Hiruma's eyes turned upwards and he picked soulfully at the grass beneath his fingers, toed the dirt beneath the grass. The cicadas were noisy, deafening and horny and he'd never much liked that noise but had enjoyed finding their abandoned skins and feeding them to the chickens on his grandmother's farm.

"Do you mind if I talk to myself," he muttered dryly to a blade of grass and ignored the way Gen looked over at him in confusion, realizing it wasn't him Youichi was talking to.

And sometimes people forgot that Hiruma had wishes too, thoughts and feelings more complicated than what he showed them on the outside (more than just a force, but a part of nature as well and sometimes nature is complex in its simplicity).

"Youichi," Gen answered, rolling onto his stomach and looking up through the nighttime, trying to search out Hiruma's blackcat eyes. "Don't be an asshole."

He heard the cicadas chorus sharply and heard Hiruma pluck out another clump of grass and felt Hiruma's toes on his calf suddenly, poking and prodding.

"You have such a way with words sometimes, fucker," Youichi laughed, maybe his earrings jangled a little as he turned his head away, the sound not so laughing at all.

"I just know how to read you."

"No one knows how to read me."

"I can. Anezaki can. Kurita can, sometimes Sena too."

Hiruma threw grass in face without looking down at him, a sulky action with no bite and Gen crawled forward on his elbows, lying across Hiruma's thighs.

"Get off," Youichi complained and Gen smirked and played with the hem of Hiruma's shirt. "Get off of me."

"Throw me off."

Hiruma finally looked down at him, his mouth frowning and his muscles flexing as he considered doing just that.


Gen smiled and crawled up a little further, staining the knees of slacks on the grass and not minding all that much.

"You're the best out there, you know that?" he wondered nonchalantly. Hiruma lay back on the hill with his hands under his head and Gen rested comfortably on his stomach, Hiruma's knifebone hip jutting up into his side.

"Flattery gets you sent to Hell," demon answered after a good long while of staring at the sky, talking to himself inside his head, weighing options and thoughts and deciding maybe this one would cause the least amount of damage.

"Shut up," Gen laughed. He could do that here in the dark with only Hiruma to hear because Hiruma is the analyst who knows just which pillars to support. (But that means he takes all the weight that really matters.) "I don't flatter anyone, least of all you, you haughty bastard."

He felt the mirth bubbling deep inside of Youichi Hiruma, knew that was the kind of answer Youichi needed to hear but maybe the point still hadn't been made and Gen pushed himself up until he could lay his ear over Youichi's heart. It was still there and beating, much to Youichi's irritation.

Nails dragged across his scalp and Hiruma scratched at him like a dog. "What are you doing, old man?" His voice came through from far away and Gen frowned because sometimes Hiruma could be such a pain in the ass that way.

"Stop pulling back now." And Musashi breathed in his scent which was sweat and gunpowder and grass clippings and strong and sharp and sweet. "I know what you're doing. I know you're thinking about the team. I know you're thinking about all the scenarios. I know you've noticed that the best thing for you to do is to depend on them and care about them. And I know that you hate that. I know your first instinct is to remind them you can toss them aside. I know you've realized that tossing them aside would hurt you as much as the possibility of disappointment would. I know you're trying to rationalize. So stop."

"I'm not," Hiruma replied, surly. But he was. "What happens happens."

"You are. And I know you think you can accept what happens as long as you do preemptive damage control on your feelings beforehand."

"Fuck you."


They reached a stalemate and the sky was quiet above and the cicadas were wild all around them. Gen slid his arms under Hiruma, brought them both up and held him like that.

"You wanted me to be your companion," Musashi murmured, "and I've always done it. Maybe I didn't do it as well as I could have when I left the team, but I'm doing it right now. So listen."

"So goddamn chatty tonight you never—"

"Don't play your game with me right now."

"I always play my game with everyone all the time, it's the only thing that keeps me interested, you—"


Hiruma fell silent, held against Gen's chest and wordless and aggravated and tired. His lungs filled with air.


Gen grinned, cagey, and crushed him a little closer, because he knew what that meant.

He could speak this boy's language like a native tongue.

Standard Disclaimers.