Hakuryuu stares up at the blocky gray structure in front of them, a stark blight against the beautiful clear, blue sky. The parking lot is a network of cracked pavement, spidering around closed off sections, and utterly devoid of any other cars.

Judal gets out of the car to join him, trenchcoat and hair blowing in the breeze. For a moment, he's powerful and imposing: dressed in blacks from head to toe like some late 90's goth nightmare. His face slashes open into a wide grin, a pair of fangs glinting in the white of his teeth, but the illusion shatters the moment he opens his mouth to talk.

"Look at this! We're gonna be the only ones here and it'll be perfect." He shifts to adjust his camera, fiddling a bit with the charms hanging off the strap. "I heard it was basically empty inside, but it's going to be so dead. Just some shitty local stores and no anchor stores left, I bet."

"I know. You spent most of the drive telling me about it."

Judal shrugs and leads the way to an entrance, practically skipping. "I just hope it's darker inside. Like, jeez, even with your nerdy sunglasses it's bright."

"I like those sunglasses. And it's nearly mid-day. You should be inside, sleeping, not frolicking in the sun."

He lets out a dramatic sigh. "Whatever, Hakuryuu. Nothing fun is open in the middle of the night."

"Mm, I guess now that the McDonald's won't let you climb in the children's play area, you have nothing to do."

"I paid for the damages; I don't get what crawled up their- What is this?!" Judal cuts himself off mid-sentence to screech and dramatically point at a sign on the door.

Hakuryuu peers over his shoulder. "'We regret to inform you that after 43 years of business, the South Nando Mall is closing its doors. Thank you to our many loyal customers: We appreciated you until the end.'"

"I can read, you know."

"It looks like they're closed." He pauses. "Did you really not look to make sure they were still open before making me drive halfway across the country in a night? Isn't that what the internet is for?"

Judal is still staring at the sign in horror. "I looked it up not long ago...when did we go to that Kmart closing sale?"

"Two months ago," he answers patiently.

"Shit, it was that long ago? Well. Uh. That's when I looked it up."

Hakuryuu feels like he shouldn't be surprised, after all the years they've been together, but he always tries to expect the best from Judal. And then something like this happens, and they're standing in front of a mall after its final days. "What were you doing with your phone this whole drive then?"

Judal looks sheepish. "Well, there's an event in Love Live right now, and I really want to tier."

"You were seriously playing a phone game all night?"

"I didn't want to fall out of my tier while we were at the mall! I had to get ahead!"

"I'm going to confiscate your phone," he says in frustration.

He pouts. "Then we wouldn't have a GPS anymore."

"That's what maps are for."

Judal groans. "I'm going to make you join the 21st century someday, I swear."

Hakuryuu just shakes his head. "Well, it's closed. Let's get out of here."

"What? No way! I wanna go in!"

He looks at Judal in horror. "It says no trespassing. We can't go in."

Judal is already fiddling with the padlock across the doors, coaxing magic into the cylinders until it springs free. "You're the worst demon ever. Come on!"

Hakuryuu glances around nervously. "It's closed!"

"Yeah, so it'll be even better! I'm gonna get great pictures and no one can stop me." Judal pushes the doors open and strides in confidently, with Hakuryuu reluctantly following behind.

It's a dusty, gloomy environment inside, a dim contrast to the bright and cheerful day outside. The only light comes from dirty skylights, casting a murky brown light on everything. Every storefront is a different boarded up mess, some emptier than others. A former clothing store has a few scattered shirts and accessories strewn across the floor, while the store next to it was obviously vacated with time to spare, so empty that not even a name remains to mark its place. There's an eerie, not quite peaceful quiet in the emptiness, only broken by Judal's footsteps and the occasional drip from a leaking ceiling panel.

Hakuryuu walks through the halls cautiously, on the lookout for any sort of security, but he only finds more abandoned storefronts, some raided of any displays while others are full of derelict shopping bags and twisted metal racks. There's dust caked everywhere he looks, older than the mall's official closing date. It's old and forgotten and still so much younger than the two of them, barely a blip in their lifetimes. Judal's interest in places like this never ceases to amuse him.

There's a loud thump, and Hakuryuu whirls around to see Judal balanced precariously in the middle of a dried up fountain, poised impossibly on a rusty spigot.

"Quiet, please," he chastises, and Judal sticks out his tongue.

"Whatever, there's no one here. I've gotten so many pictures!" He grins and leaps from the center to balance on the lip, carefully walking around the edge a ways. He counts the last lost coins in the bottom of the fountain as he goes, and Hakuryuu listens to his voice echo through the halls, cavernous now that the mall is abandoned.

Judal is an experience to watch, his own inability to stay focused warring with his want to photograph as much as possible. It's almost too much, the entire empty mall devoid of any limitations, and Hakuryuu can't help the fond smile that sneaks onto his face as they explore. On the second floor, Judal darts between buckets full of browned rain water from a roof that's long given up. He's deadly silent when he wants to be, light on his feet as he avoids scattered trash.

They're at the front of one of the former anchor stores, Judal contemplating breaking into it too, when Hakuryuu hears someone else in the building. Quick breathing, a scent of unfamiliar blood; he doesn't like it.

"Judal. There's someone else here."

"Nah, it's probably just a bird or something. Stop worrying so much."

He grabs Judal's shoulder. "No. It doesn't feel like an animal."

Judal shrugs his hand off, but sniffs the air. "Oh. Oh, yeah, I smell a human. Aw, man."

"Come on." Hakuryuu starts walking briskly towards the entrance they used as silently as possible. They're on the other end of the mall, of course, and a floor up, and they're bound to get in trouble for trespassing.

"I knew this would happen," he hisses, and Judal rolls his eyes.

"We're fine. If they even see us we'll just say we're lost."

"You broke a lock to get in here."

"Details, details."

"Put your sunglasses back on."

"Oh, right! What would I do without you looking out for me?"

"Burn to a crisp in the sun. Quiet." His ears twitch, trying to pinpoint where the other person is, and he pulls Judal into an alcove to avoid being seen.

"Mm." Judal leans into him. "We gonna hide out in here like scared criminals?"

"Do you know the meaning of being quiet?"

A grin, all sharp teeth, and Hakuryuu sighs.

"Let's go."

They're almost free, the doors in sight, when the security guard sees them.

"Hey! Hey, you're on private property!"

"Fuck!" Judal screeches, and clambers down the stairs, two at a time. His boots echo loudly, all secrecy forgotten in the rush to leave. Hakuryuu is barely a step behind him, rushing towards their escape.

"You can't be in here!" The guard calls after them.

"Sorry!" Hakuryuu apologizes without thinking, shoving Judal through the doors. He's cackling on the way out, all worry forgotten once they're outside, and sprints to the car.

"Open up, Hakuryuu, we've got to make our getaway!"

"It's not funny!" His keys are somehow lodged deep in his pocket, frustratingly difficult to reach in his stressed state.

Judal is still laughing when they're in the car, Hakuryuu ignoring the parking lot's posted speed limit to outrun anyone who might follow them.

x・x・x

"Oh, man, this is a good one. The glass elevator was still pretty much intact, remember? And it was better lit in there than I realized."

"We almost got arrested!"

Judal laughs. "No we didn't! Come on, we made it out fine." He scratches at his head. "Did you turn down the air conditioning? I'm roasting in this stupid get-up."

"You're the one who wanted to go out during the day." Hakuryuu turns the a/c knob up one more, though. "And just because we made it out doesn't mean it was good! We can't go to jail! You'll eat someone!"

He whines. "I will not. I have self control. Mm, speaking of though, I'm hungry from running around."

"You cannot. We are in a public space so you can just wait until we get home."

Judal leans back in the seat and pouts. "Fine, whatever, I'll just look at these until then, master." He goes back to looking through his camera, pointedly ignoring Hakuryuu.

Hakuryuu starts the car up again and backs out of their parking spot. It's been a long day, between driving all night and traipsing all over the mall, even before they had to run from security. For his own comfort, Hakuryuu wants to settle into a hotel for the night before making another cross country trip.

x・x・x

Judal looks up from his phone when they pull into the hotel parking lot. "Eh? I thought we were going home."

"I don't want to drive that far again today," he explains. "Just...stay in here while I get us a room. You look particularly suspicious today."

"I just look extra fashionable!" Judal protests.

"You're wearing layers of black clothing, and it's nearly summer."

Judal waves a hand dismissively and goes back to his phone game. Hakuryuu sighs and pats his pocket, just to be sure his wallet is there, before heading into the hotel lobby.

He's still engrossed in his phone when Hakuryuu gets back, keycard in hand. He leans against the side of the car, watching Judal play until his song is over, before tapping on the window.

Despite his intentions, it still startles Judal, and he nearly drops his phone in surprise. "Holy shitballs Hakuryuu, you snuck up on me! Jeez."

Hakuryuu just waves the keycard, and Judal climbs out of the car.

Judal sheds his coat and hat the moment they're in the room, barely giving Hakuryuu enough time to check that the blinds are closed. They're tossed carelessly on the floor, followed by Hakuryuu's sunglasses.

"Ugh, finally! I hate wearing that much."

Hakuryuu rescues his sunglasses before anything terrible can befall them, and frowns. "You are the one who wanted to go out during the day."

Judal unsuccessfully throws a glove at him and whines when it falls short.

"How many centuries will it take for you to learn to plan better?"

"Probably a lot more, cause I've got you to plan for me," Judal answers, grinning. He's unlacing his boots on the bed, and Hakuryuu sighs.

"Shoes on the floor, Judal."

"It's a hotel! I do what I want!"

"That's not...ugh, just try not to make a mess. We're going to be sleeping in that bed."

"I know. Don't worry."

When Judal stops fussing around, half naked and laying on the bed to soak up the cool air, Hakuryuu leans over him. "Are you still hungry?"

Judal bolts up. "Hell yes! Come on, you better not be teasing me."

"I'm not." He sits on the bed next to Judal, leaned back against the headboard for support, and tilts his head to offer up his neck. Judal pounces gleefully, fingers dancing up Hakuryuu's neck and feeling the familiar rush of his veins. Hakuryuu hums and gasps in anticipatory pleasure as Judal's lips replace his fingers, a momentary gentle kiss before sharp fangs dig into the soft skin of his neck. It's comfortably familiar sting of pain.

Judal makes quiet, pleased noises as he laps at the blood, crawling into Hakuryuu's lap for a better angle. His hands fist in Hakuryuu's hair and his shirt to keep him steady, and his hips find a comfortable place rutting against Hakuryuu's lap. Hakuryuu grips his hip with a single, possessive hand.

When he pulls away, Judal licks the last of his blood from his lips and grins. "Mm, I always forget how good you taste. I could never eat anyone but you, Hakuryuu."

"Flatterer."

"It's true! Though, I could go for some more…" He trails off, eyeing up Hakuryuu's neck lustfully.

Hakuryuu catches him before he can go in for seconds, holding the back of Judal's head to pull him in for a kiss instead. He tastes the tang of blood lingering in his mouth, sharp and potent. It makes his demon's blood race, and the hands gripping Judal pull him closer. Judal cackles into Hakuryuu's mouth, and they devolve into a flurry of hands and bites and tender caresses.

In the afterglow, Judal is curled against Hakuryuu and playing with his phone. "You know, there's this chain that's going out of business," he begins, and Hakuryuu cuts him off.

"No, Judal."

"No, no, it's back near home. I remember when they opened. Uh." He pauses to scroll through an article on his phone. "1892! They used to have a place on Main Street, by the flower place you liked."

"Oh, that one? I thought it closed decades ago."

"No, they just moved to a bigger location downtown and you didn't want to go out of the way anymore. But! They turned into a big chain and now they're going under. I want to see them before they close!"

"Of course. Can it wait until we're back on that side of the country, or are you going to put your pants back on so we can leave now?"

"Fuck no, we're cuddling now."