Monochrome Factor: All In One

Welcome to my Monochrome Factor fic. Please note that all of my fic is based on the manga, not the anime, and follows the manga characterization. Unsurprisingly, given the release rate, a lot of this fic is “fill in what might happen next” stuff. This involves Shirogane getting laid a lot, but also general plot and worldbuilding speculation.

In Joy and In Sorrow

Before it all starts, Kou is a bit of a brat. Ryuuko scolds him. After it’s all over, Kou is still uncertain of his place. Ryuuko reassures him. Drama with Massive Crush, I-3, MANGA CONTINUITY

Character(s): Kou, Ryuuko



Kou dashed down the hall, laughing, and dodged around a startled Ryuuko-sama to hide behind him.

Hikari stalked after him, seething. "I’m going to render you down for parts, you little…"

Kou peeked over Ryuuko-sama’s shoulder. "I was just expressing my appreciation, really," he insisted with his best innocent look.

Hikari actually bared her teeth and snarled. Kou was charmed. She was the next oldest among Ryuuko-sama’s Children, and definitely the most fun.

When her hands started glowing, though, he squeaked and ducked again.

"All right, that’s enough," Ryuuko-sama declared, leaving Kou to go and close his hands over Hikari’s.


Ryuuko-sama just smiled at her and she heaved a sigh and let her gathering power disperse again. "All right, Ryuuko-sama. If you say so."

"You can leave it to me," he assured her.

Hikari nodded, her calm, collected self again, and turned back down the hall, leaving Kou with Ryuuko-sama.

Which wasn’t quite as nice a thought as usual, Kou decided as Ryuuko-sama turned back to him and raised a brow. He scuffed a toe against the floor and peeked up through his lashes. Ryuuko-sama’s mouth twitched, but he crossed his arms.


"I’m sorry for causing trouble, Ryuuko-sama," Kou murmured.

"You always are, afterwards," Ryuuko-sama sighed. "What did you do this time?"

"I, um…" Kou cleared his throat; Ryuuko-sama was so dignified, it was actually kind of hard to say to him. "I snuck up behind Hikari and grabbed her boobs."

Ryuuko-sama actually rubbed his forehead. "Kou…"

Kou ducked his head, hands clasped behind him. "Yes, Ryuuko-sama." More softly, he added, "Forgive me."

Ryuuko-sama’s fingers threaded through his hair, ruffling it gently. "I’m not the one you need to ask for that."

Kou knew he was blushing at the touch and couldn’t manage to care. "Yes, my King," he murmured, obediently.

"Good." Ryuuko-sama’s hand slid down to clasp his shoulder and Kou had to suppress a shiver.

From the gentle way Ryuuko-sama smiled at him, he thought maybe he hadn’t managed to.


Ryuuko and Shirogane looked at each other over the last remaining breach in the boundary.

"Well." Shirogane looked like he missed having his hat to pull down over his eyes, even though he wore his regalia with every bit of his old arrogance, in Kou’s informed opinion.

Ryuuko smiled. "Yes." He reached out a hand and Shirogane laid his palm to palm against it. "We’ll miss you."

Shirogane’s mouth actually curled up in a wry smile. "Likewise, I imagine."

"I’ll see you again," Ryuuko told him softly.

"Yes," Shirogane murmured. His hand tightened on Ryuuko’s and then released it. "Take care of yourself, in the meantime."

He turned away and stepped through the tear, which sealed behind him, not looking back.

Ryuuko sighed.

"You will miss him, won’t you?" Kou asked, softly.

Ryuuko turned to him with a small smile. "I miss all those important to me when we can’t be together."

Knowing that was to his address, a kindly given reassurance of his importance to his king, Kou flushed, looking down.

"Come." He could hear that Ryuuko was still smiling. "Like Shirogane, we’ll need to find new people."

Kou swallowed. "Ryuuko… am I still…" he felt like an idiot and he still couldn’t help himself. "Do you still want me as your Child?"

Ryuuko looked at him quietly for a breath, and then another, until Kou was trembling under the weight of his gaze. And then he was swept up into Ryuuko’s embrace, held close against his king.

"Do you doubt yourself so much that you doubt me, too, now, Kou?"

"No! Never, I swear—" Kou broke off as Ryuuko set a finger against his lips, hushing him.

"You can feel that light fills you again?"

Kou nodded, silently. His master’s power renewed his own again, and it was a vast relief he had to say.

Ryuuko’s mouth quirked. "So what was your question, again?"

Kou downright blushed. Yeah, he was definitely an idiot. "Nothing, Ryuuko-sama."

"Oh, Kou." Ryuuko cradled him close and Kou’s breath caught at the warmth of it. Ryuuko’s hand lifted his chin, holding him so Ryuuko could meet his eyes. "There is nothing to forgive. Understand?"

Husky, caught by the direct clarity of Ryuuko’s eyes, Kou whispered, "Yes, my King."

"Good." Ryuuko smiled with just a hint of mischief. "Hold on to this to remind you, if you start to forget."

Ryuuko kissed him, slow and thorough, and Kou melted helplessly into his chest. Before long he was gasping for breath because Ryuuko wasn’t stopping; he kissed Kou until he was dizzy with the heat and sweetness of it.

"Think you’ll remember that?" Ryuuko murmured against his mouth.

"Yeah," Kou whispered, breathless. "Oh yeah."

"Good." Ryuuko pressed another kiss to his forehead and set him gently back on his feet. "Come along, then."

Kou trailed after his king, pretty sure his grin was illuminating the landscape and totally unable to care.


Contractual Obligation

Shirogane is in a temper with Kou and it pushes him to be a lot more forthright with Akira than he has, heretofore. Akira decides he’s all right with this. Set in the loose vicinity of issue 27. Porn with Characterization, I-4, MANGA CONTINUITY

Character(s): Nikaidou Akira, Shirogane
Pairing(s): Shirogane/Akira

Shirogane stalked down the street, cataloging all the things he was going to do to that insolent sprout of a rei, Kou, just as soon as the current situation had been settled.


Surely Ryuuko wouldn’t begrudge him. Kou learning some respect could only be beneficial to all concerned.

"Um. Shirogane? Could I have a shadow back?"

For that matter, perhaps it wouldn’t need to be mentioned to Ryuuko at all…


He whirled to face Akira, who stepped back, eyes wide. That made him pause. However annoyed Kou made him, he shouldn’t forget himself around Akira.

Especially considering that, even in face of Kou’s obvious distrust, Akira was still here with him. As he should be. Shirogane’s shin, Shirogane’s Child, his counterpart, yes, once Ryuuko recovered his strength, but for the present the only one in two worlds who was bound to him. It was a soothing thought, right now.

"Yes, Akira?" he murmured, reaching out to tuck back a strand of black hair, frustration and anger calmed by the visible proof that Akira was still shin, still his, hadn’t put back on his human form.

"Um…" Akira’s eyes were still wide.

Yes, despite anything Kou might say, Akira was shin. And it was Shirogane he turned to for guidance, knowledge, protection. As it should be. Shirogane’s hand slid back into Akira’s hair, cradling his head.

"Shirogane…" Akira’s voice was husky, now, and his lips parted on a quick breath as Shirogane stepped closer, tipping Akira’s head back.

Akira was his.

Shirogane covered Akira’s mouth with his own, tasting him as he’d considered doing a few times before. It had never seemed quite right, though at the moment he couldn’t imagine why not. The tightness of Akira’s hands in his coat, the quickness of his breath, seemed very right. He wound an arm firmly around Akira and ran a thumb down the line of his jaw, opening his mouth wider and kissing him harder.

Akira was shaking a little, and damned well not ashamed of it. He’d known from the start, without needing Kou to tell him, that Shirogane was dangerous. But the danger had almost always been gentled, softened for him. He’d generally been glad of it, that he didn’t often see what Kou called Shirogane’s "real face". It would make anybody shaky, to deal with that.

But the way Shirogane held him, the way he’d taken possession of Akira’s mouth, was making him hard.

And now he was backed up into the shadows of a doorway, back pressed against the coolness of concrete while Shirogane kissed him until he moaned.

"Hmm." The velvety purr of Shirogane’s voice alone made his pulse trip and he looked up with dazed eyes as Shirogane drew back a little, considering. Shirogane’s lips curled up and he brushed his thumb over Akira’s cheekbone. "Yes."

Akira watched, swallowing against the dryness in his throat, as Shirogane closed his teeth on the fingertip of his glove and drew it off, sharp eyes fixed on Akira. His bare hand moved down Akira’s chest, making him shiver as warm fingers slid inside his shirt. His face was hot; if he hadn’t been red before he was now, and he glanced aside, breathless. "Shirogane…"

"Shh." Shirogane turned Akira’s chin back and kissed him again, fingers undoing his vest and shirt.

And they kept going.

Akira made an inarticulate sound into Shirogane’s mouth as his pants were undone and Shirogane’s hand slid inside. He was hot. He was embarrassed. He was incredibly hard, and Shirogane’s hand on him felt better than anything he’d ever felt before. Shirogane’s arm around him was sure and tight, his grip was strong and knowing, and Akira’d been in Shirogane’s hands anyway for this long… and never been let go. So Akira let Shirogane nudge his legs wider, moaning into his mouth as Shirogane kissed him hard. Akira could feel the satisfaction and possessiveness in it, and it made him flush. Shirogane wanted him. This much. And, hell, Shirogane had always had his way with Akira right from the start.

And that had made Akira hot right from the start.

Pleasure coiled down tighter and tighter as Shirogane’s fist slid over Akira’s cock, demanding, and Akira didn’t care any more that he was half undressed in an abandoned doorway in the middle of the day. All he cared about was answering the fierce demand of Shirogane’s hands and mouth, and the feeling as they moved on him, and the sure support of Shirogane’s strength lifting him up. He groaned as he came, heat rushing through him like a river, shoulders pressed hard against the shadowed side of the building.

Shirogane gentled his kisses as Akira slumped back, arms gathering Akira up against him. The open protectiveness made him blush almost worse than being undressed had and he buried his face in Shirogane’s shoulder. Shirogane chuckled softly, one hand lifting to stroke through his hair.

"It’s all right," he murmured, reassuring. "Everything will be all right."

Shirogane reflected that he’d probably been foolish to let his temper at Kou push him into taking Akira to him this way. The contract was enough complication.

And yet… there was the contract. Ryuuko was rei, and his fellow king, but Akira was shin, of his making. And it was very good to feel Akira burrowed into his arms. Trusting him.

So he held Akira close and saved up the peace and rightness of the moment against the future they still faced.


Neither Fish Nor Fowl

After another experience of Akira’s shin-ness interfering with Ryuuko’s power, Akira wants to know exactly what’s going on. And then he has to think about who, exactly, he is. Drama, I-3, MANGA CONTINUITY

Character(s): Kou, Nikaidou Akira, Shirogane
Pairing(s): Shirogane/Akira

Akira sat on the ground and stared at his hand, trying to catch his breath while Kou and Shirogane argued over his head.

"-the hell did you think you were doing, anyway?!"

"Saving his life." Shirogane’s voice was cold. "He’d lost his shadow. He had to change to live, and would you care to tell me how you think I could have made him rei?"

Kou bared his teeth. "You should have tried to awaken him first!"

"Leaving him with even less power to use than he has now, while fighting for his life. Again." Shirogane folded his hands on the head of his cane, eyes glittering. "Oh yes, a fine idea."

"Excuse me," Akira finally put in, very evenly, "what the hell just happened?" His blades had turned into a huge long… thing. That wasn’t entirely there. And left him feeling like he’d been run down by a bus.

"You tried to manifest your real power," Kou said, savage. "Only Shirogane-san‘s contract with you is interfering."

"When he regains enough of his strength to sustain his true form, he will not be stopped by the mere seed of shadow I gave him," Shirogane answered, chilly.

"Quit arguing with each other and answer me!" Akira yelled.

Both of them stopped and looked at him, which was a good start anyway.

"You tried to bring forth the weapon you carry as Ryuuko," Shirogane said, finally. "But that weapon is one of light. You are currently shin, of shadow. The two can’t coexist that way."

"Uh-huh. And that’s bad?" He looked at Kou-nii.

"He should never have made you shin," Kou said, quiet and intense. "You’re rei. You’re the embodiment of light. It’s your nature."

They both said that. Only, apparently, he had two different natures, now, gee what fun for him. Akira sighed. "Anyway, that Sawaki guy’s gone now, right? We’re done?"

"For now," Shirogane agreed quietly.

"Akira?" Shirogane asked, as he got ready for bed. "You’ve been quiet this evening."

Akira paused in the middle of pulling his shirt off. "You know," he said to the wall, "I still don’t remember much of that time two years back, when I met Kou-nii. Or the other time you say I did that scythe thing." He hesitated for a moment. "Does that mean… when I’m Ryuuko I’m not me?"

Shirogane was quiet for longer than he liked.

"You are one spirit," he said, finally. "But as Akira you have sixteen years of memories, and as Ryuuko you have ages." After another long silence he added, "I suppose I probably haven’t helped. As Ryuuko, as the direct king of the world of light, you can only be rei. But, as Akira, you are shin." Very softly, he finished, "And my Child."

Akira stood with his shirt hanging off his arms, thinking. "Maybe I’d rather be Akira," he concluded, and tossed the shirt into his laundry basket.

Shirogane was staring, when he turned around. "You… would?"

Akira shrugged. "Well, I’ve seen all the stuff you have to do. If I’m Ryuuko, I have to do that, too, right?" He thumped down on his bed and over on his back, looking up at the ceiling. "Besides, you and Kou, you came to find me and got me into this because I’m going to be Ryuuko, right?" Yeah, and that was a great recommendation for the life of the rei king, wasn’t it?

Shirogane stood with his head down, eyes shadowed under his hat, for a moment. "I suppose we did." And then he smiled. "I’ve been glad I got to know you as Akira, too, though."

That was Shirogane’s end-of-discussion tone; after this long, Akira was pretty good at spotting it. So he tried another angle. "What does it really mean, that I’m your Child?" It was certainly the thing Kou seemed to be most ticked off about.

Shirogane tipped his head, giving him a considering look, but he did answer. "A Child has an affinity for light or shadow, but a limited amount of power. The contract allows the Child to draw on his king’s power to replenish his own."

"And now I’m drawing on yours," Akira said, slowly. Another thought was niggling at him. "And… Kou. He says I’m his king?"

Shirogane’s mouth quirked. "Yes. Kou is Ryuuko’s Child."

So Shirogane made him shin and fed him power because he didn’t have enough yet, but somehow he was also supposed to be supplying power, only of a totally different kind, and, in fact, Shirogane had done what he had exactly because Akira was supposed to be this super-rei king… Akira rolled over and pulled a pillow over his head with a groan. "I think I’m getting a headache. Can’t I just be one or the other?"

After a moment Shirogane’s hand came to rest lightly on his nape. "For now, you can be only Akira. My shin. When your spirit has recovered its strength, you can be only Ryuuko, my counterpart, Kou’s master."

"Still think I’d rather just stay Akira," Akira muttered from under the pillow.

Shirogane’s hand tightened and his voice turned dark and low. "Don’t tempt me."

A shiver ran down Akira’s spine. Shirogane had no room to talk about temptation.

The hand slid away and lips brushed his neck lightly. "Go to sleep, Akira-kun."

It was the end-of-discussion tone again. Akira sighed and put his head on the right side of his pillow, pulling up his blanket and reaching up to turn off the light.

Shirogane’s eyes gleamed in the shadows, watching him.


Unmistaken Identity

In bed with Shirogane, Akira contemplates all the reasons he enjoys it. Porn with Characterization, I-4, MANGA CONTINUITY

Character(s): Nikaidou Akira, Shirogane
Pairing(s): Shirogane/Akira

Akira moaned as Shirogane’s cock pushed deep into him.

It still made him flush a little to be spread out naked over Shirogane, straddling his lap, while Shirogane’s hands lifted him up and pressed him down to meet the slow rock of Shirogane’s hips. But it felt so good.

Shirogane leaned back more comfortably against the pillows and Akira’s headboard, eyes narrow and glinting as he pulled Akira down more firmly. Akira leaned against his chest, shuddering. The thick slide of Shirogane inside him made his toes curl and the heat of Shirogane’s eyes on him made his face as hot as his ass.

And that was pretty damn hot.

From the possessive grip of Shirogane’s hands on his hips, he thought Shirogane had probably talked to Kou today. That did usually mean Akira getting taken to bed, or taken somewhere anyway, pretty soon after. Hadn’t taken long to figure that out. He didn’t mind.

Shirogane didn’t hide anything, in bed.

And while Shirogane had him in bed, he was only seeing Akira.

Shirogane held him tight and thrust in deeper, and the curl of pleasure up Akira’s spine made it arch. Which only drove him down onto Shirogane harder, and he groaned, breathless. Shirogane had been fucking him like this, slow and easy, for what felt like forever and Akira was taut and panting with the overload of sensation. "Shirogane…" he whispered.

Shirogane smiled, slowly. "More?" His voice was deep and velvety and Akira had to swallow at the tone, let alone the question.


He caught his breath a little as Shirogane laid him face down over a couple of the pillows, only to lose it again on a moan as Shirogane’s cock pushed back into him, cool and freshly slick. Shirogane was done with slow, and he pulled Akira’s ass up higher, holding him there, fucking him hard and deep and hot. Akira’s whole body pulled taut, back arched, legs spread wide, and he could hear hungry sounds coming from his own throat. When Shirogane’s hand closed between his legs he moaned out loud.

He still didn’t know how, but Shirogane’s hand, his left hand, did things to Akira he couldn’t even describe.

Instead he just groaned, wordless and wanting, as he came hard, pleasure raking through his body from head to toe while Shirogane drove into him fierce and sure. Shirogane’s low moan, answering him, made him shiver.

He made a soft sound as Shirogane’s weight settled over him, relaxed. Mind-blowing pleasure aside, these were the moments that made him so willing. The moments when Shirogane was at ease and content just to be with him. It felt good.

It felt right.

He lay, wrung out and panting, enjoying the feeling of Shirogane’s hands stroking over him, open and gentle.

After a while, though, he stirred. "Shirogane?"

Shirogane’s voice was soft. "Yes?"

"This pillow under me? This one’s yours tonight."

The snort of stifled laughter against his shoulder made him smile.


Engraved Here

Kou is concerned over what Akira has gotten himself into. Akira isn’t. Drama, I-3, MANGA CONTINUITY

Character(s): Kou, Nikaidou Akira, Shirogane
Pairing(s): Shirogane/Akira

Sometimes, Akira really wondered what Kou thought he was doing.

Aya stalked off down the street, muttering, "Complete asshole, you’d think he’d learn…" Kengo trailed after her at a respectful arm’s length, trying to say calming things.

Kou hauled himself out of the pile of rubble where he’d landed and got a grip on Akira’s shoulder before he could follow. "Hey, Aki."


Kou glanced at Shirogane, paused halfway between Akira and Aya, and now looking back with raised brows. Akira sighed and waved at him, and he leaned against the nearest wall, hands folded on his cane, ‘I am very patient’ practically printed on his forehead. "Yeah?" Akira asked Kou.

Kou looked at him, serious. "He’s taking you to bed, isn’t he?"

Akira couldn’t help the way his eyes widened. "How did you—?"

Kou’s smile tilted and he tapped the side of his neck. "He marked you."

For just a breath, Akira was drowned by a moment of sense-memory, of Shirogane’s tongue sliding along the edge of his collar which was the only thing he’d been wearing at the time, of a bright tingle of heat that made him moan.

He took a deep breath, face hot. "Yeah. And?"

"Hey." Kou shook his shoulder gently. "I get it. It’s only natural." He sighed. "I just worry about you with him."

"Why?" Akira looked up at Kou, half entreating. "Kou-nii, what happened, with you two? Why don’t you want me to trust him?"

Kou’s mouth tightened. "As long as I’ve known him, Shirogane’s been an ice cold, arrogant bastard. Everything has to be his way. And now he’s made a contract with you." Kou’s eyes were dark. "Makes it a lot easier to control everything, including you, who should be his counterpart."

Akira thought about that. Finally he said, softly, "He wants to be in control, yeah. He wants to be the one who knows what’s going on and calls the shots. But…" he looked up, "that doesn’t mean he always gets to. And he’s always made sure I was all right."

Kou looked at him for a long moment and finally smiled, wry, fingers running through Akira’s hair and ruffling it gently. "Always thinking the best of people."

Akira blinked; that wasn’t how he would have described himself.

"Okay. I’ll try to trust you to deal, even with him." Kou turned him and gave him a gentle push. "Later, Aki."

"Yeah. Later," Akira said, a little distracted.

Shirogane waited for him and turned to walk beside him without a word.

They were home before Akira finally asked, "You heard all of that didn’t you?" He didn’t know how, because Shirogane sure looked like he’d been out of earshot, but he was pretty sure.

"Yes, I heard every word the insolent brat said," Shirogane answered in such a pleasant tone it put a chill right down Akira’s spine. "Though I suppose," he added a moment later in a more reassuringly normal way, "that he has a point. You always did know how to deal with me."

He was looking at the bookshelf like he didn’t see it at all and Akira’s mouth tightened. "I did?" he asked, pointedly.

Shirogane started and really looked at him. After a long moment his lips curled up with what looked like genuine amusement. "Yes," he murmured. "You do."

It caught Akira by surprise and he just stared, not moving as Shirogane crossed the room and took Akira’s face between his hands, lifting it. The kiss was slow, gentle, coaxing and Akira was clutching Shirogane’s coat by the time he released him.

"What…" he had to clear his throat. "What was that for?" That wasn’t how Shirogane kissed when he was feeling territorial, which was more what Akira had been expecting.

"For being you." Shirogane pressed another kiss to his forehead.

Akira looked up at him. "You’re really weird sometimes, you know that?"

Shirogane chuckled. "Yes."

Akira let himself be gathered close. He wasn’t positive exactly what Shirogane had just really said, but he thought it was something good.


Inquiring Minds

Aya also wants to make sure Akira isn’t in over his head; Kengo is already confident. Drama, I-3 MANGA CONTINUITY

Akira was getting used to the fact that he couldn’t have a calm, normal walk home from school, anymore, with nothing more exciting than maybe a gang of seniors wanting to beat him up. If it wasn’t kokuchi it was some shin and if it wasn’t either it was Aya. And he was starting to think he preferred the attacks to the friendly conversation.

"So." Aya swung her school bag casually in one hand. "You and Shirogane, huh?"

Akira eyed her warily. He hoped she wasn’t going to get weird about it, or squeal over it, because then he’d damn well die of embarrassment. "Yeah."

She eyed him sidelong. "You sure you’re okay and everything?"

Akira downright stared this time. "Excuse me? Since when are you my lifestyle counselor? Either you’ve run out of x-rated manga or else you’re taking the prefect thing way too seriously."

She blushed. "Shut up about the manga!" The swing of her bag took on more purpose, and Akira kept an eye on it. "And I’m not trying to pry. I just… want to make sure, okay?"

"What, you don’t trust him either? I thought you liked Shirogane." Akira dropped back and came up around Kengo’s other side, putting him between them just in case; it was always good to have shield.

"Shirogane-san is an honorable man," Aya said firmly. "I believe that. I also believe he’s dangerous." She shot him sidelong glance. "And I have noticed that collar of yours is the only thing you take with you when you’re shin."

Akira puzzled at that for a moment. It made sense to him that it came along, it was his favorite accessory after all, why should that mean she would worry that Shirogane was… He stopped short and gave Aya an evil glare. She actually giggled.

"Seriously, though." She gave him a definite Prefect Look, all concerned and responsible and nosy. "Shirogane-san is a lot more serious about practically everything than you are. If you come at this as half-heartedly as you did the battle, to begin with…"

"Definitely not half-hearted," he cut her off. "Really definitely not, okay?"

She cleared her throat, cheeks a little red again. "Well. Okay, then. Good."

Akira gave Kengo a look. "You have anything to add? Might as well get it out of the way now."

Kengo smiled, sunny. "Nope."

Akira blinked. Well that was good, if a little unexpected.

Kengo looked over at him, perfectly serene. "He makes you happy. So it’s all good."

Akira tried to pretend he wasn’t blushing at all. "Yeah. Well." He punched Kengo in the shoulder, sending him crashing into Aya. "As long as pervert-girl over there doesn’t try to get details out of me, I guess it is."


He took off running with Aya on his heels. Running was a hell of a lot simpler than talking about how Shirogane made him feel.


Shadow Return to Shadow

Wagatsuma is concerned for Shirogane and tries to speak to both him and Akira about it, with little success. Drama, I-3, spoilers post-32, MANGA CONTINUITY

Lately, Akira was starting to think he’d been right when he was ten and said to Kengo that girls were really all aliens. It made sense of Kengo’s sister. It made sense of Aya. And it sure seemed like the best explanation for weird, frilly shin girls. He leaned his chin in his hands, staring down at his toes hooked through the rung of a flimsy hospital chair. "So, Lulu. Is she actually serious? I mean, how can she switch sides when she has this contract thing with Homurabi?"

"Mm. It’s possible." Shirogane leaned back in his own chair, eyes distant. "And if her contract holder dies she can make another. Apparently, she’s willing to do that if we win."

"After trying to kill some of us," Akira grumbled. "Why would you even let her?"

Wagatsuma shook his head, hands still against the sheets over his lap. "Lulu is drawn to power," he said quietly. "And she is sincere about wanting to return to her proper duty." His mouth quirked. "To be sure, Homurabi’s temper with his subordinates gives Shirogane a bit of an advantage in her calculations."

"I’m sure Homurabi thinks it’s all very amusing," Shirogane grumbled under the brim of his hat.

"He always had a peculiar sense of humor," Wagatsuma said, agreeably, leaning back against his pillows. "But it doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea."

Shirogane paused in the midst of crossing his legs. "I beg your pardon?"

Wagatsuma smiled at him wryly. "It’s been a long time, Shirogane. I know that hasn’t made it stop hurting, but still. You need Children of your own again."

"I have one." Shirogane waved at Akira.

"Just one, yes," Wagatsuma murmured.

"Akira-kun is plenty." Shirogane gave them both a sunny smile.

Akira’s mouth quirked. "Yeah, because I’m just that handsome," he said, deadpan.

"Of course," Shirogane agreed, matter of fact, and folded his hands on the head of his cane.

"The two of you," Wagatsuma sighed, though he also looked like he was trying not to laugh.

"Well." Shirogane stood and brushed down his coat. "Speaking of work, we should be going."

Akira made a face and started extracting himself from the chair; that hadn’t been as long a break as he’d hoped for. As he turned to follow Shirogane, Wagatsuma touched his arm. "Akira-kun."

Akira recognized his expression instantly and groaned. "Does everyone in the whole world have an opinion about me and Shirogane?"

A breath of a laugh escaped Wagatsuma. "I’m afraid so. Those of us whose duty is to support you will, at any rate."

Akira hunched down on his chair. Great. He wasn’t supposed to sleep with Shirogane because of his past incarnation; yeah like that made sense.

"I have no intention of interfering between the two of you," Wagatsuma said, plainly. "But you should keep in mind what I said to Shirogane. All of his Children were killed, and he hasn’t taken any more." For someone with closed eyes, he was giving Akira a very effective sharp look. "Except for you."

Akira blinked. "Wait, so… I’m not good enough for him, this time?"

Wagatsuma rubbed his forehead. "That’s not it. What I’m saying is, he needs his own Children around him. However much he may not wish to risk it after seeing all of them killed."

Akira eyed him. "Still not quite getting the point," he drawled. "I mean, here I am. Doing my part for that, as far as I can see."

"For now."

Akira frowned. "I’m not going to stop." He shifted a little uncomfortably and mumbled, "Even if I do complain."

"Perhaps the point is that the two of you deserve each other," Wagatsuma muttered, and then lower, barely audible, "…forgotten how stubborn…" He sighed. "Just… be careful, Akira-kun. Please." His head turned toward the door, where Shirogane was lingering patiently. "I serve the direct king of light, but Shirogane is my friend also."

"Okay," Akira said, after a moment. "I’ll be careful."

Even if he still wasn’t entirely sure what he was supposed to be careful of. That was okay, he figured. With his life the way it was now, being careful all over couldn’t hurt.


Love on a Budget

Shirogane has a plan to buy them all time and reinforce the boundary between worlds, provided Ryuuko agrees, and provided Shirogane can bring himself to carry it out. Drama with Sex Magic and Mild Angst, I-4, MANGA CONTINUITY

Character(s): Kou, Ryuuko, Shirogane
Pairing(s): Ryuuko/Shirogane

"We’re losing."

Kou blew out a stream of smoke, leaning back on the girder he’d straddled. "Yeah, probably."

Shirogane stood poised on the platform behind him, hands folded on his cane. "I’m going to have to do something about it. If you try to interfere, I’ll kill you."

A corner of Kou’s mouth quirked. Times like this he really longed for a recorder, just so he could play it back for Akira later. It was reassuring in a way, though. Breath of home and all that. "Well, we’ll see if I think it’s necessary."

"What kind of lover was Ryuuko?"

Kou choked on a lungful of smoke. The question, out of the clear blue, dragged a chain of memories through his mind. Ryuuko’s smile. Ryuuko’s fingers ruffling his hair. Ryuuko’s hand on his chin. The gentleness of Ryuuko’s eyes as he leaned over Kou—

Kou spat out his now mangled cigarette and tried to pretend he was flushed because of the coughing. "What the hell business is that of yours?"

"I suppose we’ll see," Shirogane murmured, and walked off another girder into the night.

Kou stared after him. "Okay, that was weird, even for him." He shook his head and tapped out another cigarette, trying not to think too hard about all the ways he missed his master.

"Well finally." Shirogane regarded Ryuuko with a certain amount of exasperation. He knew where Akira got his stubbornness from, that was for sure.

"You bastard!" Kou rounded on Shirogane, eyes blazing. "You let Akira get that hurt on purpose!"

"It was the only way to bring Ryuuko out." Shirogane eyed Kou. "Other than almost killing you. I did consider that."

Kou took a swing at him, which Shirogane had completely expected.

"Kou." Ryuuko was between them, hand wrapped around Kou’s fist. "Shirogane knows quite well I’d rather let myself be hurt than let one of my Children be hurt for me."

Kou’s mouth tightened and he looked aside, tension washed out of his body in Ryuuko’s grip. "Yes, my king."

Shirogane brushed off his hat and put in, dryly, "I hate to break up the touching moment, Ryuuko, but we have a problem." He couldn’t help his answering quirk of lips at Ryuuko’s wry smile. "Yes, I know that was obvious." He stepped closer, ignoring Kou’s glare. "But we don’t have time to wait for you to recover all your strength. We have to do something now, before Homurabi tips the balance any further."

"If neither of us have all our strength, what more can we do?" The question was curious rather than despairing—Ryuuko all over.

Shirogane settled his hat back on, speaking from under the brim of it. "You and I are the direct kings. Weakened or not. If we take an action together that resonates through our realms, that may reaffirm the balance for long enough."

Ryuuko looked thoughtful. "I suppose that’s true, yes. But what could we do that would be enou— Shirogane!"

Shirogane waved away his appalled look. "No." His lips curled. "It would be the surest way, of course, but I know you wouldn’t do it. I won’t ask you to kill me." At Ryuuko’s side, Kou looked pretty appalled himself, which amused Shirogane a bit, considering.

"What else would be powerful enough?"

Shirogane tipped his hat down a bit further. "Anything that allows the Light to overwhelm the Shadows, really."

After a moment Ryuuko murmured, "Shirogane."

"We’ll need Kou’s assistance to make sure you can manifest for long enough," Shirogane said, briskly. "I don’t expect it to be easy." He started a bit as Ryuuko reached out and tipped up the edge of his hat, meeting his eyes.

"I won’t do it by force," Ryuuko said, soft and immovable.

"I know. That’s why I don’t expect it to be easy," Shirogane snapped.

"Um?" Kou put in, slowly, looking back and forth between them. "What are you talking about? Since I’m supposed to be involved and all."

"We’re talking about Ryuuko fucking me," Shirogane said flatly. And then he had to snort at Kou’s expression.

"You… that’s why… oh," Kou finished, a bit weakly.

Ryuuko touched Shirogane’s hand, drawing his attention back. "Call me when you’re ready," he said, simply, and raveled away into motes of light.

That, Shirogane though acidly as Kou grabbed the unconscious Akira before he could fall, would mean never. But that didn’t matter.

It had to be done.

Akira frowned at Kou and Shirogane impartially and Kou looked shifty. Shirogane rolled his eyes under his hat.

"So Kou needs to give me some fuel so I can be Ryuuko and you and he can do something."

"Yes." Shirogane leaned on his cane, the picture of genteel unconcern.

"And you’re not going to tell me what."


Akira ran his hands through his hair and growled. "Story of my damn life." He frowned at Kou. "Kou-nii, you’re sure this is all right?"

Kou ruffled Akira’s hair vigorously, probably so Akira wouldn’t notice the doubt in his eyes. "Sure it is, Aki. I wouldn’t let anything happen to you."

That at least was true, and Akira seemed to know it. "Okay, then," he sighed and crossed his arms, waiting.

He looked a little less sanguine when Kou knelt at his feet and light built between his cupped hands. When Kou lifted the handful of light he took half a step back.

"It’s all right, Aki," Kou reassured him, a little husky. Shirogane could see he’d drained himself heavily to produce that seed of power. "Take it."

Akira bit his lip and slowly closed his hands over Kou’s. The light flared.

Kou smiled and whispered. "My king."

Ryuuko bent down to press a kiss to his forehead. "Thank you, Kou. Rest now."

Kou barely managed to make an agreeing sound and Ryuuko leaned him gently against the couch before standing to look across at Shirogane. Shirogane lifted his chin.


Ryuuko smiled and held out his hands.

Shirogane’s grip tightened on his cane for a breath. He’d known this wasn’t going to be easy. He took a breath and then another and set his cane down, precisely, on Kou’s table. He hesitated for a moment and finally left his hat with it; he couldn’t hold back in this or they’d fail. Trying to swallow down his tension he walked steadily to where Ryuuko stood and laid his hands in his counterpart’s.

Ryuuko laced their fingers together, holding Shirogane palm to palm. "Welcome, my friend," he murmured.

Shirogane closed his eyes and whispered. "Zero."

Light and shadow slid together and a sphere of stillness expanded around them. For the first time in a long while, Shirogane breathed easy, leaving his eyes closed for a moment just to savor the touch of shadow moving through his hands and blood again, as it should.

Ryuuko chuckled. "Well. At least we know Homurabi won’t be interrupting."

Shirogane gave him a dirty look. "I did not need that mental image." The joke, however dark, relaxed him, though. It was true; here at perfect zero, in a place that was neither and both light and shadow, no one but the two of them could even exist.

He still shivered as Ryuuko gathered him close. "Don’t worry. I’ll be gentle," Ryuuko teased, and he growled.

"Ryuuko…" An odd brush against his back distracted him and he glanced back.

Ryuuko was undoing his braid.

"Whatever else has happened, you are the embodiment and lord of shadow," his counterpart murmured. "Your hair should not be bound."

Shirogane drew a breath to protest, and then let it go. Whether or not he had failed his charge, he had to be the king of shadow now, for this. And when his hair spilled through Ryuuko’s hands to run free down his back, his breath eased still more. Long, warm fingers stroking through the strands made him shiver again, for a slightly different reason, and he bent his head down against Ryuuko’s shoulder, fingers tight in the white cloth over his chest.

Ryuuko’s hand closed over the nape of his neck, firm, and Shirogane’s hands clenched into fists.

"Shirogane…" Ryuuko’s voice was soft and concerned, and Shirogane laughed harshly.

"Stop worrying so much." He took a breath and loosened his grip. "It’s not like I’m scared or anything idiotic like that. I just… I don’t let go." He lifted his head and smiled crookedly at Ryuuko. "I’m not the nice one."

Ryuuko’s mouth quirked at the reminder of their old banter. "Yes, I know, that’s me." He stroked Shirogane’s cheek lightly. "You’re not used to this at all, then. To just feeling."

Shirogane glanced aside. "I suppose not." He was pretty sure he was blushing. Damn it.

Fortunately, Ryuuko really was the nice one and didn’t mention it. "I suppose that will probably make this work better," he said, instead.

He also didn’t mention the sound Shirogane made when Ryuuko finally kissed him.

Ryuuko took his hands and drew him over to the shadow-and-reality of Kou’s bed, touch gentle as he undressed him. Tiny shivers tugged at Shirogane as he held himself back, moment by moment, from pulling away, reclaiming his control and distance. His knees were actually shaky enough that he downright collapsed onto the bed, when Ryuuko tugged him down.

He tried to just breathe as Ryuuko gathered him in and eased him back against the bright-dense sheets.

Ryuuko was his counterpart, the other half of the oneness, the world, they made together, and if he had ever loved anyone besides his own Children, Ryuuko was that person. He clung to that and let Ryuuko’s mouth coax his open.

The curl of heat low in his stomach as Ryuuko’s tongue stroked his made him gasp.


Shirogane growled a little at the pleased tone of that sound but it caught on a deeper breath as Ryuuko’s hands slid down his body, open and slow.

They had been together since awareness came to their realms, but always also apart. They had touched, but never like this.

He hadn’t thought it would feel so good, for shadow to feel light’s touch.

"Ryuuko," he murmured, and it wasn’t as much strain to just accept when Ryuuko pulled him closer, kissed him deeper, gentle and fierce. It called to him, and he shuddered as he let himself answer, hands spread against Ryuuko’s back. The careful strength of Ryuuko’s hands sliding down his thighs, spreading them apart, drew his body taut, tension and desire twisted around each other.

When Ryuuko’s mouth moved over his throat, open and hot, he moaned out loud, letting his eyes close.

Long fingers stroked between his legs and back, pressed slowly, slickly into him, and this time Ryuuko didn’t stop as Shirogane’s breath turned short and uneven. Ryuuko’s touch was gentle and ruthless, and he didn’t know which one made this more intense. It was getting easier to let himself go into Ryuuko’s hands, and he gasped into Ryuuko’s mouth as those fingers pressed deeper.

Ryuuko shifted over him again, and Shirogane almost broke down laughing as he finally realized that Kou’s collection of sex aids had, of course, appeared in this space along with all the other nonliving things and that Ryuuko was pillaging it for their own use. The edge of amusement trembled in his sigh as Ryuuko’s fingers slid into him again, slicker than before. Ryuuko kissed him quiet, and Shirogane let him, moaning softly under the kisses as Ryuuko’s fingers twisted sharply.

If the point of the exercise was for shadow to let itself be overwhelmed by the light, he reflected, a bit dizzy with sensation, they were well on their way.

He hesitated again, though, when Ryuuko’s hands urged him to turn over. Ryuuko smiled down at him and kissed him softly. "Let go, Shirogane." His touch was unyielding and that brought comfort and uncertainty and heat all at once.

Shirogane let Ryuuko turn him, a little glad that the fall of his hair hid the quick rush of color in his cheeks. The stroke of Ryuuko’s hands down his back, over his rear, made him swallow. The wet slide of Ryuuko’s mouth moving up his spine made him gasp, heat tightening through him again.

He shivered, gasping for breath as Ryuuko pressed against him, pressed into him, hard and slow. The stretch of it, the heat of it, the gentle, inexorable demand of Ryuuko’s body against his threatened to drown him and his attention locked on the silky slide of Ryuuko’s wild black hair falling over his shoulder, a reminder of who was here with him. Inside him. Shirogane shuddered, grateful when Ryuuko’s arms closed around him, drawing him in tight to the curve of Ryuuko’s body.

Shadow covered by the light, indeed.

"Ryuuko…" he breathed.

"Yes," Ryuuko murmured against his nape, moving against him.

Shirogane moaned openly now, losing himself in the sheer sensation, the steady warmth of Ryuuko’s hands on him, the feeling of being opened. "Ryuuko…" He could hear the hunger in his own voice.

His counterpart’s arms tightened around him in answer and Ryuuko drove into him harder, fierce and fast and hot. Shirogane groaned, low and wanting, moving under Ryuuko as pleasure twined down his nerves. He didn’t care why they were doing this any more, only for the brilliance and power and comfort of his counterpart’s presence, with him and around him and in him.

He’d missed it so much.

He moaned wantonly as Ryuuko’s hands lifted his hips higher and cried out as a deeper thrust sent fire curling up his spine. Another, and another, and he was lost in pleasure, in the wild heat surging through him, in the tightening of Ryuuko’s arms around him.

When he caught his breath again Ryuuko’s weight was lean and warm against his back and Ryuuko’s breath was quick against his shoulder. "Mmm," he observed, lazily.

Ryuuko’s body against his shook with a laugh. "I suppose I might have known you’d be a hedonist if you ever gave yourself the chance." He pressed a kiss against Shirogane’s shoulder. "Do you think it worked?"

"We’ll know when we release the Zero state." Shirogane wished he were human and could believe in things like crossing his fingers.

He let Ryuuko clean them up and dress him, pliant under his kisses just in case. "I’d never be able to do this with anyone but you," he murmured as Ryuuko’s hands cupped his face.

"I’m very glad we could," Ryuuko said softly.

For one breath, Shirogane let himself go completely, leaning against Ryuuko’s body entirely relaxed, arms twined around him, laughing. "Yes. So am I." He kissed Ryuuko, open and sweet, resting against him as Ryuuko held him close in answer. The perfection of the moment stilled the very air around them.

And then he pushed away.

"Ready?" he asked, shaking back his loose hair. He’d concluded, after a minute or two of searching, that Ryuuko had most probably pocketed his hair clasp and he would have to shake Akira down for it later.

"As ready as possible." Ryuuko reached out, clasping hands with him again, and they murmured together.

"Light return to light. Darkness return to darkness."

Even with their fingers twined, Shirogane could feel the separation, the letting go, and it wrenched at him. "Ryuuko…"

And then it was Akira’s hands he held.

He sighed, catching Akira in one arm and carrying him out to lay him on the couch beside the lightly snoring Kou. He stroked Akira’s hair back and murmured to him, "I’ll be back later." It was only polite to say, after all, even if Akira wasn’t in much condition to hear.

He walked down to the river and stood beside it, watching the light slide over the surface. Eventually he sat by the edge and set his hand flat against the water, watching ripples eddy around it, feeling the cool against his palm and the heat against the back, feeling the palpable difference between realms.

He could feel the same difference spreading out through the world.

"We did it," he informed his absent counterpart, and sighed, leaning his head against his knees.

He missed Ryuuko so much.

Soon he would go back to Akira, tell him that the unspecified "ritual" had been a success, threaten Kou with slow and grisly death if he ever told Akira what that ritual had been, take up his duties again, keep going.




In bed with Shirogane, Akira wants to see his hair loose. It reminds him of things he doesn’t quite remember yet. Drama with Porn, I-4, MANGA CONTINUITY

Character(s): Nikaidou Akira, Shirogane
Pairing(s): Shirogane/Akira

Akira tipped his head back with a breathless sound as Shirogane’s mouth slid down his throat, arms tightening around him.

And then he started a little as the silky weight of Shirogane’s braid thumped against his shoulder. Not for the first time he decided it was a little odd that he’d never seen it undone, not even when he was pressed up against the wall of the shower by the weight of Shirogane’s body.

Shirogane’s hand stroked down his back and the thought escaped on a sigh. "Do you ever undo your hair?"

Shirogane paused and lifted his head. He was smiling but his eyes were darker than they usually were in bed. "Not… for some time," he murmured.

Akira hmph-ed at this hint of more things he wasn’t going to be told about and Shirogane laughed. He tipped Akira’s chin up with light fingers. "Did you want to see it down?"

Akira flushed; it was probably silly, and he couldn’t even explain why, if Shirogane asked, but… "Yeah."

Shirogane looked at him for a long moment, and finally nodded. "All right." He sat up beside Akira and undid the clasp that held his braid, running his fingers through the silver swaths, unraveling them turn by turn to fan over his bare skin. Akira watched, eyes wide, breath coming light and fast. It was the most sensual thing he’d ever seen and it made an odd kind of heat uncurl inside him.

Shirogane finally shook the whole sweep of it loose and smiled down at Akira, settling over him again. His hair slid over his shoulders and down around Akira in curtains.

And Akira felt… warm.

He felt relaxed; he felt… home, which was a little weird. Of course they were at home. He couldn’t help reaching up to run his fingers though the strands, though.

Shirogane’s smile was soft and a little sad, but Akira didn’t have time to ask why before Shirogane kissed him, hands moving over him again, slow touches opening him up.

The silver around him made the afternoon different, lighter, closer. Shirogane’s touch felt new and familiar, and when Shirogane finally slid into him it felt so right he moaned out loud.

"Yes, please." The words spilled through him. "This… always this."

"Always, yes," Shirogane murmured to him, husky. "With you."

Akira moved with him, perfectly wanton, rocking up to match Shirogane’s thrusts, panting with the senseless brightness that filled him breath after breath. "Please…"

Shirogane leaned down and whispered in his ear, "Always one with you."

The words rang through his mind and body and swept him down in a wave of wild yearning. "Shirogane!"

Shirogane gathered him close and held him until he stilled.

And held him some more while he shivered.

"What was… that was so… I mean…" Akira looked up at Shirogane, a little shocked by how different this afternoon had been.

Shirogane’s eyes were gentle. "You are always you."

Always one. A harder shiver ran through Akira. "That was… Ryuuko?"

"I expect he would have some words to say to me about binding my hair, yes," Shirogane murmured.

Akira tried to fit that into the conversation and finally resorted to, "Huh?"

Shirogane’s mouth quirked. "It’s… one of the signs of what we are. The hair."

"Oh." Akira touched Shirogane’s hair again, biting his lip. "I just think you look better with it down," he muttered.

Shirogane blinked and then laughed. "That’s my Akira."

"Yeah." He looked back up at Shirogane, eyes level. "Yeah, I am." After a moment honesty made him add, "Too."

Shirogane smiled slowly. "I’m glad." His left hand slid down Akira’s body to close between his legs and Akira’s back arched off the bed at the rush of heat. Shirogane purred, "Because I’m not finished yet."

"Fuck!" Akira gasped for breath; and here he’d thought he was wrung out. "That another sign of what you are, when you do this?"

"Do what?" Shirogane asked, innocently, fondling Akira.

"When you… your left hand… so incredible," Akira panted.

"Ah." Shirogane’s smile turned hot. "This hand is where the mark I set the contract with is." He squeezed and Akira moaned. "You respond to it."

That was a hell of an understatement, Akira decided, lightheaded. When Shirogane thrust into him again he groaned, spreading his legs wider. There was nothing strange about it this time, just the hot pleasure of being fucked and the inhuman fierceness of Shirogane’s eyes and the silver of his hair falling around them, bright as the sensation inside him.




In the final confrontation with Homurabi, Ryuuko returns. Afterwards, Akira finds that he remembers and understands a few more things. One of them is why Shirogane has refused to make any more shin than him. Drama with Mild Angst, I-3, MANGA CONTINUITY, implicit spoilers post-32

This was it. This was their last, best chance to corner Homurabi and hopefully defeat him. Akira was somewhere between exalted and terrified.

But not because of Homurabi.

Whenever Akira had changed in the past he’d been too occupied with, most usually, almost dying to notice before he was suddenly waking up again. This time was different. This time, Akira could feel it happening, like walking down a see-saw and reaching the fulcrum, the tipping point, when uphill suddenly became downhill and the world turned over. "Shirogane…" he whispered.

Shirogane looked around at him, eyes widening. "Oh." Swiftly, he was back beside Akira, one hand on his shoulder. "It’s all right. Don’t fight it." His mouth quirked. "It’s only yourself, after all."

Akira swallowed, looking up at him. He could feel the shadow in him thinning. "I don’t… I…"

Shirogane’s eyes darkened and his already rather strained smile tightened. He took a long, slow breath. "Akira."

And then Akira was swept up in Shirogane’s arms, long fingers winding through his hair and tipping his head back, being kissed with ruthless thoroughness. If he’d had a moment to think he might have been embarrassed at being kissed like this in front of everyone, including the damn enemy!, but all he had time to do was respond. So he did, leaning into Shirogane, mouth open under his, moaning softly as Shirogane’s tongue pressed deep.

Relaxing, he forgot to be alarmed by the growing light.

Memory unfolded inside him, memories of Shirogane through ages on ages, his temper and his brilliance, and he reached for Shirogane’s hands, lacing their fingers together, kissing back.

Finally Shirogane drew back and they stood eye to eye, hands clasped palm to palm. Shirogane’s eyes were still dark; he’d known they would be. "I’ll miss being sheltered by you," he murmured.

Shirogane smiled, wry and a little painful. "I’ll miss your young self."

Ryuuko laughed. "Pessimist," he teased, affectionately. "You’ll have both of me back. I doubt I’m recovered enough to stay in this form after we’re done here." Though he hoped, as want flashed over Shirogane’s face, that he’d be recovered enough to remember why he needed to find Shirogane other Children as soon as possible.

"What a dilemma," Homurabi prodded at them. "Perhaps I can relieve you of it by killing Ryuuko again." He smiled at Shirogane, deliberate and provoking. "Though I admit I never suspected you of such common taste."

Shirogane’s lip drew up off his teeth and he straightened, pure and edged as his sword. "A King will die here today, yes."

Ryuuko smiled. "Yes." A King would die, and a King would sleep, and possibly, if they were all very fortunate, a King would heal.

He would have to trust himself, for that.

When Akira came to again he wasn’t sure it was an improvement, because he was half-crushed in Shirogane’s arms. After a few tries he managed a slightly rough "Hey." It was followed by a squawk as Shirogane’s hold tightened before easing enough to breath at least.

"Akira." Shirogane held his shoulders and examined him, and finally sighed. "You’re all right."

"Few broken bones, nothing big." Akira blinked as Shirogane picked him up. "Um. That was a joke. I can walk."

"Actually, no, you probably can’t at the moment." Kou looked a little wobbly himself, but he was grinning. " ‘Sokay. You don’t have to for a while."

Akira looked at the torn ground around them, though he didn’t really need to. "We won." It wasn’t a question. He knew.

"We won." Aya and Lulu each had an arm around Kengo, keeping him upright, but they were both grinning too.

"Good." Akira sighed. "Now I can finally sleep in again."

Aya growled at him and Kou and Kengo laughed. "Need your bed for that," Kou pointed out and held out a hand. "Here. I’ll take him."


Akira looked up at Shirogane, attention locked by the breath of cold ferocity in that flat statement. "Hey." He laid a hand on Shirogane’s chest, feeling the tears in his coat. "Doesn’t matter to me who my litter bearer is."

A little of the tension under his hand eased and Shirogane smiled down at him. "Brat."

Akira mouthed a quick It’s okay, I’ve got it at Kou when Shirogane looked up again. Kou gave him an odd look but nodded and let Shirogane carry him.

He thought all the way home. Every now and then he asked if he could walk yet, just to prod Shirogane, but mostly he thought.

Shirogane settled him on his bed, or at least settled him on Shirogane, on his bed. Akira squirmed around, ignoring the indignant little oofs that Shirogane made until he was more comfortable—still lying against Shirogane’s chest but at least not cradled in his lap.

Somehow he wasn’t at all surprised that Shirogane wasn’t letting go.

"Hey," he said, after a while.


"That first night. The night you changed me. Why did you do it?"

The fingers stroking his hair paused a moment. Finally Shirogane laughed. "Panic, I suppose." His fingers started moving again. "I didn’t expect half of what happened. I didn’t think you’d bolt. I didn’t think the boundary would be so thin you’d fall through it." Dryly he added, "You’re good at being unpredictable."

Akira snorted.

"And I still wasn’t sure you were the one I was looking for, then. It looked like you, but your power was still so faint. So I used what I was most sure would work."

"So," Akira said, reflectively, "the first time in a really long time you make a contract… and it’s basically by accident."

"Not the most elegant way to put it, but I suppose so, yes," Shirogane sighed. "It gave you the power to protect yourself so perhaps it was the best thing in the end."

"Considering how much trouble you instantly got me into," Akira grumbled, and then, while Shirogane was drawing himself up, added, "And here I still am, anyway, alive and everything. So it must be all right for you to make someone shin. All right for you to want to."

Shirogane froze. "Ryuu…?"

"No." Akira looked up at him, arms tightening around him. "I’m Akira. I just… I think I understand more, now." At least it was suddenly clear as day to him just how much Shirogane needed shin around him. And how much he would resist making another, in case he lost them. "I’m me. And either way I’m…" he flushed a bit but finished gamely, "I’m yours."

Shirogane took in a quick breath at that and caught Akira against him, kissing him hot and possessive, the way that turned Akira’s bones to water. "Mine," Shirogane growled, human politeness stripped away, and his tone sent a shiver straight down Akira’s spine to his cock.

Against the rising heat, though, the thought lingered in the back of Akira’s mind that Shirogane’s hunger for shin of his own couldn’t wait much longer to be fed, no matter how much Shirogane didn’t want to risk it.


Looking Glass

After Shirogane returns to see to his own world, Akira comes to visit and get him to unwind a little. Lulu has a talk with Kou, in the meantime, about finding more shin. Drama with Smut, I-3, MANGA CONTINUITY

Character(s): Kou, Lulu, Nikaidou Akira, Shirogane
Pairing(s): Shirogane/Akira

Akira sat on Kou’s couch, arms folded around his knees and watched while Kou wandered around getting drinks and turning on the AC.

"So you want me to show you how to get between the worlds," Kou sighed as he thumped down on the other couch, bottle dangling from his fingers. "Properly, not by accidentally falling through a weak spot."


Kou’s eyes on him were dark as he took a drink. "So you can see Shirogane."

Akira tried not to squirm. "Well. Yeah."

"Any reason he didn’t teach you before he left?"

Akira snorted. "This is Shirogane. Control freak of the millennium. You really have to ask?"

"Mm." Kou hadn’t looked away yet. "So you’re not worried he’ll be pissed off if you just show up unexpectedly?"

"Probably will be," Akira allowed. "So what?"

Kou choked on a swallow.

"Sometimes he needs someone around even if he doesn’t want to talk about it." Akira shrugged. "So I should know how to go."

Kou laughed through his last few coughs. "Yeah, you’re you all right." He leaned back, mouth quirked. "And totally in love too, aren’t you?"

Akira jerked upright. "I am not!"

Kou lifted both brows.

"I’m not… It isn’t… It’s…" Akira tried helplessly to find a word for what it was like, for the man who had highhandedly turned his life inside out and tried to protect him from the consequences, who was ferociously possessive and who had never even breathed a hint that he was Akira’s king and master under their contract, who smiled and kissed and teased and killed with equal ease. "It’s complicated," he finally mumbled.

"I’ll believe that," Kou agreed dryly. He heaved a sigh. "All right, all right, I’ll show you. But," he held up a finger, "I’m coming with you the first time. Just to make sure."


Akira stumbled a little as he emerged through the careful rings of definition and redefinition into shadow and nearly jumped out of his skin as someone right behind him huffed.

"Oh, it’s just you." Lulu jumped down from her perch. "What are you doing here?" She cocked her head as Kou emerged on Akira’s heels. "Both of you?"

"Just visiting."

Lulu’s mouth twisted wryly. "Oh. Right." She waved a careless hand. "Well come on, then."

Akira followed her through a door that hadn’t been there a few seconds ago, shaking his head. He still thought this whole place was weird.

"Shirogane-sama," Lulu caroled as she skipped ahead of them. How old was she supposed to be again? "Visitors!"

"I gathered that," Shirogane was saying dryly, as he turned, and then stopped short. "Akira? What are you doing here?"

"Visiting," he repeated patiently.

Shirogane’s eyes narrowed, first at him and then at Kou, behind him. "And you thought this was a good idea?"

"Excuse me? Who’s my king again?" Kou scratched his head theatrically. "Pretty sure his name isn’t Shirogane…"

Akira considered the chill growing in Shirogane’s aura and nodded to himself. "You’re too alone, here," he stated. And added, at Lulu’s pout, "Even with her."

"So you came to keep me company?" Shirogane lifted an arrogant brow.

"Seemed like a good idea, yeah."

Shirogane gave him a long hard look, which Akira waited out. Shirogane had never been dangerous to him, and he wasn’t about to start freaking out now. Finally a corner of Shirogane’s mouth quirked up reluctantly. "Keep me company, hm?"

"Yeah." A tingle went down Akira’s spine as Shirogane stalked toward him. "Um…" He glanced over at Kou and Lulu; the latter was watching with interest. She looked like she only needed some popcorn. "Um." He looked back up at Shirogane, who was now standing very close, face heating.

Shirogane caught Akira up tight against him. "You’re the one who insisted," he purred, fingers twining into Akira’s hair, drawing his head back.

"Shiroga—mmm…" Heat curled low in Akira’s stomach as Shirogane kissed him, deep and relentless. It never failed to make him hard when Shirogane got like this.

He did manage to gasp, between kisses, "No audience!"

Shirogane’s lips curled up. "Very well." He leaned down to murmur in Akira’s ear, "I admit, I think I’ll like it better to have you all to myself when I bend you over in my bed."

Akira’s last coherent thought for a while was that maybe he’d left this visit too long.

Lulu shook her head ruefully as Shirogane-sama swept Akira off, and looked at Kou. "You probably shouldn’t stay here too long. I’ll make sure he gets back all right."

"After that?" Kou snorted. "You may be right, but I’m damn well not leaving until I get Akira back in one piece."

She shrugged. "Your neck. How about a drink, then?"

Kou turned away from glaring down the hallway after Shirogane-sama, at that. "Hospitable of you," he said, slowly.

"There aren’t enough of us to avoid working together, right now." She called her door again and beckoned him after her, stepping through into her own home.

"Not as many ruffles as I expected," Kou muttered, picking a chair.

"That’s for the bedroom," she told him, just to see his eyes bug, and laughed. "Here." She poured a glass for each of them. "Listen. There’s only just me so far, here; Akira is different and I’m not sure he knows what to look for yet."

Kou’s eyes sharpened over the rim of his glass. "You want me to keep an eye out for people who could be shin."

She smiled; always nice to deal with someone quick on the uptake. "That too. More than that, though." She took a sip from her own. "Watch for the king."

Kou blinked. "Not already…"

"No, probably not. But soon. By the time Akira grows into himself and Ryuuko, we need the other king."

Kou regarded her narrowly. "There something you’re not telling me?"

She looked up, eyes sharp. "Of course there is! You said it yourself. My king isn’t your king. My contract is with Shirogane-sama now!"

Kou lifted a hand, palm up, acknowledging the justice of that. Lulu sighed.

"I’ll tell you this much. Shirogane-sama needs to be settled with the new king before he has to let go of Akira."

"Because Ryuuko is different," Kou filled in slowly.

She nodded. Shirogane-sama needed more shin period, to convince him it was all right to have them, but the king should come first so he could get the anxiety of having failed with Homurabi out of his system and not pass it on to new Children.

"All right. I’ll keep an eye out," Kou agreed after a moment.

Lulu let out a breath of relief. "Good. By the time we need him, the factor should have had time to grow in whoever it is."

And with luck that would help steady her king, who was far more delicately balanced than she was going to tell a lunk like Kou who seemed to like provoking him.

She drained her glass, hoping that Akira’s visit would soothe that angry, desperate edge for now.

Akira lay perfectly limp on the bed and moaned a little as Shirogane’s hand kneaded his ass, which was feeling very well worked. Husky, he murmured, "Don’t think it will ever stop turning me on when you get like that."

Shirogane laughed, low, against his shoulder. "Yes. I’ll miss that."

Akira folded his arms under his cheek, thoughtful. "Mm. I remember more now, you know. Or, at least… I know stuff." He turned his head to look at Shirogane. "I think I’ll like it even later on."

Shirogane leaned up on an elbow and looked down at him, eyes startled. "You never did before," he said carefully.

Akira shrugged and grinned. "Yeah, well. That was before." He turned on his side so he could look up at Shirogane, serious. "I’m going to be Ryuuko, I guess. But he’s going to be me, too."

Shirogane blinked. "Oh," he said at last.

Akira snorted. "It never occurred to you, did it?"

"I’m afraid not, any more than it seems to have occurred to anyone else." Shirogane smiled crookedly, stroking Akira’s hair back, and leaned down to kiss him. "Of all of us, I should have known better. Forgive me," he murmured against Akira’s mouth.

Akira’s cheeks heated just a little. Shirogane didn’t use polite language with him very often anymore. "Sure."

Shirogane laughed again and held him close. Akira rested his cheek against Shirogane’s chest, hands stroking up and down his back, and smiled to himself. The tension was gone.

He’d have to be sure and visit again soon.



A year or so later, life is going on. Two moments, one from light and one from shadow. Drama, I-3, MANGA CONTINUITY, spoiler iss 32

"Hah! Take that!"

The screen flashed with colorful explosions and Akira tossed his controller down in disgust. "You’re even a demon in games."

Aya sniffed. "You just don’t have the concentration for it. Come on Kengo, your turn to be trounced!"

Akira grumbled but sprawled over Kengo’s bed while Kengo grabbed the second controller, grinning.

"Speaking of concentration," Aya turned to look up at him while Kengo chose his character, "shouldn’t you be studying anyway? I mean, you’re the one who’s going to take the university entrance exams."

"Ah, I’ll be fine." Akira stretched out. "I never have to study."

"It’s true," Kengo put in, looking woeful.

Aya just shook her head. "Your problem if you fail, not mine. Finally," she added under her breath.

"Better that than having to do dojo stuff like you. Your grandpa is one scary old man."

Aya’s grin flashed. "Yep." Her expression turned thoughtful and she nudged Kengo. "Hey. Have you decided yet?"

"Once a prefect, always a prefect," Akira muttered while Kengo smiled cheerfully.

"Nee-san said I’d like sales better than manufacturing, so I guess it’s going to be Japan Toys."

Aya smiled back, looking remarkably sweet for someone who was about to make a career out of terrorizing her students with a shinai. "You’ll be good at that." She elbowed Akira. "Not like Mr. Aloof over here. It’s a good thing you want to do programming, Akira, because you sure couldn’t deal with people for a living. You could stand to learn a few things from Kengo."

"Like what, how to fetch?" He held up his hands as Aya started to get a dangerous glint in her eye. "Yeah, yeah, fine, people skills, whatever."

Aya snorted and turned back to the game with a little huff and Akira grinned, knowing he’d bought himself another round of teasing as soon as she saw the opportunity. Aya was as reliable as Kengo that way.

He’d have to make sure university left time to visit his friends.

Lulu made a satisfied sound as she finally found Shirogane-sama, reading, in the fifth room she checked. She slipped in and quietly set a cup of coffee beside his chair.

"There’s no need to be so attentive," he told her, not looking up which was no surprise.

"I like to."

Now he looked up. "And is this supposed to convince me to trust someone who cheerfully betrayed her first master?"

A corner of Lulu’s mouth tucked up. "Yes." She laughed at the way his eyes narrowed and curled up at his feet, leaning against the seat of his chair. "I hold to my duty. Always. Doesn’t that prove that I’m the right kind of person to serve you?"

"You seemed satisfied enough with Homurabi until he threatened you personally."

She shrugged off the sharpness of his gaze. "If I wanted to be shin, if I wanted to follow my affiliation, I didn’t have much choice. And I came to you when I could." She looked up at him, serious. "When I understood which duty was higher. You see," her lips curled, "it wasn’t really switching sides at all."

He eyed her with both brows lifted.

"I’m shin," she murmured, leaning against his knees. "You’re the direct king of shadow. Whoever my master is, ultimately I serve you. And now you’re my master as well."

"Mm." His eyes on her were considering, still wary but no longer entirely shuttered. It was a start. She smiled.

"So drink your coffee and get back to your book." She rolled up to her knees and paused. Maybe…

She reached for his left hand and lifted it and touched her lips delicately to the back, where his mark was. She couldn’t hold herself completely steady through the jolt of that contact and her voice was husky as she added, "My king."

His fingers uncurled at that and his sigh stirred her hair. He drew his hand away and touched her bent head. "I suppose so."

She nodded and rose and slipped out silently.

She didn’t grin with triumph until she was two halls away. Now if they could just get a few more shin around here, she’d have things back on track in no time at all. She just hoped "no time at all" would be before Akira completely ceased to be Shirogane-sama’s shin.

Hunger and fear together had both driven Shirogane-sama to make Akira shin; it was just luck that Akira had the strength to bear the weight of both. She didn’t trust that luck would make Shirogane-sama’s next Child that strong.


Enthroned Heart

Kou thinks he’s figured out who the next king of shadow is. Now they have to convince Akira to let him go. Drama, I-3, MANGA CONTINUITY

Kou sighed. He was going to have to refresh his liquor cabinet. He always did, after Lulu visited.

"All right, you said you found something," Lulu said, settling on Kou’s best chair. "So what is it?"

Kou blew out a stream of smoke. "Think it’s the king you want. You’ll never believe who it is, though." He certainly hadn’t.

Lulu’s eyes narrowed. "One of the kids?"

Kou nearly pouted at her. It wasn’t fair when she dropped the fluff-head act and got all sharp.

"That was awfully fast for a factor to develop enough for you to think it’s the king and not just the next of Shirogane-sama’s Children," she said, a bit suspicious, and Kou grinned.

"It hasn’t developed suddenly. Actually, I think the shadow world was trying to make another king for kind of a while now."

"…Kengo," she concluded slowly. "Kou, are you sure? That synch factor…"

"That’s why I think it." He leaned forward, elbows on his knees, drawn into the excitement of his deductions. "His affinity for shadow has been growing, you know. After we got the mess with Homurabi straightened out I tried to seal it again and I couldn’t; he was already too strong. The best I could do was tone it down a little so he didn’t cause another break in the boundary just by walking around and breathing!"

She sat back. "You’re right. That is the kind of strength that makes a king. But the synch?"

"The first time it happened he took on the aspect of a kokuchi, right? But the second time he stayed in human shape. At first I thought it was just that I caught him earlier, but now I’m not so sure. Both times, he was synching as a human." He pointed his cigarette at her, eyes gleaming. "What if he becomes shin and synchronizes with shadow then, at a much, much greater capacity?"

"Hm." Lulu took another drink, eyes distant. "I guess either he becomes a king or he turns into an unstoppable monster that only Shirogane-sama could possibly kill."

Kou just looked at her for a long moment. "…if you don’t mind, can we not put it quite that way when we mention this to Ken and Aki?"

She looked back down at him, mouth quirking. "Of course not. But someone has to keep these things clearly in mind."

"You’re scary, you know that?" He took a comforting drag on his cigarette.

She leaned back with a laugh. "Of course. That’s why I belong so well to Shirogane-sama."

He couldn’t argue with that when her smile was putting a chill right down his spine.

"So," Kengo said, at the end of the explanation, "basically it’d be like taking a job overseas."

Kou, Lulu, Akira and Aya all stared at him. Mayu was too busy chewing on a nail.

"You want to run that by me again?" Kou asked.

"Well, if I’m a king then I have to be in the shadow world, right?" Kengo said, in a reasonable tone. "I can’t visit here too often or it would cause problems. So I can only see Nee-san and Akira and everyone every now and then, but I could probably send messages more often, right? Just like from a job overseas."

Kou really couldn’t help smiling and ruffling Kengo’s hair. This kid was way too good, too nice, for the shadow world and Shirogane.

"It’s, um. Probably going to be a whole lot harder than a normal kind of job," Lulu said, a little helplessly. Kou could practically see her trying to figure out how to fit the truth into the space between Kengo’s ears.

Of course, his head wasn’t where truth needed to fit, for Kengo.

"Mm. Figured. I mean, we all saw how Mas— um." Kengo eyed his sister sidelong and started again. "We all saw that, yeah. But," a cheerful shrug, "everyone always says I have a lot of endurance."

"Kengo." Mayu looked even more concerned, eyes wide. He patted her hand.

"It’ll be okay, Nee-san. Shirogane-san is back, so it won’t be like that. I’ll make sure!"

She sniffed in face of his grin. "Idiot." He made a strangled sound as she threw her arms around him. "You’d better write, then!" she said, muffled, into his shoulder.

His smile turned very gentle. "Of course I will."

Kou snuck a glance at Lulu and almost laughed. She looked downright doting. He’d figured Kengo would reel her in, considering her thing for cuteness.

"All right," Aya cut in briskly, "that’s one. Now what about the other. Akira?" She looked at him with a raised brow.

"What about me?" he muttered, sulky enough to make Kou cock his head. Usually Akira sounded a little more mature than that lately.

Aya rolled her eyes. "We’re not blind, okay? And I, at least, remember how you got when Homurabi was messing around with Kengo. You’re the most possessive person on the face of the earth! It’s no wonder you and Shirogane-san get along, really."

Kou pretended to take a drag on his cigarette so he could cover his grin as Akira’s mouth opened and closed soundlessly and Kengo’s eyes got big.

"So are you okay with Kengo going and being a king of shadow?" Aya concluded.

Akira crossed his arms and glanced around, not meeting anyone’s eyes. "Well. I mean. It’s not really any concern…"

"Akira?" Kengo said, eyes fixed on him, and Kou blinked. Kengo really wouldn’t go if Akira didn’t want him to, factor or no factor.

Akira looked at Kengo and was absolutely still for a moment. Finally he sighed and ran a hand through his hair. When he spoke again, the rhythm of his words changed just a little and Kou leaned forward, eyes wide.

"It’s your choice, Kengo. If you do want to go," a long pause and then a tiny smile, "I’d be glad there’s someone there to help Shirogane."

Kengo’s eyes were soft and his smile was brilliant. "I will."

Akira looked down at his crossed arms and said very quietly, "I know."

Longing shivered through Kou. Almost. It was almost Ryuuko.

He made a strangled sound to match Kengo’s when Lulu grabbed him by the collar and hauled him back. "Okay, then," she said with a cheery smile at everyone. "Let’s do it!"

Shirogane stared at Kengo and then at Kou. "Are you very sure about this?"

"Close." Kou shrugged. "Can’t think of anyone else who’d have a factor this strong."

"And you’re willing to risk it?" Shirogane asked Kengo. "Knowing that if it goes wrong I’ll probably have to kill you to stop you?"

"Oh, don’t worry about that! Akira would stop me." Kengo smiled with sunny confidence. "And he probably wouldn’t kill me."

Kou thought, not for the first time, the Ken and Aki had a very strange friendship. Shirogane looked like he was thinking the same thing.

Akira just snorted, leaning against a pillar. "Yeah, don’t worry. It’s Kengo."

Why that made Kengo’s smile brighten, Kou wasn’t sure.

"If I make you shin, and this works the way we think it will, you’ll be here the rest of your life, which may be very long," Shirogane pressed. "Are you sure of this, Kengo?"

Kengo cocked his head, fixing that perfectly direct look on Shirogane. "Sure I am. You’re scary sometimes, Shirogane-san. But I like you."

For once, Shirogane looked completely at a loss. Against his pillar, Akira chuckled. "I told you." He smiled at Shirogane. "It’s Kengo."

"Very well," Shirogane said quietly. He held out a hand to Kengo and his eyes might just have softened a little at how readily Kengo took it.

Kou backed up with everyone else as the Shirogane’s words echoed and wound around them, around Kengo, changing him. Spell light speared through the entire space and, looking at the intensity of Shirogane’s expression, Kou thought he might finally understand why Lulu was so insistent that Shirogane needed his own shin around him. Having all that focused on just one person seemed downright dangerous.

In the still moment when the spell completed, the whole world flexed. Kou flinched, shocked, as shadow rushed down on them, rushed in to the two at the spell’s center. It was suddenly hard to breathe against the weight of it, and it went on and on. When it stopped he stayed crouched against the wall, panting. Even Lulu and Akira looked a little shaken.

Kengo stood in front of Shirogane in a black tabard, falling over a white shirt.

"It’s heavy," he whispered.

"It is," Shirogane agreed, gently. "Will you still carry it?"

"Of course. I have to take care of you for Akira, don’t I?" Kengo’s grin hadn’t changed.

Akira jerked upright as if he’d been stuck with a pin. "Kengo!"

Kengo looked over his shoulder, eyes laughing and violet. "That’s what you meant." He smiled at Akira. "Wasn’t it?"

That small change moved over Akira again, like the shadow of a cloud moving over the ground, and he smiled faintly. "Maybe."

Kengo looked back at Shirogane, whose mouth was twitching at the corners. "And I have to take care of you for you."

Shirogane looked at him for a long moment and finally laid a hand on his shoulder. "Thank you." He took a breath and added, "Go slowly. I can carry most of it still."

"I know. I can tell." Kengo’s eyes were steady. "But I’m here now. You shouldn’t have to."

"Go slowly anyway," Shirogane said firmly, and Kengo grinned again.

"Whatever you say, boss."

Shirogane blinked and Kou had to snicker. Lulu thought that Shirogane deserved to have a king like Kengo to help him.

All things considered, maybe Kou agreed.



Kengo convinces Shirogane to let him help with work. Drama, I-3, MANGA CONTINUITY

Character(s): Asamura Kengo, Shirogane

Shirogane stood at one of his balconies and looked out over shadow, testing the weight and movement of it in his senses, and sighed. He’d expected this but that didn’t make it any less tedious to deal with.


He looked over his shoulder as Kengo leaned in the doorway, frowning.

"Do you feel…?"

"Yes." Shirogane smiled; his new king was coming along nicely. "It’s because the kings are still unbalanced, with Akira not fully awakened. Until he does we will need to hold shadow back from overwhelming the light again."

"Oh, okay." Kengo seemed perfectly pleased just to know there was an explanation and came to stand beside Shirogane. "So what do we do?"

"I’ll take care of it. Watch what I do, so you can learn it."

Now Kengo frowned, stubborn. "I should do more than that. I can do more than that, I know it."

Echoes of the past twitched at Shirogane’s nerves and he told himself firmly that Kengo was nothing like Homurabi had ever been. "In time."

Kengo looked up at him and said quietly. "All the weird things that happened to me while I was little, all the strange things that happened all over the whole city when I got older, all the stuff I never understood… all that was because of this, wasn’t it?" He waved a hand down himself, at the black-over-white regalia.

"Because of your potential for this, yes," Shirogane admitted.

"So let me fulfill it. Let me make it mean something."

Shirogane’s mouth tightened; the entreaty of Kengo’s expression tugged at him. Clearly he’d gotten soft while wandering around in the light. All he should be thinking about was the best answer for the purposes of balancing their worlds, not a young king’s eagerness. His heart still tugged.

While he was trying to decide how to answer, Kengo stopped waiting and stepped to the rail, stretching out a hand. He pulled at shadow, calling it, and Shirogane made an exasperated sound, raking his hair back. "Not like that." He reached out also, laying his command of shadow over Kengo’s, giving shadow a boundary for light to fill in against.

"Oh! Okay. Here, then." Kengo’s influence sank down to run under his, supporting him, and Shirogane had to steady himself. Not against Kengo’s power, but against his openness, his willingness.

Not like Homurabi at all, he reminded himself.

As they worked, gathering shadow back into its proper bounds, Kengo closed his eyes, chin sinking toward his chest. "Kengo," Shirogane murmured, attention on curbing his realm but not so entirely he didn’t feel the ebb of Kengo’s strength.

"Let me," Kengo said softly. "Please, Shirogane-san."

Shirogane cast an exasperated look at Kengo’s bent head, but let it pass. It would be just as well for Kengo to learn his limits while Shirogane was present. And he had to admit, to himself at least, the unstinting solidity of Kengo’s support made the work go more easily. It almost seemed to make his breathing go more easily, but that was probably just wishful thinking.

By the time they were done, Kengo was clinging to the rail, panting. "Is that it?"

"Yes, that’s all. For now." Shirogane was feeling a bit worn himself, he had to admit.

Kengo slithered down in a heap. "Oh good. Wow. That’s hard."

"I did tell you." Shirogane gave him a sharp look, which seemed to make no impression at all. Of course, he recalled with a sigh, this was Kengo who was used to being called dreadful names by his best friend as an expression of affection.

"Yep. You did." Kengo grinned. "Thanks for letting me help." He looked down, bright smile turning shy, and added, "It’s my job to support you, isn’t it?"

"Kengo…" Shirogane hesitated, but it could be an issue and better to know, "are you really sure of this? After all this time being Akira’s support…?"

Kengo looked up, eyes wide and surprised. "Of course I am. Akira is going to be rei, isn’t he? The direct king. So if I’m shin and we’re opposites, well… that means I still have his back, doesn’t it? From the other side."

"I suppose so, yes," Shirogane said slowly, startled by the wisdom of that. "But it is still on the other side."

Kengo smiled up at him. "Yeah, but I kind of always have been, from Akira. It still works." More softly, he added, "And now there’s you, too."

Shirogane blinked. "I beg your pardon?" he asked, lapsing into his mask of human politeness out of startlement.

"Akira’s my best friend, yeah. But he’s not the only one who’s important to me. I mean, there’s Nee-san too. And Aya. And now you."

"Kengo," Shirogane murmured after a long, silent moment. He would not, he thought, have trouble again remembering that Kengo was nothing like his last subordinate king. He stepped forward and laid a hand lightly on Kengo’s head.

Kengo colored a little but still smiled, happy.

"Come find me again, if you feel something wrong with our realm," Shirogane told him quietly. "And we’ll fix it."

Kengo lit up like sunrise. "Yes, Shirogane-san."

Shirogane smiled back and took a slow, deep breath. It wasn’t his imagination.

The old, old tension was easing.



Akira, Ryuuko and Shirogane get some closure, and some reopening. Drama with Porn, I-4, MANGA CONTINUITY

Character(s): Ryuuko, Shirogane
Pairing(s): Shirogane/Ryuuko

Akira lay in Shirogane’s arms and wondered if humans, or shin for that matter, could purr. He felt like he wanted to try. The sun had gone down, but the air was still clear and warm with spring, and Shirogane’s hands were just that comfortable bit warmer as they slid up and down his back and over his shoulders.

"The shadow in you is thinning," Shirogane murmured against his hair.

"I know." He’d actually been holding onto it with teeth and toenails, and he wasn’t sure how much longer he could hold the change off. Perhaps… perhaps now would be a good time to do something he’d been meaning to. Akira leaned back a bit to look up at Shirogane. "I’m still yours."

Shirogane’s mouth quirked and he cupped Akira’s cheek gently. "Two years ago you’d never have been able to say that without blushing, if you managed to say it at all."

"Two years is a long time."

Shirogane’s smile turned more real. "You’re still young, to say that."

Still-faint memory stirred in Akira’s mind and he tugged Shirogane down against him, arms sliding around him. "So," he said softly in Shirogane’s ear. "I can say it now. Take me while you’re still my master."

Shirogane’s hand tightened on his nape. Silent tension curled and sang through the air. Finally Shirogane let his breath out.

"I’ve never been your master, regardless of our contract. I hope you know that."

Akira smiled. "I know." He’d just needed to hear that Shirogane knew, too.

"Aggravating creature," Shirogane grumbled. He leaned up on one elbow and looked down at Akira, smile wry. "To answer the question you don’t ask: Yes. I wanted you to be my shin, to stay my shin, because I love you."

This time Akira did blush, eyes wide, old memories and experience or no. Shirogane softened, gathering him close again. "Yes, Akira. I do. I have."

"Thank you," Akira whispered, holding Shirogane tight. He could feel light and shadow turning inside him, shifting, and the rising light pressed words from him. "I love you. I am yours. I always will be yours. Shirogane, please…" He needed Shirogane to accept this.

"Akira." Shirogane took a breath. "Ryuuko. You know I’m also yours."

Akira gasped as change spilled through him, the fine layer of difference between one side of a mirror and the other. When it faded he and Shirogane lay entwined, rei and shin, and he moaned softly with the relief of feeling it again. Shirogane’s breath was quick and light against his neck.

"I’d almost forgotten." Shirogane pressed against him, fingers sliding up into his hair. "Ryuuko… Akira…"

"Either. Both. It doesn’t matter," he whispered. "Oh, it’s been so long…" Even the sudden weight of the boundary against his power didn’t matter in face of being able to feel Shirogane’s shadow clearly. For a while they just lay together, hands stroking over each other, but finally he stirred and said, "You agreed that I’m still yours, didn’t you? Show me." When Shirogane stirred against him, startled, he murmured "Please," again, coaxing.

Shirogane’s shoulder shook with laughter and his eyes were bright as he pressed Ryuuko back and settled over him, both hands carding through his hair. "Evil creature," Shirogane murmured and kissed him, deep and slow and possessive.

Ryuuko moaned softly into the kiss. Shirogane really only needed the tiniest encouragement, and he did want this. After so long apart, he wanted very much to feel his counterpart’s touch.

And nothing made Shirogane more himself than being high-handed and possessive.

Shirogane kissed him more and more fiercely, the veil he usually kept over his aura these days stripping away to leave it bare and wild and sharp against Ryuuko’s. He spread his hands against Shirogane’s back and moaned out loud as long, strong fingers opened his body.

"Mine," Shirogane breathed as he slid into Ryuuko. "You’re mine, Ryuuko, always mine."

Ryuuko laughed breathlessly, body taut with the rough heat of Shirogane’s thrusts, delighted with the raw power of his counterpart in his arms. "Forever," he answered, husky.

Shirogane fucked him hard and slow until they were both panting for breath, both straining toward the edge of pleasure, light and dark twined so tight they almost broke each other apart. The heat of Shirogane’s hand on his cock pushed Ryuuko over the edge with three fast, demanding strokes and he pulled Shirogane tighter against him, groaning as fierce heat wrung his whole body. Shirogane held on, watching him with burning eyes and if Ryuuko had had the breath to laugh again he would have. Instead he rocked up to meet Shirogane’s last, wild thrusts and watched him in turn as his head tipped back, lips parted.

"Beautiful as creation," he murmured, drawing Shirogane back down to him, and got a hard kiss in return.

"As if you should talk," Shirogane murmured into his mouth.

A soft shiver ran through him as their old, old teasing settled into his memory, old and new, and joined them. "Thank you," he whispered.

Shirogane smiled at him, sweet and soft and true, the way almost no one ever saw. "Because I love you."


Out of Patience

Kou and Shirogane finally decide to come to grips, in their tug-of-war over Ryuuko, and it ends in sex. Written for Porn Battle with the promt: Shirogane/Kou, tug-of-war. Pure Porn, I-4, MANGA CONTINUITY

Character(s): Kou, Shirogane
Pairing(s): Shirogane/Kou

Kou supposed he should have expected it to happen eventually. He and Shirogane had been having their tug-of-war, or at least tug-of-Ryuuko, for a long time. And they’d kept, as it were, walking their hands up the rope to get a better grip. Maybe it wasn’t surprising that they’d eventually leave off the rope and just tug on each other.

Or something.

At any rate, that made sense of how he’d come to be shoved up against this wall with Shirogane’s cock pushing into him. He was sure it did, somehow. Shirogane’s hands gripped his ass harder, lifting him higher, and he moaned. He didn’t know why it should be so hot to feel that careless strength from someone as fine-drawn as Shirogane, but it was.

"So," Shirogane purred against his throat, cock sliding in and out of Kou’s ass, fucking him slow and hard, "still want me to ‘keep my hands off’?"

"Fuck, no," Kou gasped. "Keep them on, please…" He rocked into Shirogane’s thrusts, or tried to, a whine catching in his throat when Shirogane pressed him up harder against the wall, holding him still. Shirogane’s cock drove into him hard and deep but so slow it was making Kou a little crazy. Gasps turned to whimpers turned to outright pleading as pleasure dragged through him, and still Shirogane held that pace.

"Fuck, please, Shirogane, anything, please…" he begged, whole body arched taut.

"Mmm. Anything? Then you’ll do as I say next time we have a difference of opinion?" Shirogane murmured, husky.

"Yes!" Anything if it would get Shirogane to release him!

"Remember that." He caught a glimpse of Shirogane’s smile as he pulled back from Kou, and then he was pulled away from the wall, spun around, and pushed down over the back of his couch. Shirogane’s hands closed on his hips and he thrust back into Kou’s ass, and again, and again, fucking Kou rough and fast, hard enough to lift him up off his toes. Kou nearly screamed as pleasure finally tipped over and orgasm burned through him wild and hot.

He shuddered, draped over the back of the couch, as Shirogane drove into him hard, until Shirogane stilled with a gasp, hands tightening on Kou’s hips. "Mmmm." Those hands finally relaxed, sliding around to knead Kou’s ass slow and easy.

That made Kou blush a little, but only a little.

"So, you’ll remember your ‘anything’?" Shirogane asked.


"You promised to mind me." Kou could hear the smile in his voice.

"Aw, fuck," he muttered, reaching for a pillow to bang his head against.


Kou growled, but given that he needed Shirogane’s help to stand upright, he supposed it was a point. Shirogane smiled, downright feline. "Just tell me if you need a reminder of your promise." He caught Kou’s chin and kissed him, slow and thorough and just as ruthlessly as he’d fucked him, leaving Kou breathless all over again.

"I’ll, um. Yeah. Do that." He would definitely have to do that.

Okay, maybe he could understand why Ryuuko was so pleased when Shirogane was around, after all.



To win the battle, Kou needs a king’s power to back his. There’s really only one king available… Picks up post-35. Drama, I-3, MANGA CONTINUITY, mild spoilers

Character(s): Kou, Shirogane

Kou hauled himself up from the bed, wincing a little. "You’re a real bastard, you know that?"

"A fine way to talk to someone who just finished healing the wounds your own idiocy bought you," Shirogane observed, pulling his gloves back on.

Kou’s mouth tightened at the reminder. "You’re serious about taking the fight into the shadow world, aren’t you?"

"Of course I am. Shisui can’t hold on much longer." After a moment, not looking at him, Shirogane added, "Neither can I. I’ve stayed here almost as long as I can."

"You’ll be fine on the other side, though, won’t you?" The thought that had been in the back of his mind all evening was nagging again.

"Another advantage of fighting there," Shirogane agreed, coolly. He gave Kou a sharp look. "A handicap for you, though. Do you have enough strength, even now, to do it?"

"Yeah, that’s the question of the hour." Kou scrubbed a hand over his face. "I met Sawaki, when I went to get Kengo back."

Shirogane’s eyes glinted under the edge of his hat.

"Yeah, I wanted to take the damn traitor apart too, but that isn’t the point now." Kou paced once around his room, unable to hold still. "Look. If he could… could change. It means it’s possible, right?" Kou stopped and laid a hand against the wall, staring at it. "Could I?"

"Are you honestly suggesting that you become my shin?" Shirogane asked, slowly, and his tone suggested that maybe there was an injury to Kou’s head he hadn’t taken care of.

"Only for this! Only until Ryuuko’s back!" Kou spun around and glared at him. "I wouldn’t even be thinking it if I was…" He deflated, reminded by his own words and finished quietly, "if I was strong enough." He leaned back against the wall with a sigh. "Thing is, I’m not. And Ryuuko isn’t recovered enough for me to touch his power, yet. And Shisui-san is practically killing himself as it is. That leaves you."

"How thrilling for us both," Shirogane said dryly. He folded his arms, eyes sharp on Kou for a long moment. "I could change you, yes. But only one of the rei kings could reclaim you. Are you really willing to be my Child for however long it takes Ryuuko’s spirit to recover?"

"I would kind of rather gnaw off my leg, actually," Kou said brightly, "but if I don’t have more power for this fight than I have right now, Ryuuko might just be killed when we lose. And," he finished, tone turning steely, "I’m not letting that happen again."

Shirogane’s mouth twisted. "You have a point." After another few minutes of brooding, while Kou tapped his foot and fidgeted and nearly started pulling his own hair with frustration, he finally sighed. "All right."

Kou swallowed, abruptly faced with the execution of his brilliant idea. "Okay," he said, low, and stepped away from the wall.

Shirogane looked at him for a long moment, eyes hooded, and nodded. He opened one hand and shadow swept around them both.

"I am the shadow of all things…"

Shirogane’s words echoed in his skull, and Shirogane’s power wrapped around him like deep water, leaving Kou gasping for breath, unsure which way was up. Change burned through him, though he couldn’t have said what was changing. When it released him he was dizzy and panting.

The arm he put out to catch himself was in black.

Kou shivered, wrapping both arms around himself. He should feel more different than he did.

"All right?" Shirogane asked quietly.

Kou nodded and took a slow breath and straightened. New strength sang through him like running wire; he knew Shirogane had been weakened by spending so long in the light, but you couldn’t tell it by him. It felt… really good to have this again. "I’ll be ready when we go."

"Good." Shirogane collected his cane and turned for the door; he rested a hand on Kou’s shoulder as he passed. Kou had to bite back a shiver at the light tug of his power. The power of the one he was bound to.

He collapsed onto the couch as the door clicked shut and leaned back, staring up at the ceiling. "Ryuuko," he whispered. "Come back soon."


The Balance of Intention

After Homurabi is defeated, Kou and Shirogane have to reach some understanding of what they are to each other. Drama, I-3, MANGA CONTINUITY

Character(s): Kou, Shirogane

The shadow world could be kind of boring, Kou had decided. At least now that there weren’t any crazy kings around stirring it up. And he certainly didn’t wish Homurabi back, but with only two people around to talk to, and neither of them Akira, he was definitely feeling out of sorts.

Fortunately there was a solution.

"I’m going to check in on Akira."

Shirogane looked up at that and frowned. "Wait, Kou." He turned away from the window and came to examine Kou more closely. "You’ve spent too long in the light already; it’s wearing you down. Stay here until you’re recovered."

Kou frowned back. "No. I need to make sure Akira is okay," he insisted.

It really shouldn’t have been a surprise, because he knew he wasn’t the only one getting frazzled, what with only two kings active. He still backed up in shock when Shirogane’s eyes narrowed and his power slammed down on the white-walled room like lead falling.

"You will do as I say."

Kou’s back hit the wall and he swallowed as Shirogane paced towards him. He hadn’t felt the raw edge of Shirogane’s temper and power since he’d been changed, and it was different now. It was inside him, now. Loyalty was the one thing he refused to back down on, though, and he wrenched his eyes away from the vice of Shirogane’s and found his voice. "He’s my king! I won’t leave him just because I’m tired!"

Shirogane was right in front of him, now, and gloved fingers caught his chin, turning him back to face that scorching gaze. "I am your king, now."

"I…" Kou’s teeth nearly met in his lip. It was true, but…

Shirogane sighed faintly, and closed his eyes for a breath, and the weight of his power gentled a bit. Kou shivered anyway as it folded around him, because the one thing it wasn’t doing was releasing him. "Ryuuko is my counterpart. Akira is my friend. I care for him too, Kou. Can you believe that I will be sure nothing happens to him?"


Shirogane wasn’t letting him look away. "And you’re mine now, so I care for you, also. You need to recover before you can spend much time in the light again." His hand tightened on Kou’s chin. "Tell me you will obey me."

"I…" Kou closed his eyes. "I can’t, please… I can’t stop there, not for Ryuuko. I can’t give just half of my loyalty."

Shirogane was silent for a moment. Finally he murmured, "Haven’t you, though?"

Kou’s eyes opened in shock and Shirogane was looking at him, cool and distant. The way he used to.

"You’re shin, for now, Kou. You’re my Child, and you agreed willingly to that. But you’ve only come half way, and stopped here." A gesture released Kou and took in the argument, Kou’s frequent absence, the whole thing. "You are fed from my strength, but you give as little of yourself back as you can. Is that the loyalty you’re so proud of?"

It felt like a punch in the gut, that kind of shock, that kind of breathlessness.

Shirogane stepped back, power contained again. "I’ll leave you to consider that. Consider it here, though."

Kou almost didn’t notice the last bit, as Shirogane left. He slid down the wall to the floor, staring straight ahead.

Lately he’d resented so much the limitations of being shin, of not being able to be near Akira constantly, that he’d forgotten the other side. The power that sustained him wasn’t just his own. The reason he had lived through the final confrontation to have the chance to be resentful was that Shirogane had taken him in, made a contract with him.

A contract he wasn’t honoring.

Shame bit at him. He wanted, needed, to return to Ryuuko, yes. But that wasn’t going to happen for a while yet, and right now…

Right now, Shirogane was his king.

And, his conscience reminded him now it was getting its licks in, Shirogane hadn’t flattened him just now, as he’d have damn well been within his rights to do when Kou defied him. The whole argument had started because Shirogane was…

…was taking care of him.

Kou banged his head against the wall a few times. "I’m an idiot," he sighed.

The question was, what was he going to do about it?


Shirogane looked up to see Kou standing in the door, and raised a brow. "Yes?" He didn’t sound in all that much better of a temper, yet.

Kou fidgeted as he came in. "I… Look, it’s…" He stopped and sighed. When he spoke again his voice was low but sure and serious.

"Only until Ryuuko returns. Only that. But until then." He bowed down to the floor before Shirogane. "You are my king." Softer he added, "Please, forgive me."

He waited there, wincing a little internally. He was probably in for something after the scene earlier. Ryuuko had let him get away with a lot, but Ryuuko was kind. Shirogane was brilliant but it was a fierce brilliance, harsh and unforgiving and—

A warm hand rested on his bent head, fingers threading through his hair. Kou’s breath caught as the touch resonated with the power running through him, something he’d only ever felt with Ryuuko.

"Yes, I suppose I do."

Kou looked up to find Shirogane smiling down at him, crooked, eyes lightened with amusement.

"You’re mine, after all," Shirogane told him, softly.

Kou swallowed, almost shaking with the warmth of belonging that he hadn’t let himself feel before. Maybe because he wanted it so much. "Yes, my king," he managed.

Shirogane’s smile turned real, if a touch wicked. "And the next time you defy me like that, I’ll make very sure you regret it."

Kou flushed and looked down. "Yes, Shirogane-san." That was, after all, how it should be.

"Go rest, Kou," Shirogane ordered gently. "You can see Akira again when you won’t collapse in front of him."

The warmth of Shirogane’s touch stayed with Kou as he left.


Notice of Waking

Lulu notices that Kou is starting to settle in as a shin, and teases him about his new bond to Shirogane. Drama, I-2, MANGA CONTINUITY

Character(s): Kou, Lulu, Shirogane

Kou didn’t realize he was humming until Lulu leaned over the back of the couch, positively smirking. "You’re looking more like yourself lately, Chibi. Did something good happen?"

Kou gave her an aggrieved look to remind her that he hated to be called that. "I always look like myself."

"No you don’t." She perched on the back of the couch, examining him like a specimen. "Ever since you got here, you’ve been moping. And hiding yourself away and not talking to me at all." She pouted at him and he rolled his eyes.

"Go play with the kokuchi, then."

"That’s not the point." She rapped him over the head and he yelped and ducked. "The point is, you’re finally acting like you think you belong here." She leaned over him and he leaned back. "Come on," she coaxed, "tell senpai what happened."

"Nothing happened," he muttered. "I just… got comfortable."

She pursed her lips judiciously. "Hm. Well I know it wasn’t me. I guess that leaves Shirogane-sama." She eyed him up and down, smirk creeping back.

Even though he knew it was the worst idea in the world, Kou couldn’t help flushing just a little.

Lulu squealed. "He did! He did do something!"

"No, he didn’t," Kou insisted, because who knew what Lulu was thinking. "He just… we just had a talk, okay?"

She sobered. "A talk, hm? Did he finally lose his patience with you?"

Kou winced.

"I’m not surprised." She fixed him with a chiding look. "You’ve been the most pathetic excuse for a Child I’ve ever heard of. Even if this is only temporary—"

"I know, I know!" Kou cut her off, waving his hands to stem the lecture. "I got that, okay?"

"You haven’t seemed at all guilty, though," she mused. "So that wasn’t all that happened."

Lulu, he decided, was way too perceptive for anyone’s good.

She laughed, probably at his expression. "All right, I won’t ask what else. But it’s good to see you’ve accepted him as you should." She ruffled his hair, ignoring his indignant attempt to bat her hand away. "Besides," she added with a wicked smile, "you’ve always been one for the formalities. Bet it feels good to serve a king properly again."

"Oh knock it off," Kou grumbled, face hot again.

Shirogane’s presence tugged at him and they both looked up to find him standing in the door. Looking amused, Kou noted dourly.

"You’re not very kind to your juniors, Lulu," he observed, strolling over to join them.

"It keeps everyone young," she said serenely.

"Perhaps we should look harder for more shin, so you’ll have more people to spread your efforts among?" Shirogane rested a hand on Kou’s shoulder, a glint of teasing in his eyes.

"I’d be all for that," Kou agreed, fervently. Anything to get her attention off him. He leaned into Shirogane’s hand a little, just basking for a moment in the warmth of his presence, his power, the feeling of belonging. He didn’t know how he’d held out against this so long. In fact, he couldn’t quite remember why he had; Shirogane would give him back to Ryuuko when it was time.

"I need you to take a message to Shisui today." Shirogane smiled. "You can keep an eye out while you’re there."

Which was as good as permission to look in on Akira for a visit. Kou smiled up at him, grateful. "Sure, Shirogane-san."

"Tell me how they’re doing." Shirogane brushed Kou’s hair back lightly while he colored a little, and turned to go.

Lulu leaned down to whisper in Kou’s ear, "Chibi-puppy is so cute with his master."

Shirogane looked over his shoulder and shook his head as Kou did his damnedest to catch the laughing Lulu and strangle her, but left them to it.


Heat in the Shade

Kou wrestles with his standing attraction to Ryuuko and his new attraction to Shirogane. Fortunately, Shirogane provides him with a resolution. Drama with Porn, I-4, MANGA CONTINUITY

Character(s): Kou, Shirogane
Pairing(s): Shirogane/Kou

Kou leaned his chin on this folded arms and watched shadows curl below him. This balcony was a good place for thinking and he felt a need to think today.

He was getting much more comfortable, here in shadow, since he’d let himself accept that Shirogane was his king. It was a relief to feel Shirogane’s power in him; it was familiar and comforting. And that was starting to worry him.

Should it feel this good when it wasn’t Ryuuko?

He really didn’t want to think that Lulu had a point when she called him "puppy", that he was that… that undiscriminating, ready to any hand that patted him. And, after all, Shirogane was Ryuuko’s counterpart; about as close as someone could be to Ryuuko without being the same person.

Was he just making excuses, to think that?

And to make it all even more fun, the inarguable fact remained that Shirogane was the one he was contracted to now, and his own honor demanded he serve that contract faithfully.

He just… didn’t want to lose what had always been between he and Ryuuko. And every time his thoughts got that far he called himself an idiot, because he knew good and well Ryuuko would understand what he’d done, would accept him again wholeheartedly, because that was the kind of person Ryuuko was. That closeness wouldn’t just go away.

Unless he let it.

He dug his chin into his arms, almost squirming against the discomfort of that sneaking thought, because Ryuuko and Shirogane weren’t alike, for all their similarities, and he… he liked that. Ryuuko’s vast strength had always, always been gentled for him. Shirogane’s sometimes wasn’t. And those were usually the days when he had to lock himself in his room and have a really long shower, because he just couldn’t stop responding to that edge.

He sighed as he watched the shadows curl around each other, over the edge of the balcony. Should he really be letting this happen?

Shirogane stood in the doorway and watched Kou with a tiny smile. He was sprawled out on the floor of a balcony, dangling his head over the edge to watch the shift of shadows. Lulu was right; it was good to see Kou relaxing and finding his place here.

Of course, that wasn’t all she’d had to say.

"Finding anything interesting?" he asked, strolling to Kou’s side.

Kou looked up and started to push himself to his feet. "Shirogane."

He rested his fingers on Kou’s shoulder, shaking his head. "It’s all right. There’s no work to be done right now."

Kou settled again with a tiny, shy smile that made Shirogane think of Lulu’s dropped hints again and nodded toward the drifting shadows. "Nothing special. I just like watching."

"I’m glad you’re happier here, now," Shirogane murmured, settling beside him.

Kou’s eyes dropped. "I’m sorry I was such an idiot, at first."

He looked so penitent Shirogane couldn’t help reaching out again to stroke back his hair, to reassure him with the closeness of touch. "I knew it wouldn’t be an easy transition for you." Kou leaned into his touch, so simply and easily he had to add, "I never really hoped you would settle so completely with me."

"You’re my king," Kou said softly, eyes direct and clear. "You were right to remind me. It… it’s something that means a lot to me."

"Even though I’m not Ryuuko?" Shirogane asked gently, hand cupping Kou’s cheek to assure him it wasn’t harshly meant.

Now Kou flushed, eyes sliding away though he didn’t draw back at all. "You’re more like him than I thought you were."

There it was again, the flash of want and something else, something like fear, tangling in Kou’s expression for just a moment. "Is that a bad thing?" he probed.

"No!" Kou looked up, eyes wide and earnest again. "No, not at all. It’s just… I hadn’t expected it. Hadn’t expected to…" His words stumbled to a stop and his cheek was hot against Shirogane’s palm.

"Most people don’t notice our similarities at all," Shirogane mused, giving Kou time to collect himself. "I suppose it makes sense. We are supposed to be opposites, after all; that difference is the only way we can balance each other."

Kou stopped absolutely still for a breath, staring up at him as if he’d said something very important. "Yes," he said at last, husky. "Yes, of course it is." He relaxed all at once, turning his head a little into Shirogane’s hand, trusting.

Shirogane’s brows rose. What had Kou heard in his words? "Everything all right?" he asked.

"Yeah. Yeah, it is." Kou smiled, rueful, looking older and younger at the same time. "I was just worrying over something I didn’t need to."

"It’s always good to realize that," Shirogane murmured, dryly. He let Kou go, fingers stroking gently down the line of his jaw to soften it as he drew back.

This time the flash of heat in Kou’s eyes was unmixed and the way he lifted his chin with the slide of Shirogane’s fingers, lips parting, was unmistakable. It drew Shirogane’s focus back like a chain and his fingers stopped, just under Kou’s chin. "Kou."

Kou just looked up at him, waiting, holding perfectly still under Shirogane’s touch.

Shirogane took a breath for control. He knew perfectly well how submission from his shin affected him, and Kou already had him catching himself back more often than he hoped Kou realized. "I know you were with Ryuuko that way," he said, finally. "I don’t want to press you."

He could feel the slight shiver that ran through Kou, under his fingers, see the quick breath Kou took through parted lips.

He could hear the way his own voice turned low and silky when he added, "Unless that’s what you want."

Kou’s throat moved as he swallowed and his voice was husky. "Yes."

"Well, then." Shirogane slid his hand down to grip the back of Kou’s neck and hold him as he leaned down to take possession of Kou’s mouth.

Kou was a little dizzy with the double hit of relief and arousal—relief that it was all right, of course it was all right, because Ryuuko and Shirogane balanced, and wanting both of them this much just meant he was… well rounded. Or something.

Arousal was getting the upper hand, though, because being held for Shirogane to kiss sent a tight curl of heat through his stomach. It was getting hard to breathe as Shirogane’s power unfolded, blanketed the space all around them, pressed down on him until he was moaning softly with the the force of it—his king’s presence, unbridled and blazing.

Finally Shirogane let him go and stood, smiling down at him. "Kou."

A thrill ran through Kou at the bright wildness in Shirogane’s eyes and he swallowed, slowly pushing himself up to kneel on the cool tiles at Shirogane’s feet. It put a hot shiver through him to be there. "Shirogane-san," he said, husky, reaching up, fingers not quite brushing the buckles across Shirogane’s hips. "Please. Let me…?"

The brightness in Shirogane’s eyes turned hotter. "Yes," he said, low.

Kou wet his lips, fingers fumbling just a little as he undid Shirogane’s robes because he couldn’t look away from Shirogane’s slow smile. Shirogane’s fingers slid through Kou’s hair as he finally closed his eyes and swallowed, unable to bear the weight of Shirogane’s gaze and the weight of his power at the same time. "Please," he whispered, palms finally stroking over the skin of Shirogane’s hips. Shirogane’s low laugh sent a hot shiver right down his spine.

"Yes," his king murmured, fingers tightening, guiding Kou forward.

Kou licked his lips again and parted them, moaning as the sleek weight of Shirogane’s cock slid between them, over his tongue. The moan turned lower, husky, as Shirogane’s muscles flexed slowly under his hands and he rocked back and thrust into Kou’s mouth again, one hand holding Kou still while he did.

This was what Shirogane did, what he was, that Kou wanted so much. Shirogane’s hands weren’t rough on him, but there was no apology in that touch for the overflowing strength that pinned Kou to his knees or the slow force of Shirogane fucking Kou’s mouth. No caution or restraint. Just the absolute power and casual confidence that had always driven Kou wild. And now it was his king’s power, and it was okay, it was right, for Kou to submit to it. To want this, too. To drop a hand down between his own spread legs and whimper a little as he bucked into the pressure of his palm. Shirogane thrust in a little harder and thought spun away into heat and want and raw pleasure running through him. Even when the shudders eased, the firmness of Shirogane’s hand caging his head, the steady, unrelenting slide of Shirogane’s cock in and out of his mouth, the purring undertone of Shirogane’s moan as he came, sent another shock of heat through him.

He was still dazed when Shirogane pulled away from him, grip gentling. "Mmm." Shirogane smiled down at him, lazy, fingers stroking through his hair. "My Kou."

The words settled over him, warm and sure, and Kou looked up at Shirogane with a tiny smile and answered, "My king."

Shirogane laughed and leaned down and kissed him, slow and easy and possessive. "Yes."

Kou closed his eyes again. That was really everything he needed.