Warning: Hermaphrodite!D. Shounen-ai/yaoi. Graphic sex, though in an innocent sort of way.
Disclaimer: All characters belong to Matsuri Akino, with whom I am not affiliated. I intend neither harm nor profit.
Notes: No spoilers. AU, I suppose. Many many thanks to Nym, Aubrem and Schemingreader for their help and support.


by Rex Luscus

Count D had made it through the better part of a human lifetime without ever considering his genitals.

Since he didn't need to mate in order to reproduce, he assumed they were vestigial, and he gave them no more thought than he gave his appendix. He couldn't say when exactly this began to change. Looking at Leon Orcot had always set his pulse pounding, his face burning, his body shaking with heat and chills--how could any sane person react otherwise to such an infuriating man? So at first, the sort of…warm heaviness below his waist at the sight of the detective sprawling his great limbs to the peril of animal and furniture alike went unnoticed amid the rest of the bodily chaos.

By the time D did notice it, the new feeling was a nuisance. It was like an itch he couldn't reach. How was he supposed to go about his day with this half-pleasant, half-painful throb between his legs? Two throbs, actually, since his anatomy embraced both male and female morphology--which just made his discomfort twice as great.

Squirming in his seat after he'd rid himself of the detective one evening, D decided it had gone far enough. With instructions to the pets not to disturb him, he fled to his room and shut the door. His clothes felt like they had shrunk two sizes; threads tore as he yanked open the fasteners. He hurried over to his bed, and took his male genitals in hand for a good look.

They were not beautiful. He'd never thought so; they interrupted the otherwise perfect forms of his body. He couldn't have cared less now. His penis was brazenly erect, as if reaching for his attention. It was hot to the touch, swollen and tender like a bruise. He ran an experimental finger over its tip and his body jerked in protest--too soon for that. So he curled his fingers around the shaft instead, and discovered he could slip the skin gently over the tip in an indirect caress that was far more pleasurable. Incredibly, amazingly pleasurable.

Pleasure soon became the pain of needing more. He stroked harder. A direct touch on the tip was still too much, so he fetched one of the scented oils he kept in his vanity and anointed his hand. Much better. Oh, very, very much better. The whole organ slid effortlessly through his grasp now. He closed his eyes, and thought about how the detective's body moved under his clothes.

Oh. That was most unwelcome. Surely he could find a better fantasy object--but each time he tried, the detective slipped back in. Could he never have a moment's peace? He thought of the detective's muscular throat--how it bobbed as he swallowed, or flexed as he turned his head; the little dip at the base, where the skin would be so very smooth. Oh yes. That body was so much more charming without the foul mouth and the crude manners. This was what he wanted--an imaginary Leon Orcot customized to his needs. D shut his eyes and squeezed harder.

His body wanted to do other things at the same time; his hips wanted to thrust, and his back to arch, and it felt divine to dig his toes into the bed. Perhaps the detective did these things while touching himself too. Goodness, he'd look magnificent: mouth open, head thrown back, hand moving between his legs…D groaned and pulled on himself hard enough to hurt. Those lovely muscles would be so taut, skin glistening with exertion, moist lips parted around ragged breaths…

D froze as all of his senses drew up like water into a straw. For a moment all was still; then everything rushed back out and he arched and thrashed, barely hearing his sobbing cry over the roar of his body. As it subsided, he whimpered and squeezed himself again--but it was over, the last trickles of pleasure pooling in his spent body.

So that was what all the fuss was about! Humans suddenly made much more sense to him.

Unfortunately, the itch returned with a vengeance the next day. The detective looked especially appealing, and D pictured him without his clothes as they drank their tea. He wouldn't be slender and flawless like D; he was clumsily put together, with bulky parts at awkward angles. But the craving in D's loins didn't care. He tried not to be obvious, but the detective noticed and remarked on his wandering attention. D explained that he simply hadn't gotten much sleep--which was true.

That night, D set about exploring his other parts. They were harder to reach than the male ones; he had to fold himself virtually in half before he could do anything, and even then, he couldn't get a good look. That didn't matter. Everywhere his fingers went felt wonderful. It was all rather damp, which took care of the chafing problem he'd had with the male parts, and the more he explored, the damper it became. He returned to an especially sensitive spot and gave it a rub. Then he pushed it around a bit. Pleasure rippled through him from knees to waist. He did it again.

Closing his eyes, he imagined the detective in D's room, on D's bed, doing to D what D was doing to himself. Those large hands would feel marvelous--could those blunt fingers slide up inside him? D's nails kept him from trying it alone. Even better would be the detective's tongue, licking the spot D's fingers were on now. He'd never experienced that, but he tried to imagine something hot and slippery writhing against that spot, and his whole body flushed. He spread himself open and rubbed himself from bottom to top, and thought about the detective's blond head between his thighs, licking and sucking and for once keeping silent.

The approaching climax filled his insides with a giddy charge, and then it all went crashing through him and this time he cried out with no reserve. A silly smile stretched his face as he drifted in the dark. When such feelings were possible, how did humans do anything else?

For a while, he was content to look. It gave him something to do while Leon was being a nuisance; he could simply tune him out and think about having sex with him in any number of ways. But at night, he grew bored with his imaginary detective, and his own touch was becoming predictable. He could no longer get around the fact that sex was meant to be conducted between two people.

There was one problem: Leon would balk at sex with anyone possessing male genitals. Which was ridiculous, of course--what did the gender of the organs matter when they could bring such pleasure either way? Why waste time over details? Organs aside, he never doubted that the detective would find him attractive. All humans did--even heterosexual men, whether they knew it or not. The trick was to convince Leon that it would mean nothing. D wasn't sure he had the patience for it. He had his own ways of changing people's minds, but such overt manipulation could have consequences. Besides, he wanted an arrangement of mutual pleasure, not servitude.

He refused to waste time on a prolonged campaign of persuasion. That left only one choice: to trap and overwhelm the man. One evening, after D had closed the shop and the detective was cluttering up the place with no good reason as usual, D made his move.

"Where'd all the animals go?" Leon yawned and threw his long arms over the back of the couch. "One minute I can't hear myself think in here, and now--"

"They have left to give us privacy," D replied, and set down his teacup.

"Privacy? Why do we need--"

D flipped his skirts aside and straddled Leon's thighs.

"Whoa whoa whoa!" The detective tried to spring up but lost his balance and flailed. "D--" His voice cracked. "What the hell are you--"

"There is nothing to fear." D dropped into the soothing murmur that made human wills dissolve. "It may interest you to know that I am not, in fact, entirely male. Certain aspects of my body will please you--enough to ease your apprehensions about the rest."


D grabbed the detective by the hair, pushed his head back, and kissed him. "I would advise you to go along with this," he said as he pulled away, and pressed his nails just hard enough into the detective's neck to leave a mark. "If it is easier, simply pretend you don't have a choice."

Leon nodded and swallowed. That was consent enough for D.

He yanked Leon's shirt over his head, then shrugged out of the top half of his clothes. "Touch me," he commanded, and the detective quickly touched him, fearing reprisal. Oh, how marvelous those hands felt, warm and rough as they felt their way hesitantly around. D squirmed to help them along, then seized Leon's hand and pushed it southward. Leon tensed when it met D's clothed erection. "We'll work up to that," D smiled, and slithered out of the rest of his clothes. Returning to Leon's lap, he guided the detective's hand around his male organs to what was behind them.

Leon's lips parted in surprise. "This can't--you aren't--"

"I am," D said, and that was the end of it.

At first he treated the detective's hand as an object, rubbing himself against the stiff fingers, finding all the spots he'd already learned. He was unprepared for the exquisite feeling when those fingers suddenly moved on their own. Then they slid up inside, and D startled himself with his fluttering cry. The fingers drew out and thrust in again, with force, and D cried out louder. He needed to have what the detective was slyly suggesting--the one thing he hadn't been able to achieve alone. Hastily, he tore at Leon's jeans, much as he might with a particularly complicated bakery box.

Despite his nerves, the detective was ready. He made a delightful noise as D slid onto him, a needy moan behind closed lips. D braced himself on broad shoulders, lifted up and sat down, and they moaned together this time. D pushed down, and Leon pushed up, and once D had learned the rhythm, he let his thoughts drift and his body feel.

He came soon and suddenly. The detective kept going and D pitched about in his lap; it was unpleasant, actually, since orgasm had over-sensitized him. He was just about to object when pleasure began to return, and by the time Leon was gasping his way through his own climax, D wanted more. He slid the detective out of him and ground against the detective's hand until he came again. Thank heavens bodies possessed more than one way of pleasuring each other.

They panted together in a jumble, limbs sagging slowly apart. Before D was quite ready to move, Leon spoke.

"So--uh--what now?"

D's brow crinkled. "Now?"

"Are things gonna be, you know, different?"

"Why would they be different, except that you'll now have a more productive occupation than annoying the pets and getting crumbs in my couch?"

"Oh." Leon frowned and nodded. "Okay. That's--good." He shifted D off his lap. "I should probably go."

D curled languidly against the cushions and wondered how he was going to get the stains out. He'd have to plan for the mess next time. "Very well. Goodnight, Detective."

Leon was struggling into his shirt like his life depended on it. "Uh, night, D." He'd barely zipped his pants before he was out the door.

D smiled and stretched with contentment.

When D next sent the pets away again and pounced, Leon was much more prepared.

The detective gaped at D's lavishly appointed bedroom and touched the silk-draped bed as though it were made of glass, but then D flung him onto it and his hesitation vanished. He reached past D's hands on his T-shirt to fumble with D's clothes and hopelessly tangled their arms, so D pinned him down to keep his zeal from delaying them further. Once he'd stripped the immobilized detective, he had a nice long look.

He'd expected Leon's body to be less perfect than his fantasy creation, but he hadn't been prepared for how wonderful in its realness it would be. The wrinkly skin on the front of a knee, and the tender skin on the back. The tickle of wiry hair against his cheek as he bent to sniff the detective's skin. The strange beauty of a scar, that should have been a blemish but was more like a glyph. Leon shivered as D placed his mouth there. "I'm not a work of art," he muttered as D explored his navel, and pulled D up for a kiss before D could explain why that didn't matter.

Neither of them wanted to delay; D's groin was throbbing and the detective was hard against his belly. He got astride where he could be in control, but Leon wouldn't stay still, fastening his big hands onto D's hips to brace his thrusts. He went deeper, harder than D had meant to go; it hurt a bit. Yet it excited him not knowing what Leon would do next. His climax surprised him with its violence, and afterward he fondled his male organ, coming again just as the detective cried out his own release.

As D was wiping himself and the detective clean, Leon said drowsily, "You want me to do that next time?"

"I'm quite capable of handling a towel, Detective."

"No, I mean…I'm okay with jerking you off, if you want me to."


D looked at the detective's face. 'Okay with' didn't exactly resound with enthusiasm. He'd managed to forget Leon's discomfort with homosexuality--the detective had appeared to be enjoying himself so much that D assumed he'd recognized his fears for the silly phantasms they were. Now he was squeamishly offering touches as though marching to the gallows?

Still, he was trying, even if he was afraid. D's dealings with humans were ever marked by patience, and that would be doubly true now he had a reason to keep one around. So he said, "That would be very kind of you," and leaned down to kiss Leon's worried mouth.

For the next several weeks, D explored new ways of taking pleasure from the detective's body. In fact, he was so wrapped up in his own feelings that at times he forgot the detective was there at all. He had to remind himself that despite the physical craving he inspired, Leon was a person with emotions and an intellect (more or less), not just an object designed for D's pleasure. D was grateful that his body had chosen him a partner who was young and fit, but Leon was barely keeping up as it was. Perhaps he ought to have allowed the young man more time to sleep; Leon did have a taxing career, and D could not afford to wear him out too soon.

Every night opened D's eyes a little wider. He already knew how humans made love; what he had never understood was what made it worth all the trouble it caused. For the first time, he was discovering things he didn't know. He saw now that there was no way to understand a feeling until you had felt it yourself. It humbled him to accept the guidance of his body, for once the wiser part of him.

Now that his genitals had come to life, he found unexpected erotic sensations residing in other places. For instance, his nipples--also vestigial, or so he'd thought. The detective, no doubt pining for the breasts he so appreciated on women, had a fondness for sucking them, and it was as if a little electric cord were stretched from nipple to groin so that at the touch of the detective's tongue, pleasure flared in both. Kissing was another surprise. He'd done it a number of times and never understood the appeal. But now he wanted to kiss and lick and suck on every inch of the detective's body until the poor man begged off due to skin irritation. He'd never had any use for the detective's mouth before, but now he could kiss it for ages, sucking and exploring with his tongue while the detective explored him in return.

It didn't take long to exhaust the novelty of his female organs, since the detective's enthusiasm for them was boundless. D had a harder time getting him interested in the male ones. Specifically, he'd developed a consuming desire to get them in the detective's mouth. He was growing impatient with the trivial taboos that made Leon reluctant. Force was out of the question--humans were so very easily hurt when it came to sex--but D didn't know any other way. It seemed like such a small favor to ask, a trifling act for Leon that would bring such pleasure for D. Before he knew it, he was engaging in the very thing he had once eschewed.

"You will be the same man you were before," D explained. "If you have consented to touch one part of me, I see no reason why the other part should be any different."

"I'm sorry, but I'm not putting it in my mouth and that's all there is to it." Leon's attempt to sound stern was ruined by his nudity.

D was already tired of persuasion. "I have seen how you enjoy it when I do it for you," he said reproachfully.

"Well, you're--you! And I'm me, and I don't--can't--Jesus, isn't everything else enough? Aren't I enough?"

D didn't think such manipulative questions deserved a response.

Another week brought him no closer. He resorted to more underhanded strategies.

"I'm sorry, but I'm afraid I have to cut the evening short," D yawned. "And I find I sleep best when I'm alone in the bed, so if you don't mind…"

Leon's hurt eyes stayed on D as he got up and collected his clothes. "Did, uh…did I do something wrong?"

"You didn't do anything," D said with a sweet smile. For a moment, he felt something like guilt. But of course he would make it up to the detective many times over once the silly man relented.

The next night, D lay still while the detective took his pleasure, moving little and saying nothing. Afterward, Leon knelt above him, mortified. "D, can you just tell me what's the matter?"

D felt another pang at the misery in Leon's voice, but kept his focus. "I'm just not in the mood, I suppose," he sighed.

A few days later, Leon had had his face between D's legs for fifteen minutes without producing so much as a whimper before he sat up, looking thunderous.

"I know what this is about, okay?" He folded his arms. "So you can cut the crap."

D pulled the sheets up to his chest.

"Look, isn't there something else I can do instead of that? Can't we compromise?" Leon scrubbed his hands over his face. "Can't you just accept that I'm not gonna do it and be happy with the rest?"

"Detective," D said coldly, "I have offered my body to you in every possible way. You have not returned my generosity."

"Oh, for fuck's sake! I touch your cock all the time--I just don't wanna suck it! Why is that so hard to understand?"

"I refuse to accept the caresses of someone who does not want all of me," D replied.

"Oh, stop being such a baby!"

"You are not doing much to win me over."

"Come on, D!" Leon clawed at his hair. Then he narrowed his eyes. "Wait a second--why am I the one chasing after you? You seduced me, you hopped into my lap one day when I was minding my own business and practically--I mean, you didn't even let me--dammit!" He lept out of bed. "I was normal before I met you--straight, and normal, and happy. Now I'm queer and fucked up and I run circles around myself trying to please a spoiled little tranny who doesn't care if I live or die!"

It was the 'tranny' bit that made D's face flush--not so much the word itself as the fact that Leon had said it deliberately to hurt him. "I have forced you into nothing!" D hissed. "If you are unhappy, it is not my responsibility--"

"Of course not." Leon's laugh was bitter. "You're never responsible. Well, you know what?" He hopped into his jeans. "I don't remember signing any contract, and I don't remember buying any pet, unless that was supposed to be you--in which case, I'm returning it." He grabbed his shirt and was out the door before D could say a word.

In the three days that passed before the detective returned, D had a chance to reflect. As much as he wanted oral sex, no sex at all was worse. When the detective did reappear, he came bearing the largest chocolate mousse D had ever seen, and although he would have said otherwise if asked, D never once considered rejecting it. The scent of whipped chocolate and a reminder to himself of how terribly delicate humans could be were enough to buy D's forgiveness. Within minutes, he was moaning rapturously around spoonfuls while the detective covered his neck with kisses. How lovely it was, to have two of his greatest pleasures at once.

D was not used to leaving his desires unfulfilled, but he was learning to embrace the irrationality of sex. Ceasing to pressure the detective paid unexpected dividends; for one thing, Leon became a more enthusiastic lover. Beyond that, D found himself strangely glad that Leon was happier. At first he felt duped for allowing compassion to distract him from his own interests, but in comparison to the self-destructive things he'd seen humans do in his position, this seemed rather harmless.

Not long after, however, the detective began acting peculiar. The first sign of trouble was when he arrived early one evening in a tie and blazer. "I thought maybe we could go out tonight," he said, removing D's hand from the front of his slacks.

"Out?" D frowned. "Do you dislike my cooking?"

"Of course not!" Leon clenched his jaw. "I just thought it might be a nice thing to do."

"Do you no longer desire me?"

"Oh, for Christ's--!" He tugged on the tie like it was choking him. "D. I'm not trying to avoid you or your cooking. I just thought it would be nice."

"All right…" D got up to get his coat, still dubious. He didn't see what could possibly be out that couldn't be found in.

Matters didn't improve at dinner. The food itself was unassailable--Leon had clearly done research, which in itself was odd, but any worries dissolved once D had tasted the mushroom soufflé. Across from him, Leon hunched in his ill-fitting blazer and glanced around the dining room as though afraid he might be thrown out. Why had the stupid man chosen the place if it made him so uncomfortable?

"So, um, I've been thinking that I don't know much about you," Leon said to his plate, moving some polenta around with his fork.

When he didn't continue, D said, "Is there something specific you wish to know?"

"Well--not specific specific. Just--things. Like where you come from. Your family. What kinda time you had growing up. You know--who you are."

D put down his fork. "Detective, are you back to suspecting me of some crime?"

"No!" Leon winced and glanced around. "No. Is it so weird that I want to know things about you? I'll tell you anything you want to know about me."

"I know all I need to," D shrugged. "I am a private person, Detective. As long as you have abandoned the ridiculous idea that I have committed a crime, I ask you please to respect my privacy and not ask such things again."

"Um, okay." Leon drooped and pushed his food around his plate some more.

"Are you going to eat that?" D said. "It's expensive, you know."

"Well, I'm the one paying for it!" Leon ignored the irritated looks this time. "Jeez, D, what the hell is with you? Are you trying to be an asshole? Do you still think I was insulting your cooking or something?"

"People are staring," D said through his teeth. "And no, I am not trying to do anything. This was your idea--if you are not happy, do not place the blame with me."

The chair creaked as Leon slumped back, and D cringed. There was no taking the man anywhere. A laugh broke the awkward silence, and D looked past the sulking detective at a couple seated against the wall. Fingers twined, faces flushed with wine and arousal, impatient to get out and get home. If only they knew they had a hasty marriage and an interminable divorce to look forward to. D didn't need to see the future, he just knew humans--skipping gayly toward disaster believing they alone would be spared. Believing they had invented love.

"I guess you'll want dessert," Leon sighed.

D perked up. "I did see a magnificent flourless cake go by."

"Yeah." Leon's smile was humorless. "That's one thing I can offer that I know you'll never turn down."

That was the end of any dinners out. For the next several days, Leon was sullen and sarcastic in bed: "It's okay with you if we have sex now, right?" Or, "Do you mind if I go down on you?" After "Do I have your permission to get off?" D told him that if he asked again, he would be taking care of his needs at home, alone. That cured Leon of his tantrum, and ought to have been the end of it.

It wasn't. Occasionally, the detective had been known to spend the night--the shop was closer to work than his apartment, he'd explained. But more and more, D woke to find a snoring detective beside him even on off-duty days. Then Leon would hang around the shop all day, getting on D's and the animals' nerves.

"What did you do before you began spending every spare moment here?" D growled on one such day.

Leon popped a petit four into his mouth. "Not a hell of a lot."

The delicate tulle cushion crushed under the detective's rear end was making D nervous. "I see. So of course you prefer to inflict yourself on me. Have you considered that the exchange is not so favorable for me?"

Leon further imperiled the cushion by sitting up. "Are you kicking me out?"

"You could think of it that way." D folded his arms. "Or you could see it like this: we do one thing together that is mutually pleasurable. We spend the rest of the time arguing or ignoring each other. What is the point in your hanging around during the moments not devoted to that one pleasurable thing?"

Leon blinked at him, speechless. D didn't understand--hadn't he said something they tacitly agreed on? Leon's mouth tightened and he stood, seizing the cushion and flinging it down the length of the couch. "Guess I'll get out of your way, then," he said, and stalked out the door.

"Oh, now he does as he's told!" D shouted as Leon disappeared up the stairs. Why was he shouting? He'd wanted the idiot out of his hair, hadn't he? D spent the next twenty minutes scowling at the door, angry with both of them.

The detective stayed away for a whole day. Late the next evening, he burst through the door, threw himself down on the couch beside D, and said, "Let's fuck." He wasn't smiling.

"Nothing charms me more than vulgarity," D muttered, but he pulled Leon toward the bedroom anyway.

The detective left bruises on D's wrists and hips, pinning him down while D fought to stay on top. They snarled and struggled and Leon's thrusts had spite behind them, like he meant them to hurt. When they were finished, they lay side by side, not talking, the air between them thick and charged. When they were ready, they did it again.

The next morning, D tended to the gashes where he'd clawed Leon's chest. "Luckily, you will not need stitches," he said as he rubbed salve into one and then the next.

"Luckily!" Leon's laugh dwindled into a sigh. "I can't get near you without getting hurt, can I?"

Whatever their quarrel had been about, it electrified their sex life. Any strong emotion could fuel arousal, D realized--even anger, which he'd thought could only destroy. Leon stopped hanging around during the day as well. There were no more dinner invitations, no more awkward questions--no more irritations. D was delighted.

Which was why it confused and angered him when out of nowhere, the detective grew sullen again.

"Am I not sufficiently entertaining you?" D snapped one evening after Leon made thoroughly uninspired love to him and rolled over to go to sleep.

"It's not that," Leon said into the pillow.

"Then it must be me you find lacking."

Leon turned his head. "It's not. You're great. I--" Something lit in his eyes and quickly died. "Never mind."

"I do mind." D sat up so he could loom over the detective. "There will be trouble if you do not tell me what is interfering with our pleasure."

"That's all you care about, isn't it?" Leon rolled onto his back. "Something's wrong and you're just worried 'cause the sex is bad."

"Detective--" D felt suddenly cold. "Are you ill? Are you in some kind of danger?"

"Uh, no."

D resisted the urge to tear his hair. "Then what on Earth could you possibly be dissatisfied with?"

Leon met his eyes and blinked, as though he were just realizing D was there. He stared for a while with something like wonder. "I…don't think you'd understand," he said at last.

"Try me," said D, but Leon was already up and hunting for his clothes.

"I'm gonna go."

"I can see that."

"D--" Leon paused with his leg half into his jeans. "I don't think I'm going to come back."

D's stomach froze.

"I'm sorry," said Leon. He couldn't have sounded less sorry.

"Not at all, Detective." D assumed his distant smile. "Whatever you wish is fine with me."

Leon shrugged into his jacket. "Can I--can I still come by?"

"I can hardly stop you."

"It won't be too weird?"

"Why would it be? We shall both continue on as we always have."

"Okay. Good." Leon stared intently at the carpet. When he lifted his head, his smile was tight and insincere. "Thanks."

"Of course. Good night, Detective."

After Leon had left, D sat quietly in bed. Sometime later, he got up and put on his night clothes. An hour or two of lying awake in bed sent him to the kitchen for tea. He sat in the darkness of the shop and drank it, thinking.

The detective wasn't unique among humans; D could soon find another one. Why should it make any difference which human was in his bed when human bodies were distinguished only by their imperfections?

"Thanks," the detective had said. Of all parting gifts, none could have stung so much as gratitude.

Unsuprisingly, the detective did not stop by the next day. He didn't come the next day, either. Or the next. A week went by with no detective. D hadn't gone that long without seeing him since they had met.

He had wanted this. No arguments disturbing the shop. No legs flung out to trip over. No stench of tobacco, no fights with the pets, no cracks in the china. Finally, life could return to its orderly routine. When he touched himself, he simply replaced the detective with an indistinct face on an anonymous body--there was no point in wishing for what he couldn't have. But the detective still lurked around, sneaking in when D's attention lapsed--just like he did at the shop. Or once had.

It didn't make sense, this confusion of body and mind that turned simple sexual urges into complicated attachment. That made D need the body of his partner to be Leon's and no other's. That transformed a loud-mouthed nuisance into a necessity. Somewhere along the way, he'd unwittingly given the detective a means of hurting him. He had descended to Earth; he was on Leon's level now, the level of all creatures, and he'd never realized how great the distance was until he'd fallen it.

After a week of stewing, D had a new thought: perhaps Leon had ended their affair because he had found someone else. A woman, perhaps. D didn't like humans, but he had never actually wanted to kill one before, never felt it in his guts. He felt it now, toward this human who might not even be real. Jealousy was one of the least attractive human traits D could think of, and it was happening to him.

Bereft of what he wanted, become what he hated--he was a disaster. And it was all the fault of that ridiculous detective. When Leon finally turned up, D didn't hide his fury.

The detective blanched and produced a box. "Chocolate layer," he croaked. D unwrapped it coldly. The number of layers was usually a good index for Leon's contrition; this time, it had four. D's mouth watered traitorously.

He forced his face to be pleasant. "Thank you for your kindness, Detective. You are well?"

Leon let out a blustery sigh. "Look, D, I figured I owe you an explanation."

"You needn't explain anything. I had no expectations of you."

"Yeah. You didn't. And that was kind of the problem."

D frowned. He sneaked a flake of shaved chocolate off the top of the cake.

"When we first started fu--uh, sleeping together," Leon said, "I thought, 'This is great. There'll be no strings, we can have great sex and still be buddies and it won't be complicated at all.' That's what every guy wants, right?" He sat down in his usual spot on the couch. "But then it started feeling wrong. I guess I just…needed it to mean something after a while, and it didn't--not to you, anyway. And that hurt, so I stopped."

D was silent.

"Does that make sense?"

"You are telling me," D said, lacing his fingers under his chin, "that you preferred no sex at all to sex that meant nothing?"

"Well, yeah." Leon bristled. "I mean, I know you don't care about anybody, but you can at least understand that some of us do, can't you?"

D studied his knuckles. "If the sex were to mean something, what exactly would that something be?"

Leon turned red. "Well--" He looked at the ceiling. "I guess I'd like it to mean that--" He took a noisy breath. "I want it to mean that we--um--like each other, I guess."

"And what does that mean--'like each other'?"

"It means--I dunno, caring if the other lives or dies?"

"You know I care whether you live or die, Detective."

"Okay, let me put it this way. Back before I left--what if I hadn't let it show? What if the sex had been greater than ever and nothing got in the way of your fun at all, except you still knew I wasn't happy--would you have cared?"

"Of course."

"Would you have cared enough to do something about it? Maybe even give something up?"

D fixed his eyes on his lap. How easy it would be to say yes, to reassure this human with platitudes and return him to their bed. He looked up, and let Leon see his bewilderment. "Detective," he said, "I don't know. I desire you, I cannot imagine desiring another, and I wish for your happiness. That is all I can say for now. I will not lie to you by promising more."

"But do you think more is--possible?"

"If you are asking whether I am capable of love--"

"Well, I--" Leon turned even redder. "Maybe--maybe not love just yet. More like--you know, something kinda in that ballpark…"

"Hm." D looked away. He was not ready for love. He knew nothing about it--not when it involved him. He had only recently gotten used to sex and the emotional hazards involved. But something 'kinda in the ballpark' of love…that might be possible. Something with a vague resemblance to love. Yes.

"All right," D said.

"Uh, 'All right,' what?"

"I am willing to…explore what is possible."

"You--you are?"


"Are you just saying that to humor me, or do you actually want to?"

D rolled his eyes. "Detective, when was the last time I humored you?"

"Right." Leon smiled to himself. Then he flung his arms over the back of the couch and splayed his knees. "So would you cut the fucking cake now? You've been glancing at it the whole time and the suspense is getting to me."

"Of course." D reached for a knife. "Tea is ready in the other room--would you fetch it, please?" Leon got up and went.

D sliced two pieces out of the cake, put them on plates, and considered what he had just agreed to. It seemed that being human amounted to little more than that--slicing two pieces instead of one. All the rest of it flowed from there, evils and virtues alike--and if he was going to play at being human, he alone would decide which of those two it would be for him. Could it end in disaster? Almost certainly. Was he enough of a fool to believe it might not? Apparently so.

It was more difficult than he'd expected, this human business. Perhaps in the future he'd try to give them a bit more credit.