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Senri Shiki reclined sideways in the large, oversized leather easy chair in the corner of the comfortably apportioned dorm room that he shared with Takuma Ichijo. He had a magazine flopped open on his lap, paging slowly through it as he read a couple of the articles. It didn't feel weird anymore to occasionally see his own face look back at him from the glossy advertisement pages. He'd been a model since he was a child, so you got used to such things.

What he was trying to get used to now, however, was the weariness that still hung over him all the time and the bruised circles and faint lines that had developed under and around his eyes. Everyone told him that these things would eventually go away, but no one really knew for sure. The pureblood father he'd never known, and who had never seen fit to give him his name, had possessed his body for more than a month, and it hadn't done the young vampire any favors.

Of course, Senri was well aware of the rest of the damage that his father had done during that time was much worse. His father, it turned out, was Rido Kuran, uncle to their dorm president, Kaname Kuran who had all but killed his uncle some years ago after Rido had murdered his parents. Rido had used his son's body in his attempt at revenge and given all that had happened, Senri knew he shouldn't be complaining that he'd eventually escaped with only some chronic fatigue and a few wrinkles.

So, okay, maybe it was shallow, but... he was a model damn it! He didn't have nor want any other way to support himself and his mother. It wasn't that money was a problem; they'd be okay, even if he didn't work... but he liked his work and he liked not being dependant on other people's income or charity. It was incredibly depressing to think that this whole situation might have permanently damaged his career.

Ordinarily, Senri would have been pretty delighted to learn that he was actually related to the revered Kurans in some way, but considering that as far as he could learn, Rido Kuran had pretty much gotten his mother pregnant just so he'd have a host someday should he need one, and then damaged her mind through his cruelty so she could never tell... well, that didn't exactly make him proud of his heritage. Sick to his stomach was more like it. He'd never forgive that man for making his sweet, beautiful mother what she was and denying Senri the chance to have ever known her sane and whole.

Shiki flipped the magazine page with a dower scowl, his legs swinging slightly, heels kicking the side of the leather chair. He didn't want to be thinking about this, he was just depressing himself deeper and getting more frustrated.

With a sigh, the brunette closed the magazine and flung it across the room, tipping his head back against the stuffed arm of the chair and closing his eyes.

"Hey, Senri, you in here?" The sound of the door and the voice of Shiki's roommate interrupted his brooding.

Shiki, hidden in the shadows in the corner of the room, didn't open his eyes. "No, Takuma, I'm in Korea," he said dryly.

Takuma grinned, ignoring the sarcasm. It had been a rhetorical question anyway. "I got you a present," he informed his friend cheerfully as he crossed the room. Takuma knew that Shiki's slow recovery, and the recent revelations about his family had been hard on the younger vampire. Shiki had been depressed and moody for days and it made Takuma ache to see him smile.

Intrigued despite himself, Shiki gave the air a curious sniff, trying to tell what it was that Takuma had brought. He halfway expected it to be pastries of some kind. The scent, however, was unexpected and Shiki opened his eyes to find himself staring at a pair of dark, inquisitive eyes, sandy brown fur and an upside down version of a beaming Takuma.

"Look what I got you!" Takuma said with cheerful enthusiasm, holding the small, furry creature nose to nose with Senri as he lay with his head tipped back over the arm of the chair.

Shiki blinked, straightening up as Takuma deposited the warm little body on his lap. He looked in surprised confusion between the little ball of artfully arranged fur and ears and his eager looking roommate who was obviously waiting to see what he thought.

"You got me a rabbit?" Senri inquired, just in case he was somehow missing something important here. "Takuma... you know how herbivores feel about us..." actually, Shiki was surprised that the small bunny wasn't already shivering wildly and trying to get off his lap. Instead, the little creature was nuzzling him quite contentedly and curiously exploring the hem of his shirt with its cute little pink nose. Shiki felt his hands drawn to cup the cuddly little body despite himself. It felt so small, warm and fragile between his hands. He could feel its little heartbeat through its whole body under his fingers. Damn... the silly little thing was cute.

"I know, I know, but that's why I had to get you this one," Takuma explained. "There was a little kid in town selling them out of a box. All the others tried to claw their way out of there when I came over to look, but this one came right over and nuzzled my hand." Takuma smiled fondly, reaching a hand down to stroke the young rabbit's long silky ears. "I think he must be scent blind. Probably bad for him if he were in the wild, but good for us, huh?"

Shiki was grinning now despite himself as he lifted the bunny up so they were nose to nose again, the small creature regarding him with inquisitive little eyes totally devoid of fear. Shiki snuggled him easily into the crook of one arm, like one might hold a baby, stroking his fur with the other as he looked back at Takuma. He raised one sculpted eyebrow. "You really wanted him, didn't you?"

Takuma shrugged. "Well he was very cute, I couldn't just leave him there in that nasty paper box, it's cold out. And I thought... maybe he'd cheer you up," he added softly.

Shiki felt a pang of guilt. He knew Takuma was trying very hard to be there for him through this. He'd been pulling away because he was tired and confused and still afraid of the shapeless nightmares he had when he tried to sleep. But it wasn't fair to either of them.

"Thanks, Takuma. I love him," Shiki said softly, his eyes a little more gentle and a little less sarcastic as they held his friend's. Carefully, Shiki eased himself out of the chair, taking the bunny with him. "Come on, help me make a little home for him somewhere."

A few minutes later, the two vampires had a small rabbit palace fashioned out of carpets and cushions. They'd get something more appropriate and permanent later, but right now the rabbit seemed happy.

"I think I'm going to call him Teku," Shiki declared as he straightened up, rising to his feet and dusting off his hands.

"Seenri..." Takuma protested playfully. Teku had been a brief childhood nickname of Takuma's that he wasn't at all fond of. He had come to regret ever sharing that information with Shiki.

"Nope, you gave him to me, I get to name him. It's perfect," Shiki said definitively, giving his friend a deep smile.

Next thing Shiki knew he was lying on the ground, his head spinning and his vision dotted with dark patches. Takuma was leaning over him in alarm, calling his name.

"Senri! Senri, are you okay?" Takuma helped Shiki sit up slowly.

Shiki held his head groggily in his hands. "Unn... yeah, yeah, I'm fine..." the brunette murmured in frustration. "Just grayed out again." It had happened once or twice before. The physicians said this would pass, it was one of the many side-effects of having been so long out of control of his own body. Sometimes he started to lapse back into the repressed state the Rido had forced him into for so long.

Takuma's eyes were deeply worried. Despite the doctor's reassurance that there was very little chance of such happening, he was terrified that Shiki might permanently slip back into that state and lapse into a coma or something.

Over Shiki's protests, Takuma scooped him up and carried him to his bed. "No, no arguing, you need to rest."

"All I ever do lately is rest, I'm sick of it, Takuma!" Shiki protested petulantly.

Takuma dipped his head and caught Shiki's lips in an unexpected, worried kiss. That shut the younger vampire up. He hesitated for a heartbeat, but then responded to the kiss readily enough.

He and Takuma had been friends for a long time. Mutually attracted for a while and conveniently placed as roommates in the dorm... they'd just begun to explore the tentative possibility of being a little more than friends before holiday break... before Shiki's father had taken over him and everything had gone to chaos. The warmth of Takuma's lips and the closeness of his body was soothing.

"Please, Senri, I'm worried about you. Rest, for me," Takuma coaxed as he laid Shiki down carefully on his bed.

Shiki's fingers caught in Takuma's shirt, giving a sharp little tug that pulled Takuma off balance and sent him tumbling down onto the bed as well. Takuma landed on top of Shiki and the brunette's knees snaked up on either side of his hips, feet curling behind his thighs to hold him captive.

Takuma blinked as he found himself pressed so closely and intimately against the other and he quickly pushed up on his elbows, placed on either side of Shiki's body, looking down at him questioningly. A deep flush was quickly spreading up Takuma's pale cheeks.

"Um... Shiki..." he murmured, a little flustered. He didn't try to move, he didn't want to move, it felt so good to be this close to the other boy...

"You want me to stay in bed, Takuma... how about giving me a reason to?" Shiki purred invitingly, laying a dark gaze on Takuma and leaning up to slowly trail his lips and tongue along the other's jaw.

Takuma shuddered, his body temperature skyrocketing at the feeling of the other vampire's lips, tongue and teeth on his skin. He and Shiki had kissed a couple of times, before all the madness started. They'd finally acknowledged the unspoken attraction between them, but they'd not gone beyond that, they hadn't had time. Shiki's provocative nearness and his seductive tones were quickly hazing Takuma's brain with a whole set of new desires, however.

"Um..." was about all Takuma could manage to get out of his suddenly dry mouth, his heart starting to race as Shiki casually but purposefully started undoing his buttons, his legs still twined around the other to keep him close.

Shiki grinned. Takuma was so sweet. He was too damn innocent sometimes, and it often seemed like he was the younger one, rather than the older one, but truth be told Shiki liked that about him. "Come on, Takuma... if I have to be in bed, I want to share it with you..." he murmured coaxingly, hands sliding under the shirt he'd just unbuttoned, mapping the contours of Takuma's chest before undoing his tie and easing the shirt down his shoulders.

Takuma was naturally lithe, like most vampires, but his slim frame was very well muscled, something you couldn't tell under the shirts he usually wore – a result of years of training in his Katana forms. Shiki admired the well toned expanse of his chest openly, leaning up to lick and nibble along Takuma's collarbone as his fingers explored elsewhere.

Takuma breathed slowly through his teeth, feeling frozen as Shiki started to undress and caress him. He should... do something... should make Shiki stop... but... why? He didn't want him to stop. Takuma caressed Shiki's graceful neck slowly with one hand, kissing his hair, the side of his face, his breath coming rapidly as his hips started to rock automatically down against Shiki's.

Shiki was getting the idea he needed to do all the work for the moment, but he wasn't complaining as he eased Takuma out of his shirt and slid down to start working open his belt buckle.

Takuma paused and looked down at him. This was all moving rather fast, and although everything in him was craving more, was wanting Shiki's beautiful, skillful fingers to free him, was wanting to touch, taste and devour the strong, slim, seductive body rolling so enticingly up against him...

"Senri... are you sure you want to... I mean..."

Shiki smiled deeply and cupped the back of Takuma's head. "Shut up, Takuma," he murmured, pulling him down for a heated kiss as his other hand unfastened the other's belt and pants, slipping inside. Shiki delighted in the raw gasp of air that Takuma sucked in against his lips.

Shiki knew Takuma came from a much more reserved and traditional lifestyle than his own. Shiki was totally comfortable in seeking pleasure for pleasure sake, no real matter who he was with, and he could certainly do with a diversion right now, but that wasn't all it was this time. Takuma was so handsome, so inviting, but also so sweet and caring... Shiki really did like him a lot. He knew Takuma wanted him, whether or not the other could admit it to himself, and he wanted to show proper appreciation for all the tender care his friend had been giving him this past week or two. He wanted to feel close to him, he wanted to share this with him.

Takuma gasped in ragged delight, burying his flaming face against the side of Shiki's neck as the brunette vampire's hand worked wonders inside his pants, making him tremble with pleasure as he inhaled Shiki's scent deeply.

Deciding this would work much better if positions were reversed, Shiki rolled them over, trapping Takuma under him and kissing a slow, purposeful trail of kisses down his lover's stomach as he eased Takuma's pants down his hips. Stripping his partner completely, Shiki nuzzled Takuma's groin and used his mouth to lavish moist, heated attention on him that he was beginning to suspect his lover had never experienced before.

Takuma's head arched back and his fists curled into the bed sheets under him, an urgent groan of shock and deep pleasure escaping in a rush. His body was on fire, Shiki was driving him crazy. He needed to touch the other vampire, needed to badly.

Sitting up, Takuma ran his hands through Shiki's hair, cupping his face and pulling him up for another fevered, hungry kiss as his slightly trembling fingers fell swiftly to the hem of the polo shirt Shiki was wearing, taking hold of the bottom and pulling it up his chest and off over his head. Shiki lifted his arms in eager compliance. He was dying to be out of his clothes already, but he wanted Takuma to undress him.

Takuma's fingers trailed the smooth, beautiful lines of the model's body, holding him close, kissing him, running his hands down his back... How many times had he found himself unintentionally tracing a finger across the breathtaking image of Shiki's shirtless body posing with coy seduction on some magazine ad or another? It was an embarrassing secret, but now... he could touch him for real, feel the warmth of flesh and the thrum of blood rushing through veins under his hands as he held the other vampire close.

Shiki squirmed in need and barely held patience. He adored the fervent, almost reverent way Takuma was treating him, but, um... he really, really needed to lose the rest of his clothes. He captured one of Takuma's hands in his, kissing the blonde's warm neck and nibbling suggestively on his bite area in a way that made Takuma's body stand up and take notice. Shiki guided Takuma's hand to the catch on his trousers.

"Please, Takuma..." he murmured huskily. "Please, I'm dying here..."

Takuma's pupil's dilated at the beautiful, intoxicating words and the beautiful, intoxicating look that Shiki's liquid brown eyes fixed on him as he looked up. Clumsily, but hurriedly, he unfastened the others trousers and pushed them down. Shiki helped him along and soon they were both naked.

Breathing hard, Takuma trailed his mouth down Shiki's body. He wasn't experienced at this, but he wanted to return the pleasure of what Shiki had been doing for him.

Shiki growled softly in his throat, supporting himself with one arm as he sat, hand tangling in Takuma's hair as Takuma found his aching flesh and lathed it with warm, if hesitant and untried attentions. Shiki yelped softly as fangs grazed his flesh and his body shuddered. Takuma hesitated and looked up, seeking approval. "Is that okay?"

Shiki grinned in deep fondness and tugged Takuma up by his hair, pushing him back down on the bed and rolling to straddle him. "Yeah, it's great..." he approved with a delicious, dark look in his beautiful eyes.

Settling between Takuma's knees, he pulled Takuma's legs up around his waist, urging him to hook his feet to hold him there as Shiki rocked their hips together, hard bodies slipping and grinding exotically together in a slow, sweaty dance whose pitch increased as the fire singing through both bodies began to blossom into urgent need.

Takuma's pale face was flushed with passion and beaded with glistening perspiration as he looked up at Shiki with intensely pleasure glazed eyes, clinging to him, thrusting back to meet him, moving urgently as his desire swelled and throbbed. He reached up and ran his fingers across Shiki's cheek, down his side, through his hair... so perfect, so beautiful...

The amazing openness in Takuma's eyes as he looked at him, like he was inviting Shiki into his very soul, was intoxicatingly incredible and Shiki couldn't tear his eyes away from his lover's face as he moved firmly against him. He wanted this man. He wanted him so bad... he'd been intending to let Takuma have him, as a thank you for everything he'd done for him, but he realized that Takuma had probably never done this before and might not be comfortable if his lover had to instruct him on what to do.

Most people would kind of take that as a blow to their pride. Besides... Takuma was so eager, so inviting and vulnerable... Shiki wanted him, intensely.

"Let me make love to you," he whispered, velvety soft against Takuma's throat as he kissed him slowly, fangs playing teasingly against the throbbing vein pulsing passionately at the base of his throat.

Takuma shivered with a soft, delighted moan. "Isn't that... what we're doing?" he murmured breathlessly, the hint of confusion in his voice mostly masked by the heavy layer of desire and pleasure.

Shiki smiled in heated amusement, if not really surprise. Takuma was a virgin, in this realm at least. He had to be as he'd completely missed the subtext of his partner's request. That was... sweet, and incredibly alluring. Shiki didn't think he'd ever been with someone when it was their first time. His first time had been bent over the desk of a producer who had the job that Shiki had desperately wanted at the time. His mother had really wanted him to get that contract, her poor, broken mind had fixated on it and he was bound and determined to get it for her. He'd been young, had no one he trusted that he could go to, and he hadn't known he could say no. It didn't matter, it'd ended up feeling pretty good, and Shiki had learned that sex was currency in that business. General Vampire morals, which said if something was pleasurable, then do it, didn't really stand in the way. Only pride would have kept someone from letting themselves be used like that, but ironically, self worth wasn't something that Shiki had a lot of.

Shiki licked and nipped Takuma's neck expertly, making his partner whimper in absolute bliss. "Yes, we are, but it can be so much better..." Shiki coaxed. He wasn't sure how Takuma would react if he'd never tried it before. He didn't want to weird him out. "If you trust me. Do you trust me, Takuma?" he breathed against the other's skin.

Takuma almost couldn't stand how incredible he was feeling, he tilted his head, pulling on Shiki's shoulders to bring his head up so he could kiss him again. He wanted, needed more... more physical intimacy, more connection with his lover... he just didn't know how to get it. He explored the other's mouth hungrily, sucking Shiki's tongue into his mouth and playing with it delightedly.

"Yes," Takuma murmured huskily, without hesitation into the other's mouth. "Of course I trust you."

Such easy trust... it was a gift that Shiki did not take lightly. He would make sure Takuma's first experience was a far cry from his own; he'd make sure it was nothing short of mind-shatteringly incredible. Takuma deserved that and Shiki cared about him too much for anything less.

Shiki slid his hand down between them, stroking Takuma's thigh before sliding up and slowly rubbing and massaging him in preparation. "Mmm... okay then..." he murmured with a deep grin as they continued to kiss.

Takuma responded very nicely to that form of stimulation, shivering and kissing Shiki harder. It was good that he was sensitive; it would make it more fun. Shiki paused to fumble for some lube in the top drawer of the nightstand before returning quickly to Takuma's arms his preparatory ministrations, his fingers delving deeper now to start prepping in earnest.

Takuma's body stiffened and he looked questioningly up at Shiki with something between desire and alarm. "Um... you want... that?" he murmured softly, voice almost squeaking slightly.

The look on his face was precious and Shiki bent to kiss him fervently, fingers still working gently. Ah, so Takuma knew how it worked at least. Good. "I want all of you, Takuma..." Shiki murmured seductively. "I want to feel you to your core and please you like you've never known... won't you let me?" he purred. "I promise you'll love it... you said you trusted me."

There was no way Takuma could say no to that. He didn't want to anyway, Shiki's words had his body quivering with need and curiosity. His face was burning again, but he gave a small nod. "Okay. I... I want you too."

"Mmm... good... then just relax... relax..." Shiki kissed Takuma slowly, fingers teasing, probing and searching out all the places that made Takuma respond the best. By the time he was ready to take him, Takuma was nearly delirious from need and from the long, teasing preparation.

He pushed back eagerly when Shiki took him, although he was surprised by the initial surge of sharp discomfort. He didn't want to say anything, thinking he was doing something wrong, but Shiki saw the look on his face that Takuma tried to hide and slowed his movements to incredibly gentle.

"It's okay, Takuma, it's okay..." he murmured soothingly. "It always hurts a little at first, but that'll go away soon, I promise..."

It did, and soon Takuma was groaning softly and moving his hips urgently, begging Shiki to pick up the pace. The brunette was only too happy to oblige and soon they were both moving together rapidly on the bed, soft groans and cries of passion escaping and mingling in the air.

Shiki made sure that Takuma came first, he wanted to watch the moment when those amber eyes drown in pleasure and glazed with complete bliss. He wanted to always be able to remember that and hold it dear. He wasn't far behind, and then they slumped together tiredly and contentedly on the bed in the glowing aftermath. Shiki rolled off Takuma onto his back and Takuma followed, laying on his side beside him and resting his head against the other's shoulder.

Ragged breathing and pounding hearts slowed gradually, their body heat still more than enough to keep them warm. Takuma felt so radiantly full, so deliciously happy and sated he hadn't thought it was possible.

"I love you, Senri," he murmured softly against the other's shoulder, a contented, exhausted smile on his face.

Shiki swallowed softly, staring up at the ceiling. His body was still glowing with a post-pleasure high, but he felt an unconscionable tightness in his throat. He should have known better than to treat Takuma too casually. He should have known that other vampire would probably think he needed to give his heart with his body. That was a very serious charge, because Shiki had come to adore Takuma's gentle, caring heart. Like he'd come to adore the rest of the infuriatingly naïve vampire. Takuma was one of the few good, real things in his life. He hadn't meant to confuse his friend like this, or make him feel like he owed Shiki something just because that was his nature.

"You don't have to," Shiki murmured quietly, a trifle hoarsely as he continued to stare up at the ceiling, fingers tangling softly in Takuma's hair. His throat ached fiercely because he realized that deep down, he wanted what Takuma said too much. He wanted to be loved by someone, not just desired.

Love wasn't something he'd had a lot of in his life. The modeling world was nothing if not artificial and focused on the pleasure of the moment. That's why he was such close friends with Rima, she'd never tried to bed him, but stuck by him and stuck up for him anyway. She and Takuma were the only people to have ever done that kind of thing for him without expecting something in return. His mother was a dear heart, but it had always been him taking care of her since he was old enough to understand that he needed to. It wasn't her fault. She loved him, but it was a childlike, dependant, demanding love. He'd always given her everything to keep that affection, or in the vain hope that he could make her 'better'. Since he was young, he let her drink his blood and hid it from everyone else who would have surely looked at them with shock and disgust. Mother and son weren't supposed to share a relationship like that... and sometimes, growing up, it had made him feel very confused about what he was feeling, but Shiki would have given her anything, and he would have given anything to feel... loved.

That's why he felt like crap now, thinking he'd probably tricked or coerced Takuma into saying what he'd said. Into thinking he had to try to mean it. Shiki didn't want to do that to him. He'd never want to manipulate or hurt Takuma.

Takuma blinked at the strange words, turning to look questioningly at Shiki. There was a faint note of hurt creeping into his eyes. Had he done something wrong? Didn't Senri feel anything for him too?

The hurt in those innocent eyes nailed Shiki to the bed and he felt absolutely wretched. "You don't have to love me," Shiki murmured softly, trying to make things right. "This was wonderful, awesome in fact, but I didn't mean to... obligate you. I mean, it doesn't have to mean anything, you know? I just wanted to say thank you..." Shiki squeezed his eyes shut, trying to hide the tears gathering in them unshed. Oh God... he'd screwed up, Takuma was going to realize what he'd done and pull away from him... he couldn't imagine losing the other's affection and friendship, it was like a bottomless ache in his chest just thinking about it. He didn't know what Takuma wanted him to say, or do... he'd do whatever it was if he knew. He'd be whatever he wanted him to be if it held his affection. Shiki was a model; he was good at becoming whatever people wanted him to be.

The moisture glistening on Shiki's long, dark lashes quickly made Takuma forget his own confused pain for the moment. Shiki was obviously hurting and as he spoke... Takuma started to understand why. A soft, gentle smile spread across his features as he read between the lines. It was... kind of unthinkable to him, actually, but it seemed that Shiki really believed... he wasn't loveable. He didn't believe that Takuma could feel that way about him without having been coerced somehow. That made Takuma ache for him and he leaned down, brushing a soft, slow kiss across Shiki's flushed lips. How could anyone so beautiful and good-hearted not think they were capable of being loved?

The brunette's eyes flew open. He hadn't expected the kiss. Nor had he expected the warm, tender... loving... expression in Takuma's eyes as he looked down at him. "I don't have to love you, Senri. I just... do," he murmured honestly.

Shiki was lost, he wanted to drown in those eyes; he desperately wanted to believe what they said. He captured Takuma's face between his hands with a soft look of hesitant awe. He didn't deserve this man, but he wanted him, so much his heart ached in his chest like it never had before. "Tell me what you want me to do, how you want me to be... I can be anything for you..." he murmured huskily, offering Takuma the only thing he could think to try to repay the beautiful adoration in those eyes. He wanted so badly to be whatever it was that Takuma wanted, whatever it was that he could love.

Takuma smiled a deeply fond, quizzical smile. Sometimes, Shiki made absolutely no sense, but he adored him anyway. "Silly goose," he murmured in gentle amusement. "I just want you to be you. It's you I'm in love with... you're beautiful, smart, funny..." Takuma dipped his head slightly, a little embarrassed. "I'm sorry, I'm sure you've heard it before, and from people a lot more eloquent than I am. But I mean it, Senri, I love you. Whether or not you feel that way about me, it's okay, I understand. You walk in a different world with a lot of exciting people that I can never hope to be like, but I just..." Takuma swallowed and closed his eyes.

It was Shiki's turn to capture his lips in a warm, urgent kiss. "No, actually, I... I haven't," he murmured. "Heard that, I mean... not from anybody who meant it and wasn't just looking for a bit of action," he admitted, suddenly feeling a little ashamed to admit to his lover what he doubtless already knew about his past.

Shiki wrapped his arms around Takuma's back, holding him close and burying his face against his neck. "Takuma... you're right, you're nothing like the other people I've known... you're real, you're kind, and you think of others before yourself. I... I don't deserve that. You're so... so precious to me. I don't know that I'm capable of ever loving you back the way you deserve..."

Takuma slipped his hand behind Shiki's head, cradling him close and kissing his hair. He'd never dreamed his friend was hiding all this pain and lack of self worth. The other boy always seemed so confident and self-assured. "But do you want to try?" he murmured the question back softly. "I don't expect perfection, Senri... I told you, I love you, just the way you are. I just need to know if this is all only on my side, just me dreaming that you could care about me too, or if you want to give it a chance," he whispered.

Shiki gave a choked little sob against Takuma's neck, embarrassed that he was reacting like this, but unable to stop the swelling, beautiful pain inside him. He'd waited so long to hear those words. To hear someone just say they loved him, someone he could believe meant it. He didn't know if he could honestly say he loved Takuma, and he wouldn't say it if he wasn't sure because he cared way too much about the other vampire to play with his heart, but he'd never felt this way about anyone, he'd never wanted or cared about anyone this much. And the answer was... yes.

"Yes," he rasped back quickly, arms tightening around Takuma's back. "Yes, I want to try," he murmured softly. "I want to love you, Takuma. You make me feel like I... like I've never felt before."

Takuma smiled deeply against Shiki's hair, easing him back down against the bed again and leaning over him on his hands. "That's good enough for me," he said softly. "Don't worry so much, Senri. You teach me, I'll teach you, we'll figure it out together." He paused, fixing Shiki with a tender look.

"Trust me, Senri," he murmured, turning the tables from a few minutes ago as he requested now the same kind of trust he'd been so willing to surrender.

Shiki wiped his eyes with the back of his hand and gave a smile. He'd learned years ago not to trust, because trusting got you hurt. But Takuma... Takuma he could trust. Somehow, he just knew he could.

"Yeah, together," Shiki agreed. He sucked his breath in softly as Takuma shifted to kneel between his legs, hooking one knee with his hand and pulling it comfortably up his hip so their bodies were pressed together. Shiki could feel that Takuma was already... interested... again, and his own body was responding swiftly.

Takuma smiled down at him with a sweet, shy eagerness that somewhat belied the vulnerable position he had his lover in. He rocked his hips slowly against Shiki. "How about we start by you teaching me... how to make love to you, like you did...?" he murmured.

Shiki laughed as he rocked his hips back against Takuma, savoring the delicious sensations. "Yeah, I think that's a real good place to start..."

THE END