of his arms, leaving a streak of his own blood on the front of Atsushi's shirt. "You're hurt," Atsushi said, because he still couldn't believe that Akutagawa had /kissed/ him. Maybe he'd hallucinated it? Yes, that seemed most likely.
"As observant as ever," Akutagawa said with a hiss, Rashoumon forming around him as armor. "Are you just going to stand there, or are we going to end this?"
"We're not going to kill him," Atsushi yelled after him, as Akutagawa used Rashoumon to fling himself off the cargo crate Atsushi had found purchase on. "Capture, not kill, Akutagawa!"
To his complete lack of surprise, Akutagawa didn't bother to respond.
The first time was less of an accident than they made it out to be. There was a level of denial that Atsushi refused to scrape away, to expose the fact that he was just as fumbling and eager to get off, that it had also been his hand(more) wrapped atop Akutagawa's, pressing their naked cocks together.
It was a mistake, Atsushi told himself in the bath, knees pulled to his chest and staring at nothing at all.
The heat of the moment, it meant nothing, Akutagawa snarled, pinning Atsushi to the alley wall.
It won't happen again, they both agreed, chests heaving and pants loose on their hips.
The second time was just as frantic as the first, hidden between two crates in the warehouse, blood still dripping from Atsushi's hair where an attack had sliced his now-healed forehead open. Akutagawa on his knees, one hand on Atsushi's hip and the other between his own legs; Atsushi shoved the back of his hand into his mouth to stifle the noise, though Akutagawa batted his hand away when he tried to put it on his head.
"Never again," Akutagawa said, wiping his mouth delicately with a thumb.
At the docks, under a pier; Akutagawa doubled over Atushi, Rashoumon curled around Atsushi's wrist neither encouraging nor stopping him. "This is definitely the last time," Atsushi said, after he'd spat into the water.
Around maybe the eleventh or twelfth time, Atsushi crawled out from under Akutagawa in the bed and sat carefully on its edge, watching the sun creep over the horizon through the open blinds. Akutagawa groaned behind him, Rashoumon wrapping around Atsushi's chest and pulling him insistently back into bed.
Mistakes may have been made, Atsushi finally acknowledged - but they were damn good mistakes, and he didn't regret them.(less)