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"Goddamnit, Serph, why do you always fucking do this!?"

Backed against the wall and bracketed in by Heat's arms, Serph meets Heat's gaze.

He's unperturbed.

Because he can see all of Heat's emotions, warring with each other, in the way the blonde searches his face, pleading; the baring of his teeth, angry; his tone, resigned.

Still, Heat's waiting for him to say something.

Serph doesn't disappoint.

"You're the one who keeps bringing it up."

Even as he says this, he's fingering at the darkening imprints Heat has left across his neck. Over and over, he's let Heat tackle him to the bed, bite and scratch at him until he's red and vulnerable and convulsing all over the sheets.

Serph laughs.

He's never truly vulnerable.

Heat growls; Serph blinks. He then gives Heat a modest smile, realizing he'd briefly been somewhere else. "Sorry, inside joke."

Anger flares in Heat's eyes as he takes a step back, fingers curling into fists.

Serph wonders if Heat will punch him this time, finally pushed too far by his nonchalance. He feels as though he's studying Heat too, in a way -- learning which buttons to press and in what order, to make this marionette dance.

The twitch in Heat's shoulder gives him away and Serph braces for an impact that doesn't come. At the last second, Heat's fist collides with the wall instead, cracking the flimsy plaster next to Serph's head.

New button combination unlocked; Serph files it away.

"Asshole," Heat spits. He stares at Serph, hard. "I'm going back to the lab to check on Sera. Don't you even think about following behind me, either. Next time I won't miss."

Serph waits until Heat's back is turned, until he's almost to the room's threshold, to smile again.

"Wouldn't dream of it."