"Ash-Heap Millionaire"

by Acey

Author's Note: Written around late 2007 or early 2008, dug back up and edited a bit. Kyouya/Tsukiko, implied lime, vague hints at one-sided Kyouya/Ren. Spoilers for volume three.

As one of the Spirits, Kyouya's duties are minimal. He kills on mostly unpremeditated occasion but gets very little pleasure out of it; the blood doesn't excite him like it does his comrades. He knows better than to think they even notice, smiling vacantly as the blood drips from their fingers and lips like melting tattoos. They don't mind him, his sardonic jabs, his distance. Generals are allowed to be different, even eccentric, so long as they're not human.

Which, technically, Kyouya isn't. Technically, he's nothing more than a devil, his still-breathing body nothing more than a shell concealing the soulless monster. A devil dying.


He makes his first mistake with Ren.

Ren's a break in the tiresome game of pretending to live and pretending to care. Kyouya meets him under Nema's explicit orders. He does a quick run through Nema's mind to find out what he can about Ren beforehand, but she's unconvincingly blank on the subject.

(she's holding out on me, trying to push me out)

He pushes back slightly, and the information starts to trickle in, dim flashes of memories Nema's too distracted to guard more carefully. A blond seven-year-old kicking a football to a wavy-haired playmate, seen through a screen door as Nema talks to the woman who must be Ren's mother. Same scene, only now his playmate's crying and Ren's rushing to help her, only Nema doesn't, can't care about the little girl or Ren and—

Kyouya stops himself once he realizes how useless it is. He doesn't have time to pry through the crevices of Nema's mind in the hopes of finding something actually relevant, not when he's supposed to be mugging passerby on the street, until Ren and Rai finally catch up with him and the rest of the heinous play can unfold.

By the time they finally show up, he's about to go home and forget about it until tomorrow. Explain to Nema, maybe, that it was just too much trouble for a school night, see how well that sort of excuse went over with the wife of the Master.

He's imagining his punishment for disobeying when he catches a glimpse of Ren out of the corner of his eye (same blond hair, pale eyes—amazingly recognizable after ten years) and freezes involuntarily.

Ren's homeless, but not obviously so, even though Kyouya makes sure to go through the charade of threatening him for his money as well. He's wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt and too-baggy jeans with a cell phone bulging from one pocket. His sneakers look like they might have been blue once but are turning the same dingy shade of gray as his sweatshirt. He looks ordinary.

Or he should.

It almost sickens Kyouya to think that to him, Ren looks like a subject for a Rembrandt painting, light-in-the-darkness, still-present glow, even though the splendor's worn from far too many nightmares. There's a fixed quality to his pale eyes, a tired determination that by all rights, Kyouya is meant and should want to destroy.

The fact that he doesn't surprises even himself.


Tsukiko's another matter entirely, always has been. He digs around in her mind more often than he does anyone else, because the multiple personalities keep her from falling into any predictable patterns, not the damned martyr like Ren or the vapidly brilliant hacker like Yuu. Tsukiko needs the right words spoken to her more than anyone else, and Kyouya's the only reliable, half-willing supplier.

If he says the right words enough, she lets him take her, lets him fuck her on one of the condo beds, sweat dripping onto the sheets and patchwork quilts. Downstairs the cultists are chanting, outside the seventeen-year-olds are trying to pave the streets of Tokyo in blood.

She doesn't don her uniform again after it's over until the morning, but usually he shrugs his own jeans and shirt back on and watches TV with her head absently in his lap. The news reports are getting just like the horror movies he watched as a kid, one homicide announcement after another, made monotonous from the sheer frequency. He changes the channel every ten minutes, until she snatches the remote from his hands and tosses it on the floor.

"Kyouya," she says, trailing the last syllable into meaninglessness, "you bore me."

She reaches up and touches his face with her hands, before letting her fingers run up and down playfully along his neck. He stiffens, almost pushes her back, before he grabs her hand and suddenly, impulsively kisses it.

"Why do I bore you?" he half-whispers idly, mouth still inches from her hand. "Tell me, that, eh?"

"Because you don't care." And another smile. "You sold your soul to live and now you don't want anything more than to die. You're so funny, Kyouya."

He makes a playful face at her even though his stomach lurches with the knowledge that she's right.

"If I wanted to die, I'd let you kill me. Not too bad to die at the hands of a beautiful girl."

"Oh, stop." Only the barest flush betrays her, and Kyouya relaxes at the knowledge that even a whore like her could be flattered. "I can tell you want to die, you just don't have the nerve to do it yourself." She presses her mouth close to his cheek. "Coward."


He sits up slightly in bed, just enough to keep from having to meet her lips in another empty kiss. In response she wraps up in the covers, satisfied smirk still wide on her face, and falls asleep ten minutes later.

He stays awake for hours listening to the sound of her too-content breaths, and when sleep comes he can't manage to dream.


The headaches have plagued him since before he started with the rituals; hell, since before he turned seventeen. It's a symptom of the cancer that's driven its way into his brain, the rot spreading into the lymph nodes, the bloodstream. Headaches remind him that after all, he is dying.

He has a particularly bad one the night he lets Ren stay with him.

After making sure that Ren's still asleep, Kyouya gets out the blister packets and bottles of meds: vicodin, codeine, morphine. Takes two of each with a swig of orange juice, damn however lethal the pill combination might turn out to be.

His constitution, reinforced by his deal with the Diabolo, is too good for that. The pills don't kill him like his sliver of sanity hopes it would, but they don't help the pain, either.

He's swallowed down two more tablets of morphine before he comes to the hazy realization that the pain is in his mind.

Or, maybe, in the soul he's sold to the devil.


The night that Ren leaves, Kyouya's duty as one of the Spirits is minimal. There's no one to kill just yet.

He's allowed to be different. He ad-libs his lines after he shoves a plate of food in Ren's direction, gives Ren all the rough, dry, mundane conversation he expects to hear. Pretends that Ren's fight with Rai is nothing more consequential or stupid than a modern-day fistfight. Pretends that it's ordinary, the type of falling-out any two people could have, without the help of the devil. When Ren references the Diabolo, Kyouya acts like he doesn't hear.

When Ren walks out, Kyouya manages, technically, to truly understand what it is to want to die.