AN: The inspiration for this hit so strong that it woke me up. ::blink:: At two-thirty in the morning. On a school night, mind you. I had to stumble into the living room wrapped in a fuzzy blanket. Then I had to stumble back and put in my contacts 'cuz I can't see jack. It's now ::squint:: four a.m., and I'm just gonna upload this now before I have time to read it later and decide I hate it.

Warnings: Um..... just language this time around, I think. Slashy references, but you all knew that.

Meh... sleepy...


The pet shop was quiet—strangely quiet, fearfully so, considering the sheer amount of beings contained within it, currently sleeping or otherwise. The silence seemed to have weight and volume; an unbreakable barrier, relentless until morning.

His eyes were shut, his body lax; he might have even dreamed, but restful sleep evaded him tonight, as many nights before. The only movement he could perceive was his own breath against his flesh, and his fingers ever so slightly moving over a thin rim of plastic and cardboard. The edge of a box of candy, to be perfectly precise. Fine, handmade Persian chocolates, a direct import; he'd read the label, however distastefully. Exquisite a treat though they were, he could bring himself to think of them as nothing more than unseemly and foul, and he longed to forcibly remove the brightly-wrapped abomination from his presence.

He couldn't, of course. Not after seeing the very literal, ethereal light in the Count's eyes upon their presentation.

Oh, but he could, and would take pleasure in doing so, along with the proprietor of the gift, if possible.

Tetsu's casual, fatigue-ridden movements over the box stopped, and he restrained himself from tightening his hold, clenching the little box with all the disgust and fury he'd suppressed and endured, grip it until its foundation shattered and a dozen hand-picked delicacies ended up rolling on the floor. Oh yes, there was that as well—the box was still quite full.

If this was only because it had been open mere moments—Tetsu had no difficulty remembering, he'd been riveted on every movement from his oh-so-respectable position of under the sofa—and the Count had placed but one to his lips, unearthly beautiful face rapt in what could have been ecstasy. Scarcely a moment before that—that human infidel had dared—he'd dared!—to touch the Count's hands, his face, his perfect lips. And D had given him a smile, small but there, and undeniably pure.

The smile had wounded Tetsu—nearly as much as then, when he managed to next open his eyes, the sight of the Count rising, the human's hand in his own, and leading the base, undeserving creature into the interior of the shop, where he knew the Count's bedroom lay.

There was no denying it now—could have been none for the developing months that this had been going on.

Tetsu bit back a roar of contempt and a cry of sorrow, the fine jewels on his wrist clinking musically as he did grip the little box, as tightly as he dared. He did not move otherwise. A beast must have learned to control himself by now.

By gods, he would never understand. Never understand how Count D could make such a choice, against moral, against principle, against unwritten laws of his people passed down from the ages. How he, the embodiment of perfection in so many eyes, could allow such intimacy with a creature so foul. Never understand how he could chose the human. Never.

He stayed that way for a while, and then released the little package, curling his arm back into the length of Toutetsu spread over the satin sofa.

It had taken little, he supposed, for Tetsu to get used to the fact that he was what he had personally come to refer as defective. He had denied his very nature by staying here—albeit at the Count's request. The memory of his offer, the enrapturing smile and the devious finger placed to those perfect lips, and there had been no other options present, of course. Tetsu did not regret the decision at all. But in doing so, he had become something that was in effect unnatural. This did not entirely displease him; what life he'd had before the pet shop had been dissatisfying and surreal.

But this alternate nature he'd assumed as part of his "new" life with the Count had left him devalued. Less an individual, more a beast to be counted and placed with the others.

Of course the Count would not chose him as he was now. He could understand that; D's life was very much his own, and he could love whomever he wished. Tetsu could take that sort of rejection.

But by all gods, not for him.

The stillness of the shop had been broken some time ago by a series of noises somewhere within. The hour was early still; the animals would not be rising yet. Tetsu didn't bother stirring or even opening his eyes; the noise would either reveal itself with time, he reasoned, or simply stop.

The former proved to occur in a most unpleasant way, as a certain unwelcome human emerged from the recesses of the shop. Tetsu's eyes snapped open and he fought back a growl. His nostrils filled with the scent of human, and D's underlying aroma all over the man. His anger fueled a rush of bile in his throat at the thought.

Leon grumbled incoherently as he nearly tripped over his own feet, stumbling around the front room like a blinded bear. Tetsu watched hatefully as he went around picking up his belongings he'd rather rudely dropped virtually all over the room. He cursed a little around a lit cigarette, looking, no doubt, for the jacket Tetsu had hidden earlier in a burst of spite. He wished now that he hadn't, if it would get the human mongrel out of his sight any quicker.

The human stopped abruptly as he finally noticed Tetsu on the sofa. Observant this morning, aren't we, detective?

Leon let out a smoke-laden huff. "Don't guess you'd know anything about the claw marks in my shoes," he muttered.

Tetsu rolled lazily onto his back, just to be impudent. Leon snorted, at length noticing the jacket that had been hidden, in fact, under the very sofa upon which Tetsu lay. "Damn," he cursed softly, circling the low coffee table to stub out his cigarette in the glass ashtray D had set out for him. He stared tiredly at Tetsu. "What's it gonna take, goat?"

"You," Tetsu responded, "mortally wounded. Dismembered, perhaps. Though simple bludgeoning has a quaintness to it."

Leon wasn't phased. "I have to go to work, beast. Let's save the cute death threats, 'kay?"

Tetsu didn't move.

The blonde human sighed, leaning against the little table. "Come on, Tet-chan. Please?" Tetsu nearly flinched at the use of the pet name. How dare he— "Jesus, why you gotta be so hostile? I get my shit and I leave. You want me to leave, right?"

"You'll come back," Tetsu couldn't stop himself from muttering.

Leon scratched the back of his neck and reached into his jeans pocket for his cigarettes. "What the hell, Tetsu? Seriously. Why the fuck can't you just cool down your freakin' head around me?"

Because you took him. You're worthless and you've taken everything away from me and I don't have a reason to live without him. "It's an amusing way to pass the time. Didn't you have to be somewhere?"

"Shit." Leon glared at his watch, then at Tetsu. "Can't be all that fun. Is it just because you can't get over me and D?"

Tetsu visibly stiffened, and felt his claws dig into the satin below him.

"That's it, isn't it?" Leon placed a fresh cigarette between his lips and repeated the searching process for a lighter. "Look, I get it. I really do. I wouldn't want to lose him to me, either. But you did lose, he's mine. Get over it." He lit the white cylinder and glanced up, brilliant blue eyes hard. "Hate to be frank."

"How dare you speak of him," Tetsu spoke quietly, forcing his voice not to betray the intensity of his fury, "as though he were a prize."

"That's not what I meant, and you know it," Leon snapped. "Just because I'm not—"

"Do you think he will stay with you?" Tetsu hissed, whipping around to glare the human in the eyes. "Do you think this will last longer than his amusement?" Even as he said the words, he could feel their mistruth. "Do you think he cares anything about you, human?"

Leon's face was passive as he removed the cigarette from his lips and exhaled, visibly trying not to aim at Tetsu's face. "Yes, Tetsu, he does."

Tetsu couldn't look at him anymore. He flipped over violently and lay down, trying to appear composed. After a moment, he heard Leon retrieve the jacket and stand. A few more shuffling sounds, and he at length exited through the ornately carved front doors.

Tetsu made an effort to control his breathing. Now was not the time to break down; the pets would be rising soon. The next night, perhaps, when sleep again forsake him, or the next.

After a moment he felt behind him for the coffee table, clutched the bright little box. Against his best judgement, resigning himself to the consequence, he heaved the package against the far wall with a very silent scream.