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Genos swept red lacquered arms in long, smooth strokes over the concrete, one pressurized can in each hand.  Black in the left and gold in the right, he laced his name across the broken façade.

He claimed this region as his, and marked it thus:

Demon Cyborg


Saitama couldn’t believe the nerve of this guy, tagging up the place in broad daylight. He hadn’t seen a cyborg skulking around when he left for the convenience store yet there he was, spray painting all over the cracked and crumbling wall across from the abandoned laundromat.  

This part of City Z wasn’t the nicest, but people still lived here! Saitama did, at any rate.  Sure, monsters trashed the area constantly and the city abandoned maintaining it; they encircled his entire neighborhood in fences and warnings signs and left it to fester.

But it was still home. 

The last thing this place needed was some punk graffitiing garbage all over the main drag. Saitama stomped over to give the guy a piece of his mind, grocery bags swinging in his fists.

“Hey! Hey you!” Saitama shouted, storming across the battle-pocked street in worn out sandals. “What the hell do you think you’re doing, kid?!”

Genos paid no mind, too focused striping gold embellishments onto precise script.  He only required two more tags to complete his circuit and fold City Z’s entire abandoned zone into his domain.

“Kid, I’m talking to you!!”  The annoying buzz persisted.

Scowling, Genos spiked the black can into the dirt.  He spliced open his mechanical arm to channel crackling energy from core to palm. He spun to face this pest, electricity bristling off the gold studs adorning his dark leather jacket.

“This is my territory. Leave before I incinerate you.” Demon Cyborg growled through bared teeth, cherry eyes flaring under the shadow of his plum hood.

“Hey, I fucking live here!” Saitama stood his ground. There was no way he was gonna let some edgy teen bully him out of his home turf. “This is my neighborhood, so stop tagging everything!”

Genos appraised the fool from shining bald dome to threadbare sweater and scoffed, “Go to hell, old man.”

“OLD?!” Saitama barked, the insult hitting home so hard he had to take a step back.

“Get lost. I do what I want.” The brat smirked and snapped his incendiary arm shut. He aimed the stained spray can nozzle in his right hand back to the wall.  In a final burst of golden criss-cross shines over the ‘Cyborg’, he was done.

He locked eyes with Saitama when he dropped the spray can on the ground, next to the half-dozen already discarded at his feet.

The scandalized gasp and sudden sharpness in Saitama’s gaze was exactly the effect Demon Cyborg hoped for. He drank the righteous indignation dripping off this man like a strawberry milkshake.

Genos grinned, satisfied. He strapped his duffel over a shoulder in a rattle of aerosol mixing peas and clinking cans. “Nice hoodie.” He purred, curling both synthetic hands at his chest as if cupping breasts to emphasize the point.

Saitama ground his teeth in annoyance, clenched fists trembling his bags. He’d almost convinced himself to set his groceries down and bop this rude teen a good one when the guy suddenly dropped into a crouch. In one swift burst of steam and heat, Demon Cyborg leapt atop the deteriorating apartment roof.

He didn’t even give Saitama a second look before he vanished from eyesight, on to the next spot marked in his HUD.

Saitama could chase this kid down easily if he wanted to but… he glanced down at his groceries, condensation beading over the plastic. He really should get these popsicles into the freezer before they melted. Somehow, they didn’t taste the same if they refroze.

His irritation withered away as quickly as it bloomed.

He glanced up to the graffiti now adorning the derelict building. It sprawled across the exterior wall, a twist of flaming letters and mechanical elements Saitama had a hard time deciphering. It was appealing in its own way looking at it now, though he couldn’t make out what the hell it said.

Whatever. Could be worse.

With a soft sigh and a shrug, Saitama continued home.

Saitama leaned shirtless against his folded futon, slurping on a fruit punch popsicle. This brand was cheap and delicious, though it stained his whole mouth cherry. He licked his lips, savoring the juices with a soft, contented noise.

A cold popsicle was perfect on hot days like today.

He’d almost wrapped his lips all the way around this tasty treat when the emergency broadcast alarm blared through his television. Saitama nearly jumped out of his skin, jerking towards the newscaster to see an ominous image of an enormous meteor heading right for City Z and the words EVACUATE.

He devoured the popsicle so furiously he gave himself a brain freeze.

Grimacing, teeth grit, Saitama changed into his hero suit in record time.  There was no way a meteor was gonna land on his town!!


Genos raced against the countdown in his ocular display, rocketing back towards the motorcycle parked on the other end of his territory. Forced to leave his final tag undone, he hastened to beat the rock harkening Armageddon.  

Demon Cyborg’s ride remote started the moment he breeched its proximity radius, headlamp illuminating, high gloss black body lighting up with Tron-style trim and glowing crimson undercarriage runners. He leapt onto his machine, straddling over the worn leather seat, engine ready and roaring.

The meteor overhead burned: an ominous second sun over City Z.

A primal fear surged within Genos, core rotating faster and faster as his survivability quotient began to drop precipitously. He snapped back the kickstand with a metal boot heel, tires squealing, pealing out of the alley.

It was a race against the impact now.

Genos tore through the abandoned zone, dodging potholes and rubble, trailing dust and debris. If only he had bothered to look at the sky even once while painting over his new domain, he may have noticed the damned thing sooner.

Who the hell in charge thought 30 minutes would be enough time to evacuate?

Demon Cyborg briefly saw a blur of yellow, red, and white racing towards him, but it was too quick for his targeting system to pinpoint.  He barely twisted his head in time to register what, or rather who, that blur was as it blasted by him.

Time stopped the millisecond their eyes met.

Realization bloomed. The sour old man from earlier! Now though, the pair almost floating mid-stride, frozen in the moment, he did not look so old. The man’s features were sharp, chiseled: a handsome face framed by a billowing white cape.  His hero uniform clung to his muscled body, accentuating lines once hidden by that hideous hoodie.

Honey brown eyes reflected recognition back at the villain.

Genos’s pupil shutters snapped, reflexively recording that instant.

Time restarted like a bursting rubber band, breaking whatever spell held them suspended together.

Then they were both gone, specks traveling at impossible speeds, trailing in opposite directions. The Hero Saitama barreled towards doomsday; Demon Cyborg fast and far away from ground zero.

Genos drove right through the chain link gates, out of the abandoned zone and onto a two lane highway leading to the northern ocean. He shook off the lingering vision of the man’s face, scorched into his mind and now backed up to his internal memory.

He did not know what possessed him to take that photo.

A memorial portrait of a foolish man, running towards his death.

Most evacuation traffic headed for the nearby city-states, so the road to the beaches remained navigable despite the chaos.  Only a handful of terrified motorist had the same idea as Genos: run for the ocean in the hopes that the water may save them from the heat and shockwave of the impact.

Genos didn’t know if that theory was sound. It didn’t matter.

If he wavered, he was dead anyways.

He reached the straightaway and engaged Bullet Mode. Demon Cyborg splayed out over his bike’s frame, sliding clawed fists to the lower handholds. His fingertips pushed into the connection ports, funneling the immense power of his core into the transformation engine.

The motorcycle split apart in a hissing cloud of steam, reconfiguring low and wide like a wedge. The tires slid forward and back, dropping the frame to near ground level before the entire machine re-fused.  Power surged through Genos’s conduits, rippling red sparks along the surface of his chassis.

Genos blasted forward with a sonic boom, fleeing motorists turning into blurred lines of color in his periphery. The motorcycle controls linked to his ocular display, allowing the teen to easily dip and dodge the other vehicles despite the blistering speeds.

Racing for his life, Demon Cyborg’s core roared frenzied, ferocious. His survival probability dipped into single digit percentages. Adrenaline surged him forward, vision trapped between the pinprick of path before him and his doom in the side view mirror.

The meteor loomed nearer now, wreathed in flames and trailing smoke.

Every gauge was in the red. This was the limit of his power.

The burning rock grew larger, closer, so close Genos began to make out its shadows and shapes. New calculations and trajectories scrolled over his HUD, fear clenching the cables in his throat.

Would this place would be his grave?

Without warning, the meteor shattered before his eyes, splintering into shards with a cataclysmic explosion. Genos barely registered the shockwave that followed; his eyes remained wide, awed, transfixed by the sight in his mirrors.

A strange sense of serenity overtook him, as if he’d borne witness to the hand of God.

What incredible power!!!

Broken bits of meteor pummeled City Z, toppling skyscrapers and erupting clouds of chaos in every direction.  Warnings blared in Genos’s ocular display as space rock came hurtling through the air near him, but it was nothing he couldn’t dodge.

The immediate danger passed, he took the off-ramp leading away from the beaches, towards Doctor Kuseno’s lab. He would have to scour for the source his salvation, for whatever being holds the power he desires to defeat the Mad Cyborg.

Genos barreled into the lab like a hurricane, bike tires branding the cured concrete with black streaks as he skid to a stop. He tore through the narrow, labyrinthine hallways, brimming with adrenaline.  His core roared, the seams between his plates glowing, emboldened by his scrape with death.

He burst open the door to the main cybernetic laboratory, still illuminated with energy. Dr. Kuseno hunched in front of a wall of monitors in the darkened room, fingers rapidly thrumming against an old keyboard.  The whole lab smelled of decades of dust and spilled machine oil; stale coffee and the tang of metal permanently hung in the air. Dozens of discarded cups littered every horizontal surface, save the modification table.

“DID YOU SEE THE THAT?!” Genos exclaimed, grinning wide, unable to contain his exuberance as he strode to where Kuseno sat. “That was incredible! Amazing!! The meteor was completely annihilated!!”

The doctor half-turned in the chair. The wall of mismatched monitors before him cast a ghostly glow over his wrinkled, sallow skin.

“Ah, so you took an interest in that too, my boy.” Kuseno responded, leaning back with a creaking squeak of his office chair. A small smile cracked his wizened lips as he canvassed the yet-unmarred frame of his masterpiece. The pinnacle of his knowledge and skill contained in the boy he lifted from the ashes and gave purpose.

Kuseno relished in his engineering at its pristine state while it lasted. It wouldn’t be long before Genos came back to him in pieces.

It was almost like clockwork.

“Of course, Doctor!” Genos croaked, the cold hand of death still hovering too close for comfort. He had nearly met his demise many times, but this incident branded itself into his mind. “I was in City Z when the evacuation alert went off and--”

“—And not a scratch on you. I’m impressed.” Kuseno concluded, severing Genos’s words lest his ward yammer forever.  He had footage of the incident; he didn’t need a rambling retelling.

Kuseno watched Genos proudly puff at the meager morsel of praise, hungry for it. It didn’t take much with this boy. The doctor realized fairly early on in their blood-pact the type of training needed to mold his ward into the perfect war machine.  Genos brimmed with fire and venom from the very start, he only needed a guiding hand to channel his hatred and push his body to the limit.

He recklessly took upgrade after upgrade regardless of the pain, as long as it meant more power.

Only through their mutual thirst for vengeance would their true potential be realized.

“The drones recording Bofoi’s weapon’s test captured the meteoroid’s destruction.” Kuseno began, turning back to the monitors to replay the footage he’d been scrutinizing before Genos made his entrance.

Genos strode forward to better view the screen, alarmed Metal Knight could have already attained the kind of arsenal needed to pulverize the meteor. He watched Kuseno slide the time indicator on the recording nearer the end of the hour long video and hit play.

Drones began recording as soon as they were deployed for a mission, Genos recalled. That meant whatever information network these scientists used to spy on each other knew of the meteor long before the evacuation warning sounded.

Betrayal bristled inside him. “You knew about the meteor for how long and did not think to warn me?” Genos growled lowly, glaring, bubbling with hurt and indignation.

The doctor turned to face his petulant son and resolutely held his roiling gaze.  Kuseno’s enormous bowl of gray and white hair cast a bruised shadow over his sharp, cold eyes.

“Oh, I assumed you’d seen it and could take care of yourself. Should I begin regular logs of your whereabouts again to make sure you’re alright? Or perhaps you would like a chaperone?” Kuseno queried, his words pointed and fierce despite the caring tone he poisoned them with. Genos’s insecurity at his doctor’s surface sincerity pummeled through him with practiced precision.

The lava that lit up the channels between Genos’s plates crusted dark, fire meeting the ocean.

Kuseno knew every button, exactly what switches to flip. Although Genos could be difficult to predict, the doctor had become adept at manipulating the boy’s mental state to meet his needs.

The years proved to Kuseno exactly which carrots and sticks borne the most fruit, and he applied them liberally. The doctor played the conductor, wielding his affections and approval like a baton; Genos his eager orchestra, played and struggling to maintain tempo.

The doctor did not falter. He could show no weakness. Genos wavered under the disquiet of Kuseno’s penetrating stare and the certainty his words were not hollow. The days of Genos’s constant surveillance were not long past; it was only recently Kuseno granted the boy a longer leash.

A little part of Genos shriveled and curled into itself at the thought of returning to those days.  He was the first to divert his gaze.

“No, I am fine on my own.” Genos responded, focusing his attention on the screens, paused on various angles of Metal Knight’s machine test. Kuseno held the boy in his stare just long enough to ensure he’d been properly cowed, his dominance assured.

He turned sharply back to the monitors and clicked play. Bofoi’s beast split open its impressive weapons bay and volleyed warheads at the oncoming rock.

When the meteor emerged from the cloud of smoke, Genos’s gears drained of oil, freezing him. That immense firepower, beyond both his and Kuseno’s ability, and it was entirely ineffective.

This would have definitely killed him.

“A failure.” Genos scoffed derisively to blanket his unease. Kuseno smirked, hand hovering over the pause as the video continued to play.

 “You may be surprised to know it was the punch of a single man that took down this rock.” Kuseno said, watching the yellow blur leap from a skyscraper hard enough to collapse it.

Genos stared, agog at the image of the man shattering this enormous meteor. That close to the epicenter, the shockwave quickly engulfed the drone and sent it careening into a building, losing picture. Kuseno switched to the clip of the impact he’d fully extracted, slowed, and enhanced.

The figure moved too fast for even Kuseno’s advanced spy equipment to capture in focus. “And… here’s where he exits the other side.” Sure enough, the man passed through, red fist raised, iron and nickel parting like water around him.

Genos’s core pulsed at the dawning realization of who this may be. “Do you have anything closer?” He murmured, resting a hand on the console as he leaned forward.  Yellow, red, and white. The colors were identical.

Kuseno flipped to the still captures, opening the best one in the larger center screen. Genos stared at the lean body soaring towards the meteor, rippling with the power to shatter worlds. Although the image was too blurry to make out any defined features, the resemblance to the man Genos met in his domain was unmistakable.

He was absolutely smitten, core throbbing magma into his conduits.

Genos had to see him again.

“This bald, caped man has unbelievable power, yet he’s unknown. By his dress, he’s the hero type, but there’s no record in the Association databases. No mention in any news.” Kuseno frowned, stroking his large chin, brow furrowed at the enigma before him. “Find him, Genos.  I need to know what gives him this strength.”

Genos intended to locate the man long before his doctor began speaking, but Kuseno didn’t need to know that. He listened patiently, capturing and storing bits of Kuseno’s footage as he spoke.  Once satisfied, Genos stepped away from the console to gather his belongings. Aside from collecting the reconnaissance gear in the equipment shed, the most pressing issue remained his depleted bank account.

“I will require additional funds.” Genos stated, idly peering at the stack of blueprints for this next upgrade on a nearby drafting table. Kuseno didn’t so much as turn from the screen, only waved his hand dismissively in the air beside him.

It was a motion Genos came to know as ‘do what you want.’ His account would be replenished before nightfall. The doctor reabsorbed into the monitors again, replaying the clip of the impact for the thousandth time. A gnarled hand scribbled unintelligibly onto a coffee stained steno pad.

Demon Cyborg turned and left without another word.

Genos began the search for this mysterious man after depositing his satchel of belongings in the most defensible building in the abandoned zone.  For now, this would serve as base camp. He leapt back out the window onto a nearby roof, racing towards their first point of contact.

Demon Cyborg dropped himself in the center of the main road, right in front of his tag. He smirked, noting the spent spraycans may be gone, but his signature remained.

The powerful hero Genos sought lived in this neighborhood, his target proclaimed as much. He couldn’t be too far, so the teen decided to flush him out. If the old man’s severe indignation at littering was any indicator, he would never let wanton property damage stand unchallenged.

His lips split into a sinister grin as he primed the pistons in his machine gun arms.

He knew what he had to do.


Saitama eyes shot open from where he’d flopped over in front of the TV to nap, startled awake by a loud, nearby booming. Still bleary, he sat up and looked around his small apartment, wondering if he’d been dreaming. He groaned, rubbing the heel of his hand into his eyes in a feeble attempt to push the sleep away.

Another explosion sounded, closer now, rattling the objects on the table and bookshelf.

Feeling a bit more with it, Saitama stumbled to grab his hero suit from where he’d dropped it after today’s patrol. He wriggled into it, zipping up and snapping on his belt to unintelligible screaming in the distance and a twin set of blasts.

He fumbled for his gloves.

Saitama leaned heavily against the hall wall, pulling on his red boots when the unused air conditioner and the glass door below it burst apart. Shards of glass and chunks of concrete rained all over his living space. The force knocked his TV off the entertainment unit into the table with a sickening crack and sent the books on his shelf scattering across the floor.

Saitama cracked his knuckles, vein in his forehead throbbing at the state of his home.

Someone’s about to get a beat-down.


“OLD MAN! Where you hiding?! Come out!!” Genos shouted, kicking a bent street lamp right off its post and onto the demolished sidewalk. He’d been trashing the place for at least ten minutes and the task became less fun and much more a chore by the second.

“C’mon!!” Genos growled in annoyance, punting a trashcan into a long-vacant storefront, shattering the dusty window. He raised his incinerator cannon towards the opening he’d created, power pulsing through the channels between his plates to collect in his palm. “WHERE ARE YOU, BALDY?!”

“Who the fuck are you calling baldy, punk.”

The voice bored into Demon Cyborg like acid, a phantom tingle shivering up his synthetic spine.  Genos didn’t even register Saitama darted towards him until the hero grasped his extended wrist in a crimson leather glove.

Pain sprouted like peonies up his arm as Saitama crunched down on him, backfiring the accumulated energy from his incinerators.  It blew every connection node along its path and activated the neural failsafe, shielding his brain from damage.  The force of the recoil shattered his forearm and elbow, leaving smoking, sparking cables and warped metal dangling from his splintered upper arm.

Demon Cyborg leapt back reflexively, warning alarms blaring in his ocular display. The crushing force this man possessed went far beyond what his sensors were capable of recording.

“Didn’t I already scold you once, kid? What the hell!” Saitama dropped the dismembered mechanical hand in his grasp and stared at Genos with a look that promised he could do worse. “I’ll punch you if you keep trashing my neighborhood.”

“I don’t need to anymore, I was looking for you.” Demon Cyborg hissed, mouth splitting into a feral grin. His entire body trembled with his attempts to control the adrenaline flooding his brain, pupils pinning.

“Well, you found me. Now what the hell do you want?” Saitama sighed, eyes going round, body posture slumping. Was this guy serious? Did he really just wreck this entire place just to find him??

Genos mistook Saitama’s disappointment for an opening and launched himself towards the hero so hard he buckled the pavement. The bland, bored look on Saitama’s face as Demon Cyborg neared their collision only fueled his fighting spirit.

How dare he be dismissed! In this very moment, nothing would be more satisfying than splattering this insufferable man across the pavement.

“Machine Gun Blows!” The teen howled.  He pummeled Saitama with a rocket-powered fist, but all he hit was air and afterimage. The hero slipped between his punches, pushing in under just his reach.  They were almost nose to nose, coming so close Genos could see gold flecks in those dark eyes.

He couldn’t resist taking another photo.

Saitama’s fingers burrowed deep into the villain’s bicep, past his metal armor to grip him down to the frame. Effortlessly, he pulled Genos’s remaining arm free, stringing wires and movement mechanisms from his shoulder and body cavity like gutting a pumpkin.

Demon Cyborg gasped, refusing to break eye contact with this incredible man even as the integrity alarms blared in his HUD and pain surged up into his cortex. He stumbled back, sparkling from his splintered limbs.  Once again, Saitama’s power spiked past his ability to analyze.

This man could tear him apart like a toy if he desired, but Genos refused to move. He stared, memorizing every inch of the hero before him.  He panted a hot breath, core roaring under his leather vest.

The hero flung the still-twitching mechanical arm off to the side.

“You done?” Saitama frowned, arms crossing over his chest. He furrowed his brows when the punk launched himself forward, wondering why this kid even bothered. He stood firm, both feet braced for whatever Demon Cyborg dished out.

That something ended up being a roundhouse kick to the face. Saitama stood perfectly still as Genos shattered his own damn leg on his bald head. Demon Cyborg’s titanium shin warped around the hero’s dome, the force splitting open his calf like an oyster. Bounce cables at the Achilles connector snapped, sending his booted foot flying.

The rest of his body followed the momentum, tumbling end over end into the rubble of his own creation. He smacked the concrete wall so hard he burst right through it, crashing into store’s sparse garment racks. Little bolts and fragments of his frame littered the streets in his wake.

Genos’s entire display lit up warnings and errors, pummeled by and bounced off a seemingly infinite power. The frustration of his resounding defeat erupted in the form of a howl, followed by a string of expletives.

Saitama stepped through the broken storefront to approach the battered cyborg, screaming obscenities and flailing uselessly on the ground. Glass crunched under worn, leather boots.

“You know, I think I’ve had about enough of you.” Saitama murmured, grabbing a t-shirt from the floor, ripping it in twain. Too busy throwing a tantrum, Genos didn’t notice the hero approach until Saitama laid hands on him. A dusty garment thrust into his mouth before being tied off behind his head. Demon Cyborg could hardly believe it when his conqueror hefted him off the ground and around his shoulders like a metal shawl.

“MMHNnn!!!” Genos protested, suddenly aware of his predicament.

Saitama ignored him, one hand hooked over a splintered shoulder, the other draped around his remaining leg to hold him in place. This kid had to be a villain, or wanted somewhere. There was no way someone with this destructive nature and that much firepower should be running around unsupervised.

Maybe this kid even had a bounty. Dollar signs lit up Saitama’s previously disinterested brown eyes.

Genos struggled and growled in vain.

Saitama stepped out of the decimated department store right under the shadow of an enormous slug, oozing out of the manholes and sewage drains. Both men stared at the thing, simultaneously traveling its slimy form from the ichors it sat in to its wriggling eyestalks.

They cringed in unison.

The Hero Saitama had no time for this nonsense, not after dealing with this brat. He released the villain’s leg for just long enough to punch a hole in the damned thing and send its innards spraying out over thirty feet. It collapsed, liquefying, sliming back into the sewers.

Genos gawped, slack-jawed at the scene, gore dripping from the remaining lampposts nearby. The video was one thing, but seeing this man’s power in person – it was indescribable. What could possibly be the secret to his strength?

He burned to know. But at the very least, he needed this incredible man’s name.

“MMphhh!! GRrr mnnhnnn.. thMM!!” Genos groused and struggled in earnest now.  Saitama clamped down on the guy like a vice as he waddled past the slime towards the city center.

Brute force escape was futile, yet the boy persisted in kicking his remaining leg and vigorously worming his torso.

“You can’t wiggle away. Your bounty’s gonna pay to fix my apartment.” Saitama grumbled, eyeing Demon Cyborg’s trail of destruction as they went, irritation spiking. This guy better be worth a fucking fortune…

Genos desperately tried to convey the depths of his admiration around the gag in his mouth. He hoped the tone carried where his words were garbled by cloth. The villain tried to make eye contact, to somehow express the aching in his core to know this man better.

Saitama stopped walking. His gaze slid to connect to Demon Cyborg’s like a snake ready to strike. The kid froze.

“Ohh? You got something to say for yourself?” Saitama rattled low, searching. Genos swallowed, his core pulsing awkwardly in his chest, spitting little sparks from damaged wires.  He nodded quickly, eyes wide, flicking about Saitama’s handsome face as his features softened.

“Fine! You have twenty words or less.” The hero sighed, sliding Demon Cyborg off his shoulders. He settled the villain on his rear, leaned against a wall. Genos felt a little like a doll, the hands that once tore him apart surprisingly loose and gentle. “And one of those better be ‘sorry’.” He continued, almost as an afterthought.

Saitama squatted before the teen, slipping both hands behind Demon Cyborg’s head to untie the gag. Genos kept his eyes locked on Saitama, watching him with unwavering intensity. A cluster of cracks radiated from where his cheekbone impacted solid surface. This look was different than the Fight Me face this punk wore earlier, and something about it make the hero’s ears hot.

He pulled the moist fabric from Genos’s slick, puffed lips.

Saitama had to look away.

“I am sorry for damaging your home. Tell me your name!” Genos blurted immediately. Saitama’s gaze darted back at those words just long enough to confirm the kid was still giving him that weird look.

“…Saitama.” He grumbled, rising from his haunches. Genos tried to follow, but his lack of limbs proved quite the obstacle.

“Wait!” The kid shouted, scarcely keeping from toppling shamefully to the ground. “Please teach me how to become strong like you!!”

Saitama wondered if he hadn’t whomped the guy short a few brain cells.

“Um, hell no. Fix my apartment!!” He groaned, looking up to the sky as if it held the will needed to not just punt this punk halfway across the globe.

“Yes! Once I am repaired, I will return and cover damages!” Genos tried not to sound desperate. He grasped on to whatever he could, ripping open any opportunity to see Saitama again.

Saitama pinched the bridge of his nose. He didn’t even know why he considered letting this kid go; he’s probably a liar in addition to being obnoxious and violent.  Slowly, he looked to where Genos rested on the wall, limbs horribly mangled.  Idly, Saitama wondered if his jeans got ripped up in the fight or if he’d bought them that way.

Demon Cyborg stared, aiming for something in him Saitama couldn’t fathom. The hero surveyed his damaged, desolate town.  With all that ruckus, not a single human emerged to investigate or flee.

When was the last time he even saw a person?

Was he an idiot for sticking around this ghost town?

His shoulders slumped, the will to continue conversing with this renegade cyborg fading fast.

“Fine, whatever.” Saitama concluded, exasperated and strangely uneasy.  He left the punk there to figure out how to get back to wherever the hell he lived on his own. Saitama already let him off light, he owed the brat nothing.

Ugh, cleaning up his apartment was going be such a pain.

Genos watched Saitama’s retreating figure, white cape billowing. Once out of eyesight, the teen allowed his trembling, undamaged leg to finally release, tumbling him face-first into the rubble. Although this wasn’t the outcome he yearned for, it was a step forward. Genos had his savior’s name.

“Saitama.” Demon Cyborg let the syllables slide off his tongue. It tasted pleasant in his mouth.

Genos activated the retrieval signal, lounging across the dusty ground to await his pick up. His arms still sparked periodically, but he wasn’t leaking out too much oil and his cranium remained unharmed. He closed his eyes and thought of that broad backside, yellow suit clinging to Saitama’s pert ass in just the right places as he strode away.

Demon Cyborg relished in these blessed visions.

The whirring of the drone brought him back to reality. Genos slowly opened his eyes to the uncanny image of three of his miniature robotic dopplegangers.

God, he hated them.

“Destroyed again, I see.” The gnarled voice of the doctor emanated from the child-like bot in the center, hovering over the young cyborg like swarming yellowjackets. A scanning ray beamed from vacant black and gold eyes, canvassing Genos’s shattered form, accessing his damage.

“I located the meteor man. His name is Saitama.” Demon Cyborg croaked painfully as little hands prodded into the open wounds of his arms, closing currents to cease his sparking. “He completely overpowered me. His readings were- ah! T-too strong for the sensors to record.” Genos panted, chest heaving when the stabilizing repairs completed and the stimulus to his cortex finally faded.

“Impossible!” Kuseno scoffed, even as he cataloged the excessive damage.  The list of repairs his ward would need proved troubling; this man ripped his boy apart like a little tin soldier. 

Kuseno would have to rebuild him stronger.

“I am transferring the data from my fight with Saitama to you immediately.” Genos responded, chest constricted, hoping the information collected would be enough to balm the sting of failure in Kuseno’s eyes.  Saitama’s strength soared far above his ability to reach in his current state. He did not want to be punished for something he could not control. “I need more power! I will do whatever it takes, Dr. Kuseno. I must battle him again.”

Beyond the glowing monitors, the doctor’s lip curled up in a sardonic smirk as the readings finished streamed into his pending folder, to be broken down and analyzed. Already this meteor man proved an astounding anomaly, and he was sure they'd barely scratched the surface.

“Absolutely incredible… His name is Saitama, you said?” The doctor mumbled, quickly reaching for his pencil to scratch it onto the notepad. “Good job, boy.”

Kuseno missed Genos’s small, relieved smile when he abruptly severed their communication link.

Chapter Text

The faint scritching of pen on paper permeated Saitama’s sleep. Long lines followed short taps of ballpoint, forming a pleasant rhythm. Discordant with his dream and out of place in the usual quiet of solitude, it yanked him right from his reverie into the waking world.

Saitama bolted upright, hand curled over the manga he fell asleep reading. Eyes still unfocused and crusted, he barely made out a figure looming near the damaged apartment balcony.

“GAH!” He yelped, reflexively winging his book across the small space, directly towards the monster with glowing red eyes. It cracked the damned thing right in the face, sending it reeling into the plastic tarp he’d tacked up to keep out the elements.

The creature stumbled, dropping the items in its clawed hands to bring a palm to its injury. Adrenaline spiked the world into focus, slam-dunking a ball of guilt into Saitama’s guts at the realization the intruder was no monster.

“WHAT THE HELL IS YOUR PROBLEM?!” Genos bellowed, one hand clenched over the right side of his face.

“MY PROBLEM IS YOU’RE IN MY HOUSE!!” Saitama yelled right back, remorse ebbing at the brat’s indignation. He’s trespassing, snuck in while he was asleep! Saitama had every right to be defensive. Besides that, didn’t he mess this guy up pretty badly just yesterday? How is he back in one piece already?!

“I AM TRYING TO REPAIR IT!” Genos fumed, eyes flaring, an angry heat emanating from his shoulders in visible waves. “I promised to return once my repairs were complete, do you not remember?”

Saitama surveyed the boy suspiciously, trailing down his lean frame to eye the pen and notebook by his dusty leather boots, the open duffel bag filled with tools propped near the tarp flap. He vaguely recalled the kid saying something like that but…

“Well, don’t just waltz in here, knock... and take off your shoes!” Saitama sighed deeply, deflating. Okay, so maybe he did tell this weird cyborg to fix his apartment, but he hadn’t expected the villain to actually follow through. God, Saitama wasn’t even decent… lying around in only threadbare boxers and a thin sheen of sweat.

Genos didn’t seem to be paying attention anymore, pulling his hand away to inspect the little porcelain chips crumbling from the fracture in his faceplate. The book’s impact left a spiderweb of broken skin under his eye, punctuated with a deep fissure. He slowly traced a finger over the crack while he pulled up the impact readings in his HUD. Such power! To think the hero could damage him this badly with only a simple paper book.

Saitama grimaced at the sight of his partially exposed titanium cheekbone.

“Ummm.. sorry about that.” Saitama mumbled, looking away remorsefully. “But seriously, don’t creep into people’s apartments while they sleep.” God, if he’d been flesh and bone, Saitama could’ve killed him with that Shonen Jump.

“Your door was open.” Demon Cyborg responded, inclining his head to the busted wall behind him as if that resolved every malfeasance.

“YOU BROKE IT!!” Saitama’s blood pressure surged into his face. The urge to bodily fling the kid as far away from himself as he could battled the knowledge he couldn’t afford to repair the damage on his own. He waffled before finally throwing his hands up in defeat. “Uggghhhh, forget about it! Just…fix it already!”

Genos smirked and slipped off his riding boots, tucking them just outside onto the balcony. He retrieved his sketchbook and pen to continue recording measurements, pleased in this little victory.

Saitama ignored him, slipping into the bathroom with a bundle of (probably) clean clothes before locking the door behind him. Part of him hoped the smug brat in his living room was just a figment of his imagination and he’d be gone by the time he finished showering… but he doubted he’d be so lucky.

Saitama stared at the water sluicing down the drain, concern creeping up his spine. Should he really have left the villain alone in his home? Would he break something else?? Steal from him??

He sighed, thumping his head against the cool tile. Who was he kidding? He didn’t have anything of value for the delinquent to take. He was basically worthless.


Genos looked up from his notes when Saitama reentered the room, clad in thrift store jeans two sizes too large and a shirt he won from a convenience store raffle. The villain’s lip curled up in mild disdain at the eye-melting design. He’d looked much better passed out and almost naked.

Genos would salivate over those photos later.

“I have all the measurements I need. I will return with materials.” Demon Cyborg hummed, snapping his sketchbook shut, tucking the pen into the spiral binding. He slipped the set inside his studded leather jacket.

“Seriously?” The hero looked almost shocked the boy would actually follow through with his promise. Genos scoffed at Saitama’s obvious lack of faith, turning towards the balcony. He parted the tarp with an irritated smack, light filtering in around his broad form.

Saitama followed far enough to pick up the battered manga from where he’d flung it, eyeing the villain as he slipped into his boots. A large embroidered patch adorned the back of his motorcycle jacket: a steaming, electric heart twined and punctured by thorny, black roses.

Genos placed a hand on the balcony rail and got one leg up to vault over when he froze.

“I was wondering…” He began, glancing over his shoulder. Those flaming eyes locked on Saitama and filled his insides with lava. “There are plenty of vacant apartments in this region, ones much larger than this. Why do you not just move to another?”

Instantly, indignation doused whatever that feeling was in ice water, leaving a cold stone. “This one is mine! I like it here!” Saitama almost screeched before tacking on the truth. “I can’t afford anything else.”

Genos arched a thin, blonde brow. “You…… pay to live here?? That is absurd; this building is entirely vacant except for you.”

“Of course I pay rent! It’s the principal!” Not that Saitama hadn’t squatted in vacant apartments before… he just thought he was past all that. Sometimes he was late, but he usually scraped together the money.  He didn’t want to lose his home because he thought he could shirk fiscal responsibility.

Genos smirked, bemused by his response. He dropped his leg back over the side and leaned against the rail, lacing those red metal arms across his broad chest.

“If that is your wish, I am the master of this domain now so you should not pay anyone else.” Demon Cyborg purred, lips splitting into a cocky smile.

“What is this, a shakedown?! I’m broke, dude!” Saitama felt a little like a butterfly pinned to a board under this man’s luminous stare. The compulsion to break out and shove this villain off the balcony rumbled under his skin like a ground tremor.

“I do not need money. I also accept affection as a form of payment.” His smile only grew wider, toothier. It reminded Saitama of a fox or a wolf, of walking to an ambush. He swallowed, near sweating for reasons he couldn’t quite wrap himself around.

“Affection? What the hell does that mean??” Saitama rasped, knowing exactly what the damned cyborg implied the moment the question passed his lips.

“We could make out.” The trap snapped, a fault line pushing magma from Saitama’s belly all the way up into his face. It erupted across his cheeks and ears faster than a katabatic wind. Genos recorded every second of his detonation with growing satisfaction.

Genos enjoyed flustered Saitama the most. He could replay that flush in slow-mo forever.

“WHAT?! Hell no! I’m not into dudes!! I don’t even know you!!” Saitama stammered, burying his burning face into his hands, heart quaking in his chest.  He could hear the guy laughing, the warm chortle only throbbing confusion and apprehension through his veins.

Saitama groaned out a plea for solitude. “Look, please just fix my apartment and leave me alone…”

Genos couldn’t restrain the swagger in his voice on the response. “I will return shortly.” He would not press his luck now; this was enough. He vaulted over the balcony without another word, grin plastered over his damaged faceplate.

By the time Saitama peered through his fingers, Demon Cyborg was gone.


Saitama had almost settled back into his usual routine when Genos returned unannounced, abruptly tearing down the tarp. The hero recoiled at the sudden burst of light assaulting his eyes, accidently clipping the corner off one of his coupons.

“The hell, dude! KNOCK.” He exclaimed, irritated at his mangled discounts. Demon Cyborg didn’t even look up as he rested an armload of scavenged materials against the wall before jumping down for more. The boy returned again and again, filling every available space inside Saitama’s apartment with wood studs, drywall, plaster, paint, and an entire ‘new’ sliding glass door.  Genos pushed aside any of Saitama’s personal items in the construction zone and laid out thin plastic sheets to keep out the debris.

Saitama stared down at his coupons, slicing paper. He wondered what this guy had against using the front door, why he was putting in so much effort, and where he got all this stuff. Did he even want to know?  Saitama’s brows knit.

He realized he didn’t even know the villain’s name.

He looked up to ask and found Demon Cyborg unzipping his jacket, peeling it free of his frame along with his dark hoodie. He tossed it aside, leaving only his white undershirt tucked into impossibly tight jeans.  His shirt slung low, exposing his sculpted, gunmetal chest. Effortlessly, Genos snagged the sledge hammer and hefted it onto his shoulder with a metallic thwunk. He mentally calculated his plan of attack, HUD outlining the areas needing additional demolition prior to the commencement of repairs.

He didn’t notice Saitama staring at broad plates of his back visible through the thin material of his undershirt until the renegade peered over a shoulder to warn him.

“This will be loud.” He began, noting Saitama’s sudden jolt when he spoke, the way his eyes darted up guiltily, tips of his ears turning red. Genos couldn’t resist the flirt, core humming excitedly at the unexpected attention.

“Mm, do you like what you see, Saitama?” Demon Cyborg had no organic muscles to flex, but he postured regardless, striking an impressive pose against the damaged veranda.

Saitama chose to ignore the boy’s come-on and the growing flush of his face, diving back into coupon clipping with single-minded focus. Genos could almost hear himself deflate.

“What’s your name, kid?” The hero finally asked, long after the boy dropped his arm and the silence grew awkward.

“I’m not a ‘kid’, old man.” Genos sneered though his disappointment-turned-irritation, swinging back to the wall while Saitama sputtered something unintelligible. “And my name is Genos.”

He brought down the hammer onto the dangling drywall with a reverberating crash. Any further protest drowned beneath the cacophony of construction.


Saitama considered leaving on patrol to escape the bedlam, but part of him didn’t trust this man unattended. He ignored the growing chaos and clouds of dust, tuning out the infuriating, handsome cyborg currently ‘fixing’ his apartment. Instead, he shoved in earplugs and focused on clipping coupons until the deals ran dry.

While Genos erected new studs and drove nails to lock them in place, Saitama cleaned up the kitchen, washing the backlog of dirty dishes. Man, he’d really let these go- the food long crusted, requiring extra elbow grease to chip free.

The hero tried not to think about the villain’s flirting and his own embarrassing response to it, how easily this boy got under his skin.

Instead, he occupied himself around the house: scrubbing and mopping the entire bathroom and kitchen, inventorying the scant items in the fridge for later shopping, taking the rubbish to the curb – anything and everything he could think of outside the living area.

By the time he finally settled down to sort and fold his laundry, Genos had framed out the entirety of the balcony opening, re-attached the door, and tacked up new drywall. Now, he was deep into skimming plaster over the reconstructed surface with a metal hawk.

Saitama tried not to look impressed by how quickly the guy worked, or where he even learned these skills. Flecks of plaster dotted over Demon Cyborg’s arms and chest, hair pushed back haphazard and fixed in place with smeared stucco.

The hero didn’t linger long, snapping back to the piles before him for something to focus on. He discreetly performed the sniff test on whatever clothes looked borderline, shoveling the failures into a sack for later laundering. He then set to work folding shirts, expertly pinching, gathering, and flipping each one.

He didn’t realize Genos was trying to speak to him until the villain cast a shadow across his workspace, mouth moving, hands gesticulating. Saitama yanked out both earplugs.

“Sorry, what was that again?” He asked, unperturbed by the frustration evident on the boy’s face that he’d heard nothing of what was previously said. Saitama turned back to his shirts: pinch, gather, flip, fold, pinch, gather, flip, fold.

“I was informing you that repairs are nearly complete.” Demon Cyborg rumbled, brows creasing as he watched the hero fold shirts in record speed. “I will need to smooth the plaster twice more while it is still damp, but then it must be allowed to cure before…” His words drifted off, spellbound by Saitama’s technique.

Saitama kept pinching and flipping, awaiting the continuation of his thought. When none was forthcoming, he sighed. “Before what?”

He looked up to see wide, studious eyes staring back down at him, at the shirts stacked at his side. They were round, soft, curious; a sharp contrast to the sneers and scowls Genos so often wore. They cut open his cynical façade like the fracture Saitama left in his face.

“How are you doing that?” Genos asked, slowly sinking to kneel beside him, leaning in to observe the movement of his hands, absolutely riveted.

“Doing what?” Saitama found it hard to keep his eyes off the villain, but managed to drag his gaze back to the laundry.

“Folding those shirts. How do you do it so quickly?” How much time had Genos wasted laundering and folding his doctor’s clothes when a faster method existed?

“Huh? You mean this?” Saitama repeated the motion: pinch, gather, flip, fold. He set his yellow polo onto the stack.

“Yes. Please teach me.” If Genos mastered this method, chores could be completed in a fraction of the time. He toggled on his recording feature, certain to capture it.

“Oh… you just um..” Saitama laid the next shirt out before him, pinching the midpoint with his left hand and the shoulder on the same side with his right. He gathered the shoulder point to the bottom hem, ensuring a firm grip before lifting the shirt from the floor and uncrossing his arms, flipping it into a dangling rectangle. He folded the remaining sleeve under when he set it back onto the ground. “Like that.”

Again.” Demon Cyborg’s eyes illuminated like the navigation lights on a jumbo jet, near strobing in their intensity.

“Okay…” Saitama obliged, slowing down the motions. When he glanced up to gauge the boy’s satisfaction in his demonstration, Genos stared down at the shirt with an alarming amount of concentration. 

“Did you wanna try?” The hero offered, holding out a t-shirt with a faded graphic of avocado. That jerked the renegade back into the moment, leveling those ferocious crimson eyes onto Saitama’s.  Genos nodded, taking the garment from his hands. He laid it out as instructed and mimicked the technique over and over until he got it right.

The proud smile on Genos’s face, the little puff of his chest when he successfully executed the flip-fold, nearly sundered Saitama. Fuck, he’s cute. It should be a crime to craft a face that gorgeous. Yet, Saitama marred it, the spiderweb fracture a constant reminder of his growing remorse.

The sun waned in the sky, dipping behind the highway. A haze of orange and gold filtered in through the newly erected glass door. Saitama’s stomach growled: a not-so-subtle hint that he’d skipped lunch in the construction hullaballoo.

“I’m pretty hungry, are you? Do you eat? I can cook something for us.” Saitama queried, scooping up the clean, folded clothes. He ferried them to the closet, tucking the stack away.

The offer nearly disarmed Genos. “Yes.” He uttered, reeling to recall the last time someone cooked for him.

“OK. I’ll get started.” Saitama clacked the closet shut and moved into the kitchen, Genos’s gaze following him the entire way. “You may wanna clean up before dinner… you’re covered in plaster, dude.”

Genos rose without another word, pushing through the haze of his memories as he made his way to the bathroom.  Scraping the plaster specks from his arms, he remembered sacks of dollar burgers with greasy fries in the park, Chinese takeout inhaled leaning against his motorcycle.

Scrubbing the stucco from his synthetic hair with soap in the sink, he thought of milkshakes the size of his head sipped sitting on the ledge of a skyscraper. The pot after pot of coffee brewed for Kuseno.  Ferrying containers of microwave cup noodles into the heart of his lab.  Eating an entire box of ramen bricks raw sitting alone in his room, chased with flavor packets and cheap beer until his system processors overloaded and his body shut down.

He twisted off the tap, rising to meet his own eyes in the mirror. He saw the mask of a nightmare, wet hair smeared across his face, water dripping down his fractured cheek and chin to dribble over his dampening white tank. He grabbed the nearest towel and buried himself in it, soft against his skin. He inhaled it – the scent of a real person, not the wet metal of a war machine.

There were fragmented thoughts of his world before: delicate hands peeling potatoes, watching a warm smile spread on a familiar face framed by long blonde tresses. Small fingers poking into raw dough, admiring the indentations they made before a tall man swept the ball into the air with a flourish, forming a disc. A special day with thick slabs of steak in a cast iron skillet, work-calloused fingers gripping a spoon drizzling butter. Pressing cutters shaped like little men into gingerbread with four other hands just as tiny as his.

Genos closed his welling eyes, burying it all as deep as he could, shoving it far inside himself. That life was over, dismantled under the flames of a rampaging cyborg and left for dead. His old world remained ashes. No amount of resuscitation could ever revive the days of his youth – there was only the here and now. The agony of loss twisted around like balls of writhing worms within him, knotting itself into self-loathing and broiling rage.

There was no future without vengeance.

Only then could he lay down the burden of living.  


Saitama realized the air around Genos changed when he emerged from the bathroom, drying his hair with a bath towel. His bath towel. If it weren’t for the aura of simmering anger emanating from the boy Saitama may have said something, cracked a joke about the dandelion he’d fluffed himself into… but he remained silent, guts weaving into something he couldn’t name.

Genos returned to the newly constructed wall, smoothing the damp plaster with his metal hawk wordlessly.  Saitama looked back to the meal, silently plopping a glob of miso into a pot of water and seaweed bits on the stove.

Soon, discount meat and vegetables sizzled in the wok, diligently scooped and flipped. Saitama eyed the villain as he worked, wondering what happened in the bathroom to change the wide-eyed, curious boy into a tightly coiled serpent, radiating venom.

Well, it was none of his business anyways.

It took two trips to bring out the steaming bowls of miso soup and stir fry over reheated rice. Saitama set them onto the table and settled onto his cushion, all emotion drained from his face.

“Hey, Genos?”

The villain spun at his name, fangs bared, deep creases under his shadowed eyes. “What.

“Dinner’s ready.” Saitama dipped his spoon into the soup, gathering up some tofu and seaweed to transport into his mouth. Mmmm, perfect.

Genos eyed the meal set out beside the hero, dropping the hawk onto the tarp before cautiously venturing closer. He tentatively lowered himself into place, vision darting between Saitama and the heaping bowl of beef and vegetables as if the hero would snatch it away if he moved too quickly, wanted it too much.

He leaned over it, taking a slow breath of the rising steam. It smelled absolutely heavenly; his artificial salivary glands oozing enzymes in anticipation.

“Thank you for the meal.” Genos mumbled as if in a dream, watching the tofu bob beneath the ochre surface. Saitama made a noncommittal noise, lips pressed to the bowl, tipping it back to drain it.

Dinner tasted just as amazing as it smelled, nothing like the grease and artificial flavoring he’d grown accustomed to. His simmering anger ebbed at the amazement of real food, of flavors long dormant, near forgotten. It tasted so so good, absolutely delicious.

If only it didn’t remind him of the life he once had, of being loved.  It clenched his cables with longing. Genos wished he could eat this meal forever and throw it against the wall in grief simultaneously.

So visceral was his need for it, to chase those feelings, that when Saitama leaned in to grab the remote, Genos hunched over his meal protectively like a feral dog, teeth bared and near growling. Saitama froze.

“Dude… it’s okay..” Saitama whispered, concern creasing into his eyes. Saitama wasn’t a people person, but he knew enough to feel the wrongness of Genos’s response in the pit of his stomach. “I’m just turning on the TV…” What happened to this guy??

He clicked on the news and set the remote back onto the table. A large black splotch of dead pixels blocked a corner of the screen where it had smashed into the floor yesterday. He’s honestly lucky it still worked at all.

They ate in silence. Genos kept his arm between them, ready to thwart any attempts to take his bowl away, despite Saitama’s reassurance. It was only when the villain finished devouring his meal that Saitama attempted conversation.

“So… what’s your deal?” He asked, stacking his dishes together.

“Me? You wish to know about me?” Genos narrowed his eyes, suspicious, searching for his angle.

“Yeeaah…” Saitama got the sinking feeling he was about to open Pandora’s Box. Genos sat back, torn between his desire for a connection and his innate distrust. He stared into the warm honey of Saitama’s eyes for a long moment before the ache for companionship won out.

“Up until four years ago, I was a normal human being. I lived in relative peace and happiness with my family in this dog-eat-dog world.” Genos began, locking his intense gaze onto the hero. “But one day, an out-of-control cyborg attacked our town. It decimated the land, laid waste to our village: parks, schools, buildings, my house... my neighbors and my family were all destroyed. Miraculously, I survived.”

Genos clenched his fists, recalling the columns of smoke filling the sky, the scent of burning flesh and blood drenching the earth. “I was just a weak, 15 year old boy, alone and at the end of my strength when Doctor Kuseno passed by, chasing the wake of destruction the rampaging cyborg left. He was on a mission of vengeance, determined to destroy the monster. I asked to join him in his quest, to perform a procedure to modify my body.  I was reborn as a cyborg, and we made a pact that day to hunt that creature down and annihilate it.”

Saitama sighed and crossed his arms, opened his mouth to speak but—

“Four years passed since then. I have sacrificed my humanity in my quest to avenge my family, the life I had known and cherished. I defeated countless monsters and evil organizations, yet we were no closer to the rampaging cyborg than when I gave up my existence for the sake of power, to defeat fire with fire.” Genos continued, the rage at those past injustices boiled and overflowed, infusing his words with poison. “Kuseno granted me the strength he could, constantly upgrading me, weaponizing my body so we could achieve our vengeance on the damned thing.”

Flags raised at every sentence, Genos’s speech speeding faster, frenzied as he was overtaken by his anger, exuding his hatred in palpable waves. The unease in Saitama’s stomach ballooned, face blanching.

This was all a mistake, a huge mistake.

“How long have I been chasing phantoms, tearing myself apart to find this creature? I cannot die until I destroy the mad cyborg. I bear the burden of my hometown and Doctor Kuseno. I must become stronger, so that when I encounter it again I have the power to defeat it. I need you to show me the secret to your strength, your power, so I can enact my revenge. I have already relinquished my soul to the Devil. I will drag it to Hell with me.”

Fuck, this was too much. Saitama did not sign up for this, did not want the torrent of emotional trauma this boy spewed. Genos had walked right into Saitama’s apartment with every suitcase he owned and dumped all his baggage right at the hero’s feet.

Saitama was entirely unprepared to handle it.

“Holy shit, bro … you… fuck.” Saitama stumbled over his words, rubbing his temples. What the hell could he say to all that? This kid had a death wish and he wanted no part of it. “Don’t.. don’t you think that’s all really messed up?? Isn’t there a better way to live your life than chasing vengeance?” Saitama had seen enough anime to know where this road led.

It was exactly the wrong thing to say.

“YOU DON’T KNOW ME!” Genos stood abruptly from the table, nearly upending it. His face twisted in rage and betrayal, chest vents spewing red hot coals, core spinning like a siren. He’d spilled his guts to this man only to have his entire purpose for living cast down as inadequate, thrown into his face.

Saitama’s eye twitched, the once placid look replaced with hard edges, mouth set in a thin line.  “Dude, I wasn’t trying to attack you. You need to chill out.” 

“FUCK YOU!” Genos bellowed, the tightly twisted coil snapping apart, derailing him. It was hard to breathe, stress priming his body into battle mode and spewing steam. Electricity coursed over his plates, spiking off him in dangerous arcs. He wanted to kick things, break something, take this table and everything on it and fling it into the wall he’d just repaired, destroy it all again.

Saitama recognized this air, this anger. It made the hairs on his forearms stand on end. This was too familiar for comfort: days and feelings he’d purposely left behind. “I think you should go home... Come back when you’re not gonna take your shit out on me.”

Genos snarled, but offered no other objections. He spun on his heel and made for the open balcony door, settling on punting the bucket of plaster against the veranda wall. Saitama tensed as the impact shattered the plastic, splattering the semi-solid goop across the structure. Genos leapt over the rail and out of sight.

From somewhere down the block, there was the roar of a motorcycle engine and the sound of squealing tires. Only when the noise receded in the distance did Saitama begin to unclench.

He didn’t realize his hands were shaking until he started clearing the table.

Genos barreled full blast on autopilot, back to the doctor’s lab. Fueled by the hurt and anger roiling inside him, he recklessly roared through the darkening landscape. He ignored the wetness on his face just as he ignored the speed warning on the curve. He wasn’t surprised when the bike dropped to the ground, skidding him wildly over the road and into a ditch.

Although his ocular display alerted him nothing was seriously damaged aside from the layers of lacquer scraped from his shoulder, he laid in the gulley unmoving. This far outside civilization, Genos could see every star in the sky. Cosmic clouds spread out above him in a long band of blues and purples, speckled with twinkling diamonds.

The adrenaline from his rage depleted, grated across the pavement, there was nothing left but a hollow ache inside him and the stinging of pain sensors he couldn’t turn off.

It was welcome. It was what he deserved.

Thick, oily tears bubbled up from his artificial ducts, dripping through the cracks in his faceplate to seep into his mouth. It tasted of remorse, drowning away the lingering flavor of Saitama’s cooking. He did not want to think about the veracity of the man’s words, so he gazed up at the stars and lost himself.

Better to let it out of his system now, he thought, chest heaving in choked sobs.  He focused on identifying constellations, the damp grass pressing into his joints, the earthen scent surrounding him. Genos laid there until he’d pushed everything back inside its little box and latched it shut, tucked it in as far as he could.

It was easier to wallow in the pool of his sadness, pack away his suffering, than escape the cage his thirst for vengeance built.


Genos returned to the lab well past midnight, both he and the bike worse for wear.  Anxiety tangled around his core tighter and tighter as he descended the lighted ramp underground. Less than 24 hours ago, he’d left in pristine condition only to return scraped and fractured.

The doctor would not be pleased.

He shut off the motor and sat parked in the docking bay, battling the rising dread. His recklessness, these self-inflicted wounds, only temporarily eased his simmering ire. Now, facing the consequences of his actions, his resolve failed him.

He dismounted, paced grooves around the space with both hands clenched in his hair. He fucked up. Fucked up real bad. Not only did he facing scolding and possible punishment from Kuseno, but he’d screamed at Saitama, the man he most wanted to impress.

When he’d worn himself out, could no longer avoid the inevitable, he entered the lift and descended into the bowels of the laboratory.

Kuseno was waiting for his ward when he emerged into the ghoulish dim of the repair room. The doctor had received the damage alerts as they occurred, observed the boy’s arrival, traced his slow progress. He laced his gnarled hands, ready to meet Genos’s eyes when he entered, face shrouded and backlit by glowing screens. Genos froze under the doctor’s disapproving glare.

“Boy, I just fixed you. Can’t you go one day without damaging yourself?” Kuseno emitted a long suffering sigh, leaning back in his chair with a rusted squeak. When he made a disgusted tsk, Genos stared at the oil-stained concrete by his feet. “Come here.”

Genos obeyed, each step like dragging lead chains.

Kuseno grabbed his injured arm, tugging him down to eye level. He pressed a cold finger against the scrape, triggering the dormant pain sensors. Genos tried not to flinch. “You crashed your bike again. Reckless.” The doctor mumbled, releasing his limb in favor of grasping his chin.  Genos did not resist.

“Where were you today?” Kuseno knew, of course, he had the ability to track Genos at his whim, but he wanted to hear it from the boy himself.  He tilted his ward’s face to one side, examining the deep fissure in his synthetic skin. Red eyes darted met Kuseno’s sallow wells and quickly looked away.

“Saitama’s.” Genos whispered, focusing on a pair of partially constructed black arms lying on a metal gurney, surrounded by mechanical detritus.

“Hmm. Is he the one that struck you?” Kuseno mused, tracing the pattern of the impact fracture. Dried, black liquid filled the cracks like a kintsugi. Genos had been crying again. Pathetic. The black oil should have been a deterrent against frivolous weeping, but in reality the stains did not shame the boy as well as they should. If the tears weren’t often so satisfying to witness, Kuseno would have removed that ability long ago.

“Yes.” Genos breathed, barely audible. If Kuseno wasn’t leaning so close to his ward’s face, he may not have even heard him. “It was an accident..”

Kuseno chortled derisively, roughly releasing his ward’s chin, pushing him back. “Was it now? So tell me boy, what did he hit you with?”

Genos hesitated. “..a book.”

“A book?!” Kuseno would have thought him a liar if he hadn’t witnessed the hero shatter a meteor. “Send me the readings.”

Genos obliged, transferring the strike’s data wirelessly. Kuseno turned to the screen, clicking through with widening eyes.

“Incredible!” He muttered, immediately absorbed in the scrolling numbers and graphs. They were good, but not enough. “I will need to factor these into the Anti-Saitama arms..”

Ah, so that explained the new set of limbs on the slab. The shoulders were wider than Genos’s current arms, housing large turbines, sleek and glistening black with red gouges to channel his core’s energy. They were still splayed open, parts exposed, sharp claws adorning midnight hands with crimson knuckles. He almost didn’t catch the Doctor’s next words.

“-attach them tomorrow. Ask this Saitama to fight you in the testing canyon. I will deploy the drones to record the battle, and you must record as well. You will fight him until you are immobilized. I need full damage reports to incorporate into your next upgrade. If you can withstand a blow from this man, the Mad Cyborg should fall easily.”

“Of course, Doctor.” Genos heard himself speak though the words came from somewhere distant. He lingered behind the old man as he began clacking keys, calculations speeding over his screens. After a few moments, Kuseno paused, looking over his shoulder.

“We are finished here. Go to your room.”

Genos shifted, unable to hold his gaze. “My face..”

“What about it?” Kuseno turned back to the monitors and resumed typing.

“I… would like a replacement.” Genos stiffened when Kuseno chuckled darkly, clacking unceasing.

“Unnecessary. You will need full repairs after your fight, I will replace it then.” He smirked, waving a hand as if to shoo the boy away.

Genos ran his fingers over the cracks under his eye. Of course. There was no sense in wasting materials.  He would have to make the readings worth it. “Yes, Doctor.”

For two days, Saitama stared at the black leather jacket and hoodie hanging on the balcony. Demon Cyborg left them behind, and the hero wasn’t sure he’d return with how angry he’d been when he stormed out.

Saitama didn’t even realize the kid abandoned them until he laid out his bed that night and found it draped over the futon stack. The leather was worn, silky under his fingers. He thumbed over the brass spikes, lifted it onto his lap to trace the embroidery on the back and discovered an unusual heft. He found a small spiral bound book in the interior pocket, but didn’t pry further, leaving it untouched.

The hoodie though… he could faintly smell cologne wafting on the air displaced when he plucked it from his bed. He hesitated, waffled a moment, before guiltily pressing his nose into the soft, purple fabric. God, it smelled good, like wood and roses, cool metal and musk. Saitama’s cheeks warmed as he inhaled it, thoughts drifting to the villain’s flirting, his offer to make out.

Fuck, it was tempting… would be anyways, if he wasn’t pretty damn sure it was a huge mistake. Genos had high maintenance written all over him. His temperament certainly wasn’t helping his case.

So Saitama sighed, pulling away reluctantly. He placed both the hoodie and jacket on a hanger and left it outside, where he couldn’t be further seduced by its scent.

That’s where Genos found them when he vaulted onto Saitama’s veranda. He plucked his clothes from the hanger and casually slipped them on, finding it a little snug over his broader shoulders. He took a few moments to preen his bangs using his reflection in the glass. Once satisfied, he brought glossy, red knuckles to the door and knocked twice.

Genos’s lips tilted up in a tiny smirk at the panicked shuffling on the other side, a thud into something wooden followed by muffled curses. The curtains cracked open, one round eye peering out at the villain before the glass door slid apart a sliver.

“You came back.” Saitama stated, almost disbelieving. He surveyed the boy’s form, arms now black and twisted like an H.R. Giger, cheek still split open. The hero swallowed, looked away from the wound regretfully. Why did he change his arms and not his face? The hell…

“Yes.” Genos replied, soaking in the shirtless hero before dragging his burning gaze up to safer territory.  Saitama shifted uncomfortably, the tips of his ears turning red under the scrutiny.

“Well… what do you want?” He grumbled, rubbing the back of his neck with blunt fingers.

Genos inhaled slowly. He’d rehearsed this, he could not be distracted now. He yearned to mend the rift between them, to regain the fleeting acceptance he felt in this man’s home. “I wanted to apologize for my behavior. My anger at you was… misplaced.”

“No shit…” Saitama mumbled, recalling the uneasy parallels Genos’s sudden rage resurfaced. He had half a mind to give the kid a list of local therapists, reluctant to accept his apology unconditionally… but he sighed instead, deciding to let this one slide. He met the villain’s eyes, searching. “… that wasn’t all you came for, was it? If it’s about the wall, I already painted it so we’re even on that, I guess.”

It was Genos’s turn to look abashed. “It.. isn’t that.” The renegade responded, examining the remains of the plaster bucket he’d kicked into the balcony wall.

“Just spit it out.” Saitama sighed, the disappointment of being right settling somewhere in his lungs.

“Spar with me, Saitama. I need to determine the extent of your power!” Genos exclaimed, reanimated, refilled with passion for the fight.

“Nope!” Saitama made to close the door only to have black talons block its path. Genos hissed when the frame bashed against his fingers.

“Please! I will ask nothing else of you if you grant me this!” Genos knew the words were a lie as soon as they left his lips, but he did nothing to retract them. Saitama scrutinized the villain, expression unreadable. Part of him knew this was a promise Genos had no intention of keeping, but the desperation in his eyes chipped away at the hero’s resolve.

“Fine.” Saitama relented with a roll of his eyes. Genos immediately brightened, a little smile stretching onto his broken face. The hero definitely didn’t find it endearing. Not at all. “Now move your hand. I’ll get dressed and meet you downstairs.” 

Saitama emerged from the stairwell in his hero suit ten minutes later to find Genos straddling his motorcycle in front of the apartment complex.  He clacked away at his cellphone one handed, the other shoved deep into his jacket pocket, bangs drooping over his face.  He jerked up when the hero approached, flipping the device shut and slipping it into his pocket.

“Ready?” He slid forward in his seat, leaving space for Saitama behind him.

“I guess…” Saitama eyed the machine dubiously, black paint littered with scrapes and scratches, garish flame decals spilling over its surface leading to enormous quad tailpipes. He almost grimaced at the demon skull adorning the front, horns for handlebars. God, this kid was an edgelord dream and Saitama almost about-faced on the spot.

“I know a place we can go where we will not be disturbed.” Genos smiled, patted the seat. Once again, Saitama caved against his better judgment.

“You don’t have a helmet?” Saitama asked, slipping in behind the renegade, tucking his cape back between the exhausts. Genos chuckled, tilting the bike to start position.

“My brain is encased in material far stronger than any helmet.” He responded before turning back to Saitama. “Did you need one?”

“Nah.” The hero had been punched into the ground by a giant, he was pretty sure falling off a motorcycle would do absolutely nothing.

Genos grinned, wide and toothy. “Hold on tight.”

Any further conversation was lost in the roar of the engine, the rumbling power coursing through the machine between their legs. Saitama wrapped his arms loosely around Genos’s waist, reluctant for such close contact given his troubling response to the boy’s sweater.

The moment Genos took off, all thoughts of propriety were lost.  Saitama gripped for dear life as the world dissolved into blurs of shape and color, the wind whipping his cape up behind him like a kite tail.  Riding with Genos proved way more terrifying than Saitama ever anticipated, the loss of control wrapping around his bladder at every near collision.

Logically, Saitama knew a crash or spill would never hurt him, but his heart didn’t seem to get the message. It thundered wildly in his chest, adrenaline surging, every turn pulling the bike so low his face hovered inches from the ground. Saitama clung to Genos like a life preserver, bodies pressed tight, teeth clenched in terror.

Saitama pushed his face into the renegade’s back and pinched his eyes tight, nose buried in fabric folds. Genos could feel the heat of his labored breath on his nape, the sharp inhales and fingers digging into him in dismay.  Even though he saw nothing beyond his eyelids, Saitama felt the wind whip of passing something too close, the centrifugal force in every turn, the whizzing of the road like a whistle when they dropped nearly horizontal. He tried not to think about it, focusing instead on the way the scent clinging to the hood made his brain go fuzzy.

Genos would be lying if he didn’t admit the feel of the hero pressing so hard into him he could feel Saitama’s heart hammering through the leather jacket wasn’t exhilarating. His core spun faster at the thrill of it, of Saitama so flush no gap remained between them. His chest heated at the thought of this kind of closeness under much lewder circumstances.

The villain was almost disappointed when they arrived at their destination, stopping at the opening of a wide canyon littered with the charred outlines of numerous weapons tests. Only when he powered down the engine did Saitama begin to unclench, grip slowly slackening.

“We are here.” Genos rumbled, peering behind him to watch the hero pull back from where he’d embedded himself in his back. Saitama looked near dazed, eyes unfocused and cheeks ruddy. The villain’s core kicked up at the sight of it, connected to the dangling threads of earlier X-rated thoughts.

He couldn’t resist taking a few more photos.

“You are quite handsome.” He heard himself say, fighting the urge to twist around and cup the man’s cheek in a monstrous hand. Saitama’s face flushed almost immediately, snapping him back into the here and now. He pushed himself off the bike, putting distance between them.

“Don’t be a creep!” Saitama exclaimed, shoulders tense, still a little delirious from inhaling the brat for the majority of their ride.

Genos just grinned, dropping the kickstand and unmounting the bike. He gave the hero time to recover while he removed his jacket and hoodie, draping it over the seat.  When he scanned the surrounding cliffs with his HUD, he caught the signatures of six drones in the surrounding area, positioned to capture every angle.

Everything was ready.

Demon Cyborg strode out towards the center of the canyon, Saitama a few steps behind. The hero stopped where Genos indicated and watched him walk another 20 yards to stand opposite him.

“This good?” Saitama called, voice echoing in the empty canyon. “We’re gonna spar, but not too seriously, right?”

“No, I am serious. And I will make sure you are too.” Genos replied, priming his engines.  Power flowed from his core into his new combat limbs, golden light channeling between his plates, illuminating the vents in his chest.  He assumed an offensive stance and began recording. “Show me no mercy.”

Several cities away, Kuseno leaned forward and stared intently into the many monitors filled with sensor readings and live feeds as Genos launched his attack. They were quick, too quick for the doctor to follow as dust kicked up in the dry basin, following the blinding glare of turbines.

Kuseno cackled as his creation fought with abandon, launching himself punishingly at the hero Saitama. When Genos brought his leg down so hard the earth shattered around him, Kuseno could barely hold in his glee at the accomplishment before him.  The caped hero leapt away, but Genos was on him, firing a blistering column of flame from his open palm, leaving a smoldering crater around him and a charred trench that penetrated deep into the canyon wall.

Kuseno had built the ultimate war machine, the key to his vengeance, deadly and beautiful to behold.

Demon Cyborg crackled electricity, volleying machine gun blow after blow at velocities he’d never before achieved. Yet, not a single strike landed, even when Genos’s readings all spiked into the red, system overclocking in his need for more speed. Saitama dodged every strike.

Anger roiled up inside him at his ineffectiveness, pushing him harder and harder, expelling thick smoke from his overheated body.  Genos slammed his arms together and opened every firing mechanism, launching forth an earth shattering incineration cannon the millisecond Saitama lined up in his sights.

He had him! The blast emitted so wide he was sure he’d captured the hero in its radius—

A hand tapped his shoulder, igniting the rage within him. When he turned his vengeful red glare to Saitama behind him, a finger smooshed into the soft synthetic skin of his cheek. The contact rippled over him like touching a live wire, jolting his system with the desire to strike the man and lean into his hand simultaneously.

“Ok, I win!” Saitama exclaimed, an amused smile on his face. Genos opted for the former, swinging down at the hero, but all he caught was air. He growled, a feral noise from deep in his chest as he turned to face Saitama, standing not far off and looking infuriatingly chill about the entire situation.

“Have you forgotten the rules of this match, old man?” Demon Cyborg spat, eyes burning into Saitama like supernovae ready to explode. “Evade any blows that are possible to evade. Fight without fucking around, and keep fighting until I am immobilized.”

Saitama contemplated this uneasily. Although the guy had Bad News written all over him and was most definitely an infuriating flirt, he really didn’t want to hurt Genos again… but maybe he could spook some sense into him.

Genos was still glaring daggers when Saitama vanished before his eyes, his overwhelming presence radiating from behind faster than the villain could track. Danger lit his senses like a static charge.  He lashed out, fist passing through Saitama’s afterimage. When he spun back to attack again, all he could see was the grim specter of death.

For the second time, his vision slowed to a crawl, eyes widening in realization and awe. This red fist hurtling towards his face could shatter worlds, more powerful than anything in existence. He witnessed the hand of God, ready to spike his worthless soul into Hell.

In that moment, Genos felt the anger and ache of a youth misspent chasing the Devil bleed from his body. There was no dodging this. No winning. He was powerless before the mighty blow, small and insignificant. The will to continue existing fled, his eyes fluttering closed. He gave in to the temptation of sweet release, of his inevitable demise.

But death did not come. Saitama pulled his punch, stopping inches from Genos’s nose. Wind whipped at the villain’s hair, ruffling it harmlessly back. A gentle tap to the forehead brought him back to reality, and when he opened his eyes to find Saitama’s, it was sorrow that greeted him.

“Genos…” Was all Saitama croaked, brows knit, hand dropping limply to his side.

Turning away in shame was a mistake, for Demon Cyborg came face to face with the physical realities of Saitama’s impossible strength. He’s rendered speechless at the sight of the remains of the canyon, a perfect circle blasted out from miles of terrain, stretching as far as his advanced optics could reach. Even the clouds parted in the tremendous wake of this man’s fist.

He’d been prepared to do anything to become stronger, but he simply couldn’t imagine ever approaching Saitama’s strength.  He was in a different dimension, absolutely untouchable.

Genos’s knees buckled, body crumpling under the weight of failure and disappointment. He could not cry, absolutely refused to knowing the doctor was still watching… yet his vision wavered, prickled in the corners of his eyes. He stared into the dirt of the canyon floor, core stuttering, his once burning vents reduced to smoking ashes.

Saitama kneeled by him, reached out a hand to comfort him only to have it smacked away.

“Do not pity me!” Genos choked, breath ragged and shoulders shaking. He would crawl into the earth right now if it kept him from seeing that look on Saitama’s face. Weakness deserved no compassion. Hot tears spilled unbidden, unwanted from overflowing black pools, seeping further into the cracks of his broken face.

Saitama wasn’t good with crying, absolute shit at consoling anyone. He rose to his feet, awkwardly rubbing the back of his neck. He didn’t have to be a mind reader to know the kid was suffering, hurt roiling just under his synthetic skin.

“Hey um… do you like udon?” Saitama asked, defaulting to his own personal solace: food.

“What.” The blonde crown slowly lifted, twin streaks of oil dribbling down his face. Saitama fought the urge to cringe. God, that must stain everything it touches.

“Do you?” The hero repeated. Genos hesitated, unsure. Did he? The villain vaguely recalled he may have enjoyed it long ago.

“Yes…?” He responded finally, slowly rising to his feet. Genos hastily wiped his face with the edge of his hood, further collecting his tears into the fissure under his eye. The other cheek wiped mostly clean.

“Come on then. I can show you how to get there.” Saitama offered the renegade a half-smile, thumbing over his shoulder towards the motorcycle in the distance. “Just uh.. slow down a bit, would ya?

Genos recalled the way the hero clung to him, the heat of their bodies pressed together, and shook his head. “I do not think that is possible.”

The moon hung low in the sky, partially obscured by clouds, when the pair returned to Saitama’s apartment. The hero leaned heavily into Genos’s backside, full to bursting with noodles and red-faced from way too much sake. He probably should have stopped the villain from refilling his cup so many times, buying that second bottle, but it was too late to harbor those regrets now.

Saitama’s arms wrapped lax around the boy’s slender waist, cheek pressed between his shoulder blades, nestled right into his hood. Genos powered down his machine, headlamp dimming, but made no motion to dismount. He refused to break this moment, the temporary spell woven by alcohol and the lulling rumble of Genos’s core.

“I can’t believe you ate that whole bucket of udon, Genos. I thought I was gonna die.” Saitama mumbled into the rich, earthy scent of the delinquent’s jacket. “You’re pretty amazing.” He attributed his loose tongue and wooziness to the rice wine, definitely not his growing addiction to the fragrance of this troublesome boy.

Genos puffed at the compliment, unable to hold back the smile curling up his lips.  The villain’s core purred emphatically, Saitama feeling the vibrations everywhere their bodies touched. It was almost like the massage chair at the public bath. He didn’t want to let go.

“Mmm.. if you allow me in your bed I could show you how much more amazing I can be.” The flirt crooned, memorizing the feel of the lithe form pressed against him. He didn’t want to go home, back to the cold steel door and padded walls of his room. He wanted to nestle under Saitama’s sheets, rest against his bosom and forget the world existed.

“Perv! Don’t make me punch you.” Saitama admonished half-heartedly, finally finding the will to release his hold. He sat back, palms slurring over Genos’s sides to stabilize on his back. Saitama’s vision swum, squinting to focus on the delicately embroidered silver threads of his mechanical heart. “Did you buy me all those drinks just to butter me up?”

“Did it work?” Genos mused, watching Saitama nearly trip over his white cape in his attempt to dismount. A firm, gloved hand caught onto the spikes of his pauldron, trying to stabilize the spinning universe.

“No!” That was a lie, which was exactly why Saitama resolved to tromp up to his bedroom alone and do absolutely nothing about the boy’s insistent propositioning. Possibly ever. Nothing good could come of this, only heartache.

Saitama had enough of that to last a lifetime.

“Are you sure?” Genos wanted to reach out, grasp this man and pull him back in, run his claws all over that chiseled body. But he resisted. He could not force Saitama, only attempt to entice him.

“Yup! Goodnight, Genos!” Saitama grumbled with finality, spinning on his heel a little too quickly, stumbling towards the stairwell.

“Goodnight, Saitama.” Genos chuckled, waiting until the man disappeared in the doorway before pulling his phone out of his pocket. When he flipped it open, all his previous mirth bled from his body. He’d left the phone on silent. Twelve missed calls, sixteen texts, all from Kuseno culminating in words stopped his core: GET OVER HERE RIGHT NOW

Dread filled his insides with mortar. Fear clenched every cable in his body as he restarted the bike and roared out of City Z with all haste.

Kuseno was every inch as angry as Genos expected when he arrived at the lab. The rage spilled out of his shrunken eyes, folded into every wrinkle around his downturned mouth. An overhead light flickered, sputtered on and off over the cluttered stacks of papers, parts, and festering dishes.

“I apologize for missing your messages, Doctor. I neglected to turn my ringer back on after the battle.” Genos pleaded, unable to keep the shake out of his voice from the conditioned threat that look represented.

“I don’t want to hear your excuses, Genos. I know you were out gallivanting with that hero.” Kuseno snarled, seething at the audacity of this boy ignoring him. His ward was infatuated, shirking duties and responsibilities in favor of chasing tail. The doctor did not build the most advanced cybernetics to date to have the idiot squander it on something so meaningless.  “Stop thinking with your dick or I will take it away.”

Genos blanched, very aware the doctor had that power and could exercise it at any time. “It will not happen again.” He croaked, terror holding him immobilized and shuddering to breathe. He was already a mechanical monster, the thought of losing that last sliver of his humanity was near debilitating.

“Good. Now come here. I need all of your data and recordings from the battle.” Kuseno motioned to the floor by his feet.

“I will transfer it immediately.” Genos activated the wireless transfer, but when the doctor looked to the pop up on the screen and the time remaining to completion, he motioned again.

“No, you have made me wait long enough. Get over here right now.” Kuseno grabbed a thick transfer cable protruding from his workstation. Genos moved towards him like a puppet, fighting the urge to run away. When he entered grasping radius, the doctor grabbed his arm and yanked him to the floor. Metal knees thudded onto cold concrete.

Kuseno pushed the boy’s chin towards his chest, pulling back the protective cover at the base of his skull to expose his connection port. He jabbed the cable into him carelessly, twisting to lock it in place. Genos hissed at the pain of the union, the foreign object now lodged in his spine.

He found himself unable to suppress the whimper at the sudden violation, of data ripped directly from his storage banks. It was like a high powered vacuum attached itself to his mind and sucked out his grey matter into a whirlpool of unintelligible information. Almost frantic, he grasped for the personal folders of photos and videos he took of Saitama, wrenching them free of the upload stream to hide them away where the doctor could not find them.

Kuseno cannot have these.

If the doctor noticed the file cancellation, he said nothing. It was all over in under a minute.

Transfer complete, Kuseno twisted the base unlocked and yanked out the cable with a strained grunt, the prongs catching on the boy’s data port from his sloppy entry. He turned immediately to pour over the ill-gotten footage on the glowing monitors.

Genos gasped for air, vision wavering and ears ringing as he stared down at the stained concrete between his knees. A choked sob wrung unwanted from deep in his throat, black droplets splattering in familiar patterns.

“Don’t be so melodramatic, Genos.” Kuseno frowned, pointer finger clicking, adding data to spreadsheets, updating stress calculations. Genos bit his lip, tried to stem the shameful flow of tears and pitiable noises, but found himself entirely unable. This was not the first time, nor likely the last, yet the disgust and self-loathing that filled him felt rawer than ever before.

Don’t you think that’s all really messed up?? Saitama’s words echoed inside him like phantoms.

Kuseno sighed at the boy’s continued anguish, annoyance creasing into his fish-belly skin. He could not let him continue to despair this way, it risked turning his ward against him.

Genos flinched when a knurled hand pressed to the top of his head, leathery fingers carding through flaxen locks in practiced patterns.

“I do this for your own good, you know.” The doctor drawled, thin lips spreading into crooked smile when Genos scooted closer, brought his forehead to rest on his caretaker’s thigh. It was so easy to manipulate this boy, it was almost boring. He pressed on, balming the wounds he inflicted with a poisonous touch and duplicitous words. “I cherish you, my son. You must guard yourself around that Saitama. You will have to continue studying him, learn his secrets… but don’t be so blinded by your lust you forget your place, your purpose.”

Genos nodded, shoulders trembling under the weight of his vow. Of course. How could he have been so foolish? Saitama did not care for him, held him in no regard, had no desire for his affections. He was only a destructive pest to the man, a nuisance. 

“Now.. I have much work to do. Go to your room. I will not punish you for your disobedience this time.” Kuseno pushed the boy back to urge him off, his ward’s reluctance to leave the comfort of a familiar hand palpable. The Doctor knew to show just enough fatherly affection, feed him enough lies to keep him trained and bridled. It would do no good to spoil the child.

Genos silently obeyed, rising to his feet. He dragged himself towards his quarters in a dazed fog, consumed by an overwhelming hollow within him. He was near a fugue state when he arrived in the barren chamber of his room. He didn’t even bother to undress, flopping himself face first into the worn and charred sheets.

He couldn’t start his shutdown sequence fast enough. Genos would resurrect his ghost again when it was time to leave, to execute their plans to discover the hero Saitama’s secrets and continue in search of the monster that destroyed his life.

Isn’t there a better way to live your life than chasing vengeance?

Genos didn’t want to think about anything anymore.

Chapter Text

The chronometer alerted Genos three days had swept by while he languished in dreamland.

In his reveries, he’d found satisfaction in retribution against everyone who’d ever wronged him. He knew it wasn’t real- it was always only a dream, but it provided temporary relief from the stress and anguish of the death of his humanity, the trials of living. With the waking world so far outside his control, he instead became Lord of the Lucid.

Destroy, kill, and fuck with no consequences.

He would sleep another week if allowed, maybe even two, but Saitama’s words still lingered in his psyche, infiltrated his revenge fantasies: Don’t you think that’s all really messed up? Isn’t there a better way to live your life than chasing vengeance?

Genos didn’t know. He knew no other way to live. It was his succor and his anchor, what kept him from giving in to infections and failed implants over the years, from shutting down when he lost his original body piece by piece until just his brain remained.

He could only keep moving forward. If he stopped, he was dead.

Slowly, Genos winched his eyes open and sat up, a pillow adhered to his cheek with dried oil. He sluggishly ripped it free and cast it down to join the rest of his stained bedding. He’d left a sizable puddle of self-pity that seeped through the mattress, all the way onto the ground.

With a disgusted tch, Demon Cyborg stood back from the heap and extended a palm. He spliced open his grotesque mechanical arm and incinerated the entire pile of his shame on the spot. 

He dragged himself out the open door of his room just as sprinklers set off and sizzled onto smoking embers.

Genos almost felt as if he was still dreaming, drifting in a grey world viewed from the bottom of a fetid swimming pool. The laboratory halls emitted an uninterrupted drone from the miles of machinery encased in the subterranean complex, the unintelligible buzz of his miniature duplicates up to no good. Boxes of spare parts and papers lay haphazardly stacked along the walls leading to the vast, domed structure of the repair bay.

Kuseno was not sitting at his station, all the monitors powered down. The supercomputer rumbled and glowed on standby. Robotic assistant arms remained still, twisted in cobbled cables and stained in grease and oil.

The oceans of paper only seemed to have swollen while Genos slept, the towers of coffee cups reaching higher and higher. He scowled, nose wrinkling at the stale state of affairs in the lab. Without the doctor around to scold him or hold him captive, he made his escape towards the world upstairs.

The wood creaked under his heavy feet as Genos finally broke the surface, lighting spilling over his face from the large windows of Kuseno’s cover home. He took in a breath of showroom air like free-diving, closing his eyes at the tingling of sun rays over the black smears on his face.

He sighed it out, long and slow, opening his eyes anew.

Luscious green carpeted the rolling hills outside and burst across the rustling trees, dotting the land with patches of summer blooms.  Glacial ice melted in high ridges, leaving trickles of waterfalls all along the surrounding mountain range. Long, wispy clouds streaked over crisp, blue skies, collected around peaks like cotton candy. Songbirds and cicadas sang out from the brush.

The air here tasted sweeter: less like iron and oil.

He left the hidden stair, emerging into the parlor. A yellowed grand piano sat before silken window drapes so faded with age their color was debatable. Genos traversed the woven rugs towards the kitchen, the sun casting a lattice of shadows over his form.

Genos paused in a library the size of a chapel and treated as such. Ancient texts buttressed the walls and extended in every direction, piled high and three deep in stacks around the floor. He idly surveyed the sections, drifting over titles and bindings until he found something that caught his interest. He plucked a random issue of Journal of Geography & Natural Disasters off the shelf to browse over breakfast.

The book displaced a small puff of dust when Genos thumped it onto the kitchen table. He pulled open the pantry and shook boxes of cereal until he found enough to fill a large mixing bowl. The milk in the fridge smelled dubious, but in it poured regardless, entire jug upended. Genos blended it all with a large spoon on the walk to the table. It made a hefty thunk when he dropped it beside his reading.

Genos flopped into a chair and opened the journal, thumbing past the table of contents to the first article. He hunched over his bowl, shoveling a spoonful of nut clusters and stale cinnamon squares into his mouth. The milk proved only slightly sour, not enough to deter the boy from eating every bite of his corn and sugar abomination.

He settled in for a morning spent absorbed in earth sciences.

Deep into the second article and only partway through his trough of expired cereal, Kuseno struggled down the stairs with an overloaded suitcase. Genos glanced up, noting the familiar manila envelope tucked under the doctor’s arm.

All the pieces clicked into place and Genos did his best not to smile into his breakfast, not to jinx his good fortune. Kuseno was leaving on business. He couldn’t care less about the chores and busywork that folder represented now.

He dipped his head lower, long bangs shadowing his face as he ferried another overflowing spoon to his mouth, turning the page. A heavy bag thumped to the floor and rolled noisily on stripped wheels towards the front door.

“Ah, Sleeping Beauty arises!” Kuseno crooned when he entered the kitchen, seemingly in a more gracious mood than the last time they’d interacted. Genos said nothing, chipmunk cheeks comically overstuffed, diligently chewing. He knew this game, refused to rise to the bait.

Besides, Kuseno hated when one talked with their mouth full.

The doctor chuckled, stalking closer to drop the manila envelope right onto Adaptive Climate Risk Control for Infrastructure Systems. Genos frowned at the broad strokes of sharpie that made out his assumed name.

“I’m leaving to confer with Dr. Genus. Take care of these assignments in my absence.” Kuseno stated, glaring down at his ward’s golden crown. Genos swallowed down the lump of cereal, waiting until just the right moment to lift his nightmare gaze up to his unsuspecting caretaker.

“How long will you be gone, father?” Demon Cyborg whispered with that voice he’d heard possessed children use in the horror movies he snuck into. Pulsing ruby eyes stared out from charcoal sockets, synthetic skin stained and crusted with plateaus of dried oil. His hair clung about his face like a man gone wild, smeared to his forehead by the wastes of previous sorrow.

Kuseno recoiled as if shot, a gnarled fist clenching into the blue sweater at his chest, heart stopped by the ghoulish apparition before him. For a moment, Kuseno believed Hell had finally come to reclaim him.

“DAMNIT, GENOS!!” The doctor bellowed, more panicked than intended but not louder than the insufferable child deserved. “Clean yourself up! You’re a mess.” He hissed, unable to hide his disgust as he turned towards the coffee maker.

Genos snickered silently into his cereal, spooning up another soggy mouthful. He knew he looked ghastly, he’d awoken exactly like this enough times. His malevolent countenance was of Kuseno’s own creation, let him be horrified.

Genos extended a solitary black claw and slid the envelope completely off his scholarly journal. The villain audibly turned the page though he had not read it.

Doctor Kuseno ignored him, pouring black coffee into a large, worn thermos. He glowered down at the dark liquid steaming within, thinking not of his ward’s insolence, but of Dr. Genus. The scientists had remained in communication ever since they collaborated on Armored Gorilla. Word of the House of Evolution’s defeat came as a shock. Kuseno was absolutely certain the superhuman man that destroyed his conspirator’s laboratory and most of his specimens was the Hero Saitama.

Who else could swat Carnage Kabuto, the prize of Genus’s menagerie, like a damned flea?

Genus swore off science, but Kuseno was certain he could convince the doctor to join forces. Loaded with data and the last of the coffee, he left his ward alone with his food.

The doctor didn’t fail to notice the personal slights the boy inflicted, but made no mention of them. Woe betide the fool if any of his assigned tasks were left undone.

Kuseno didn’t say goodbye.

He dragged his suitcase out the front door, screen clattering behind him. An old engine sputter-started and chugged a beat up station wagon out of the gravel driveway. It soon moved beyond tracking distance.

Genos stared down at his haggard reflection in the milky pool at the bottom of his bowl, brows creased. As delightful as that small victory was, the renegade still had the matter of his broken (now soiled) faceplate to deal with.

He could not return to City Z and reunite with Saitama looking this horrendous. He wanted the man to desire him, not shut the door in his face. Genos considered his options while he tipped back the dregs of breakfast. He thumped the empty bowl and spoon to the table, immediately heading for the bathroom to examine the damage.

He looked just as broken and stained as anticipated.

Genos filled the clear basin with steaming water and soap, dunking his face below and scrubbing furiously. He scraped at the foul substance until the bowl looked like it held pond water full of tadpoles. He drained and repeated before grimacing into a mildewed towel.

A tired, tortured man Genos barely recognized stared back, gray stains racooning dim, rose-colored eyes to waterfall over splintered cheeks. He roved long talons along a hairline seam until they found small notches, prodding a disengage mechanism. His faceplate stiffened as the constant electric current simulating the softness of his skin lost power. It slid off his titanium skull in chunks right into the glass basin, splashing over the bathroom fixtures.

He drained the water and refilled the bowl with bleach.

While his face soaked, Genos held a stare-down with the metal skull in the mirror. Without the mask of a beautiful dead boy, the monster inside oozed to the surface. Unblinking black and blood orbs glowed balefully inside glistening steel sockets, slender cables forming muscles to an alien jawbone protruding white enamel teeth. The Anti-Saitama arms gave Demon Cyborg the silhouette of a xenomorph: sleek and deadly, brutal and twisted. 

Genos drained the bowl and scrubbed the entire surface layer of his face free of color.  Two thirds of a paper-white doll mask peered up from under fresh water and baking soda. He left it to soak off the stench of cleaner while he located his painter’s box.

He could work with this.

Construction equipment appeared seemingly overnight near the old office and shopping districts of the abandoned zone. Saitama noticed the parked bulldozers and dump trucks on his usual morning jog and thought, finally! City Z got their shit together to demolish all those damaged, unstable buildings. A battle-haggard crew in safety vests and hard hats toiled preparing the machinery. Saitama waved cheerily to them as he ran by, capping his exuberance with a double thumbs-up.

The workers anxiously glanced to one another before a few responded in kind.

The hero gave it no further thought, worn sneakers tracing habitual routes along decayed, overgrown streets. Monsters crawled out of grates and alleys to challenge him: all ended up splattered over crumbling concrete.

Saitama jogged on undaunted. Mutated crows trailed on low currents, swooping in to feast on the carrion left in his wake.

Meanwhile, Genos methodically looted the area, marking each cleared building with a sprawling tag. It was a signal to the hired contracting crew to begin blasting, quickly leveling the land around Demon Cyborg’s future stronghold. Refilled coffers meant workers were paid handsomely to not ask questions. As long as the renegade regularly prowled the edges of the work camp and dispatched any wandering beasts, the demolition progressed undisturbed.

He noted the prevalence of fresh remains and mutated corvids in his journal.

Demon Cyborg claimed anything and everything worth taking in the vicinity. Panicked residents and business owners fleeing monster and meteor alike had left behind an immense quantity of clothes, appliances, and furnishings. There was no sense letting it all go to waste, not when he had a new place to decorate.

It wasn’t long before Genos amassed a treasury to rival a dragon.

The demolition crew worked through the night, trucks coming and going, filling and emptying in an endless stream under the nightmarish glare of flood lamps. Saitama considered it the cost of progress: nothing earplugs couldn’t mitigate. He slept on undisturbed, dreaming of expedient reconstruction and new neighbors.

It was well into the afternoon of the following day when the cacophony finally ceased, heavy machinery rumbling out past the perimeter of the abandoned zone. All that remained of their marathon demolition was a barren swath of land surrounding the imposing, Brutalist form of the old bank building.

Saitama left for a patrol with a spring in his step, eager to survey the city’s progress.

Genos sensed his approach. The singular dot in his ocular display moving towards his location could be none other than the hero Saitama. He immediately leapt into a cleaning frenzy, scrambling to tidy his new nest like a bowerbird intending to impress a potential mate. He’d accumulated incredible quantities of usable salvage in his new penthouse suite and had organized barely any of it. He could not let Saitama see his place in such a state!

Saitama anticipated the construction zone to be an in-progress situation, but he didn’t expect the high concrete barricades of broken walls and barbed wire spread out before him, surrounding the last building left standing. Nothing remained of the heavy machinery or flood lamps, nothing indicated any further work was to be done.

No, this looked like the start of a fortress. 

When Saitama saw the familiar black motorcycle parked out front and a large red, gold, and black tag over the main entrance, he let out a long-suffering sigh. Any hopes of the revitalization of his beloved neighborhood fell away like turning leaves.

Genos. He should have known it’d be that guy causing trouble again.

He bet the damned brat didn’t even get demolition permits.

Saitama easily hopped over every impediment in his way, avoiding the obvious traps and pitfalls. He didn’t know who’d be coming after the renegade cyborg to require defenses like these, but judging by his attitude, Saitama was sure he’d made a few enemies over the years.

He never did check if the guy had a record.

The hero pushed apart the iron gate effortlessly, sliding into the barren, wide open space of the first floor. Tall, concrete pillars stretched up into high ceilings, geometric shapes and hard lines spreading across the entire surface. The inset lights barely functioned, most dark, the rest half-flooded, half-flickering over the dusty floor below. Saitama’s footsteps echoed in the dim, the air musty with disuse and heavy with old paper. From somewhere out of eyesight, a constant drip plipped and splashed.

“Genos?” Saitama called, striding towards the broad staircase at the end of the room, past the concrete islands that were once teller desks. The higher he climbed, the more signs of life he heard: the telltale noise of shuffling, the slide of heavy furniture, the clatter of dropped items and the frantic retrieval of such. Had Saitama not been in the peak of his health, trapped in an unyielding, impossible to damage body, he may have tired after the 5th or 6th floor. Instead, he made it all the way to the top unwinded.

When he emerged into the penthouse, the sun streaming in from dirty skylights and open windows, he found Genos seated in the center of a long leather couch.  His twisted, midnight arms draped over the back, a crooked smile adorning his broken face.

“Welcome to my home, Saitama.” Genos crooned, languidly rising to stand as if he hadn’t spent the preceding minutes just before the hero’s arrival in an organizing frenzy. Saitama froze in the doorway as he moved closer, almost alarmed by his ghostly visage. The villain’s once flesh-toned face was now perfectly paper-white, parts of his metal skull visible through the missing pieces of synthetic skin.

The nearer he strode, the more details Saitama made out: gold lids with thick, black eyeliner surrounding long, pale lashes; the almost-chrome of his exposed cheekbone, adorned with miniscule screws like tiny glittering gems; lips redder than his eyes, flawlessly painted and glistening like the enamel shell of a freshly buffed hot rod.

The villain was beautiful and terrifying all at once, like a killer automaton right out of Ghost in the Shell: a Heavy Metal wet dream. Holy shit, that look did things to him. The strongest man in the universe felt suddenly powerless, disarmed, his fantasies exposed. Did Genos somehow know his every weakness and just how to exploit it?

The hero’s staring didn’t go unnoticed. “I am pleased you came by.” Demon Cyborg purred when he leaned closer.  He reached out a razor taloned hand to caress over the smooth, tanned skin of Saitama’s cheek with the back of his knuckles. “We are neighbors now. We should be more… friendly.”

Saitama swallowed sawdust when he stepped out of the renegade’s reach and stammered ineloquently, “Wh-what did you do to your face, dude?” He laughed awkwardly to deflect his discomfort, casting his guilty gaze at the stacks of boxes and half-sorted piles tucked about the room.

He didn’t see the confidence slide off Genos’s face, only heard the snarl of his response. “The Doctor left on business before he could replace it, so I made do.” Footsteps retreated. An ass hit a couch cushion with a deflated poof.

Suddenly feeling frayed at both ends, Saitama distracted himself by taking in his surroundings, surveying the salvage Genos collected in his new abode. He wandered amidst the sea of boxes and stacked items, peering into crates overflowing with zip front hoodies, tight-looking jeans, and an unearthly quantity of tank tops, all in various colors, tags still affixed. In a garbage can beside the pilfered clothing piles lay the plum hoodie whose scent Saitama could never forget, soiled with splotches of black oil.

Remorse coiled inside Saitama’s belly. He guessed right about Genos’s tears staining everything they touched. The garment looked damaged beyond repair: dried petroleum coating the front side and soaked in way too long to be successfully laundered. The hero wondered what happened to the kid between when they parted and today; what could have made him weep enough to turn his shirt almost all black.

It was probably none of his business.

He turned away, uncomfortable and disquieted. He eyed the pyramid of televisions and video game systems, cords dangling and tangled, remotes and games tossed haphazardly into egg crates. Idly browsing over the titles, he found more than a few games he’d wanted to play. Saitama wondered how many of those accumulated TVs worked.

“Where did you get all this stuff?” Saitama asked over his shoulder, both to fill the silence and avoid the growing pressure in his chest.

From the couch, flame hissed over paper.

“I collected it from the surrounding area before demolition.” Genos sighed out a thick cloud of smoke into the air above him, dropping his glowing palm. He leaned his head back onto the cushion to watch it curl overhead and drift towards the ceiling. The nicotine hit him at the second inhale, tingling over his cortex like delicate fingers urging him to float.  

“This all belongs to someone! You’re stealing.” Saitama turned at the scent of tobacco, eyed the myriad cigarette packs scattered across the table.  Some looked almost new and others mostly spent: crushed and crumpled, packaging torn and weathered. Genos grabbed every box he could find, regardless of condition or brand.

It didn’t matter to him. They all did the job.

“Do not delude yourself, old man. No one is coming back.” Demon Cyborg growled under his breath, taking in another long drag before tapping the ash into an empty beer can. “This is my domain now. It is better to use them or sell them than allow them to go to waste.”

In his heart, Saitama knew the villain’s words were true. Waste not, want not: his mother’s mantra. He watched another thick cloud of smoke pour from the villain’s parted cherry lips.

Genos closed his eyes as the drug washed over him, remembering the black splotch on the corner of Saitama’s system while they watched the news at dinner. “Would you like a new television? Take one. I have not tested them but I am sure most function.”

Saitama didn’t respond, running a red glove over the thick dust layer coating the closest television.

“So…. you smoke?” Saitama asked to blanket his wavering will at the tempting offer. He watched the kid bring the filter to his mouth, leaving it dangling there as he took another lazy breath.

“When I desire it.” He drawled around the cigarette, body slumping into the couch on the exhale.  The sensation flooded his brain, drifting him away from the cut of rejection like a balloon on a string, if only for a little while.

“Smoking’s really bad for you…” Saitama said without thinking, regurgitating lessons drilled into him as a youth.

Boiling red eyes shot open and locked onto Saitama’s like homing missiles, irritated and exasperated. “My brain is the only organic part of me remaining. The rest of my body artificial and replaceable. I will die violently long before cancer could ever take me.” He hissed, sucking down the rest of his cigarette in one go out of spite.  

“Did you enter my home just to insult and lecture me, or was there something else you wanted?” Genos seethed, smoke billowing free in a pyroclastic cloud. Hurt bubbled behind the renegade’s fiery glare as he shoved the still-glowing filter into the beer can and slammed the makeshift ashtray onto the table.

Saitama’s stomach dropped to somewhere on the ground floor, foot firmly lodged in his mouth. “No…I should.. just go…” He mumbled, knowing this interaction could have gone much better. He though of the oil-stained sweater in the garbage.

“That would be wise.” The villain scoffed, grabbing a different pack from the table to slide a new cigarette between his lips. A small flame burst from his incinerators as he leaned in to light it. He plucked a face-down book from the coffee table before smacking both booted feet into its surface, settling in to balm his heartache with drugs and fiction.

Saitama lingered hesitantly before making for the open window. He dropped himself out without another word, white cape billowing in his wake.

Genos tracked the hero’s blip on his screen until it disappeared out of sensor range. The cigarette between his lips clutched a long string of untapped ashes. He did not want it anymore. He dropped his half-finished smoke into the aluminum can and replaced his book on the table.

Too restless and upset to concentrate on his reading, he snatched up his sketchbook and leather jacket.  He slipped it on, leaping out after Saitama to explore his domain.

Saitama stared at the display of discount onigiri, basket in hand. Patrolling brought less satisfaction than it usually did, and it wasn’t due to the quiet streets and his enduring ennui. Even bashing that weirdo Panic into the pavement did nothing to alleviate his poor mood.

He just.. couldn’t stop thinking about Genos.

Thoughts of the young renegade filled him: his barely-leashed anger, how he welcomed Saitama’s deadly fist and the subsequent tears of self-loathing, the oil-stained hoodie in the garbage … Then it was his warm, inviting scent, the feel of his core rumbling into Saitama’s chest as he clung so tightly to him on the back of his motorcycle, those red lips and burning eyes… the way the villain stroked his cheek and the hero’s own knee-jerk response.

Saitama’s brows knit, feeling the heat rise in his ears from the shameful recollection of his harsh words.  He picked up a salmon rice ball, turning the packaging over to view the sell-by date. Ah, that’s why they were on sale. Well, they’d still be good for another two days. He ran mental calculations on cost and consumption instead of thinking further on his irritating infatuation with that confusing boy.

He loaded a dozen onigiri into his basket. He’d eat the umeboshi and konbu last; they’d hold out in the fridge longer than the salmon, tuna, and roe. He wandered up and down the aisles looking for more deals, leaving his regret trailing a few paces behind.

It caught up to him when he stopped at a bin of discount handkerchiefs. There, amidst the piles of paisley and flowers, lay a black square adorned with tiny, colorful motorcycles. He didn’t realized he’d picked it up until it was a few inches from his face, observing misprinted, offset colors and the cartoonish vroom vrooms in the spaces between.

He didn’t understand why he cared so much for the villain, why the hurt in those baleful eyes affected him this much. Insults, anger usually rolled off him like water on a duck’s back, but Genos stuck with him, burrowed under his skin.

He thoughtfully thumbed over the fabric, chest uncomfortably tight.

Saitama didn’t know Genos well at all, but he knew enough to realize the kid’s home-life raised troubling flags. He didn’t want to be a source of his pain, another reason for those discarded, oil-stained clothes.

He had to apologize.

Saitama paid for his items in change and walked towards home slowly, mind full to bursting. He barely registered someone repeatedly calling out to him until said person cruised up beside him in a green bicycle.

“Excuse me, sir! Sir!” A voice chirped, rousing the hero from his confused reverie.

“Oh, sorry, are you talking to me?” Saitama blinked, stopping in his tracks. The stranger did as well, knocking down his kickstand to dismount. A young man covered in brown body armor stepped onto the sidewalk before him.

“You wouldn’t by chance be the person who destroyed the meteor last week, would you?” He asked, smiling warmly from behind his opaque goggles. Saitama’s mood lifted immediately, a small smile mirroring across his own face.

“Yeah! That’s me.” Saitama swore no one noticed his feat; they hardly ever did. He didn’t even see his picture on the television, just angry citizens complaining about damage from the falling fragments. Apparently the credit for its destruction went to some robot guy Saitama didn’t even remember seeing when he smashed the meteor to smithereens.

“Wow, it’s great to finally meet you! I’m Mumen Rider.” He extended a gloved hand, so Saitama took it and shook with a firm grip.

“Saitama. Nice to meet you, too.” The strain eased its hold on the hero’s chest, balmed by this unexpected interaction.

“I was aiding the evacuation effort when you stopped the meteor. You saved my life that day… mine and countless others. Thank you so much, Saitama-san!” Mumen blurted, bending into a grateful bow. The Hero Association hid the truth of Saitama’s heroism from the populace, but not from the other heroes.

“Ahh.. don’t mention it.” Saitama chuckled, rubbed the back of his reddening neck. The praise only buoyed the pride swelling inside him.

“Do you mind if I walk with you? Talk a bit?” The armored hero asked hopefully, to which Saitama nodded. When he restarted his route home, Mumen Rider popped up his kickstand and walked his bike beside him. Mumen had previously seen the hero stalking sales while on patrol, but never much paid attention, too busy tending to the needs of the citizens to introduce himself.

“You’re a hero too, aren’t you? I couldn’t find you on the official registry.” He queried, recalling the blurry photo of a man in a red and yellow suit HA sent to all City Z heroes following the meteor incident. The testimony of the S-Class heroes Bang and Metal Knight seemed to be convincing enough that the Association wanted to identify the mystery hero, maybe even recruit him.

“There’s a registry?” Saitama stared at his new companion, wide eyed. He had no idea!

“Yes! The Hero Association certifies and employs heroes. I’m currently at the top of Rank C.” Mumen explained with a wide, friendly grin. “If you’re interested in going pro, I’d be happy to direct you on whom to speak with.”

Saitama stopped in front of the tall, chain-link fence and barricades to the abandoned zone, thoughtfully stroking his chin with a red leather glove. Mumen politely paused beside him, canvassing their surroundings. He didn’t fail to notice the huge tag sprayed over the side of a nearby building, visible from their spot on the sidewalk. It looked familiar- he’d have to search the database later.

“They pay you?” Saitama finally asked, shifting his groceries to the other hand. Odd jobs and frugal living kept him afloat, but the opportunity to turn his hobby into a job with a salary was more than a little tempting.

“Of course! I hope you’ll consider going in for an evaluation.” Mumen laughed before reaching into his pocket to pull out a small steno pad and a nubby pencil. He scribbled onto it before ripping out the top sheet, extending it to Saitama.

“That’s the website and information for the Hero Association’s City Z branch.” Mumen stated. The hero-for-fun missed the slight flush creeping into the cyclist’s face when he continued. “And my number. I’m local, so if you want to know more about being a professional hero or just want to talk, please don’t hesitate to reach out.”

“Ohhhh, cool.” Saitama chirped, folding it up and sliding it into his pocket. He’d have to check it out once he got home. “Thanks, uhh..?”

“Mumen Rider.”

“Right! Mumen. I’ll talk to you later, okay?” Saitama stepped past the barrier and pushed open the fence to let himself back in. Mumen didn’t stop him. If this man could punch a meteor out of the sky, he somehow doubted the warning signs clipped to the gates applied to him. The cyclist, however, knew his limits.

“See you later, Saitama-san.” Mumen replied, glancing across the barren streets beyond the barricades. He looked back to the red and black graffiti, brows creasing. He replicated the tag in his steno pad along with some quickly jotted notes before sliding the book away. Mumen Rider mounted his bike and pedaled back towards the city center to complete his patrol, bothered but unable to pinpoint why.

Saitama strode towards his apartment with a much lighter step, mood lifted by the unexpected recognition of his feats. He wasn’t a hero for the fame or gratitude, but it sure was nice to have them. If he became a professional hero, he may even get his own fanclub.

The hero almost forgot about his row with Genos, his vow of an apology, until he passed by an overgrown park a few blocks from home. The little green space wedged between two crumbling buildings overflowed with wildflowers, vines twisting over a rusted swingset and slide. The familiar form of a certain troublesome cyborg laid nestled in the long grass, overlooking a broad empty wall.

For a moment, Saitama thought he might be dead, curled onto his side underneath a dappled patch of sun, a clawed hand resting over a small black book. The hero approached with a tightness in his throat, noting no signs of a battle, no monster entrails or scorched earth. When Saitama entered the renegade’s radius, the boy shot up abruptly, eyes burning, glowing palm extended directly at the hero.

“Whoa, just me.” Saitama sighed in relief, raising both palms up in a placating gesture. Genos slowly lowered his incineration canon, though he remained tightly coiled, brows creased and lips set in a thin line.

“What do you want?” Demon Cyborg hissed, watching the hero’s approach with a thinly-veiled hurt and distrust that made Saitama’s mood wilt. His shoulders sagged when he dropped cross-legged in front of the boy, settling the grocery bag beside him in the tall grass. Red eyes darted to the partially exposed contents before shooting back up to the hero before him.

“Trying to be friendly.” Saitama replied, noticing the way the renegade’s gaze was continually drawn to his bag of onigiri. Genos froze, alert, when Saitama dipped a hand inside and plucked out a salmon rice ball. It was almost endearing the way the villain’s demeanor changed when Saitama extended it out to him, the past consternation ebbing at the offer of food. “Here, take it.”

Genos reached for it but stopped midway, cautious. His hand hovered, hesitant, not wanting to be made a fool if he tried to take it just to have it cruelly snatched away. Saitama gave the boy an encouraging smile. That was all the motivation Genos needed to pluck the onigiri from the hero’s hand, greedily unwrapping and ingesting it before Saitama could change his mind.

The rice was soft in his mouth, the smoked salmon inside melting against his synthetic tongue. Although not Saitama’s home cooking, these were familiar, comforting. When Saitama tucked his hands back on his lap, the villain relaxed, chewing slowed to allow him to savor the small gift.

“What were you doing out here?” Saitama queried as his vision drifted to the open sketchbook in the grass. Ball-point pen sketches of mutated crows and notes adorned the exposed pages. Genos swallowed down a large bite before he responded.

“Sketching the flora and fauna of this region.” Genos said, pulling the plastic to further expose the onigiri. “Have you noticed that the creatures here have mutated? The crows in particular, but also the rats and bugs.” He leaned in to snarf down another mouthful, cheeks swelling, eyes going dark as he became lost in the pleasure of simple foods.

“Huh, now that you mention it…yeah.” Saitama had seen some strange things wandering about the abandoned zone, but if they left him alone, he didn’t see a need to chase them down. He drifted back to the open journal. “Hey, do you mind if I look at your book?”

When he glanced over, Genos had the plastic pressed right to his face, licking up the grains of rice stuck to it. It was so cute, Saitama couldn’t help but snicker. Genos appeared abashed for a moment, caught, but when he recognized it was only mirth and not derision on Saitama’s face, he relaxed.

“Yes, if you give me more of those.” Genos hazarded, pointing towards the grocery bag with a black talon.

“Deal.” Saitama reached for the book as Genos took the bag, rifling through the hefty pile for a different flavor. He’d already unwrapped a tuna and mayonnaise rice ball by the time Saitama rested the book on his lap and flipped to the first page.

Genos resolutely avoided looking at Saitama as he thumbed through his sketchbook, munching on his onigiri with single-minded focus. The journals were deeply personal, something he usually wouldn’t allow anyone else to see, but… he wanted Saitama to know, despite the bubbling fears of his response. He yearned for that connection, for this man to know him better, perhaps even accept him. Hope floated within him, that his drawings and words silently said what he himself could not speak aloud.

Saitama remained quiet, traversing the boy’s soul on full display. Genos certainly didn’t hold back: scrawling over the pages with the same fervor and temerity he moved about his life. Observational drawings meshed with clinical notes overlapped angry brushstrokes and harshly scrawled repudiations of the value of living. He drew himself dismembered, disembodied: a collection of parts, an inhuman, broken machine. He painted breathtaking sunsets from atop tall buildings and exposed the terror of so many identical, numbered hands holding him down.

Genos questioned his sanity in poetry, expressed frantic concerns of gaps in his memory, of a dead family he had a harder and harder time recollecting. He wrote of electric shocks and doors locked, days spent in solitude not knowing when his punishment would end, of a testing chamber he’d grown to fear and loathe.

If Saitama didn’t know better, he’d think these were the result of an active imagination, all fiction and teen angst but… these were real. He felt the wrongness in his bones, anger rising like bile in his throat. He was sure a psychologist would have a more constructive response than the desire to punch the villain’s tormentors so hard they burst into clouds of blood.

Every page in his book brimmed with brief joys and terrible realities, of hopefulness, levity, and the grief of a youth destroyed. And all around, sandwiched between nightmare and remorse, laid open the barely restrained libido of an active teen: lewd words and sketches on past exes; spread, exposed one-night-stands without faces; and the lean, scarred backside of a long-haired man Saitama thought he recognized but couldn’t place.

Near the end, he saw himself: words of praise and admiration of his strength, him smashing through the meteor… a red fist the size of the earth bearing down on a small, insignificant boy. Saitama’s heart sank, constricted into a tight ball somewhere in his guts. He’d contributed to the trauma embedded in this book, then and likely today. On the next page, that same heart shot all the way from his feet to his face, spreading red from ear to ear at the sight of himself shirtless and sweaty, asleep on the floor with a manga on his chest. His ass in his hero suit. Way too much attention paid to the way the fabric creased around the budge on the front of his pants.

Saitama slammed the book shut, sweating profusely. By the time he looked to Genos, the boy had stress-eaten almost half the rice balls in the grocery bag, looking almost as anxious as the hero felt. To be honest, Genos completely forgot he’d drawn those thirsty images of Saitama when he agreed to let the man see his book. Despite his earlier forwardness, it took him by surprise, core whirring audibly under his leather vest.

Saitama swallowed hard. “You.. um… you draw really well.” The hero managed to stutter, the rest of his thoughts clogged behind the overwhelming embarrassment of the boy’s affection on full display. Genos finally turned to meet his gaze, eyes boyishly wide and glowing like embers, little grains of rice stuck to his face.

The hero chuckled, fondness creeping into the corners of his eyes. This kid wasn’t so bad, honestly, behind the protective walls and angry façade. That tightness in his chest swelled into a balloon.  It filled up his ribs when he reached out a gloved hand to pluck the rice from the villain’s face.

Despite the softness in the hero’s eyes, the nonthreatening nature of his approaching fingers, Genos flinched reflexively. Saitama drew back immediately, watching the renegade’s wide eyes fill with shame at his automatic response to the contact he so desperately craved. Genos clenched his claws into his knees, digging hard, punishing his body’s betrayal with pain.

“I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have… you uh.. had rice.. on your face.” Saitama began, deflating at his unintended effect on Genos, staring down at the grain between his fingers. The hero internally berated himself and his foolish actions, so soon after the boy laid himself bare. It was a response he recognized, a habit Saitama overcame so long ago. He’d sworn to himself not to hurt the boy and here he was, breaking that vow unintentionally not minutes later.

Maybe it was the regret so visible in his face that urged Genos to take Saitama’s wrist, guide those pinched fingers to the hero’s lips, the rice into his mouth. Saitama flushed at the gesture, uncertain in the face of this strange penance for his earlier blunder. The villain watched him eat it, the man’s flustered response refilling his confidence. He released his hold. They could try this again.

“Is there more?” Genos breathed, scooting closer. The villain’s eyes glow, heated, prepared this time for the man’s touch. Saitama nodded, slowly extended out his arm again to collect the remainder of the grains sticking to the boy’s synthetic face. He brought the rice to his mouth, a slow smile forming across his red face.

“You may keep touching me if you desire.” Genos whispered, engines whirring, heat rising up through his conduits to fill up his chest. He moved even closer, their knees bumping. Saitama hesitated, fingers twitching, nervous brown eyes held transfixed by smoldering red. Despite the earlier mutual missteps and misunderstandings, right now they’re laid bare, wants exposed. And Saitama did want this, more than he was willing to admit to himself. Soon enough, he pulled off his red leather gloves finger by finger, unable to leave the villain’s orbit.

He tried not to think too deeply on his reasons for reaching out both hands, gently cradling the boy’s cheeks in his palms. It’s the first time he’d touched Genos without gloves, the contact rippling over him like a tesla coil. His skin was soft and warm, despite the fissure exposing a metal cheekbone. The villain remained perfectly still, ramrod straight, eyes as big as flying saucers. He sat transfixed, held steady by the thumb slowly caressing over his pallid face.

Genos very nearly melted there, sinking into Saitama’s hand, burying himself in those powerful palms. The culmination of years of neglect and the desire for connection forced a soft, wounded noise from his red lips. The hero could easily crush his skull, slap him across the grass and into the adjacent building wall but somehow… Genos knew Saitama wouldn’t. Not with the way those honey eyes poured over him, the warmth surfacing in every stroke of his calloused fingers, the hand carding back into his hair.

The renegade’s core rotated harder, louder, a pulsing glow filtering out past his hoodie and studded leather jacket to illuminate their faces in the waning evening light. Genos spiraled in closer, overwhelmed with the need to kiss him, to take the hero’s lips against his own and taste him.

Saitama’s heart leapt at what he knew the villain wanted, but he unprepared to give. Instead, he expertly redirected the boy’s head to his shoulder, tucked him in close to hold him. Genos tensed for a moment at the sudden alteration of expectations, at the muscled arm curling over his shoulder as the other hand cradled his head. Although it wasn’t what Genos desired most, the contact soothed him, balmed the sting of rejection.

He soon drooped against Saitama’s frame and lifted his twisted, monstrous limbs to twine around the hero in return. Genos squeezed Saitama so hard he thought if he were a lesser man, the villain would’ve popped him like a ketchup packet.

“Ease up a bit, buddy…” Saitama groaned under such great stress, and the boy did. He buried his nose against Saitama’s neck, nestled himself in as if to fuse their bodies together.

Saitama’s heart hammered away, about as unused to this kind of physical contact as Genos was. He rubbed his bare hands across the smooth, worn leather of the renegade’s jacket, guiltily breathed into the folds of his hoodie. Saitama inhaled smoke, wood, and roses (his cologne, he’s sure now), blended with the distinct odor of a factory garment still awaiting its first wash and an undercurrent of cigarettes. His chest throbbed, heat rising into his face as the smell rushed into him. He didn’t fight the feeling this time, just let it wash over him like a rising tide.

How long had it been since he’d been held this way? Saitama wondered as Genos shifted his grip, but didn’t release. His core vibrated and pulsed between their bodies, his hot breaths puffing down the collar of Saitama’s hero suit. Said hero’s cheeks reddened further, the boy’s rumbling body akin to contented purring.

It was way too cute and damnit, Saitama really liked cats (despite the fact cats usually didn’t like him).

“Hey, Genos?” Saitama sighed, looking up to the darkening sky to calm his frantic heart, gaze focused on the stars fading into view around the wispy clouds. The villain made a little whine in his throat, claws clenching tighter around him as if anticipating further rejection. Instead, he received something he did not expect.

“I’m sorry.. about how I acted earlier.” The hero whispered into the air, hands still over the boy’s shoulders. “I shouldn’t have insulted you like that, I didn’t mean it.” He recalled Genos, advancing on him like a beautiful predator, the desire that surged inside him and fear of those implications. Saitama’s ears burned like someone had coated them in hot peppers.  He swallowed reflexively and continued despite his trepidation, “Your face is nice… I umm… I like it..” To put it lightly.

Genos grinned against Saitama’s shoulder, core absolutely roaring at the admission. The increase in volume and vibration did very little to calm the hero down.

“I shall forgive you if you hold me like this a little longer.” The villain whispered into Saitama’s throat, words scalding on his skin like the steam puffing from his twisted metal shoulders.

“OK.” Was all Saitama could say, fingers digging nervously into Genos’s back. Slowly, the anxious knot in his belly uncoiled and his palms began to move again. His hands passed in long, comforting strokes, cascading over the ridges of his spine and back-plates, culminating in a tender squeeze.

“I do not usually like to be touched,” Genos purred, closing his flaming eyes, nuzzling in deeper, melding them together. “But I enjoy it when you touch me, Saitama.”

Saitama’s voice skittered into hiding at the admission, face the same cherry red as the villain’s lips. He clutched Genos a little tighter, but made no other response.

They sat together in that way until the air cooled and the once-long shadows stretched into darkness. There were no working streetlamps here, just the warm glow of an electric heart. It was only when Saitama’s back began to ache, his thighs cramped from staying so long in the same position, did the hero gently nudge Genos.

“Hey..” Saitama whispered, voice inexplicably strained. The sound triggered some sort of response in Genos, his lowly whirring core suddenly pitching up like a computer coming off standby. Did he fall asleep? “Oi, wake up Genos.”

The villain groaned mournfully into Saitama’s shoulder and shifted closer, clenching the hero tighter. When Saitama tried to push him back, Genos sunk his claws in deeper.

“C’mon, let go. I wanna go home.” Saitama whined despite himself. He was over stimulated, left somehow raw from this encounter and he wasn’t sure why. Reluctantly, Genos released him, pushing back to sit on his heels. The loss of the boy’s warmth, his glow, was almost painful. Saitama quickly stood to escape that feeling, reaching down for his discarded grocery bag, threading one arm into the loops.

“May I accompany you?” Genos queried hopefully, rubbing the sleep from his eyes more out of habit than physical need.

“Nah, I’m tired. Come over some other time.” Saitama sighed, collecting his red gloves to shove one into each pocket. While the villain stared dejectedly down at his knees, Saitama’s fingers pushed against a foreign fabric. He paused, the memory of his convenience store purchase flooding back.

“Hey uh… Genos? I almost forgot, but…” The villain looked up at his name, red eyes shining like runway beacons against the darkness. Suddenly overcome with embarrassment, Saitama waffled. If it wasn’t for that expectant gaze, he would’ve bolted right then and there. Instead, he swallowed down the trepidation and pulled the gift from his pocket. “…I got something for you.”

Genos zoomed in on the handkerchief in the hero’s hand, slowly reaching out to accept it. He held the fabric between his talons, bringing it up to his face for a closer inspection, night vision exposing the vague shapes of little cartoon motorcycles.

“It’s um.. it’s not much, but maybe it’ll help you keep the.. ah.. oil off your clothes.” Saitama began, unable to continue watching the boy as he unfolded it completely, eyes wide, chest illuminating anew. “And-um.. if it does get on there, if you get to it before it sets you can soak cornstarch on it for like, an hour, and use a toothbrush to scrub it with dish soap.. or uh.. if you don’t have cornstarch, soak it for a couple hours in warm Coca-Cola before you wash it out.”

While Saitama rambled on about proper care for oil stains, Genos’s hands began to shake. He couldn’t remember the last time someone gave him a gift. It was certainly before he’d been transformed into this monstrosity, but his memories of those days were hazy at best. His chest swelled with something indescribable, filling every cable and conduit until he thought he would burst apart. Instead, the tension pushed up into his throat in a choked sob, gushing out of his eyes as a thick, black stream.

Making Genos cry was exactly the kind of thing Saitama promised himself he wouldn’t do, yet here he was, the source of his tears yet again.

So he panicked.

He lurched forward before the oil dripping down Genos’s cheeks could trickle off his chin onto his hoodie, yanking the handkerchief out of the boy’s hands to splap it directly onto his face. At the impact, all the pent-up pressure exploded out of renegade cyborg’s vents in a hissing cloud of steam.

Saitama couldn’t move, couldn’t speak, hand still pressing the motorcycle patterned fabric to the stunned villain’s face. Oh shit. Sweat beaded on Saitama’s forehead. He’d fucked up. Again.

“S-sorry!” Saitama yelped, jerking back as Genos struggled to overcome his shock, napkin adhered to his synthetic skin thanks to his viscous tears. “I’ll um..  I’ll see you later! Goodnight!!” The hero blurted, absolutely mortified. Saitama fled the scene as quickly as his withering pride allowed, rushing back to his home and much needed solitude.

By the time the villain pulled the handkerchief from his soiled face, the hero Saitama was only a rapidly escaping blip in his proximity scanners.

The villain burst into his stolen home like a hurricane, launching himself up and into the penthouse window with the aid of the blasters in his palms. He paced about his apartment aimlessly, riled up from the day’s emotional whiplash. Excited energy coursed through the channels in his limbs, puffed out his vents in thick clouds.

Saitama hugged him, held him close until he’d fallen asleep. The renegade heated at the recollection of his strong arms laced over him, those calloused hands tracing his spine through his jacket. It stirred up dusty thoughts of love and comfort long since buried away as impossibilities. Who could show kindness to a mechanical monster such as he?

Suddenly overwhelmed, Genos threw himself onto the leather couch cushions, reached for the loose cigarettes on the table. He closed his eyes and lit up, foot tapping onto the concrete as he attempted to quell the rising waters of trust and optimism. He should know better, he thought, dragging long and hard, holding in the toxins to flood his brain. He’d been burned too many times: played, manipulated, and forced enough that his faith in others laid shattered.

Yet he yearned for it, for Saitama. The lonely ache inside him only cracked further the longer his quest for revenge remained fruitless, crevices forming into canyons. The hero extended a spider’s thread into Hell for his salvation, yet Genos hesitated to grasp it, leery to veer from the path he’d set for himself, to dishonor his vows.

Isn’t there a better way to live your life than chasing vengeance?

He sucked down the rest of his cigarette, then a second and a third. By the fourth, he’d pulled the handkerchief from his breast pocket and pressed the soft folds of his precious gift to his face. Brain fuzzy, floating from the nicotine, he thought perhaps Saitama himself held the answer to the question that haunted him since it spilled from the hero’s lips. Looking into his eyes, held in his arms, Genos caught glimpse of that better life… but whether or not he was capable of sustaining it, nurturing it into something more than a fantasy, he didn’t know.  

Genos tucked away his gift and dropped the burnt filter into this morning’s beer can. Nestling back into the cushions, he pulled up the folder of photos and videos he’d squirreled away in his ocular display. Saitama’s face the day they met, eyes wide, sprinting towards doomsday. Saitama, laid out on the floor, asleep in nothing but his boxers. The video of his face turning bright red, played on loop.

Excitement coiled in his belly, tingled over his cortex: a more familiar and palatable thought than pondering his reasons for living, dreaming of escape. This he knew what to do with. This was easy.

When he trailed his talons down his chest and gripped the small metal tab of his jacket, he imagined it was Saitama’s hand slowly pulling, unzipping tooth by tooth. Saitama’s fingers pushing under his hoodie, running over his abdominal plates, tenderly stroking over his oblique cables. The hero’s flushed face as he shyly unbuckled his belt, popping open the button fly to shimmy those tight jeans down his thighs.

Genos telescoped his cock free of its housing, hissing at the rush of sensation when it locked into place, artificial nerves connecting to his brain. “God.. Saitama..” He mumbled, grasping the thick, black silicone tightly in his fist. He squeezed hard, pushing up beads of artificial lubricant, coating his hand to slide back down.

Sensitive finger pads caressed ridges that mimicked his plating, stroked over the ladder of gold barbells lining the underside of his dick. He languidly pumped his length, fantasizing of his hero tentatively taking his huge cock in both hands, those warm lips struggling to wrap around the head. Each stroke tugged at his surface piercings, rippling pleasure up his spine, core spinning quicker at the practiced motions.

“Saitama, Saitama..” The villain chanted, arching back as he pried apart the plates on his stomach with his free hand, dipping his talons in up to the knuckle.  He brought the image of his sweat-soaked hero to the forefront of his display while he fished inside himself, visually tracing down Saitama’s ripped abs. Genos gasped when he caught the correct bundle of wires, his cock twitching in his grip.

He visualized clawing up Saitama’s muscled thighs, slipping his fingers under the threadbare hem of his boxers to grip his morning wood. What would it feel like? Look like? God, what would Saitama taste like? Would he moan or cry out when the villain forced his cock all the way down, deep into his synthetic throat?

Genos allowed the fantasy to wash over him, whimpering as he peeled the casing free of his captured wire. He punctured it with a claw, gasping as the pain and pleasure shot through him, cascading into his cortex. Electricity arced from his abdomen over the surface of his armor, artificial muscles twitching.

“Hah..ah… Saitama.. mmm..” Genos panted, quickening his pace, hips pushing up off the couch as he fucked into his palm. Clear lubricant oozed around the ring in his slit, core pulsing unevenly, casting shadows across his room. He imagined what it would be like to take Saitama for the first time: how tight he would be as the villain slowly pushed into that slender body. He’s likely never been with a man that way… could Genos be his first? Saitama’s beautiful blush looped over and over in Genos’s HUD, twining the two images as pressure swelled through his conduits.

Genos twisted the frayed wire around his talon, bit hard into his painted lip.  Steam trickled from his open vents, volt after volt waterfalling through his systems as he pulled the wire taught, filaments straining against his abuse. He thrust more frantically into his fist, clenched his cock tighter. His thighs quaked, chest heaved. When he neared the precipice, toed right to the edge of the canyon, synthetic body so full of sensation he thought he may combust-- he flicked his wrist and snapped the wire apart.

Genos howled as his body spasmed, his release woven with the sudden surge of electricity and pain overwhelming his sensory processor. Although his core stuttered and steam exploded out of every orifice, his hand kept working, persisted in pumping thick ropes of artificial come over his exposed belly and crumpled hoodie. He milked out every drop of pleasure, imagined emptying himself inside Saitama’s perfect, muscled ass.

He hissed, stroking until he lay completely spent and smoking. The villain relaxed against the leather couch, drooping in a post-orgasmic haze, the video of Saitama still looping in his display. Genos sighed and closed all the open images, distractedly wiping his soiled hand onto his hoodie. He would have to get up at some point, wash himself and change his clothes… but that would be for later.

For now, he shut his dimming eyes and deflated into the cushions, ready to dream of Saitama and better days.

Everything was alright.

At least for tonight.