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He never felt their differences more clearly than when Aki killed. Sure there was nothing normal about living with Aki in the first place, about being with him the way Tora had been for almost a year now. Some things you could get used to though. His strange ways could be seen as quirks, his habits as simply different, but some things were harder to get used to. Some things were simply so far from anything Tora knew and understood.

Still, it was part of who Aki was, part of what he was, and Tora couldn’t deny him. He could leave, he could simply choose not to watch, but it would happen either way. Aki couldn’t help it, he had to do it. Not every time, but sometimes. Sometimes, taking their blood just wasn’t enough. Sometimes, he needed to finish it right. Even though what was right to Aki was everything that was wrong to Tora.

There was nothing right about watching Aki take a life. He didn’t even take more blood, he just killed them afterwards. Just for the feeling, for the rush and for the pleasure of doing it. Afterwards he would leave their bodies on the bed, used and of no interest to him when their heart had stopped and their bodies had gone cold, when their breathing had long since ceased. He always cleaned up later though, once Tora had gone to sleep.
The first few times, Aki had told him to leave and Tora had thought it was because he didn’t want him to watch it because he was ashamed of it. But Aki wasn’t ashamed, not of anything he did. He wasn’t ashamed of killing nor of the obvious pleasure he took in it, and he was no more ashamed of being watched then, than he was of being watched when he was on his hands and knees, crying out in pleasure.

The first time Tora had stayed, he had simply watched from the edge of the bed as Aki had continued alone with the pretty boy they had brought home with them. He hadn’t said a word when Aki had looked at him afterwards, curious to know what Tora had felt when the boy had died. He had just smiled sadly and held a hand out for Aki, then guided him into the other bedroom with him. And that was how they always did it now, everytime it happened.
Aki still did not understand why he wanted to stay. He knew Tora did not like watching him do it and it made no sense to him. But Tora couldn’t really explain. In a way he almost felt like he owed it to whomever it was Aki had chosen. He had been brought home for the both of them to share, but it was always Aki who gave, and took, the most. And it was always Aki who chose. When they went out, when they picked up boys at clubs or even sometimes in the streets, it was always Aki who picked them out. Tora didn’t want to when he knew what might happen, what he would do nothing to stop simply because he knew it had to be done, and because he knew the alternative was worse. Denying Aki what was only natural to him would bring nothing good, neither to him nor to anyone unlucky enough to be there when Aki would eventually, inevitably, crack and kill again.

That night it had been another kid from the streets, barely eighteen by the looks of his small frame, but way too experienced for someone his age. He had been sweet and warm and good for both of them, but now he was spent and resting, giggling when Aki peeled the covers off him again and straddled him playfully. It was better with kids like him. Kids who had no families to miss them. Kids who had no bright future.
Tora didn’t really look when Aki started drawing kisses from the boy, when he pinned him down with his body but let his hands stay free. He liked it when they struggled. Liked it when they realized what he was doing and panicked and pushed at him, only to find him much too strong for them to fight off. He said it was the adrenalin, the taste of that which drove him.

But he always made it fast after that. The kill itself only took seconds.

He knew when Aki was done. The room went quiet, soft sounds of struggle gone, and the bed dipped under him, then warm hands wrapped around him from behind and Aki laid his chin on his shoulder, purring as he snuggled up to Tora. He was never more satisfied, more happy, than right after a kill. It was another reason why Tora couldn’t find it in himself to deny him or even ask him to do it less often. Instead he smiled when Aki kissed and nuzzled his neck. He often took his blood, when it was enough with just that, and Tora gave it willingly, long since passed the stage where he was afraid of it, but not tonight. Tonight Aki had had enough.
The other moved around him then, slipped off the bed and took his hand, silently leading him out of the bedroom, away from the boy he had left between the sheets. Tora only looked at him once, only glanced back at the naked little body one last time. He looked almost as if he was asleep, except he was too still and looked cold with no covers on, and there was blood tainting the sheets beneath him. Tora just smiled sadly and turned off the lights.

It was amazing how easy it was to just forget. To know what Aki had just done and still let him take him into their other bed, between clean sheets with no red stains and simply not think about it again. He kissed away the trickle of blood at the corner of Aki’s mouth and tugged him closer, reclaimed the body that belonged to him, no matter how many he would share it with. He did not really mind that though, he was always there, always enjoying those encounters as much as Aki, and it kept more than just their relationship alive.
But this was how he liked Aki the best. When he was only his, when he was high on blood and adrenalin, but still needed more. When he needed the love and warmth a dead body could never provide and sought it from Tora. That was when Tora would take him upstairs and make them both forget their differences, forget the lifeless body in the other bedroom downstairs, and he would simply marvel and wonder how he could be so lucky to have someone so perfect as Aki.

Because to Tora, Aki was always perfect. All smooth skin lined with silver and traced with butterfly ink, his every imperfection perfect in its own way. He had the most beautiful face, dark, intense eyes and pouty lips all soft and perfect, and that no matter how many piercings he had punched through his lower lip only to pick them out again and let them heal, just for the fun of it. Tora hardly ever saw the canines in his mouth, even if he felt them ever so often, but even those were perfect to him.
It was what had drawn him to Aki at first. His beauty and the way he had about him, his attitude towards the world they both lived in, no matter how cruel it seemed sometimes. But it was his love for him that had made him stay. Aki was beautiful inside out, even if he had to take life to keep his own. What had kept Aki from killing him the first many times they had slept together, when Tora had known nothing of what Aki was, he didn’t know, but he knew he wouldn’t now, trusted him not to. Aki needed Tora the same way he needed Aki.

This time when fingers slipped over warm skin, when they slipped inside, it was slow and gentle, and when Aki straddled Tora it was not to keep him down but to draw him up to the heavens with him. There was no pain, no blood shared or shed between them, the only stains on their bed a sticky white from Aki’s release, and it was enough. Afterwards, they fell asleep together, breathing out sentiments of love and affection, all too perfect for it to even seem real.

***


That night when Tora woke and Aki wasn’t there, when Aki had slipped out quietly to do what had to be done, Tora stayed awake to wait for him to come back. But minutes turned to hours and he could not stay in bed and stay awake so he left the warm covers behind and padded downstairs in loose pants and bare feet, looking for his lover, certain that he would be done, that he would back from wherever he had taken the body now.
He found him in the kitchen, at the table, knees drawn up under his chin, hands wrapped around a warm, steaming cup, lost in thought. But when he noticed Tora, when he looked up to see him standing in the doorway, Tora could see glittering tears trickle down his cheeks and the wet stains on the fabric of his pants where he had been resting his head, far too large to have been made by just a couple of stray tears.

In all the time he had known Aki, the feelings he had seen in him were all good. It was what that made him so easy to live with once one got past his habits and his needs. Aki was never unhappy. He was always at least content, forgiving of any flaw Tora might have, positive that anything would work out for them.
But that night he cried. That night, perhaps every night when he had done it, when he had gone up to clean up his own mess, he cried. Cried, for the life he had taken, the smiles and laughs he had stolen from the world to satisfy his own selfish needs and desires. He cried for his lover who had to live with what he did, who had to sit by and watch and let it happen even when he could never understand. He cried, because he didn’t understand why Tora stayed, why he didn’t leave him, why he didn’t run away from him, afraid that someday Aki would turn on him, that someday it would be Tora caught under him, struggling to get free, pleading for his life because he would know what Aki intended to do then. He did not understand, he did not see what he saw in him.

He wasn’t ashamed, he could never be, he couldn’t change what was, but he was scared. Always. He was scared that Tora would one day leave him and he would be alone again, with no family and no friends. With lovers he never really got to know, lovers whose hearts never beat as strong as Tora’s, as long as Tora’s… He was scared, more than anything, that Tora would one day die at his hands.

“I am sorry I am like this...” Aki whispered into his chest when Tora wrapped his arms around him, comforting him the only way he knew how. Stroking his hair, Tora shook his head.

“I am not. You’re perfect, Aki, just as you are.” He was. Just as he had always been, as he would always be to him. Beautiful both inside out. They were different, yes, but in so many ways, Aki was a much better man than he was. And that night, when he cried in Tora’s arms until he fell asleep and Tora carried him into bed, he seemed more human than he ever had before.