If he's in the mood to be honest with himself (which he rarely is), he knows better than to sleep in a war zone.
Tyki Mikk cannot sneak up on him.
Not when Tyki Mikk smells of wild lupine and, more fragrantly, of death.
It is probably arrogance and it's probably curiosity that keeps him lying listlessly on the bed, just waiting as—it's half true scent and half aura—Tyki Mikk approaches, stepping soundlessly through the locked door Rabi had never made the mistake of trusting.
"How did you know I was here?" Rabi wonders in a boy named Javier's voice.
Tyki Mikk's eyes, Rabi's mind supplies, flipping encyclopedia pages of color, are the exact shade of burnt umber. Darker, perhaps, in the shadows; raw.
"I'd like," and his voice is like chocolate liqueur, "to say this is where the bird of my desires led me. A rather poetic way of phrasing it, don't you think?"
Rabi laughs, the wide-mouthed over exaggeration he practiced when he first became 'Rabi'. Tyki smiles as well, short and sharp, before he speaks again.
"The truth is, I smelled your innocence from across the city."
Rabi rises from the bed to get a light. As he moves he says, "I've always wondered, what does innocence smell like?"
Tyki plays his game. This, he realizes, is unsurprising. "Like sour milk and like standing water; wet, sickly." He plucks at his pristine white gloves, removing them finger-by-finger.
A much more sophisticated alias named Daniel finds this disturbing. His knowledge shifts inside the collective. Rabi ignores him and saunters closer, hair disarrayed around his head, nightclothes less than respectable, something he refuses to allow to be a disadvantage.
"Well, you've found me, may I serve you a drink?" The accompanying leer was practiced for Mateo who had needed to crawl the underbelly of a brothel for a girl who'd known a man, and a boy who'd known the truth.
Tyki's eyes follow him to his pack; they're hot and their stare is surprisingly fragrant on his back. Cinnamon, Rabi's mind identifies. Obviously, Rabi's thoughts continue, the Noah of Pleasure is inextricably intertwined with the senses.
"What do you have?"
"How ironic," Tyki deadpans; the timing and timbre of his voice are absolutely perfect.
The laugh is surprised out of Rabi. It might be 'his', but it also sounds similar to Tiago's. "Well," Rabi says around continued laughter. "Would you like some?"
When he turns, Tyki is standing in front of him, bare hands reaching forward to touch his hair.
Do not flinch, Kalevi growls in his mind. Kalevi, number thirty-two, had been born of a need to play these games. Dominance games. There is a man in a minor Russian city that still has not forgotten him.
Tyki Mikk smiles with one corner of his mouth, his eyes narrowing. "Liquor," he murmurs speculatively. "Well, yes, I would enjoy a glass, if it isn't too much trouble."
Rabi hands over the entire bottle with the cheeky smile he doesn't remember where or why he learned.
Then, unwilling, or perhaps unable, to stop circling, they move to the small table together.
Tyki lounges in the chair spectacularly and Rabi admires the way he plays, it seems so effortless. Rabi has not enjoyed this kind of game this much since he was Ji Yoo and Panda was still teaching him the basics.
Tyki's nonchalant gaze is like silk. Rabi tilts his head, admiring the feel, and decides to try his luck.
"That was supposed to be a gift for Allen, but I don't think he'll begrudge me."
Tyki's thin eyebrow arcs to where the script of his blood no longer mars him. He drinks from the bottle, the sweet red (falun red, Rabi's mind supplies) liquid running over his (his lips are more fallow than umber, someone decides) lips. The smell of blood becomes overpowering and cloying between them.
Rabi nearly gags, but purses his lips and waits for Tyki to decide what he wants to do. Eventually, the Noah sets the bottle down, nearly half the contents inside gone. His lips are glimmering and slick and as the liquor mingles with the air, it will become sticky.
"You're quite different without your friends." As he speaks, Tyki flexes his fingers, seeming to admire them, or perhaps wishing he could still summon the Tease with them. Rabi finds the latter infinitely more likely, the motions he is observing hold a latent violence that might just be—
Rabi slouches in his chair purposefully, wondering if that is enough of a shield for the anger he seems to have unleashed (wanted to unleash, was trying to see, he wanted to see.)
He continues to push. "Ty-ki Mi-kk," he sings, realizing each syllable tastes like Morello Cherry liquor. The realization must show on his face because Tyki's eyes smirk at him. That does not help his composure, but an even-numbered alias named Cherno takes the reigns. "I'm not even convinced you know my name, let alone my temperament."
Tyki swipes a dark curl from his temple and says, "You could remedy that."
He considers refusing. He considers lying—as that would not be breaking hearts in any way—he considers inventing a new alias, here and now, for use with this creature. However, in the end, the weakness—which almost had him destroyed by a womanchild in flouncing skirts—wins out in him.
"If it pleases you," he phrases this impeccably, "you may call me Rabi."
Tyki smiles. His eyes open wider and seem fantastically catlike, while his grin appears to stretch beyond the boundaries of his face. It is a surprised and somewhat pleased expression; it is also very dangerous.
"Ra-bi," the Noah repeats in the same singsong voice that had been used before, tasting each letter. Rabi finds himself wondering what flavor it is… His curiosity does not win out in the instance and Tyki says, "Well, Ra-bi, it would seem to me that you are behaving yourself quite differently now that you are outside the influence of Allen Walker's own pernicious personality."
Rabi watches him run his tongue across his upper teeth, stopping at the obvious point of a canine. Someone inside of him, someone odd-numbered he thinks, reminds him not to flinch and not to shudder.
Tyki's eyes have darkened and gained a hypnotizing red tint; mahogany, or, more accurately, rust. Rabi refuses to think of dried blood.
Rabi reaches out for the liquor he had no intention of presenting to Allen as a gift. He drinks it down and thinks he can taste Tyki's lips on the edge like black liquorice. He almost shivers, but instead takes a gulp of the sickly sweet liquor and lets it run down his throat.
"Well," he finally begins. "You're not really a friend, and you're not really a foe, and it doesn't really matter which category you fall in to: you're not to be trusted."
Tyki purrs at him, low and rumbling and warm, "Oh? And why is that?"
Rabi lowers his eyelashes demurely, even as his mouth grins wickedly. He thinks he may have improved Lekan's smile by integrating facets of Tyki's own. The contrast between expressions is an effective move in their game. Tyki sits back in his chair and observes it with quiet appreciation, waiting to see what Rabi will decide to say.
"I had thought," Rabi confesses, with all semblances of earnest. "You had snapped."
Tyki stiffens for a moment and then uncrosses his legs, moving around to Rabi's side of the table. Leaning in close, the smell of wild lupine and death is his own and it is potent. His cold fingers slide close, curving around Rabi's neck and he whispers, "Perhaps I have."
It is an effort to keep himself from recoiling, to keep from panicking and Rabi does not succeed to his satisfaction.
"You have a traitorous eye," Tyki says. "I'm sure that patch protects you very well and most people don't notice… but I suppose I've never been like most people."
Rabi knows better than to say this is against the rules, which are as unspoken as the game. Tyki's fingers tighten on his throat, the feeling of them changing from ice to sandpaper to steel to fire. The Noah's expression is strange, observant and detached and curious.
"Perhaps I have," he repeats absentmindedly, his eyes drifting away even as the grip of his fingers strengthens. "I am to understand these sorts of things can be trying on a human's mind. I've heard tell that it sometimes happens to an unprepared innocence user." His gaze is very suddenly, very sharply, back on Rabi again.
Rabi swallows, finds the action uncomfortable and notices how Tyki smirks down at him.
"Yes," Rabi says, trying not to choke on the words. They come out half-formed and scratchy. "Synchronization can be too much. The power can devour your whole body."
"What vindictive innocence," Tyki mocks, starting to laugh but faltering midway. "Your eyes are very green…"
Harlequin, Rabi's mind intercedes, the thought makes him smile weakly. The Noah seems shocked by his look, suddenly releasing his throat and leaning in much closer.
"You know," he offers. "I didn't come here for this. It was a whim, a desire, inquisitiveness. But you've proven yourself so very… very interesting. I'd like to see how much pressure it takes to break you."
Rabi knows. A more feminine mask inside of him named Aditya, created when he was lonely and frightened, knows exactly how much it takes to hurt his mind, while all of him is at least somewhat aware of his physical limitations.
"I really want to do terrible things to you, Rabi," Tyki admits. "Does that make us friends?"
Their mouths touch, the candy-liquor is sticky on them both and Tyki does not bother to change this with what is left of his natural powers. The Noah's coldharsh hands thread up into Rabi's pillow-flattened hair, holding him there and Rabi wonders if he could escape, wonders if he wants to, because for all the violence Tyki has displayed, he has yet to hurt him.
So, when they part, saliva bridging their syrup shiny lips, Rabi breathes out, "No."
The daggered quirk of Tyki's lips is predatory; he smashes their mouths together painfully, drawing blood and eroticism out of thin air. His hands move, confident but not pawing across Rabi's shoulders.
"That may be the first time you haven't lied all night."
Rabi reaches hesitantly to touch his sleek black adder curls. They are glossy beneath his fingers and he finally gives in to a shudder as teeth trace the perimeter of his piercings.
"Knowing how to lie comes in handy, in my line of work," Rabi laughs breathlessly.
Tyki draws back to look him in the eye, still grinning like a pleased and deranged Cheshire. "None of you are as innocent as you pretend, are you."
Rabi considers it for a moment. "No."
Thrilled and bemused by his response, Tyki Mikk strips him of the simple cotton shirt and shorts he had worn to bed. He himself never undresses fully and they spend the night experimenting with what makes the other scream.