A/N: Cowritten with SetsuntaMew

Happy Halloween! We hope you enjoy our spooky little meet-cute!

Hakuryuu straightened his shirt some before walking into the coffee shop. This was a new location for him, and he wanted to look nice in case anyone caught his eye. It was nice inside, with tables large and small arranged to keep a clear path to the counter. The barista seemed busy at the moment, so for now he looked around. Mostly it was full of disappointing hipsters and yuppies, but a man in the far corner stood out. His ridiculously long hair was noticeably different at least, and he was oddly pretty. He could work.

The barista raised an eyebrow at him, and Hakuryuu made his way to the counter quickly. It won't do to stand around gawking.

"What does he usually drink?" Hakuryuu asked, gesturing to the man in the corner. The barista looked ready to laugh.

"Don't waste your time. He never goes out with anyone," the barista told him. Hakuryuu bristled. He doesn't need this sort of attitude.

"I just wanted to be nice," he said. "I'd like a small americano and something he'd like." Hakuryuu ignored the baristas judgemental look, holding out his card. The barista rolled his eyes and took the payment. Hakuryuu got both drinks, and that was what mattered.

Hakuryuu made his way over to the pretty stranger's table. "Mind if I sit here?"

He glanced up, and, oh, he was even more striking up close. Bright red eyes framed in thick lashes and elaborate makeup gazed back at Hakuryuu before narrowing in confusion. "There are other tables free."

"I thought it would be nice to have some company," Hakuryuu explained. "I brought you a drink."

The confusion and annoyance evaporated from the man's face. "Well shit, I won't say no to free drinks!" He grinned and scooted over on the bench to make room for Hakuryuu.

Hakuryuu passed him the drink, smiling warmly. "Thank you. I'm Hakuryuu."

"Mm, just what I like!" He slowly sipped the his fresh drink.

Hakuryuu waited to see if he was going to introduce himself. Instead, they sat quietly for a few moments, leaving Hakuryuu to re-think his approach.

"Oh! I'm Judal, bee-tee-double-you," he finally said. "Guess you'd probably want that, huh?"

"I was hoping for it," Hakuryuu admitted. "It's lovely to meet you."

Judal shrugged. "Yeah, I'm great," he declared before picking up his book. That wasn't a bad sign, though; Hakuryuu was a man who enjoyed a comfortable silence. He pulled out his own textbook and quietly went to work. No point wasting time trying to make conversation with an uninterested party if he could get ahead on his readings instead. They sat together, drinking their coffees and reading, until Hakuryuu reached the end of a chapter and glanced over at Judal again. "What are you reading?"

Judal raised his eyes from the page. "Hmm?"

"You seem so engrossed. I was curious." From the cover, it looked like some trash fantasy novel, but that didn't necessarily mean it was bad.

Judal's eyes lit up. "Mm, it's really good! It's the newest in a series," he said. "It's this terrible blend of super-serious high fantasy with ridiculousness and romance, but it's so fun. Cheesy, but the good kind, you know? A real page turner." He fished another book with the same dated and tacky cover style out of his bag and passed it to Hakuryuu. "This is one of the earlier ones," he explained. "It's one of my favorites, definitely has the best villain. You can flip through it if you want."

"Thank you," Hakuryuu said, taking the book from Judal.

The summary sounded generically familiar in the way that much badly-summarized fantasy can sound, but as he flipped it open and read the first few pages, he realized he had read this book before. His copy had a different cover, probably from a later printing, but it and the rest of the series up to this on are tucked away on his guilty pleasure shelf. Well. That was something they surprisingly had in common.

"I've read this," Hakuryuu informed Judal. Judal's face lit up with obvious surprise. He didn't hide his emotions at all. "I didn't recognize the cover, but I own most of them. I didn't know there was a new one."

"Yeah!" he said. "Yeah, it just came out. You like them too?"

"They're more like a guilty pleasure, but yes," Hakuryuu admitted. "They're an easy read."

"But still good," Judal insisted.


Judal grinned widely, and oh, he had such a pretty smile. Hakuryuu wouldn't mind spending the whole afternoon talking to him if he'd let him, and Judal seemed just as eager to keep discussing books.

"So which one was your fav of the ones you've read?" he asked.

Hakuryuu pondered for a moment. "I do suppose I quite like this one. Like you said, the villain is quite interesting, and despite his abominable morals, I felt quite sorry for him at the end."

Judal nodded along eagerly. "Not to spoil stuff, but it seems like he might be back in this most recent one! I'm reeeeally hoping my guess is right."

Hakuryuu temporarily stole the book Judal was working on to glance at the "more in this series" page and found he had several books to catch up on. He'd have to stop by the bookstore at some point. "That would certainly be interesting. His fate was monstrous, and I'm not certain what would return if he is back."

Judal grinned as he took the book back. "Well, that's the exciting part, isn't it?" He jabbed a finger into Hakuryuu's textbook. "And you're reading some boring economics textbook. Still a student then?"

Hakuryuu felt his cheeks flush a bit. "I take it you've graduated then?"

"Nah, I more skipped out, went the self-taught route, and now run my own successful little thing that I live off of. Whatcha studying?"

"Business," Hakuryuu said. "It's practical, and applicable for a lot of post-collegiate disciplines."

Judal looked unimpressed, but he was obviously trying not to show it, nodding along and saying, "That makes sense, sounds smart."

Even with Judal's slightly different tastes, they fell into easy conversation, about books and learning and hobbies they shared. Hakuryuu didn't expect more than a pretty face, but he was pleasantly surprised to find Judal to be quite the conversationalist. His enthusiasm was rather adorable, too.

Eventually, though, Jual glanced at the time and started. "Crap, I didn't mean to be here this long! Uh-" he paused, looking Hakuryuu up and down as he began to shove his things into his bag, "It was a lot of fun though."

Hakuryuu nodded in agreement. "It was."

"Here, one sec," Judal rummaged through his bag, pulling out a piece of paper and scrawling something on it. "Here. You should gimme a call, 'cause I had a good time, and I wouldn't mind having more."

Hakuryuu took it from Judal and smiled at him. "I had a good time, too. Thanks."

"Anytime," Judal said, hopping to his feet. "Except for now, because I gotta run. See ya later!" And then he made his way to the door and was gone.

Hakuryuu sat back in his chair, smiling at Judal's number. It was going to be hard to wait and give the proper amount of time before he replied to keep from seeming clingy. As he gathered his things, he somehow found the strength to resist giving the barista a smug look. Who had a cute boy's number now?

Judal was surprised to find himself staring at his phone throughout the next week, waiting for it to ring. He didn't usually do this. No, correction- he never did things like this. He didn't meet cute boys in coffee shops, he most definitely did not give them his number with a wink and a "call me," and he never moped around his art studio waiting for his phone to ring. But was the phrase? Cute enough to eat? Yeah. Hakuryuu was definitely that.

Judal sighed and gave up on pretending to work on his latest sculpture. He hadn't done anything today but vaguely bend some armature wire and zone out in its direction while thinking about his phone. He'd never get anything done today if he just sat around pining again. He might as well get off his ass and go down into town to do some errands. He needed more fruit to snack on, and maybe on his way back he could find a good meal. Nothing in his pantry seemed all that appetizing right now. He wanted something fresh.

He hopped off his stool and up the low steps that elevated the rest of his living space from his work space, leaving his phone on his workbench. No more junky, scorched sweatpants or stained black t-shirt. He swapped them out for more stylish clothes and then sat down to touch up the minimalist makeup he'd put on when he first woke up. Down below, he heard his phone ring. Judal looked over his shoulder and then swore, setting down his makeup and running back down to grab it. Unknown number. He swiped the flashing phone icon to the green "answer" bubble and held it up to his ear.

"Hello?" he said.

"Ah," said the voice on the other end, polite and clear spoken. "Is this Judal? It's Hakuryuu, from the coffee shop the other day."

Judal's felt himself grin, and he nodded vigorously, even though Hakuryuu couldn't see. "Yeah, yeah, it's Judal! Good to finally hear from you. I was starting to worry you might not call." He sauntered back up to his vanity, putting the phone on speaker and getting back to his makeup.

"I'm sorry," Hakuryuu said, and it sounded like he meant it. "I had a rather busy week, and I just hadn't had the time to properly devote to a call."

"Eh, that's okay, I've been pretty busy, too." It was a bold-faced lie, but Hakuryuu didn't have to know that. Judal grabbed a makeup wipe and took off his half-hearted attempts from the morning. If he was going to be meeting up with Hakuryuu, he wanted to look 100%. "I had a nice time at the coffee shop the other day though, so I'm glad you called."

"I had a good time, too. I was wondering if you were available this evening."

"Hmmm, yeah I think I'm free tonight." Eyes first, so he could touch up any fallout without having to deal with fucking up his foundation. "Did you have somewhere in mind?"

"Not particularly," Hakuryuu said. "I thought it would let you pick. It seemed the gentlemanly thing to do."

"Hmmm… Well if it's up to me…." Judal decided to do his eyes in bright colors. He always did them in bright colors, mind you, but this was a date so he wanted to look extra fabulous and intimidating. Today he was feeling red. "I'm feeling sushi! Gotta love me some raw fish."

"All right then." Hakuryuu sounded… hopeful? Happy? Huh, those sure weren't the emotions Judal would have expected a man about to treat his expensive ass to sushi to have. "Were you thinking of a particular place, or should I pick one?"

"Yeah, I know a good place. I'll text you the address when I get off the phone. Six o'clock sound good to you?"

"That sounds perfect. I'll look forward to seeing you then."

"Cool. Talk to you later!" Judal ended the call, grinning at Hakuryuu's number. He couldn't remember the last time he'd gone on a dinner date. He picked his phone up and saved Hakuryuu's number so he'd know if he called again, and then tucked the phone in his back pocket. Now he just had to finish his makeup and then bike to town… Six o'clock was more than enough time to do all that, and still have time to cool off before meeting up with Hakuryuu so he didn't look like a sweaty mess. He grinned, thinking about the night ahead as he picked up his foundation brush to finish his look.

In Judal's back pocket, his cellphone sat untouched, the address unsent.

Hakuryuu glanced at the clock on his phone one last time. 5:30PM, and still no text from Judal about where they were supposed to meet for dinner. He could call him, but the lack of communication sent a pretty clear message. Oh well. It wasn't the first time he'd been stood up on a date.

As if on cue, his phone buzzed with a text from Judal. There was the address, and then not a moment later came a second text full of swearing and apologies that he'd forgotten to hit send before biking into town and please-please-please still be up for the date. Well, then. Maybe the night wasn't lost after all.

Hakuryuu smiled and texted Judal back- yes, he would still love to do dinner, and don't worry, people make mistakes. Judal seemed infinitely grateful in his reply text, but Hakuryuu was just glad the date was still on. He had been looking forward to having a nice meal.

He pulled up the restaurant in his phone's GPS app and found it was close enough to walk to, so he did just that. The early fall air was crisp, the sun had yet to set, and in general it was about as pleasant of a walk as he could think to have. Judal was already waiting for him outside when he arrived at the restaurant. His hair was perfect, a dark waterfall contained only by careful braiding, and his eyes glimmered with different makeup than the day before. Hakuryuu smiled.

"I hope I didn't keep you waiting long."

Judal looked up from his phone. "Oh, only as much as my own fuck up did. I'm the one who forgot to text you!" He shoved his phone in his pocket again and jerked his head towards the door. "Shall we?"

Hakuryuu smiled and followed Judal in. They sat at the bar in front of the rotating belt and took turns picking plates off it. Judal seemed to prefer his rolls to have as little in them as possible, which was fine by Hakuryuu, who had volunteered to pay.

"So what do you do for a living that you're willing to treat me to sushi, huh?" Judal asked before popping a piece in his mouth.

Hakuryuu had the good taste to look at least a little embarrassed. "Well, I'm actually still a student, but my family is established enough that I can live comfortably without having to work while in school."

"Oooh," Judal cooed. "A rich boy! They like art?"

"Uh, well, I suppose?" Hakuryuu laughed and gave Judal an odd look. "Why?"

"Well, I am an artist," Judal said. "Who sells art to people with the money to buy art."

"That makes sense. What sort of art?"

Judal grinned, as though he'd been waiting for Hakuryuu to ask. "I do found-media sculpture using human remains."

He whipped out his phone and pulled up a surprisingly slick looking webpage on it. Hakuryuu repressed the urge to shudder as he stared at the sculptures in the photos. It was, he supposed, disturbingly beautiful and probably a commentary on the savagery of man or something like that, but mostly he just felt it was astoundingly gouache. "I see."

Judal, if anything, seemed more excited by Hakuryuu's apparent disgust. "It's pretty avant garde, yeah."

Hakuryuu handed the phone back. "Mostly I just think it's tacky."

Judal gaped. "Wha- tacky? Come on, not even gross? You know it's not casts right, I use real human remains."

"I suppose that your sculptures are very difficult to sell then."

Judal shrugged and grinned. "Nah, I just can't sell to certain states. Plenty of weirdos out there with money who want a sculpture made of human bones in their parlor though."

"Well, I suppose there are plenty of tacky people out there. Tacky people with too much money." Hakuryuu laughed nervously, realizing far too late that perhaps insulting his date's art wasn't the way to his heart. And yet Judal seemed unoffended, perhaps even amused by Hakuryuu's teasing. Hakuryuu watched as he tucked his phone away and went back to eating. "At least you make your own living, though. That's admirable, and something I haven't done yet."

"I even own my own house! Got a place out near the park. Peaceful, other than the shit-head kids that occasionally try to break into some of the outbuildings to make out and do graffiti." Judal took another plate of sushi off the belt and devoured it so fast that Hakuryuu wondered if he'd even tasted it.

"Out buildings?" Hakuryuu asked.

"Yeah, it's like, an old factory complex. Got it real cheap at auction because the state wanted it off their hands. It was just rotting into the ground! Dumped a couple pieces worth of cash into getting some renovations done on the nicest building, and I've been living there since." Judal took down a plate of red bean mochi this time, eating those a little slower. "I've been meaning to do something with the other buildings, but I like my privacy so much that I don't actually wanna mess around with getting them fixed."

"That makes sense." Hakuryuu nodded. "Well, if you ever want any advice on contractors, my family does a lot with real estate. I could get you the names of some good people."

Judal nodded, slowly finishing off his dessert. "I'll keep that in mind."

Hakuryuu stood and went to pay their tab at the register while Judal finished up. It was pricey, yes, but he'd been to far more expensive meals before. And Judal had been right- the sushi was good. Judal joined Hakuryuu as he was signing the check, and the two walked out together.

Judal smiled and leaned into him once they were outside in the cool autumn dusk. "This has been nice, this whole dinner date thing. I almost don't want it to end."

Hakuryuu took Judal's hand and gave it a little squeeze. "I don't either," he said softly. "I mean, it doesn't have to."

Judal looked up at Hakuryuu and then laughed. "I guess that's true. Okay, then, how about we go for a stroll?"

Hakuryuu smiled a little wider. "I'd love to."

Judal lead them through the twilit streets of their peaceful little college town. It was surprisingly comfortable to just stroll together in silence, letting the sound of passing cars and other people's conversations play soundtrack. They made their way down through the winding strip of restaurants and shops, and occasionally they'd pause so Judal could point at something in a shop window while Hakuryuu watched and listened. Gradually the buildings gave each other some elbow room, and the vast forest that edged the town rose up before them. By now the sun was almost gone, and Hakuryuu glanced sidelong at Judal.

"I thought a nature walk might be nice," Judal explained, hopping down the steps that lead to the worn dirt hiking path. "Like I said, my place is out this way, so I know all the best romantic spots."

Visions of secluded clearings surrounded by trees and silence danced through Hakuryuu's mind. Hidden places, where two young lovers could do what young lovers do best when unobserved. The sorts of places where no one can hear you scream. Hakuryuu smiled slowly, mindful to keep his fangs hidden. He hadn't had prey this easy in a long, long time. "Well, then, Judal, lead the way."

The yawning forest swallowed the last of the sun's light, but Judal didn't mind. He knew these woods well enough that the dark made little difference, and Hakuryuu seemed more than capable enough to follow him over hill and dale. Even when Judal hopped off the trail and started leading them into the heart of the forest, Hakuryuu kept happy pace beside him.

"You really do know the way well," Hakuryuu said. "At least, I hope you do."

"I said I do, don't I?" Judal laughed. "Like I said, I live out here- on the other side, that is- so I spend a lot of time messing around in the woods. And I do some foraging too-"

"For mushrooms?" Hakuryuu asked. "That sounds dangerous."

Judal pushed aside a low lying bough of a tree to let Hakuryuu through. "What? No, gross! Vegetables are nasty. I meant for bones. I prefer to use mostly human remains for my sculpture, but you can get some cool shapes with animals that you can't get from people." The landscape was slowly sloping down, as though they were descending into the very belly of the forest. Judal honestly didn't mind. The foreboding atmosphere felt like home, and Hakuryuu seemed just as comfortable.

"Do people ever mind that you're diluting the tackiness by selling them less than human remains?" he asked.

"Nah, the fact that it has like a single people bone is enough for most of these lame-os. They think they're so gritty and cool to have human remains in their houses." Judal laughed, and Hakuryuu laughed along. It was nice to just enjoy being with someone. Judal was glad that Hakuryuu didn't seem to want this lovely night to end either. "They see the bones as the real artists. I'm just the delivery man, doing the simple work of having a creative vision and spending hours upon hours bending fucking armature wire to articulate the fuckers."

"People are ridiculous," Hakuryuu said, shaking his head. "Art doesn't just come out of thin air. Even if I think your art is tacky, I can still appreciate that you seem to work very hard on it. That's admirable."

"You'd think that, wouldn't you?" Judal smiled softly, touched to hear that Hakuryuu seemed proud of his efforts. "We're almost there. Watch your step."

The gentle hill dropped off suddenly, and Judal crouched before hopping down. It was only a fall of a few feet, but he still turned and offered Hakuryuu a hand down. Hakuryuu took it gratefully, not being as keen to drop almost down to his ass and slide down the embankment. The sunken place where Judal had lead them was ringed with trees, but between their thin autumn branches pale moonlight filtered down. There, bathed in the bone-light of the moon, Judal finally stopped.

"Pretty romantic, huh?" He sounded proud.

Hakuryuu glanced around the clearing. A torn, abandoned shirt lay on the ground as evidence of prior debauchery, but it was otherwise free of litter and evidence that anything but animals would come near. "It's very romantic." He gently herded Judal against a tree, and Judal let him, enjoying the butterflies in his stomach. Hakuryuu tipped Judal's chin up and whispered in his ear. "May I?"

Judal squirmed, wrapping his arms around Hakuryuu. "Please."

Hakuryuu kissed him gently, and Judal decided quickly that he had no time for chaste thing like that. After two light pecks, Judal met Hakuryuu with deep and tender passion, as though Hakuryuu's mouth was his lifeline. Hakuryuu's free hand braced against the tree, and Judal relished the feeling of being trapped in a world with only him. Should he be here, making out in the woods with some cute boy he met in a coffee shop? No, probably not. But it had been so long since the last time he'd been touched… Hell, he couldn't remember the last time. Hakuryuu's kisses moved from his mouth to the shell of his ear, and Judal moaned softly. Oh, Hakuryuu knew what he was doing, and Judal could feel himself unwinding, his hands like claws grabbing fistfuls of Hakuryuu's shirt. He could take his time to enjoy a beautiful boy like Hakuryuu. Just a little longer wouldn't hurt.

Hakuryuu's kisses moved down his neck, and Judal shuddered. Since when had that been so sensitive? "You gonna tease all night?" Judal asked, fighting to keep his voice even.

"You're fun to kiss," Hakuryuu replied, lifting his head to demonstrate by kissing Judal's lips once more.

"I'm fun in a lot of ways." Judal snapped at Hakuryuu's lips, and Hakuryuu laughed.

"Someone has teeth."

Judal clutched tighter at Hakuryuu's shirt. "Claws too."

They collided again in vicious kisses, teeth and lips and tongues at passionate war with one another. Hakuryuu gave as good as he got, and Judal couldn't help but relish every bit of hurt and pleasure. They were like vicious monsters living for the passionate heat of the moment and not caring about how sore it might make them when the sun rose tomorrow.

Judal broke the kiss, panting for breath. "You're so buttoned up, but drag you off the beaten path and you turn into the an animal."

"I could say the same for you. Dragging me somewhere so secluded…" Hakuryuu leaned in once more, his breath hot on Judal's skin.

Judal grinned. "What can I say, I like the atmosphere."

Hakuryuu laid another kiss on his neck. "Maybe if you're lucky, I'll show you what else I can do."

"Oh?" Judal ran a hand through Hakuryuu's soft, dark locks. "Well, on a night like this, with company as handsome as you… I'd say I'm feeling pretty lucky."

"Aren't you complimentary." Hakuryuu kissed his neck. "You think I'm handsome?"

"Like you don't know," Judal purred, letting himself enjoy the attention and kisses. "You've got beautiful eyes, nice hair, and such good bone structure…"

Hakuryuu's kisses faltered a little as he laughed. "Should I be worried with the kind of art you make?"

Judal cackled and squirmed with delight. "Nah, I think they look better inside your skin. Besides, if I killed you and ripped out all your bones, who would buy me coffee and sushi?"

Hakuryuu shook his head, kissing Judal again. "You're so strange. But that's fine."

Judal, feeling the last of his hesitation slip away, lowered his voice to a husky whisper. "Come on, Hakuryuu, why don't you show me how lucky I am?"

Judal was no mewling waif on his first date. Yes he was forward, foolishly so, but he had passion and teeth. He was fun, and good at it. Hakuryuu cursed himself for letting the date drag on this long. He was almost tempted to try and pull Judal under his thrall, to try and keep him as a permanent food source-


No, he had to focus. He could feel Judal's pulse in his throat, smell the hot arousal in his blood. Hakuryuu gripped Judal's hip tight and curled his hand around a fistful of Judal's hair. He laid one last kiss, so soft as to be almost reverent, before finally sinking his fangs into the soft flesh of Judal's neck.

Judal gave the sweetest moan at the bite, not yet realizing what was about to happen, as though having someone feast on his blood was a welcome part of his dating experience. Hakuryuu's tongue met the sweet and familiar taste of adrenaline and arousal, but then… Instead of the metallic tang of blood that blood usually held, he found a dry spiciness that built more and more as he drank, like grave dirt and chilis and sex all rolled into an intoxicatingly delicious and unique drink. It was different, but against his better judgement he kept drinking.

Judal stirred some beneath him, finally realizing that Hakuryuu's bite wasn't the same level of rough he'd expected. "Hey, what are you…" He squirmed, just a little- confused, not fighting for his life. "Nnn…. Hakuryuu…"

Hakuryuu didn't let go, instead gripping tighter. The taste of Judal's blood was amazing, unlike any other human he'd ever tasted before.

"What the fuck are you-" Judal's struggle finally gave way to a legitimate attempt to escape. "Get off! Hey!"

Hakuryuu lifted his head to tell Judal to stop whining, and Judal shoved him, somehow hard enough to overpower Hakuryuu's vampiric strength. Hakuryuu staggered backwards, tripping over roots and landing on his ass in the dirt.

"Oh, hell," Judal said, sounding infinitely disappointed. "You're like some sort of blood sucking vampire freak."

Hakuryuu looked up at Judal. "How did you push me-"

Even in the wan light of the moon, Hakuryuu could tell there was something off about Judal. He stood over Hakuryuu, one hand clamped over his gushing neck wound like it was a minor inconvenience, and there was something in the mere way that he stood that seemed off, as though he were a poorly assembled mannequin that couldn't quite nail how humans actually moved or stood. Every warning Hakuryuu had ever heard about being careful in picking your prey to make sure you're actually drinking from humans echoed through his mind.

"What are you," he asked cautiously, trying to get his feet under him again without agitating Judal.

"Pretty fucking disappointed, to be honest." Judal sighed heavily, and it seemed to rattle his whole body to a new, not quite right approximation of humanity. "I finally meet a nice guy, think that maybe I'll try this whole dating shindig, and what happens? He's only after my blood. This sucks."

"That's not what I meant," Hakuryuu spat, looking Judal up and down as if that would somehow answer his question. "I mean what are you, because you aren't human."

Judal laughed a little, obviously taking a moment to find some comfort in Hakuryuu's trepidation. And then he shifted- Hakuryuu could feel the change in the air as illusions and protections were dropped, and he watched with fascination as Judal stretched and rolled his shoulders, shifting and changing to something entirely unlike anything Hakuryuu had seen before. He drank it all in- the sharp, cruel fangs, the inky black claws that seemed to bleed straight into the his hands, his hair moving as though it had a life of its own, and his body twisted and vicious and powerful in a way that threatened nothing but pain for anything that dared cross him.

"Oh hell."

Judal grinned. "What, never seen something so radiant before?" He picked at something in his teeth and flung it away. "I'm a flesh-render and a spell-weaver, a life-ender and a man-eater. The word we call ourselves is a pain to pronounce though, so you can just go with the colloquial Bone Taker."

"Showy titles," Hakuryuu replied, finally risking the motion to stand. "They're as tacky as your art." He had heard of creatures like this, more in rumor and whispers than in actual discussion. Usually they were solitary, like the animals they were. Hakuryuu should have known that something that delicious could never have been a mere human. "So can I assume you were playing the same sort of game I was? That you were only after my…' he shuddered, "bones?"

Judal shifted, and Hakuryuu decided that discomfort was a strange emotion on a monster. "I dunno… I mean, yeah, maybe at the outset, but honestly I don't like to prey on people I've been seen with, and also, I dunno, I was having a good time. I thought we maybe had like a connection here, right up until the part where you tried to make me into your lunch." Judal pulled his hand away from his neck and stared at it. "I meant it when I said you look nicer with your bones on the inside."

"Am I supposed to take that as a compliment?"

"Yes!" Judal looked stunned and affronted that Hakuryuu had not already taken it that way. "Most people are ugly! Their bones are way better off without them!"

Hakuryuu did not feel very complimented. Instead, he felt incredibly stupid and embarassed, and he wanted nothing more than to leave and never speak to this man again. How long would it take him to find his way back to the path? He wasn't sure. That was the only thing that was keeping him from bolting. If he ran, Judal would find him before he found safety.

"Oh, don't look like that," Judal said, slowly reigning in his monstrous appearance. "Look, we were both assholes, but I wasn't lying about having a good time." He shrugged. "How about this- I lead you back out of the forest, you give me a ride back to my place, and if things are feeling a little less awkward when we get back to my place, maybe you can come in and have another taste. Sound good?"

Hakuryuu debated this. Judal's blood did not appear to be poisonous or intoxicating, just delicious, and getting another taste while also not having to worry about Judal running him down in the woods and stealing his bones sounded like a win-win situation. "...Fine." He offered Judal his arm to lean on as they hiked back up out of the woods and tried not to think about the smell of blood filling his every thought.

It was hard to believe that just a few minutes ago, Judal had been convinced that he and Hakuryuu were about to fuck against a tree. Now Hakuryuu felt distant, even disgusted, and he felt woozy from blood loss. Hardly the romantic evening he'd been planning on. At least he knew the way well enough to lead them through the darkness, and Hakuryuu's vampire vision meant that Judal didn't need to totally hold his hand. It wasn't long before they were back in town, sticking to back streets to avoid odd looks from passers-by.

"Lemme grab my bike," Judal said when they passed the restaurant. He retrieved the bike from an alley where he'd locked it to a dumpster, and for the rest of the walk to Hakuryuu's car, he leaned against it. Yeah, this was awkward.

Hakuryuu's car was as nice as his alluded-to money would imply, and Judal almost thought about apologizing for bleeding on the seats. But no, fuck that, it was Hakuryuu's fault anyway. Hakuryuu busied himself in the trunk, pulling out a first aid kit.

"Hold still," he told Judal, as though Judal needed instruction. Hakuryuu gently cleaned the blood from his neck with a cotton swab and some rubbing alcohol. "It looks like the wound has stopped bleeding for the most part at least. I'll put a bandage over it while it closes up the rest of the way."

Judal nodded, disobeying the previous instruction. "Man, necks have a shit ton of blood. I'm surprised you passed on snacking it up just now."

Hakuryuu frowned, clicking the first aid kit closed. "I'm not an animal, Judal. I know how to restrain myself."

Judal shrugged, and waited for Hakuryuu to start the car before giving him directions to his place. They drove out of town and around the forest in silence, and Judal stared out at the trees as they whizzed by.

"Turn up here," Judal said when they reached the gravel path that lead up to his property. Large PRIVATE PROPERTY signs greeted them as they drove past.

"I'm almost surprised," Hakuryuu said as they bounced their way along the gravel. "I thought that perhaps you just... lived out in the woods."

"What?" Judal looked offended. "I told you I had a house!"

"Well, yes, but..." Hakuryuu trailed off, looking embarrassed. "I guess that I figured that more monstrous things wouldn't have much use for houses."

"Rude!" Judal smacked at Hakuryuu's arm. "Where the hell would I keep my makeup if I didn't have a house? Or my sculptures?"

Hakuryuu's face was practically glowing it was so red now. "I- Well- Okay, it was a stupid thing to think. I just..."

They broke through the trees and into the clearing that housed Judal's converted factory home. The place looked like something out of a horror movie, the broken windows of the outlying warehouses staring like eyeless sockets. Home, sweet home. Hakuryuu's silence gave Judal a little pride. Yes, his home was unique and spectacular and wondrous and-

"Well, I wasn't that wrong," he said. "I'd hardly say this is a house."

"Well, then maybe I won't invite you in." Judal blew a raspberry at him.

"I... Well, I didn't say I didn't want to come in."

Judal pointed. "This is the building here."

Hakuryuu parked in front of it, and Judal hopped out to unlock the bay door to his workshop. He was glad he'd left a strand of string lights on to give him some light when he came home. He beckoned for Hakuryuu to follow, then bounced off into the rest of his house, turning on lights as he went. Behind him, he could hear the engine cut off, and not long after Hakuryuu's footsteps could be heard.

Judal whirled around in his freshly lit warehouse, grinning. "Pretty swanky now that you're inside, huh?"

"Yes," Hakuryuu said, and he looked honestly impressed. "You did a very nice job with it."

Hakuryuu turned slowly, and Judal watched as he took it all in. About half of the floorspace that had once been open factory floor had been turned into his work studio, and the rest was raised up and converted into an open floor plan apartment, divided up by curtains because Judal had gotten tired of paying a contractor to invade his privacy to make the space more livable.

"Where do those go?" Hakuryuu asked, pointing to a pair of doors that lead into the space below the living space.

"Left one goes to the pantry, the right one goes to the shit I actually have organized for art purposes." Judal grinned at him.

"Pantry," Hakuryuu said flatly, processing. "So they both lead to rooms full of bones."

"Yup!" Judal grinned, leaning over the railing to look down on Hakuryuu in the workshop. "You gonna come up, or are you just gonna stay down there all night?"

Hakuryuu hesitated for a moment, and Judal's heart went on standby as he waited for him to answer. How the hell did Hakuryuu do this to him? Ugh, feelings! But then Hakuryuu sighed and grabbed the railing, and Judal's heart began to beat again.

"So, yeah," Judal said to fill the silence, "this is where I do all my art and like live and stuff..." Shit! He felt himself starting to babble. Talking to Hakuryuu had felt so easy and natural before. Why did almost getting eaten make his tongue suddenly feel like it had two left feet? Chill out and focus, Judal! "But I'm sure you're interested in seeing something a little more intimate. Why don't we go head to my room and get comfy?"

Hakuryuu laughed a little and reached out to brush Judal's cheek. "You want to risk getting your bed bloodied?"

Oh, okay, well Hakuryuu's smile definitely made Judal feel more at ease again. "Like I never eat in bed," he joked. He responded to Hakuryuu's touch by looping an arm around his shoulders and guiding him across the creaking floorboards to his curtained nest of a room. Judal slept not unlike a bird that had decided to make its nest out of the contents of a Bed, Bath, and Beyond- pillows covered the floor, and the light that filtered in above the curtains was soft and moody. Judal bounced into the pile of softness and patted the space next to him. Hakuryuu knelt down slowly, wrapping an arm around Judal's neck to cradle his head. Judal hummed. "Now where were we?"

Hakuryuu leaned in to silence Judal with a kiss. Suddenly, everything felt more grounded, Judal's awareness narrowed down to the feeling of Hakuryuu's touch. He reached up to cradle Hakuryuu's face, delighting in the feeling of just being beside him.

When they broke the kiss, Hakuryuu nuzzled Judal's neck. "May I?"

"Go ahead, just be gentler this time." Judal flexed his hands, letting Hakuryuu feel the threat of his claws. Hakuryuu shivered at their touch, and Judal wasn't sure if it was fear or arousal. Either way he left his claws out, sliding his hands down from Hakuryuu's face to his sides and delighting when he felt Hakuryuu squirm. He could work with that.

"I won't hurt you anymore than you want me to," Hakuryuu whispered against Judal's neck, peppering it with gentle kisses before finally giving Judal what he'd been waiting for.

Judal had never really gotten the appeal of blood or flesh- they were just mess and gore in the way of the real treats, the perfect, flawless, honest bones that dwelled inside every living creature worth eating. Yet the feeling of Hakuryuu's fangs in his neck and the sweet, breathy sounds Hakuryuu made as he drank were doing a lot to change Judal's mind. He shuddered, feeling his toes curl, and a soft moan escaped his own lips. The sound only seemed to encourage Hakuryuu, who drank with abandon until Judal's claws gripped his sides tight enough to draw blood.

"Ah-" Hakuryuu pulled back, looking ashamed at himself, his mouth red with Judal's blood. "Too much?"

"What?" Judal blinked, confused. "No, I just- oh. Sorry. It felt good, so I must have clawed you."


They stared at each other, panting and blood splattered, and then their mouths crashed in a passionate kiss. They were all hands and claws and teeth, clamoring to be closer, to bring their bodies together. Judal's claws found purchase in Hakuryuu's side and back, tearing through flesh with ease, and Hakuryuu groaned in ecstatic agony as he clutched Judal back just as tightly. They tumbled in the nest of blankets, pulling at each others clothes until they ripped. Judal felt himself lose grip on his more human form, and he leaned into the change, letting the bliss of bloodlust blend with lust for everything else. Hakuryuu was a monster too- why should he care if Judal had too many eyes and a jaw made for rending and a body strange to the thought of caring for human standards? Judal broke from the kiss to stretch, the last bit of humanity rippling out of his body as his bones shifted and resettled.

Hakuryuu stared up at Judal's half-naked body with open awe. "You're beautiful," he said, "in a disgusting way." He reached a hand up to tug at the waistband of Judal's loose fitting harem pants. "May I?"

Judal grinned, slowly letting it spread through his whole maw. "I like how much you ask for my permission now." He ran a hand through Hakuryuu's hair. "Go ahead."

Hakuryuu slowly undid his pants, sliding them down over his hips to reveal his dripping cunt.

Hakuryuu didn't quite know what he expected to find in Judal's pants, but this arrangement is familiar. That's good. Judal wiggled the rest of the way out of his pants under Hakuryuu's watchful eyes, grinning the whole time.

"Like what you see?" Judal asked, sounding like a pleased pet happy to show himself off. At least his attitude matched his looks; he was somehow even more attractive this way. No one warned him that a monster like Judal could be so stunning.

"It's a nice view," he admitted, much to Judal's glee. Hakuryuu's hand hovered, almost but not quite touching.

Judal nobly resisted the urge to whine. "Well, what are you gonna do about it," he asked impatiently. "We didn't come this far for you to get cold feet now."

Hakuryuu ran a hand over one of Judal's legs, taking in the twisted bend, so different, so unique that he had to take a moment to appreciate it. Judal shivered under the light touch. It was so different from the violence of a moment ago, this shivering anticipation instead of vicious, lustful assault. That's sweet. Hakuryuu dug his nails in and relished the squirm that pulled out of Judal.

"There we go," Judal said breathily. "Lemme see your teeth, vamp boy."

"You're something else," Hakuryuu said, shaking his head. Judal cackled.

"I sure am!" He squirmed, trying to get closer. "Don't be a tease."

"I'm taking my time," he said, but he could understand Judal's impatience. He is desperate to touch Judal more, to plunge into his slick cunt and make him scream, but someone like Judal is too nice a job to rush. He'll start with seeing if his cunt tastes like. Hopefully it's as delicious as his blood.

He shoved Judal gently in the chest, and Judal flopped back into his nest of pillows, legs spread like an offering. He opened his mouth to question or complain, but Hakuryuu didn't give him time to squirm. He dove into Judal, licking his already wet cunt, and every complaint died in Judal's throat. He'd take Judal's sudden silence as a compliment as he slowly licked his way up his slit. Judal's claws fist in the pillows around him while Hakuryuu teases him, finally flicking his tongue against his clit. That drew a scream from Judal, and he grabbed Hakuryuu's shoulders, pulling him close.

Blood spilled down Hakuryuu's shoulders as he lapped eagerly at Judal's cunt. Judal was making such a mess of him, and it was exhilarating in a way human flings for meals had never been. Hakuryuu lost any sense of patience then. He slipped a finger into Judal as he licked and sucked his clit, and Judal writhed and moaned even more. He was so eager for more; Hakuryuu couldn't help but give it to him. He sank his teeth into the soft flesh of Judal's thigh, lapping at the blood, and revelling in the sharp claws ripping at his back and shoulders. He'd never felt this alive before.

"More," Judal moaned. "More!"

"You're demanding," Hakuryuu gasped out, unable to keep his cool when he's so hungry for every part of Judal. Judal was just so bright- the blood on his leg, the pulse in his body, the tang of his cunt all beg Hakuryuu's appetite. Judal didn't disagree or struggle; he bucked his hips to try to take more of Hakuryuu's hand. Hakuryuu slipped another finger in, spreading him open. Apparently that's what Judal wanted, and he bucked again with a joyous sound and a laugh. Hakuryuu moved back to lick his clit as he curled his fingers in Judal's greedy cunt, pressing into him until he felt Judal clench around his fingers and scream in pleasure.

Hakuryuu sat back slightly, pleased with himself. Judal was a bloody, turned on mess, panting and gasping as he came down from orgasam. That was an even nicer view than before. He took advantage of Judal's temporary exhaustion to shed his own pants and the remains of his shirt. Judal watched his every move, whistling when he finally freed his cock.

"Nice," he said, waggling his eyebrows.

"Thank you?" Hakuryuu replied. He was unused to taking compliments.

"Gonna show me what you can do with that?" Judal inelegantly tried to spread his legs wider and put himself on display. He looked both ridiculous and beautiful, and Hakuryuu was filled with an unfamiliar swelling of lust and affection.

"I'm not the sort of person to stop when a task is only half done," Hakuryuu replied, bending down over Judal to line up his cock before thrusting into him. Judal made the sweetest noise of ecstasy as Hakuryuu filled him, and wrapped his arms around Hakuryuu to pull him closer again. Hakuryuu's senses were filled with the headiness of the smell of blood and sex and the sweet noises that Judal made as he thrust into him with rhythmic certainty.

"More," Judal whispered in his ear. "Come on, you know you wanna just give it up and fuck me stupid. None of this," he paused to moan ecstatically, "this measured thrusts that you're so in control of. Let me see how vicious you can be."

'You talk too much," Hakuryuu said, sounding like he didn't mind much at all.

Judal grinned. "Then give me something better to do with my mouth."

Hakuryuu kissed him, intending to be tender, but Judal was all teeth, and the taste of blood was more than Hakuryuu could bear. He gave in to Judal's demands and the demands of his own body, screwing Judal into the nest of pillows with abandon until he ached to come. Judal spasmed around him, orgasming again, but Hakuryuu didn't stop. He kept pounding and pounding until finally he came, hot and hard, in Judal. Judal made a sweet noise and squirmed, finally letting up on his vicious assault of kisses and bites. They kissed each other, actually tender this time, and then Hakuryuu collapsed into the pillows beside him.

"That was…" Hakuryuu began, but he couldn't find the words.

Judal shushed him and curled closer, petting Hakuryuu's hair. "It doesn't have to be anything other than what it was. Fucking amazing."

Hakuryuu made a soft noise, surprising himself by curling into Judal's touch. He could stay, just a little longer.

"Stay the night," Judal said. "I don't want you to leave."

Hakuryuu nodded, letting his eyes slide shut. "I can't go back looking like this anyway. I'd rather stay here."

Hakuryuu woke the next morning wrapped in Judal's embrace. The pillows were stained with dried blood, and despite the mess splattered on both of them, he found he felt quiet peaceful. Light filtered in gently from the wide, short windows that lined the edge of the warehouse's catwalk. In a peaceful moment like this, Hakuryuu could definitely understand what made this sort of home so attractive to a monster and an artist. He kissed Judal's temple before carefully extracting himself from his grasp. Judal groaned and buried his face in a pillow.

"Leaving in the morning with no goodbye?" Judal mumbled, mush-mouthed with sleep. "I'd have thought better from you."

Hakuryuu gently pet his hair. "No, no, nothing like that. I was thinking I might go make us some breakfast."

Judal lifted his head, smiling crookedly. "Vampires eat breakfast?"

"Well, bone takers like sushi."

Judal sat up fully, his crooked smile a full-on grin. "And peaches. Point taken. I'll gladly have breakfast."

Hakuryuu laughed, making his way into Judal's kitchen. Despite being open onto the rest of the space, Hakuryuu found it felt quite homey. Though, the pile of dishes sitting in the sink was a bit of a turn off. Rummaging through the cabinets, he found a box of pancake mix, and, as Judal's declaration had suggested, the fridge had a small bowl of peaches sitting in it. Hakuryuu whipped up some pancakes, then thin sliced the peaches and arranged them artfully on the pancakes before setting them down in front of Judal.

"Oooh." Judal grinned up at him. "Fancy."

"I like to cook."

"Odd hobby for someone who drinks blood, but okay, sure!" Judal shoved a bite into his mouth and closed his eyes in ecstasy. "Mmm. Alright, smug comments rescinded and cancelled. This is fucking amazing."

Hakuryuu felt himself smirk a little with pride as he dug into his own breakfast. "It would be even better with a fully stocked kitchen."

"So sue me, I mostly eat bones!" Judal shoveled more food into his mouth. It was a pleasant sort of quiet as they ate breakfast, much like the one they'd shared at the coffee shop.

Once again, it was Hakuryuu who broke the silence. "Were you planning on ripping me apart and taking my bones last night?"

Judal choked in a manner that Hakuryuu suspected might have just been theatrics. "That's your idea of morning-after breakfast talk?"

"I think it's an important thing we'd need to discuss at some point if we were going to continue our relationship." Hakuryuu boggled that Judal was even feigning offense. "I think my own intentions were put out in the open, it's only fair to expect the same of you."

Judal, for his part, seemed to put some honest thought into this. He took a few bites of pancake, fiddled with his hair, and looked very deep in thought. Oh no. He was cute when he was thinking. Cute when doing a lot of things. Hakuryuu considered his life choices while Judal considered his murder choices.

"Maybe a little," he said finally with a nod. Hakuryuu opened his mouth to ask how the hell you could intend to rip someone's bones out just a little, but Judal talked over him. "Hey, let me finish! You were really cute, like, super cute. You smell really nice. I bet your bones would be fabulous to devour or have in my collection."

"Are those supposed to be compliments?"

"Yup, and I have one better, too-" Judal jabbed his fork in Hakuryuu's direction. "You're cuter with your bones on the inside."

"That is a terrible compliment."

"What?" Judal looked stunned and offended. "No it isn't! That's like the height of compliment. Most people suck, and their bones deserve better, but you're handsome enough and interesting enough that I'd rather have you alive than have your bones! You're really nice, and interesting, and I wasn't like totally into the idea of killing you, because like, one, I really like that coffee shop and they know me there, so if some dude I gave the time of day suddenly vanished it'd be super sketch and suspicions. For another, I was," and here he paused, as if to give himself time for air and to muster up the courage to say whatever mushy shit was about to come next. "I mean I had a really good time with you. Talking. Having sushi. Grossing you out with my art. Hearing about your family's stuff. I might have took you out to my murdering woods, but by the time we were there, they had become my loving woods."

Hakuryuu stared at Judal, waiting to make sure he was done. There was a lot to unpack in that rant, like emotions and the phrase "murdering woods." He still wasn't sure how he felt about what Judal thought qualified as the height of compliments either. But staring at Judal, he found he agreed with every other part. The coffee shop and the sushi had both been a lot of fun, and the afterwards was more invigorating than anything else had been in a long time. They both stared at each other, mulling over all their words and feelings, which is a hardass thing to do when you're a boy or a monster.

"Let's keep doing this," Judal declared. "You like me, I like you, it's stupid for us to just stare soulfully at one another spinning our wheels while we try to figure everything out. Figuring shit out's for suckers."

Hakuryuu blinked, and nodded, and took Judal's hand from across the table. "I would like that."

Judal squeezed his hand back, and his smile was so tender that Hakuryuu was momentarily stunned. Just how had his life become some sort of romantic comedy meet-cute?