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His Scent Like Smoke and Humanity

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It's a couple months before then, before hell, before the darkness, before her. Makima.

He could never understand them- her eyes, that is.

They held something unnatural within, like faux humanity (as disgusting as it sounded). A spiral, an exit or an entrance leaning to the latter.

Obviously she wasn't human, he could smell it on her. She wore her inhumanity like cheap perfume, suffocating him in it's aroma.

This story isn't about Makima, it isn't about the people she made him kill, and it certainly isn’t about what she’d do in a couple months.

It's about another scent, humanity; or maybe food disguised as humanity.

”Hey.” Aki said as they stood beneath a convenience store. The air held a moist quality to it, the cool air wafting towards Angel and making him shiver ever so slightly. The soft drum of rain against zink sounded like TV static.

”What’d I do to end up with a buddy like you?”

Angel thought about that for a bit, ”The sentence sounds like a nice thing to say- but your tone makes me believe that you loathe me.”

Aki stayed quiet, the rancid scent of smoke intermixing with the scent of human (and for some reason, Angel didn't entirely hate it).

”Don’t worry, I loathe you too.”

*

His scent stuck to Angel’s clothes, smoke with the tender scent of humanity- he gagged at it, but never really gave it much an effort to get rid of.

After all, that would be a waste of energy; and when each step taken felt like his very soul (or lack of one, if you wanna be realistic) risked seeping out of the holes in his sneakers, one tends to just put up with it.

Besides, it's not like he minded his loathsome smell.

”How do you feel about it?” Angel asked, eyes transfixed to the sun.

”About?”

”Your days. They're numbered.”

Aki pursed his lips, Angel had taken notice to just how much he did that, ”I try not to think about it, in all honesty.”

His eyes were cold, encircled by pulpy flesh, he hadn't slept in quite some time.

”That’s a lie.” Angel said, then sighed, ”I suppose I should apologize, after all, that's a blade I made.”

Aki nodded, ”It’s a beautiful blade.”

Something about that made his face feel hot, a long forgotten notion, to be sure.

*

Smoke and humanity clouded his thoughts; if this weren't a life or death scenario, Angel would've taken the time to notice just how solid people felt; the rhythmic thump of a beating heart, the quivering of a living thing in overdrive.

And just how nice being held felt.

But he didn't, instead he felt shame and fear and guilt. Mostly fear, fear of what would become of his savior. And something else, something that only came when he thought of a face bathed in static.

*

Is the city a nice place?

He asked himself as he gazed into the concrete giants, the iron stench of blood carried by the wind.

”Do you believe there’s a heaven?” She asked, Makima’s eyes drew him to her; from high up the city looked impeccable, but the lower his eyes traveled, the more dirt and grime became apparent. And blood, that too.

The rats feasted on Reze’s limp corpse.

He shrugged, ”what a strange question, what’s it matter anyways?” Then he sighed, “It’d only make sense, us devils are born in hell- I suppose there’d be a place where angels are born. If they exist, that is.”

Makima smiled, ”I hope one day we meet him.”

Angel cocked his head, ”God?”

The click and clank of her shoes ended the conversation.

He held his right hand to the blue sky, and a strange feeling overtook his chest. The warmth of a body, the rhythmic beat of a heart in overdrive.

Angel thought about Aki - though it sickened him- and wondered how his hand must’ve felt.

“I hope we do too.”

*

 

They’re sitting in a coffee shop after work, Aki’s drinking something black and bitter, Angel’s eating a sweet biscuit.

Their once pristine suits dampened with blood.

This has become something of a routine between the two.

“...Then Denji helps her with the stacking! The fucking asshole just left me alone to clean up all the flour and jam... So much fucking jam.”

He’d taken a notice of how much Aki moves his mouth when he’s pissed. It creased to the left and then to the right, as though each word packed the punch of napalm.

“I feel like you just like doing this to yourself.” Angel cupped his cheek, getting comfortable.

“Like hell I do, they’re slobs.”

He liked listening to him complain, even if the concerns of a human were beneath him.

“You could just exile them to a corner, y’know? ‘S not like you’d get punished for it; yet you still put up with them, I think it’s cute.” The word slipped out without thinking, the aroma of cacao beans clouding his mind.

Angel’s face felt hot, and so he stuffed a cookie to try and play it off.

And for a second there, he could’ve sworn he saw Ali’s face flush.

“Y-yeah.” Aki said, stuffing his face into his cup.

Angel stretched and slapped his bloody palm on his bloody forehead- cursing himself.

 

“Hey.” Angel said.

“Yeah?”

“Next time’s on me.”

Aki smirked, “You don’t get paid.”

Angel felt that tightening on his chest again.

*

His room was a concrete box for obvious reasons; no one wants to live with a devil who could drain your life force with just one touch.

The bed was the only colorful part of such a dull room. The sheets were orange, the sheets were warm.

He weighed the pros and cons.

Pro:
Aki’s scent was bearable (more than that, even).

Con:
He was irritable at times.

Pro:
His smile made his chest feel like putty.

Con:
His days were numbered.

Pro:
He could listen to him talk for hours.

Con:
They could never touch.

Touch.

His face flushed at the notion. The warmth of Aki’s skin slickened with sweat... the weight of his body against his, the strained breaths and a loud groan.

Devils never really got sex, as nothing could compare to the rush of blood. But, Angel got it then, he got it surrounded by four walls and a ceiling.

His hands trailed down his porcelain skin.

That feeling again, the word at the tip of his tongue as he pumped rhythmically.

Rhythm, the beat of a heart, the click and clank of shoes, and the movement of Aki’s mouth.

The word at the tip of his tongue, strained breaths, cloudy mind, pumping.

And then the release.

*

It’s a day before Aki’s death. They’re walking down an empty street, the sky is tinted purple with the sunset looming over the horizon.

Aki is wearing a wool sweater, the right arm tied into a ball. Angel is wearing his work shirt with both arms tied into a ball.

He looked lost in thought, his cold eyes scared Angel- so he slapped him lightly with the limp arms.

Aki jumped, “What?”

“My feet hurt. Carry me.”

“We’re almost there, besides, you wanted to come out here.”

“Yeah, thought it’d be nice for us to leave it all for a bit- then I remembered how much walking sucks.”

Aki needed this, that Angel knew. The pulpy flesh surrounding his eyes were more pronounced than they had ever been.

He’d spent so long looking after them: Power terrified of the dark, Denji in his weakened state... Angel.

Aki opened doors for him, took him to a restaurant, paid for the bill- for all intents and purposes, he should’ve felt elated, happy to have manipulated some puny human to do everything for him.

Hell, the human had even saved his life.

But he didn’t. Instead, he only felt shame and fear.

They had stared into the face of darkness together, and paid a price in flesh.

“I’m tired, carry me.”

“No, you’re too heavy.”

“That’s offensive.”

“Not my fault.”

“What if I said ‘please’?”

“Then I’d politely decline.”

“You must be fun at parties.”

“The life of the party.”

“Oh yeah? Well, what if I... I dunno, hugged you?”

Aki stopped, “What?”

Angel’s face flushed, he’d dug himself too far, “W-well, I-I’d offer you a kiss but that’d kill you.”

Aki looked down at his shoes, Angel’s heart began to sink.

“Get on my shoulders.”

Angel swallowed, then nodded, thanking whatever diety lay beyond the realm of devils that he went with work pants instead of trousers.

Aki was surprisingly clumsy, and without arms Angel risked the chance of choking him to death.

But still, he carried on- his free hand (his only hand) resting on Angel’s leg (Angel took heavy note of that).

As they were reduced to silhouettes against a backdrop of a sky on fire, Angel finally found the word.

Love, or maybe hunger disguised as love. His scent was intoxicating.

He put him down a few blocks close to the bureau hospital.

Aki smirked, Angel returned it.

“You have a good night, buddy.” Angel said; as he left, he felt a tug on one of the arms of the long sleeve.

“...I’d like to receive my payment.” Aki’s face flushed, Angel’s face flushed.

They stood there for some time, the silence palpable as they were submerged within the incandescent glow of a streetlight.

Angel nodded and pressed his body against Aki’s, being careful as to not let any of his skin press against him.

He felt a strong hand on his back, and his heart went wild. Wasn’t this something?

He looked up at Aki, their faces only a few inches apart.

It would be so easy to steal just a couple months from him.

“The hospital is probably expecting me.” Angel kicked himself for saying that.

Aki blinked, then nodded, letting him go (much to Angel’s dismay).

“Yeah- yeah I’d imagine. Well,” he cleared his throat, “want me to walk you back to your room?”

Angel smiled and shook his head, “You go on. You’ve still got ‘two dumb asses’ to look after.”

Aki smiled back, “Yeah, yeah I do.”

As Angel walked back, he heard his buddy shout, “I’ll come by tomorrow.” And another smile drew over his face.

“I know.”

*