Disclaimer: I don't own Yu-Gi-Oh. Fic was written as an Xmas gift for Cairnsy last last year, and is being posted rather late because I just put everything up on my writing journal then transfer it over to in big chunks.
Leave A Pretty Corpse.
It's mid December, prime snow season. The white fluff has piled up to be about knee high for an average person and every day after school, there's a snowball fight on the front steps of Domino High School. Anyone who exits is fair game; all the cowards go through the back doors, and most of the girls do as well, because if you walk through the front doors, then you're going to get hit from every direction. What else can you expect when students are dedicated enough to climb the roof and wait there with buckets of snowballs just to get the sniper's advantage?
The only exception is Seto Kaiba, and it's not because he's asked for amnesty, but simply because nobody's suicidal enough to target him.
Except Ryuuji Otogi, who one day smiles as he sees Seto exiting the school, bounces a snowball in the palm of his hand, hides behind a tree, winds up, then throws the snowball as hard as he can, zinging it through the air like a baseball.
Seto's only about a meter away from the limousine when the snowball hits him.
It smashes against his shoulder, then falls to the ground, some of it still sticking to the sleeve of his jacket. There's a red paper on the snow now, but Seto steps on it before anyone else can see it, the heel of his boots snagging on the bedraggled paper. Nothing more than a withering glare is given to Ryuuji, who merely smirks back with an expression of mock innocence, then Seto turns to continue walking to his limousine.
The world exhales, and Ryuuji is instantly surrounded by a crowd of admirers once the limo is out of sight, all of them intent on praising him for his courage in taking on Kaiba. At least, that's what most of them are doing. There's a small but vocal minority setting up a gambling pool on how long it'll be before Kaiba extracts his revenge, and in what manner it'll come. Ryuuji tries to bet five hundred yen on 'so subtle, we won't know about it' but is barred from taking part in case he tries to throw the game.
He pouts for a little, but gets over it quickly enough. He's got enough money after all, but that's not the point. He just likes gambling in general.
Meanwhile, in the car, Seto has taken the damp, torn note off his boot and with the utmost distaste for the paper's filthy condition, managed to piece it back into what it must have originally looked like before it was placed in a snowball and then stepped on. The handwriting is calligraphic, but messy, as if Ryuuji wrote the note standing up with the paper against a wall, and reads only "9PM, tonight. Cyberpunk."
Cyberpunk's a new club that just opened, futuristic-themed but on the wrong side of town to attract the nerds. Partying isn't worth dying for, not for them. Ryuuji might disagree, but as Seto's learned, Ryuuji takes his own life very lightly. And he loves a good night out almost as much as he loves a good night in (Seto's bed and Seto's sheets and Seto).
Seto smirks, and crumples up the note. People don't usually deliver messages via snowballs but Ryuuji's creativity is what makes him such a successful game designer, after all. Seto's known his lover to do odder things.
He almost calls Ryuuji to confirm the date, but decides against it. Jotting down "8PM" on a sheet of blue-lined paper, he gives his driver instructions to track down and assault Ryuuji with a snowball in return, then hand Ryuuji the note.
After all, one of them has to be mature. Or something like it.
Seto's done his research, as always. Couples going to cyberpunk often split into roles: human and non-human. The non-human can be an alien, robot, clone, droid, whatever – Seto chose android, buying the glue intended for false eyelashes and then using it to stick small computer components on his neck. Black and silver, they trace a straight line up both sides of his neck, and make small, neat squares on the back of his hands and arms, linear and lovely. The rest of his outfit is simple enough, silver PVC trousers (he prefers leather but PVC looks more futuristic) and the knob of a control panel glued in place over his heart, with black eyeliner used to map out the square that would swing open if you pulled hard enough.
Ryuuji's first comment is, "See? I told you should have got your nipple pierced. You could have just stuck a chunky silver ring and used that for the control panel."
Seto doesn't even have time to glare before he's being kissed, the laughter on Ryuuji's lips vibrating though his own body. Ryuuji is warm against him, flushed with heat and pressing up against him as if trying to melt into Seto, and Seto forgets that it's winter outside (but winter has always been his favourite season).
Ryuuji pulls away, plops his PVC-clad self into an oddly-shaped seat (Seto has never seen so much PVC on Ryuuji at once, the other shines like an oilslick in shades of black), and laughs up at Seto again. The sound is breathless, and his eyes are a brighter green than usual as he looks around with interest at the club, and the people inside it. Normal people, pretending to be abnormal, whereas he and Seto are abnormal people pretending to be normal people pretending to be abnormal.
Ryuuji loves pretending. Seto doesn't, but he loves Ryuuji. He can understand being in denial of magic, of hating it – what he doesn't understand is the extra layer that Ryuuji needs to have. Why normal isn't a good enough mask to wear.
But that's Ryuuji for you. Even when pretending to be normal, he needs to still stand out.
He's ordering two drinks now, flirting with the waitress a little (just enough for that familiar pang in Seto's heart that makes him reach across the table and take Ryuuji's hand in his meaningfully), purring out questions about whether a Screaming Orgasm is preferable to a Slow Comfortable Screw, and Seto watches his lips when Ryuuji talks without hearing a word that Ryuuji says. Seto sees no reason to listen to Ryuuji flirt when he can take in the perfection of the other's mouth instead, admiring the sensual lips coated with black lipstick (Seto thinks it'll taste like liquorice and regret), white teeth that flash in a fake smile and a redred tongue that occasionally touches his upper lip for just a second before Ryuuji remember he's wearing lipstick and pulls it back into his mouth again.
There's a feline grace to Ryuuji's actions that never fails to fascinate Seto, but not on the lustful level that everyone else knows (though Seto would be lying if he said he didn't desire the other), but on how easily it comes to him. Is it practiced? Seto's imagined Ryuuji at fourteen, standing in front of a full-length mirror, glancing up at his own reflection from under artfully disarranged locks of black hair, pouting with one hand on his hip and his chin tilted up haughtily. It's a pretty mental image, but most things to do with Ryuuji are pretty (except his past, but they never talk about that, just like they never talk about Seto's because why talk about something they both already know and understand?).
Ryuuji's hand suddenly squeezes Seto's lightly, then his fingers stroke across Seto's palm, the movement slow and teasing. Heat flickers in Seto for a moment, but he feigns indifference, casting Ryuuji a bored look as if to ask "That's the best you can do?" Moments later, he has an indignant Ryuuji on his lap, Ryuuji's tongue in his mouth and demanding hands fisted in his hair to pull his head down, reminding Seto all over again of how Ryuuji sees absolutely nothing wrong with overkill (the eyeliner isn't enough, he has to wear an earring too).
It's Seto's turn to be breathless when Ryuuji pulls away, but he's still got enough presence of mind to glare when Ryuuji pulls out a packet of cigarettes, rifles through them carelessly, then selects one (lucky, lucky cigarette to be the one chosen to touch his lips) and lights up. Ryuuji can feel Seto's stare boring into him as he takes a long, languorous pull at the white death-stick, and there's mischief in his voice as he asks, "Want a suck?"
Seto's eyes narrow and Ryuuji knows he is not amused, but he can't stop himself from smirking up at the other, still seated on Seto's lap, and then offering him the cigarette in jest. "C'mon," He coaxes, and laughter is bright in his eyes as he suggests conspiratorally, "We could shotgun."
Seto's not interested in destroying his lungs. He's told Ryuuji that already. He's also told Ryuuji that if Ryuuji had already been smoking when they'd met, this relationship would have never happened. Seto's in a little too deep now to get out, though, but he's damned if he'll be addicted to Ryuuji and nicotine both. One dependency is enough.
But it's Ryuuji and Ryuuji's smiling up at him with that look in his eyes, the one that promises that if Seto plays along, something good will happen later (Seto can never predict when later will become now) and so Seto asks in his usual cool manner, pretending that he does know what Ryuuji means and that the question's rhetorical, "Shotgun?"
"Mhm-hm." Ryuuji inhales again, a practiced suck, and it's all Seto can do to remind himself that this phase will pass and Ryuuji will get bored of the cigarettes eventually, just as he got bored of the tattoos (they were all lasered off) and the piercings (most of the holes have closed by now), and smirks at Seto once more. He exhales off to the side though, grey smoke blowing away from them, and explains, "I breathe out, you breathe in. You get the second-hand smoke and the taste of it without actually needing to smoke anything, and severely lessened chances of lung cancer."
It's at times like this that Seto wishes Ryuuji was stupid, and didn't know about things like the adverse effects of smoking. But Ryuuji's far from stupid, and what can you do if someone knows they're heading in the wrong direction, but only runs faster every time you warn them? Nothing, except keep pace in a car, so that when they collapse, you can pick them up and take them home again. Seto tells himself he's only going along with Ryuuji for the ride; he doesn't want to think of himself as trying to save the other. He's not the hero type and Ryuuji would probably laugh in his face if he dared refer to the game designer as a damsel in (self-created) distress.
"Well?" Ryuuji asks impatiently, and doesn't wait for an answer before he's sealed his mouth over Seto's again, the taste of smoke filling Seto's lungs as Seto inhales without thinking. Seto coughs, almost chokes and pushes Ryuuji away. He can hear Ryuuji laughing as the cigarette is extinguished and there's a reassuring hand on his back, someone holding up a glass of water to his lips so that Seto can drink from it and clear his mouth of the taste of ashes.
Seto drinks, and is glad (not for the first time) that Mokuba is in college, all the way across the ocean in America. It's not that he doesn't miss Mokuba, it's just that he worries what sort of influence Ryuuji (charming, intelligent, and more enigmatic than the Mona Lisa) could be on Mokuba. He's seen Ryuuji behave over the holidays when Mokuba is there, all laughter and light-hearted mischief, but he doubts his lover could keep it up for long. Ryuuji's too fond of switching masks to wear the same face for long, even in the name of a good cause like protecting what's left of Mokuba's innocence (Seto doesn't think there's much left after Death T and American education, he sometimes looks at Mokuba's wild black hair and tanned skin and sees a Ryuuji that has yet to learn how to disseminate).
"Let's dance?" It's a genuine question for once, Ryuuji eyeing the mass of writhing, twisting bodies on the dance floor with something approaching curiosity. He's never listened to techno before, and the harsh, strong rhythms won't lend themselves to the sinuous flowing style he prefers to adopt when dancing, so he's doing his research (like Seto, he's like Seto in so many ways beneath his skin) and seeing how to best blend in, while still being unusual enough to stand out.
His research is wasted; Seto stands up and answers curtly, "Let's leave."
They've been in the club for less than twenty minutes.
It's Ryuuji following Seto this time, a pout on his lips as he makes his way through the crowd, elbowing people to make them move and trying to fit in the wake that Seto leaves behind him as he simply shoves his way through the crowd. Ryuuji catches up to Seto by the limo, and clutches at Seto's arm, black-painted nails cut too short to hurt as he presses his fingers into the hard muscle of Seto's tensed forearm. He's not angry though, simply amused, and kisses Seto in lieu of asking for an apology. This time, Ryuuji tastes like mint. He always pops a breath mint in his mouth after smoking; Seto appreciates it, but still can't wait for Ryuuji's latest little craze to end.
Even now, as the kiss grows more intense and Seto finds himself leaning back against the car for support, he still has the presence of mind to sneak a hand into Ryuuji's jacket pocket and steal the pack of cigarettes, tossing it under the car to be hidden by the snow. One small victory at a time, because he's fighting against Ryuuji, and to win would be to end the game, to end this, and never know again what it's like to be shirtless in the snow but being kissed so thoroughly that the carnal hunger overrules any petty thoughts of pneumonia.
Ryuuji's sensual though, not carnal. Carnal implies a rawness, a crudity that Ryuuji either lacks or has long since polished into something more elegant. His sensuality is natural, and his every moment is an invitation. His sensuality is practiced, and Ryuuji knows exactly what he's doing with every challenging look and half-teasing smirk. It doesn't matter, though. Ryuuji might be sensual, but the hunger he evokes is definitely a carnal one, and Seto's never known anyone who could arouse him so much with simply one kiss. Then again, he's never known anyone with Ryuuji's ability to get under his skin, to pick words that'll sting and hurt when they're thrown, then worm their way into Seto's heart and fester there until they make up (and even then, their seeds will remain, ready to awaken with every quarrel that occurs against both their wills).
If this was only about lust, Seto would have it so much easier. He threw the word 'whore' at Ryuuji once, barely able to force it past his lips, and Ryuuji had responded by ripping off the expensive watch Seto had bought him (Cartier, it was black and gold and showed the phases of the moon) and throwing it at him. Ryuuji never accepted another gift from Seto again; Seto still remembers the look of heartbroken fury on Ryuuji's face every time that Ryuuji's birthday comes around. Or White Day. Or Christmas. Or whenever he's doubting that Ryuuji actually loves him, which he personally feels is far too often.
Seto hates doubting things; he prefers surety and numbers, but he can't count the reasons he loves Ryuuji because they make so little sense that he refuses to admit to having them. He can count how many times they've had sex, how many threads Ryuuji's sheets have as opposed to his own, count how many times he's been stood up, count how many random e-mails Ryuuji has sent him out of the blue (he's saved every single one in an encrypted folder, even the one that simply spelt out 'I love you' in binary), but he can't count on Ryuuji, because no matter how much they love each other, Ryuuji always says there's no guarantee it'll last.
Seto would like to rip that cynicism right out of Ryuuji, make Ryuuji believe that this is special and it won't end because it's been through so much already, but every time he tries, Ryuuji looks up at him with a wry smirk, and his eyes are dull as he laughs a laugh meant for crowds and audiences, not for a lover. Seto's given up on convincing Ryuuji based on logic alone, and settles for proving it one day at a time. Today's been a relatively good day, because Ryuuji hasn't treated him like an outsider even once, and Seto's played along with what Ryuuji wants without resisting.
And now Ryuuji's got his thumb hooked in Seto's waistband, and is gesturing at his own car, a sporty black baby Jag, probably suggesting he drives instead of them taking the limo. Seto nods, agreeing numbly because he's getting numb in the cold now that Ryuuji's no longer blocking the wind, and they walk to the car hand-in-hand. Seto fastens the seat-belt, and reminds himself he has life insurance and that Mokuba is legally an adult. It's his little mantra every time he lets Ryuuji drive, and he barely has time to finish it before the car peels out of the parking lot, heedless of the signs asking for careful driving due to ice on the roads.
The speed they're going at is insane but Ryuuji's laughing and his eyes are poison-green as he presses down even harder on the accelerator, streetlights whipping past so fast that they turn into a glowing yellow line, blurred through the darkened windows. Seto doesn't know where they're going, because he failed to hear if Ryuuji's taking him back to the mansion or to his house, but that doesn't matter. Their destination is Hell because Ryuuji's driving and the only speed he knows is breakneck.
Seto could still ask Ryuuji to slow down and let him out, but he doesn't. Seto's always been the obsessive type, and he's planning to stay until the very end.
After all, someone's going to have to identify the body.