"My lord? May I ask a question?"
Raidou looks up from his work, surprised. Tam Lin is usually a quiet companion. It is one of the reasons that Raidou chose him for guard duty tonight. Raidou doesn't feel particularly safe in Tsukigata Village, but the others sleeping in their tubes would have been too restless to let him relax. The very idea of trying to sleep while Nezha twitched and muttered "Zappo!" all night had made it an easy choice.
Raidou nods, reaching for the rag to wipe gunoil off his fingers.
Tam Lin crouches beside the low table, his setting of his spear butt a hollow thump against the wooden floor. "What is that device? I have seen you use it as a weapon in battle, but I have never divined how it operates. Is it magic?"
Raidou blinks, looking down at the disassembled parts of his Type 26 spread out over the cloth. He'd thought it would be a fairly simple cleaning, but he'd soon realized that the blood of...something...had weaseled behind the chamber and into the revolver's action at some point in the day's trek through Tento Woods. From the look of it (brownish-red, sticky, and smelling strongly of rotting treesap), Raidou suspects a jubokku. He is glad that he's been relying on his katana to avoid riling the townsfolk with pistol shots in their sacred wood. Given the mess the blood...sap...ichor? had made of the 26's lockwork, he isn't sure that the gun would have fired if he'd asked it to.
It is a gun, Raidou explains to Tam Lin. A mechanical device made to shoot a small piece of metal deep into an enemy's body. He picks up one of the brushes to scrub at a particularly stubborn patch of...something.
"Hmm...." Tam Lin leans in a bit, eyes tracing the pieces laid out. "Like shooting a man with an arrow, then? A bit complicated for merely that, isn't it?"
His long pale hair brushes against Raidou's forearm as he turns his head. He smells of green growing things, steel, and ever so slightly of blood. His eyes are almost human: round-pupilled but otherworldly-pale. Raidou can see the slight glow in them now that he is between Tam Lin and the lamp.
Raidou allows that the gun is very like a bow and arrow, though much more powerful and, obviously, smaller.
"And 'tis not magical?" Tam Lin's breath smells the same as the rest of him, like a battle in a green field. It only makes sense: he is not human, though he may take a human enough shape, clothe himself in human armor, and weild human weapons. Raidou has looked up Tam Lin's history, or at least his name's history, in the Kuzunoha library. Whether he was actually a human man, claimed and changed by the faeries and ransomed back by the love of a woman on Hallowe'en--whether any of the demons are strictly the beings named in their myths--is still a point of debate among the Kuzunoha summoners. Raidou wonders if they've ever simply asked the demons.
Raidou shakes his head. He reaches behind him, pulls his holster closer so that he can take a round out of the ammo pouch. He explains the positions and purposes of primer and bullet as his fingertip outlines the anatomy of the round. He describes the workings of the gun's interior as he finishes cleaning and oiling the lockwork and chambers. Tam Lin's eyes follow the mechanism, curious and curiously bright. Raidou snaps the barrel closed, dry-fires by way of demonstration, then breaks open the action again to show how the extractor would eject the empty casings.
At some point Raidou realizes--not for the first time--that the demon's eyes are not only for the revolver.
Raidou asks if Tam Lin would like to examine the gun more closely, and Tam Lin shakes his head. "It is a fascinating weapon, but one not meant for my hands." His smile turns wry. "'Tis a very human weapon, to take an unassuming bit of metal and turn it into a man's death." He presses a hand to his chest, bowing over it slightly. "I am honored by your trust, though, that you would offer, my lord."
Raidou assures the demon that he has more than earned Raidou's trust. Raidou has not been lacking for foes in the last few days, and Tam Lin has been a reliable ally.
Tam Lin chuckles, and his eyes and his scent darken, like night falling on the wood. Still, the scent is...cleaner somehow than that of the woods that they've been trekking through. Tam Lin's gauntlets curl around the shaft of his spear with a creak of leather. "I was not always so honorable. 'Twas a time when I would demand ransom from every comely maid that crossed my wood, in goods either worldly or carnal."
Raidou's fingers have already finished loading the chambers. He snaps the barrel back into place by feel and hears the demon's slight intake of breath at the movement only because he is listening for it. Tam Lin's gaze is almost palpable, a warm weight just above his skin. As inhuman as he might be, the heat in his eyes is human enough.
Raidou smiles, joking not-too-lightly that had he known Tam Lin's preferred ransoms, perhaps he would have earned Tam Lin's loyalty sooner.
This is not, Raidou admits to himself, his best idea. Not here, in what might be enemy territory. Not ever, perhaps, given what they both are. Certainly Raidou's teachers would disapprove. However, his teachers would disapprove of negotiating with demons in the first place, and look how much easier that has made his life. Raidou is only beginning to realize just how many of his opinions differ from those of the Kuzunoha masters.
Tam Lin laughs, head tilted back, teeth bright and sharp in the light. The entire room no longer smells of spring in the Tento Woods at all, but of cold pine and frost and dark, secret earth. "Think you so, my lord? You do not seem much for jewels...." Tam Lin reaches out, his fingers curling under Raidou's chin. The leather of his gauntlet is softer than Raidou would have expected, though the fingers beneath it feel like iron. "Would you have granted me another boon instead?"
Raidou lets his smile speak for him. He is on edge from the fights that day and more than willing to be distracted, and Tam Lin's scent is curling through his veins like a numbing fire. Raidou is not entirely surprised when the demon's fingers tighten, when there are cool lips on his and long hair smelling of autumn starlight brushing over his cheeks. Raidou dimly hears the sound of metal on wood as Tam Lin lays his spear down and curls his other hand around the back of Raidou's skull. Those hands are long-fingered and strong, but Raidou doesn't realize just how strong until he tries to pull back and catch his breath. Instead he is held immobile, and Tam Lin chuckles darkly. His sharp teeth nip at Raidou's lips, almost hard enough to draw blood, and anger curls beside lust low in Raidou's stomach.
Raidou frowns, pulls back harder, and wins only an inch for only a moment. It is enough. He pushes his hand up, the one that is trapped between them. The one still holding the loaded gun. The loaded gun whose barrel is now tucked under Tam Lin's chin.
The sound of the safety clicking off is very loud in the quiet of the room.
Tam Lin goes still, though Raidou doesn't think it is in surprise. Instead, the cold, hungry fire in his eyes warms again, his smile rueful, conspiratory. He pulls back the bare inches required to press his lips to the gun's barrel, to flick out his tongue, pink and catlike, over the metal. The demon's tone is almost apologetic, but his eyes burn ice-green into Raidou's, giving no quarter. "We are all weapons in your hands, my lord."
Are his words reassurance or threat? Raidou pulls the demon's mouth back to his, determined to investigate the matter further.
The gun stays, pressed hard between them.