devils_solitude: (francis)
[personal profile] devils_solitude
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Seto wordlessly retrieved the strap of the collar, letting his fingers slide between the material —warm from the other’s touch—, and the surprising clamminess of Katsuya’s palm. He allowed them to linger, prolonging their contact for his already touch-starved skin, reassured when Katsuya lightly cupped his fingers in response.

He gathered the length, clumsily winding it around his fingers, feeling Katsuya’s hand move to slide down the smooth of his forearm before resting at his elbow, supporting, like he always did.

How could he even think to split the chest from which he found solace; to abandon the hands from which he drew his strength; to break the throat from which hymns of them were sung; to fracture the smile from which he had learnt to love again; to blind the eyes from which his light of tomorrow shone? How could he even think to destroy the person from whom he rebirthed anew?

This was a different life, and Seto was a different man.

Sitting by Katsuya, Seto folded the distance between them. He barely noticed the world dissolving around them when all he could see was the relief in his partner’s smile. Tenderness on tenderness, Seto brushed the fullness of Katsuya’s cheek, thumbing past the ache that sat in its redness, the same one that bled into the restraint of the collar.

Seto stroked the curve of his partner’s neck, gliding from flesh to leather, halting at their disparate convergence. He felt his boyfriend’s grip on his arm tighten, sending a throe of regret rattling through his bones with such intensity that he felt it in the crack of his jaw. Was he truly a different person, when his actions remained fuelled by the same selfishness?

“You didn’t have to.”

Katsuya leaned back, surprised at the pain in his partner’s words. He instinctively reached for the band around his neck, covering Seto’s hand with his on.

“I wanted ta.”

He rubbed the lines of the latter’s veins, trying to press some of the warmth that was overflowing in his chest into the coldness. He traced their paths to the angle of his partner’s wrist, the place where he had cut himself on countless times before. He thumbed it, circling in encouragement until he had smoothened away its harshness.

By then, Seto had fallen into him, easily filling the emptiness between his arms, notches fitting in places they never used to. The former rested his head in the crook of Katsuya’s neck, mouth searching for a softness that existed only in his other half, perturbed when he was instead met with the roughness of the accessory.

Katsuya remained still against his partner’s weight, content in just enjoying the proximity between them once more. Before he could fully relax into it, he felt Seto shift, both hands reaching for the collar, trailing, until Katsuya heard the clink of nails against metal.

“Seto, it’s–“

Fingers so incessant they were almost forceful, Katsuya felt his partner pull almost angrily at the item.

“Seto, no, I wan–“

Not listening to Katsuya’s protests, Seto continued his struggles to undo the buckle, not noticing how his frantic motions made the coarseness of the leather bite into his boyfriend’s neck.

Seto!

Katsuya wrapped his fingers around the strained wrists of his partner’s, firmly pulling them away from his neck. He frowned worriedly, noticing the glistening in Seto’s eyes despite the set of his mouth. So, he pulled his boyfriend’s hands into his own once more, brushing away a blame that was no longer his other half’s, but now willingly his.

“Seto, it’s ok. I wanna do this.”

Seto bristled at the assurance, eyes now flashing with a fury directed less at Katsuya, and more at himself.

Want?! How can you want to do something you hate?!”

Katsuya resisted the urge to shout his boyfriend’s name in retort, realising that his quip would be less than appreciated given his partner’s current state. I don’t really hate ya, but dammit, for someone that smart, ya sure are dumb.

“No, I’m not going to force you to do something you don’t want to do. Not anymore. Katsuya, take the damned thing off–“

“See! There ya go again, forcin’ me ta do somethin’ I don’t wanna do!”

Tired of how bullheaded Seto is, Katsuya grabbed the former firmly by his shoulders, gently shaking them, as though trying to wake the logical part of him up.

“Look, Seto. Ya didn’t make me put this,” Katsuya tugged at the collar pointedly, not letting go of it until Seto’s unfocused eyes settled on the item, “On. I did. I took the damned thing from the bed, I unbuckled it, and I put it around my own neck. Me. Not ya, me.”

Katsuya gathered the length of the collar’s leash from where it lay forgotten between their bodies. He pressed it into the tentative hands of his other half’s, his own pair almost faltering at how atypical their quivering was for someone who was nothing short of definite in his pursuits.

“I know when ya wanted me ta wear this earlier, I–, I didn’t wanna. I dunno. I guess I was scared I’m still nothin’ more than a mutt ta ya.”

“But… I know last night ya said I ain’t ya pet. Maybe ya did again earlier, but I was ta mad ta listen,“ Katsuya let out a mirthless laugh, hands limp in Seto’s unmoving ones, “So, I wanna do this. Because this… This ain’t just somethin’ ya wanna use ta control me. Right?”

He whispered the question faintly, letting his voice trail off in the absence of a proper conclusion. He looked back to his boyfriend, and saw how the shadows had somewhat lifted from his eyes. The guilt that had depressed the ends of his mouth abating, released in the shallow breaths that escaped his tired lips. Katsuya wanted nothing more than to inhale the ghosts of that hurt, to press it into his blood, returning it to the love, Seto’s love, which coursed through his being with every heartbeat.

“No, of course not.”

Seto tried to return some of the tenderness Katsuya had gifted him in his reply, hoping it would give his partner the comfort Seto had always failed to provide.

How could words, flippant in the callousness of his youth, inflict wounds that enduring? He held his other half’s hands in his, wondering how deep the scars ran, wondering if they threaded his all, like arteries binding a heart, rendering Katsuya reliant, until the accursed became the life force he subsisted on. What use was his conquest, when all the power Seto controlled was useless to break the prison that held the one he cared? When he, unable to retrieve the key, tormented instead of consoled the victim within?

“Then I wanna keep wearin’ it. For tonight at least.”

“If we hadn’t fought, would you still have worn it?”

The blond paused in contemplation, unconsciously fiddling with the collar as he did.

Seto knew the answer from the second his boyfriend laid his eyes on the collar half a year ago — all hostility, and revulsion, fists balling, and teeth flashing as he demanded its immediate disposal. Of course, Seto did not comply (not that its price tag had anything to do with his final decision), choosing to stash it under the clutter in the drawer of one of their nightstands. (Mess being thanks to Katsuya, and only Katsuya. His significant other treated it like a makeshift storage, tossing in random odds and ends, and never once retrieving them since.) On hindsight, Seto felt uneasy, almost unclean, knowing that for months he had hidden the item beneath Katsuya’s artefacts. He allowed its intrusion, neglecting as it festered, and tainted the naivety of his partner’s trust, waiting until it accumulated into an intolerable narcissistic desire he was compelled to impose on Katsuya.

“Ya.”

The reply was thoughtful, word weighted in a truth that Seto disagreed with.

“Don’t lie to me, Katsuya. I know how much you despise it–”

“I don’t despise it. I just don’t… Like it,” Katsuya corrected.

Seto could not stop the smile that peeked from the corners of his mouth when he heard how miffed his boyfriend was at his accusation. It warmed him to know how Katsuya still had not changed, although when it came to this particular trait, Seto wasn’t sure if it was better or worse for his sake.

“Then why do you still want to wear it?”

“Because ya like it.”

The simplicity of Katsuya’s reply, coupled with the sincerity of his voice was almost too much for Seto to bear. I don’t deserve you.

So, Seto allowed himself to be enveloped, damp hair against warm chest, holding, and holding on, to a gift that should not be his. He basked in the light of his partner’s dawn, feeling their rays cascade between his own storm, loose strands caressing past the darkness of his despair, covering his vision in a delicate gold.

He rested on Katsuya’s sternum, inhaling when it swelled, and exhaling when it retracted, seeking a reprieve in its familiarity. Seto traced the history of fingerprints he had left, hastily carved into bone, from the fear that they would one day vanish under the touch of another. But now when his name still remained in the vocabulary of Katsuya’s tongue, until that day arrived, Seto would keep the luminescence he was given in the hollow beneath Katsuya’s ribs, where he hoped its light would inspirit his partner during the days when even the sun didn’t shine.

“I don’t want you to do it just to appease me. Katsuya, I never want you to do anything at the expense of yourself.”

With the strap still crumpled in one hand, and the other supported against Katsuya’s chest, Seto silently implored. He breathed in the sweetness that collected in the ribbon of his partner’s collarbones, nosing from just above the line where leather met skin, ascending, until he touched bow of Katsuya’s jaw. He nudged his partner’s chin upwards, feeling the latter swallow in return at the exposure. Seto planted a slow kiss along the arc of Katsuya’s Adam’s apple, tasting the pulse that quickened under his touch. The former’s hunger grew as he continued his ascent, flitting a trail of pecks as he pulled away from the underside Katsuya’s jaw, climbing over the bump of his chin, only stopping when he arrived at the prize of his other half’s swollen lips.

They parted to each other’s hooded eyes, shining with a passion revitalised, and a deep-seated want intensified. Misgivings resolved, they felt a calm descend upon them, of a chapter finally closed, and the start of a more vivid one opened.

Still unsatisfied at Katsuya’s lack of verbal affirmation, Seto steadied the shuddering of his breath, moving to cup the cheek of his partner firmly before he repeated, “Do you understand?”

“Understand what?” Katsuya questioned, similarly breathless.

Seto narrowed his eyes disapprovingly, trying to maintain the illusion of his displeasure against the cheekiness of his partner’s grin. He lightly rapped the top of Katsuya’s head, trying to knock the memory back into his partner’s too-thick skull.

“Hey!” Katsuya batted at Seto’s limb, smile still visible as he answered offhandedly, “Yeah, yeah.”

“I’m serious, Katsuya.”

“For real?”

“Yes. For real.”

Katsuya tapped a finger against his chin, smile widening before he asked, “So… Does this mean I don’t needa put my dirty clothes in the basket?”

“That is not something done at the expense of yourself–“

“Yes it is! Puttin’ ‘em there takes two whole seconds! That’s two, not one, but two seconds of my lyin’ down time wasted!”

Seto instinctively reached for the bridge of his nose, and pinched it hard. He is worth it, he is worth it, he is definitely worth it…

“You are–“

Incorrigible, I know!”

Katsuya chuckled heartily at the despair in his partner’s sigh, managing to avoid the second knock that was impending in the latter’s knuckles. Before he could further rib the brunette, Katsuya felt a short tug at his collar, the suddenness of the motion causing him to topple over, and crash inelegantly (and quite painfully thanks to the other’s boniness) into Seto’s lap.

The blond turned around, grimacing at the unwelcomed interruption. If he wanted me here he coulda just asked… Seeing the almost devilish smirk his boyfriend was donning, Katsuya flipped himself around (grumbling further when he stumbled straight into the edge of Seto’s knee in his attempt) before he lamented.

“Ya are–“

Hopeless, I know.”

It was Katsuya’s turn to let out a loud groan, regretting turning himself around as he tried to find somewhere to hide his face in that wasn’t Seto.

The sight of his boyfriend fumbling in his lap ignited an affection so tactile in Seto that he felt his chest threaten to split open from its fullness. So, he leaned over, stopping whatever protest Katsuya was mid-sentence in, and connected their mouths. Yet, the kiss that followed lacked the expected eruption of a love so intense they melted into it, nor did it evolve into a lust so considerable they were consumed by it. The aftermath was instead the gentlest tingle of each other’s presence lingering on their lips; like the mist from an early morning, refreshing, welcoming, as it coalesced the possibilities of a new day into tired skin.

----------------------------------------------

“If this ain’t a doggy leash, why did ya get me a collar?”

Seto turned to the man beside him, only then realising he had been unconsciously twirling the collar’s length since they had lain down by each other.

“So it can be a physical tether.”

“Eh?”

“An uninterrupted physical connection. Between you, and me.”

Katsuya blinked confusedly at the convoluted explanation, still not fully understanding why the collar’s presence was required for what Seto wanted.

“Can’t ya just hold my hand or somethin’?” Like a normal person??

Seto let out a long drawn sigh, reminding himself that in many ways Katsuya was a child, so his explanation should be moderated for one.

“That’s not always possible when I need to support myself against your substantial weight.”

“I ain’t fat! Ain’t my fault ya are a bag of skin and bones!” Katsuya countered, pointing to the beginnings of a large bruise on his abdomen.

“The joints of any healthy person are naturally prominent. And that is the result of your own lack of coordination, not from my insufficient nutrition.”

Unable to conjure up a better retort, Katsuya returned his attention to the ceiling, listening to the hum of the heater fill their silence.

“Ya gonna get rid of it tomorrow, right?”

“Yes. Isn’t that what you want?”

Katsuya nodded in acknowledgement, noticing how Seto had exchanged the strap for the companionship of his palm.

“It’s a shame. Just as I’d thought, the red looks really good on you.”

“Does it…?”

He sat up, trying to peek at the band below his chin. After several failed attempts (and a decision completely uninfluenced by Seto’s growing amusement), he draped the excess material over his arm, peering at it curiously as he tried to envision what it was that his partner saw.

“The warmth of your skin complements, but doesn’t overpower the vibrancy of this particular shade of red. They sit in harmony, both present in one’s attention. Your skin doesn’t fade into obscurity, even with the red as the centrepiece, yet neither vies for dominance when viewed as a whole.”

Katsuya stared as hard as he could at the confluence of colours, still not fully comprehending all Seto had shared. There’s the red, and there’s my skin… I can see both–, wait, now I’m focusin’ on the red–, no, my skin–, red again–, back ta my skin… Ugh, this ain’t workin’! What nonsense are ya spoutin’, Seto?!

Choosing to take his partner’s words as they are, Katsuya tried to further the topic instead, “How did ya know which kinda red ta choose? I don’t wear it much…”

“Because I’d long memorised the colour of your skin.”

Unused to receiving compliments from his partner, especially one that intimate, Katsuya felt his face heat up, thankful the length of his hair provided some cover between him, and his significant other. Katsuya felt his heart expand with appreciation at the extent of his boyfriend’s attachment, touched that Seto found him worthy of such attention.

He was incredibly thankful that after the years of futile waiting, of an endless loop of premature departures from faces long lost to faded memories, that someone could finally see past his ruins of a violence displaced, and of the majesty that could have been. That a person would stop to sift through the rubble of self-disgrace, searching, until the little that was left that was worth preserving could be found. Even though what was reflected in the fragments that remained repelled even his saviour, yet somehow, his pieces were never left as the forsaken. Seto always returned, even when not by his side, still watching from afar, to help rekindle a light that Katsuya thought had perished in a youth deprived. Cursing the eloquence of Seto he lacked, Katsuya did the only thing he knew, and interlaced his fingers with Seto’s as a substitute for a gratitude his throat did not know how to voice.

Yet to Seto, the converse was true — grateful that he too could hold the fragility of an affection so selfless, one he had believed would splinter upon contact with his harshness. He never thought there existed a person in his world, whose warmth he would let melt the icy confines he resided in. Someone whose will to free him never once wavered, remaining where he stood, and following where he travelled, even when what all efforts were rewarded with was just a frosted image hidden behind an impenetrable wall. Gradually, the energy from Katsuya’s vivacious attitude to life wore down even the thickest of his barriers. Even after the last of Seto’s defences crashed down, Katsuya always remained mindful of the intensity of his own blaze, conscious in his approaches, not wanting to singe the vulnerability that was finally revealed. Seto was mollified, by the memories of muted touches; by the wisps of playful whispers; by the promises of secret smiles; by the laughter of candid confessions; by the dedication of simple companionship. How could he repay a debt this immense, with anything less than the absolute worship of a devotion committed?

“Let me see you.”

Seto pushed up, supporting himself on his side as he admired his partner’s profile. Deciding he wanted a better view, Seto stepped over a confused Katsuya, and gave the latter a smirk that was too fiendish for it to bode well for the blond before he straddled his boyfriend.

Cutting off the undignified yelp Katsuya gave with a deliberate roll of his hips, Seto finally settled on the pliant body of the former. He inhaled sharply, the beauty of Katsuya catching his breath somewhere between his throat, and his chest.

He rested his hands, cold from his shower, onto the warm skin of his partner. Seto secured himself just below the latter’s hipbone, fingers sliding along the groove of Katsuya’s obliques until he just grazed the outline of his partner’s abs. He felt them constrict under the feathers of his touch, his boyfriend’s chest slightly heaving, brown eyes hooded, dark under their shadows with a need that Seto wanted as desperately to satisfy.

But it was not often that Seto found the opportunity to truly observe Katsuya. Given the conflict of their schedules (or rather the impossibility of his own), all he remembered from the brief chances he was given was the dawn of his partner’s skin, illuminated by a light that never seemed to leave his eyes. They framed a smile, brilliant, like all of Katsuya was, filled with such carefree vitality that even the persistent migraine of his that always seemed to return evaporated alongside the stress of his forgotten responsibilities.

Seated atop his partner, Seto was nearly blinded. Katsuya felt like light, and perhaps he was light itself. How could he be anything but, when the glow of his presence had long become the lightness in Seto’s heart? Rejuvenating, inspiring, his brightness shone past the umbra of a body listless from the eclipse of a hectic life, guiding, until Seto could revel once again in the rising of the sun. Even with the silly pout Katsuya sported, his eyes never lost any of their lustre, glistening with an adoration that his playful nature could not fully hide. Katsuya glowed with such radiance (and if he could put aside his astrophysics knowledge for a second), that Seto was certain his other half must have been birthed amongst the stars.

Seto slid both hands over his partner’s abdomen, pressing into its definition, lingering amidst the gentle rhythm of the latter’s breathing. Conflicted, Seto grappled with the greed of his desire. He wanted to push forward, craving the warmth from the chamber that contained Katsuya’s light. Yet the primal part of him urged him lower, hungering for the sweetness of Katsuya’s essence.

“If ya keep starin’ at me like that, Imma burst inta flames.”

Katsuya smiled, although his tease proved insufficient to shield him from the embarrassment evident in the pink that dusted his cheeks.

“That won’t be good. Can’t have you ruin my sheets again.”

“Then stop starin’ like ya wanna eat me or somethin’–,“ Katsuya was interrupted by the purposeful palming by Seto of his pecs, slowly dragging across his sensitive tips before spreading to cup both sides of his chest from under his arms, slightly lifting, waiting, wanting, to close the distance between them.

Seto watched the shiver undulate under his partner’s skin, following, until it dissipated into the breath of the latter’s soundless gasp.

“I said I want to look at you.”

“Yea, but that was five minutes ago–“

“Hardly.”

“–Whatever, just, I dunno, stare at a photo or somethin’. And get ya bony ass off me! I wanna shower!”

Seto retracted his hands, an evil grin spreading across his lips. One so crafty, that Katsuya felt his heart leap into his throat in anticipation.

“That’s a fantastic idea.”

“Idea? What idea?”

“I like it.”

“No, wait, what idea are–“

“Thank you for the splendid suggestion.”

“Dammit, tell me wha–, oh. Fuck.”

Seto reached behind Katsuya, deftly picking up his phone before the latter had any chance to react.

“No. No way. Ya ain’t photoing me. Not with this–

The brunette’s smile continued to grow, and Katsuya was fearful whatever little dignity he managed to keep around the man would soon be lost. That’s exactly why he wanted a photo ain’t it! That pervy asshole! Not that way dammit, but he’s still an asshole!

“Hold still…”

“No, nope, nada, ain’t happenin’–“

Katsuya tried to push his partner off, only to find that the latter had locked his legs by looping his own around them. The entirety of Seto’s weight was pressed into his hips; a firm hand grabbed one of his own, pining it above his head, and leaving the other trapped between their heaving bodies. To surmise, Seto had rendered him pretty darn immobile. Katsuya would have been rather impressed if this had happened during any other time; it was just unfortunate that in this instant, it was his dignity on the line. Ya persistent fucker…

Hold still.

Seto whispered into the shell of his ear, voice breathy, and low with want as Katsuya felt his free hand traversing down the length of his waist.

“Get off, or Imma kick ya off!”

Despite the volume of Katsuya’s objection, his face held no anger, only the evidence of a challenge accepted in the curl of his lips.

“You can try,” Seto exhaled along the curve of Katsuya’s neck, lips barely grazing the prominence of his jugular, a hand still rubbing the indent of his partner’s waist leisurely.

“Don’t say I didn’t warn ya…”

Katsuya jerked violently, hoping the abrupt motion would catch Seto off guard. He needed an opening, just one, for him to regain some leverage against his partner’s hold. He felt Seto’s grip loosen just enough for him to slide his wrist out, now’s the chance…!

Before he could push the brunette off, Katsuya felt the unmistakable, and unbearable sensation of fingers lightly prodding his side. Bastard! Seto remained casually on top of him, fingers working their magic until Katsuya was a writhing laughing mess under him. Checkmate.

“Stop–, stop! For the love of Ra, stop–“

“I can’t hear you.”

“Stop, ah–, Seto, please!”

Considering prolonging his partner’s torment just because, Seto considered his options before deciding that Katsuya in a red collar, and skin-tight black boxer-briefs was too good an opportunity to pass up. He let up the intensity of his poking, just enough for Katsuya to form a coherent sentence.

“Ya jerk…”

“Ready to surrender?”

“Ya wish!“

At his partner’s dissatisfactory response, Seto resumed his tickling with a renewed vigour, taking special care when he reached the spot just below Katsuya’s ribs–

“Okay! Okay!” Katsuya managed to sputter out mid-laughter, “I–, I give up! Just stop-, ticklin’ me...!”

“Only if you pose for me.”

“Any–, anythin’! Just, stop already!”

Convinced that Katsuya would not dupe him (and also worried that his poor boyfriend was going to pass out from laughter), Seto finally stopped, allowing several moments for his partner to catch his breath.

He pushed himself back up, and seated himself on Katsuya’s thighs (as a precaution because that man was notorious for fleeing the second he could), phone already in his hand, and its camera centred on its subject.

“Pose.”

“How the hell–“

“Do something other than beached whale–,” realising his mistake, Seto corrected himself, “Someone drowning.“

“…I prefer beached whale,” Katsuya wrinkled his nose at the morbidity of the second analogy (and Seto nearly wasted his shot snapping that completely un-cute expression), “Not that I’m fat or anythin’!”

“You aren’t. Stop talking, and do something that is worth me taking a photo of. Or I’m tickling you again.”

“What?! That ain’t fair! Ain’t my fault if I dunno what ya want me ta do!”

“Look sultry. Sexy. Seductive. Something that fits the mood of what you’re currently wearing.”

Katsuya was sure he turned the colour of his collar at his partner’s candidness. The latter was never known to use such vocabulary, and him throwing out three in a row was enough to make Katsuya burrow into the sheets in embarrassment.

“I didn’t say adorable.”

Now thoroughly distraught at how much fun his partner was having at his expense (and how uncharacteristic this light-heartedness was), Katsuya tried to sink as far as he could into the bed, a forearm draped over his face in attempts to block the teasing arch of an eyebrow Seto directed at him.

“This shouldn’t be hard for you, Katsuya. Both items look excellent on you.” Bending down until their lips almost met, Seto murmured, “So excellent that I want to rip them off you right now.”

When Seto returned to his original position, Katsuya was prime for his shot. The former adjusted himself until he could capture all that he wanted in the photo, hands firm, but chest trembling as he swallowed the sight before him.

He could almost taste the honey, the same one that coated all of Katsuya in its allure, on his name as it was rasped from between his significant other’s sugared lips. The drawl on his vowels, rounded, and full, like the tongue just visible between parted lips, tempting, inviting, its tip melting into the softness of his mouth, until all Katsuya could offer was tenderness, and more tenderness. Seto fell, into the desire that glazed his partner’s eyes, unfocused, searching, as he drowned in molten gold, languid in his escape, his thigh becoming the anchor to a hand grasping a wordless plea.

Seto reached for the discarded leash of his partner’s collar, looping it before Katsuya’s lidded eyes, his movements unhurried, continuing until it showed an owner behind its tension, but did not compromise on his boyfriend’s comfort. He gave it a tentative tug, putting in just enough force lift Katsuya’s head from the bed, wisps of hair fluttering from the movement against his nape. Neck extended, Seto focused the lens on his partner’s exposed throat; where bronze met red met bronze; where smoothness was interrupted by textured coarseness; where its passivity was contrasted by its strain; all proxies of Seto even in his visual absence.

The click of the shutter, another, and the others that followed, captured Katsuya in all of his glory; his yearning flesh immortalised in the private server of the Kaiba family’s cloud network. His hair, tousled from their earlier struggle, sprayed the midnight of the sheets in a pool of auric, burnished strands dissolving into cotton until they became one; daylight kissing the night goodbye. The rest of him was reds melding into browns, like the earth touching bowed skies; Katsuya’s colour diffused into the flush that crept under the collar, seeping, until it hitched by the peaks of his collarbones, dissipating, until its ardour cumulated in the space between his splayed thighs.

If he heard the multiple photos taken instead of the single one promised, Katsuya never showed it; attention diverted, still dangling from the end of Seto’s hold, anticipating, tensity evolving into an ostensible heat that was carnal against his neglected skin.

Intoxicated, Seto could deny himself no longer, covering his partner’s body with his own, feeling the former’s fervour coalesce under his own abdomen. He lightly rubbed their heats together, feeling the surge of a need so electrifying, he collapsed on knees weak from the assault, barely controlling, hold on the strap loosened, and his body supported by Katsuya’s panting own.

Ra, he is beautiful.

Katsuya recovered from his stupor, his neck finally released, leaving just a dull pinch where the leather bit into his skin. He ran his fingers through Seto’s hair, still limp from the shower, dragging the dampness onto cool skin, drawing carelessly over the bridge of his partner’s spine until the brunette shifted in response.

“Gonna use me as ya phone’s lock screen now?”

Seto snorted, sound muffled from being half buried in his partner’s chest, “Only if you want all my prospective business partners to die prematurely from heart attacks.”

“Maybe,” Katsuya replied thoughtfully, breaking into a smile before he wrapped a lazy arm over Seto, “Then ya won’t needa work so much.”

“Fair point. I won’t have to when I’m in jail.”

The answer resulted in a light punch to Seto’s side, with his partner giving a grunt of disapproval at the possibility before resuming his absent stroking of Seto’s back.

“I won’t let ‘em.”

Giving in to his amusement at Katsuya’s protectiveness, Seto decided to continue along the tangent of whatever ridiculous scenario his partner imagined, wanting to hear how Katsuya would play the hero this time. He folded his arms, rested his chin in their centre after finding a comfortable spot on his boyfriend’s chest, eyes following the movements of Katsuya’s jaw before he enquired.

“How? By punching the police?”

“Yeah! I’ll punch ‘em, and punch ‘em hard! They won’t know what hit ‘em! Eh, besides my fists.”

“And what happens after your inevitable capture?”

“Ain’t happenin’! They’ll never catch me!”

“Please elaborate on this foolproof plan that allows you to evade the entire Domino police force.”

“By runnin’ away like this!”

Without further warning, Katsuya flipped his boyfriend over, and leapt off the bed, giggling like a maniac as he did. A quick sorry was thrown latter’s way —the unconcealed glee in the apology a further teasing taunt—, as Seto scrambled to grab on to something, anything, that would stop the blond’s escape. Seto’s fist finds nothing but air, noticing that somehow his cheeky rascal of a boyfriend actually had the foresight to wind the entire length of the leash around his hand, not giving Seto any opportunity to foil his plans.

With Katsuya’s superior dexterity, he easily dashed to their bathroom before Seto could even leave the bed, only peeking back to shoot a dazzling smile that was too triumphant at a rather peeved Seto. Making a victory sign over his head as a last jibe to his partner, Katsuya slammed the door behind him, locking it, still laughing uncontrollably at the utter annoyance in Seto’s expression as he prepared to shower.

Jounouchi Katsuya!!
----------------------------------------------

Mokuba was scheming, like he always did, except this time his target was not rivals of Kaiba Corporation, but his own brother (and by association, his brother’s flame for who-even-remembered-how-long, Katsuya). If his older brother were every bit as astute as he was during his younger years, he would definitely have seen this coming, and would try to mitigate its effects. Not that it would matter, because like Seto used to teach him during their chess sessions, always think ahead of your opponents, so Mokuba had already factored that into his own calculations.

What he had planned was not too nefarious, but rather something closer to a prank. It was just a little gift for Seto since he would rather slave away trying to break into an industry that was unfamiliar, especially when neither he, nor his partner had any knowledge of, or contacts in the fashion industry. All that effort, and stress just in hopes of giving Katsuya a chance at success. (He would have thought someone as brilliant as his brother should have considered letting Katsuya work in his much less stressful dessert chain instead.)

In comparison, Mokuba had done up a thirty-page proposal on his idea of opening a trendy dessert chain (entirely unrelated to his own love of parfaits), featuring a mix of local, and fusion flavours that would definitely capture the young, and hip crowd that wandered about the shopping stretch. Having already established a network with notable players in the industry, Mokuba was confident he could maintain his presence without incurring their wrath, while at the same time growing his market share in hopes of future expansions. With all the preparation, and research Mokuba had done, to say that he was anything less than pissed off when Seto barely skimmed his proposal before rejecting it was an understatement.

Since it would take a lot more effort to raise funds via angel investors than to get the money off Seto directly, Mokuba decided that getting even with his brother was the best alternative —both to relieve his frustration, and to divert some of the other’s attention back to him— until he found time to schedule such a meeting.

For days he had pondered, wondering how he was going to exact his revenge. Doing something like replacing common words in his brother’s phone’s dictionary with ridiculous things was insipid, whilst messing with the code of the latest virtual reality simulator Seto had been working on for the past half a year was too catastrophic in its consequences.

Finally, the idea came to him as he was chatting to one of the many girls who fancied him on KC’s instant messenger. When he was trying to save a photo his conversation partner had sent to him of her cat, Mokuba accessed his family’s private cloud database where he chanced upon how his brother’s private photos folder was recently updated. This would not be an interesting observation if the folder’s owner were anyone other than Kaiba Seto — the man who never bothered with the frivolous, like selfies, or wefies, preferring to live in the present as he said (or rather as Mokuba believed, express his vanity by wearing outfits so ostentatious that the media could not shut up about him).

Putting his conversation on hold, and making good use of the knowledge he was learning in university (not from secretly reading Seto’s half written codes lying around his study), Mokuba bypassed the security of the folder, impatiently scrolling through its sparse contents until he found the latest additions. Already large eyes widening further upon seeing their suggestive content, Mokuba cackled evilly before saving the photos. He transferred them in a nondescript folder to a non-wired computer (Mokuba was not going to take any risks, especially when Seto had Ra knows how many scripts silently feeding his paranoia built into KC’s OS), mind already devising his newfound plan of revenge.

----------------------------------------------

“They’ll like me right?”

Katsuya rocked on the balls of his feet, fidgeting uncomfortably in his starched shirt, and tailored slacks (with each piece of course being items from their catalogue). He had yet to put on his brand new oxfords (also another KC item), choosing to nervously pace the length of their room instead, the noise from his movement irritating an already immaculately groomed Seto.

“Yes.” Not that they’ll have a choice anyway.

Still not reassured, Katsuya sat himself heavily next to Seto, head in his palms (and mussing up his previously neatly styled hair), as he bemoaned to his partner.

“I’m gonna fuck this up! I ain’t used ta these businessy things!”

“Don’t be stupid, Katsuya. We’ve spent almost three days helping you prepare. With that amount of time spent, even a literal idiot with an IQ under seventy can do this.”

Changing his look of despair to that of a sulk, Katsuya shrugged into his blazer, thankful its cut was less severe than he had expected. He stood up, examining himself in the mirror, and feeling an urge to jump back under the covers at how disconcerting his reflection looked. It definitely was not the outfit; conversely, the clothes selected by Seto fit him wonderfully, perfectly balancing the fine line between stylish, and professional. It was just that the smartly dressed man in the mirror felt incredibly dissonant to who he was, and Katsuya could not help but feel what Seto wanted him to do was incredibly out of his depth.

Noticing his unnaturally silent boyfriend, Seto sighed, empathising as he remembered the dread in his much younger self’s nerves during his first meeting with KC’s board of directors. Seto picked up the red silk tie that lay forgotten by his still distressed significant other, and moved before his stationary partner.

“Relax,” Seto murmured, long fingers looping the material around the collar of Katsuya’s shirt, concentrating in his adjustments until he got the perfect Eldredge knot. (He could not have settled for anything less elaborate, especially when Katsuya was attending as the potential lead for the business, and more importantly, as Seto’s other half.)

“I don’t wanna make a fool of myself in front of ya colleagues. Don’t want them ta think your boyfriend is an idiot or somethin’.”

“You won’t. Not with me as your teacher,” Seto flipped his partner’s collar back down, brushing the material out of habit, his eyes meeting Katsuya’s before reassuring the latter, “Even if you did, I’m there to reverse any mistakes you make.”

His fingertips just barely touching his boyfriend’s, Seto continued, voice clipped, “And if any of them so much as thinks of you as someone lesser, they can bid their jobs farewell.”

A smile finally cracking his face, Katsuya broke into laughter at the excessiveness of his partner’s solution to his insecurity. Only Kaiba Seto would be able to declare something that outrageous with a completely straight face, and as much as Katsuya hated to admit it, it was starting to become one of the reasons why he was so fond of the brunette.

“Ready?”

Katsuya nodded, trying to squish the last of his worries into oblivion as he followed his partner to the limousine that awaited them.

----------------------------------------------

The office was quiet, too quiet for a typical workday. Seto observed his employees, wondering why most had their heads bowed even as they greeted him. Respect may be a priority when working for him, even then, he never insisted on bowing being necessary each time he entered. (Not that bowing their heads alone would help, which seemed increasingly like disrespect the more Seto dwelled on it.) More curious was how the monitors on each visible desk were pitch black.

“Why are your computers turned off?” Seto barked impatiently, feeling the beginnings of his temper start to flare.

“There’s… A problem, sir,” a voice meekly replied. Fujita? Fujiwara? Furukawa?

“If it’s a technical problem, call IT instead of sitting around gaping at me like fishes!”

“We’re sor–“

“And tell IT if this problem isn’t resolved before noon, I’m cancelling their year-end bonuses.” The one day I really don’t want to lose my temper on thanks to you incompetent fools. “What are you waiting for?! Call them now!”

“Y–yes! Right away, sir!”

With that, Seto thundered back to his room, and Katsuya carefully followed behind, too uncomfortable to even look at the poor employees.

“Why do I even employ such idiots…”

Not wishing to aggravate his partner further —especially with his own nerves becoming on edge again thanks to Seto’s outburst—, Katsuya retrieve the kPad his boyfriend kept specifically for him, trying to calm himself down by watching a video compilation of animal fails.

What is the meaning of this?!”

Seto’s exclamation interrupted a particularly funny instance of a cat missing its jump. Katsuya looked up quickly, giggles retreating back into his throat when he saw his boyfriend’s face in such a prominent shade of red that he was afraid Seto would erupt into flames any second.

“Wha–“

Who did this?! Who dares?!”

The CEO stared intently at his screen once more, and before Katsuya could even get a second word in, the former slammed a fist furiously into his desk, the noise from the impact so sharp that it made Katsuya jump what felt like ten metres into the air. Seto narrowed his eyes, rage escalating when he finally found what he was looking for in the corner of the image — the distinctive cursive of a signature encased in a sundae. How dare that brat…!

“Seto, what’s wrong?”

The concerned voice of his boyfriend partially lifted the veil of red that clouded his mind. Upon Katsuya’s approach, Seto scrambled to find the mouse that was flung off his desk during his explosion, fury transforming into trepidation, panic growing as he hurriedly objected, “Wait, don’t—“

Before Seto could hurl his monitor out the panels of his windows, Katsuya peeked over his shoulder, his hand on it tightening when he saw what Seto was so offended by.

“Oh my Ra, Seto!” Katsuya guffawed, the shaking of his body from the intensity of his laughter making Seto’s body sway too. “I know that’s ya fav photo of me, but ya didn’t needa set it as ya work comp’s wallpaper!”

Plastered across Seto’s monitor was not the usual KC official company wallpaper, but one of the photos the brunette had taken of him the night before. What Katsuya found even more hilarious was how tiny hearts in pink, and red were scribbled around his (frankly, rather wanton) face.

Relieved that his partner is handling the mishap–, calamitous misfortune that had befallen them a whole lot better than he was, Seto tried to compose himself past the near heart attack his dearest little brother had given him. I don’t care if Mokuba is twenty-one, I’m still going to ground him so far into the Earth that his fossil won’t be rediscovered before humanity’s extinction.

“Ya shoulda just employed me as ya secretary! Then ya won’t have ta stare at me on ya screen–“

Trying to keep himself from losing his temper again, Seto seethed through gritted teeth, ”I’m not the one who did this,” he glared at Katsuya before adding in testily, “And I’m not so beholden to my libido that I need to stare at this as I work.”

Finally comprehending the reason as to why his usually unflappable boyfriend lost his cool, Katsuya tried to steady his voice, his own face slowly turning into the same shade of scarlet as Seto’s, “If ya didn’t do this… Ya mean… someone else has this photo?!”

“The question now isn’t who has this photo, but who doesn’t.”

When Katsuya fully understood what Seto was insinuating, he stared in absolute horror at his partner before half-whispering weakly, “Is… Is this the problem Mr. Fujiwara was referrin’ ta?”

Committing that mousey employee’s name to memory for a potential plan of making him Seto’s direct eyes on the floor in the future, the CEO nodded gravely. He then folded his arms as tightly as he could whilst trying to regain his composure, going a step further to close his eyes after his efforts repeatedly failed (from aggravation, and definitely not because he could not stop glancing at his desktop).

If Katsuya were a superhero, he would wish for the power of concealment, so he could hide himself in another dimension until this entire thing blew over. Or if that was too farfetched, super-powered digging was good too, so he could immediately burrow himself into a hole whenever necessary. Like now.

Laying himself on the floor, Katsuya cried out, “How am I gonna show my face at the meetin’ later??” He rolled over so that his back faced his still unmoving partner, curling himself up slightly before he whined, “Seto, fix this!”

“Cut the theatrics, Katsuya. If you’re going to miss the meeting for something as small as this–“

“Easy for ya ta say!! It ain’t ya in a collar makin’ ya O-face at the camera!”

“You didn’t orgasm, neither of us–“

“It still looks like I did!”

Acknowledging Katsuya’s point, Seto sighed, and rubbed the bridge of his nose, wondering why Mokuba had to choose this of all days to get even with him. Admittedly, there were worse things Mokuba could have done (although at this point in time, all possible examples completely eluded Seto), and since the photo did not include any part of him in it, why was he so agitated to begin with? He was not concerned about any possible backlash from others hoping to leverage on his boyfriend’s supposed deviance. Because if anyone were foolhardy enough to try, Seto would destroy their lives so completely that they would struggle to get jobs even in rural Japan. With that out of his consideration, why else was Seto so upset?

He looked over to his significant other on the floor, where he lay with his jacket crinkled from his position, his hair back to its original untameable form from its owner’s tossing around, his fingers tapping idly on the floor as he did whenever he was deep in thought. Seto wanted nothing more than to whisk his boyfriend back to their home, away from strangers who knew not how to appreciate the latter’s presence. There, Seto would sit by Katsuya until his partner could relax into the carefree, and lopsided smile that he really needed to see right now.

Seto’s vexation at Mokuba’s prank stemmed not from the potential ruining of his image (and Katsuya’s). While that was still a concern if the photo was somehow leaked outside the building, it was an issue that Seto was sure remained within his control until something unanticipated indicated otherwise. What infuriated him was how something he considered intimately his was ripped from his hands, and shared with the anonymous eyes of strangers who had done nothing to deserve that same access. The way that Katsuya always released the tiniest gap whenever Seto initiated contact; the way Katsuya tended to twist his head to the left when hiding in embarrassment; the way Katsuya mirrored the desire in Seto from under the lidded coals of his eyes; the way Katsuya almost inhaled his name from the pulse of Seto’s veins whenever he wanted the latter to pull in closer until they became one — these things about Katsuya that were private, that were his, and only his, laid exposed, and it took every ounce of Seto’s self restraint to not drive himself to Mokuba’s residence, and confront his sibling there, and then.

Reverting back to the unemotional, and logical CEO his company was infamous for, Seto decided that Mokuba could wait. Right now, he needed to do damage control.

“Wait in the toilet.”

“Eh?! What??”

Before Katsuya could argue, Seto practically dragged the former into the en suite toilet, leaving his partly bewildered, but mostly annoyed boyfriend with the commands to stay quiet, wait patiently, and to tidy himself up.

Although Katsuya was anything but happy being shoved, and locked in a toilet, he knew Seto was probably going to do something important, and could not risk him messing it up. Huffing in resignation, Katsuya rummaged through Seto’s items until he found some mousse, and a comb, and started work on his unruly nest of hair.

To ensure that every single person in the building would hear his message, Seto remotely controlled every digital device on the network, overlaying each screen with a video of himself —calm, collected, and in control—, as he addressed the fallout of Mokuba’s prank.

“With regards to the earlier unintentional dissemination of information that is of a particularly sensitive nature, please be reminded that every single employee of Kaiba Corporation is bound by the confidentiality clauses in your employment contracts. Breaches of any sort will not be tolerated, and the appropriate punishment will be exacted harshly, and swiftly. To all staff of Kaiba Corporation, I thank every single one of you for your unwavering loyalty to the company.”

Announcement concluded, Seto returned the authority of the devices to their users, and turned off his video feed. He sat with his fingers in a steeple, not forgetting that his significant other was still locked in the toilet, but wanting a moment to consolidate his thoughts (and repressed emotions).

When he finally felt every bit of the composure he wore in his video, Seto rang for Isono, who came bounding into his office barely seconds after.

“Let everyone know that for every year this matter remains within this building, the bonus of every employee will be doubled from their original. I also want you to monitor the web for any signs of a leak. If, and when that happens, I don’t care how small an audience it is getting, send me a red alert immediately, and I’ll take over from there.”

Just before Isono returned to whatever matters he had at hand, Seto stopped him.

“Tell the IT department to fix this mess before my meeting is over, or the entire department is fired.”

Nodding in understanding, panic evident at Seto’s ultimatum for that department, he rushed off to deliver the message, hoping for all of their sakes that they could conform to their boss’ wishes.

When Katsuya was finally let out, he threw himself into Seto’s chair, swivelling around whilst enjoying the rays of sun the office’s floor-to-ceiling windows allowed in. Seto leaned against his desk, a hint of a smile tugging at a corner of his lips as he saw his significant other’s cheerful demeanour.

“Knew ya could fix it! Ya are the best!” Katsuya threw him an appreciative wink, grin relaxing into a full toothy smile before he turned to face the view again.

Seto could have stood by his partner’s side, watching the latter admire the view of Domino’s financial district, him following how the entirety of Katsuya was gilded under the late morning light, ignoring the world that trickled by beneath them. Perhaps in another life; when Seto’s hands weren’t the angles that defined his numbers; when Seto’s tongue wasn’t the blade that governed his rules; when Seto’s flesh wasn’t the sacrifice that constructed his empire; when Seto’s breaths weren’t the ice that reinforced his defences. Perhaps in a life after this, in which Katsuya had long become a part of him, and everything about him became softer, more tender, until Seto could finally be the same light his boyfriend was to him — absolute, and unconditional.

“Hey, Seto…”

Seto released himself from his thoughts, humming a reply as he redirected his attention to the object of his reflections.

“Ya know what’s the bright side about this whole thing?”

“Tell me.”

“At least everyone now knows ya are inta kinky shit.”

Seto threw his head back, exasperation palpable in every inch of his expression. Of course the man he waxed lyrical about would also be the same person who barged into his choir with a cacophony of vulgar instruments.

“I’ll take that as an affirmation of you wanting a new collar.”

“I neva said that!”

Satisfied that the threat of another collar wiped the (completely not enchanting) smirk clean off his partner’s face, Seto stood up fully, and straightened his clothes before gesturing that it was time for them to head to their meeting.

As Katsuya fell into step next to his boyfriend, he heard Seto comment, not missing the mischievous glint in the latter’s sharp blue eyes.

“Maybe I should get you a muzzle…”

The hell, Seto!!”

“Because children should be seen, and not heard.”

“UGH, I hate you!”

Katsuya stomped into Seto’s private lift, a pout sitting in the fullness of his lower lip as he folded his arms overdramatically, and awaited his partner’s entrance. Seto complied, his long strides bringing him to his boyfriend’s side. He thanked the gods he did not believe in for the gift of bliss, and responded to Katsuya’s pout with a smile that reflected the fondness in his own eyes.

“I love you too.”
 


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