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He tells you, once, that he is all you have left. You suppose he must mean it to be cruel—you have known him a year and you have known the slopes of his voice like nothing else. You obsess over them. You have dissected every word and taught yourself the contours of every tone, all means to manipulate, and you know well when he is trying to hurt you.

"I know," you say, watching for a reaction. He cocks his head at you, like an alert guard dog: it's strangely fitting. "I know you are."

He doesn't reply. From through the kitchen blinds, the sun spills in, stripes of autumnal gold washing over you; it's a beautiful day.

-

(Tell me who did this to you.

His fingers ghost over your bruise—you almost expect it to hurt, a single and desperate physical connection, but they simply slip right through like always. You forget, sometimes. Maybe you like to forget.

"What are you going to do?"

He smiles down at you, all sharp edges and glistening teeth: you consider the shape of his mouth and the shape of yours, and you consider solidarity with the dead, and with little hesitation, you softly smile back.)

-

You suppose you must love him. It never seems particularly important to you—it doesn't come as any shock. It slides into you easily, the feeling of needing someone, and, given time, it mutates. It grows into wanting, and you let it.

(here is the dark; here is noise, from miles away; here is the sun where you cannot see; here is the dust of a thousand years lay waste; here is the dark; here is the dark; here is

—and then comes a sensation like of falling backwards into your skin, and of the Millennium Ring rattling against your chest, rattling like old bones and full-up coffins... and there is the moon, half-cut and bright, a single, loving, watchful eye. See? Everything is going to be okay.)

You take to talking with him more and more, these days. You've grown to like the sound of his voice. It is sharp and bitter, a grotesque perversion of your own—not to say a word of the stories he speaks with it! He tells you such tales of death and suffering, of the ancients and the utterly amoral, like nobody has ever before, and you hang upon each and all so intently that it could almost frighten you, if you ever stopped to think about it.

Of course, you never do. You learn a little more about him every time, and you manage to love him a little more, too.

-

(You think that the two of you may be wasting away together.)

You are young, and simple. You have soft hands and small feet, soundless against the floor when you cannot sleep at night, when the night air begins to beckon, and when his hands begin to itch. You think perhaps this house is eating-up your soul, because you are still a child and therefore can still believe in these things: monsters under the bed, ghosts looking over your shoulder, bodies in the attic, bedtime stories bathed in millennias' worth of hate, and eternity's worth of blood. You raise yourself on these thoughts, because the alternative is raising yourself on nothing at all.

You are not one to believe in nothings. Your soul sits filled to the brim with magic and when a single drop overflows you have seen it bleed, you have seen it singe—you have seen loss. Is there comfort in hospital reports and unremarkable death-certificates and ten doctors all scratching their heads and a lifeline that won't quit but will hardly try; is there comfort in a mother holding her head in her hands, a father thanking you behind tears for calling the ambulance, neither of them your own? No. There is comfort in company.

(Yes, together! You count your bruises, and you count your Monster World figures. Hands held spread wide before your eyes, you smile, and can't picture what shape your mouth takes when you do.)

-

Buried beneath a cocoon of your bedsheets, you suffocate in dark and heat, bask in sweat; fumbling with the zip of your jeans, hand slipping under the waistband of your underwear, you tremble, and breathe out.

Ryou, my little prince, he says, voice ringing in the back of your head. You'll avenge me, won't you, you'll take back our throne? Oh, you'll have everything you could ever want. Wouldn't you like that?

You make a vague noise of assent, a low, shaky whine, and curl your fingers around your cock, trailing your thumb over the head. Everything, Ryou—we'll have it all—he laughs, and you think it could be the last-ever sound of the world, the heralding bells of an apocalypse. It echoes through your head, and you think about loneliness, about how he had waited for you, for the longest time—and in a way, maybe you had waited for him, too. —just as it was meant to be. He laughs and laughs like a devil and you stroke yourself clumsily to the sound of it, wanting: wanting to touch him; wanting to feel the comforting hands of another for the first time in what feels like so incredibly long; wanting to fall together, bleed together, one and the same, identical smiles and twin-beating hearts, wanting with such hunger, for you have devoured his every word, and it will never be enough.