Set in Stone

 

Chapter Six

 

They found another sun charging spot in the south, after an annoying amount of time spent flying from building to building and a just-in-case reapplication of Yata’s invisibility spell. Generally it lasted all day, but the sun was setting by that point and sometimes twilight and dawn messed things up. It was only a pinch for each of them, and he still had a good supply stowed away in a glass jar in his kitchen, so it was better not to take chances.

More urgent than that was the fact that he hadn’t eaten anything since the night before. The remains of the hangover had long-since passed, and it was getting hard to focus on anything outside of the pit of emptiness in his belly. The day had shifted to twilight anyway, which made chasing sunlight harder – and it was gonna be a while before there was enough moonlight to be worth chasing. So overall, there wasn’t much else to do besides return to his apartment so he could eat.

Besides that, he damn well needed to. It was probably gonna be a long night.

“This fucking sucks!” Yata groused, kicking the door shut behind him after letting both of them inside. The apartment was still as he’d left it: everything shoved out of the way with the remains of his summoning circle on the floor, reminding him that he still had that to deal with too. “How many hours of the day do we gotta spend on this crap? It takes forever to find anything!”

Fushimi clicked his tongue. “If it wasn’t an annoying task, I doubt the Captain would’ve bothered to force it on us.” His expression was an odd blend of resignation and disgust. “He’s the type who’ll give you something troublesome to deal with just to see what you’ll do with it.”

“Yeah, sounds like him.” Yata toed out of his shoes and aggressively pulled his shirt on, letting out a soft ‘ch’ to vent his irritation, before stepping in toward the kitchen. “Fucking sadist.”

“Well, that’s one thing we agree on,” Fushimi muttered, sounding just as put out as Yata felt.

Somehow, the fact that they were equally miserable actually made him feel a bit better. Yata paused for a second with his hand on the fridge door. “So you don’t eat, right?” Without waiting for Fushimi to answer – they’d talked about it only a few hours ago so he knew the answer – he went ahead with, “Want anything else?”

Fushimi had picked up one of the chairs that had been moved aside the night before, shuffling it back to the table that was crammed off to the side. “Coffee,” he responded, sitting down and materializing his laptop again, “which you’re out of. So, nothing.”

Yata shot him a scowl. Sorry I asked. “Yeah, whose fault is that, huh?” He turned back to his fridge, yanking it open with maybe a bit more force than necessary and busying himself with studying the contents. There were leftovers from the night before, but considering the purpose behind that meal, he wasn’t sure about bringing them out right then. “Hey, if you’re not busy, wanna move that table back away from the wall? It should go in front of the kitchen.”

The now-familiar click of Fushimi’s tongue answered him. “I’m not your maid.”

“You’re living here rent-free!” Abandoning the fridge for the moment, Yata stalked across the room and grabbed the edge of the table. “Fine, I’ll do it myself.”

Fushimi was quick enough to pluck his laptop from the table as it was dragged out from under him. He raised an eyebrow as Yata shuffled the furniture to get it back into place. “That wasn’t exactly my idea. And it’s not my fault your apartment is a mess.” The corners of his lips edged up slightly in a tiny smirk. “You should be more hospitable to your guests, Misaki.”

That froze him in the act of straightening to head back to the fridge. “What the hell did you call me?”

He got another raised eyebrow for his trouble. “Your name?”

“My name is Yata.” He glared in response, feeling that pit of annoyance in his stomach start to swell again. Coming to terms with his first name had been… a process. He was fine with it now, more or less – he could introduce himself without embarrassment, at least – but no one called him that. Except his mom. And Anna.

He didn’t feel like making another exception for this guy, that was for sure.

“Yata Misaki,” Fushimi clarified in a low drawl. That smirk was edging onto his face again. “Right?”

“We’re not on a first name basis here, asshole!” Yata snarled back at him, clenching his hand into a fist against the table without thinking about it. “Nobody fucking calls me that!”

“Your seer called you that, back at the bar,” Fushimi pointed out, unmoved. He tipped his head forward, studying Yata through his lashes again. “What difference does it make? I’m already inside your head; that’s about as close as you can get. Or” – his smirk widened marginally – “is there something in particular that bothers you about that name?”

That struck a sore spot – one that hadn’t been prodded at for quite a while. At least not since he’d started trying to consciously tune out the shitty voice in his head telling him that the combination of his girly-sounding name and bedroom preferences somehow said something about him. It didn’t seem like that was what Fushimi was getting at – more like he was just picking up on Yata’s anger and deliberately fueling it – but Yata glowered back anyway, making an effort to shove that old baggage to the back of his thoughts. “None of your goddamn business!” He pushed away from the table, letting out a sharp ‘ch’ from the side of his mouth. “Just don’t call me that – got it?”

“Whatever you say,” Fushimi responded blandly. He rose from his seat without hurrying, shifting the chair toward the table again before reseating himself and settling his laptop in front of him. “If we’re lucky, it won’t matter for much longer anyway.”

Yata snorted in response, moderately appeased. “Don’t have to tell me.” He turned back to the fridge, swinging it open again. “It’s only been a day and I already can’t wait to get rid of you.” Another survey of the contents reminded him that last night’s leftovers were basically it unless he felt like cooking or ordering takeout. Neither one sounded appealing. But still… “How long d’you think this shit is gonna take, anyway?”

“At our current rate?” The sound of rapid typing accompanied Fushimi’s voice. “A week at the very least. Probably longer.” He clicked his tongue. “There’s always some complication that comes up…”

In other words, it was use it or lose it with the leftovers – a week or more in the fridge, and he’d probably be throwing them out. Yata scowled to himself. Whatever, not like he didn’t already smell the caraway. Who gives a shit what he thinks, anyway? He pulled the covered plate out and closed the door sharply before he could rethink it, pulling off the wrap before stuffing it into the microwave.

The distinct smell started to waft out after only a few seconds of heating, and Yata shifted on his feet, tossing a self-conscious glance in Fushimi’s direction. He seemed entirely focused on his work.

Right, good. He didn’t need any commentary on his choice of spices.

That ended up being wishful thinking, though – when he retrieved his warmed food and moved to grab the other chair to sit at the table, Fushimi glanced up, his eyes lidded and the beginning edge of a smirk on his lips. “Caraway and cinnamon, huh? Are you hoping for something?”

Yata scowled back, feeling his cheeks head. Shoulda known. “They’re leftovers, okay?” He dropped into his seat with an agitated huff. “Don’t flatter yourself.”

“Hmm?” Fushimi drew the hum out in a way that could’ve been either mocking or suggestive – possibly a mix of both with the way he was eyeing Yata across the table. “If you’re looking for prosperity and sex, I could think of better requests for a demon than company.” His gaze was penetrating. “What exactly was your goal last night, anyway?”

The memory of that frustration, longing, and aching loneliness was still sharp enough to cut through Yata’s thoughts; he frowned against the rush, turning his eyes deliberately to his food. “None of your business.”

He could still feel Fushimi’s stare piercing into him for a long moment after he started in on his meal, but no response came. Just as the silence was starting to become unbearable, Fushimi clicked his tongue and the sound of his typing started up again.

They ate and worked without acknowledging each other again after that. Yata had the chance to wolf down his food and wash his dishes before the last traces of sunlight started to fade into evening and the familiar sense of the moon started to rise up at the back of his thoughts. It was a welcome distraction from the awkward atmosphere between the two of them.

“Let’s go,” he said shortly, heading over to step into his shoes without waiting for a response.

He heard Fushimi heave a sigh behind him. “You’re so impatient,” he mumbled, sounding irritable. The sound of the chair sliding against the floor indicated that he was getting up to follow all the same.

Well, not like he had a choice if Yata was leaving. “You wanna get this over with, right? C’mon.”

Fushimi clicked his tongue, stepping closer. “I heard you the first time.”

“Yeah, well, hurry up then.”

It was noticeably cooler out than it had been earlier, though the feeling wasn’t too unpleasant – summer solstice was less than a month away, so the weather was pretty warm overall. The sky was lightly clouded, and Yata could feel the humidity in the air even as he rose above the city. The wind had died down completely, and he had to beat his wings more frequently to keep up momentum and height.

Somehow, it wasn’t as annoying as it had been earlier. The stronger presence of the moon had the weirdly conflicting effect of calming his nerves and exciting the rest of his senses. Yata shut his eyes briefly against the exhilaration that shuddered through his body. It wasn’t as strong as it had been – the full moon had passed already – but he could get intoxicated if he let himself.

Not now. He opened his eyes, forcing himself back on track as they landed on the roof of the next building. So far, there had been three duds, but this…

Ah… it’s here, huh? There was definitely a stronger source illuminating him at this place. Yata breathed in deeply, instinctively letting his head and body adjust to the rush. It felt good, but not in the same way that the sunlight had. That was more of a personal feeling: soothing and grounding. This was almost a seductive call, like a lover’s touch.

Not exactly what he wanted on his mind when he turned to look back at his companion – and it didn’t help to have a visual to go with it, either. Moonlight complemented Fushimi’s coloring, accentuating his pale skin and setting attractive highlights in his dark hair. His grey-blue eyes seemed to glimmer behind his glasses, and the lines of his face and body were stark and smooth. The span of his wings, the gleam on his horns, the whiplike length of his tail… It all added to the dark mystery that wrapped itself around him effortlessly in this lighting.

Fuck. Yata sucked in a sharp breath and turned his head, swallowing an embarrassing little rush of attraction. It was worse now with the moon above him and his senses heightened; he couldn’t deny the sly tug of arousal the sight generated. Goddamnit, why the hell is he like that?

Fushimi let out another of those low hums, clearly amused. Even the sound of it was like a siren’s call in that moment, the timbre and pitch of his voice feeding into the mood deliciously. “It seems like this is the right place,” he drawled.

At least the irritation had a grounding effect. Yata clenched his teeth, shoving aside that set of urges. Too damn close to the full moon. At least it had passed; things would probably get easier as it waned. “Yeah, great, so get it going already.”

“You really are way too impatient.” Even without looking, it was possible to hear the smirk in Fushimi’s tone. “I have the stone out – that’s all I need to do, right?” He let out a soft, amused hum. “I seem to remember something about ‘leave the finding and charging to me’…”

At that, Yata did turn, with a scowl already formed on his face. “Yeah, thanks, asshole – I remember what I said, okay?” After a brief glare at Fushimi’s frustratingly sexy face, he turned his gaze to the stone. “Let me get a sense of this guy, and I can handle it.” Trying to focus on something a little safer, he reached out to tap a fingertip against the smooth surface.

The reluctant feel of the sunstone’s absorption became more prominent as he did. Yata let his touch linger for just a second longer, getting the sensation settled in his head so that he could tell without reaching out when the breaking point got closer. That sluggish, almost half-assed charging felt similar to the moonstone from before.

This guy’s gonna be just as difficult, huh?

Fushimi’s hand twitched under his, as if on some impulse, and their fingers brushed.

The sensation of warm skin under his was electric. Yata glanced up, startled, and caught sight of Fushimi’s eyes widening just a little, his expression charmingly unguarded. For a very brief moment, something seemed to tighten in Yata’s chest. The sight of that pale, beautiful face illuminated by moonlight and looking refreshingly honest for a change stirred a surge of sudden, intense longing to life within him. It was difficult to even breathe properly.

It didn’t last more than a second or two, and then Fushimi’s gaze was flickering off to the side, head turning and mouth twisting down as he clicked his tongue softly. “That’s enough, right?” he mumbled, deliberately shifting his hand away. “Don’t block the moonlight.”

“Huh? I…” Yata blinked, momentarily dazed by the sudden shift in the mood, and then shook his head in an attempt to clear the fog of moonlight-induced stupor. “I wasn’t!” He felt his cheeks start to burn with embarrassment as clarity struck and turned away himself, letting out an agitated ‘ch’ and reaching up to scratch at the back of his head. “I know what I’m doing, all right? Get off my back.”

“I don’t remember getting on your back,” Fushimi drawled, low and throaty with that blend of suggestive and superior. “Although… somehow I doubt you’d be saying that if I did.”

Yata’s fingers clenched behind his neck, strands of hair catching and pulling in his grip. “Fuck off,” he muttered, frustrated with himself over the twinge of arousal that came with the imagined scenario. Once again, he was uncomfortably aware of being half-naked under that intent gaze, and he could feel the earlier warmth spreading down his neck onto his chest.

They’d only known each other for a day, and somehow Fushimi had the ability to read him like a book, prodding at all of his sensitive spots with uncanny accuracy to evoke the right reactions. It was as exciting as it was irritating, a power that ignited his interest like nothing else and pissed him off at the same time over that helpless reaction.

He seriously had to get rid of this guy, and fast. This was messing with him way too much already.

“If you say so.” Fushimi’s tone was airy and mocking, lined with a certainty that made Yata want to punch him. Mercifully, he didn’t follow up on the subject. “Judging by the first time we did this and assuming that sunstone and moonstone behave similarly, charging shouldn’t take much more than an hour. That should leave us with plenty of time to locate more charging points.”

Yata shot him an irritated look. “Yeah, fine, except that I need to sleep at some point. I gotta work tomorrow, remember?”

Fushimi frowned back at him. “If you’re assuming that I don’t sleep, you’re wrong.” He reached up to adjust his glasses. “I just think it’s more important to get this over with while we can. Anyway, you probably don’t even have a place for me to sleep properly, so what’s the point of making a fuss over it?”

“I have a futon at least, goddamnit! Just because I’m not rich doesn’t mean I can’t have guests!” Yata felt his eyebrow twitch, annoyance building within him. “Anyway, did you seriously just ask what the point of getting enough sleep is? What the hell is wrong with you?” He squinted at Fushimi. “Are you like one of those office workers that tries to run on coffee and energy bars?”

Fushimi clicked his tongue, offering an unimpressed frown in return. “Says the idiot who got drunk and performed a summoning before passing out on the floor and waking up hung-over. Do you really think you have any high ground to judge someone else’s lifestyle from?”

“I don’t do that every night! Anyway, that’s not the point!” Yata braced his hands on his hips, setting his stance firmly. “I’m not pulling any all-nighters for this shit. No fucking way.” Before there was any chance for a response, he ploughed ahead with, “And I’m not skipping work to do this all day, either. I got bills to pay. My life doesn’t stop just ’cause this shit is happening.”

There was a stark moment of aggrieved silence, and then Fushimi clicked his tongue again. “Do what you want – not like I have a say here.” His stare was flat with irritation. “Are we at least agreed that we’re not going to waste time idling when we could be getting this out of the way? Basic needs and bills aside, there’s no point in screwing around.”

“No shit. Why the hell would I want to screw around with you?” Realizing the double meaning behind his words a fraction of a second too late, Yata immediately blustered on. “Right! But! Anyway, we’ll look around more tonight for a while! And tomorrow when I finish up work. Got it?”

“No excuses,” Fushimi muttered. His eyes were sharp.

“Yeah, yeah.” That went without saying as far as Yata was concerned. He met that cool-eyed gaze with full seriousness, feeling a little bit like he was making another contract. Of a different kind. “No excuses.”

 

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