The seemingly endless hallway of the Manor of Despair were filled with the echoing sound of blunt heels clicking away against the tile as the Shadow that owned this Palace of distorted desires wandered the home it's known forever.
Loki (as named by the real blonde who existed in the real world. outside of the Metaverse. outside of the universe he and his other half called home.) did this often. Searched his Palace for anything out of place, anything not of his design. This was his Palace, his world, his desires. It must be perfect. To his design. And if it wasn't, it was to be destroyed. But he just knew something was out of place, so he wandered and explored to make sure it was perfect, so he could finally relax for just a moment.
Though, when he finds out the reason for this discomfort in his perfection, he can't help but sigh in...humor? Relief? He's not sure. All he is sure is that this was a familiar face. A face he wanted to be here.
Ryuji Sakamoto, who felt of distortion and desires unseen by the public, in his black coat that covered his face and hid away the truth underneath, slept on a bench in the hallway, light streaming through the windows right in front of him, causing the blonde covered in golden scars to be shrouded in shadow by...well, the Shadow blocking the light in front of him, now.
It was still a shock to Loki when the blonde showed up. He wasn't exactly used to unwelcomed company. Yet, Ryuji's managed to worm his way into his Palace, into his desires, into his heart in such a way that he could calm down, knowing his perfection wasn't disrupted, or even edited in any way. If anything, it was made better by the sight of the boy so relaxed. Relaxed enough that he could sleep so peacefully, even in such an uncomfortable position as sitting on a bench.
Why he was here didn't matter. Loki knew the answer, anyways. Running away from his own Cognitions often led the blonde to the Manor. (and with the new scar that rested across his nose, glowing that familiar gold color that soothed the Shadow's soul just from the sight of it, Loki can assume that's exactly the reason.)
Loki doesn't bother to think twice as he shrugs off his blazer and drapes it over the Shadows shoulders, watching as he leans further into the newly gained warmth and weight added to his body with a fondness he didn't think he could have, or even feel.
This Palace was made of his desires. The desires the public would never see. That not even his owner would see, given how harshly he pushes this away. Yet, Ryuji being here makes the already perfect world of his desires made...even more perfect. Like a puzzle piece finally sliding into place, finishing the picture right where it counts.
At the heart of the Palace.
Perhaps that's why Loki moves himself to sit with Ryuji. Perhaps that's why he wraps his arm around him so sweetly. Perhaps that's why he presses a kiss to the side of his head and chuckles lowly as the Shadow of the Phantom Thieves favorite punching bag leans further into his touch, gladly pressing his face into the crook of his neck, breathing in the Shadow's empty scent. (he can't help but wonder what kind of comfort he finds in doing such an action every single time he does this, but then he remembers that Ryuji does strange things all the time, things the Shadow could never understand properly, so he pushes the question away.)
He could easily sit here and question everything about this. Why Ryuji always found his way back to his manor. Why Loki found his way to the blondes dungeon on occasion, while his second half wandered the manor with the Phantom Thieves. Why the manor, which was often so well guarded and locked off, allowed the Shadow of Resentment inside so willfully.
Yet he won't.
Instead, Loki lets his eyes slide shut and sighs a heavy sigh as Ryuji lays further into his body. Into his touch. Into him.
He just hopes these Phantom Thieves will let this game of back and forth end sooner rather then later. All parties involved in this, from the thieves themselves, to their hosts, to the Shadows, are tired of this game. Tired of having to play their back and forth.
Tired of having to exist.
Loki follows in Ryuji's lead, and falls asleep, hoping the world, the manor, will be gone by the time he wakes up.
(instead, his side is cold, and his blazer is draped over his shoulders, and the white halls of the manor glare back at him, as if mocking his hopefulness. instead of hoping the world will disappear, Loki decides to hope Ryuji will come back soon. that was, after all, the most peaceful sleep he's had.)