Author's Note: Done for the Fifteen Minute Ficlet Challenge—word forty-six, "competition".

I wrote it in Italian and everything!

"Competition is a painful thing, but it produces great results." –Jerry Flint
concorrenza
by Neo-rin

"Here, I'll—" Gojyo begins, reaching, fingers distended as though he's going to seize Hakkai's jaw and never, ever let go, except that idea really does sound rather splendid, except Hakkai isn't bleeding wet and warm and red from the corner of his lip but rather from both nostrils, and Hakkai, being Hakkai, withdraws, away from those scrabbling fingers. Cringes in the friendliest manner possible and says, "No," and doesn't really mean it.

Gojyo breaks his world and blows his mind when his other hand shoots out, as quick and innocuous (but innocuous things don't make you turn that shade of pink) as silenced lightning, and he brushes his fingers atop Hakkai's free-falling fingers, atop his free-falling heart.

"Let me," Gojyo insists, then, "god, you're being difficult, come on now—" and he brushes those selfsame fingertips on the arc of Hakkai's jaw "—I—"

Hakkai squirms backward as much as his body will permit. Gojyo makes a noise like exasperation with strange pieces of fondness speckled throughout like sprinkles on a cake, and Hakkai turns pinker.

"You're being a child," Gojyo mutters, "but I really didn't think she'd deck you back, son of a bitch." He bats Hakkai's hand away as though it's skin raveled around a compact bundle of dovefeathers, and the cloth he presses to Hakkai's filtrum is wet and warm and white—well, sort of grayish, actually, and—Hakkai, petulantly, speaks against the fringed expanse of wet towel, "A child?" But he can't really think of anything more incriminating than that because. Well. It was his fault. "Yes," Gojyo says insistently, dabbing at Hakkai's jaw and the tap water is diluted with not just blood, but sweat, "five. Fifteen. A child. A goddamn snot-nosed kid." And he hurriedly presses the towel to Hakkai's lip to absorb not only the blood, but the retort.

Hakkai just stills, regulates his breathing, one. Two. Three. Gojyo's fingers are soft and his calluses warm, Hakkai thinks absently amidst all the breathing, and licks his lips when the towel leaves, and Gojyo's hand moves just. A little bit. And Hakkai's tongue grazes Gojyo's thumb.

Gojyo's lungs tighten pleasantly; Hakkai watches his chest strain against his shirt, and. Oh. It occurs to him he's just bled all over Gojyo's shirt, the one that nice lady would have pulled and over Gojyo's head and flung to a room's edge so it could have been privy to such terrible obscenities like Gojyo and the girl and the bed and more abandoned clothes—in a way, Hakkai thinks he's done it a favor.

Well, Hakkai thinks, as he opens his mouth and tilts his head just right to let Gojyo's thumb slide into his mouth easy as pie but not as easy as other things, maybe not, Hakkai thinks, and watches Gojyo from beneath his eyelashes, the way Gojyo's mouth is trembling and open, and Hakkai—he sucks, and moves his tongue in a way that must be positively brilliant because Gojyo moans and it's guttural and oh-so-helpless, from the base of Gojyo's navel above the metal studs of buttons, and Hakkai bets he could undo those buttons in. Five. Four seconds.

Gojyo's thumb slides from Hakkai's mouth with a wet pop.

Hakkai knows Gojyo's brain is on autopilot, information overload, does not compute, and smilingly forgives him when the first thing he blurts out is: "You punched a girl."

"She punched back," Hakkai says. Shrugs. Sniffles, because his nose is still a little sore and there's still a smidgen of blood crusted at the curve of his nostril. Leans against the wall. "We're even," he says, and smiles, one of many wicked smiles he knows Gojyo is simply incapable of disagreeing with in any way, shape, or form, except this one is a little different because there is something horrifically predatory about that glint in his green eyes.

"She and I are even," Hakkai repeats, evenly, blandly, but still smiling. Gojyo hesitates, then, "You're even," he agrees, and sighs, throwing a forearm over his beautiful appleskin eyes, and Hakkai smiles and says,

"I'm sorry for all of this, truly, I am. Here, I'll—make it up to you."

He remembers he's a demon, twists, flings Gojyo against the wall, resulting in a yelp and a thud, and

sinks

to

his

knees.

Hakkai is a quick learner and he loses his self-imposed bets.

Given the proper incentive?

Two seconds.