It was another one of those days in Chinatown. The cigarette smoke coated the walls and slipped around the streets. The smell of greasy food and fragrant tea dripped from under doorways, and the sound of countless languages twirled and spiraled together as the crowd seemed to shout over itself, fighting and bargaining and greeting and parting all at once. Another day in Chinatown, Leon thought, and his hand clenched tighter on the brown paper bag. He had nearly dropped it twice now, and he was one stumble away from just handcuffing the thing to his wrist.
But he really did hate Chinatown, now that he thought about it. And it wasn't the commotion or the smells or the blindingly flashy displays. It was that he couldn't seem to get away from it. He was always here for one reason or another. Okay, that was a lie. A blatant one, at that, as Leon chastised himself as he knocked on the elegantly carved mahogany doors.
There was his reason, standing at the doorway and smiling with that pretentious little pretty-boy smirk of his. Count D. Leon practically scowled as he shoved the bag into the man's palms, watching that smirk turn into a look of genuine surprise and delight before he even opened up the parcel.
"Are these the Lady Madeline lemon-and-cherry tarts?" he asked, peeking inside and letting out a sigh of satisfaction. He trapped one alarmingly-scarlet lip between perfectly alabaster teeth and looked into Leon's eyes without a second thought. "Well, like clockwork, it seems that you're just in time to share them. I think some oolong tea would pair nicely with them."
"Whatever, man, you're the one with the delicate palate," Leon muttered as he followed D into the shop, closing the door behind him out of habit. It was all habit now. Even the half-hour that he'd spent waiting in line for the damn snacks was a type of habit, one that he barely resented anymore since he knew he'd be getting a cut. Raising his hand to brush a frond of that irresponsibly large plant that D kept by the doorway was habit. Even shaking T-chan (as the Chinese man insisted on calling this rabid freak of a pet) was habit.
But more than that, he realized, Count D had become his habit.
He was still sure the guy was dirty, or at least that's what Leon hammered into his brain every time he was here, but something about the scent of incense and the gentle bubbling of brewing tea made that thought harder to hang onto. Defeated, he sank into the comfortable cushions of the shop's luxurious couch and watched as the count busied himself with preparing tea. D's slim shoulders looked particularly squared and firm today, which was how Leon knew the man had made another "sale." Some homicidal canary, probably, Leon thought as he popped a tart into his mouth.
"So, my dear detective, what brings you here?" the Chinese man asked, as if he could read the troubles on Leon's face. But of course. The blond had always been easy to read, and he wasn't ashamed at all about it. He watched as a cat, a fluffy little Persian, hopped into D's lap and laid in the folds of the man's elegant dress. Leon wrinkled his nose in distaste, gulping down his tea and eating another tart. A fluffy little face slid between his legs, causing the man to yell out with surprise.
A goat. Of course. Why wouldn't there be a goat here? Annoyed, Leon watched the animal gobble up the remnants of the tart from the floor before bolting off, leaving the man to wither under D's glare. Leon groaned as he drank some more tea.
"Why can't we ever grab a drink or something? I can't relax in this place with all of these things watching me," he complained, deflecting D's attention with a sweep of his arm to indicate the crowd of pets that were surrounding them. Leon was sure that there was some kind of law against half of these creatures. In fact, if he really looked, he knew there was probably some kind of venomous chinchilla in the group. One warrant, that would be all he needed to shut this place down.
"Then where would you suggest we get a drink? You've never invited me out, so I don't know your tastes," D pointed out, a playful smile playing on his haughty lips. Leon bristled at the way the man seemed to delight in trampling on his pride, but that only made him more determined. They were going to go out. He was going to get D hammered. He was going to show this uptight little prick. He was going to show him.
"I'll be by around 11, then. I'll take you to one of the places I usually go," he muttered, grabbing another tart for the road as he got up hastily. D's amused smile never left his smarmy little face, even as Leon turned his body to go to the door. Delicate footsteps, like leaves falling on a lake's surface, followed him to the exit. Everything about D was so delicate, and yet they both knew the truth. D was anything but. He was—
"So, it's a date, then?" the soft question came, making Leon jump so high that his hair nearly brushed the doorframe. He turned on his heel only to see D smirking, arms crossed, long nails embedded in the silk of his sleeve and tracing the back of an embroidered dragon. His eyes were gazing unflinchingly back into Leon's, two different colors channeling the same unreadable emotion. They were mesmerizing, hypnotizing and intoxicating and suffocating.
And, at the moment, ridiculously self-satisfied.
"Ha, you wish. I'll see you at 11," Leon insisted, turning and stalking his way down the crowded Chinatown streets. Count D was dangerous, not only because he sold man-eating rabbits and homicidal lizards and dragon eggs, but because Leon could never get a grasp on him. Every time he thought he had his hand around D's wrist, it would evaporate through his fingers like a wisp of smoke. Every time he had a grasp on the man's body, it would trickle between his arms like water. Leon knew he'd never have D in shackles, even if he refused to give up the fight.
And yet, as he shouldered his way past hagglers and arguing tourist, he realized that D had already snatched him up easily. He hadn't even known when, but at some point, D's eyes stopped searching Leon's soul because there was nothing left for the man to find. It was as if the American was just another pet, albeit a wild one that always came and went. The man scoffed at his own ridiculous thoughts, but deep down, it was true. He was in the palm of D's hand. No matter what happened, the Count always seemed to be in complete control.
Until tonight, Leon decided.
D didn't approve. Leon could tell the instant they walked into the bar. The Chinese man was dressed in something painfully immaculate again, as always. Today it was a black outfit, the top embroidered at the edges with golden thread and cloth buttons that seemed spun out of pure silk. His pants were a comfortable, billowing fabric that did nothing but flatter D's figure as he sat down and leaned a pale cheek against his palm, looking around at the drunken patrons that were enjoying the music a bit too much.
Leon couldn't blame the disgust, if he was being honest. The building was dimly lit, with sticky patches on the floor and pillars in awkward places to hold up a gum-covered ceiling. There were tables, but most of them were just glorified coat racks at this point, given that the patrons were either dancing or passed out at the bar. Piles of heels had been stacked haphazardly in all corners. If Leon stayed sober the whole night, he'd probably spot at least a hundred violations, but he was off the clock, and all his focus was on Count D.
"What's wrong? You look like you just stepped in dog shit, although I'm sure you're used to that by now," the blond taunted, a grin on his face that made D roll his eyes. The Chinese man flicked a strand of hair from his face and even pouted a bit as he looked around again before glaring at his companion.
"I'd rather we start drinking, dear detective. It may do something to occupy that mouth of yours," he huffed, his sharp nail just barely pressing against Leon's bottom lip before he turned and raised his hand to get the bartender's attention.
"Whiskey on the rocks, and a juice pack for this guy," the blond ordered before D could. That earned him a light smack on the arm and another irritated huff before D turned to the handsome young bartender and smiled a pleasant, honey-sweet smile.
"I'll take an amaretto sour, please. And on the dear detective's dime," he said, unfurling his long fingers to reveal Leon's card pinched between his middle and forefinger. The man's jaw nearly hit the floor as he watched the bartender take the card—his card—and saunter to the register to open up a tab without question.
"Hey, that's theft! That's illegal! I ought to..." Leon fumed as he tried to think of an adequate threat, but the old threats of arrest and imprisonment and death by firing squad didn't work anymore. Hell, they'd never worked on the Count. Like Leon had known for years now, the man was always in control. Always.
Maybe that's why he liked to piss D off so much. To see that face contorted in anger, annoyance, anything that wasn't in D's complete control was like a present on Christmas to Leon. He wanted and needed assurance that the Count was somehow still human, even if there was so much evidence to the contrary. Cops love evidence, but Leon just loved being right when it came to D, and he had so few opportunities to be right. Without noticing, he was already gulping down his whiskey, feeling the pleasant burn down his throat and the warmth settling deep in his stomach.
"So, what was it that you came to see me about, dear detective?" D asked, sipping his own alcohol before giving Leon the most delicate of looks. It made the man feel cradled. Coddled. It was uncomfortable and addictive at the same instant, and it made Leon look away to stare at his drink instead.
"What makes you think I came to see you about anything?" he muttered stubbornly, but he was a shitty liar and they both knew it. He heard the sound of D taking another drink before setting the glass down, probably perfectly in the center of the coaster without even trying.
"Because you would never spend money on such a luxurious pastry if you didn't have a guilty conscience to soothe," the Count explained calmly, and once again, he was right. Leon sighed, knowing that he was nothing but an open book to this guy. The detective buried his face in his calloused hands, rubbing his eyes with the heels of his sore palms.
"God, D, this job is going to drive me fucking crazy. I can't fucking take it," he whispered hoarsely as the emotions suffocated and choked him without warning. He raised his head and stared at the ceiling lights, his hand running over the top of his scalp and tugging at his blond ponytail as if to remind himself that it was still there. D was patient, something else that Leon hated. D always knew that he'd get what he wanted in the end.
It took two more drinks, which Leon consumed in silence, before the detective felt even remotely himself. His hands had stopped shaking at least. His tears had also evaporated, which was another plus. He was even able to look D in the eye now, only to find the man with that smug smile on his face, his fingers delicately framing his cheeks as he waited for the American to find his tongue again. No, not smug. Just knowing, Leon figured, not that it mattered.
"Some old lady called in and told us that her son in law was missing. Simple, right? I didn't even believe her at first. Chief's the one who kicked my ass into going over and taking a look," he started, pausing for a smoke. Count hated the habit, but the Chinese man's expression never changed as Leon lit up a cigarette and took a long inhale. He closed his eyes, hoping that the stench of smoke would burn the smell of rain and damp trash from his nostrils.
No such luck.
"I ended up finding this guy to towns away in a townhouse. I couldn't figure out why he left at first. The guy didn't kill his wife, didn't rob a bank, didn't even have a fucking parking ticket. Instead, turns out he's been keeping a side family, a side job, a whole other life, except he was trying to erase all of that. I walk in on the bastard with a gun to his wife's head—well, other wife, anyway." He paused and took another drag of the cigarette before he felt D's hand landing tenderly on his shoulder. Turning his head only showed him those unflinchingly eyes and knowing smile, knowing anything, knowing everything. Fuck, D.
"Did you give chase?" the Count guessed, and of course he was right. He knew Leon from back to front by now. Hell, the detective was sure this guy had even been in a few of his dreams.
"Yeah, I chased the guy through a few alleyways, except he's grabbed his kid too, and finally he stops next to a dumpster and he's got a gun to the kid's head and he's telling me to drop my weapon. I don't know what to do, D." He looks up again, looking in his companion's eyes for... For what? Justification? Clarification? Even redemption? He almost laughed at that. Redemption from a man he was sure was the devil.
"You did what was right," D whispered without hearing the rest of the story, but then again, when had he ever needed to hear the middle to know the end? He always knew what lay at the end of every road, while Leon barely hung onto the truth by a thread. The detective closed his eyes, feeling that warm hand wrap around his chin and those dagger-like nails dance against the surface of his cheek. He leaned forward just a bit, their foreheads touching, the air between them growing warm with their mingled breaths.
"The kid lost an ear. That was my shitty aim. His dad must have pulled the trigger when his arm got jerked around by my bullet, because now there's a 9mm hole in the kid's cheek and half his tongue is missing. Chief says I'm lucky the mom's not pressing charges. The bastard's even claiming that he wasn't even planning on pulling the trigger, but I saw him, D! I fucking saw him, I fucking..." Leon's eyes stayed closed, but he could feel D's other hand gently laying over his own. He fell quiet, just letting whatever words pass between them unsaid.
It was times like these when he realized why some people asked if he and D were a thing. These intimate moments, when the mysterious man would know Leon better than the detective knew himself, the moments when meaningless arguments became just that, and nothing but D seemed to have meaning... His hand lifted to touch the others soft cheek. He needed this, and the worst part was that D didn't seem to need any of it.
"Yes, refill please," came the Count's voice, and suddenly Leon's eyes opened to see that he was still hunched over his whiskey. Glass number 4 now. D was in the barstool next to him, but he might as well be a million miles away at this point. There were a few more clinking noises as D brightly enjoyed another serving of amaretto sour before turning to his companion, a smile plastered on his lips with a cherry stem poking out from his mouth.
"Should I even bother asking you how you did that?" Leon demanded before throwing back his drink. The Count laughed softly, but the laughter had an edge to it that Leon was more than used to by now. Nothing with the Count was ever simple, and the American had merely just adjusted to that.
"My dear detective, how long have we known each other?" Now, there was an interesting question. It had been less than two years, which wasn't a lot of time, especially in Leon's line of work. Hell, he'd known Jill longer than that, and yet they'd somehow managed to spend less time together than him and the Count. In fact, as he watched the other run a finger over the rim of his glass, the detective could have sworn that they knew each other for decades. Time always seemed to work differently with this man, this infuriatingly mysterious man.
"Does it matter?" Leon managed to shoot back before taking down his drink and ordering another straight after. He gulped down that one too as he heard the Count laughing in the background, although the noise was starting to dull with all the alcohol. Good. Less of that bastard's voice ringing in his ears, please.
"Then you should know that I'm capable of many more things than just selling pets and serving tea—"
"And getting away with murder," Leon interjected, still convinced in his theory that Count D was behind the man -eating rabbits, and the disappearing ballerina, and the dead Opera singer and her husband, and... And so many others. Still, the smirk on D's face made him swallow his suspicions for a half a second, a weakness he'd never had before.
"According to you, detective," the Chinese man pointed out cheekily, and all Leon wanted to do was shove a pair of handcuffs over his slender wrists and call it a night. Hell, call his career at that point. Maybe all the crime on the west coast would stop if this guy wasn't here to sell his pathological gerbils to any Tom, Dick, and Harry who walked into his store. Leon kept glaring at D for an eternal moment before turning back and downing what was left on his glass.
"Fuck you. Take me home."
Leon was swaying by the time they got to his apartment, but even though the other insisted, he refused to lean on D's shoulder. Instead, he preferred to keep swaying dangerously on his sore legs as he jammed his key into the lock and wrestled with it futilely. He could hear his companion laughing behind him.
"Here, let me," came the gentle offer, and suddenly the Count's hand was over his and the lock clicked open because everything worked out for this man. Absolutely everything worked just the way it was supposed to for Count D. Leon could only manage the weakest of glares as he stepped inside his apartment, which looked like a porn-based hurricane had blown through it.
They stood there together, the door shutting behind them, but there was none of the usual banter about how messy Leon was, or how his brain was basically the porn-parody version of a brain. Instead, D seemed to just be present right now, and his presence was really all Leon needed or wanted. His mind was back in the alleyway, his finger still on the trigger. The rain was slapping hard against his eyelids, drumming angrily on the thick plastic of the nearby trash bags. The criminal's eyes were wild, his finger slowly contacting and the hammer of his gun sliding forward. And the boy's eyes, the boy's face...
"... He looked like Chris," the detective whispered, and that was all D seemed to be waiting for. He felt a pair of hands on his arms as if to stabilize him, and instead of staring at his disgrace of a bed, he was suddenly looking into those eyes that haunted and delighted him. One gold like a beam of sunlight, the other a luxurious purple that made his heart ache. He couldn't read the expression on D's face, since there didn't seem to be one to read. The man's lips were slightly parted, his eyebrows relaxed but his eyes were deep and empty but still somehow full of pity and sorrow and—
Leon's hand hit the wall as he pressed the Count against it, his lips and the other's melding and searching against the other's as his free hand pressed against the small of D's back. He could feel the hands on his arms moving upwards, sharp nails digging slightly into his chest and neck as the kiss went from passionate to hungry to ferocious as their emotions evolved with each heartbeat.
"You're a reckless man," D whispered before his mouth was too busy to keep talking. Leon's tongue jammed itself against the Count's and started seeking, searching, tasting like a starved animal hunting in a desert. The detective's calloused hands pressed and squeezed on those slender hips, squeezed out a moan that caused Leon's kiss to become more desperate. He couldn't describe the feeling that came over him when D responded just as needfully.
At some point, Leon didn't know when, his lips had started sucking and pressing the that flawless neck. Unhindered, the Count couldn't hide his moans anymore, and his hands were under the detective's shirt and scratching at his back and his legs were rubbing hard against the other's hip. D couldn't seem to gather himself enough to wrap his limbs around the muscular waist, and Leon didn't mind that one bit. He wanted the man to fall apart, to become a mess because of their kiss and their actions and being his, all his.
"I think I love you, I think I'm fucking in love with you," he whispers against the Count's skin, and he wishes it was the alcohol talking. Something about the way D gasps his name tells him that they both know it isn't. He doesn't say it again, he knows he doesn't need to, and he feels those delicate hands drag his mouth back to meet those swollen lips again so that neither of them have to face what he's said, what he's done. He just kisses D, kisses the life out of D, kisses him until suddenly his forehead hits the wall and his arms are empty.
He can't even swear or hit the wall like he usually would. He knows he's fucked up, and maybe tomorrow they can blame it on the whiskey and cocktails. Maybe tomorrow, they can pretend that Leon can't hold his alcohol and D never kissed back, that the detective was put to bed and the Count went home without a fuss. Maybe tomorrow when he goes to the pet shop with a bag of almond cookies, D will have a hangover cure waiting, and they'll have another meaningless fight about how bad drinking is for the liver.
Maybe tomorrow, Leon prays as he gets in bed, he won't love D quite so much.
A/N—Hope you guys liked this! I reread the whole series in one night and wrote this because I have no impulse control. Leave a comment please!