‘ Makeup remover, Moringa Cleansing Balm, Bio Fresh Mask With Real Calming Herb, Water-full Skin Refresher,’
Akira read the pastel colored labels to himself as his exhausted eyes glazed over the contents of Ryo’s neatly organized bathroom cabinet.
It was early, just about 8 o’clock and Akira Fudo still wasn’t completely awake yet as he searched the bathroom for toothpaste. The boy didn’t want to wake his partner, knowing he barely slept as is so he decided to search himself. Letting the blonde rest after their… eventful evening seemed like the proper thing to do, either way.
He leaned against the bureau idly, the cold of the marble counter pressing to his exposed stomach and he shivered from the chill of cold rock. He was comfortable in only a pair of loose black sweatpants he had begun leaving over for when he did spend the night after an evening full of demon hunting and quite possibly a little cuddling. Only when Ryo was in the mood, after all.
Yawning loudly, Akira rubbed one eye as he continued to read the names on the assortment of bottles lining the small shelf. He rummaged around the collection of supplies with deft hands, clumsy as they moved the overcrowded contents around.
‘Chok Chok Green Tea Watery Essence, Bio Prism Brightening Alpha Serum, Everyday Green Tea Facial Mask Sheet..’ He eyed each different bottle, jar and packet as he set them aside with a low hum that emanated from the back of his throat. His brows furrowed as he couldn’t find the toothpaste after all.. He hadn’t remembered Ryo’s cabinet being this full the last time he had spent the night or when they were children. The thought dawned on Akira that he often did wake up after Ryo, who was quite the early bird typically.
Hearing a barely audible shuffling from the doorway, Akira looked up, away from the shelves and fondness warmed onto his face at the familiar and welcome sight he was greeted with.
Ryo Asuka stood in the doorway, arms folded and a light cream-beige robe draped nicely on his torso and opened a tad in the front over his chest. His platinum blonde hair was ruffled from sleep and small tuffs hung around his face and down in front of his piercing sea blue eyes. Like daggers piercing right through the dark haired boy’s chest.
“Are you finished raiding my cabinets?” Ryo jested lightly, brows raised inquisitively at the sight of his guest brashly rummaging around in his once neat bathroom.
“Oh! Sorry, sorry! I couldn’t find the toothpaste or a hairbrush. I didn’t want to wake you up.” Akira straightened up, pulling his arm back from the shelves and scratched the back of his head awkwardly. He turned to face his friend completely with his back pressed to the marble counter and let out a loud yawn with a stretch. He couldn’t stop from giving Ryo a wide, fanged grin which was much too bright for this early in the morning by the way Ryo responded, squinting as if staring into the sun. He had to smile when Ryo looked so… not himself.
Disheveled and unkempt was an entirely different look on the blonde then the black haired boy was used too. Not to mention the faded mascara and eyeliner that stained right below Ryo’s eyes.
“Akira,” Ryo questioned aloud, a small smirk placed on his lips having caught the far-away look in his companion’s eyes. He could obviously tell he was thinking about something other then how to navigate the lavish bathroom.
“H-huh? Oh shit, I zoned out. It’s too early.” Akira laughed softly and pushed himself off the counter as if to push the fact that he was staring to the back of his mind.
It wasn’t often when Ryo would leave the topic be, actually being somewhat self conscious under Akira’s intense or sometimes dumbfounded stare but this time he supposed it was far too early to interrogate him.
With an overly dramatic eye roll, Ryo stepped into the space, past Akira and opened the drawer under the sink. He sank to his knees and rummaged around for a short few seconds before pulling out a travel sized toothpaste tube and a small travel comb.
“Jenny keeps my necessities fully stocked.” he explained with a soft sigh as he stood and held the supplies out to Akira.
“Help yourself whenever you spend the night. Though, If you stay so often, I suppose you should bring your own if you want to be comfortable.” His piercing, passive eyes had a serious glint in them as he put the comb and tube into Akira’s hand.
Akira blinked, smiling softly at Ryo’s somewhat heartwarming gesture of simply giving him what he needed. The idea of spending more time with one of his dearest people meant a lot to him, especially since Ryo’s trust was hard to earn. Akira cherished it.
“Thanks. I probably should bring a few things for when I stay over. I feel bad though, imposing and stuff..” Akira rambled a bit and took to the side, giving his friend room in front of the mirror with him. The counter was large enough for about two or three people so it wasn’t much of a problem for them to comfortably stand beside each other as they began getting ready for the day.
“You aren’t imposing. I offered.” Ryo corrected briskly, running his spindly fingers through his blonde hair and straightening what he could.
Akira smiled genuinely, eyeing Ryo fondly. He felt.. Better about spending time with Ryo when he knew he was also comfortable and wasn’t just passively letting Akira do as he pleased. It gave him a small sense of security. Their time together had grown longer and much more comfortable as they began to see eachother again after so long apart.
Akira yawned loudly, having finished brushing his teeth hastily and putting the brush on the countertop beside Ryo’s plugged in electric toothbrush.
Yawning again, he scratched his stomach as he opened his mouth, eyeing his now sharper, more canine teeth and running his tongue across the surface. It was still strange to him to have transformed into someone so different then who he was before. He knew, though, that he was still the same person inside. At least he hoped so when he laid awake at night as he was kept awake by nightmares. Or when he was awaken in a cold sweat from a highly erotic demonic dream.
The boy opened the small comb from the plastic packaging surrounding it and he started hastily running the bristles through his messy black hair in an attempt to smooth it out at least a little.
Besides him at the mirror, Ryo seemed absolutely zoned in on his morning routine. Planned down to a T, as almost everything else with him was. He had washed his face with an expensive cleaner in a shiny silver bottle, put on a toner using a little cloth and then applied what almost looked like a mint colored cream from a golden tin container onto his cheeks until his face was completely covered.
Akira had to bite his lip and hold back a tiny snicker that rose in his throat as he cast a sideways glance at his companion; Watching as he skillfully rubbed the cream into his skin and begin picking at his eyebrows with a pair of silver tweezers. He looked.. So intense as he was practically glaring back at his reflection.
Akira slowly lowered his comb from his somewhat greasy hair, his black locks ending up close to how they looked before he started brushing them, all sharp points and spiked angels. He let out a small sigh, knowing there was nothing he could do about his hair especially after becoming a devilman. The demon in him’s wild nature must have spread even into the furthest reaches of his very own being, to the tips of his hair and the tips of his fingers.
A shiver went up Akira’s spine at the thought and he set the brush on the marble counter, pressing his palms against the smooth surface and pressing down. He cracked his shoulders with a quiet pop and made an unintentional grunt as he went about stretching out his back and sore muscles.
Dark brown eyes were drawn back to the bottles now lined up on Ryo’s side of the space and he examined them slowly.
‘Royal Honey Eye Cream, Beauty Filter Cream Glow, Day-Light Protection Sun Screen SPF 50/PA+++... How much makeup does he use?’ Akira pondered, brows knit together as he glanced back at his friend who busied himself with peeling off the now dry, cool mint face mask and was rubbing his hands together with some kind of clear liquid that clumped together in his pale fingers.
Ryo worked diligently as he rubbed circular motions on his porcelain skin and down his slender neck and shoulders until he was practically glowing with radiance. He worked quickly, taking a coal black eyeliner from the counter and making short work of doing his wings.
Akira almost couldn’t draw his eyes away from Ryo’s shining excellence before he finally managed to tear his eyes away from the practically gleaming boy beside him. He brought his hand to his mouth and coughed, more so clearing his throat and thoughts than anything else.
“So, Is this a thing you do every morning?” He finally spoke up, straightening his back a bit as he leaned on the counter.
Ryo gave him a quick, almost unnerved side eye before speaking up.
“Of course. It’s very simple once you have a routine.” He said flatly as he rubbed his hands together, patting his defined cheekbones for good measure.
“Really? That looks like a lot to remember. You must enjoy it, huh?” Akira pondered aloud, tapping his own chin in thought as he looked boredly up at the ceiling.
Ryo’s stoic expression faltered for a fraction of a second before he sighed, taking a step from the mirror, having laid out and used all the bottles before him.
“You could barely call it enjoyment. It’s more of a tactic. You have to look presentable to be taken seriously.” The blonde said evenly, eyeing his reflection in the mirror and his gaze narrowing for a split second as he gazed into his own eyes.
Akira couldn’t help but stare at him, dumbfounded.
‘He does all that just to be taken seriously…?’ The thought dawned on him slowly, crashing over him like the world’s slowest tidal wave and brought a light sweat to the back of his neck.
Without another word once he had seen the disapproving look on Akira’s face, Ryo began gathering all the tubes and vials he had used and began putting them back into the cabinet, once again in peristene order as they were rearranged.
Shutting the cabinet with a gentle ‘click’, Ryo took a step back and stretched, his slender fingers threading together and cracking with a light stiffness as he popped them.
“I’ll have Jenny ready my car. We have another target-” He had began, though his eyes went wide when Akira was suddenly standing not nearly even two inches away, and his expression so soft and coated in worry. The tan boy had grabbed hold of Ryo’s frail wrist gently, with the most tender touch as if he was made of the finest china and would shatter if held too tightly.
“Ryo, when did you start wearing makeup?”
The question was low, a gentle coax into Ryo’s heart, into his side.
“I don’t understand what you mean.” Ryo hesitated slightly, his words feeling thick and hard to push off of his own tongue. His gaze traveled up Akira’s hardened, now refined features and settled on his deep brown eyes. He could never got used to the sharp contrast of how Akira’s physique had altered so quickly.
“When I went and lived in America, I believe. and it’s better than being filthy.” he added, a gentle edge to his tone as he looked into Akira’s unnaturally dark eyes.
“What difference does it make?” Ryo pressed, his expression faltering.
Akira stiffened and his sharp look softened slightly, squeezing Ryo’s thin wrist before his grip moved and he slid his own hand up to squeeze Ryo’s gently.
“Do you do it because you like it?” He asked innocently enough, tilting his head ever so slightly.
Ryo narrowed his eyes slightly, not… understanding what he meant. The confusion and rising distrust filling into his expression.
“Why would I do something I don’t ‘like’? I’m not sure what you’re implying.” he spat defensively as he took a step back from Akira, as if afraid to get too close again.
Akira sighed softly, squeezing his hand again out of instinct to calm him down or draw him close again. He didn’t like to see Ryo look so suddenly threatened.
He felt Ryo’s usually piercing gaze on him, glaring at him like you would a beast. Ryo’s hand trembled slightly in Akira’s firm grip.
Akira’s breath caught in his lungs as it dawned on him.
“ Wait! Wait a second!” Akira gasped, panic washing over his face.
“I’m not trying to imply anything or make you angry! I just wanted to know if you like wearing the stuff. I don’t think it’s bad or strange or anything!” He tried to reason, eyes closed tight in thought as he spoke. He wasn’t sure how to word what he meant.
Ryo moved to pull his hand back but Akira moved forward without hesitation and knocked into him, wrapping his strong arms tightly around Ryo’s torso and pulling him close, putting his chin on his shoulder. Logically, this was the exact opposite of what should be done when you sense fear on someone else. You give them space. Talk. But Akira couldn’t bring himself to watch Ryo walk from the room and never speak of this again with him. To feel another gap open up between them of things he didn’t understand.
He could feel how tense Ryo was in his embrace but slowly, the blonde relaxed into his tight hold.
“I mean it…” Akira said quietly against his small but firm shoulders . His fingers tangled with familiarity into Ryo’s soft blonde hair.
“Whatever you’re thinking that I’m thinking, it isn’t true.” He said lowly, brushing his fingers softly against the nape of his neck, as if to reassure him of his motive. That there wasn’t one.
Ryo reached back slowly after a while, settling his hands on the small of Akira’s toned back and seeming ever so stiff as he was held close. He breathed softly, evening out his breaths that he hadn’t realized had gone slightly ragged.
“... I’m not thinking anything right now.” He said flatly, giving a somber expression.
“I.. I don’t know why you’re so interested in my habits.” He worded out curtly. His lips fell in a thin line.
Akira stilled, lightly pulling away from the embrace to look Ryo in the eyes.
“I’ve always been interested, I guess. To know why you do the things you do. You think differently than me, and it’s amazing. I always have looked at what your plans are. Or ideas and I didn’t see them myself, not until you made me realize your train of thought. But.. Knowing that this big chunk of you, your effort, your outward appearance, is for the looks and respect of other people… I wish you could be you, for you.. I guess?” He conceded, looking off to the side a bit as if he were pulling his thoughts from his heart or merely from thin air.
Ryo stiffened, digging his blunt nails into Akira’s skin without fully realizing he was doing it. He looked straight back into Akira’s warm eyes. Akira was so genuine, so open with his feelings and thoughts. It astounded Ryo that even now, a man with such a pure heart harbored a demon in his very soul.
Hearing the insistence Akira had to understand what was running through his head was, in itself, heartwarming. After all, Akira had always tried to understand him. Even when they were children, Akira had always listened to Ryo explain his thoughts, never interrupting. Showing no confusion nor scorn, just replying with an “Oh!” and a nod of understanding. Akira always had been too tolerant of him.
“So… You’re curious as to why I spend so much time on my appearance, then?” Ryo asked.
He took a slow breath, contemplating his words before he spoke.
“Not as to criticise me about it, correct..?” he spoke quietly, a chord of fear in the tremble of his voice as he spoke.
“See, That’s what I said I wasn’t thinking, remember?” Akira nudged Ryo lightly, just a soft nudge to his chest to reassure him.
“I won’t judge you. I don’t mind that you wear it. It looks… good on you.” He professed rather easily.
Akira had a soft pink tint on his cheeks as he continued to hold Ryo close and look into his face, eyes shining with reassurance and patience. All the patience and kindness in the world.
Letting go of a breathe he had been holding, Ryo exhaled through his nose. He steadied himself in Akira’s hold, looking up to match his gaze slowly.
“I..I don’t feel comfortable. In my skin, so to speak. Like I’m not enough. Or am malformed in some way I cannot see for myself,” Ryo confessed, eyes lowering slightly as his courage to speak on such a matter began to fade from him.
“I apply these things to enhance my appearance. If I don’t, I feel as if no one will listen to what I have to say. And the world needs to hear us now more than ever, Akira.”
Akira listened quietly to Ryo as he spoke, taking in every word as if it were gospel. He nodded slowly, just silently letting Ryo know he was listening and paying attention. Once he finished, Akira reached up and gingerly touched the side of the boy in his arms face. He cupped his cheek with his palm and stared into his eyes with an overwhelming fondness.
“Ryo… I didn’t realize you felt that way before.” he simply stated, softly rubbing his thumb soothingly on the smooth skin.
“You always struck me as silently confident. I always aspired to be that way. But… If you aren’t as confident as I always thought, that’s okay too.” Akira smiled at him, warm and encouragingly.
Ryo’s breathe caught in his throat as he stared at Akira with wide eyes.
“You don’t think there is something wrong with me?” He blinked, simply in awe of his companion and his ability to always surprise him. Even now, while he was spilling his locked away fears.
Akira snorted out a quiet laugh, shaking his head no. His fingers stilled on his cheek and lingered.
“Being self conscious or uncomfortable in your body isn’t strange at all. It’s hard.. I might not understand the way you feel completely but I feel I sort of can sympathize, in my own way.”
Ryo looked at Akira’s neck, his vision dulling as he thought to himself.
A short dissociation.
‘How can an angel be on earth beside me, in the body of a demon?’ The thought flickered in his head as he eyed Akira’s expression. One of sympathy and care. He hated to feel weak. Ryo hated sympathy from others.
But from Akira, it felt warranted. The only person on the planet who could truly see into Ryo’s clouded heart and hazy thoughts.
Ryo slowly drew his gaze back up, looking at Akira in the face and nodded once. A conformation. He reached out, wrapping his arms around Akira’s torso and hugging him tightly to him. He pressed his face to his broad shoulder and just stood there, in the clean marble bathroom.
Akira reciprocated in kind and held him back gently, hands coming to rest on the small of his back. He rubbed slow circles, knowing it calmed his partner down typically.
Breathing in deep, Ryo’s shoulders trembled as he leaned Akira. He felt bare. Like Akira knew something awful about him. Something imperfect that he could no longer hide. But it also felt better. Like a weight was taken from him.
“I might not be able to make that feeling go away but, for what it’s worth, I don’t think there is anything wrong with you, Ryo. Not a thing. We’re just different. Everyone is. That is what people do best. We compliment each other for what we lack. That’s what Miki told me a long time ago.” Akira whispered lowly, sighing fondly against his bright blonde hair.
A soft chuckle escaped Ryo as he turned his head, cheek rested on Akira’s shoulder firmly and a small, amused smile played on his lips.
“What wise words,” He said a bit condescendingly before his gaze rested back on Akira’s kind eyes.
“But thank you… For listening. I think we compliment each other well. A strange pair of misfits. I don’t feel so wrong while I am by your side.”