Set in Stone

 

Chapter Two

 

When Yata drifted awake again, the first groggy thought that managed to penetrate the haze of sleep he was caught up in was that he’d had a really fucked up dream the night before.

The second was the realization that he was sleeping on the goddamn floor.

And the third was that he felt like shit, and was probably hungover.

“Fuck.” The word came out as a low croak; without opening his eyes, Yata reached up to shakily pinch the bridge of his nose.

“Are you finally awake?” That was an unfamiliar voice.

Yata's eyes shot open in response, and he winced as the sunlight hit them, blinking rapidly and then squinting as he found his bearings.

He was lying on the floor in his apartment, and it was probably about mid-morning. His head was starting to throb, his throat was dry, and there was a vague queasiness roiling in his belly. His skin and hair felt grimy with dried sweat, and he was halfway lying on something flat and rectangular. And when he turned his head…

Yup, that was definitely the guy from the night before peering down at him with what looked like bored irritation. He hadn’t got a really good look, but those eyes were damn familiar. Cool and blue-grey, framed by long lashes, and flatly uncaring.

He was still different from the night before, though. Yata struggled to remember the details, but he was pretty sure... well. There were no horns. No wings. No thin, forked tail. The guy in front of him looked... normal. He was fully dressed, and nothing about his appearance was out of the ordinary. Jeans, slippers – Yata’s slippers, actually – and a grey shirt with a dip in the neckline and quarter-length sleeves. He was on the thin side, but not unattractively so, and his features were elegant – almost beautiful, if not for the displeasure writ into his expression. He was frowning sharply.

Did I imagine the demon stuff? Hell, had he gotten laid last night after all and just didn’t remember? That would suck, but not as much as the alternative. And this guy was sorta hot actually, now that he looked closer – definitely Yata’s type.

Maybe he wouldn't mind that much...

If anything, the frown on the guy’s face deepened. “You’re even worse when you're awake,” he muttered, as if that made sense, and clicked his tongue. “Do you at least remember your idiot move from last night? It will make this less annoying if I don’t have to explain from the beginning.” He raised the mug in his hand to take a sip of coffee.

The mug that belonged to Yata in his hand, and – fuck – that had to be the last of his coffee, too. What’s with that, you just help yourself to whatever you want? He pushed himself up to a sitting position with a scowl, pulling the flat object out from him almost absently, and narrowed his eyes at his unexpected visitor. “I didn’t dream that shit up?”

“How often do you dream about summoning otherworldly beings?” the man drawled back at him, raising an eyebrow condescendingly. “Take a look at your floor if you need a refresher.”

Yata looked. The remains of his chalk circle was still laid out, with the details smudged where the shadow had extended out from the center. It was no longer a workable summoning circle, but it definitely had been, before.

Without thinking, he glanced down at the flat object in his hands. The leather-bound book. Of course.

Shit. Kusanagi was gonna kill him. What the hell had he been thinking? Yata groaned, the full stupidity of his previous night’s actions sinking in, and reached up to run a hand through his hair, thoughts going a mile a minute.

What the fuck was he supposed to do? Was this guy really a demon? What did he want? Was he supposed to hang around like this after everything, looking like a normal fucking person?

“Stop that,” the guy nearly growled at him, low and clearly irritated. He was scowling back when Yata looked up at him. “You’re giving me a headache. Can't you feel things in moderation?”

“Huh?” Yata blinked at him, momentarily taken aback, and then narrowed his eyes. “The hell’s that supposed to mean?”

The man – demon? – clicked his tongue again, letting out a sigh that sounded impatient. “I don’t know why I expected you to know anything.” Without pausing for a reply, he went on. “As long as we’re in contract and I’m feeding off of your energy, I get the feedback of your emotions as extra baggage.”

“My emo – Wait, what?” Yata stared at him, his foggy brain barely starting to connect the pieces together. “What contract?”

“You didn’t even know that much?” His visitor raised an eyebrow at him scornfully. “What the hell were you doing with a summoning circle if you’re that ignorant?”

This guy was a serious pain in the ass. Yata scowled back. “Yeah, screw you too, asshole! None of your fucking business, by the way.” Ignoring the way his head was throbbing at him, he pushed himself painstakingly to his feet. His legs wobbled a bit, but he did his best not to let it show as he made his way towards the kitchen nook. “Just explain the damn contract thing.”

The man clicked his tongue again, reaching up to rub at his temple. “This is going to be a pain,” he muttered, and then went on without giving Yata the chance for a retort. “To put it in a way your simple mind will understand... you summoned me, and I accepted your stated terms and responded. That puts us in contract until one or both ends are fulfilled.”

Yata didn't bother to look at him, assessing the coffee pot instead. There was enough for another cup, which was exactly what he needed. He set the book down on the counter and reached up to his cupboard door. “‘Stated terms’?”

“How did you you put it again? Oh, right.” That condescending drawl again. “‘Keep me company, huh?’ So eloquent.”

His cheeks burned at that. Fuck, right, he'd been drunk and stupid and... lonely. Again. Yata scowled, slamming the mug he’d pulled out of the cupboard down onto the counter. “Shut up! I didn’t expect a fucking demon to come out, okay?” Hell, he wasn’t sure what he’d been expecting. Some kind of mascot for his life? The picture in the book had made him feel so sure that it would be something good, and he got this grumpy asshole instead.

“What exactly were you expecting? It’s a summoning circle.”

“Not you!” Someone or something who’d work with him. Someone cool, given the way his instincts had pulled at him. Someone who’d make him happy, at least. “Anyway, why’d you respond if you didn’t like it?”

The demon clicked his tongue again, and Yata turned in time to see him turn his head aside, a disgruntled expression on his face. “It seemed like an easy contract at the time,” he muttered, and then seemed to recover his confidence. “‘Keep me company’, with no additional conditions and no set timeframe?” He offered a dark smirk as his eyes slid back, eyelids lowering dangerously. “As long as I’m here, my contract holder’s energy feeds me. It wouldn’t take more than a day or so to drain it all, and then the contract ends naturally.” The gaze he fixed on Yata was almost predatory. “An entire life’s worth of energy would sustain me for years. There was no reason to hold back.”

An involuntary shudder run through him at that – and embarrassingly enough, it wasn’t entirely from revulsion at the cold way this guy talked about killing people. That tone... and that gaze... Damn. What the hell is wrong with me? This was a demon talking about killing someone, and that ‘someone’ could’ve been him. He seriously needed to get laid, and fast - this was fucked up. Yata turned back to his coffee, trying to repress that sharp twinge of interest and the disturbing things it might say about him. “What the hell? That’s creepy...”

“If you say so. I’m a demon, after all – remember?” The tone was unconcerned – and maybe a little on the smug side. Cocky jerk. “I told you earlier that I’m getting feedback from all of your emotions, right?”

Yata’s face grew hot again; his fingers tightened on the mug as he snatched up the sugar. “S-so what?” he snapped back, caught off balance by the embarrassing reveal.

“Just thought I’d remind you.” That drawl was starting to get seriously annoying. “Either way, I wasn’t expecting you when I came up here.” When Yata glanced at him, the demon was giving him a narrow look. “What exactly are you, anyway?”

There it fucking was – the question that was bound to come up. No point avoiding it or drawing this out. “Changeling,” Yata answered shortly, snatching up a spoon and busying himself with stirring.

It wasn’t like he was new to it... Hell, it would’ve been impossible to not know that he was different, right from the start. And it had been almost five years since Anna had answered that question once and for all. There was a reason he’d been drawn to Homra, even before he knew what kind of potential he had as a witch. A non-human witch. A coven that specialized in fae magic was his best chance at fitting into a society that he’d been wrongly born into from the start.

A society that he was gonna have to live in for longer than any normal human could expect to.

“Seriously?” His visitor clicked his tongue, tone irritable. “That explains the boundless energy, true, but you’re... not what I’d expect.”

Him and everyone else. Yata barked out a sharp ‘hah’, tossing his spoon in the sink and turning to face the other man, a smirk spreading on his lips in return. “Sorry to disappoint.”

He got an unimpressed gaze for his trouble. “And you’re expected to live... how long? Several centuries?”

It was an effort to keep up the smirk. Yata took a sip from his coffee to cover the moment of weakness. The warmth and the familiar thick taste seemed to seep into his bones, settling some of the symptoms of his hangover. “Something like that.”

Long enough to outlive his entire family – not to mention everyone at Homra – and probably several generations of their descendants. It was still a daunting prospect.

The demon scowled back at him. “I might die before you do, then. How annoying.”

You and everyone else. “So what?” Yata returned the scowl, headache flaring up again. “What do you care when I die?”

“I care because your contract doesn't have an end, idiot.” That came with a look of flat disgust. “And I don't have a hope in hell of draining all of your energy at any point, even if it wasn't regenerative. Which means we’re trapped like this until one of us dies of old age.” He paused there, and clicked his tongue. “Or I kill myself. Which actually sounds appealing at this point.”

“Fuck you!” Yata shot back, mostly out of reflex. He was reeling from the unexpected revelation. Trapped? With this asshole? It sounded like a nightmare. “What the hell do you mean we're trapped? You’re a fucking demon! Can't you do something about this?”

“Believe it or not,” the drawled response came, laced with heavy irritation, “demons are still accountable to the laws of high magic.” He clicked his tongue again – Yata was starting to think that was an unconscious habit. “I accepted your contract under the terms you laid out, and I don't have any power to end it now.”

“Are you fucking serious?” Yata didn't wait for a response, curling his free hand into a fist and slamming it into his counter with helpless anger. “This is bullshit! What the hell?” He took in a long breath, trying to steady himself. “There’s gotta be something we can do!”

“I would’ve taken it to my boss,” his unwilling companion responded drily. “But unfortunately, I’m bound by the terms of the contract, which some idiot declared as – ”

‘Keep me company’. “Yeah, I get it.” Yata scowled again, more agitated than ever. He’d managed to fuck himself over good with that moment of weakness. “So you need me along to go see him, right?”

“Amazing. You figured that much out.” The demon took a sip of his coffee, ignoring Yata’s glare. “I recommend cleaning yourself up first, but it’s up to you. I’ve got all the time in the world.”

Yata felt his eyebrow twitch. What a fucking asshole. His instincts must’ve been drunk along with the rest of him if this was what they led him to. “Your boss is gonna sort this out, right? I don’t know how much more of you I can stand.”

“The feeling is mutual, believe me.”

Let's get this over with, then. Yata tipped his head back and downed the rest of his coffee, wincing when the move stirred the dull ache back to a full pounding at the back of it. “Right. So what do I call you, anyway?”

Another thin eyebrow raised at him. “Why?”

The already frayed edges of his patience were fast unraveling now. “Look, I’m fine to just go with ‘asshole’, but we're stuck together for now, right? Let's at least be fucking civil.”

The demon clicked his tongue again. “Fine. Fushimi Saruhiko.”

“Fushimi…” That was an unexpectedly normal-sounding name. Yata recalled the batlike wings and curved horns from his hazy memory, and tried not to show his surprise. The recollection came along with the unwelcome knowledge that Fushimi hadn’t been dressed from the waist up, too... “Right, cool!” Yata blurted, pushing that blurry image as far to the back of his mind as he could. “Mine is – ”

“Yata Misaki. I know.” At Yata's confused look, Fushimi smirked again. “I found your mail.”

“My – ” It took a moment for that to sink in. “Wait, hold up, what?” Yata stared at him, outrage building fast behind his chest wall. “You were going through my stuff? What the hell?”

Fushimi shrugged, unrepentant. “You were the one who passed out as soon as I got here. Since you were ungracious enough to invite me in and then leave me to my own devices, I had to entertain myself somehow.” He took another sip of coffee, lidded eyes following Yata as he did.

Something about that gaze made him want to squirm – partly because it was kind of hot being regarded so intently, and partly out of discomfort because he didn’t know why. “Read a fucking book or something, then! Don’t just go through people’s stuff without asking!” A horrifying thought occurred to him then. “Wait – you didn’t go through my bedroom, did y – ?”

“Yes, I found your lube. And condoms. And porn.” Fushimi clicked his tongue. “I don’t know what you have to be embarrassed about. You think I haven’t seen it all? The two most common contracts are ‘take revenge on my enemies’ and ‘indulge my sexual kinks’. You seem relatively vanilla compared to some of what passes through my queue.” The corners of his mouth edged up into another of those condescending little smirks. “Unless it’s the fact that the porn has clearly seen more use than the condoms that’s got you so defensive…?”

“Th-that’s – ” For a moment, he was too flustered to do more than sputter helplessly as his face grew hot again. Yata scowled. “None of your damn business!”

“Hm.” Fushimi took another sip from his coffee, clearly unconcerned. “That explains why I smelled caraway. I’m guessing the spell didn’t take?” He raised an eyebrow, still with the edge of a smirk on his lips. “Or maybe it did the best it could. Am I your type, maybe?”

Ugh. The worst part about that was how true it was – physically, at least. Yata set his empty mug down with an angry thud. “Fuck off!” With one final scowl for his unwanted companion, he turned. “Gonna go shower.”

“Bullseye, huh?”

Yata lifted his hand to offer a rude gesture over his shoulder in return, too agitated to trust himself with a real response. After stopping just long enough to grab some clean clothing, it felt incredibly satisfying to slam the door shut behind him as he stepped into his tiny bathroom.

He already couldn’t handle this fucker, and it hadn’t even been half an hour. Yata paused for a moment just inside the door, giving himself space to cool off. He’d never been good at getting his emotions under control – they had a tendency to run wild, which was going to be fucking great with an eavesdropper hanging around – but he was getting better at not letting them make his decisions for him.

Well… when he wasn’t drunk, anyway.

It was hard not to be painstakingly aware that the strong emotion thing was probably a factor in his struggles to get laid, too. Yata unclenched his fists with effort, rolling out his shoulders to try and relax them. It’d taken a lot of trial and error and some hard self-examination on his part, but he eventually had to acknowledge that he was too much for some people, and he just had to suck that up. In school he’d tried shrinking himself to fit in and it had failed miserably, both because he couldn’t make it stick and because most of his classmates hadn’t liked him anyway. These days, he was more unapologetically himself and didn’t bother with anyone who couldn’t handle it, even as he tried to reign in his unruly temper and not run roughshod over the feelings of the people around him.

It wasn’t always easy, but he was doing his best.

Well, whatever. Yata took the opportunity to empty his bladder in the toilet tucked into a nook at the back of the room before stripping his clothes and reaching into the shower stall to start the water. Normally if he was hungover he’d stop by the bathhouse on the ground floor of his building and soak for a while, but he didn’t have that luxury now.

Hopefully they could get this over with quick, and he’d never have to think of Fushimi again.

“Am I your type, maybe?”

“Shut up,” Yata muttered, stepping in under the shower spray and pulling the stall shut behind him. He shut his eyes for a moment, trying to brush off that edge of frustration.

Yeah, if Fushimi had found his porn, he could see where that assumption would come from, even without the whole emotion-sharing thing. It was all gay porn, for one thing. He still couldn’t handle women very well, and even just the notion of thinking about them that way made him uncomfortable. Plus, he liked having sex with men. A lot.

And talking about his type… Dark and slim with devastating eyes was... Yeah.

Didn’t mean he’d hook up with any old asshole who looked something like that, though. Yata scrubbed furiously at his hair, as if it could wash those thoughts from his head at the same time. He wanted to at least like the people he had sex with, and that didn’t seem possible in this case, even if sex was on the table in the first place. Though he did kinda wonder what ‘sexual kinks’ would go through a demon’s queue. Did Fushimi ever take any of them up on it?

What the hell would a demon be like in bed, anyway? Considering those smoldering looks, maybe –

Fuck. Don’t even go there, goddamnit! Yata tipped his head back abruptly under the spray, lip curling in disgust at his own lack of control. He didn’t want that thought in his head. No matter how hot this guy was, he was still a major dick, and the sooner he was gone and Yata could erase his memory of this entire incident, the better.

And then maybe he could work on finding someone cool to have sex with, and he wouldn’t get so worked up over a stupid smirk and some dangerous glances.

He didn’t linger in the shower for long, toweling himself briskly and pulling on the clean shirt, underwear and shorts he’d brought in with him. Tucking the towel around his neck, Yata ran a hand through his hair to wring the water from it before taking in a long breath, letting it out in a rush as he reached for the door.

All right, let’s do this!

Fushimi was leafing through the leather-bound book, but he looked up when Yata re-entered the room. There was a frown on his face and his eyes were narrowed suspiciously. “Where exactly did you get this?”

“Huh?” Yata returned the frown, puzzled. “The guy I do work for gave it to me as a bonus yesterday. Why?”

It might’ve been a dumb question – obviously if you were a demon, you’d probably wonder where someone got a book with your summoning circle in it – but Fushimi didn’t seem interested in pointing that out. He closed the book, muttered something like ‘annoying’ under his breath, and sighed in a long-suffering sort of way. “Take me to meet this ‘guy’ of yours.”

Yata stared at him, nonplussed. “The hell? Now? I thought we were gonna go to your boss and get this shit sorted.”

Fushimi clicked his tongue again, still looking irritated. “I need to confirm something first.”

“Don’t just decide that on your own!” Yata scowled back, irritated in response by the imperious attitude. “Anyway, if you’re gonna ask me a favor, you could at least be less of a dick about it!” He folded his arms stubbornly. “What if I don’t wanna take you there, how about that?”

“What if I just leave us the way we are, then?” Fushimi drawled back. There was an edge of annoyance in his tone this time.

“What if you just ask instead of ordering me around?” Yata shot back, feeling his temper rise again. “You’re already staying in my place and drinking my coffee and going through my goddamn stuff without asking – isn’t there anything you’re not a complete rude asshole about?”

For a brief moment, that seemed to hang in the air between them. Fushimi’s blue-grey eyes were inscrutable. And then he made another sharp ‘tsk’, mouth tightening with annoyance. “Fine. Can you take me to the person who gave you this book?”

The emphasis on ‘can’ made it seem more like a question of Yata’s ability rather than a request, but it was probably about as much of a concession as he was going to get. “Heh!” Feeling a tiny sense of triumph in the midst of the annoyance the morning had wrought on him, Yata managed a grin in return and reached up to slide the towel from around his neck.

“Since you asked so nicely, why not?”

 

Next