Set in Stone

 

Chapter Thirteen

 

He didn’t wake up until past noon the next day, and when he did, his body was sore in places he didn’t even think he’d known about. Yata groaned a little as he transitioned from blissful oblivion to awareness, not quite ready to open his eyes, and tried to shift.

There was something pinning him in place – a warm something. Actually, a warm, moving something. There was a soft, amused hum almost right next to his ear, followed by a low murmur of, “That’s a nice sound.”

Right… That was why his ass felt so goddamn sore.

Not that he was complaining. Yata cracked an eye open partway, taking in the blurred outline of Fushimi’s face on the pillow next to his. “Morning,” he mumbled, feeling a bit more awake.

It was somehow relaxing to wake up like that, squished onto his bed with an attractive lover who’d blown his mind last night with some amazing sex. They’d ended up like that by choice too, not really talking about the logistics after cleaning up and instead just climbing into bed together without even bothering to put shirts on and passing out almost instantly.

Well… he had passed out almost instantly. He wasn’t sure about Fushimi.

Does that guy even actually sleep?

He seemed rested enough at least, considering he’d moved on to nibbling Yata’s ear, and his fingers were toying with the waistband of Yata’s underwear. The message was loud and clear.

And… despite how thoroughly they’d taken care of this last night, not at all unwelcome.

Yata allowed himself a small, rueful smile and a quiet huff. “Didn’t you get enough last night?” He shifted a bit, rolling onto his side so that they could face each other fully.

Fushimi offered him a lazy smirk in response. He wasn’t wearing glasses, and that plus his mussed hair made him look a bit different. Still hot as ever, but the new look was more of a lived-in, casual sort that made Yata’s heart start to race for no particular reason. “You’re already hard,” he murmured, taking the move as the permission it was and sliding his hand down to palm the hard lump of Yata’s morning erection through his underwear.

Yata shut his eyes, moaning appreciatively at the pleasurable touch.  “You started it,” he mumbled back. “Anyway, s’not what I asked.”

“It was enough then.” Fushimi slid his fingers around and down, tracing the outline of Yata’s balls through the fabric. “But this is now.”

He didn’t have an answer for that, and he was already feeling too good to want to waste time arguing. Yata settled for a gruff, “Right,” and arched forward obligingly into Fushimi’s touch.

They hadn’t quite used up all of his condoms last night, but they’d come close, and he’d even used one of them himself. By the time they had their final round in the shower, he was feeling sore – it had been a long time since his ass had seen any kind of activity, much less multiple rounds in one night – and so he’d fucked Fushimi against the tiled wall instead. Which had been a nice way to finish things off. After being so thoroughly worked over, it felt great to be on the other side of it. And Fushimi’s reactions were just as sexy as when he was on top, so he’d obviously enjoyed it too.

Hell, everything about last night was great…

Indulging his preferences so precisely was new actually, now that he thought about it. Yata didn’t really care for the expectation of bottoming for a partner every single time even if he wanted to most of the time, so most of his – short-lived – relationships were with guys who liked to switch. Pretty much all of them were interested in keeping things even in terms of how many times they took on either role, which meant compromise. He was okay with it, and would’ve been fine if that was what Fushimi had wanted, too. But considering how eager he’d been to repeatedly fuck Yata the past night, it didn’t seem to be. And he’d been enthusiastic enough about bottoming in the shower too, so it wasn’t like he had any of those annoying expectations.

Despite being an asshole in a lot of other ways, it seemed like Fushimi was just a really generous lover.

Also a really eager one, seeing as how he’d already parted the front flap on Yata’s underwear and pulled his dick from its confines. Yata let out a low, clipped groan as those clever fingers stroked him, body responding honestly to the pleasant stimulation.

Fuck, he’d had so much of this last night… Should it have been this easy to get him riled up now?

Who fucking cares. It felt good, and that was all that mattered in the moment. Letting out a little growl from deep in his throat, Yata surged up to capture Fushimi’s lips. He reached out in the same moment, roughly pulling him in by the hip so that their bodies came into contact. The hard length of Fushimi’s erection brushed his, amplifying his arousal, and he opened his mouth to bring their tongues into play, reveling in the damp heat that resulted.

Fushimi moaned with obvious approval against his mouth, opening his hand to allow their cocks to rub together with more freedom and thrusting into the contact. The damp head of his dick slid against Yata’s abdomen, hot and slick, and Fushimi’s body shuddered in reaction. Encouraged, Yata reached down to join his fingers with Fushimi’s, clumsily forming a makeshift circle around their erections as they moved sinuously against each other in search of that delicious friction.

It was crazy just how compatible their bodies seemed to be. Here they were, just like last night, going with the flow of things and what felt good – and everything seemed to… click into place.

At least this much was easy between them.

He definitely wasn’t dwelling on the complicated things in a moment like this, though. Yata let his mind empty, focusing on the pleasure, and it wasn’t much longer before he was releasing into their joined hands, a little moan on his lips and shuddering sensation rocking through his body. Fushimi followed not long after, trembling and flushed, mumbling Yata’s first name almost like a prayer as their kiss broke.

They lay panting in the aftermath for a few seconds afterwards, and as Yata’s mind and vision started to clear up again, he took the opportunity to study his bedmate.

As he was, Fushimi didn’t look much like a demon; disheveled and sweaty, face still flushed from the early morning exertion and lips swollen from kissing. He could’ve been someone Yata had met at a bar or on a dating site and liked well enough to bring home with him.

Hell, if he had done that… If there was no inconvenient contract and this was just a normal hook-up…

If that had been the case, then… from here, maybe…

A tiny ache was forming in his chest, and he couldn’t quite place where it was coming from. Yata furrowed his eyebrows, frowning a bit as he tried to piece together the source of that confusing feeling. It was like he was right on top of it; if he just reached a bit further…

Fushimi squinted at him then clicked his tongue and pushed himself up on one elbow, materializing a pair of glasses so he could eye Yata skeptically. “Why are you staring like that?” He raised an eyebrow, corners of his lips edging up. “Want another round already?”

Yata snorted. “Yeah, and then we’d never get out of bed. I’ll pass for now.” He shrugged off the earlier thoughts, pushing himself to sit up somewhat gingerly and grimacing as he noticed the sticky mess on the sheets. He was gonna have to change them – again – and if this kept up he’d probably be doing laundry way more often. “I pretty much already missed work, and we wanna try to grab another charge today, right?”

“If you say so,” Fushimi drawled in response, sitting up languidly. “It’s not like I care either way.”

That’s new. “Heh. Weren’t you the one who wanted to stay up all night getting this done?” Yata had stood – only a little bit shaky on his feet – with the intention of getting a clean outfit from his drawers, but he turned at that, offering a smirk. “What happened to ‘no excuses’, huh?”

He wasn’t sure if he was imagining it, but something in Fushimi’s expression seemed almost wary. He offered another of those lazy smirks, drawing out his words as usual, but it felt different in a way that Yata couldn’t quite put his finger on. “Sex doesn’t count as an excuse.”

“Yeah, sure.” That brought something back to the front of his mind, though. Yata frowned a little, feeling awkward about bringing it up. “Hey… so, you already figured out… y’know… the shit that I like.” He wasn’t sure why it was so damn hard to say ‘being fucked’ when they’d done it so many times the night before, but whatever. “What about you? Don’t you have a preference or – ?”

“Not really.” Fushimi cut him off, his tone flippant as usual. He got up from the bed gracefully, stretching, and Yata was momentarily distracted by the fact that he hadn’t bothered to materialize any underwear. It was… not a bad view. “I’m flexible. Though if you want to talk about preferences…” His smirk widened, eyes going lidded as he picked up on Yata’s lingering gaze. “I’d say, anything that makes it so that you can’t stop thinking about” – there was a pause, almost unnoticeable – “it.”

Yata bit back a shiver, still somehow finding himself transfixed even after being thoroughly satisfied physically. “R-right.” He swallowed, letting that dizzying wave of attraction run its course before adding a bit roughly, “Well, if there’s something you wanna do or whatever, just say so. I can be flexible too, y’know.”

Fushimi hummed, low and amused. “I noticed that last night.”

A vivid memory of being bent over himself with his knees braced on Fushimi’s shoulders as he was penetrated at just the right angle to hit his prostate came rushing back; Yata felt heat rising fast on his shoulders and neck, and quickly turned to yank his drawer open, scowling. “That’s not what I meant, goddamnit!”

“Mmhm.” Fushimi brushed past him, close enough so that they made contact and Yata’s skin prickled pleasantly in reaction. “I’m using the bathroom first.”

Of course he was. “Sure.”

It was still well before sunset when they were ready to head out, and the weather was holding – Yata was kinda hoping that was a sign the rainy season was over. Not only because it mean they’d be able to finish what they were doing more easily, but because tomorrow was –

Oh. Right.

“By the way,” he started, pulling on his shoes, “I forgot to mention, tomorrow's no good for charging.” To Fushimi’s questioning look, he explained, “I gotta be at Homra all day and late into the night. It's the solstice.”

“Seriously?” Fushimi clicked his tongue. “You're just mentioning this now?”

“Hey, I didn’t think you’d be around this long, okay? Anyway, I forgot.” Yata shrugged it off. “I got a lot on my mind lately.”

"So I noticed." Fushimi’s tone was dry. “What does your coven do for solstice anyway?”

“Fire ritual.” It was one of the things he looked forward to every year. “We do it out by where my garden is, so I usually head out early to start getting stuff ready and everyone meets me out there. We light the bonfire just as the sun’s going down.”

“The usual, then.” Fushimi let out a short sigh, seeming resigned, and then gave him another of those inscrutable gazes. “We only have four charging points left anyway, so it won’t be much longer after this.”

Only four... He’d been keeping track of the number, but now that he thought about it, that really wasn’t much. Two days and two nights – and then they could null the contract and go their separate ways.

The thought gave him a funny feeling – he wasn’t sure entirely what, but it sat heavy in the pit of his stomach, as if weighing him down. There was something familiar about it, but he couldn't quite place it. Just a general sense of... restlessness? Discomfort? It was confusing. “Right,” he agreed gruffly to cover the moment. “So what’s next, anyway?”

“Two options for now.” Fushimi materialized his laptop, open in front of him. He held it one-handed, manipulating the mousepad with the other. “One would be the point we found yesterday, and the other...” He shot a little sideways glance at Yata. “I'm guessing you know it.”

Right, that. He'd almost forgotten about it with everything else that was going on, but there was still that location that was meant to be personal to him. The discomfort he’d felt earlier grew to more of a gnawing sense of unease. “Yeah.”

It wasn’t like he hated the place, exactly... More like he had a mix of both good and bad memories, but a lot of it was more painful to think about than anything. He wasn’t gonna be able to repress that – hell, he couldn’t even hold it back now, just talking about it – which meant he’d be sharing it, and he wasn’t sure if he liked the idea.

The thought of showing more of his weakness to Fushimi gave him another of those odd feelings. It wasn’t like it had been at the beginning. More like... he was anxious. Not so much about getting that shit aired, or even the invasion of his privacy, but… well…

If he broke it down, what he was really anxious about was having to put this on Fushimi. He hadn’t exactly signed up for it. What the hell was he gonna think if Yata kept dumping his baggage on him?

“I don’t mind, if that's what you’re worried about.” When he shook off his thoughts, Fushimi was giving him a searching look. He glanced away when Yata met his gaze, deliberately focusing on the screen of his laptop as his voice lowered to a mumble. “Either way, we’ll have to do mine tonight.”

Oh yeah. That was right, it wasn’t just him – Fushimi had a place that was significant to him in some way too. Yata still wasn’t sure why – if he couldn’t come to this realm without a contract, then how had he formed memories here? – but it made sense they’d have to go there next if there were only two moon charging points left. One was gonna be Munakata’s place and they were supposed to do it last, so there wasn’t any more searching or planning to do at all.

Tonight, then. The thought gave him a tiny surge of something like excitement. Fushimi had been an enigma from day one, and it was hard as hell to learn to read him, even if Yata thought he’d picked up a thing or two by that point. He was secretive and evasive, and he barely dropped anything about his personal life if he could help it. Yata couldn’t help being curious; if there was something at this place that might give him a clue about what was in Fushimi’s head, he was all for it.

But as far as sun charging points went… Yata tilted his head, frowning a bit as he thought it over.

He wasn’t totally sure what to make of the reaction in front of him; in the first place, he wasn’t great at reading Fushimi’s expressions – and the hunched posture was the same as usual. If he was going purely on that, there wasn’t anything out of the ordinary.

But…

Going with his instincts was always best. Yata straightened. “Then we’ll hit up mine today too.” He grinned when Fushimi glanced at him. “Get ’em both out of the way, right?”

He could tell right away it was the right move; for a brief instant, Fushimi’s eyes widened, expression almost charmingly startled. He blinked twice, staring at Yata with something that looked a lot like the bewilderment he’d shown a couple times in the past, and then seemed to recover, looking away again with a frown and clicking his tongue. “Whatever you say.”

Not honest at all. Yata was starting to find it cute, in a vaguely frustrating sort of way. He shook his head, still grinning. “Right, let’s go, then!”

It wasn’t far to fly, mainly because it wasn’t all that far from Homra. One of the reasons Yata had picked his current apartment was because it was also pretty close to his coven’s headquarters, so by proxy this place wasn’t a long way to go from where he lived either. They were still completely separate neighborhoods, though, and despite both being residential districts, there was a different feel to them. His current place was close enough to the entertainment district to be generally more adult; kids weren’t playing on the street, and there weren’t any schools or playgrounds in the area. Their destination was more like Jungle’s home turf – or rather, the family housing area that flanked it.

That was why he’d mentioned Jungle being like the place he lived when he was little. Because it was like this place.

At the end of one block, there was an apartment complex – only three stories, with about five or so small income housing units on each floor intended mostly for young families and couples. Yata flew right to it without bothering to check any of the other buildings in the area, landing on the roof with confidence and raising his face toward the sun without any surprise as the energy increased in intensity. He retracted his wings immediately and pulled on his shirt, closing his eyes against the wave of nostalgia that struck as he took note of his surroundings and letting that warm light relax him.

Back here again… He really had mixed feelings.

Still, he wasn’t flaking out – as Fushimi landed behind him, he opened his eyes and reached into his pocket, drawing out the moonstone and holding it up to expose it to the familiar, comforting power of the sun beating down on them.

There was a brief moment of silence, and then Fushimi spoke. “You lived here, huh?”

“Yeah.” Yata shot him a rueful half-grin. “Kinda thought you’d guess.”

“It doesn’t take much,” Fushimi murmured, meeting his gaze for just long enough to acknowledge it before turning to glance around curiously.

The weather was good and it was after school hours, which meant kids were out playing, gathered mostly on the small playground in front of the elementary school across the street. There were smaller groups of older kids clustered on the sidewalks and in corners of the school grounds, but most of their noise was lost in the unmoderated voices of the younger ones.

The neighborhood was still as active as ever, even if there was obviously no one he’d recognize. Yata felt the familiarity strike him as he followed Fushimi’s gaze, almost dizzying. When he’d lived here it had been on the third floor, so the view out the window was nearly the same as this. It didn’t have to be the same kids outside to feel like deja-vu.

“Misaki, if you go out, you have to promise me…”

Yata blinked, shaking his head against the sudden, vivid memory of his mother’s voice. He hadn’t noticed at the time, but she’d been really anxious. When he was a kid, it hadn’t registered, but now… Yeah, he could see how hard it was, trying to give him as much of a normal life as she could without alerting others to his… nature. A tiny lump rose at the back of his throat, the remnants of that nearly forgotten hurt surfacing along with it.

“Why would you even think about keeping him? The kid is a fr – ”

“Don’t you dare say another word!”

“Damn,” he muttered, reaching up with his free hand to rub the back of his neck. Even now, he wasn’t sure why it was so much easier to remember the painful stuff than all the good moments he’d had here, living with just his mom. Hell, he’d even met Kamamoto here, a friend he’d reconnected with later and relied on to this day. And he sure hadn’t thought much about the bad shit when he was little.

But now somehow, it was only the things he’d brushed off then that stuck with him.

Like that shithead’s voice…

Fushimi stepped up beside him, silent for once in the face of Yata’s fervent emotions. Even his gaze was turned away, as if he had a sense of any scrutiny being unwelcome in the moment. When Yata glanced at him, looking for a distraction, he was standing with a slight hunch, noticeably awkward, but without any indication of annoyance. His expression was placid and even, almost bored, but it was possible to see the keen spark in his eyes as he surveyed their surroundings. Regardless of how he wanted to appear, he was taking everything in.

Maybe this situation wasn’t the most comfortable for him, but he was there – actively engaged and not just physically present. That said something.

Yata couldn’t stop the little surge of appreciation, lips curling up despite his earlier mood, and it was enough to draw Fushimi’s gaze to him, along with a raised eyebrow. “What?”

“Nothing.” Yata shook his head, letting out a wry huff. “Just… I’m glad you’re here. Or something.” Not wanting to leave that assertion hanging on its own, he quickly went on. “I lived here with my mom ’til I was seven. It wasn’t bad or anything, just… I was a kid, y’know?” He reached up to scratch the back of his head, agitated. “First time I brought my wings out, I was like three.” Drawing in a breath, he added, “I didn’t really… get why it was bad. You know how kids are.” Shrugging awkwardly, he pulled another rueful smile. “Mom was always double checking that I wouldn’t do it in public. But she still let me play outside all the time – I think she just wanted me to feel normal, even if I wasn’t.”

Fushimi made a soft hum of acknowledgement. “If you were anything like you are now, she probably just wanted you to use up your energy.”

The unexpectedly pragmatic response startled an amused huff out of him. “Yeah, fuck you too,” Yata responded without any resentment, jabbing out an elbow lightly at the arm closest to him. “I wasn’t that bad.”

“You ‘weren’t’, huh?” Fushimi offered him a lazy smile in response. “Does that mean you’re worse now than you were as a seven-year-old?”

“Quit being a prick!” Yata elbowed him again harder, but grinned sharply back all the same. “You know what I mean.”

“I know,” Fushimi agreed easily. “For the record, I don’t believe you.”

“Yeah, yeah. Asshole.” It was almost a term of endearment by that point. Yata shook his head. “Anyway, in case you’re wondering, mom remarried and we moved somewhere else when I was seven. I got a brother and sister who are a lot younger than me. They’re – y’know – normal. Human.” He shrugged again, finding it a bit harder to keep it casual. “They don’t know about me. Mom never asked, but I just… stopped. Never brought my wings out again, until Homra.”

He paused there, not sure how much he wanted to unload, and a little surprised by how strong the urge to just go ahead with it was. It had to be something about the mood. In a weird way, now that they were at this point, some of that reluctance to burden Fushimi with it had gone. He kinda wanted to share it.

Maybe if I do, he’ll trust me with his past, too.

That was a good enough motivator right there. “Actually, my real dad lived here too, back then. Like, the three of us lived together. I don’t remember a lot about it.” A face red and contorted with anger and fear popped into his head, mouth moving around that one word. After the first time, his mom had always stopped it partway through.

Freak.

Yata shut his eyes, swallowing back the little ache. It shouldn’t have affected him after all this time – hell, it hadn’t at the time – and still… “He wanted to get rid of me. Dunno how. I mean, I was registered and all. He hated the wings, though.” He felt his mouth curl into a sneer. “Not being normal really pissed him off or something. Anyway” – he shrugged again, trying to dismiss the inexplicable hurt – “they argued all the time, until one day he stopped showing up. Never saw him again.”

Fushimi didn’t say anything. When Yata opened his eyes again, checking, he found himself being regarded silently, without expression. It was oddly comforting.

Made it easier to continue, too. “After that it was just me and mom. I didn’t mind it. I mean, as a kid you don’t really get it, right? I didn’t figure most of this shit out until I was older.” Another shrug, and as much of a grin as he could summon. “I was, what, four? Obviously no one was more important than my mom.”

“‘Obviously’,” Fushimi repeated slowly, as if to himself. His eyes were strangely distant. He shook his head when Yata shot him a curious look, a slightly sardonic smile on his lips. “Never mind. Go on.”

 “Right.” Shoving down his questions – there was a chance he’d find out later, hopefully – Yata nodded and continued. “So I figured it’d always be like that, just me and her. Then my stepdad showed up.” He couldn’t help the way his mouth quirked at that, not exactly pleasantly.

Not that his stepdad was a bad guy – actually, he was a really good guy, and somehow that had made it worse. Even at six years old, he’d at least gotten a sense that the little world he and his mom had with just the two of them wasn’t as good as what a new husband – a new family – could offer her.

“After they got married and they had my brother, things got weird. Not really bad – like my family’s pretty cool and all – but they’re a real family, all of them related and everything. All of them normal.” It was the first time he’d even started to wonder why the hell he was different when everyone else was the same. Yata looked away from Fushimi, frowning down at the street instead. “It started to feel like even though my real dad was an asshole, he mighta had a point. It probably would’ve been better for my mom if she didn’t have me.” He let out another huff, this one humorless, and attempted again to shrug off the residual ache. “At least, it would’ve been easier.”

There was a stark moment of silence between them as those words hung in the air.

Fushimi clicked his tongue sharply, breaking it before there was time to wallow in those feelings. “You know,” he mumbled, meeting Yata’s gaze when he turned, “there’s something I had to learn after the Captain hired me.” His lips quirked, a hint of annoyance reaching his features. “It’s something he’d probably say actually, but it’s still worth thinking about.” The dry tone eased off into something a little more serious as he added, “The easier path isn’t necessarily the best one to take.”

Yata blinked at him, momentarily taken aback. “R-right,” he managed, after a beat.

It wasn’t so much the sentiment – although it was a little jarring to apply it in this context; he’d never really thought of his mom’s feeling in that sense – but the fact that Fushimi had said he’d had to learn it. The similarity to his own struggle in the past years was a little too striking to ignore; he’d come to the same conclusion regarding his own situation, after the weight of all the years he had in front of him had started to feel crushing and oppressive.

Easier would’ve meant still not taking his mom’s calls. Distancing himself from Homra completely. Giving up on going out or looking for connections. Resigning himself to being alone, since everyone he cared about would die again and again before he finally followed. Never bothering to trust, because of how easily it could’ve blown up in his face.

“I don’t want a goddamn freak for a kid – are you kidding me?”

He didn’t think there was any part of him that would’ve considered taking that easy path, not for a second.

Maybe she felt the same way. There was a sting behind his eyes; Yata blinked a few times to hold it at bay, and then gave up and lifted his free hand to scrub at his face, brushing aside the traitorous moisture. “Heh!” The word came out thick, but he didn’t bother to worry about it, offering a real smile. “I figured that one out too, but thanks for the reminder.”

Fushimi’s lips quirked a little in response, not quite a smile. “I didn’t do anything special.” He turned his gaze, looking a bit awkward about it. “You don’t have to be grateful when all I’m doing is reminding you of things you already know.”

“Yeah, well, still.” Somehow, that little frown made his heart skip a beat. It was sorta cute, maybe. “S’not really about what you said. More like, you listened to me seriously. It helped a lot.” The smile on his face widened. “So just accept the thanks already!”

Fushimi clicked his tongue, but finally allowed that tiny smile to overtake him, eyes shutting briefly. “Fine. If it’ll shut you up” – he turned to meet Yata’s gaze again, one eyebrow raised – “you’re welcome.”

Yata shook his head, the grin on his face not slipping. “Jerk.”

The light hum he got in response sounded almost like music to his ears.

 

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