It is not sex that gives the pleasure, but the lover.*

Hisoka and Illumi spent most of their day prowling the forests around Kukuroo Mountain, hunting monster mutants. They had killed off a family of bear cats that dusted the growth with toxic dander, and fed Mike the remains of a flock of three hundred tiny birds, feathers the sheen and color of human hearts.

Red evening yielded to an overcast night, a chill set in. Hisoka was cleaning blood from under his nails with a four of hearts when Illumi casually tossed a deadly-sharp pin in Hisoka's direction.

Hisoka raised an equally casual hand and caught the pin centimeters from his left eye. "Illumi," he said. "Don't excite me."

Licking his lips, Hisoka pinned the four of hearts into a nearby branch and somersaulted daintily to Illumi's tree. A pointy-nailed hand reached toward Illumi's iron-straight hair before it was batted away.

"I was just keeping you from falling asleep," Illumi said. "Don't play with me."

Hisoka laughed his inscrutable laugh. "I wasn't, I wasn't. What if I suggest you play with me?"

Though, as usual, the expression on Illumi's face betrayed nothing, a single finger on his right hand twitched toward the pins in his pocket. "How so?"

Hisoka ran a hand down his lean, muscled body, garbed in his usual clownish gear, before smoothing his amber shock of hair. He made no attempt to hide his erection. Rather, he swiveled his hips.

"Cut me."

He slipped a curved dagger into Illumi's hand. "I'll let you have the first three cuts free."

Illumi blinked once, slowly. The blade warmed under his fingers.

"Take off your shirt," he said.

Hisoka pulled his shirt over his head, elastic slapping taut against skin.

"Come closer."

They sat side by side in the deepening dark, their thighs just touching. The blade a twirling silver blur between his fingertips, Illumi considered Hisoka in the moonlight. He was aware of Hisoka's undisguised glee and the burning from that hungry look stirred a strange, distasteful feeling within him. Deftly, Illumi opened an inch long slit along Hisoka's collarbone. A trickle of blood oozed out.

"More." Hisoka seized Illumi's hand in an iron grip and pulled it toward him.

"Don't play with me," Illumi repeated, tearing his hand away and opening a bloody smile that ran from Hisoka's left shoulder to his lower right back, slitting the nipple.

Hisoka spasmed with pleasure, almost falling out of the tree before he caught himself; his hands encircled Illumi's neck. He backed Illumi toward the trunk, leering.

"Continue and I will decapitate you," Illumi choked out.

Hisoka giggled.

Illumi slashed again, a carefully-aimed gash from clavicle to pubis that sent blood splattering to the forest floor. Hisoka looked down, eyebrow cocked in surprise. He brought a bloody hand from chest to his lips and looked at Illumi through half-lidded eyes.

Illumi raised his hand to strike again—

"That was three," Hisoka cried, kissing Illumi hard on the lips. "You'll have to work for the rest!" He vanished through the trees silently. Only the trail of blood betrayed his existence.

Blood. Illumi felt it pulsing through him with a heat he had not felt in months. He could hear the roar of it in his ears, feel the rush of it under every inch of his skin, tasted the tang of it on his bruised mouth. He slitted his eyes, extended the reach of his nen. The chase was on.

He sensed Hisoka almost immediately dancing like a strung puppet in a clearing twenty feet away, but he was gone the instant Illumi arrived, leaving only a patch of sticky Elastic Love Bungee Gum on the ground. A clumsy trap? Illumi scanned his immediate surroundings with gyo. Something was not right. If only his stomach didn't twist with that uncomfortable, ravenous feeling, he'd be able to think, to figure it out…

A shadow came upon him from the treetop. Instinctively, Illumi tossed a handful of needles at the form and leapt out of range only to barely avoid a fat strand of Bungee Gum. Hisoka leapt again, a flitting blur, and Illumi dodged right to avoid the gum and the clown, only to find himself yanked into the air. He crashed and stuck fast to what appeared to be a perfectly innocuous tree trunk.

"I covered my gum with a layer of Texture Surprise and attached it to your shoe." Hisoka smirked. "You completely didn't notice." He shook his head. "Really, you're slipping Illumi."

Ridiculous as Illumi looked glued to the tree, his cold stare made Hisoka shiver.

"Come and get me," Hisoka taunted, gesturing at the wounds congealing on his chest.

Illumi squirmed irately. He pulled spare pins from his shoulder with his teeth and spat them, catching the whole side of Hisoka's face.

Hisoka leapt and seized Illumi by the shoulders, ripping him free, and slamming him face-forward to the ground.

"You let down your guard, Hisoka," Illumi whispered, poker face hiding an inner queasiness. "Poor form."

Hisoka didn't answer, choosing instead to straddle the other man and pin down both his hands.

"I could control you, right now," Illumi said. "I could make you pull your own eyes out and eat them. The pins are in place."

Slowly Hisoka leaned forward until his lips were millimeters from Illumi's cheek and his chest was pressed against Illumi's back.

"But you won't," he whispered.

The Zoaldyeck's did not condone the painless touch. The Zoaldyeck's definitely did not condone hugging. Lying there under Hisoka, the smell of damp earth around him and the gentle night breeze pacing about them, felt too comfortable, too much like hugging. Besides, Illumi could feel Hisoka's penis pressing hard against his ass.

Which wasn't bad in itself, per se, but Mother had cameras everywhere.

Illumi summoned his killing aura and felt its chill sheath him, a barrier between their bodies. Never had he been so close to someone before, never so simultaneously close and still. Hisoka's breathing was the drag of a violin, layered with harmonies, humming to the counterpoint of his tympanic heart.

And the blood. The feel of it, seeping between them, sticky, and binding them with its heady, narcotic scent. Illumi felt his breath catch.

How he loved that smell.

His fingers tightened around the little dagger.

Slowly, Hisoka's touched the tip of his red tongue to Illumi's neck, kissed him long and langorously down to the curve of his shoulder. Illumi felt his nen spark at the touch. The pins still embedded in Hisoka's face rubbed against his skin.

What was a few more minutes? He willed himself to relax. Just a few more minutes.

"You're delicious…" Hisoka murmured. "I want to devour you."

Their lips met; their teeth also, with an aggressive clack. Hisoka rolled Illumi over and dug his nails into his scalp and back. Illumi moaned, and flushed, embarrassed. He bit Hisoka's lip, making it bleed.

"Oh naughty." Hisoka laughed. Abruptly, he got up and dusted himself off. Began removing pins casually.

"Why stop?" Illumi blurted. He gathered his self-control. "Get back down and fuck me," he commanded, forcing his voice flat. I am passable calm, he told himself. Inside he was a mess.

Hisoka cast a look askance. Took a long, deliberate pause before plucking the last pin and tossing it square into the center of Illumi's chest. Bull's-eye.

"Take off your shirt," he said.

Illumi ripped it off, pin and all.

"Come closer," Illumi commanded. "Come closer."

Hisoka took a lazy step, laid a lazy hand on Illumi's head. The man pushed into the touch, his fingers reaching deftly for the waistband of Hisoka's pants. Silently, he slipped Hisoka's cock into his mouth, pulled hard, tasting the fleshiness of it.

"Oooh," Hisoka giggled. "Harder! Don't be cruel Illumi, suck harder."

Illumi set a hand on Hisoka's hip, to steady himself. The clown began to buck into Illumi's mouth, viciously, still giggling like a maniac.

"I will fucking castrate you," Illumi growled around a mouthful of penis, eyes watering. "I will fucking bite it off."

"Faster," Hisoka cried, with even more enthusiasm. "Show a little spirit. You're not trying very hard. Do you want me to ahhhhh—"

Illumi forced Hisoka's cock hard into the back of his throat and shoved three cold fingers up his ass.

Breathing heavily, Illumi spat, the strange salt-sour taste making him gag. He realized he was shaking from the strangeness of it all, of the scratch of the twigs under his bare knees and the moonlight and the little dagger dropped by his lover—no, not a lover, can't be a lover—Hisoka's feet. The heat and the pressure between his legs was starting to throb and ache; Illumi tried to turn away but—

Naked, covered with fresh wounds and sweat, Hisoka was irresistible. The sheen of moonlight off his skin, sheathing deltoids, biceps, pectorals, obliques with silver light that ran lissom and smooth, practically dripping down those small hips and tight ass... Hisoka squatted and proffered a bloody finger to Illumi's lips, but for several moments Illumi couldn't do anything but stare, painfully, hungrily.

Those yellow eyes, crinkled up in a smirk. Illumi licked his lips absently.

Well, it was just sex. And he'd make sure it hurt too.

That made it alright.

Illumi bit into the finger and sucked. "My turn," he said.

"Very good," Hisoka replied. "Let's see if I can make you scream." He chuckled low and dirty. He waved his hand, indicating Illumi turn around. Illumi stretched languidly, his back a smooth curve.

Hisoka set a single sharp nail against a patch of inviting, unblemished skin.

Theirs was a partnership of perfect understanding.

AN * quote by Marge Piercy.