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Apostate

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Even in the depths of the Labyrinth, Naoki can feel the way Kagutsuchi changes phases. Especially now—with Gundari lodged beneath his heart, thrumming and pulsing with a yearning to move, to chase, that's so much worse when Kagutsuchi is full. The Dark magatama always make the feeling stronger. He licks his lips and parts them to taste the air, the thin currents of magatsuhi flowing through the corridors. He wants to fight. He wants to hunt. And even down in the Fifth Kalpa, there are very few things that can stop him from taking what he wants anymore.

He catches the scent of something challenging, the hint of dry dust and the bitter sharpness of ash. It's not quite right, not quite the scent of any of the demons that belong down here. Gundari coils and shivers in his chest. Naoki breaks into a run.

The lesser demons of the Kalpa scatter when they see him coming, Dis shrinking back against the wall and Nue lumbering into an alcove with its eyes wide. He could stop here for long enough to destroy them anyway—but he doesn't, not this time. There's not enough reward in little things like that.

His footsteps echo in the empty hallways as he follows that doesn't-belong-here scent. Colors blur and smear around the edges of his vision, reds and golds bleeding into void black. His blood thunders in his veins, an echo of the flow of magatsuhi around him. The prey scent is getting stronger. It can't hide from him.

He turns a corner and it comes spinning up to meet him, torches blazing as its wheel turns. The body clinging to the wheel might be human-shaped under those robes, but Naoki knows better than to take that for granted anymore. Even with the Divines.

"Demifiend," the demon—angel—says. Its voice is low and hollow, and its eyes glow almost the same color as its flames. "It is not too late to repent. You can turn away from this path of destruction and seize the power—"

That's as far as it gets before Naoki is bored enough to punch it in the face. Maybe some other time he might have argued back, but not now. Not when he can feel the wild light of Kagutsuchi seething and bubbling through his veins. What do any of the Reasons have to offer him that he can't just take for himself?

The angel wheels away from him and then returns, shuddering, light bursting from somewhere within it. It's trying to fight him as if Naoki originated down here, isn't it? Assuming he'd have a weakness to the killing light that expels evil. That's cute.

"That's not how you exploit a weakness," he says. "You do it like this."

He takes a deep breath and exhales it as glacial frost, making the angel's wheel stutter to a halt. Its mouth is open, frozen like that, an expression that would be surprise if it were a person.

Naoki takes the opportunity to punch it again, right where its body crosses the center of the wheel. Hitting them feels different when they're frozen, the impact jarring harder through the bones of his hand. But it feels right all the same, and he thinks probably it has since the first time he beat down some greedy little Preta all the way back in the hospital.

The ice dispels too fast for him to finish the angel off, but that's fine. He's having a good time.

"How can you be so powerful?" the angel demands. It's sagging against its wheel and most of its torches have gone out. "You were only a human."

"And Lucifer was only an angel," Naoki says. He smiles. "Run."

For a second it looks like the angel is going to stay here and try to argue, but then it has an attack of common sense and flees down the corridor. Naoki tells himself he's going to count to ten before he gives chase.

He makes it to three.

The angel isn't as stupid as it sounded. It's heading straight for the warp zone that will get it out of here. Naoki picks up his pace a little to make sure it won't succeed. He can taste its fear on the air and he wants more.

He catches up at the last turn before the warp zone would come into view, taking three long steps and reaching out to grab the angel's wheel by one spoke. He wrenches it back and throws it into the nearest chamber, making an Isora flap hastily out into the corridor in alarm. Naoki stalks into the chamber and the door slides smoothly shut behind him. The Labyrinth itself doesn't want to let his prey escape.

"Didn't even stop long enough to heal yourself?" He'd swear he can smell desperation in the angel's guttering flames. It makes him feel alive. Hungry. "That's flattering."

"It is no compliment," the angel spits. "Your presence is repulsive, and any righteous being would—"

Naoki slams it against the wall, making its eyes go wide, making it shut the fuck up. "I don't see any righteous beings here."

"How dare you." The angel draws itself up stiffly as best it can, but Naoki's starting to think it actually can't let go of the wheel to try to fight him off. Interesting.

He holds it against the wall with one hand on its spokes and reaches down with the other to grab a fistful of its robe. The material feels strange under his hands, too smooth, and when he pulls hard enough to tear it, the angel screams.

The strip of material that came away in Naoki's hand hangs limp, dripping black-red onto the floor. It smells like magatsuhi, coppery and raw, and his mouth waters. Gundari pulses in his core, a demanding alien heartbeat. He grabs another handful of the angel's robe and pulls again.

Its body thrashes on the wheel and its howls echo off the walls. The torn edges shrink away from him, like the limbs of a starfish recoiling when it's touched. Magatsuhi angel blood runs from them, slowly but steadily. Where the robe has been torn away, its body is the dark exhaust gray of its face, marked with weirdly geometric concentric red circles in apparently random places. Naoki touches one of the marks, pushes against it, and his fingers sink right into the angel's flesh.

"No," it says, shuddering, writhing on the wheel. "No, you filth, you profane creature..."

Naoki presses deeper into that weird yielding flesh. It's warm and almost perfectly smooth. He could probably fuck it if he tried, it's that easy to push into. The idea sounds good in the same way that tearing it apart sounds good.

He pulls his fingers out and the angel whines in what sounds like relief before Naoki's hand drops to unfasten his shorts. Maybe it should bother him that the angel's struggles have gotten him hard, but honestly he doesn't think he has it in him to feel guilty about other people's problems anymore.

When it gathers enough strength to try to set him on fire, that he still gives a fuck about. The spell is weak and sputtering and doesn't hurt nearly as much as it could, but it still makes him flinch.

And then rip off another long strip of the angel's robe-membrane in retaliation, because the human part of him might have made exceptions but the demon part of him knows you don't let anyone get away with hurting you. The angel's pain-sounds are turning more animal, and its struggles are barely more than the twitching of a manikin by now. Naoki should probably hurry up if he wants to get his dick in it while it's still conscious.

There's another one of those creepy red openings high up on the angel's thigh, right at a convenient height for fucking. Naoki closes the distance between their bodies and reaches down to line himself up as the angel shivers. His hand is wet with the magatsuhi fluid the angel leaks from its injuries, and he figures that should be enough slick.

He pushes, and the angel's flesh opens around his cock, tight but yielding, like fucking is what these holes are for. It gasps—has it been breathing this whole time? he's not sure—and winces like a human in pain.

"Filth," the angel whines. Its torches have almost all gone out, but its body is still hot where Naoki presses against and into it. "Defiler. Pawn of the Adversary."

"You are so bad at dirty talk," Naoki says. He thrusts in hard, and the heat and friction of the angel's body feel good wrapped around his cock. When he tucks his face in the hollow of the angel's throat and breathes in, the scent of its blood and fear makes him dizzy. Gundari throbs, power pulsing out into his limbs, and he groans at the pleasure of it: winning, taking what's his, defeating anything that defies him and growing stronger every time he does it.

The angel isn't going to last much longer, if its weakening struggles are any indication. It's too bad. It feels good, the clinging heat and the little tremors that make the angel clutch and flutter around him. Naoki picks up his pace, his breath hitching as he fucks his way into that sweet alien hole.

"End this," the angel rasps. It almost sounds like a plea, until the next part: "You may destroy me, but the Lord shall—"

"Wait his turn," Naoki says. "I'll get to him when I'm done with you."

The angel makes a noise of pure howling fury, and its magatsuhi surges as it makes a last desperate attempt to hurt him, thrashing where it's trapped between him and the wall. Naoki moves with it, wrestling it into submission, one hand on its wheel and the other hand sinking into a mark near its shoulder. He's so close, between the tight heat of the angel's body and its desperate, useless attempts to fight him off.

The angel cries out first, a sharp noise of hopeless surrender. It convulses, and its strange dark blood spills from its mouth to run down its chin. On instinct, Naoki leans in to lap it up, and when it hits his tongue, copper and power and despair and rage—that's when he comes, shuddering through release with a growl of satisfaction.

He pulls back enough to get a decent look at his prey. The angel hangs limp against its wheel. Its eyes have gone dark. There's still blood smeared around its mouth. Naoki licks it again, and it's still delicious. He bites its lip and oh, the flesh is soft, coming away between his teeth when he pulls. He rolls that little bit of flesh over his tongue, chews it slowly, delighting in the taste and the yielding texture of it. When he swallows, it feels like another triumph.

More.

He lets go of the angel's wheel so he can push both hands into the mark where its heart should be, prying it open, stretching the skin as far as it'll go and then tearing it back, opening up the angel's body. The rush of fluids makes it hard to keep his grip, and he's going to need to visit the Lady of the Fount after this even if he's not actually injured, but fuck. The glistening wet core of it, the dizzying smell of magatsuhi-rich blood—life, desire, power—the satisfaction of having an enemy so thoroughly, visibly destroyed.

From what little he remembers from biology classes, it's obvious the angel's resemblance to a human was only superficial. Naoki's not even sure if there are real bones in this mess anywhere. He definitely wouldn't want to try to identify any organs.

But fuck it, he's not here to study for a test. He reaches into the glistening wet mess inside the angel, running his fingers through the slickness until he finds something he can close his hand around and pull it free. Probably the wet lump of meat in his hand is an organ of some kind. It's deep, garnet red, still warm, and the smell of power coming off it makes his mouth water.

The first bite makes him moan, the flesh just firm enough to make a satisfying mouthful, the rush of sweet copper almost intoxicating. He tries to savor it, but it's still gone so fast, and he's taking another bite before the taste can fade from his tongue. This is what's been missing from his battles. This is what's been missing from his whole time in the Vortex World. This is what will satisfy the hunger he didn't realize he had.

He eats until he's so full it aches, until his arms are streaked red to the elbow and the remains of the angel are sunken and hollowed out. The background noise of Kagutsuchi humming through his mind has quieted by then and Naoki relaxes, sitting on the floor of the labyrinth chamber, his back to the wall and his eyes closed. He can hear the beat of his own blood rushing in his ears. It feels strange that an experience like this would leave him feeling so calm. So satisfied.

It won't last. Nothing in the Vortex World is intended to last, and the way Kagutsuchi changes is a vivid reminder of that. Naoki licks his fingers, enjoying how comfortable this moment feels and letting himself savor it while he can. He'll get up soon. He'll get back to the battles that matter.

And if he misses this feeling when it inevitably fades... well, he knows what causes it now. He can always do it again.