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Sanctus Espiritus

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“... in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.”

While reciting his short prayer, Karamatsu tapped his head, chest and shoulders, before joining his palms together and closing his eyes. He smiled calmly, comforted by the silence lingering through the insides of his church and the solitude of his figure knelt down on the floor. The only gaze fixed on him was that of the crucified Christ hovering high above the altar.

“Thank you for yet another wonderful day, my Lord.” His voice was soft, with the tone of a man who was submitting his entirety to the higher figure in front of him. “I hope with all my heart that you will grant this humble priest a likewise pleasant rest of the evening.”

The words rolled naturally off his tongue. He had chanted them time and time again, every single day and night, while growing from his childhood in body and spirit. Before a priest, he was an apprentice, and before an apprentice he was a kid who had been taught to thank his God relentlessly for every single happy event in his life. That hadn't changed, and wasn't going to.

After he was sure his message had been delivered, he stood up, dusting his cassock off and smoothing it over. His fingers then found the cross hanging from his neck and gave it a soft squeeze that always gave him the extra boost that he needed to end the day graciously. It was getting late, and Todomatsu had been put to bed early. He needed to first make sure all the anti-demon spells he set up around the church were holding up, so he wasn't going to have to deal with uninvited guests in the middle of the night. Then he could give himself a blissful hot bath to wash the tension off his skin, before finally letting himself be embraced by some well earned slumber.

As he turned on his heels and began walking across the straight path leading to the church's exit, he was abruptly halted by a change of atmosphere. Warmer air settled on him like a gentle wave, instantly relaxing his muscles. He knew whose presence he was about to encounter, and his smile grew in size. It was ever so lovely to see him, and hear his voice as it flawlessly broke through the usual silence to bless his ears. He stood in wait as the holy figure appeared right before his eyes.

“Hello, Father Karamatsu!”

Dressed in his pure white robe that glowed even in place devoid of light, the angel flapped his voluminous wings a few times before he landed to the floor and caused a cloud of dust to raise up from around his feet. Karamatsu made a mental note to remind Ichimatsu that he should clean up the place more properly in the future, but his chest was filled with delight at the sight of his friend.

Eyes purer and brighter than the clearest water, and a grand smile that melted all insecurities and dark thoughts from one's mind. An angel that was perfect in every sense and definition. The priest felt lucky to have him as an ally, and a friend.

“Good evening,” he said with warmth in his tone, bowing his head. “My sweet Jyushimatsu.”

“You don't have to do that everytime I come here!” Jyushimatsu giggled, stepping closer and folding his wings behind his back. Their height almost matched when they were both standing face to face. “We're friends, aren't we? It's been three years and we see each other pretty much everyday!

Karamatsu stifled a laugh himself, shaking his head. “I wouldn't be a proper priest if I didn't pay respects to a brave warrior of the Lord, even if said warrior was the dearest friend I deeply cherish.”

“That's so silly!” Jyushimatsu remarked cheerfully; it wasn't the first time he told Karamatsu so, and it didn't make him sound any less endearing. “I watched Totty for a bit! He's having a very nice dream so I thought I should leave him alone and hop in here to check on you!”

“Much appreciated, my friend. As you can see, everything seems to function regularly.” Karamatsu gestured towards one of the anti-demon barriers covering up the church. “I was about to carry out one last round of patrol and maintenance before closing. Would you like to join me in the task? A little company in the line of work will suffice to me.”

“Mhm!” The angel nodded with an exaggerated bob of his head. “Let's go! Oh...” He briefly looked around. “Ichi left early again?”

“Unfortunately so,” Karamatsu sighed, resuming his walk as Jyushimatsu proceeded next to him, feet floating slightly off the ground. “Never let it be said that I badmouth my precious assistant, but he often finds an escape from his responsibilities. He's making a pretty foul habit of it.”

“Well, it's not badmouthing if it's true!” Jyushimatsu cackled behind a hand. “He's so lazy! But it's also thanks to him that we have a happy and healthy cat shelter in town where every stray is treated with love!” He closes his eyes, curling his hands against his chest. “Ichi has a good heart, and a lot of love to give, even though he's so difficult to other humans! I bet he's in the cat shelter right now feeding and cuddling all the cats before bed time!”

“I know,” Karamatsu said, smiling gently. “We've been sticking together for long before you and I first met. We know each other like the back of our hands. Even still, he's not going to avoid another lecture from me.” He huffed, feigning indignation. Honestly, he lost count of how many times he scolded Ichimatsu for his irresponsibility. It was now part of their everyday life, a habit he was happy to carry on for as long as they stayed together in the church.

“You know he's gonna ignore you again!” Jyushimatsu pointed out.

“Heh! Perseverance is the mother of success, my little Jyushimatsu.” The priest brought two fingers to his forehead. If he wasn't walking at the moment, he would be striking a pose instead. “One of these days, he'll give up and heed my extremely valuable advice, and he'll thank me with tender tears in his eyes for being such an important source of guidance for his lost, lazy soul!”

“It's more like the exact opposite will happen,” Jyushimatsu said with a giggle, causing the painful atmosphere to crumble as Karamatsu dropped his hand and snorted through his nose.

“Don't crush my dreams and expectations like that,” he murmured forlornly, then stopped in front of the largest barrier that had been erected at the church's main door. His expression hardened, lips pressed together. “I pray that the spell holds up tonight, as well. The lesser demons are not an issue, but...”

Jyushimatsu turned to him, his smile shrinking a bit. “Devil-san, right?”

Going stiffer at the mention of that name, Karamatsu's hand immediately moved to grasp his right wrist, fingers digging through the fabric of his cassock's sleeve.

“Yes. Him.”

He gravely shifted his eyes to the side, his cruel mind replaying the more unpleasant encounters with the leader of the demonic gang that had started terrorizing his church over a year ago. The ghost of a burn pervaded his wrist, and he squeezed his eyes shut, struggling to chase that precise memory off his mind, his frame shamefully trembling all over.

Gentle arms suddenly encircled his shoulders, and a pair of imposing but soft wings likewise wrapped themselves around him in a protective embrace. Karamatsu quickly felt more at ease the moment Jyushimatsu whispered in his ear, hugging him tighter, “I may be Totty's guardian angel, but I made it my duty to also protect you and Ichi. Please, never forget this.” The angel nuzzled his cheek and added, in a more upbeat tone, “Remember that you're family to me! I'm here to stay forever, and none of you guys will ever get rid of me, understand?

Karamatsu couldn't help the weak chuckle that came with Jyushimatsu's attempt to mimic him and his not-so-stellar english, but the angel's words nonetheless rang true and bright in his mind. No matter what was going to happen in the future, the powerful and kind Jyushimatsu was going to stick by his side and fight for their sake. The priest desperately wished he was strong enough to help out, but all he could do was cast a few defensive spells that were effective only half the time.

He shook his head, reminding himself not to dwell on his alleged uselessness, and leaned in to return the nuzzling over Jyushimatsu's cheek, showing a more relaxed smile.

“I understand, my dearest Jyushimatsu. Thank you... for being here.”

The angel trilled in delight, “I'll do my best, for all of us!”

Karamatsu nodded, ruffling his friend's hair. “I know you will.” With that, he reluctantly broke away from the embrace, rectifying with a hand gently grasping Jyushimatsu's. “My apologies, but we must finish the rest of the patrol before it gets too late.”

“Okay, sure! Three! Two! One! ... Getchu~!”

Jyushimatsu began a 'sprint' by floating off the ground and dragging Karamatsu through the whole perimeter of the church, ignoring the priest's frantic protests. At the end of their speedy patrol, Karamatsu was sitting on one of the pews, gasping for air and sweating a big deal. He may have trained his body for self-defense and vain preservation of his perfect image, but he could never keep up with the angel's endless amounts of energy.

“Well... we're done,” he murmured, reminding himself to drink a lot of water later. “I must retire to my humble chambers now... please do watch carefully over Todomatsu while I cannot.”

“Of course! Totty's safe with me!” Jyushimatsu beat at his chest, the blow causing a loud noise that made Karamatsu wonder how the angel was capable to do that without breaking his ribs. “You rest well, too, Father!”

“I sure will, because I trust you.” Karamatsu smiled, shifting more comfortably in his seat. Suddenly there were lips touching his sweaty forehead, and he instinctively closed his eyes as he could clearly tell Jyushimatsu was kissing him on that spot, gentle and incredibly sweet. That, too, became a ritual that was used to bless the angel's friends for a peaceful night. Karamatsu never thought much of it, except that it felt good, and it helped him have his sleep free of stress. The fact it also caused his face to warm up was hardly something that he considered of relevance.

“Goodnight, Father!” Jyushimatsu pulled back and sprang backwards, flapping his wings as his figure approached the church's old ceiling, far from the priest who looked up and smiled tenderly a him.

“Goodnight, Jyushimatsu.”

He saw the angel smile widely one last time before he faded in a storm of light particles.


***


The old church of Akatsuka, situated in a deserted area surrounded by no roads and a thick forest, had been led by a priest who lived there for most of his long life. He was a grouchy man, very much rough at the edges, but his heart was made of gold and he collected orphans from all town who were rejected and condemned to spend life in the streets.

Karamatsu was one of the orphans who lost his parents at an age that was too young to experience such tragedy. The priest took him in, and raised him with the respect and love the child thought he was never going to receive again. He looked up to the man like a mentor, even something close to a real father, and  worked hard to learn white magic and become his apprentice while other fellow orphans opened their doors to different jobs and futures. Through the years, he grew closer to God and followed the priest's teachings with utter precision and faith.

He eventually inherited the church when his mentor passed away from illness. With pain in his heart, Karamatsu took a while to recover from the loss and bring the church back from its decadence, the best he could as he was alone and understaffed.

Ichimatsu was the member of a mafioso gang that had found an instalment in a town neighbor to Akatsuka. He had committed a load of crimes that gained him a high rank in the group, but someone betrayed him and he almost died in an ambush. Karamatsu had found him by chance amongst a pile of garbage, covered in blood and injuries, and without caring any bit about his background the priest brought him to the church to nurse him back to health.

The start of their cohabitation was more than rocky, but in the end it turned peaceful the longer time they spent together. Ichimatsu refused to admit it in the open, but he would throw his life away to save Karamatsu's, deeply in debt with the priest for showing him the kindness he never received by his family. In order to conceal his identity so his ex-gang mates wouldn't find him, he agreed to dress as a nun and work in the church with Karamatsu from then on, so he could slowly atone for his past crimes. He grew a habit out of the bizarre disguise, and started wearing it even when it wasn't necessary. It was a mystery Karamatsu never dared delving too much into.

Some years later, an orphaned child named Todomatsu was taken in custody by the church after an affiliated association briskly dropped him there and dumped all responsibilities to raise him on Karamatsu. He was confused and indignated by the treatment on the poor kid, but kindly accepted the task out of mere big brother instinct.

With time, he and Ichimatsu discovered informations about Todomatsu, and the reason why he was abandoned came to light. The child was a Messenger of Heaven, otherwise known as a human who had the power to dispel demons and evil spirits with the use of his singing voice. The association foolishly assumed he was an abomination, and everyone there was terrified of him. With pity and a nurturing wish to make the child feel loved digging deep in his heart, Karamatsu worked his hardest to ensure a better future for Todomatsu, and Ichimatsu tagged along with reluctance, only to get attached to the kid and show more of the tender side he only reserved for cats. Todomatsu was instated as a choir boy, helping around the church with newfound happiness.

In recent times, Karamatsu's church had been attacked by hoards of demons that seemed to have targeted Todomatsu due to his powers. It was at that moment that he met the one who led the evil to his abode and threatened to destroy every inch of it if they didn't hand the little boy over.

Osomatsu, the Devil.

Blazing red eyes glowed with absolute malice as he managed to seize Karamatsu during one of the attacks, his clawed hand horribly squeezing the priest's wrist to the point of breaking it. There was an array of awful, dirty, unspeakable words directed at him with the sweetest tone of a man who had just found his other half. White noise crowded in Karamatsu's ears as horror crept under his skin at the cruel realization that Osomatsu's actual target was not the child in his care, but Karamatsu himself. A scream tore out of his throat when his wrist was abruptly caught in scalding heat, as if Osomatsu's palm was made of hot iron. When he was finally released, Karamatsu nearly threw up at the horrifying display of the skin Osomatsu had touched, burned down to the point it would leave hideous scars.

“That, my cute Father-chan, is the symbol of my love.” Osomatsu grinned, sharp fangs standing out from the shadow of his monstrous expression. “You're mine now, a toy that I'm gonna fuck and torture until I'm satisfied. Be grateful that this awesome Devil picked you!”

Karamatsu couldn't hear half of what Osomatsu told him, paralyzed by pain and fear. From afar, his tearful eyes spotted an injured Ichimatsu and a crying Todomatsu who was clinging to him. There was no hope for the three of them. Their innocent wish to become a family had been torn away by the cruellest creature of Hell. It was Karamatsu's fault. He should have been stronger. He should have been able to protect his dear ones. He...

A flash of light swam across his eyes, stunning him for a long minute. When he came back from his stupor, most of the lesser demons under Osomatsu's command had fallen down in one blow, vanishing into black smoke, screaming in dying agony. The priest blinked through his tears, spotted the furious gaze Osomatsu was pointing elsewhere, and turned his head only to be briefly blinded by a humanoid figure floating in mid-air, their wings stretching to their majestic size, a holy aura defining their figure. A large halo sparkled above their head, and in their hand they held what looked like a golden mace. Karamatsu had to rub his eyes with his good hand in order to see the angel better.

There was a smile. A large, face-splitting, jaw-cracking smile. Brighter than any smile he'd ever seen in his mortal life.

If he didn't know better, Karamatsu would have thought that what he was experiencing right here was love at first sight.

The fight between Osomatsu and the angel was long and extenuating, but the devil finally received the short end of the stick as a vicious blow to his head sent him sprawling to the ground, bleeding and enraged. He fled with his pointy tail between his legs, and what was left to do for Karamatsu, Ichimatsu and Todomatsu was to look up and witness the grand view of an angel smiling and speaking to them in a deep but cheerful voice.

“Hey hey hey, I'm Jyushimatsu! Gonna be the guardian angel of that little kid over there for a while! Let's work hard together, okay?”

They all had no choice but to nod at their savior, and just accept whatever came next.

Thus started the mundane life of four strange individuals who formed a bond similar to that of a family. With the powerful Jyushimatsu by their side, the attacks from Osomatsu and his demons had ended with a smashing defeat for the latter. A relatively peaceful stream of three years was the reward for Karamatsu after that terrifying experience he could hardly forget.

Jyushimatsu's presence was what aided Karamatsu's recovery the most, what with him wonderfully singing along the choir as he perched somewhere hidden from sight, or happily following Karamatsu around like an excited puppy that wanted food; how he absolutely adored Todomatsu as they played together, or the way Ichimatsu smiled a lot more often with the angel around. Karamatsu used to clutch at the cross necklace his mentor gave him for his twelfth birthday when he was nervous about something, but he no longer had the need to do so since Jyushimatsu appeared into his life. The angel was a driving force that tightened the bonds already bringing the four of them together, and made their collective existence bearable, somehow normal.

Karamatsu thought, with his limited and naive mind, that he could live the rest of his life freely enjoying what he had, as long as Jyushimatsu stayed with him, as long as he never left, as long as he remained strong and defeated Osomatsu at every attempt to overthrow the church

He relied his own happiness, and that of his family, solely on Jyushimatsu.

As he sadly found out one day, such way of thinking was his worst mistake.


***


Jyushimatsu was nowhere to be found. To everyone, it felt like he disappeared into thin air.

At first, Karamatsu tried not to let it bother him. Heaven was a busy place that sometimes kept the angel occupied, mostly with reports and paperwork that concerned Todomatsu's status. Even though he was kept away physically, Jyushimatsu was still able to appear at will when the situation called for it, due to a telepathic link he had created with the child he was in charge to protect.

However, as days passed and the second week of absence was about to end, Karamatsu was at his wit's end. Jyushimatsu wouldn't have been so irresponsible to the point he'd drop his duties without even a bit of explanation. He was kind, sincere, would never lie to them for no good reason. The priest started coming up with theories, and none of them sounded comforting. Something was wrong, and with all probability Jyushimatsu had little control of whatever was holding him back.

Karamatsu tried to consult the minor Goddess residing in the lake hidden by the forest, but even the deity couldn't answer him with confidence. Todomatsu made an attempt to tap into his telepathic link with Jyushimatsu, but all that resulted was a nosebleed and the poor child passing out from exertion. Every sort of negative feelings swirled inside Karamatsu, and although a likewise worried but still composed Ichimatsu told him to focus on his duties, he just couldn't do it with the same ardour that accompanied him through the years. An important figure in his life was gone, and he never thought of such possibility happening at all. Karamatsu was completely at loss on what to do.

For the fourth time that day, he was kneeling in front of the altar, head humbly bowed down as he squeezed his mentor's necklace within his clasped hands. It had been forever ago when he last held the cross so tightly his palms were deeply engraved with its shape burrowing into them, causing him hurt. He desperately prayed that Jyushimatsu was okay and everything was going to be fine.

Shamefully, he discovered that he was not at all ready for eventual changes that would result with Jyushimatsu's disappearance. He didn't want another angel to be tasked for Todomatsu's protection. It always had been Jyushimatsu, and he was forever going to be the one and only guardian angel in Karamatsu's heart, no substitute would easily replace him. He knew it was a selfish thought, one of the few he developed since he got attached to this bizarre family of his, and being a priest meant to get rid of any self-serving desire from his mind. However, he couldn't help it... he wanted, he needed Jyushimatsu back by his side.

Murmuring the umpteenth plea to the crucified Christ hanging above him, he was absorbed in his own misery. During the angel's disappearance, there hadn't been any attacks from demons and that would have been a blessing if it also didn't hide an ominous implication that Osomatsu was stalling on purpose because he had a specific plan to finally break Karamatsu. With anxiety clinging to him like vicious strings binding his heart way too tightly, he could only think of the worst case scenario presenting itself to him, and how he had no power to stop whatever disgrace was about to occur.

He was suddenly startled back to reality by the loud sound of a thud coming from the church's front doors. His muscles froze cold at once, like he was being warned beforehand that the source of such noise was something he wasn't going to appreciate at all. The cross dug deep into his skin and drew a bit of blood out. With staggering breath, Karamatsu turned around.

... In that exact moment, he hated being right, so damn much.

“Jyushimatsu...?”

Stumbling across the entrance, Jyushimatsu stood with unsteady feet, supporting himself against the wooden surface. He looked thoroughly, gruesomely beaten up. His entire frame was blemished with bruises, cuts, and burn marks. Brown blood stuck to his skin and tattered clothes, already dried up. The halo hovering his head lost most of its glow, and his wings...

Those once beautiful wings were no longer white, but a mix of dark grey and crimson red.

“What... What happened to you...?” Karamatsu stood up, his body driven forward by the urge to wrap the angel in his arms and take all his suffering away. But the state Jyushimatsu was in had the priest stay still instead, and the foul stench soon permeating the air gave him all the more reason to not just run at his friend carelessly.

It was the stench of a demon.

“Father... Ka... Karamatsu...”

With ragged breathing, Jyushimatsu murmured, his matted hair shadowing his eyes. There was a smile on his bloodied features, but Karamatsu could tell it wasn't the sort of cheerful smile he used to see the angel wearing.

“I c-could find you again... I-I'm so happy...”

Karamatsu noticed with abject horror that something black and viscous was running down the inside of Jyushimatsu's exposed thighs. The angel's robe had been torn apart so much that most of his bare front body was visible, adding onto the horrifying image. There was little imagination left for the priest to assume what had happened to Jyushimatsu, and he could also make an easy guess on who was responsible for it.

Osomatsu had struck him where it hurt most.

“My little Jyushimatsu,” he called, voice hoarse as he found himself unable to breath because panic was rapidly taking over. “Please stay where you are-... I... I'll get over there and take care of you, so...”

“No!!!”

Jyushimatsu's voice, once so bright and wonderful, exploded through the church in a horrible screech that caused Karamatsu's ears to turn dull for a few moments before they pounded along with his speeding heart. He reeled back, eyes wide and terrified, and shook his head frantically. Whoever was standing over there was not Jyushimatsu. It couldn't be him.

This is not him! Jyushimatsu wouldn't... wouldn't...!

“I can't w-wait any longer!” Jyushimatsu continued, his feet dragging his weight across the floor, droplets of black liquid dripping from his wings and staining the floor. “I've been waiting s-so long, Father! Finally I can... f-fulfil my wish...”

Karamatsu recoiled. His mind didn't need to scramble for an answer to such a messed up situation. It was way too clear to him. Jyushimatsu had been corrupted by the devil, and what he was hearing were words yanked out from Jyushimatsu's inner desires. The truth of the matter pierced into the priest like a spear right through his stomach. He felt flustered, and nauseous.

Just as slowly as Jyushimatsu moved, Karamatsu took a few steps backwards, until the back of his foot made contact with the bottom of the stairs that led to the altar. This wasn't right at all. He shouldn't be afraid of his sweet Jyushimatsu. It was a dream! He was having a nightmare! If he could just, open his eyes in the real world and forget about all of this...

“Kara... m-matsu...” Jyushimatsu said, so hoarsely his voice was barely intelligible. “You know th-that I love you, r-right? I always, aaaallllways... loved y-you... please let me show you h-how much I love you...”

Tears welled up the priest's eyes as he couldn't believe a word of what he was hearing. Of course he loved Jyushimatsu, so dearly, as his best friend and a divine figure that he admired so much! But something scratched at his skull, darker thoughts that suggested none of what Jyushimatsu told him had any platonic meaning behind them. Did his friend seriously have those feelings the entire time they were together? Karamatsu refused to heed such nonsense any longer. He would sooner rip his hair off to try and get those poisonous thoughts out of him, but he was already holding onto his mentor's cross and he felt that all sanity would be lost on him if he let go.

“I love you... Karamatsu!”

Distracted by the battle raging inside his brain, Karamatsu wasn't ready to dodge the angel who abruptly took off the ground and pounced him. He thought Jyushimatsu was too weak to use any force of him, but that was foolish of him, and the price for his stupidity was an infernally unhinged angel pinning him to the stairs, causing a stabbing pain in his back from the edges digging into him. Karamatsu let out a helpless cry when Jyushimatsu grabbed his wrists and slammed them down, increasing the pain tenfold because of the scar Osomatsu had left on him. It felt like he was laying on a bed made of needles.

Fate was cruel to him today. The necklace was ripped off him from the impact, and the cross flew a few feet away from where the two were laying. Karamatsu stared at the spot where it fell, because he had not enough bravery in him to look up and see how terrifying Jyushimatsu had become from the corruption. His jaw clenched, teeth gnashing together so hard his gums ached as a result.

“Please, Jyushimatsu...” He chose to plead, squeezing his eyes shut, letting a few tears roll to his temples. “Let me go, my dearest angel... We're going to fix this situation together if you would just, release me...” He stifled a whimper, hating the fact he was weak compared to the angel because he was a mere human whose magic could nothing against powerful creatures, and hating the way he was shaking to the point his voice was gradually faltering as well. “I-I want to help you, my sweet Jyushimatsu, but first you have t-to let me do so. Release me so I can check your wounds...”

His request was met with silence. The corruption must have rendered Jyushimatsu deaf beyond repair, or the angel was outright refusing to listen. There were many possibilities and nothing was helping him figure it out on his own because he still couldn't look at Jyushimatsu in the face to read his expression. Such a brave priest he was, not even doing something so simple as looking at the person he considered his best friend for so long. His mentor must be gravely disappointed in him, and frankly, Karamatsu would deserve every single second of that shame.

The grip on his wrists wasn't weakening, and Jyushimatsu seemed to remain completely immobile. If the situation had to be moved forward, Karamatsu was the one who had to drag it along. His heart hammered painfully against his ribcage, sweat coating the skin beneath his robes, blood pumping hot in his veins. He was scared witless, but he knew he had to turn his head a little bit and look up.

Somehow, before he could do that, he felt something warm and wet drop on his cheek.

It was a tear.

“Jyushimatsu...?”

That was the final push he needed to finally look up and see the face of his friend. It wasn't a good sight, but fear wasn't what clutched at his entirety. He felt himself getting stabbed by grief the moment their gazes met.

Osomatsu had turned those lovely eyes blood red, with pupils replaced by demonic slits. It didn't hit the priest as hard as the pool of tears dripping one after the other, barely washing Jyushimatsu's dirty and bruised face. The quiet sounds he let out, similar to how a wounded animal might have sounded like, tore Karamatsu apart. The angel was a genuine depiction of sadness, infecting the man in front of him the same way his happiness likewise stretched smiles over those around him.

Karamatsu fought with himself to prevent weeping further, but he never dealt with such a combo of physical and emotional pain. A pathetic, choked out breath rose from his lips before he made an attempt to reach out and touch Jyushimatsu's cheek, stupidly hoping to have the angel regain his senses and do his best to wrestle the corruption out of him.

He was always so naive.

“Please, my friend... you must-... ah?!”

His eventual words of encouragement were abruptly suppressed by a terrifying roar, and then the feeling of cold blowing past the front of his body as Jyushimatsu single handedly ripped his cassock in half. He couldn't react when hands and sharp nails mapped his torso hungrily, the angel snarling and showing the sharp demonic fangs he never possessed before. Karamatsu refused to believe that he had been tricked into letting his guard down; Jyushimatsu would never do such a thing to him—

And then he let out a skyward yelp, head falling back and bumping into the edge of a stair when Jyushimatsu dove on him and sank his teeth into the space between his neck and shoulder. All the priest could do was scramble with his hands and find Jyushimatsu's arms, struggling to form a distance between them even though it was a lost battle from the start.

“Karamatsu,” came the hoarse whimper from Jyushimatsu as he lapped the wound before the blood could gush out. “You're delicious... a-ah... I wish I could eat you up and get you inside me, but then w-we won't be able to talk anymore... I-I can't stand that!”

“Stop...” Karamatsu begged, straining to speak through the pain. “S-Stop it, Jyushimatsu, this is not what you want!”

“How would you know that?” Jyushimatsu accused with a snarl, licking his way down the priest's chest, his tongue whipping past his nipples. Karamatsu let out an involuntary noise, and froze at his own reaction. That... didn't feel any bit good, but somehow it stirred a foreign sort of tingle into him. A grin stretched over the angel's face, stilted in its madness. “Hm? You... liked it, didn't you? Good... I wanna m-make Father feel good...”

“That's not—” Karamatsu protested, and yet he had to suppress another embarrassing sound when Jyushimatsu lapped one of his nipples and began sucking on it. The rush of new sensations overflowed his unprepared mind like hot lava, it burned him out from reacting the way he wanted to. Fear born of too many sources ghosted over his neck like cold breath in contrast with the heat. The church, his home, was being desecrated by the very person who was supposed to help him protect. He could even feel it, the sin wholly drenching him with every contact of hands, lips, and tongue.

He tightened his grip on Jyushimatsu's arms, uselessly trying to pry him off. The angel had always been much stronger than the demons he easily defeated, sturdier than diamond, and overall difficult to hurt seriously. Karamatsu was only a human with two shaky hands and a body frozen by forced pleasure. He was obviously no match, as if what he was pushing at was a wall made of iron. In a battle where strength was useless, he had to think of a different approach, which seemed more of a titanic effort the more he allowed Jyushimatsu to map his torso with other sinful marks. It was truly unfortunate that he recognized the heat pooling by the front of his trousers, because although he'd like to see himself as a pure servant of God, he was still a man bound to earthly needs. The amount of times he had to confess his self-helping habits to his Creator were embarrassingly high, and such sensitivity to those raunchy thoughts was now working against him.

Even though he wasn't enjoying himself at all, the fact it was Jyushimatsu who touched him in such manner was... well, it was more acceptable than receiving even the slightest graze from Osomatsu. Despite being corrupted by the Devil, Jyushimatsu wasn't taking joy out of hurting him. Sometimes the movement of his hands felt stilted, like he was experimenting, as if he was doing his best to make Karamatsu actually feel good. A fragment of the old Jyushimatsu was probably still fighting inside the angel's mind, and although such detail was far from the silver lining the priest needed to see out of this disastrous situation, he was ready to hold onto it so he wouldn't fall into madness.

Thanks to that fragile, way too thin but still present sliver of hope, Karamatsu suddenly had an idea.

If one couldn't defeat a beast with a match of strength, he had to use his wits. Within the thick fog of guilt and arousal, he found a beacon of light. As much as he loathed the idea itself, maybe he could turn things in his favour without having to hurt either Jyushimatsu or himself. For that, he had to go a length he wasn't comfortable with, tampering with his own sense of morality, betraying the trust of his Lord first and foremost. However... he had no other choice; he either let the angel have his way with him, or sacrifice everything he stood for in order to take control of the situation.

He muttered a slew of apologies towards the large crucifix above, and focused his attention on his dear friend who was still in the process of marking him up with bruises and bite marks all over his chest. He hissed, both in pain and something else he refused to acknowledge. Squeezing his eyes shut for a moment and summoning all the willpower he could get, Karamatsu gently grabbed the back of Jyushimatsu's hair, his other hand cupping the underside of the angel's chin. Jyushimatsu halted abruptly as a result, crimson red eyes blinking in obvious surprise at the bold gesture. When he lifted his head from Karamatsu's chest, strings of saliva separating his lips from the area, he saw a smile. It was forced and punctured with fear, but the priest had determination by his side - the same kind that had him manage the church for so many years despite the trials and tribulations he had to face on the way.

Karamatsu knew that, even as he had the angel's attention now, he may have slim chances of being listened. That was why he uttered no word, instead relying on his body to communicate. He glanced at Jyushimatsu's lips, gulped saliva down his dry throat, and then pulled both their faces close.

The priest guided his precious angel into a kiss. A real one, with mouths joining together awkwardly because of inexperience. If he didn't choose the path of religion, Karamatsu would have lamented the fact he just shared his first kiss with a corrupted creature, but the fact said creature was his little Jyushimatsu lessened the weight of it all by a landslide. Even despite the corruption gradually taking over, the angel's lips were incredibly soft, and Karamatsu's stomach weirdly fluttered at such fact instead of churning in disgust. Weird. It should gross him out, and yet he was leaning into the kiss some more despite how wrongly he was doing, spurred on by a sort of drive he never acknowledged before. Nothing of what he was doing was pre-planned in any manner.

Jyushimatsu let out a startled noise, and he sounded so innocent and lost. Karamatsu would have bitten the inside of his cheek hard if he could, but maintained the kiss until his lungs no longer allowed him to. He broke it off with a wheeze and was quick to pet Jyushimatsu's hair in an attempt to soothe any wild reaction. Much to his relief, the angel was merely looking at him now, clear confusion behind those demonic and wide eyes.

“Fa... ther...?”

Karamatsu's heart sank at the sound. That was certainly the old Jyushimatsu speaking and it made the priest falter, terrified that he had just made a mistake and, if his friend could be brought back to normal, he was going to hate him. Trying to remain stable was a struggle, and Karamatsu woefully realized he was already at his limit. He stretched another smile of reassurance, feeling sick behind the mask he decided to wear. Thankfully he was a decent actor at best.

“I beg of you... please, stay calm, my little Jyushimatsu.” He lied through his teeth, because he was anything but calm. “I acknowledge your love.. I... won't stop your pursuing of me.”  Forcing himself to say that while not giving away any sign of distress hurt him deeply. “However, please allow me to reciprocate in some way.”

The only hope left in him was that the angel would understand and give him the lead. Anything but that outcome was game over to him. Osomatsu had the upper hand, and whether or not the Devil was going to show up Karamatsu could only focus on what he had with him right now. Jyushimatsu was there, in his arms, relatively safe despite the outside barrier that had been likely weakened because of the corrupted angel breaking through. Karamatsu could try to save him from his tragic state, and deal with the consequences later. Sitting at the altar there was an item that might be of use should the priest be able to seize it. In order to do that... he had to concede himself to the angel, get the other's trust so he could move freely.

Jyushimatsu gave him a conflicted stare, like he wasn't sure what sort of expression he should settle his face on. After a minute of silence, he cast his eyes downwards and meekly nodded, much to the priest's surprise and relief as he let out a breath he had been holding in. Karamatsu leaned forward, stamping another chaste kiss on Jyushimatsu's lips. His scarred wrist burned painfully.

“Thank you,” he breathed, trailing light kisses over his friend's face, ignoring the dry blood but making sure he pressed his lips over any bruise and cut he encountered. He was never going to forgive Osomatsu for what he had done. Even as the Lord taught him to always forgive his enemies... he just couldn't, at this moment, he had no strength left in his soul to find a shred of benevolence. Another addition onto the list of sins he was going to confess and apologize for.

Slowly, Jyushimatsu melted under the affection. Karamatsu was embracing his waist, kissing him lightly and gently as his eyes prickled with more tears which he refused to let out because they would be proof of how he was pitying the angel. What Jyushimatsu needed was not a display of pity, but love, no matter how much of a carnal and immoral form it shaped up to be, and how Karamatsu was completely unaccustomed to it.

“Can you lift yourself a little? ... Yes, good boy.” Karamatsu told Jyushimatsu in a warm tone as the latter finally rose himself on his hands and knees, letting the priest peel his back off the sharp stairs. He was going to have nasty bruises later, but it'd be nothing compared to the injuries his poor little Jyushimatsu displayed all over his frame and within his heart. Karamatsu sat up, crawling backwards to the top of the stairs with Jyushimatsu following along, until he could sit down properly at the feet of the altar. When the angel plopped down on his lap, the priest noticed those dark wings getting dragged along like dead weight. He remembered what the Goddess of the Lake told him about fallen angels losing their wings, and he gritted his teeth at the possibility of Jyushimatsu never being able to fly happily in the sky again. He had to do something, and quickly.

Staring into Jyushimatsu's eyes, Karamatsu saw pools of endless crimson, glimmering with leftover tears. The priest heaved a sigh before gently coaxing Jyushimatsu into a hug, burying his face into the angel's neck and planting some kisses over the skin. Disgust knotted his stomach at the sight of bloody bite marks and red bruises that were definitely not his own doing. He was kissing all over them, to try and overwrite the memory of Osomatsu's violence from Jyushimatsu's mind. He heard humming and quiet moaning of his name spoken to his ear, so weak and fragile... the angel in his hold now seemed wildly different than the powerful creature that pinned him down previously. It made his head spin, but it also drove him to do his best in such an exhausting circumstance.

“Feels so good, K-Kara...” Jyushimatsu groaned, fingers curled around the remains of Karamatsu's cassock that were still clinging to him. Karamatsu trailed his kisses to the skin under his care, sadly taking advantage of how nude the angel appeared because of the tattered robe he arrived with. It took no effort to rip the rest of the way off, a gesture that had to be done in order to keep up with the façade he was building.

Careful hands mapped the soft flesh, taking note of the rough and sharp textures of whatever horrifying act Osomatsu had inflicted on his friend. When he stopped by Jyushimatsu's hips, he felt the angel move, arms wrapped around his neck while he pushed himself closer... grinding his bare crotch against Karamatsu's pelvis. A strained groan tore out of the priest's throat as he attempted to block Jyushimatsu from making any other move, struggling to recover from the heat pooling over the space between his legs. Forgive me, he mentally begged to the Heavens as he fell victim to the earthly desires his human body was craving against the will of his mind.

Focus, Karamatsu, he then admonished his own careless self, be useful to yourself and remember what you must do.

... Right. The altar.

Karamatsu pulled away, kissing Jyushimatsu's jaw a few times before leaning back. There was a shaky but calm smile now gracing the angel's features and it was... relieving, in a twisted sense. Despite how the priest barely had any idea what he was doing, the plan was a discrete success so far. He was about to take the next difficult step, and to start things off he cupped Jyushimatsu's cheeks with the utmost gentleness. Talking through to him was going to be the hardest part.

“Jyushimatsu... listen to me.” He spoke slowly, just so the dazzled angel could understand. Round, wide eyes stared back at him clueless, so he repeated, “Are you listening to me right now?”

At the slow, unsure nod he got in response, he continued. “I know you're not being yourself right now, because Osomatsu caused you grievous harm... but I can try to lessen your load. All you need to do is trust me. Do you understand, my sweet Jyushimatsu?” He waited for a second nod, which came with delay, and as a reward Karamatsu kissed his nose. “You're a good boy. So then, will you trust me?”

The wait was longer, Jyushimatsu staying immobile as his stare was now vacant the same way it usually went when he was processing a thought... and Karamatsu nearly wheezed at the anxiety squeezing his throat, its cold fingers pressing and pressing with the worst case scenario hanging above his head like a guillotine. Dealing with a brainwashed angel was a gamble way too bigger than him, as he realized the longer time Jyushimatsu took to give his answer.

Fortunately for Karamatsu, it eventually came to him like a rain shower on a hot summer day.

“Mhm! Okay! I trust you!”

Jyushimatsu squeezed the priest's cassock, smiling even more widely and firmly. Karamatsu had to blink for a few seconds before he could reply with a blunt, “Are you sure?”

“Yeah I am!” The angel nodded. “I love Karamatsu, so I trust him!” He hesitated briefly, looking sheepish. “I-It would be dumb of me if I had no faith in the person I love! Am I wrong?”

... Ah. Karamatsu could hear the old Jyushimatsu speaking. The real one.

No, that was stupid. Jyushimatsu had always been Jyushimatsu from the beginning, and it was a fact he had to accept and make peace with. Karamatsu closed his eyes, tears wetting his lashes, and pressed his lightly smiling lips against his friend's once again. For the first time since everything  began, he could smile without forcing himself to.

“... You have my most heartfelt thanks, my little Jyushimatsu.” He tenderly held the angel's face and kissed him more, lingering over those soft and red lips for a little longer. His guts made another painful twist as he thought of how Osomatsu must have kissed him, too, while he violated him. The whimper he heard in reaction was heartbreaking. Tentatively, Karamatsu gave the soft spot a small lick, but only that. He felt himself sink deeper when Jyushimatsu whipped his back tongue at him.

“Then,” Karamatsu murmured, leaning back and gently, very gently taking hold of Jyushimatsu's hands. He looked down at them for a moment, saw the burn marks of each wrist probably caused by rope or chains, and winced involuntarily. He felt that he couldn't keep speaking without first placing a few butterfly kisses over the offended areas, listening to the angel's hitch in his breath.

“Then... I need you to let me go for a few seconds.” He looked up, and naturally saw the shadow over Jyushimatsu's eyes darken further, his red eyes clearly screaming panic. Hurriedly he adds, “Just for a few seconds. I have to get something, and then I'll be back to you. It will take less than a minute. You can count the seconds if you're unsure.”

Jyushimatsu was struggling, face twisted with fear—the obvious fear that Karamatsu was going to run and leave him behind, breaching his trust like it was nothing. The priest kissed his knuckles, working up the strength to speak even softer than he already did.

“It is a promise, my sweet angel. Were I to break it, you have full freedom to kill me.”

Death was terrifying, but it was yet a step forward to reach Heaven. Although he strongly doubted he'd ascend to those lands now that he allowed such an unforgivable sin to taint the church, the priest thought it would be inappropriate to be scared in front of Jyushimatsu. He'd put his life on the line for the sake of his friends; every single one of them was worth dying for.

“... Okay.” Jyushimatsu told him in a whisper, bowing his head down. “One minute. Not a second longer.”

Karamatsu smiled with relief and nuzzled the top of his head. “Thank you,” he breathed, squeezing the angel's hands and slowly releasing them, regretting the moment their fingertips disconnected.

It was merely a matter of standing up and reaching for the bottle that was sitting on the altar. His legs, however, didn't register the command from his brain and he collapsed on his knees, wheezing out in pain. The previous impact hurt him more than he thought, and he feared something in his bones dislocated as a result. While the clock ticked in his mind, he tried to ignore the urge to look back at Jyushimatsu and see the pressure behind those corrupted eyes.

He managed to hook a hand on top of the altar, relying on it to drag his whole weight upwards. At last he stood on his feet, half-draped over the surface, and found the bottle right in front of him at an arm's reach. It was a silver colored bottle, bearing ornaments that told its age to whoever looked at it. The shine over it glittered across Karamatsu's eyes when he snatched it with force and let out a strained grunt, turning around and having a short strife with his own useless legs in order to prevent a ruinous fall from the top of the stairs.

Much to his relief, Jyushimatsu welcomed him back with open arms, softening the impact he made when he stumbled back to where he came from. The bottle stayed safe in his hand as he let the angel embrace him whole, only succumbing to the frantic kisses over his neck that he received and which made his hair stand on end from the unusual pleasure it provoked along with the ache.

“You're back as you promised!” Jyushimatsu chirped against his tensed skin. “Father, you really do love me then!”

Karamatsu bit his lower lip, thick brows furrowing deeply. He did his best to have his expression relax when Jyushimatsu pulled away and smiled wide and hopeful through the blood on his face. The priest bitterly thought that he wanted to clean those features that were still beautiful even despite the horror of their circumstances. If his plan worked, then he might squeeze in a chance to save Jyushimatsu and return him to the pure white state he was in before Osomatsu put it in ruins. He would do anything to make Jyushimatsu forget, heal every wound in his heart, unlock his brightest and happiest smile once again. Karamatsu was ready to sacrifice all of himself for it.

There was no longer time to waste mumbling over what-ifs and consequences.

He kissed Jyushimatsu's cheek, ignoring the taste of copper dancing on his tongue as he made the mistake of licking his own lips afterwards in a gesture of nervousness. Between both men, the bottle was being opened slowly, its cap being unscrewed and then delicately set aside. It was an item of the church, one of great important, and he treated it with care regardless of the situation.

“Come here,” Karamatsu gently beckoned, helping Jyushimatsu straddle one of his legs in a way that had the angel's rear stick out. What he was about to do was going to be unpleasant for the both of them. With that plaguing his mind, he kissed Jyushimatsu as a reward for complying.

“What are you gonna do with that?” Jyushimatsu questioned, eyes cast towards the bottle. It was no use to lie or sugarcoat things. What the priest hoped was that Jyushimatsu would trust him to the very end. He sighed, trying to ignore a few tiny details like how the angel's erection was insistently pressing against his thigh.

“This may be a stretch, but we can... try to purify you.” The hand not holding the bottle was slowly caressing Jyushimatsu's side, gradually going down to his hip and the small of his back. The flesh was so plump and smooth, almost pleasantly so, if he didn't pay attention to the ugly bruises resembling hands over both sides. A voice snarled inside his head, chanting that wretched name. Osomatsu…

Seeing as the angel was listening, Karamatsu kept going, holding up the bottle. “This here is... holy water. It is used for baptizing, and it had been blessed by the Lord himself. I thought that maybe...” He gulped, suddenly finding it hard to let the words out. “If I used it on that spot... the source of your corruption, I could halt the process. You understand what I'm saying, don't you?”

Jyushimatsu slowly nodded, lips thinning sourly. “... Yeah.”

“It might hurt you a lot, Jyushimatsu.” The tone was grave but firm. “But if you allow me this, if it's going to work and you'll turn back to normal... I won't think any less of you, for what occurred here. I'll keep loving you as I always did.”

At that, the angel narrowed his eyes, sadness wetting his long lashes. Karamatsu closed his eyes and bumped their foreheads together, sighing.

“I will address your feelings properly once this is over. There is no intention from me to pretend as if you didn't... tell me.” The top of their nose brushed together as he murmured, “I now know that you have been forced to bare a hidden side of you to me. Osomatsu didn't turn you into a completely different person. You are still my little Jyushimatsu, and I'll save you from the corruption at all costs.”

“Father,” Jyushimatsu wept, fresh tears streaming down his cheeks. “I'm sorry...”

“Don't be. Don't ever apologize to me for all of this.” After a tender peck on the nose, Karamatsu pulled away and began to carefully pour holy water over his fingers, making sure no drop would spill on the angel. “I need you to hold onto me, and...” He hesitated, but then shrugged his ruined cassock off one of his shoulders, baring it to Jyushimatsu. “In the case you're unbearably hurting, bite me. It may serve as a distraction for you.”

“But—”

“I'll be alright,” Karamatsu interrupted with a smile. “No amount of injuries I accumulated from this ordeal will matter more than the excruciating agony you went through. I'm sorry that I didn't do anything to save you from the Devil's clutches. I'm sorry for letting him do this to you.”

Jyushimatsu's lower lip quivered, and he babbled a few nonsense words before he threw his arms around Karamatsu's neck, burying his face into his bare shoulder and starting a loud wail that echoed inside the deserted church. “If I can't apologize, th-then you shouldn't either! D-Dummy!” He cried, tightly fisting what is left of the cassock until the knuckles turned white. The priest pressed his own lips together, fighting with the urge to vent with new tears. Instead, he hummed a restrained laugh.

“Indeed, you truly are my cute, wonderful angel. No corrupted creature would cry like this for my sake.” He laid a few kisses on Jyushimatsu's temple to soothe him, and waited for the angel to calm down. When the sounds faded into tiny sobs, he held up his wet fingers in the air. It was time. “I'm going to begin, Jyushimatsu. Please, do brace yourself, and remember what I told you.”

“Yeah... the d-distraction.” Jyushimatsu's voice was now wet, and he sniffled afterwards, but he held onto Karamatsu with what the priest hoped was determination. He listened to a few deep breathes, a pause, and then a resolute, “I'm ready.”

“Good.” Karamatsu dripped pride from that single word, because Jyushimatsu was showing bravery and that meant more of his true personality was blooming as they kept speaking. He gulped a lump off his throat, placed the bottle of holy water on the step next to him, and moved his dry hand to find Jyushimatsu's ass, grabbing one buttock and gently stretching it aside, eliciting a quiet moan. The act itself and the sound gave his crotch a throb that he struggled to pretend he didn't feel.

He moved his other hand to destination, reaching downwards blindly because even if he craned his neck he wouldn't see where his fingers were going, due to the wings obscuring the view. He hoped to reach the puckered hole without causing Jyushimatsu unnecessary harm. It was a risky shot in the dark, but eventually he steeled himself and went for the prod.

His ear was pierced abruptly by a scream. Startled, Karamatsu detached both his hands off the angel's body.

“Jyushimatsu?!”

“Burns! Burns!” Jyushimatsu cried out, wheezing like air had been knocked out of him with a gut punch. “Sorry Father i-it... it burns so much!”

“No, no, it's fine.” Karamatsu sighed, bothered more by his own pounding heart than the fact Jyushimatsu didn't heed his words. Indeed, the suffering was tearing him apart. “It'll hurt like that at first, but you're a strong and incredible angel. I'm sure it won't last long, so endure for me. Okay?”

“O-Okay... okay...!” Jyushimatsu wept, smearing Karamatsu's shoulder with his tears and snot as he pressed his mouth over it. “I should b-bite, yeah, I'm not forgetting!”

“You're a good boy,” Karamatsu praised. “I'm going to make another attempt. Are you ready?”

“Mhm! D-Do it...!” Another whimper, and then there were teeth lingering over the priest's flesh.

Having memorized the direction, Karamatsu went with another experimental prod. This time, the pain came from himself, and he grit his teeth in endurance as Jyushimatsu was sinking his teeth into his shoulder like a raging wounded animal. The angel was still screaming, but this time it was muffled, safe from the large walls of the church. He circled the hole lightly, then applied pressure until the very fingertip slipped in, more easily than expected. Karamatsu's face twisted with disgust, because he knew who was the direct cause of that.

Karamatsu focused on his task, and his task alone, trying to crowd his mind with anything that wasn't even the slightest sexual in nature. The greenery surrounding the church, the beautiful flowers populating it, Ichimatsu's cat colony, Todomatsu's angelic voice, the Goddess' clear lake populated by healthy fish, Jyushimatsu's pure and shining smile...

In the meantime, he plowed his entire digit inside Jyushimatsu, those inner walls hot and especially tender all around. He smeared the holy water around, wondering if he didn't need more although he poured a pretty generous amount already. Timidly, he approached with a second finger the moment he noticed Jyushimatsu's screams were gradually lowering in volume. As much as he loathed the idea that Osomatsu loosened the angel up and made the task easier, Karamatsu was relieved that he didn't have to newly stretch the hole wide, causing further agony.

He felt Jyushimatsu stir, making unmistakeable motions with his hips. The angel was trying to hump into Karamatsu's crotch while sticking his ass out, willing to take more of the priest's burning fingers inside him. While he was glad the situation was slowly getting easier to manage, Karamatsu became aware that his friend needed an outlet more than anything. He was in so much pain, and no amount of excuses or shame was going to save Karamatsu from having to plunge deeper into sin.

And plunge he did, pulling away when he realized Jyushimatsu wasn't biting again, and then leaning over to give him a hard kiss. Jyushimatsu reacted quickly, embracing Karamatsu's shoulders, whining out loud against the other's mouth the moment a hand slipped between their bodies and grasped his hot and pulsing cock. When precum spilled on the priest's hand, he used it to ease the friction as he began stroking the length, with the alleged help of Jyushimatsu who began fucking himself within his palm. He made space for a third and final finger, thrusting in the deepest he could, hitting a spot that had the angel break the kiss and throw his head back, eyes rolling back, dark grey wings spreading out in all their grimness.

“There! There! Yes yes y-yes...! More!”

Karamatsu gritted his teeth, frowning deeply at that display. Oh no, he thought in panic. This is bad. Jyushimatsu, you look so... so...

He latched onto Jyushimatsu's neck as he eventually let his last inhibitions go, suddenly pervaded by the desire to make the angel feel good, chastity vows be damned. He growled, shutting his eyes, speeding his thrusts and strokes. Jyushimatsu moaned, clawing into Karamatsu's back, managing to scratch at the skin through the ripped fabric, but the priest was past the point of being concerned about his own wellbeing.

“Jyushimatsu,” he muttered, kissing and licking the tender skin under his nose. “Jyushimatsu...”

“Fath-... aahh... Karamatsu! Karamatsu!”

Quaking whole, enveloped in spasms, the angel howled his pleasure into the church's ceiling, tears flowing one by one from his glossy red eyes. Karamatsu could no longer feel the gaze of the crucified Christ hanging above him. He wouldn't be surprised if those eyes were turned away, disgusted by such impure display. Forgive me, O Lord, forgive me for soiling our beautiful home, forgive me...

It's with that last thought that Karamatsu received the blunt end of Jyushimatsu's headbutting into his shoulder, a scream unleashed to his ears one last time before he could distinctly feel a rush of scalding orgasm staining his hand, the muscles of Jyushimatsu's asshole tightening hard around his fingers. He wheezed, like the wind got knocked out of him, and allowed himself lay down onto the altar's stairs, dragging the trembling angel with him.

Was it over now?

Jyushimatsu panted and sobbed, clinging to the priest, face hidden into his chest. Carefully withdrawing his sore fingers from inside the angel, Karamatsu kept rubbing the cock in his grasp until he felt it turn flaccid, after which he released it and mindlessly wiped the semen off on his own cassock. It was ripped apart beyond repair now, so it wasn't a big deal. He made a mental note to toss it in the fire later.

They stayed like that for agonizing minutes. Karamatsu winced, the pain all over his body catching up with him as the adrenaline was oozing out, not at all helped by his current position. Jyushimatsu wasn't that heavy, but with his energies completely depleted it felt like he was being squashed down and stabbed in the back. They needed to relocate to a more comfortable place. He'd let Jyushimatsu use his own bed until he felt better. On a second thought, however... he needed to contact the Goddess of the Lake first, tell him about what happened, beg him for help. He seriously doubted just a bit of holy water was enough to stop the corrupting process.

A short while later, he was no longer hearing pained sobs, and Jyushimatsu's trembling quelled to just some twitching of his hands. The angel must have passed out, because he didn't react when his name was called out to check on him. Karamatsu smiled weakly and planted a tired kiss on top of his head, holding him closer to his chest, carefully petting the spent wings that were now draping over the both of them. They were still soft, despite being drenched in blood and corruption.

“My sweet Jyushimatsu,” he murmured into the angel's hair. “I will save you, even at the cost of my life...”

A thunderous, derisive laughter suddenly boasts throughout the church, startling Karamatsu into looking up, stomach already sinking in abject horror. What follows is a clap of hands, repeated and unnerving, booming in his ears from a source he can't track down with his senses alone.

“Bravo! You did it, Father-chan! Honestly I've seen better, but you sure worked hard.”

“You...” Karamatsu snarled, fear and anger bundling in an ugly mess within his system. A dark mist seeps from the floor upwards, piecing itself together a distance above the pair, forming a body with torso, limbs and head. Osomatsu emerged from the mist, sharply dressed in his suit, dark wings spreading behind him and pointy tail swishing from side to side. The smile he gave them slashed across his face like a predator about to attack, and his eyes were glowing red with anticipation.

“Ha! Me, indeed! It's been a while, huh?” Osomatsu cackled, crossing his arms and legs as if he was sitting on an invisible floor. “That barrier outside was so damn annoying, but thanks to you help I managed to get in and watch you cuties get it on. A pity you didn't actually fuck, though.”

“Silence, you monster!” The priest roared, instinctively drawing Jyushimatsu closer to himself. “How could you commit such atrocious act towards him? He was only protecting the church! You had no reason to cause him grievous harm!”

Osomatsu snorted, rolling his eyes. “Of course I had a reason, genius. This little bitch here was in the way.” Karamatsu flared in rage at the namecalling, but the devil ignored him. “So I came up with a cool plan to make sure we get to talk again. And it worked fantastically, I see! There was so much sin impregnating the air I could just get in, sit back and watch happily as you ruined every chance you had left with your stupid Lord.”

“You... raped him,” Karamatsu hissed, “only so you would talk to me?”

“Well, if that's how you're gonna call it, I don't mind.” Osomatsu whistled. “Let me tell ya, I think the little bitch loved it in the end. He was screaming like a whore the whole time, it was adorable! You should've seen him! He didn't even try to run away! Sure, I kept him chained up so he wouldn't escape in the first place, buuuut...!”

“Not another word from you, monster! Quit speaking that way about Jyushimatsu!” Karamatsu yelled at the top of his lungs, lost in rage and yet controlling his body thanks to the angel nestled in his arms. The bottle of holy water was within range, though, and he hurled it towards the devil. Osomatsu dodged the attack smoothly, using the fluttering equivalent of a sidestep, and darted himself closer in no time, grabbing Karamatsu's chin and forcing his head up.

“Oh, yeah, that's the way I like it. Get pissed some more! I'm loving your face! So pretty!”

Stomach twisting in multiple knots at the sight of those fierce eyes, Karamatsu winced as he felt the same burning sensation that scarred his wrist. Fortunately his chin was uninjured when he violently swatted Osomatsu's hand away, but he still wanted to puke. The devil allowed the gesture, leaning back and gazing down at him, gleeful to see the priest so uncomfortable. “At any rate, I'm disappointed that you didn't use your dick on him. Could have dipped it in holy water and then fucked his ass till you came inside him with your holier cum.” He sighed. “You missed some good stuff, my dude. Do you know his asshole gets reeeeally tight and sweet when he's scared?”

“You... you disgraceful scum!” Karamatsu spat, so caught up in anger he could barely breathe. “I have no interest in reaching any dialogue with you. Get out, or you'll regret it!”

“See, there's the thing I love about you.” Of course the devil would ignore the threat, releasing an ugly chuckle. “Father-chan acts so kind and goody-two-shoes to the fools listening to him, but he's actually got his violent bursts, doesn't he? Makes me even more excited to put a leash on him and listen to him growl and whine at me while I fuck him from behind. Don't you think that'd make him the perfect pet?”

The fact Osomatsu is speaking in third person horrified Karamatsu even more than the speech itself, which still struck him with another wave of nausea. “You won't,” he breathed out.

“Oh, I will.” The devil assured, showing his sharp fangs. “Unless you don't wanna cure your little angel from the curse I've put on him.”

“Huh...?” Karamatsu widened his eyes, dumbstruck.

“Here's the deal,” Osomatsu added, brushing a finger over Karamatsu's cheek, so lightly the priest shuddered whole. “You come with me and become my pet. I'm going to set the angel free from my curse. Everyone lives happily ever after... well, except you, I guess. It's that simple, isn't it?”

Karamatsu could barely believe what he was hearing. More importantly, he couldn't comprehend the fact Osomatsu was expecting him to give up and concede the utmost trust when he was in an impossibly low position of disadvantage. He shook his head, gritting his teeth.

“What guarantees me that you won't enslave the both of us instead?”

“My, my... you sure can be so difficult. I pegged you more as the naive type, but hey, I can get behind that.”

Osomatsu broke out of his sitting position and whistled, hands going for the belt latched around his waist. It soon came undone, and he zipped his pants down, deliberately whipping his cock out. Black angry veins pulsed from within the curved and unnaturally swollen length which was coated in a viscous layer of precum. Karamatsu froze, his guts twisting in disgust.

“You and the slutty angel were so cute, I had to fap a little at it. But then you guys had to stop and get all sappy, killing the mood. Now I'm left with an unsatisfied boner and a few holes I could shove it into.”  He licked his lips, staring down at Karamatsu like he'd been waiting to eat him up. “Come here and give it a kiss, Father-chan. If you do, I'll get the curse out of your buddy.”

Karamatsu sucked in a breath, utterly terrified and conflicted. Osomatsu wouldn't ask for a simple kiss if he didn't have a purpose. The devil was going to do the unspeakable to his mouth if he were to accept the deal as a token to liberate Jyushimatsu. It was a trap. Shaking his head slowly, he muttered “No” a few times, withdrawing into the stairs with the angel shakily held in his arms.

“Do it,” Osomatsu pressed on, his voice losing most of its cheer. “Why are you hesitating? Are you that uninterested about the fate of your precious friend after all?”

“S-Stop,” Karamatsu whimpered. “We have done nothing to you. My only duty is to serve the Lord and spread his word. Never in my life have I wished harm upon you and your race. There is no reason why you should hurt us like this. Please, please... leave at once!”

Osomatsu was close to towering Karamatsu, hovering his leaking cock closer to the priest's face. His eyes darkened, glaring down with not a speck of mercy. “All I'm hearing is shitty excuses. If you wanna beg so badly, do that while asking me to let you cum.” His clawed hand reached out and grasped Karamatsu's hair, yanking it painfully and causing the man to cry out, fear driving him to try to pull away, even as the action sent stings of pain to his scalp. “Why don't you put your mouth to better use, huh? Come on, Father-chan, it's not polite to leave a Devil waitin—”

Karamatsu's ears rang as the sound of a shot boomed in the church's air. He saw Osomatsu's smile twist into a hateful curl as he unfurled his hand from the priest's hair and turned around, clutching at his wounded shoulder. Through his newborn tears, Karamatsu found two silhouettes standing in the middle of the church's open entrance.

“Get away from them, you sick fuck,” Ichimatsu's voice barked out. “Todomatsu, now!”

There was a hint of fear in the choir boy's tone, but he started to sing nonetheless, beautifully so, creating his own melody despite the absence of music. Karamatsu's shoulders sagged as a result, washed clean with some amounts of relief. On the other hand, Osomatsu was now doubling over, hands slapped over his ears as he screeched in a vain attempt to tune the singing out. What humans interpreted as a blissful song performed by an angel was instead the equivalent of scratching a chalkboard for demons.

“Ack... motherfucker! That shitty brat!” The devil groaned, and with a frantic flap of his wings he was reaching higher into the church's ceiling, trying to lessen the sound that way.

“Not so soon,” Ichimatsu said, pointing the shotgun in his hold towards the devil and firing a whole magazine worth of anti-demon bullets. Weakened by Todomatsu and unable to escape, Osomatsu was utterly riddled with bullets, screeching in pain. A rush of black blood rained from the mangled body, burning the floor upon landing, steaming like acid. Osomatsu joined up seconds later, crashing and splattering further blood over the sacred grounds. He coughed, snarling in pure anger.

“You just went and ruined everything... fucking assholes...” The devil struggled to sit up. “Since when did you get anti-demon bullets, anyway? That shit's fucking expensive! Did you offer your Lord a blowjob or something?”

“Like I'm gonna tell you,” the nun grunted as he approached, a frightened Todomatsu clinging behind him while a reloaded shotgun was fixed on Osomatsu. “If you're acting like that actually hurt you, nice try. I'll aim for your face next round.”

Karamatsu flinched when Osomatsu suddenly broke into a stream of wet giggles. “Ha! Nah, really, that stuff hurts the soul. Though I've gotta admit your shitty angel got a better score on me back then.”

Ichimatsu snorted, “You don't have a soul, dumbass.”

Osomatsu laughed even harder, cut off only by coughing up more blood. “Right, I forgot. Anyway,” he said, turning to Karamatsu with a grin that was made scarier by the black liquid dripping from it. “Don't think I'm gonna get my sights off you, Father-chan. I'm being forced to leave you alone now, but I'll be back. Or...” His eyes narrowed into slits. “You could come find me. Just say my name and I'm gonna appear. That curse will be a bitch to remove, after all. Ta-ta for now!”

His terrifying face was suddenly swallowed up by mist, and his body likewise took a shapeless form before it scattered in every direction and disappeared in the thin air. Karamatsu realized he was holding in his breath and, dizzy, he exhaled heavily, eyes wide and tears rushing down his cheeks. He looked down at Jyushimatsu, who made no stir ever since that terrible encounter. How could this happen to such a gentle, wonderful person? Why were they being punished by such cruel fate, after all the good deeds they had done? Why?

He was harshly awakened from his catatonic state by Ichimatsu shaking his arm, looking visibly alarmed. “Oi! Stop spacing out and tell us what happened.” When Karamatsu jumped and recoiled from the touch, the nun quickly retracted his hand, biting back an apology. “What the fuck did that shithead do to you and Jyushimatsu?”

“Jyushi! Jyushi!” Todomatsu rushed towards his guardian angel, but Ichimatsu's arm blocked the way. “No! Let me go! Jyushi's hurt!”

“... Please, don't touch him.” Karamatsu muttered, shocked at his own ghastly voice but thankful to the nun for preventing another dangerous situation. When his tearful gaze focused on Todomatsu, seeing his distressed look, the priest recovered a little. “I'm sorry, my little Todomatsu, but you shouldn't be near him for now. He... had been corrupted by Osomatsu.”

Ichimatsu clicked his tongue, holding back another cuss. “Was that why he wasn't around lately?”

“Yes. He reappeared earlier, and...” The priest bit his lower lip, preferring not to recall the events that followed after. “I... tried to stop the process, but I'm not sure if that will help. Osomatsu said he would have removed it under some conditions...”

“Okay, yeah, better not go there.” Aware that Todomatsu is listening, Ichimatsu intercepted the priest. “Good thing we showed up before that sicko went after you too.”

Karamatsu nodded, feeling like there was someone else taking reins of his body. He was extremely tired. A better look towards his friends had him notice their outfits had been ripped in some spots. “Did he also attack you...?”

“Didn't actively injure us, but yeah,” Ichimatsu sighed. “He locked us up in the closet and bound us with some gross black slime. We couldn't move an inch for a while. The fucker even gagged Todomatsu so he wouldn’t use his voice.”

“We struggled so hard we managed to get free, though!” Todomatsu chimed in. “But our clothes are all a mess now...”

“You were brave,” Karamatsu said, glad that he didn't lose a touch of his kindness even after what he went through. He turned back to Ichimatsu, frowning deeply. “We must make contact with Heaven and communicate Jyushimatsu's conditions to them. Perhaps they will know of a way to cure him...”

“The Goddess might help us with that,” Ichimatsu said. “It's not a long trip, thankfully.”

Karamatsu made a sound of agreement, slowly coming out of his fright as Jyushimatsu reappeared in his thoughts, the angel still nestled closely against him. There were more urgent matters than his fear towards Osomatsu. He shrugged his damaged cassock off and draped it over Jyushimatsu when he flipped him over with Ichimatsu's help, sparing Todomatsu from a gruesome sight. Fortunately, the nun made no mention of the bite and scratch marks mapping Karamatsu's torso, but he knew he had to give an explanation later - confess the crimes he had to stain himself with in order to save Jyushimatsu. His hand reached out to gently brush the sticky fringe off the forehead of his slumbering friend.

After a few minutes of preparations, the trio carrying an unconscious angel set up to travel towards the forest, where the Goddess of the Lake had been residing for the past centuries, hoping with all their heart that he held the answers they needed.