Set in Stone


Chapter Sixteen


Yata’s memory of crossing into the grove of trees was hazy and he wasn’t totally sure how he managed to navigate well enough to make his way over to his garden. By the time he got there, he was breathing harshly and his hands had clenched into fists. His vision was suspiciously blurry; he scowled furiously against the sharp sting behind his eyes.

It was stupid to get this upset over it. What did he expect?

What the hell had he expected? He was a fucking idiot, getting his hopes up like that.

Even the usually calming atmosphere in that space wasn’t doing anything to soothe the hurt throbbing within him. Yata felt his breathing become labored, as if the air was too thick. His throat seemed to burn with each intake. It was like his emotions were ruling the area around him, powerful and untamed, warping it from a relaxed and seductive place to something dark and twisted. He could barely see the plants he’d carefully cultivated, everything seeming to blur together into unimportant fragments as the energy fed into his frustration and sadness.

His instincts were calling out for some action – anything to quell his pain – but he didn’t know what.

What am I supposed to do now? He didn’t have any answers.

Soft footsteps behind him interrupted those pained thoughts, and he heard the familiar sound of Saruhiko's tongue clicking. “You didn't have to run off like that.”

Last person in the world he wanted to see right now. Yata clenched his teeth, a surge of anger flaring up through the ache. “Go away,” he gritted out, struggling to keep his temper in check.

It was starting to hit him just how much Saruhiko had been fucking with him over the past few days. Every time – every single fucking time he'd stopped to question what that unexpected rush of feelings meant, he’d been interrupted, sidetracked and misled. The cool, unapologetic and methodical way it had been done was almost enraging.

The only reason he was even trying not to get up in Saruhiko’s face over this shit was because he knew it probably wasn't personal. It may have been cold, but this was never supposed to be a thing in the first place. They weren’t dating or anything, just two adults having casual sex. It wasn’t really Saruhiko's fault that Yata had caught real feelings, and if he didn’t want to have to deal with the fallout, well... he wasn’t the fucking first.

What the hell is wrong with me, anyway? He always did shit like this, letting his emotions get the best of him. It figured that the first person he'd fall in love with for real would end up not returning it. And not just that, but also being actively bothered by his feelings.

It really was going to be better for everyone when this contract ended, even if thinking about it now made him feel like his stomach was hollowing out into some kind of pit of despair.

It was over before it really started, huh?

He expected Saruhiko to click his tongue again and make some cutting remark, but all he heard instead was a sharp sigh followed by a mumbled, “You know I can't.”

Right, and then there was that. Fucking pain in the ass contract! Without looking, Yata clenched his fists harder and snarled back, “Then turn the fuck around, you asshole!”

If he couldn't be alone, he at least didn’t want anyone to see him like this.

Saruhiko did click his tongue then, though it seemed to have a half-hearted feel to it. “I don’t know why you're making such a big deal out of this,” he muttered, sounding unexpectedly resentful. “It’s not like you don’t have other options, so there's no point in getting fixated.”

At that, Yata did spin around, fixing him with an incredulous stare. “What the fuck are you talking about?” he demanded.

“It’s obvious, right?” Saruhiko’s arms were crossed over his chest almost defensively, his gaze dark and a frown on his lips. “There’s no one in this plane who could be with you for your entire lifespan, so of course you'd get attached to an option that would.” He raised an eyebrow almost challengingly, tone beginning to take on that condescending drawl. “The answer to that is obvious, though. Just pick another circle from that book of yours, and you're bound to get a demon who will be willing to – ”

Sudden and overwhelming rage had Yata moving before he could stop to think, reaching out with a wordless snarl and grabbing a handful of Saruhiko’s shirt to pull him in roughly so that he could fix a desperate and furious glare on his face. “Are you fucking kidding me?” he growled. “I’m gonna punch you in the face, you goddamn asshole!”

Saruhiko’s lids lowered, a little spark of something that Yata couldn’t place lighting in what remained visible of his eyes. “What? Isn't it the truth?” His lips curled in a small, mocking edge of a smirk. “You summoned me because you were lonely – isn’t that right, Misaki?” The name drew out slowly and deliberately. “Wouldn’t you have jumped at the chance to have anyone fill that gap? It doesn’t matter who it is in the end.”

The anger coursing through Yata's veins was so strong that he was shaking with it, fingers clenched so hard on Saruhiko’s shirt that they were white and trembling. “You don't know what you're talking about!” he snapped back. “Don’t mouth off about shit you don't even understand! What the fuck is wrong with you?”

He seriously thinks I'm just that desperate? Behind the fury that was driving him, Yata could feel the unmistakable hurt that was making his throat seem to close up and his chest constrict. Worse than a rejection, this was the person he’d fallen for brushing off his feelings as if they meant nothing. Dismissing them like he could just turn around and point them at someone else.

If only it was that damn easy...

"Don’t I?" Saruhiko was still offering him that hateful smirk, eyes lidded. “Or maybe I’ve just touched a nerve.” When Yata gave his shirt a rough tug, he swayed easily with it, a breathless little huff of laughter escaping him. “Explain to me how you were expecting a random summon to give you someone who’d ease that loneliness if you were planning to be selective about it, then. Hm?”

“You…” The word came out as a growl again, rage and pain mingling in his belly. Yata glowered back, unable to believe what he was hearing. “You think I expected to summon up a boyfriend? Hah!” Somehow, he managed to huff out that last word, sneering back without humor. “Yeah, I was lonely – so what? Think I couldn’t find someone if I was that desperate?” Even just saying it now, he could feel the truth of it clicking into place in his head – a reality he’d been aware of despite not quite having it clear in his conscious thoughts. “What the hell do you think my problem was, then? Why d’you think I couldn’t even get a one-night stand? I've got standards, damnit – I don’t just fuck any old asshole, and I sure as hell don't date them either!”

Saruhiko's expression had started to change partway through the rant; he was frowning by the time Yata paused for breath, looking uncharacteristically baffled. When the pause came, he clicked his tongue. “Then why – ?”

“Why’d I summon you?” Yata shook his head, letting out another humorless bark of a laugh. “Good question! I was drunk and frustrated and lonely...” Recalling that moment, he could feel some of the righteous fury start to drain out of him, the ache in his core spreading out to the rest of his body. It was hard to keep meeting Saruhiko's gaze, but he kept it up stubbornly, determined to at least make his feelings understood. Even if they weren't going to be returned... Well, he was gonna manage this much, at least. I’m not letting you off that easily! “I thought maybe I’d get a sprite or a familiar or... something.” At that, he huffed, managing a small rueful smile. “My instincts led me to you.”

He could feel it as well as hear it when Saruhiko sucked in a sharp breath. Even as Yata watched, those grey-blue eyes widened, that endearingly startled look taking over his face. For a moment, he seemed unable to respond, caught without words as he stared mutely back.

“Look,” Yata went on, before he could collect himself and break the mood somehow, “I may be lonely, yeah, and sure, I’m gonna... outlive everyone here.” It was still painful to say, the words seeming to lodge in his throat, but he swallowed hard and pushed on. “But I still get to pick the people I wanna get close to.” He released the front of Saruhiko's shirt, stepping back to brace his hands on his hips and offering a sharp frown. “I won't be happy with just anyone, got it?”

Saruhiko was staring at him as if he’d just suddenly sprouted a second head; after a brief second, he clicked his tongue and looked away, eyebrows still furrowed and eyes unfathomable. It was an expression of clear frustration. “Why me?” he muttered, so low that Yata almost didn't catch it.

At least that one was easy. “Seriously?” Yata felt like laughing, almost giddy with the sudden relief that came with the honest question. “How can you even ask that? You’re so smart that I can barely look away from you – it’s like you can explain anything.” Once he’d started on the subject, he found it easy to keep going, following the instinctive flow of his emotions. “And even though you act like an asshole, you have this way of saying things, it’s so cool! You’re hard to keep up with, but you still try to explain shit to me, and even though you act like you don’t care, you put in all this effort to help me sort things out.” He shook his head, a little bit of the earlier warmth of those freshly realized feelings coursing through him and drawing out a reluctant smile. “Plus, you can make me laugh – and every time we talk, it just feels so easy, like we’d never run out of things to say to each other.” He could feel his throat start to clog up again, and forced himself to finish, tone husky. “Why wouldn’t I fall for you? You’re awesome, Saruhiko!”

His voice broke a little on the last of that, and Yata finally couldn’t stand it, turning his gaze aside hastily as that ache started again in his chest. He reached up to rub at the back of his neck to cover the moment of weakness and cleared his throat again. “I get it if you don’t feel the same, y’know," he managed, painfully forcing the words out against the pang of hurt as his heart seemed to squeeze in on itself. “You don’t have to pull all this bullshit out of your ass to make it okay to reject me. Just do it, say it – get it over with, all right? Don’t write my – my feelings off like that.”

There was a moment of tense silence between them, the air seeming to grow thicker with each passing second. The pounding of Yata’s heart felt loud in his own ears, and he had the uncomfortable impression that it was echoing out in the air around them, constricting further and further as they stood there.

He swallowed, ready to break that awkward moment by any means, when Saruhiko suddenly breathed in sharply, and let out a soft, dark chuckle. “The one who doesn't understand is you, Misaki,” he mumbled. When Yata glanced up sharply, he found himself being fixed with an unexpectedly expressive gaze, Saruhiko’s eyes seeming to burn into his with an intensity he'd never seen before.

For a moment, it felt like the breath had been sucked from his lungs. “Saruhiko...?”

“Me too,” Saruhiko cut him off, something of an uncontrolled edge in his voice even though the tone of it was low. “How would you expect me not to? Do you have any idea what it’s like being in your head?” He didn't wait for Yata to respond. “I've never felt emotions like yours before. You’re headstrong and thoughtless, but I can’t get enough. When you run wild, when you’re being yourself without holding back... I don’t know how you do it, throwing yourself into things you shouldn’t even care about so wholeheartedly. You’re so passionate and bright, it’s blinding. I can’t stand it, but I can’t get enough of it. It’s so annoying. I don’t understand – ” He cut off there, making a small, frustrated sound. “How does someone like you exist? How do you do it so easily, smiling like that and acting like that and just... being you. Why?” At that, his face seemed to twist in on itself, eyes taking on a desperate, lost edge. “Why am I so addicted to your emotions? To you? It’s like you're a drug and I never had any chance after I was exposed.”

The outburst left Yata stunned, Saruhiko's outward show of sudden and passionate emotion almost more surprising that the words. He felt his heart flutter wildly in his chest, like a bird trying to bust out of its cage, and stared back, mesmerized. He thinks of me like that? All those moments of trying to rein himself in, trying to curb his crazy, uncontrollable, stupid emotions... And all along, Saruhiko had liked it.

It was almost too much to believe. Too much to hope for, at this point.

The pause didn’t last long. Saruhiko’s eyes were intent, almost frenzied; when he spoke next, it was with a conviction that bordered on madness. “If you’ve really fallen for me, then prove it, Misaki.” He spread his arms expansively. “Leave the contract as it is. Keep me here.” An almost manic grin was building on his face. “Show me how much you’re demanding of me. Make me yours without holding back.”

Maybe part of it was the air in there, thick with magic, urging him to give in and indulge his every whim, or maybe it was the recent emotional storm he’d weathered taking its toll. Maybe both. Regardless, the command seemed to cause something in Yata’s brain to snap; he was moving before he was fully conscious of it, surging forward and into Saruhiko’s arms, a growl on his lips and fire lighting every nerve on his body. As he pressed forward against Saruhiko’s body and leaned up to aggressively capture his lips, he could hear those words repeating again and again in his head, like a mantra. “Make me yours… make me yours… make me yours… Misaki…”

Yes. Yes, yes, yes. Just the idea of it was burning within him.

It was so delicious that even the edge of wrong that clung to the moment felt good, an erotic and tantalizing sense of forbidden passion that he couldn’t have resisted if he wanted to. Saruhiko’s lips were on his, the unmistakable scent of him clouding Yata’s senses and making his body tense with desire. The way they clung to each other, mouths joined and tongues clashing erratically, was desperate and clumsy. Their hands caught on each other’s clothing, arms tightening as they tried to draw closer and come into as much contact as possible.

He would’ve done anything Saruhiko wanted in that moment. All that mattered was the insistent, intoxicating need that had consumed his thoughts. He didn’t even want to think, just… feel.

They ended up backed onto a tree, with Yata insistently pressing Saruhiko against it and groaning low in his throat as Saruhiko responded to his aggression by rolling his hips forward, gripping Yata’s ass with both hands to hold him in place so their clothed erections ground together.

The sensation was incredible with the rush of adrenaline still strong in his veins. Yata pulled back hastily, chest heaving as he reached down to tug his shirt roughly over his head and then leaning back in against an already shirtless Saruhiko, eagerly widening his stance so that his knees could brace against the bark and they had leverage to thrust freely against each other.

Saruhiko made a soft thrumming noise against his mouth, fingers skating around Yata’s hips to tug meaningfully at his fly. There was an unmistakable tremor in them, eagerness seeming to make him clumsy. Yata brushed his hands aside and made quick work of removing the rest of his clothing, breaking their kiss in the process. They were both breathing heavily as they fumbled with Saruhiko’s pants as well, a cloud of heat seeming to form in the air between them.

It was fast, impulsive, thoughtless… He didn’t want to think. He wanted to feel Saruhiko’s body against him, moving inside him, the two of them becoming one.

Saruhiko being his.

It felt wrong on so many levels, but right to his most base desires, and Yata wasn’t interested in anything outside of those at the moment. The need to join together, to claim, was surging through his veins and consuming his every thought. His body ached for it, every nerve on edge. When Saruhiko’s fingers ran over his skin, he trembled with overpowering want, his own fingers tightening hard enough to leave more bruises on Saurhiko’s pale, supple arms and shoulders.

If the moan that vibrated against his lips was any indication, Saruhiko loved it as much as he did.

They sank to the ground when the last barrier of clothing was removed, Saruhiko’s back braced against the soft moss at the base of the tree and Yata straddling his hips. In this position, he had the advantage of height for once and used it without any hesitation, sliding the glasses off and setting them aside before bringing both hands to cup Saruhiko’s head. His fingers buried in that soft dark hair as he tilted it up further towards him, initiating another deep kiss.

The pleasant, throbbing ache in his body was so consuming that he barely noticed the telltale pain in his back until Saruhiko made a soft noise against his mouth, startled rather than aroused this time, and broke the kiss. When Yata blinked hazily at him, uncomprehending, he was staring in dazed, lustful wonder at some point beyond. His fingers slid up from the small of Yata’s back to brush along the line of his spine and out, along his –


“Your wings,” Saruhiko murmured, as if it wasn’t obvious by that point. His gaze shifted back to meet Yata’s, dark with lust and a kind of possessive affection.

His cheeks were flushed, lips swollen, and the sight of him caused something in Yata’s chest to squeeze, pleasure and pain blending within him delightfully. “Didn’t do it on purpose,” he managed to mumble back, resisting the urge to lean in and capture those lips with his own again.

“Mm.” The acknowledgement was almost a moan, Saruhiko’s fingers trembling against the point where the wings emerged from his back. He shifted forward, allowing a bit of space as the batlike wings and smooth horns emerged smoothly on his own back and head.

There was something undeniably hot about doing it like this; Yata couldn’t quite hold back the little involuntary noise that rose unbidden at the back of his throat. He lowered his hips so their erections could come into contact, a tiny jolt of pleasure rewarding the action, and his fingers tightened in Saruhiko’s hair.

“Misaki,” Saruhiko murmured in response, soft and heated and desperate, and their lips bumped and realigned, mouths opening to each other again as they shifted against each other’s bodies in a frenzied search for more contact.

It was weird to feel his wings curl inward as they did, instinctively circling the two of them, but there was something freeing about it. He felt wild and powerful, driven by instinct and desire, taking what he wanted without a care for how messed up it might be. The small circle created by both sets of wings and the solid backing of the tree felt like its own world, a place just for the two of them where nothing else mattered and they didn’t have to deal with any problems.

Saruhiko’s dick was hot and stiff against his, and Yata could already vividly imagine the sensation of it sliding into his body, setting his mind into a frenzy of need. He was ready to use whatever was on hand to make that happen – too far gone to care about the logistics that would’ve mattered outside of this space – but before he could quite act on it, Saruhiko broke their kiss again, pulling back far enough to have space to murmur, “How much do you trust me?”

“Huh?” Yata stared at him, confusion piercing the heady fog that had settled over his brain.

“With this,” Saruhiko clarified, freeing one of his hands and turning it so that a clear gel could manifest in his palm.

“Fuck.” The expulsion was out of his mouth before he could think, throaty and affected. Yata couldn’t help the grin that spread on his lips in response, a little shudder of anticipation running through him as he leaned down to mumble, “I trust you,” against Saruhiko’s lips.

They weren’t patience with the preparation, but it hadn’t been that long since they’d last fucked, so only the bare minimum was necessary anyway. Saruhiko penetrated him right away with three slick fingers, not bothering to be gentle, and Yata pulled on his hair in response, that intoxicating mix of sting and satisfaction coursing through him. They exchanged short, heated kisses as Saruhiko coated his erection, and when he was done and the head of his cock was positioned, Yata lowered himself onto it slowly, shutting his eyes and savoring that thick, delicious burn as their bodies joined yet again.

Saruhiko breathed his name a second time, voice breaking in the middle and fingers tightening on Yata's hips, and the rush of arousal that triggered within him amplified the pleasure even further. Yata moaned low, opening his eyes to take in Saruhiko’s hazy, clouded gaze and slid his shaking fingers up to cup that beautiful face, thumbs running along the line of flushed cheeks.


A wild rush of possessive energy overtook him as he sank to the base of Saruhiko’s dick. With their positioning, he was in more or less complete control and he took advantage of it shamelessly, lifting his body to allow most of the thick length to slip free and then sliding back down indulgently. It felt amazing to draw out the sensation of penetration, and it seemed to drive Saruhiko crazy; as Yata watched hungrily, his eyes slid shut and he made a breathy, helpless noise, almost like a mix between a whine and a moan.

You’re mine…

It was intoxicating. Yata curled his fingers around the curve of Saruhiko’s head and began to lift and drop his hips in earnest, leaning in to capture those swollen lips with his own again and parting them insistently with his tongue. Mine, he thought again, with each motion that caused Saruhiko's cock to thrust into his body. Mine, mine, mine... You're mine, Saruhiko...

He was lost in the pace and the pleasure, moaning into Saruhiko’s mouth with unrestrained abandon, when he felt the telltale tightening as he hit the tipping point between the gradual build and the rush to climax. Instinctively, he shifted to change the angle as Saruhiko had done frequently before so that his prostate was brushed by the head of Saruhiko’s cock. The rush of sensation had him tensing up, their kiss breaking as a wild cry escaped his lips, and it only took another two desperate, clumsy thrusts before he was coming in a rush, body quivering and voice breaking with the pleasurable release.

Saruhiko squirmed beneath him, a breathy whine escaping him as he thrust his hips as much as he was able, drawing out the sensation to something almost unbearable. And then he stiffened up and began to come as well, his cock twitching and the rest of him trembling violently as he spent himself fully.

Yata let his head drop to rest his forehead against Saruhiko’s as they rode out the last of those shivers in the aftermath, the high of the moment starting to gradually fade. In that instant, he could let himself remain blissfully thoughtless, pleasure still dominating his brain and body.

Only for that one instant.

With the adrenaline rush gone and clarity starting to cut through the haze that had overlaid his thoughts, that sense of something wrong was returning full-force. Yata released Saruhiko’s face, bracing his clammy hands on the bark of the tree behind him as he shakily lifted himself so their bodies would separate. Their eyes met, mutually befuddled as the rush from their orgasms wore off.

His head was a mess of conflicting emotions. That fierce, possessive streak hadn’t entirely faded, and he couldn’t help but feel the urge to lean back down, to claim. But at the same time he felt a growing pit in his stomach, a sick feeling that he couldn’t shake. He felt gross and weary, heart aching in a way that he couldn’t help but interpret as a very clear message.

This isn’t right.

Even as he stared down at Saruhiko’s flushed face, a terrible understanding growing in the clouded gaze they shared, he thought he could pick the exact sticking point out of the chaos of his own thoughts.

“Leave the contract as it is.”

“I can’t,” he mumbled out loud, completely certain of the response despite the dazed tone of his own voice. He could feel it in his bones, even if he couldn’t place why just the thought of keeping the contract between them made him feel like his heart and soul had been painfully poisoned.

Saruhiko shut his eyes, breathing in deeply before reopening them. That passive wariness seemed to have slammed back into place, but the resentment in his gaze was still as clear as day. “There’s nothing to talk about, then,” he muttered, bringing up his hands to carefully but firmly push Yata to climb off of him.

Yata complied numbly, feeling bereft as he rolled to sit on the mossy ground. Before all this, it had felt like his heart was breaking – now, it felt like it had been yanked out of his body. He folded forward over his knees with his wings tucked in close, closing his eyes against the sting behind them as Saruhiko moved sharply to clean himself and pull his clothing back into place.

Neither of them said a word. Like Saruhiko had told him, there didn’t seem to be anything they could say.

“Sometimes disagreements run too deep to just talk out.”