Metphies did not meet Haruo Sakaki for the first time in that cell. Twenty years was ample time to run into most, if not all, of the five thousand lifeforms on board the Aratrum at least once or twice, to recognize each of them by face, and in certain cases to learn their respective names. An Exif could be forgiven for focusing most of that attention on the small but growing number of their human congregation. Haruo was one of the exceptions.
Even before he held the emigrant ship hostage, he seemed to naturally make a name for himself in whatever task was set before him, stoking the flame of the vengeful determination within him as if sustaining it was all that gave him purpose. Despite not being a convert, this passion made him of interest to Metphies, if only insofar as to learn what name to match to his ever-brooding face.
Haruo had colleagues. He even had a few friends. But over time Metphies detected a superficiality to all those relationships. They were not necessarily insincere; more likely, his ability to form deep, genuine relationships was stunted by his avoidance of anything concerning himself as a person. Since boarding the ship as a child torn from his parents by war, an omega cast away in a strange overpopulated environment of mostly betas and alphas, he was defined by what made him different. Namely his desire for vengeance. He may have been afraid to learn who he might be without it, that perhaps in its absence there would be nothing and no one left to give Haruo Sakaki an identity.
Metphies did not meet him for the first time in that cell, but it was where he first began to learn who Haruo was as a person. The anger was still there, simmering like a pot on the constant verge of boiling over. Anger at himself for not being able to stop the emigration plan to Tau-e. Anger at the Central Committee for their decision to have the elderly colonize the planet despite the significant risks. And anger, always, at the monster terrorizing Earth whose arrival put them together on this wayward exodus in the first place. At humanity’s cowardice.
And there was grief. Metphies never noticed it until now, the genuine love that tempered the hatred and which gave Haruo clarity where a lesser human may have been arrested by doubt. A force that guided him not unlike how faith guided the devout. A righteous fury that slowly ate at him like a disease. Terminal. Everlasting.
Haruo turned him away the first time he came to call, when Tau-e was not yet three days’ travel behind them. Metphies stood in the open doorway to the cell and found Haruo huddled on his bunk, staring with dead eyes at the window on the floor as if he could still see the toxic atmosphere of the planet below him.
The scent roiling off him was muddled and sour. Haruo always gave off an air of turbulence, like an approaching tornado. This was not his Haruo. This was the aftermath of a storm, when nothing was left but the wreckage and waste of what had been caught and torn in its path.
Metphies left without a word. He came back the next day, and the next, and so on until Haruo finally reacted to his arrival with a quiet, simple request for him to stay.
“Of course,” Metphies said.
Haruo pointed at the bunk opposite him. Metphies obliged, facing him with his hands folded neatly in his lap. Haruo was of average height for a human male his age, which was to say, relatively short for an Exif. Metphies tilted his head down out of habit to find Haruo staring up at him almost defiantly, a glint of the telltale fire back in his eyes. Generally, the Exif were not welcome among humans who had not converted to their faith.
Humans of all manner of culture and nation seemed to resent the presence of anything trying to exert control over them, be it Godzilla in all his destruction or the Exif in their calm but unyielding teachings. The humans were so different, always at war with each other long before Godzilla ever rose from the depths of the ocean and united them against a common enemy.
The Exif were homogenous; if there had ever been differences in their religion or culture or biology, they existed so far in the past, before their home planet was destroyed, that they no longer mattered. The Exif had united in order to survive the millennia of unending pilgrimage through space, and now they clung to that unity as much as Haruo clung to his fury. If it left them, what would be left of them?
The humans were not as persistent as the Exif; twenty years after their departure and their fragile unity was already eroding underneath their very feet.
“My name is Metphies. I am here to provide confession, should you need it.” He touched himself on the brow, as was customary.
Haruo scoffed at the display. His gaze dropped back to the window in the floor. “I have nothing to confess.”
“Are you certain about that?”
“You know why I did it. Everyone knows.”
“Yes. But Tau-e is not the only thing that haunts you, Haruo. This was not the first time you have sought to obstruct the committee’s decisions according to your personal beliefs.”
Haruo glared, dark eyes flashing. “I’m not gonna ask how you know that.”
“Then let me explain. I know of you, Haruo,” Metphies said. “I have known of you for a while.”
Haruo’s voice was rough as he said in a clipped tone, “Define ‘a while.’”
“Only this past decade.” Metphies paused. “Ever since you began to overtly try and steer us back to Earth. I believe the initial incident that made me take note was how you reacted the first time the Central Committee decided to ration the ship’s supplies.”
“So you’re their watchdog, huh?”
Metphies shook his head. “I am part of the committee, but I am not here on their behalf. I am here on yours. If you wish to confess, I wish to listen. I wish to absolve you of whatever weighs on your shoulders.”
“I wish,” Haruo said, his voice growing harsher with every word, “that you would fuck off.”
Metphies gave a slight laugh and tipped his head down, conceding. “I would like to see you again tomorrow, Haruo. I assure you this is for your benefit alone. Please humor me.”
He was met with silence. Haruo turned to face the wall, his back to the cell door and his knees drawn to his chest, with his arms wrapped around them to keep himself close. The same tense position he had held for days, without rest. But even the strongest man must bow to his own body sooner or later, and so the next day at the same hour Metphies returned to find Haruo sprawled on his back, finally, thankfully asleep.
His breathing was as shallow as his dreaming. Within moments of Metphies’s arrival he began to jerk fitfully back to consciousness, as if aware someone was in the room with him. He blinked blearily.
“It is good to see you again, Haruo,” Metphies said.
Haruo groaned and let his head drop back to the pillow. He drew in a long, unsteady breath. Metphies seated himself on the opposite bunk as he had the day before, noticing as he did that he himself felt . . . off-kilter, somehow.
Haruo stayed silent, as if to give Metphies the “cold shoulder” that humans were so fond of resorting to when their limited patience for clear communication deserted them. As he continued to sit in the cell he felt a kind of hunger claw its way out of his gut and up into his throat, and he became acutely aware that Haruo’s behavior was not deliberate.
He became aware of a potent smell, one that reminded him of ground spices, warmth from sunlight filtering through glass, the tang of a flower bed. Something that could not have come from the sterile, artificial workings of the ship. Haruo gasped, drawing in another labored breath, and the scent grew sharper.
“You are . . . in heat, Haruo,” Metphies observed.
Estrus in humans presented itself a bit differently than it did in Exif. In the Exif, it was as uniform and indistinguishable from their normal scent and from individual to individual as their pale waxy skin and gossamer hair, as unchanging as the verses they recited to for their wandering god and to bolster the waning belief that their endless plight was not in vain.
Ah, but in humans. . . . He had smelled it in humans before and so far each scent was unique; that was what made it so difficult for him to notice at first. They were as singular as fingerprints. He could detect no commonalities by scent alone. He could only compare the visible symptoms, the burning fever flushing Haruo’s cheeks, and the involuntary spasms that wracked the length of his lean body.
Haruo groaned again. There was a musicality to the sound, the pitch of his pain layered with resignation and underscored by desire. His body was composing a serenade for an alpha, any alpha, to come to his side. Such a difference from who Haruo was outside of heat: always alone, always guarded.
It must be terribly shameful to experience.
He envisioned himself stroking Haruo’s hair, letting him rest his head on his lap so he would feel safe and secure. Now he understood why the Exif could not bring themselves to abandon Earth, even after it became clear their plot to encroach on human life and slowly take control from within its ranks was a fool’s errand.
This delirium was intoxicating. A much more visceral and immediate response than his prayers had ever earned him.
And that was how he knew this was dangerous. Slowly, against the base urges bubbling within him that he did not know he was capable of feeling, Metphies stood. He unwrapped the outer layer of his robes, slipping off the purple stole that signified his status as an archbishop.
He took a step toward Haruo’s bunk; a step was all it took for him to be right beside him, to stare down at Haruo with a stronger conviction than ever that this man was a force to be venerated.
“Metphies,” Haruo whimpered. Anger still. Fear. Self-loathing, presumably at what he perceived as his own weakness. Haruo did not want him here. Haruo wanted him to stay. Haruo wanted him, him, him, anyone, he would be content with anyone but Metphies was right here, it could be him, all he had to do was give in.
Metphies draped the stole over him and stepped back toward the door, not quite able to fully look away from the vulnerable form he was leaving behind. So, Haruo was yet only human. Humans themselves tended to use the phrase disparagingly, as if it was an insult to be reminded of who they were; Metphies thought of it with more esteem. Haruo was only human. That made his will all the more desirable.
“I will fetch the doctor. Please be still. You are safe.”
He heard a faint sigh, perhaps of relief. Perhaps of disappointment. Humans were so contradictory. Metphies strode through the short maze of cells, moving with purpose but not quickness. Humans were so contradictory, yes, but it was Haruo who held fast to his sense of self in spite of it all. Metphies did not decide so much as surrender himself to the fact that he belonged to Haruo Sakaki, and that his will was that of the divine.
OOF I've had this written for months and had it on the backburner bc I wanted to make it much longer than this. There was an emergency in my family at the end of March and I've had an arm injury in the past few months that's limited my ability to write.
I watched part of the second movie last night and was too tired to really understand anything except how pretty Metphies is, haha. It was so good to see him in action again! Thanks for reading and here's to future smut. The next chapter will have to wait until my arm heals DD:
“You would do well not to meet with him again.”
Captain Mori’s voice rang out in the hushed confines of the committee’s meeting room. Earlier there was a cacophony of voices speaking over one another, all attempting to admonish Metphies first. No one was happy that he had entered Haruo Sakaki’s cell immediately after his imprisonment without clearance. Triggering his heat, even if unintentionally, warranted an equal level of outrage.
Metphies kept his tone even so as not to sound mocking, though the question itself was somewhat intended as such. “Is that an order, Captain Mori?”
Certainty had kept the Exif afloaf for far longer than mankind had existed. Though the committee was comprised of mostly humans as a natural consequence of the Aratrum’s population, actions spurred by fear could not intimidate him.
He kept his gaze trained forward and upright, so as not to involve Endurph in his personal matter. The Exif did have some degree of individual responsibility, after all, and his elder was the person he respected most on the ship, and indeed, in the entirety of his life.
Endurph remained silent.
It was just as well. Metphies felt a sort of rebelliousness forming within himself with which he did not wish to contaminate his fellow priest.
For all his current animosity, he found Captain Mori interesting. He seemed to be a glimpse of the man Haruo Sakaki might be under different circumstances. Mori was an accomplished, decorated soldier in the fight against the monsters that came before Godzilla. Now, however, the spark of life and determination in his eyes was long extinguished.
The bare white of Metphies’s robes granted him no favors in this situation. At some point during the meeting, every pair of eyes had looked him over, noting the absence of his stole with distaste or shock. No one mentioned it aloud, of course. The atmosphere of the room said enough. Humans in particular were clearly affronted by his transgression.
He had left the cloth to give Haruo a sense of companionship during his heat, to soothe the heightened senses that would drive him to despair if left with nothing to find. But intent was less important than impact when these close quarters amplified emotions, from which humans were so peculiarly loathe to distance themselves.
Indignation did not come to Metphies naturally. What people thought of him, even if their thoughts were far from true, mattered little to him. If the humans expected an apology for what he had not done, the would wait for it in vain.
“If I may,” interjected Hamamoto. “Metphies, Captain Sakaki is a criminal. Nothing good will come of you meeting with him unsupervised, especially given his current state.”
“My interest in Captain Sakaki is as a priest, nothing more. My duty is to offer him support when it is needed.”
“He tried to blow up one of our ships! He doesn’t need support!”
“I believe isolation was one factor that drove him to such a course of action,” Metphies replied. “Surely more isolation will not do him any good if he is to recover?”
An uneasy silence followed. Haruo said the committee were cowards and, looking out at them, it was not hard for Metphies to see why he thought so. Humans in all their faults had always been a source of interest for Metphies, ever since the Exif first came to Earth. It was why he found Haruo in particular so intriguing.
Endurph finally spoke. “You must forgive the humans, Metphies. Their ways are different from ours.”
“Yes, I know. Be assured that passions of the flesh are not the Exif way.” Metphies smiled at the scandalous mutters that rippled throughout the room. “Now. If I may be excused . . . ?”
He said it mostly as a courtesy, as he was already turning to leave the room while he spoke. Protests sounded off behind him. Most committee meetings ended this way, with drawn-out, frustrated worrying over problems and often no solutions for their trouble.
He took thirty or so paces down the hall, and then a voice called out behind him.
He came to a halt. Colonel Leland was following him, as expected. The alpha had kept quiet during the committee meeting, despite numerous attempts to rope him into the thick of it. Even without Metphies’s observations, it was not difficult to guess at the nature of Leland and Haruo’s relationship.
Leland caught up with him, tilting his chin slightly so he could look Metphies in the eye. “Don’t listen to them. Everyone’s just on edge because of what happened on Tau-e.”
“It is to be expected.”
Leland snorted. “Doesn’t mean it’s okay.”
“You almost sound like Captain Sakaki yourself.”
Leland’s mouth twitched. The two of them were truly birds of a feather, as the saying went, yet where Haruo was headstrong, Leland had always been more cautious. Metphies noticed that, as well as the two of them generally got along, neither particularly appreciated being compared to each other. Perhaps that was why their courtship could only loosely be described as such.
“Like I said, don’t listen to them. When Haruo’s heat is over you should go see him again. Maybe it will do him some good, talking to a priest.” Leland shifted from one foot to the other. “He’s been . . . difficult for a while.”
“It has been difficult for everyone. With the conditions on the ship being what they are, it is expected.”
“There you go again. ‘To be expected.’” Leland’s eyes narrowed. “If I didn’t know better I’d say you already know how humanity ends.”
“Of course not,” Metphies said mildly. “I only see you humans acting as humans always do in these situations. Humanity has always been a cycle, has it not?”
“Can’t argue with that. Anyway, sorry to keep you. I just wanted you to know not everyone thinks you’re a predatory scumbag.”
“It does not bother me either way.”
Metphies could see all the minute changes that took place in Leland’s features, the furrowing of his brow, eyes incrementally widening in surprise. He knew what Leland must think--that at times talking with the Exif was almost like talking with other humans, and then moments like this made them realize how fundamentally different they were.
Leland cleared his throat. “Better not let the Committee hear you say that. You want to get chewed out again?”
“Your concern is appreciated, Colonel Leland. But I think your attentions are required elsewhere, are they not?”
A bright red flush crept up the side of Leland’s neck. With a curt goodbye he strode off in direction of the brig, where the lonely catacombs of prison cells lay in the belly of the ship and where Haruo would currently still be in the thralls of his heat.
Metphies could still recall the overwhelming urge that threatened to overtake him when he was in that cell, and it took no imagination at all to know what it kind of effect it would have over a human like Leland.