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Instead of approaching his old friend for the first time in what might seem like forever, Ryo simply lay down silently, hoping the dark-haired boy wouldn't notice him. He couldn't bear to look at him, and he knew if he did, he might never look away. 

No such luck. No such luck as getting a memory wipe this time, either.

 "Ryo! Hey, Ryo, that's you, isn't it? Are you alright?" The warm, gentle hand on his shoulder wasn't helping.

Neither was the warmth dripping down his face as he was hoisted up. The action took.. More effort than Ryo had grown accustomed to. It felt... Almost wrong this way.

Speaking of which, This whole meeting was wrong.. He was supposed to come out of the woods and Akira would see him as he stood beside that girl, and... None of it happened anywhere near the boardwalk, he was certain. But that's how they spiced up last time to keep him from going nuts, too. 

He just wanted to reply, but the thick lump in his throat barely let him whimper. 

 "I-it's okay, Ryo. Calm down, I'll take you home, and give you some water, and something to destroy likeyou like, and you can-"

 "N-.. No." The gentle hold on him tightened apprehensively in response.

"What do ... you mean?" 

"I mean No! No, that's not how it goes! It's not how this should happen, nothing should be wrong!" He seeks shelter from reality in the thick sleeves of his white coat. It's not as comforting as the fabric his trenchcoat was made of, but it helps a little. 

Akira sighs. "Obviously, something is wrong. You  looked like you'd seen a ghost, and then you cried. You never cry! That's how I know something's up."

Before he knows what's happening, he's clinging to Akira and awkwardly being walked to the Makimura's house, with Miki in tow. He doesn't care. Or maybe he cares too much. Either way, the only thing that matters at the moment is at Akira is right beside him.

Chapter Text

Ryo was lucid again in the living room, curling up in a fetal position in his coat on the couch, propped up between Akira and Miki. 

He could feel them turning to look at him when he took that shaky, deep breath. 

Akira spoke first. "Are you better now? You scared me a little back there." 

"You're telling me. And yeah, I think I'm better now. It's a long story, but tell me, aside from proven science, what do you believe in?" 

Miki nudged him. "You're sure hes not crazy, Akira?" 

 "Miki, let him talk. I'm sure there's a good reason for this, right, Ryo? "

"...I guess... Let me start simple... You're familiar with the idea of time loops?" 

"Oh, Groundhog Day! Yeah, but..." Akira tilted his head.

"Speaking of time, what year is it?"

"You...Ryo, you don't know? It's 2018. Do you need more water? " Akira moved to feel Ryo's forehead, but the hand was swatted away. 

 "I'm not sick, Akira. Just. .. Miki, can you leave? If not, I suppose I'll go... somewhere with ...Akira." Paling entirely at the idea of going anywhere with Akira, to his house, or that damned party, that would be about the spark that ignites it.

Miki crossed her arms. "It's my house, and I have the right to sit on the couch. I could invite my brother to sit with me, you know. So go to Akira's room if you want privacy that bad. " 

Ryo nodded, and stood shakily, gripping Akira's hand for dear life. 

~~~

Up in Akira's room, Ryo had taken to laying on the floor, and Akira had to glued to his sideside, so hey both lay on the floor in silence for a moment. Just a moment.

"Before I get to why this happened... I want you to ignore everything you think you know about me. Ignore my name, the fact that I'm human, our shared past, ignore it. All of it." 

 "If I have to ignore your name, what do I call you?" 

 " ....Nothing, yet. "

 "Okay." Akira smiles with something like worried sympathy. That doesn't feel right, making him scared or worried or angry doesn't feel right. Never really did .

 A deep breath. 

 "I'd like it if I could tell you less, but you know how Satan used to be an angel who fell from heaven because he rebelled against God, right?"

 "That's what they say. But why is that-"

 "I'll get to it. Do you understand what demons are?"

 "Supernatural evil things that possess people, I guess."

 "Pretty much. Some are stronger than others, and there's one called Amon. Supposed to be the strongest, but his will was flimsy. So... Satan told him to go possess a boy, a very purehearted, virtuous, and right boy. Amon accepted. And Satan took human form and forgot his life as Satan to live as a human, and he told this boy about demons and they were real... And then he told him how his father died and left his research to Satan. And Satan really liked this boy, so to make the possession thing easier on everyone, he took him to a party, one where it wouldn't be hard to lose self-control. Sex, alcohol, drugs, loud music. A Sabbath, a demon ritual twisted by the ages. All it needed was...."

 Flashes of glass shards, red splattering everywhere, screams, the adrenaline high, the feeling of starting a fight.

 "... All it needed was blood. Because Demons like blood. So Satan started a fight, and got the boy he liked in it too, and soon the demons came. Satan didn't care about most of them, they'd die soon anyway. And Amon found the boy, and tried to take his soul. But that's not how it worked." He grew quiet as he spoke, recounting the endless times he'd done exactly the same thing, over and over, again and again.

"...If you don't mind me asking, how did it work?" Akira looked over, to find Ryo's eyes staring blankly up, shiny and wet with unspilled tears. I guess he has to ignore the idea that Ryo never really cries too, huh?c

"Amon's will was overcome by the boy, just as Satan wanted. The boy was scared, and not knowing what to do, I think he just let himself go for a while. Destroying every other demon around him easily, it was quite a sight to see. It made Satan happy. You see the boy had transformed into a demon. No, a devilman. The body of a demon, but the heart of a human. The boy saves his friend, who he did not know was Satan, nor did he know how far the planning went. The two decided to band together and hunt demons, for the good of humankind. But that's not what Satan had in mind. He let humanity destroy itself, by telling them that demons could be anywhere, and look like anything. He told the people to go out and exterminate the demons before they got them first. And he told the people that this boy was also a demon. Which was just enough truth with enough evidence to convince the people. Everyone the boy loved died, except for Satan, who he did not teuly love. "

Ryo blinked at his tear-blurred vision, causing it to drip down his face again. He took a deep breath.

"What did the boy do?"

"He... I don't know what all he did for sure, it changes sometimes, but he found out who Satan was, and the two fought. They fought with such emotion and intensity, for their lives, that everything around em was destroyed."

"And who won?"

"...."

"You don't have to tell me."

"...It was Satan. He'd shown his true form by now, and all of humanity that hadn't already been wiped out by itself and the twisted idea of false safety... All gone. Satan had killed the boy he loved, and only then did he ever regret what he did. But it wasn't enough. He still needed to be punished. Cursed, maybe. To live the events over and over again, memory wiped and altered and later restored. It was pure torture. Changed a bit every couple of dozen times, so that it wouldn't drive him totally insane."

Akira tilted his head. "Why are you telling me this?"

 "You could say something went wrong one time. Satan's assistant once forgot to wipe his memory."

 "Are you ...supposed to be Satan?"

 "If you want to call me that, I guess it doesn't change much.The party's probably waiting for us to show up."

 "How many times have you done this?"

 "I haven't really kept track." Ryo covered  his eyes.

 "Is it.. Ever different years when this happens?"

 "Yes. Once it was in 1987, and some terrible version in 1991, And something happened in 2015, I think. It's gone hazy, though."

 "That's a bit of a gap there. Anyway, I suppose if I'm the boy in question, I have to go along with you. Are you going to be okay with it?"

 "Probably not. And the inky reason you'd have to do that  would be because of demons. But with enough bullets and fire, I could fight them on my own. I know you can't aim for shit, trust me." Ryo sat up, and cracked a smile.

 "Rude," Akira laughed. "And what would happen if we   fight the turn of events?"

 "No clue. Maybe we'll stop existing." Ryo wipes his face. 

"That'd be bad. I'd like to exist."

"Yeah, well, an end would be a blessing on my part. "

"Don't talk like that. Come on, you said there was a party. Let's go get shitfaced, get possessed, and see what happens next." Akira smiles.

 Ryo laughs. "You're awfully happy, considering. In another time, it took me promising to try to possessed to, for you to go along with it."

 "Well, that must have been a different me." Akira stuck his tongue out.

 "Yeah, the other one looked less like a baby before."

 Akira gasps in mock offense. "I can be  less like a baby!" This was followed by Akira trying to flex and puffing out his chest, much to Ryo's amusement. 

 "Sure. Let's get this over with." Ryo shook his head, and rubbed the back of his  neck, trailing up to the trimmed fuzz of his undercut. That was a bit weird too, he'd have to look in a mirror, hoping he didn't look to different.

Not like it mattered much. It was time for changes, anyway.

Chapter Text

Ryo led Akira out the bedroom window and to his car, where he drove off, despite the latter's protests regarding his speed and lack of any precaution.

Ryo forgot where he had to go... Was it the party sort of under his house, or the one in the church? Or maybe.... 

Ryo slammed on the brakes. 

His hands shook uncontrollably.

 He could distantly hear someone taking a deep breath, but it wasn't hmself, was it?

 "Ryo, god, we could have crashed. Did you see something in the road? Do you need help again?"

 " I.... "

Akira leaned forward in the backseat and Ryo would have curled up in the driver's seat, but the steering wheel was in the way. So he settled for a death grip on the thing.

 "I... I don't know. I don't know! I don't know! i Don't Know! I DON'T KNOW! I DON'T KNOW!"

Two firm hands held his shoulders and stopped him from banging his head into the steering wheel, and luckily cut his chant off.

"Take a deep breath, Ry-...Sat-...Er.." 

 A slight laugh, and a long shaky breath. Akira climbed awkwardly into the front passenger seat to help a little more. 

Ryo leaned his head back and sighed.

Akira continues, "I bet the stuff at the demon-summoning party might help a little. When it gets violent, you can run off and hide somewhere, maybe."

"As much as drugs and alcohol sound great, I might not be able to participate. Not up close, not now.. "

"Do you have a gun on you?"

" Always. "

"Do you have a silencer?"

"No need. "

Akira nodded. 

~~~

The two arrive in some kind of style, Ryo is more composed, and Akira is the nervous one. It feels better that way, more familiar.

And so, the two walk into obnoxiously loud music and mostly-nude or high partygoers. Ryo had enough confidence, or maybe just a lack of self-preservation, to immediately participate. Accepting pills and downing a bottle with a missing label. Dancing along with the rest.

If Ryo could do it, Akira could try to. Taking pills via French kiss and downing a mystery flask that burned his throat a bit.

He couldn't really get into dancing so easily, not without some prompting from Ryo, where the two ended up dancing together, laughing because neither of them know how to dance, especially not to the music given. All the things the two have consumed starts to kick in around when Ryo excuses himself and walks off somewhere that Akira can't see. 

Akira finds dancing nearly alone on the sidelines isn't all that bad, and the music is kind of good, if now sounding a little warped. Although he would prefer dancing with Ryo any day. 

Chapter Text

Ryo sits above in the rafters, gun loaded and poised to take out a wide arc of people on the opposite side of Akira. 

Considering it logically, something like this is actually better for creating panic, and more effective for spilling blood. It helps keep him calm.

He keeps his eyes away from Akira. The less he looks at him, the less he has to think about what he's damning him to. And the less he has to think about it, the better off he is. 

Ryo takes a deep breath and whispers a name, so low that with the music on, nobody could have heard it. Let me correct that: nobody human could have heard it.

He glances over expectantly, to find a tall woman beside him, long red hair obscuring the face that won't look at him.

 "Yes?"

 "Was it a mistake... To let me know?" He retrains his eyes on the scene below him. Despite being far less than sober, his mind and vision are remarkably clear, almost concerningly so.

 "More like wishful thinking. It would be easier to break the loop if you knew, I believed."

 "Believed.. As in you don't still? " 

 "..."

 "Answer me, Jenny. Haven't got all day."

 "No. You're hardly in any condition to make decisions, let alone act them out. Your human friend might lead the way this time. If this affects things later down the line, at least it'd be a bit more interesting for a while."

 " ...Are you trying to avoid insanity too? "

Psycho Jenny looks at him incredulously. "Are you implying I've ever been truly sane?"

 "Guess not.  Now leave, before you have to fight with Akira." And just like that, Jenny vanished.

Ryo pulls the trigger and sweeps, ignoring the ringing in his ears or shrill screams. 

Oddly, Akira isn't that phased until he's swarmed by partygoers who stampede away.

Ryo jumps down, to get an easier time aiming. He lands oddly on one leg, stumbling. He'll look at that later, but for now, he's in the moment. Some brave few attempt to fight him.

The thought of Ryo losing, Ryo being hurt, hell, Ryo being arrested all make Akira's heart race, and his body burn to protect him, but how could he possibly do that?

Especially when one person starts to transform into a demon, followed by another... And another, and more and more...

Akira trembles. They're surrounding his best friend, knowing he's the biggest threat at the moment.  Akira runs forward unthinkingly, without a trace of a plan. Ryo's grinning despite his apparent possible fate.

~~~

Being possessed felt a little like a moral battle while being stretched out and pricked with needles. It was uncomfortable, painful even, for the first time. And Akira had no idea how to do anything, or what to do. 

So for a short time, he ran on instinct. Amon's instinct, actually. 

And Ryo was both in awe and in horror. He's  fully aware of the power his friend now holds, and remembers that despite affecting him on a deep level, Akira hadn't ever changed. 

Somewhere, somehow, the music faded out.

Chapter Text

Everything was going well, until Ryo watched Akira tear someone in half. 

Time froze.

His heart raced and he shook.

Eyes going wide, tunnel vision, shaky grip.

A flashback, looking over as his heart sinks, hands going cold, grabbing desperately for the stiff corpse, vision blurring and his entire soul about to break.

Ryo never heard his gun clatter to the ground. He didn't notice he wasn't just remembering tears.

He also didn't notice that he was moving forward.

~~~

Akira paused, a torso with fleeting life and a protruding spine in one claw, the other holding a pair of legs that spilled blood. 

He looked down to find the blonde clinging to him as if his life depended on it. Blue eyes red and full of tears. White coat dirtied and bloodied, a little torn even. Hair messed up and well... 

The bloody, mutated, massacred corpses all arpundt, some still human, some demon, an occasional lingering twitch of life. 

The scene horrified Ryo, even if he felt some small, sick pleasure in seeing them dead.

~~~

Akira would be the one to drive home, Ryo still clinging in his lap. He'd have to stay with him. There wasn't a choice.

There was a soft whimper from the blonde when they re-entered the house through the same window they left open, shooing out a few bugs and some renegade cat. 

Chapter Text

Akira sat on his bed with a sigh. Ryo climbed in through the window shakily and flopped onto Akira's bed.

 "So.. Now that we've had that wild ride.... I just realized you mentioned you had a crush on me."

 "Oh, it's nothing. Don't worry about it, It's uh. "

 "It's okay Ryo. Besides, if it helps any, I think you're pretty cute when you're not freaking out."

Ryo buried his reddening face in a pillow . "Really?"

 "... Of course. Don't be silly. Now, you did say something about looking different, and I am very curious."

 ~~~

Akira and Miki experiment. 

Miki starts to casually joke about witchcraft and sprinkle the supernatural into her speech at school. She practiced making it feel natural to her by talking to Akira, who was committing himself to more physical experiments, like his actual physical capacity now.

Meanwhile Ryo got accustomed to both of these changes, and was to lie low as an exchange student, an American pen pal of Akira's, by the name of Ross Santoro. 

The duo who live in the house take the next week to make fake papers and things for their precious little satanic incarnate. Akira uses scissors and dye to change Ryo's appearance, letting him borrow clothes. 

The end result is Miki wearing a quartz necklace, talking to Akira, who actually needs some bigger clothes still,  who  has a hand wrapped around the most adorable bot in the world, making vivid scarlet hair and earrings look good, and what with a sweatervest and button-up Akira didn't kniw he still had, and a black headband from Miki, it was pretty good. 

I guess.