His nails dug deep into Gen's back.

"Fuck, yes," Hiruma hissed in his litanies.

Their breathing ran ragged and Gen found it difficult to hear over the sound of his own blood dripping down his back. Hiruma writhed in his embrace, sleek as lightning and as hot as fire and spitting and clawing in euphoria.

"Why are you such an animal?" Musashi asked against the dangerous curve of his ear.

Between quiet words in the dark serpent's tongue, Youichi Hiruma cackled on amusement like a wretched old crow.

ڥ

Shozo went to art room at lunch because Hiruma had asked him to. He'd balked and protested because it looked bad for him to just give in, but under threat it seemed a little more reasonable and Hiruma was a master of threats.

When he arrived, Hiruma was already there, kneading a ball of blood-red clay in his hands. He didn't look up as Shozo shut the door, just barked for him to get over here and take his retarded glasses off.

Shozo grumbled, running a hand back through his hair and tucking his shades over his shirt collar.

"What's up with this, man?" he griped. He came to stand behind the senior, but Hiruma got up and forced him down in his place, looming behind him, enveloping him in his shadow. Hiruma took both of Shozo's hands in his own and guided them to the clay. He ignored every one of his lineman's protests.

"I read your transcript," Hiruma breathed pleasantly into his ear, manipulating his fingers into work. He was a heated weight against Shozo's back. It made him uncomfortable, and he felt sweat sliding along the curve of his neck. "Teacher said you excelled in whatever medium she threw at you, when you bothered to show up."

"Hey, man, fuck you—" Shozo growled. He'd gotten shit for his talent enough times; it was a flash-fire instinct to raise his hackles when it started. He tried to pull his hands away, but Hiruma still held him.

"Shut up," Hiruma snickered, that terrifying laugh like a murderous crow. "We're gonna make something, idiot."

Shozo flexed his fingers and looked down at the red clay staining his palms. "I'll just do it then, let go."

"Gotta make sure you do it right," Hiruma answered casually. "Gotta make sure his little head and little feet are just right. I tell you we're makin' a wide receiver?"

With a shape in mind, Shozo began to mold, starting to get comfortable with the invasion of Hiruma's body into his workspace. "Why don't you just make it like you usually do… out of plastic or whatever…" he wondered, distracted by his task.

He didn't really hear it when Hiruma replied, "Clay absorbs better."

ڥ

Monta's puppy-dog sexuality and untainted, nigh on animalistic, simplicity made him useful for only a few very precise tasks.

He did not understand why Hiruma would sometimes hand him pictures of plants and tell him to find them at any cost, but… he always managed.

ڥ

Kuroki did not know how he felt about the games Hiruma played. He did not know how he felt about the bruises along Hiruma's forearm where the baseball bat never got through. He did not know how he felt about the burns along his back where Hiruma played those games with his lighter once he'd put Kuroki down with a swift kick.

Kuroki liked to play games; he liked to win. But Hiruma never lost. The first rule to his game, to his entire universe, was that he never lost.

"Shit," Kuroki snarled at the open flame tracing the lines of his spine, making a puppet-show of vertebrae silhouettes in the paper of his flesh.

"Sing a little louder, fish mouth." Hiruma hummed a nightmarish little tune for him to match and Kuroki found himself drenched in sweat, strands of his dark hair sticking to his forehead.

The slippery feeling was tantalizing, he squirmed. He felt himself wanting to beat Hiruma's smiling face into the concrete floor. He squirmed and felt the stark gasp of pleasure try to wring itself from his vocal chords.

He heard Hiruma laugh above him, felt Hiruma snap the lighter closed and grab hold of his wrists.

"Sing louder," he repeated as one pale hand snaked inside of his pants and one painfully frigid fingertip traced the strange mandalas burned into his back as a game.

Kuroki felt his voice rising, his body singing. He did not know how he felt about this game and he could find nothing to clear his mind.

ڥ

At first the flesh was dry across Sena's tongue and each finger tasted of flint and fire.

"Fuck, that's a pretty picture," Hiruma purred, sitting in the chair before him, with his calf resting jauntily across his thigh.

Sena swallowed around his sharp nails. He felt the barrel of the handgun tucked lovingly into that soft fleshy place where throat and jaw joined. He twitched. Why. His hands fidgeted. Why.

Hiruma tilted his head to the side like a bird, stroking Sena's palate and the back of his throat, watching intently as the boy gagged. Hiruma licked his lips once, twice, before his eyes turned towards the ceiling. He watched the club room's florescent lights until he saw the amorphous black spots he was waiting for.

"Go on," he commanded absentmindedly. Sena whined desperately in the back of his throat in reply and Hiruma grinned. "Go on."

Sena swallowed around his fingers and leaned closer, lips opening wider. His mouth was watering, saliva dribbling down his chin even as he sucked helplessly.

Why. Sena's amber-black eyes questioned. Hiruma tilted up his chin with a dangerous change of pressure from the gun.

"Because I deserve all the treasures in the world," Youichi murmured, nonchalantly tumbling a bullet across his knuckles.

Sena's eyes widened. He thought frantically about escape, but still found his tongue curling around the metallic tang of Hiruma's fingers. His eyes slipped shut as he gagged another knuckle down.

And when Sena retched, so close to vomiting, Hiruma took his hand away. He traced Sena's cracked bottom lip, soothing it with his own spit-and-acid and then leaned in close, kissing and biting. Sena stilled: his skin alive with electricity and magic.

He's trapping your soul inside this moment, his sweet amber-black eyes showed realization and Hiruma kissed him again.

ڥ

Hiruma scared him, scared him like the monsters under the bed and the creatures in the closet had when the world had seemed a lot bigger and the shadows had seemed much stranger. Hiruma scared him now and Sakuraba did not understand how Shin could just not let this demon affect him.

"Uh," Haruto stumbled, losing his jogging rhythm to avoid crashing into Hiruma, who materialized like a ghost from the shadows. "Uh, hey."

Hiruma just gave him that over sized smile and wordlessly held something out in his palm. Somehow, he just held that big plastic smile on his face, like it was frozen there and it was painful.

Haruto didn't reach out to take the offering. It looked like a clay model of himself and it was in Hiruma Youichi's hand and—

"It's a present, to help you train," Hiruma informed him. His voice sounded like he was holding down some indelible mirth.

Haruto did not want to touch it. It would curse him just from contact, he was sure. He tried to stuff his hands into his pockets, but Hiruma—too quick and too sharp—grabbed his wrist and made him close his fingers over the figure. Haruto tensed in horror, the thing felt warm in his hand, as if had been fired just a few minutes before, or as if it had been absorbing Hiruma's hideous inner heat for the few seconds it had been in his hand.

"T-thank you," Sakuraba managed to force from his lips, his hand trembling, wanting nothing more than to drop the thing and run, but Hiruma was watching him like a predator.

Hiruma leaned in close to him conspiratorially and Haruto leaned back unconsciously. "Just tell it what you want every morning. Run a 4.2 dash, do 1000 crunches, whatever, just mean it or it won't work, fucking faggot."

He slipped the last insult in smoothly, with a dark glittering snake-skin smile, and then sauntered away. Leaving his little cursed relic clutched in Sakuraba's fist.

ڥ

Hiruma looked and he commanded and Mamori's body found the strength to rebel in the light of day. But in her dreams, his dagger-bone fingers wrapped around her throat and his black-night eyes burned her and she could not breathe.

The next day Mamori watched him, and he did not glance at her and the feeling lifted off her chest as nothing more than a nightmare.

Until the dream returned and his hands held her face underwater and she watched her precious air bursting in front of her eyes. Her lungs were wracking and dying and she wanted so badly to scream, but Mamori forced herself awake instead and lay sweating for the rest of the night.

She watched him again the next day, and she refused to show him her fears. He was harmless in daylight, she was sure, but then he was too close and her conviction faded. His hands were too close, his eyes were too intent and she recoiled and he raised a laughing eyebrow at her and her face burned.

Beneath her eyelids she saw her dreams, as if from a distance: Hiruma holding her beneath the water, possessing her as she suffocated. Mamori shivered and turned away from him and tried not to look again.

And she tried not to show how she quaked when he cornered her in the stairwell, pushed her against a stark wall. Her face felt pale and bloodless and her lungs struggled for breath and he grinned his shark's smile at her.

"Fuck-ing-man-a-ger," he purred it as one sardonic word. His hand slipped to her throat, holding to her clavicle like a flesh-and-bone necklace. "Hold your breath a little longer, your stamina needs work."

Mamori gasped and looked up into his eyes. She couldn't read anything there; the inflections were hidden beneath the sharp juts of his hair and the radical curves of his smile.

He released her quietly. "You know you're not that kind of woman," he reminded and then walked away without another word.

She watched after him and she drowned, speechless (breathless) with understanding.

ڥ

Shien would always be too wary of retribution; he sat across from Hiruma at the café and tried not to let all the questions on his mind show. Not when Hiruma was so calmly drinking his coffee and clacking away at his laptop.

"Why did you invite me here?" Shien finally said in that quiet mumbling drawl.

Hiruma glanced up at him, expression dry and incredulous. "How am I supposed to get inside your head without any contact?"

Shien shivered. Hiruma didn't have to try to get inside anyone's head; or under their skin, or to bring out their fears. He had unlocked one too many of Shien's fears, as a matter of fact. His hidden secrets that were not suddenly washed clean just because Hiruma had helped restore some of his confidence and—He thinks Hiruma knew that.

"Tell me straight," Shien decided. "Tell me how you knew about me."

The blond devil across from him did not respond immediately. He rarely reacted right away, Shien realized, because it made people nervous to have to wait for acknowledgement. Damn him. Uncomfortable and impatient, Shien reached across the table quickly and slapped down the panel of the laptop.

Hiruma looked up at him, and from nowhere, or perhaps his sleeve, produced a deck of cards. He fanned them a little and then gave his biggest panther-smile.

"Pick a card, any card," he boasted, sounding delighted with himself.

Shien stared at him in surprise before he just shook his head and went along with it.

It wasn't anything more than a cheap magic trick.

ڥ

When the time was right, he invited Suzuna into his lap. She came with a wary look on slim girlish face. He toyed with the damp curls at her temples and whispered something secret into her ear.

He said such strange things to her. Her eyes widened and she squirmed and his burning hand clapped onto her hip. She stilled, shocked, and then nodded, sheepishly.

From then on she went to him when she menstruated. He would walk with her to the locker rooms and touch her as much as she would ask, with her curious uncertain voice. Though he never would answer what he used the blood for and she could not make herself ask.

ڥ

Kazuki's face was all bruised up again. Fights and practice and fights and he tried to give up the fights but there was just so much he was willing to fight for. And so, human, he bruised and, proud, he wore them. Determined, he came to practice early, blocking each accusation of "trash" with a stifled scream and a body slam and another lap around the field; ten more pushups, fifteen more crunches: run, you piece of trash, run.

It was the worst when his face was bruised, black and green and red splotches making his scar less of a medal of honor and more another indignity.

He fought off the guilt and rage and responsibility until he collapsed to the dew-wet grass, breathing fresh-air for the first time in days.

Then Hiruma came and eclipsed the piercing early morning sunlight, stared down at him with that monster grin, body cocked like one of his guns at that mocking angle. After a moment, he crouched down beside him.

"Isn't this a sight," he murmured, brushing grass slippings from his shiny black shoes. "One idiot brother is ready to play, but what do the other two say?"

Jumonji began to sit up, snarling and choking on garbage again, but Hiruma pushed him down onto the turf, his knife-blade-and-sandpaper touch working across each bruise with a surgical gentleness.

"Bruise, thou shalt not heat. Bruise, thou shalt not sweat. Bruise, thou shalt not run. No more than Virgin Mary shall bring forth another son," Hiruma intoned in a laughing sing-song voice. Jumonji felt as if he had no choice but to hold still during this peculiar ritual, barely breathing as Hiruma repeated himself for every bruise on his face.

However, when his sharp-dry touch came to that cross of a scar, he stilled and drew his fingers away. He wiped his hand off on his slacks and continued on towards the clubroom with the piercing early morning sunlight at his back.

ڥ

He explored the nuances of the snake language with Agon, their tongues twined, throats flexing to choke one another. Fangs interlocked, they struggled and moaned.

Sometimes Agon had him in his thrashing basilisk way. Sometimes Hiruma slipped his poison in and Agon was a boneless heap to be taken.

And often when they fucked, Agon's tail would strike the bedside lamp and it would fall in a shatter of sparkles, plunging them into darkness.

Hate. The shadows would hissed.

Hiruma conquered by his rules and Agon by his own.

No winner, no satisfaction, two different games, and Agon continued to watch him with his ancient reptile eyes and fetid words. Hiruma grinned and fingered the leash at Agon's neck.

ڥ

Youichi was in his arms again. His deceptive white body thrashing against him, leaving bruises on his side, deep scratches on his back and bleeding wounds on his neck.

"God, are you an animal?" Gen found himself asking again.

Hiruma moaned, strands of the noise hanging itself across the room, sticky and ensnaring like spider web.

His nails dug deep into Musashi's back. Blood trickled across his flesh, weaving pulse-patterns along each curve and bulge and dip of muscle.

Smiling, Hiruma arched beneath him. His perfectly white skin was glossy with sweat and nearly translucent with the way he stretched and tensed every part of his body. He muscles showed gracefully, and his veins were like lace beneath his flesh, in the low lighting they seemed almost green.

"Hah," Hiruma laughed, wrapping both arms around Gen's neck, pulling him closer. "Haha, oh, fuck, ahahahaahaha…"

ڥ

Gen awoke in the morning to Hiruma pressed close to his side, face almost elfin in the dredging peace of sleep. But, almost immediately a grin split open his face like a wound breaking free of its stitches—Youichi always knew when he was being watched.

"You don't have work today," Youichi stated, curling in closer. Despite himself, Gen found his arm slipping around his slim waist, always wanting to protect him even though he knew damn well Hiruma could fend for himself.

He put his head back down on the pillows and breathed in the scent of all those schizophrenic blond locks. They smelled like lavender and limes and Hiruma's breath ghosting up towards him smelled perpetually of bubblegum and coffee and sometimes had a hint of a deep musky smoke. Comforted by that familiar smell, Gen tumbled headlong back into sleep where strange dreams of rabbits caught in barbed wire fences haunted him.

He woke again, in the afternoon, to the smell of cooking food and the sound of Kurita's cheerful voice. Gen buried his face into his mattress, wishing he were clothed and glad Kurita would never ask the questions that were just too hard to answer.

After showering and shaving, he finally went out into his kitchen. He found Hiruma, looking perfect and unruffled, standing at the stove stirring a large pot. Whatever was inside of it smelled delicious and Gen floated closer with the growling of his stomach.

Youichi glanced over his shoulder, his eyes sharp but still content in a sultry feline manner, if one knew what they were looking for.

"I invited the fatty for lunch," he said offhand. Kurita was munching on rice cakes at the table and gave a garbled greeting.

Gen nodded, even if he didn't have to believe the story. Hiruma was an accomplished cook. It was just one of those things, like all the others, that needed to be done and so he did it. But he never cooked for anyone else, it was because he wanted the food, or not at all.

When his soup was ready, Hiruma sat down at the table with a bowl and told his companions they could serves themselves. Kurita spooned himself a portion immediately, but Gen hesitated, looking down into the broth. It smelled both sweet and faintly of burdock root.

"What's in it?"

Hiruma shrugged and continued to eat in smug silence. He pretended to be reading his newspapers, but was watching as uncertain Gen tasted his concoction and he grinned when Gen sputtered over the peculiar taste.

Gen's hunger won out over his reluctance and he joined them at the table.

They agreed to spend spent the rest of the afternoon together. While Kurita and Musashi lounged in front of the small TV, Hiruma sat nearby, a deck of cards spread out in front of him in a bizarre game of solitaire.

Gen didn't pay much attention to him at first, but after he had watched for a while he began to wonder… just what was Youichi reading there? Queen took Jack, spades trumped hearts… two of diamonds slipped quietly beneath the ace of clubs… And Youichi's grin spread gently, the edges becoming more jagged the farther its taint reached.


(small town witch come to mess me up... -Sneaker Pimps) Standard Disclaimers.