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Shinya's Personal Hell

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| You should have run away, Shinya. |

“Don’t you think that’s already a moot point now?”

| The thing that makes you strong… is your lack of emotions and attachments to things and people. Your insatiable need for self-preservation is what makes me drawn to you. |

“Come on, you make it seem like I’m that heartless.”

| Are you not? You were trained to be. You killed all those kids and felt nothing in the end. You got cast aside by Hiiragi Mahiru and you felt nothing… But with him… |

“...”

| ...why? |

  “Are you asking me why I am like this?”

| No, I live inside you. I know your thoughts. I feel your emotions. I am the one who understands you the most. However… |

“..?”

| I do not understand this desire of yours. |

“You’re not supposed to. Human emotions are not for demons to feel. You only feed on them. So I am not surprised.”

| You were fascinated by him. |

“I guess you could say that.”

| When you saw him. When you knew what he had done and what he had become and will become… |

“…”

| Why did you not run away? |

“You said you knew me best…”

| I do. But even before you have kept this part of your memory from me. Your resolve is strong, Shinya. |

“You could probably force your way into those memories if you want to—“

| Yes. |

“So why won’t you?”

| Because you have a reason why you are hiding these from me. |

“...”

| And I cannot protect you from your memories. |

 

 

Shinya heard of Guren before he had seen him. He heard enough about his brilliance from no other than Mahiru, that when he had seen him walking towards the school building, flanked by his two retainers, he couldn’t help but cast a lightning spell on the guy—just to test if Mahiru was right about him.

She was right about two things—his strength and his obvious attempt to hide his true powers by taking in the attack. Even so, he was impressed. So impressed that he talked to him about his hatred towards the Hiiragi clan.

Their friendship didn’t begin that day. Guren didn’t trust a Hiiragi , save for Mahiru and he couldn’t blame him. In truth, even he wouldn’t trust his own family—he was a foster child, to begin with, raised and trained to be the mate of Hiiragi Mahiru even though she made it clear to him that she would never love him because her heart belonged to someone else.

It would have hurt, it should have—besides, Mahiru was beautiful and he would have fallen in love with her—but her rejection didn’t hurt. It stung for a while, and it made him scared because that was the sole purpose of his existence, to breed with the heir of the strongest family. But Mahiru told him that she would pretend to be in a relationship with him—pretend until she would be allowed to be with the person she really loved and if Shinya would pretend with her… they could protect each other.

What choice did he have? 

So he sucked it up. Mahiru used him as an excuse when she would go off and meet Guren. He had been to as many dates as the two would have even if Mahiru would leave him somewhere alone, to make sure nobody would follow or catch them. 

He became good at it, too. Not just watching his surroundings, but at pretending everything was right. He covered up this hollow feeling of discontent inside him, plastered on a smile and jolly attitude because once again, someone from the Hiiragi clan was using him—and no matter how much he hated being used, he needed that because he wouldn’t want to know what would become of him if he stopped being useful.

What he didn’t expect was striking up a friendship with Ichinose Guren. When they got over their initial dislike for one another, it was pretty easy to be friends with him. They were kindred spirits… both of them hated the Hiiragi clan, both of them came from the bottom of the pit… both of them wanted to change the world.

For once, Shinya had himself a friend. Someone he could relate to… except it was more than that.

“Shinya.” Guren had found him on the rooftop of their school, taking a nap under the shade of the rusty water tank, his usual spot.

“Guren.” He faked a smile. Sitting up to look up at the frowning face of the other boy, “You’re so kind to meet with me here.”

“You’re skipping class.”

“So? Are you going to tell Kureto-nii?”

“Why would I?”

“Good answer. Besides, so are you.”

He scoffed, “Nobody would care if I do. I’ll bet they’d be more relieved that I wasn’t there.”

“So let’s stay here and wallow in your pity party.”

“Shut up.”

“You’re extra grumpy today. Did you and Mahiru fight?”

Guren didn’t answer. He laid down on the space beside Shinya with a huff, folding his arms under his head, “I don’t understand her at times.”

Shinya chuckled, “Then maybe you can break up with her and we could finally get married?”

Guren glared at him which made him laugh, “There, there… don’t look at me with such bloodthirst. I was just kidding.”

Guren closed his eyes once more and turned to his side so his back was to him. Shinya watched his body rise and fall in the rhythm of his breathing. It felt like watching a calm sea—it was serene and peaceful, but you just knew there was power within him that would be too scary when unleashed. No wonder Mahiru loved him—Guren was powerful and charismatic. He was rough most of the time, but he was fiercely loyal too. It made him jealous.

“Quit gawking at me like that. You’re creeping me out.”

“Ah, I wasn’t looking.” His face heated up at being found out.

“Sure you weren’t. If you have anything to say, just spill it.”

Scrambling for words to say, he blurted out, “I’m just hungry.”

Guren shifted in his place and sat down to face him with his trademark scowl. He thought the guy would yell at him to just go down the cafeteria because what did you want me to do with that anyway? But instead, Guren grabbed his bag, dug inside it, and tossed him half a sandwich wrapped in a blue napkin.

“Eat this and shut up.”

He caught it and looked at it with surprise. Guren was giving him food? Why? “Did—Mahiru make this?”

“As if she could. No—I made that myself.”

“You?” Shinya felt his heart skip a beat, felt his face flush with the heat he was sure didn’t come from the sun.

“What is so surprising about that?”

“Nothing—I just.”

“Just eat and leave me alone.”

He unwrapped the sandwich and it really was nothing special. Just bread and some raspberry jam in the middle. And yet, Shinya’s heart was full. It was the first time someone gave him something and didn’t ask for anything in return.

“Neh, Guren. Is this poisoned?”

“How about fuck you?”

| You were lonely. | 

“Huh. I guess I was.”

“Or maybe that sandwich was just really good.”

 

 

When Mahiru died, something about Guren changed. It wasn’t just this inexplicable power emanating from him—but the darkness that always somehow surrounded him grew wider in range. Not to mention, how secretive he had suddenly become.

He couldn’t remember what had happened after their battle with Mahiru—just that he knew he was totally done for. Except he had woken up in the hospital recovering from his injuries.

So were the rest of the squad. Who he was pretty sure had died that night. But they were fine—terribly injured but alive. None of them remembered what happened, and Guren had been vague with the details when asked. One thing was clear though, the apocalypse had started and they needed to be at the forefront of the battle if they wanted humankind to survive or even just have a fighting chance.

He was in a coma for two months and a week after he woke up, Guren visited him. And he was—different. He was aloof and cold that not even his usual ways of annoying him could spur a reaction from him. When he asked him what exactly happened, instead of opening up, he retreated back to himself and refused to talk.

“Thank you for saving me.”

“You’re not even sure it was me who saved you.”

“So it wasn’t you?”

“...Kureto could have done it.”

“Pfft! As if!”

“Why do you think I did it? I could have passed out and been a liability just like you.”

“Isn’t it obvious? I trust you more than Kureto-nii.”

“You could get shot for that. Preferring an Ichinose than a Hiiragi.”

“I know. But who cares? I like you better, anyway.”

Guren gaped at him and even under the low light of the room, he could pretend that he had seen the flush rise to his cheeks. He realized what he had just said, realized it probably was inappropriate because Guren lost the love of his life, and to joke about that thing would be cruel. So he laughed it off, and the action pulled against his battered chest and ribs that he winced, which made the other guy stand from his seat and place a hand on his back.

“Oi, you take it easy.”

“Sorry, your reaction is just too funny.”

A hand slapped the back of his head and he groaned in pain.

“You’re a moron!”

“You can be a little bit nicer, you know! I’m still injured!”

“You deserved it. Saying stupid things like that.”

“Neh, Guren…”

“...”

“I’m hungry.”

“It’s already ten in the evening. You already had dinner. You’re not even supposed to still be up.”

“Heh… so stingy.”

“...”

“Shut up and go to sleep.”

He stuck his tongue out at him in retaliation, before he moved to a more comfortable position in the bed. He expected the guy to leave as soon as he did that, but he didn’t move from where he was sitting.

“Are you going to stay?”

“Hell no.”

“So why are you not leaving?”

“...”

He looked at Guren—properly, for the first time. Years of friendship had never allowed him to look this intently and this closely at the guy’s profile. He used to wonder why a harem seemed to always surround the guy wherever he is… hell, he knew all the women in their squad liked him (to Goshi’s despair) but he never really took time to understand why. 

His slightly tousled dark hair had grown longer and was pushed back with only a few fringes falling over his violet eyes. His face would always have that disinterested, bored… sometimes pained look in them. But never this way. He looked so lonely.

He realized, with a start, that more than him needing Guren’s companionship… it was Guren who needed someone to stay with him tonight. But he was just too stubborn to admit it.

“Neh, Guren.”

“...”

“Stay?”

He didn’t respond—but that night, Guren stayed with him, sat beside his bed, and stared blankly ahead. Like he was not there... like he was someplace else breathing in a different time. Shinya didn’t understand why it hurt so much seeing him like that.

“I thought you wouldn’t peek into my memories?”

| I was not. It was you who invited me. |

“Huh. When did that happen?”

| You unconsciously opened the door to your keep. I also do not know how. |

“So this is all my doing?”

| I have no hand in all of these. | 

“You’re not lying to me?”

| You have no way of knowing if I am or I am not. You can only trust when I say I am being truthful to you. |

“Hmn…”

 

 

Because he was a Hiiragi, he was promoted to Major General which meant he would get to spend less time with his squad and more time with his lovely brother, Kureto who he was sure distrusted him just as much as he distrusted Guren.

It also meant he would most likely not be able to participate in as many missions as he would have liked and that he would have to spend most of his time in Shinjuku. It wasn’t like his squad needed him a lot anyway, they were strong enough to hold their own and with Guren as their leader, he knew he shouldn’t worry at all.

But Guren wasn’t himself even after a few months of recuperation and he, along with the rest of the team, are getting increasingly worried. During a sendoff party for him, he decided to set things straight with the guy. He brought a few bottles of alcohol which he snuck away from his brother’s stash to bring to the party which they did in Guren’s apartment. Just like old times… and maybe, for old time’s sake.

Goshi and Mito immediately went ahead and started a drinking contest while Sayuri made sure none of them was cheating. Shigure was in a corner, watching events unfold. It was complete chaos and Shinya was sure the apartment would be trashed before the night wad over. Guren didn’t seem to mind, as he was looking over his friends, a soft, sad smile on his lips.

Shinya didn’t want to point it out—seeing as the rest of the squad was there, but he was determined to solve the puzzle that was Guren Ichinose. 

After the party, he volunteered to stay behind and help Guren clean up. He expected Sayuri and Shigure to volunteer as well, but to his surprise, they did leave with Mito and Goshi, after brief goodbyes.

“We still have some leftover beer, you know.” Guren said placing it on the dining table he just wiped clean.

“Haven’t you had enough alcohol?” Shinya asked, remembering how much Guren almost finished one bottle himself. He used to be a lightweight, but right now, nothing seemed amiss in his expression, and yet, everything felt completely wrong.

He picked the can of beer and opened it with a pop, “You seemed different,Guren.”

“Hmn?”

“You used to drink a few shots and then pass out…”

“Oh. I don’t know… I just don’t think alcohol affects me that much anymore.”

“Does it have anything to do with what happened?” His voice got smaller when he talked, mainly because he didn’t know if he should bring it up.

“...” Guren said nothing but his reactions showed he knew what Shinya was talking about.

“Guren, you know you can tell me.” He insisted and he knew he was entering dangerous waters now and he should probably pull back, go back to safe territories of their fragile friendship. Nevermind that it was pestered with secrets nor the fact that it was hanging by a thread… nevermind that, Shinya had always been good at pretending everything’s alright when nothing is. He did it with Mahiru, he could do it again.

But this was Guren. And Guren would never use him for his gain. 

“I have nothing to tell you, Shinya.” The lie stung. Because it meant he wasn’t trustworthy enough. He bit his lower lip and asked again, “Is it about Mahiru?”

“Don’t.”

“Guren…”

“Shinya, just don’t.”

Guren looked so broken and so sad that Shinya wanted to cry for him because he knew the other guy wouldn’t. At least not in front of him.

“I wouldn’t pretend to know how you feel. I loved Mahiru, too. But—” 

“I hate her. I hate her for what she did.  But I hate myself more because I couldn’t save her when I promised I would.” He wasn’t crying, but he wasn’t looking at him either and Shinya wanted to see the storm brewing in those violet eyes.

“...”

“In the end, I couldn’t save anyone….”

“What are you saying? You saved us!” Shinya snapped. He had read the report—it was still pretty vague but one thing’s for sure—they were in a tight spot, almost got killed but Guren saved them, he pulled them out of the woods. He was the reason they were alive.

When he didn’t answer, a different kind of pain began blooming inside Shinya. He had fully recovered, but somehow his chest felt tight and hurt more.

“Tell me, Guren.” Shinya said, voice shaky, “Where does it hurt? Tell me how much it hurts, tell me, tell me so I can…”

“Fix me? There’s no fixing me this time, Shinya.”

“Be hurt with you.” He corrected, “You don’t have to do this alone. You have me. You still have me. And I may not be as good as Mahiru. But I can still be here for you.”

Guren stared at him and he stared back with bleary eyes. He blinked twice and realized he had been crying, “If you would not tell me how bad it hurts, how could I help you?” He declared, voice shaky.

He reached to touch Guren’s shoulder and squeezed it lightly. Before he moved to resume sweeping the floor only to stop when Guren grabbed his wrist.

“Guren, wha—“ He didn’t even finish his question when he was spun around and imprisoned in a tight embrace. Guren had buried his face into his shoulder and he couldn’t see what expression he was making, and only when he felt the wetness on his sleeve did he realize he was crying.

“Why the hell were you crying?!”

“I don’t…” Shinya was at a loss for words, “Why are you crying right now?”

“I’m not.”

Neither Shinya nor Guren would ever admit it, but something changed with Guren after that night. He slowly, reverted back to his old self and became less and less of a shell of what he was once. There was still an air of secrecy hanging around Guren but Shinya easily turned a blind eye on it. It was Guren—he would take him anyway he could.

Besides, it wasn’t just Guren who changed. The more time he spent with Kureto and less with Guren, the more he valued the times they were together. He would find time to always drop by unannounced at Guren’s office, annoying the guy incessantly. For all his whining though, he would never push Shinya away.

It filled Shinya with feelings he couldn’t name. He wished he had some other friends who could understand him just as much as Guren does—but the rest of his squad mates, he wasn’t close to. At least, not close enough to share his woes. So he pushed his feelings at the back of his head, where neither he nor Guren could find them.

It wasn’t easy.

| You saved him. You always do. |

“Now, now… calling it that would be a far-fetched idea. I did nothing.”

| You gave him a new reason to live. |

“You’re too sentimental for a demon, you know that?”

“Also, why are we even seeing this? It’s just a stupid party… nothing relevant happened here.”

| You say that, but your heart says otherwise. Like I said, I have no control over this. I see what you want me to see. |

“You are so respectful for a demon.”

| I am not. |

“Heh… I got it.”

“Maybe I just finally wanted someone else to know my shameful secrets.”

| It is a possibility. |

“Tell me, Byakomaru…”

| … |

“Did I do him wrong?”

| That is not for me to say. |

“But you are a demon. You know my thoughts. You dream my dreams. You should know.”

| I am not here to judge you. |

“Then why are you even here?”

 

 

The first time he had that dream about Guren… he was so riddled with guilt and self-disgust that he bolted from his bed and into the bathroom to hurl bitter bile into the toilet. He was given a mission by Kureto which pushed him back to the frontlines, with his squad. Which meant he would spend more time with them and he was particularly excited for it. If only...

He wasn’t supposed to dream of doing that to… with a friend, much more his best friend, the person he would be willing to lay down his life for. To make things worst, it went on every night that he was convinced he was getting possessed.

Although Byakomaru would never do that to him. And the demon told him he wasn’t being possessed by another demon and turned into a namanari simply because it didn’t work that way. Which meant what he was experiencing was the fruit of his desires. Desires he didn’t even know existed. He was done for. Totally.

He spent the next few days with less and less sleep. And all the mornings after the dreams happened, he couldn’t look Guren directly in the eyes. Lack of sleep coupled with anxiety made his concentration and aim suffer greatly during their missions. It got so bad that in one of them, Guren had to pull him to the side to confront him about it.

They were at the outskirts of what was once Shinjuku, having just cleared a subway station used by vampires to keep livestock children. It was a bit too late to go back to their base so they set camp in the furthest floor, securing the children and taking turns into keeping watch. They went in pairs and as luck would have it, Shinya was paired with Guren. They drew straws, so he really couldn’t blame anyone else save for his sheer dumb luck.

They sat on the opposite sides of the only entrance to the floor, watching the darkness before them. To get to the room where everyone else was, one has to walk into another hallway which meant that they’re completely alone. There were no movements and everything was silent, which would have been reassuring, but it only made Shinya more anxious, enough that he jumped from his seat when Guren just as much as called his name.

“What’s gotten into you?” Guren was staring at him like he had grown another head. Which wasn’t surprising, considering he was never this nervous nor flustered at any time of his life, anyway.

“What are you—”

“Don’t give me any bullshit excuse.” Guren looked angry, “You’ve been avoiding me this past few weeks.”

“Oya? Could it be that you just missed me?”

“What?! Who in their right mind would miss your annoying presence.”

“You could just say it, you know… I miss you Shinya.

“How about I kill you right now?”

“Ehehe… you wouldn’t do that.”

“You’re pretty confident for someone about to die.”

“You can’t kill me. You like me too much.”

It was dark where they were and maybe his eyes were playing tricks on him but he could have sworn, Guren was left speechless and flustered by what he said. He wasn’t any better, feeling his face heat up with shame.

“Say something to make it less awkward,” Shinya said softly.

Guren gaped at him in disbelief, “You say something like that and expect me to fix it for you?”

“Well, you’re our leader.”

“Fuck off, you outrank me.”

“Am I sensing jealousy, Ichinose ?”

“As if. If I could spend more time than what I am required to spend with those two-faced council, I’d rather you shoot me dead.”

Shinya chuckled and Guren grew quiet before speaking again, “So?”

“So?”

“Are you going to spill it or should I beat the answer out of you.”

“So mean, Guren."

“And you’re a shithead."

“Whatever. I’m pleasant to be with.”

“You are so full of yourself. Are you sure you’re not really a Hiiragi ?”

“But I am a Hiiragi.” 

They were silent before Shinya burst out laughing at his own joke, “Imagine if Seishiro heard that. He’d throw a fit.”

“You really enjoy provoking people, don’t you?”

“No, just you.”

“...”

“You’re so easy to tease.”

“Shithead.”

His laughter subsided and they fell into silence. Shinya thought that would be the end of it and sighed to himself. He enjoyed the friendly banter as it took him back when they were still in high school. He could live off of that pretense that they were back to normal, just two best friends hanging out with no lingering feelings whatsoever.

Except Guren had to destroy the peace between them and speak again, “Shinya.”

“Hmn?”

“Just... promise me you would not pull away too far that it would be impossible for me to reach you.”

He blinked at him, not sure if he heard him right and if he did—did he understand him correctly? A heat crawled to his face and he turned away, afraid that Guren would see.

“Guren, I…”

“...”

“I think…”

“...”

“I’m hungry.”

“Gosh, I was so lame.”

| You were afraid. |

“That, too.”

| Why were you? |

“You do not understand, don’t you? Human emotions are complicated.”

| I was a human once. |

“Well, why don’t you understand then?”

| My humanity has long gone. But I do understand that you like him. |

“Of course I do! He’s a friend!”

| … |

“Oh shush! Don’t look at me like that!”

| You do not dream about friends like that. |

“...”

 

 

Every day, his feelings grew. Unbeknownst to Guren who continued to treat him the way he did before. Every day, guilt gnawed inside him like termites chewing on old wood, he felt hollow. 

Maybe it was the pressure of the new rank or the stress of doing Kureto’s every bidding or the fatigue of running away from his feelings but he fell sick one day.

Getting sick wasn’t something he was used to—hospitalization usually was because he incurred battle injuries. He had never fallen ill, not even once in his life so everything was a new experience to him.

But that morning, he had been feeling out of the weather—his head felt heavy on his shoulders, his nose was clogged; his throat was scratchy and he’d been feeling extremely feverish. He looked so bad that before the start of the council meeting he had called for to discuss the latest developments on their investigation about the movements of the vampires in Shibuya, even Kureto looked concerned.

He didn’t, however, told Shinya to go home and kept quiet as Shinya painstakingly discussed the report in his scratchy voice, with only a bottle of warm water and some honey he got from Sayuri at his side. 

When it was all over, he picked up his stuff and was determined to hide inside his office and take a nap without a care in the world—when the door opened to reveal no other than Guren.

“Oh, I’m late.” He didn’t even look remorseful—8; anything, the shiteating grin was a dead giveaway that he meant to be late.

“Yeah, Kureto-nii will cut off your head soon enough.” He said, wearing a black face mask across his face to at least minimize his contagion.

“You look like shit.” Guren said looking him over. 

He sighed, “I know. Thanks for noticing.”

“You should go home.”

“And miss the opportunity to work? Never.”

“You should have postponed the meeting.”

“And you should have attended.”

“Touché.”

“The vampires won’t hold off their advances just because I’m sick.” He coughed, his head feeling woozy right after, “Besides, it’s not like Kureto-nii would even allow me to take a break.”

“Well you should have. Nothing’ll come off good if the major general falls sick.”

“I’m not that important and you know that.” He fixed all his folders and moved slowly towards the door, his vision swimming. Maybe they were right, he should have stayed home.

“It’s not like you to self-pity, Shinya.”

Guren was right. It’s not his personality to look at his circumstance and be bitter about it. But he’s sick and Guren should definitely just mind his own business.

Without saying anything, he pushed past Guren who remained passively staring at him. He wanted to move away from him and his piercing gaze as it was doing things to him he wasn’t sure was still caused by his sickness.

If he went home, he’d be alone anyway. He might be a Hiiragi but it didn’t mean he was treated the same way. He was unimportant. His purpose died with Mahiru’s death—The only reason he wasn’t killed nor thrown away was because he was strong and useful. Now he was neither strong nor useful.

“Shinya.”

He heard Guren call, heard his footsteps but he didn’t stop. Damn you and the Hiiragi clan! Damn everyone! Damn this world! He was sick. He wanted to be left alone and wallow in self-pity. Who cares? Who cares anyway if he disappeared never to be seen again? He was replaceable.

“Shinya!”

His head was spinning but he didn’t stop. He angrily marched down the hall, even surprising some of his underlings who definitely were not accustomed to seeing him in that mood. 

“Hiiragi Shinya!”

He froze midstep. And just when Guren grabbed him by the shoulder and spun him around to face him, his vision swirled and the floor beneath his feet suddenly gave way and he collapsed hard on the concrete. 

“SHINYA! SHINYA!”

Guren knelt before him, face twisted in panic as he took him in his arms. An unknown memory pushed itself from the back of his head… one with him laying bloody on the floor, a gaping hole on his chest and Guren desperately trying to put pressure on the hole to make the blood stop while crying for everything to just “Stop! Stop! STOP!” but he has no recollection of this ever happening. 

So what—He opened his mouth to say something, but he was too tired and too weak. The last thing he heard before he blacked out was Guren’s frantic voice calling his name.

“What…”

| I have no recollection of that as well. |

“I don’t understand…”

| … |

“Am I dead?”

| If you are, I would have ceased to exist. |

“So what…”

| Do you wish to continue? I could wake you up now. |

“You told me you have no control…”

| With your memories, but I could rouse you. |

“Why are you so kind?”

| Demons are not kind. You trust easily, Shinya. |

“Maybe I do. But only to certain people. Like you.”

| And Guren Ichinose. |

“Yeah, are you jealous?”

| I do not feel human emotions. |

“But you were once human.”

| … |

| You will get hurt. |

“Maybe I want it to.”

He woke up inside the hospital room to find Guren sleeping on the chair beside his bed, an unfinished book on his hand. He looked tired and worried… and Shinya couldn’t help but feel his heart constrict at the fact that he had stayed with him. At the same time, he hoped Guren would stop doing this for him. He hoped Guren would just leave him alone. Because it just adds up to the confusion he was feeling. 

“Guren.” His voice was weak and scratchy, but it was enough for Guren to be jolted from his nap and look up at him. A number of emotions flashed before his eyes—fear, worry, relief… and then anger. He punched Shinya’s head, “You fucker. I hope you died!”

“Ow! Ow!! Guren! Why did you even take me here if you’re just gonna hurt me like that!”

“You deserved that. After that stunt you pulled!”

“Huh?”

“Exhaustion, dehydration… since when had you stopped taking care of yourself?”

“...”

“What the fuck do you think you’re doing?”

“Wait… wait… why are you mad?”

“...”

“Guren… are you…”

“...”

“Are you actually worried for me?”

“No, fuck you. I hope you die.”

“Guren.”

“...”

“Gureeeen…”

“Don’t Guren me. You should know better than to pass out on me like that. You—”

“I… what?”

“You promised you would never go anywhere I wouldn’t be able to follow you.”

Whatever smartass retort he had disappeared as he stared at the man before him. He would never tell him this, but Guren, though rough on the exterior, always had the softer side to him that he would show to only a select few. Before, it was exclusive to Mahiru… and he would only take glimpses of it. But now, he would like to imagine Guren was only like that to him.

He should have been happy, should have celebrated knowing that Guren would trust him enough to show this side of him in his presence. But it only filled him with unnecessary longing that he knew would go nowhere. It filled his heart with bitterness and jealousy… and he didn’t want…

“If there’s anything I could do for you, you know I would do it,” Guren said and Shinya wanted to spite him for that… wanted to throw his words back at him and tell him what a load of rubbish he is. Because he would never…

“You say that but you don’t mean it.” He blurted it out before he could stop himself. Great. Him and his loud mouth. Guren looked at him like he’d been slapped, like Shiya had no idea of what he had just said. He looked pained for a fleeting moment, but it was gone before he could say anything about it. Maybe, he was imagining it. 

“Just go.”

“I intend to.”

“So why are you not leaving?”

“...”

“Guren, just leave me alone.”

“Do you mean that?”

“Let’s stop this.”

“Stop what? I’m not doing anything.”

“Right. I’m sorry. I meant I should stop this.”

“...”

“It’s stupid. I’m stupid.”

“I’ve known that for a long time but what did you do this time?”

“You wouldn’t want to know.”

“Shouldn’t I be the judge of that?”

“You’re right. See? I’m stupid.”

Shinya wanted to cry. Tell him. Tell him. Was that Byakomaru telling him? No, impossible because his demon would never talk him into something that would hurt him. It’s impossible because Byakomaru would never push nor urge him to do something. He had always been a silent watcher, a quiet listener of his inner thoughts and bad decisions. Maybe, he should have asked him to be so much more.

“If you don’t want to tell me, it’s fine.” Guren finally said, “But just know that you don’t have to face this alone. You know that you could rely on me.”

“...”

“I’m your friend.”

Tell him. Tell him. Shut up. Shut up.

“And if I don’t want to be?”

Guren blinked at him, surprised and a tad bit of hurt. He reveled in that look. That’s right, Ichinose. You’re not the only one who could walk away. The guy opened his mouth then closed it again, totally lost for words.

“Go away, Guren.”

He turned away, shifting his focus instead at the view right outside his window. The sun was setting and the sky was a beautiful color of orange and lilac. The world was a fucked up place, but it was still beautiful.

There was a movement from where Guren was standing and he knew he was finally leaving. He didn’t want to deal with him, anyway. He released the breath he didn’t know he was holding and that was when he felt a hand grab his jaw while an arm snaked its way around his waist, pulling him forward. “Wha— hngg...

Warm lips crashed against his in an open-mouthed kiss, tongue slipping inside and pushing down any words that were about to slip out of his mouth. He watched in fascination as the violet pools of Guren’s eyes turned a shade darker as they burned him. His hand clutched desperately on the sheets of his bed as his mind scrambled for an explanation of why was this happening… but he could not seem to find the right words.

Instead, he let himself be pulled closer, their bodies coming together in an awkward embrace, their lips and mouth moving in ways he had only seen when Guren would kiss Mahiru or when Goshi would hook up with some woman during one of their life-threatening missions. Mito called it an act of despair and he wondered if this was the same.

When they parted, they were both breathless… but the warmth and the taste of Guren lingered in his mouth. It was something akin to the raspberry jam he had once given him before although he knew it was probably just his imagination because he had long associated the flavor and the food to the guy. Didn’t his obsession with bread start when Guren gave him that?

“If you wouldn’t be my friend… then how about…”

“Yes.”

“I haven’t asked anything yet.”

“It doesn’t matter. I’d say yes.”

 

| Were you happy? |

“Yes.”

| Even if it did not last? |

“Even if it did not last.”

| Shinya. |

“Let me stay here a bit longer.”

| You have to wake up. |

“Why? Why do I have to?”

| Because he’s here. |

“Are you going to leave this now?”

| No. |

| Call for me when he comes. |

| I’ll kill him for you. |

 

 

Shinya woke up with the sound of the guards moving outside his cell. Staying in prison for months had bitterly acquainted him to the sounds of their heavy footsteps even down the hall. Out of sheer boredom, or maybe as a sort of pathetic retaliation, he had also given them nicknames from the way they look, which was really unbecoming of someone at his status.  He was a Hiiragi, after all.

Of course, that didn’t matter anyway. Even with the protection of his name, he had been thrown in prison for accusations of betrayals, to his family, nonetheless. Traitors don’t have any use. This he knew full well and probably, the only thing standing between him and a death sentence is the house he belonged in. Funny how that worked out for him. The very thing he hated about himself was the thing that saved him. 

Even so, he couldn’t accept that he was the one who will be labeled a traitor—not after what his brother, Kureto did. Human experiments, sacrificing underlings? What had he become? His goal was to change the world… which was not any different from his, but at what cost?

“Guren Ichinose will be back and he wanted to speak with you.”

Aoi Sangu had told him yesterday and he hated himself for even harboring that slightest feeling of excitement. He was supposed to hate Guren. Supposed to summon Byakomaru the moment the man stepped inside his cell unarmed. But instead, he stood in a corner burning with rage, holding up Byakomaru in hand, aiming at the man standing right in front of him. 

| I could kill him for you, Shinya. |

| Say the word and I would do it. |

| I could end him and you will not hurt anymore. |

“Explain! Guren, explain! Are you possessed? Is it Mahiru? Are you possessed by Mahiru?!” Please be possessed by Mahiru. Please deny everything. Please let it not be you. Because I want to forgive you. I want to and I couldn’t do it if you...

“Yes, I have demons inside me… but I could control them. Everything I did… All those things, it was my own volition. It was my responsibility.”

“Why… Why would you do all those… I don’t understand.”

“...”

“Guren, you’re not like this. I refuse to believe… It’s not…”

“Shinya.” Guren took a step towards him and he raised his cursed gear, aiming it in his head.

“Don’t move.”

| He is dangerous. You should not trust him, Shinya. |

“Shinya.”

Guren took another step and his finger shook on the trigger, “Stop.”

“Pull the trigger. I deserved it.”

“You do.”

“Then why couldn’t you?”

“Fuck you.”

“Shinya.”

“I said don’t move!”

“Do it.”

| Say it. Say it and this will be over. |

Another step.

He pulled the trigger and the sound reverberated with a loud, deafening echo. Dust swirled around his cell and a hole punctured the wall next to Guren’s head.

“I hate you. I hate you so much.” He looked down as tears streamed down his face. Guren held Byakomaru and he felt his demon recoil and seethe with anger at being touched. 

“Why? Why did you do it? Why? I don’t understand.”

“There are many things I could not tell you, but I need you to trust me. I would do it all over again if it meant I could protect you.”

“Protect me from what? You’re not making any sense.”

Shinya stared at him blankly. Then it hit him… it was the same thing he did with Mahiru. He betrayed his clan, sacrificed everything and everyone just for her and it filled him with bitterness and anger.

“Don’t treat me like I’m your second chance to make things right. I’m not Mahiru.”

“No, you are not.”

“...”

“You saved me.”

“...”

“When I was drowning in despair at her loss… you were the only person who believed I could pull through.”

Guren was right in front of him… and he could simply reach out and touch his face. It had only been a few months and yet he looked like he aged a lot. Shinya ached for him.

“You trusted me. Wholeheartedly.”

“And look where it got me.”

“I’m asking you to trust me again.”

“I don’t know who you are. You’re not the same Guren I knew and…” Loved .

“Shinya.”

“...”

“I would never do anything to hurt you.”

“You already did. You always will. In the end, you wanted to save Mahiru because you were lonely. You wanted to save me because you didn’t want to be alone.”

“Probably.”

“So why would I join you?”

“Because you are important to me.” Guren reached out to touch his cheek and he stared at those violet eyes, piercing right through him. He felt so weak and vulnerable under his gaze, “I would watch the whole world burn over and over if that’s the only way I could save you.”

| He is lying. |

Shinya knew Byakomaru was right. Guren had secrets that he would always choose to keep… for reasons he only knew. He should not trust him… not after what he did. But when Guren pulled him close, the feeble human side of him won over. Guren captured his lips into his, wrapping his arms around him in a tight embrace, he knew he had lost the battle.

| You could not trust him. |

“I know.”

“But I…”

| I know. |

When Guren pressed his tongue inside his mouth, he didn’t have the same raspberry taste as before… he had a bitter, tangy taste that Shinya didn’t like but since it was Guren, he welcomed the change. 

Guren stepped forward and towards the corner until Shinya’s back hit the wall. He groaned when his head bumped the concrete rather harshly and Guren released his mouth, only to grab onto his hair, exposing his neck to him. He latched onto him, nipping at his pale skin until an unsightly bruise formed right under his Adam’s apple.

“Hngghh!!” He was burning up, his cell which was usually cold suddenly felt too warm and humid, leaving him breathless. Suddenly, they were wearing too many clothes. The problem didn’t last long as Guren popped open his shirt, tearing the buttons away from the material that stood between him and Shinya’s skin. 

“You ruined my only shirt.” He accused to which Guren only snickered, “Doesn’t matter, I liked you better this way.”

Satisfied at his undress, Guren used this leverage to push Shinya up against the wall, where the latter automatically wrapped his long legs around Guren’s waist, pulling their bodies closer together. “Guren… Gu— ahh… ” He gasped, hands flying to grasp Guren’s hair, spine bending when the guy captured a nipple into his mouth, sucking it harshly, while fingers thumbed the other one.

“Nghh… ah haaah!” His mouth was captured in another searing kiss as Guren thrust his hips towards him and the friction made him weak. His hold buckled, and if Guren wasn’t there to catch him, he would have collapsed to the ground. But Guren had grown incredibly stronger, over the months and he just knew this wasn’t because of extra training or whatever. 

His thoughts came to a halt, when a hand snaked its way down to palm Shinya’s growing erection making him moan and buck towards the touch. It didn’t help that Guren was whispering his name as he peppered kisses against his neck and every mention of his name was like bits of fuel adding up to the raging fire inside him. 

“Shinya…” Guren’s warm breath was like liquid fire against his skin, and it slowly burned him up, “I want to…” He didn’t have to continue. Shinya knew what he wanted… because he wanted it, too. Ever since they started this undefined, slightly complicated relationship, they had found countless ways to spend time together. It’s not purely physical as they knew they cared for each other… but it wasn’t enough for him to think he could ever replace Mahiru inside his heart. Still, they found comfort in each other… and just like before, his resolve had been the same.

“I’d have him any way I could.”

| He is just using you. |

“Probably. But who cares?”

| You are better off without him. |

“You’re not the first one to say that to me.”

| And yet you do not listen. |

“Yes.” he breathed out the response easily. The permission carried by the wind, echoing in the four corners of his prison cell. He would probably hate himself for this, but this was Guren. He was the only person who had seen him this way and he had always been weak to him.

Guren kissed him hungrily this time—it was more teeth than lips, really and they bit and sucked on each other’s mouth until their lips bruised and swelled. He could taste the blood on the corner of his mouth and he grinned in satisfaction.

He turned to look at the bed in his cell and whispered softly to the man, “Maybe, we should use that.”

“Hmn?”

“The bed. We should move to the bed.”

Guren studied him for a while in consideration, until finally, he shook his head and grinned, “Hmn...But you look prettier this way, Shinya.” There was something about the way he had called his name that sent shivers down his spine and made his legs weak. The effect on him was so obvious, Guren gave a lopsided grin but said nothing.

Guren did listen to him eventually, laying him down on the bed, not before he took care of his clothes except for his briefs, dropping them haphazardly on the floor. He joined him soon, after removing his coat and and his undershirt, revealing the hard lines of his abs and the dark wisps of hair leading down to his... 

Shinya reached out to touch the muscles and Guren let him, licking his lips as he stared him down, “You should see yourself, Shinya.” 

Shinya didn’t want to… knowing he was probably making a really shameful expression. He turned away, embarrassed as Guren unbuckled his pants, pushing them down to his knees before crawling on top of Shinya.

“Let me see you,” Guren said, grabbing his jaw, forcing him to look at him. But Shinya was not staring at his face nor at the cruel smirk playing on his lips… instead, his eyes focused on the outline of his straining cock underneath the dark briefs he was wearing, and his mouth watered shamelessly, remembering how good that felt inside him.

“Like what you’re seeing?” The air of pride rubbed wrongly on Shinya’s ego and he snorted, “Nothing I haven’t seen before. Try again, Ichinose.

The challenge in his voice spurred Guren who smirked as he pushed his legs apart, “I’ve been thinking about this the entire time we were apart.”

“You mean the entire time you put me in jail?” He couldn’t help but retort even when his body was betraying every word coming out of his mouth.

Guren ignored his last statement, “I never stopped thinking about this… about you…” He whispered spreading his hands across Shinya’s bare chest, imprinting his mark on them. “Did you?”

More than you should know. He didn’t answer and Guren understood his shame. He didn’t push, instead, he leaned down for another bruising kiss. He opened up easily, letting Guren suck and lick inside until the pulsing need in their bodies made them grind against each other. 

“Guren…” He moaned when the man kissed his way down to his chest, to his stomach, dipping his tongue into his navel before pushing his briefs out of the way. “Guren, stop teasing. The guards could walk in any— oh go—hnggg!!”

Guren bit on his inner thigh and that was the only warning he got before Guren took his erection fully into his mouth, sucking on it hard. His mind exploded right there and then as he was engulfed by the tight heat of the guy’s mouth, tongue licking and stabbing occasionally at the slit of his cock. 

“Gureeen! Hnggh…” He moaned, pulling the man’s hair who only took it as an encouragement, grabbing his ass to raise him up slightly from the bed, pushing him deeper into his mouth. He remembered how Guren giving head was one of his favorite things in the world.

Shinya threw his head back, his legs desperately scrambling for footing, but Guren held him close, drawing him more and more into his mouth’s tight heat. The lewd sounds they were making nicked Shinya's pride slowly… and he gritted his teeth in retaliation, refusing any sound to come out. 

Guren noticed and his revenge was brutal. With his mind in its lust-filled haze, Shinya missed the moment when Guren somehow procured a bottle of lubricant. He only noticed it when Guren let him fall back down in bed, and he heard the cap pop open. Despite his head swimming, he couldn’t help but tease.

“Imagine what your underlings would say if they knew their Lieutenant Colonel is carrying that around his pocket all this time.” He watched Guren coat his fingers with the viscous liquid that smelled close to a sickening scent of artificial strawberry. “I wonder if they would still respect you.”

“Hmn… probably just as much as they would respect their Major General if they knew he could look like this.” As if to prove a point, he pushed a finger inside him without warning, and Shinya drew out a loud gasp. “Too bad, only I would get to see you like this.”

Shinya ignored the possessive undertone of his statement, else his heart would yearn for something the guy couldn’t give him… again. Instead, he focused on his breathing, trying his best to relax as another finger pushed past inside him, scissoring his entrance.

Guren’s fingers were expert on this and soon enough, he had found the bundle of nerves inside him that made him keel over and call out his name desperately… only for it to be cut off when Guren caught the scream with a kiss. His other hand grabbed Shinya’s erection, pumping him in the rhythm of his fingers and he whispered, “ Shosho, you think you could come like this?” He whispered, licking the spot behind the shell of his ear.

“Wha—no… that’s— hngggh!!!” His protest died when Guren bent down to lick on his nipple before clamping down on it brutally. His body felt weightless… getting attacked in all his weakest spots that only an experienced lover would do. Guren knew his body too much that all his defences had crumbled down easily against Guren’s assaults.

“Come on, Shinya, let go for me.” 

“Hngggghhh!!!” Guren poked at that sensitive spot inside him and suddenly fireworks exploded in his body at his release, staining Guren’s hand and his own chest with his seed.

“Good boy.” He watched in awe as Guren raised his hand to his mouth. And in a rather unfairly hot and carnal move, he began licking off the excess cum off of his fingers, humming at the taste, “You came a lot. Did you enjoy it that much?”

Shinya didn’t have the strength for a smart retort. His breath was still coming in short and his body was still spasming with oversensitivity when he felt Guren’s fingers slip out of him. He didn’t say anything even when Guren moved to kiss him lazily, making him taste himself through his tongue.

He hated the bitter taste, and other times he would have pushed Guren away and hurled… but his muscles felt like jelly and he could only do so much when Guren knelt between his thighs, leaking cock in hand as he poured a copious amount of lube on it.

“Fuck, you’re so beautiful,” Guren said, rubbing himself as he stared at the debauched state of Shinya—Hiiragi Shinya who always appeared in his pristine uniform; not a hair out of place… immaculate image from his subordinates. Who knew he could look like this—flushed skin all over, clothes in complete disarray, bitten lips, hair all over the place, purple marks on his spotless skin, legs spread before him for the taking, quivering hole begging to be filled by him. 

Shinya would be ashamed and yet under Guren’s hungry eyes, he knew the man ached to be inside him just the same. He held out his hand in invitation, “Come on, Chusa. I want you inside me.”

Something inside Guren broke—most probably his self-control because the next minute, he had grabbed Shinya’s leg, propping it over his shoulder as he plowed into him in one powerful thrust, stretching him to an impossible extent. 

“Ah—Haaaah..!” Shinya regretted teasing him as the brutal thrusts began to thin the border between pleasure and pain. He cried out, but every time his mouth opened, air would be punched out of him, and in the end, all that he could muster was a wordless, soundless scream.

“Lost your tongue, Shinya?”

He should be ashamed… but all he could do was hold on to Guren, as his movements pushed him further up the bed, if not for Guren who held on to his hips and pulled him back down. Shinya closed his eyes, tears streaming down his cheeks. His entire body was being incinerated and when Guren pulled him up to his lap so suddenly, making him cry out painfully.

“Shinya… Shinya…” Guren whispered, wrapping his arms around him so their hot, sweaty bodies would slide together in this rough and carnal dance. He wrapped his shaky legs around Guren’s waist, arms snaking around his neck as he was impaled over and over again. 

The position made them impossibly close and intimate Shinya was sure he’d die from shame… and pleasure… and pain. His head was swimming at the sounds of skin slapping against skin and bitten-back moans echoing around his prison cell.

He could feel his orgasm coming, what with the heat pooling at the pit of his stomach, his body curling tighter and tighter around Guren. “I’m… close… Gu...ren…” every syllable was punctuated by each thrust.

“Me too…” Guren whispered against his neck, “Let’s come together, Hiiragi Shinya?” He said and Shinya would have flinched at the name he called him but the words didn’t pass his lips. How could he when Guren started biting Shinya’s neck hard enough to break the skin. The additional pain of getting bitten made him moan so loud, Guren had to clamp a hand over his mouth and nose to muffle his voice. 

The sudden lack of his air is what pushed him over the edge. He came with another cry, body clenching and quivering around Guren who held him close and came seconds after he did, spilling his seed inside him.

 

 

| I hope you do not regret this, Hiiragi Shinya. |

“I hope so, too.”

| He will be your weakness. You will be in pain as long as he is alive. |

“I guess it’s the price I pay for choosing to stay with him, don’t you think?”

| … |

“Neh, Byakomaru. I can’t help but wonder…”

| Hmn… |

“Do you also feel pleasure when Guren and I have sex?”

 

 

A soft, gentle caress woke him up and when he opened his eyes, he saw Guren looking at him guiltily. “I passed out.” He said.

“Yeah, I’m sorry I got carried away.”

“How long was I out?”

“Not long enough… just  fifteen minutes.”

“Oh,” Shinya noted that save for Guren’s coat, he was still completely naked. He grinned, “So you were just ogling me the entire time?”

Guren frowned but ignored his question, “I’ll take you to my room to clean up and rest.”

“You can’t patronize with a traitor, Guren.”

“We both know you are not.”

“Well, I am not on your side so that makes me one, right? Which is why I’m in this cell in the first place.”

“Can you not be difficult about it?”

“About what? You conniving with Kureto-nii to experiment on humans and kill innocent people? I’m sorry my morality is causing you some difficulties.”

“Can we… talk about that after you’ve rested? You need to be comfortable first.”

“You can’t butter me up and hope my stand will be the same. We fucked, but that was it.”

“How could you say that?”

“Well, this is just purely physical for you, right? I don’t mind. We’re both adults and we—“

“Hiiragi SHINYA!”

“..!”

“Can you, for once, not fight me on this? You need to rest. Your body has gone through…” He sighed, “I promise my help comes with no strings attached.”

When he didn’t speak again, Guren stood up and hoisted him up in a bridal carry. “Oi, what the—you don’t have—“

“Can you walk?”

“...”

“Didn’t think so. Now shut up and just suck it up.”

“Are you seriously going to carry me like this?”

“Are you being shy with me now?”

“...”

“Don’t worry, apart from the guards down here, the floor to my room has been cleared.”

They walked past the guards who didn’t even cast them a sideglance and just stared right ahead. The elevator took them straight to the topmost floor, and definitely not Guren’s floor. When he seemed confused, Guren filled him in, “Siding with Kureto has some perks.”

He didn’t look proud nor did he look guilty about it and Shinya hated him for that more. He was in no place to say this though, as he currently couldn’t walk. He noted, too, that they didn’t encounter anyone which meant that Guren specifically told the soldiers to vacate the area.

When they reached the room, Shinya realized it was even better than the room issued to him before. It was bigger and the furniture didn't look the same basic ass furniture everybody had in common. Guren laid him gently on the king-sized bed. 

“Not a bad prize for betraying your friends.”

Instead of responding to his attack, Guren sighed deeply in exasperation. “I’ll draw you a bath.”

Truth be told, taking a bath was the least of his concerns right now… as he curled in the soft comfort of the bed. He kept thinking if this meant he was also betraying his friends. Clearly, Guren and Kureto wanted him to join whatever they were planning but could he really trust them? What would happen to him when his usefulness runs out? He closed his eyes, listening to the sound of water in the bathroom, already half-asleep. He would have gone straight to bed, but the stickiness between his thighs made him think otherwise. 

A few minutes later and Guren was back. Without saying a single word and without prior warning, he effortlessly picked up and carried Shinya to the bathroom, depositing him in the tub filled with lukewarm water and bubbly soap. Shinya didn’t even know bathtubs existed in the building. Guren placed a towel and a clean change of clothes on the sink, telling him to Call me when you’re done before he left him alone.

The warm water soothed his tired, sore body. It had only been three months, but it felt like a lifetime ago since the last time he had been afforded such luxury. The last time he enjoyed a good soak in a bathtub was when he was in Ikebukuro. He closed his eyes and let the warm water slosh around him.

  | You should leave now, Shinya. |

“What is up with you today, Byakomaru? You’re usually quiet but you’ve been very talkative today.”

| You are the one summoning me in your dreams. |

“Then I guess, I’m sorry I’m annoying you.”

| You are not annoying me. |

“Neh, Byakomaru…”

“What would happen to you if I die?”

| I would not let that happen. |

“Ehehe… I don’t think it works that way.”

| I would end anyone who would try to hurt you. |

“Ehh…?”

| Even if it meant killing the person you are fascinated with. |

“Fascinated? Is this mere fascination?”

| If it is not… then what is it? |

 



After an hour of bathing, Guren checked in on him. Seeing that he was already done and that the water had already turned cold… he helped Shinya up, wrapping him up in the towel and carrying him back to bed when his legs still couldn’t carry his weight. Honestly, Shinya hated how weak and vulnerable he felt and he vowed never to go overboard again with sex…

Huh, that’s assuming something will happen again with them.

Guren excused himself for his turn to shower, but he did bring the change of clothes from the bathroom which Shinya managed to slip into. He realized it was his old clothes—the one he always left in Guren’s room before for whenever he slept over. He was surprised that Guren brought his clothes when he transferred to this room.

He’d be lying if that didn’t make his chest flutter a bit.

Ignoring these lingering feelings in his chest, he sunk in the bed, holding the sheets to his nose. It smelled a lot like Guren’s detergent—that clean, minty scent he always loved. 

When Guren emerged from the bathroom, he didn’t head directly to the bed. Instead, choosing to sit on the couch across the room, staring at Shinya. Getting annoyed at the awkwardness, Shinya snapped.

“What the hell are you doing there?”

“I’m not sure if you wanted to sleep with me.”

“Don’t you think it’s already late for that?”

“You might kill me in my sleep.”

“I’m sure the few feet distance between the bed and the couch wouldn’t matter if I really wanted to kill you. Besides, you know I’m not good at close combat.”

“Everyone is good at close combat when their enemy is asleep.”

“Touché.”

Guren was grinning at him and he realized he was, too. 

He moved to the far side of the bed to give Guren ample space, “I promise I won’t kill you in your sleep tonight.”

Guren was convinced. He approached the bed and slipped in, beside Shinya. The space between them was only less than a foot, enough for them to feel each other’s warmth, but not enough to touch. Shinya ached to move closer… lay his head on the man’s chest, just like how they did it for many years. And it hurt a lot because everything seemed normal between them, but they both knew nothing is the same.

“I’m sorry.”

“It’s fine. The sex was great.”

“Not about that.”

“...oh.”

“I didn’t want to hurt you.”

“Just tell me Mahiru did it and I would forgive you.”

“It wasn’t her. Or… maybe a bit of that was her… but it was still mostly me.”

“...”

“As I told you, I was aware of what was happening.”

“If that’s the case, then I couldn’t forgive you.”

“I understand.”

Shinya’s head and chest hurt and he realized he was crying again. He folded his hands into fists and gritted his teeth, but that didn’t help. He moved to his side so his back was to Guren’s. He felt the other man shift from his position as well and then Shinya was being pulled into a warm, gentle embrace. He froze as Guren buried his head into his shoulder.

“Let go.”

“Please.”

“Let me go, Guren.”

“No.”

As if to prove his point, Guren anchored his legs to his thighs, so he wouldn’t be able to move away. Shinya sighed and swallowed back his tears. 

“Shinya.”

“...”

“Hiiragi Shinya.”

“Stop calling me that.”

“I’m sorry.”

“...”

“I need you to trust me.”

“...”

“I could live with other people second-guessing and doubting my every move… I could take that… but not from you.”

“If you wanted me to trust you. You should stop it with your boring lies.”

“I am not lying to you.”

“You’re keeping secrets from me.”

“That’s different and I have my reasons.” Guren said, “Doesn’t mean you’re any less important to me.”

“If I trust you, do you promise me no more lies?”

“Not unless it’s for your own good.”

“What does that even mean?”

Guren didn’t answer. But his embrace loosened and Shinya was able to turn to his side so they were now face to face. Guren was smiling sadly at him. Suddenly, he was transported back to the days they spent together when they were kids. When he witnessed how selfless and kind Guren’s heart is especially for the ones he love. He wondered if that person was still inside whoever or whatever was staring back at him.

Guren touched his cheek and smiled, “I like you.”

Shinya blinked at him in shock, heart skipping a beat at the words he had longed to hear for a very long time now. He allowed himself to feel it, relish the moment before reality slapped him in the face. His chest tightened and throbbed, “I’m not Mahiru.”

Guren frowned, “Why do you always compare yourself to her?”

“Because I’m her poor replacement.”

“...”

“You’re not denying it. For someone who hates the Hiiragi’s so much, you have an unhealthy obsession of associating with them intimately.”

“Is that why you hate me calling you Hiiragi?”

“...”

“I didn’t know you could be…”

“What?”

“This petty?” Guren chuckled and Shinya slapped his hand away in retaliation, “Asshole.”

“Are we okay now?”

“No. I still fucking hate you.”

“Okay, how about a deal?”

“Hmmn?”

“If I betrayed you again, I’d give you my life.”

“You don’t have to tell me that. I’d kill you in a heartbeat.”

”Oh, I don’t doubt that. Your demon hates me a lot.”

”He does.”

”Just make it painless.”

”I can’t promise you that.”

Another silence and Shinya watched Guren study his face, as if he’s imprinting him into his memory.

“But if I didn’t.”

“But if you didn’t?”

“You’d give me yours.”

“...what?”

“You hate your family name so much, don’t you?”

“I don’t think I…”

“You’re free to use mine.”

A pregnant pause fell on them as Shinya gaped at Guren in disbelief. And then suddenly, he was laughing. “What the fuck is that?!” Shinya choked on his laughter, “That’s probably the lamest pickup line I have ever heard.”

“Shut up!” Guren was blushing so hard it only made the entire thing funnier, “You’re always comparing yourself to Mahiru… when I’ve always told you, you’re different.”

When his laughter died down, Guren pulled him close to his chest so he could feel his heartbeat. He closed his eyes and felt his own. Their heartbeats were out of sync, because he knew no matter what he does, part of Guren had already died with Mahiru. But their hearts created a beautiful melody just the same.

Shinya knew Byakomaru was right in telling him not to trust Guren. Maybe he shouldn’t… but whatever will happen, whatever will become of Guren, he promised himself he would be the one to save him.

“It’s a deal.” He whispered but Guren had already fallen asleep.

 

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