Keika doesn’t sleep, can’t sleep, but sometimes he can slip into a meditation of sorts when the boredom gets to be too much. Tonight a sharp pain pulls him from it. Not his own, he realizes with rising panic, but Ki’s. Keika doesn’t remember moving, but all he can see is blood, far too much blood. He’s never felt rage the likes of which fill him, those that had caused this dead within seconds as Keika rushes to Ki’s side.
Keika blinks and then blinks again. There’s blood—but not? Ki’s wounds aren’t physical but spiritual. How had this happened? How had they gotten the jump on Ki?
“What do I do?”
Eyes slowly slitting until only a small bit of silver is visible, Ki reaches for Keika’s hand and presses it first to his heart before sliding it down to press between his legs. “Love me.”
Snatching his hand back as though he’d been burnt, Keika stammers, ““W-what?”
“Sex,” Ki says as he reaches for the sash holding his robe closed.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” Keika says as he grips the edges of Ki’s robe, holding it closed, his eyes wide as he shakes his head wildly. “Are you telling me that I have some sort of healing cock?”
Lip curling just slightly at the phrasing, Ki nods as he tugs his robe open revealing bare skin. “In a way, yes. It’s one of the duties of a spirit shadow.”
“Ugh, don’t make it sound like a job.” Keika’s still getting a weird double vision of Ki bleeding out and grows suddenly serious. “Have you done this before?”
Going red, Ki gives a small shake of his head, his eyes closed.
Something goes tight and hot in Keika’s chest, and rising, he strips out of his own clothes before dropping on his hands and knees over Ki’s prone form. Ki doesn’t move, doesn’t open his eyes, but Keika knows Ki knows he’s there.
Keika tries to make it good, but he’s just as inexperienced, and his worry and fear certainly doesn’t help the situation. The sex is awkward and over blessedly quickly.
They don’t kiss. They don’t cuddle. Ki protests when Keika bathes him after, but he’s clearly too exhausted to put up much of a fight, and when Keika tucks him into bed, Ki’s asleep before his head hits the pillow.
It might be a little creepy—and it’s certainly not the first time he’s done so—but Keika spends the rest of the night watching Ki sleep. Keika knows Ki is important to him, that in a way he owes his life to him, and along the way Ki has become important to him. A friend. A strange one, but still his friend.
Keika has never considered more than that with Ki, hadn’t really considered more than that with anyone even when he was alive, and certainly never in his current state. He’d had dreams and aspirations, yes, but those had just been fantasies, far from his reach.
Ki had entered into this bond with him knowing that what they’d just done would likely someday happen. Was this why Ki had waited so long to take a spirit shadow?
“You’re staring. It’s creepy,” Ki murmurs, his back still to Keika.
“Why didn’t you tell me?”
“I had hoped that I would never have to reveal it. Clearly I overestimate my abilities.”
“How did they get a jump on you anyway? Those guys shouldn’t have been a match for you.”
“Sometimes luck trumps skill.”
Keika raises a brow in disbelief.
Rolling over, Ki throws his arm across his eyes. “I’m not perfect.”
Keika snorts and grins, but immediately sobers upon remembering just how much pressure Ki is under constantly to present himself as such. “You’re okay?” Keika asks hesitantly. “I didn’t hurt you?”
A blush rises high across Ki’s cheeks. “It was not… horrible.”
“High praise. We could try again? Practice makes perfect after all.”
Ki’s arm lowers, and he glares at Keika. “Do not mock me.”
“I’m not mocking,” Keika denies. He doesn’t know what possess him to kiss Ki, but when he does they both freeze, mouths presses together, eyes wide as they stare at each other. Then Ki’s eyes flutter and Keika kisses him like he’s drowning and Ki is his air.
When they pull apart, they’re both panting, Keika out of habit rather than need. Keika can’t help but grin, and his heart flip-flops in his chest at the shy smile that Ki gives in return. It’s strange because Keika so easily forgets just how young Ki is, often feeling like he’s the youngest instead of Ki.
In this Keika is certainly no more experienced than Ki, but Ki defers to him, lets him lead.
It is telling, but Keika isn’t sure as to what. He hates to break the moment, but he has to. “You’re not telling me everything.”
The smile falls from Ki’s face instantly, and he covers his face with his arm again.
When Ki doesn’t respond, Keika trails his fingers up Ki’s side before curling them against his exposed armpit, smirking when Ki squirms away.
Finally Ki speaks. “You have the potential to be my greatest strength, but also my biggest weakness. You could kill me so easily, and I’d be helpless again you. Weakness and vulnerability is not easy for me to admit, yet you force me to confront both.” Ki drops his arm and meets Keika’s eyes. “I’ve done you a disservice. You are bound to me.”
When Ki does not continue, Keika prompts him. “You say that as though I should be surprised. Isn’t that what this whole spirit shadow things is about?”
Ki’s face is still strangely serious, and he stares at a point behind Keika. “You are not bound to the Youmeshi just in this life, but in all others. You ancestor Nei gave all of himself to ensure that Rakugetsu would never be free. Upon reincarnation you will be unconsciously pulled towards the current Youmeshi. I took that choice from you.”
Keika rolls his eyes. “I made my choice.”
“You died because of me.”
Keika’s brain freezes. “What?”
“Fate brought us together. Always you are a spirit shadow, and always you must die to fulfill that role.”
“I knew there was something about you the moment I laid eyes on you in that dump, but I didn’t recognize you. Not until after you died, and not until Rakugetsu appeared before me.” Ki’s hand raises to Keika’s face.
Keika’s brain spins a mile a second as he tries to process what Ki is saying, and things suddenly start falling into place.
“Every time you’re loyal to the Youmeshi, true to them, you keep them grounded, and every time they betray you, destroy you. Every time they fail to protect you.” He drops his hand and fists it over his heart. “I’ll protect you.”
“I’ve said too much.”
Ki’s eyes go wide as he stares at Keika’s serious face, so close to his own.
“Just because you have grey hair doesn’t mean you should have the memory of a grandpa. I promised I’d protect you. And that’s a promise I intend to keep no matter what. Maybe my soul is the same, maybe we’re tied together, but that doesn’t mean that things can’t change. Just wait. We’ll be the best pair your family has ever seen.”
The look on Ki’s face is part disbelief and part hope, and after a moment’s hesitation he pulls Keika down for a kiss.
They’ll get it right this time, Keika stubbornly resolves as he tugs the sheets covering the lower half of Ki’s bare body down. All of it.