devils_solitude: (francis)
[personal profile] devils_solitude
Based on an idea that got way out of hand after I drew Katsuya in a collar. Oops. Featuring an introspective look at KaiJou, exploring the quirks of their characters around the catalyst of said undergarment and collar. Oh, and no, there won't be sexy times. (How on earth did I manage to circumvent that with two of the most prime items for said sexy times??)

“How’s it look?”

Katsuya spun around, a wide grin deliberately directed at his partner.

“It fits you well.”

Seto continued eyeing the blond as the latter mimicked an exaggerated modelling pose. Even in that ridiculous stance, and with that stupid lopsided smile that Seto didn’t love blinding him, he couldn’t help tracing the contours of Katsuya’s lean form in silent admiration. He felt his gaze catching as it settled on the clothing article the other was showing off. It couldn’t be a more perfect fit.

“Gives you good support too, doesn’t it?”

Katsuya bounced on the balls of his feet before answering, “Ya, kinda snug. Too snug.”

“It still looks good on you.”

The businessman then turned away (not because if he stared any longer, even his normally oblivious boyfriend would start to be creeped out), attention redirected to the catalogue spanning the screens of his monitors.

Katsuya did a couple of knee lifts, confirming his comment before moving to sit on their bed. They weren’t uncomfortable. On the contrary, they fit him like a second skin. But as someone who preferred boxers for their airiness, this wasn’t exactly his choice pick. Perhaps they would be less restrictive on someone with a smaller stature, and to be fair, things tended to be a little more fitting on him than they would be on Seto’s wiry form.

He played with the soft Egyptian cotton of the sheets absentmindedly as he looked over to the monitors, eyeing the various designs the other man was perusing.

“Why did ya wanna go inta fashion? Thought ya were more… Sciencey.”

Without missing a beat, Seto turned around and deadpanned, “Can’t have you sitting around leeching off me.”


The unsophisticated reply would have been the start of an argument years ago, but now that Seto had familiarised himself with the other’s quirks, it was almost comforting, and somewhat endearing in its predictability. Almost.

“Didn't you want some involvement in my company?”

Katsuya squinted, trying to recall when, or if he had ever mentioned that. Even if he didn’t, and this was Seto’s way of introducing an option to his otherwise dry employment spell, that was a pretty good idea.

“No–, ya, eh, I don’t mind…” Katsuya trailed off, frown still visible. “But why fashion?”

The brunette sighed, making a point to temper the impatience and irritation in his original answer. Not everyone possesses an almost eidetic memory, especially not someone who occupies his mind with the frivolous. Sometimes Seto wondered how, and why he put up with the other man. He looked over to the somewhat contemplative Katsuya, the latter’s face scrunched up in thought, resulting in a slight pout that rested on his plump lips. In that moment, the doubt his annoyance had produced evaporated between the ribs of his quickening heartbeats.

Seto wasn’t sure if being a lovesick fool, or a lascivious pervert was worse.

“Seto? Earth ta, Seto…”

Katsuya waved his hand in front of the partially scowling man, a look of worry evident on the former’s face. Seto shook away the last of his thoughts, and tried to even out the sullenness he didn’t realise he was giving the other. He had the worst habit of defaulting to displeasure at the slightest deviation from perfection. Katsuya didn’t deserve the pettiness of his uncontrolled temper, not when he was arguably the one who tended to relent first in most conflicts. (And it didn’t help that the blond was also the object of Seto’s admiration.)

The businessman steadied himself, and inhaled deeply, feeling the assurance of logic calm his unwarranted agitation. He looked at his partner, the latter having leaned forward in concern. The guilt that settled in the base of his neck intensified into a new heat as he stared at the sharpness of Katsuya’s collarbones, exacerbated by the way the light framed them against the surprising tenderness of his throat–

Being a lascivious pervert was definitely worse.

Forcefully pulling himself back into reality before his mind devolved into further salacious thoughts, Seto hastily pieced together an answer for his still concerned boyfriend, “Four months, and seventeen nights ago, you asked if I could employ you. Specifically, as a secretary or something, and with the substantiation of giving me something else to look at during my day besides the four white walls of my office.”

It took Katsuya nothing less than six blinks to vaguely pull that memory from the depths of his completely-unimportant-events-that-people-shouldn’t-remember-with-the-same-precision-as-Kaiba-fucking-Seto folder. He was feeling rather dejected from the lack of responses from his job hunt that particular night, and that comment was more a joke than an actual suggestion. Obviously he shouldn’t had allowed his tongue to throw anything less than a fully considered proposal at his more lucid than he had expected, unreasonably sharp, and incredibly successful CEO of a boyfriend.

“Secretaries can be in charge of fashion lines?” Katsuya replied slowly. He almost regretted his words when he saw Seto let out the most exasperated sigh he had heard in a while, but decided the latter deserved the headache for forcing him into the overly formfitting undergarment he was still trapped in. Why couldn’t Mr. Flat-ass have done it himself?!

“I’m not offering the position of being my secretary to you,” Seto explained, pinching his nose bridge out of habit. “More importantly, secretaries are definitely not involved in product line extensions.” He tried to overlay the images of Katsuya looking more than fine earlier, hoping they would mask the near absurd ignorance (or idiocy, he wasn’t sure) the blond was spewing.

“How’d I–,”

“That’s why I’m educating you.”

Before Katsuya could interject with a retort of his own, Seto continued, “You need to know these things, Katsuya. Especially if you are running it.”

Even Katsuya noticed that what Seto had just said was not a proposition. There was no perhaps, maybe, or what if involved, and for a moment, the former forgot that he was still fidgeting in the product the other wanted him to market. So, this was why Seto had been spending most of his time trying to divest into the fashion industry, persisting despite the disparity between product lines.

Not hearing a reply from his normally boisterous other half, Seto exhaled, and tried to soften the harshness of his expression (again) as he awaited an answer.

What? I can’t–, I don’t–, the hell, Seto! I know jackshit about fashion!”

Katsuya looked every bit as agitated as he sounded, and a part of Seto wanted to empathise. But after hauling himself to meeting after meeting with consultants, and other industry experts; working with designers on a preliminary collection after rounds of feedback from focus groups; building up a small but competent team that would help, but more importantly, would also support Katsuya as he learnt; creating, and polishing the product’s brand until he was certain it would remain viable in its independence whilst retaining KC’s overall brand essence; Seto was running on empty.

No matter how his heart always hiccupped against the light of the other’s eyes, or how desire swelled within the heat of his abdomen at the sight of his boyfriend until his ache was consumed by the other, faced with that less than satisfactory answer, Seto’s patience was just stretched too thin.

“I don’t know?! What sort of an excuse is that?! You can learn, Katsuya, learn!”

“I know! But where do I start?! Walkin’ inta Evisu?!”

Seto paused, already glowering, and threw the most withering look of disbelief he could muster at Katsuya.

“Evisu isn’t even close to the stylistic direction we are heading.”

“I know, it’s just an example, dammit! Can’t ya just–, UGH!”

Before Seto could berate the other man for his puerile impertinence, Katsuya had already stormed out of the room, marking the end of their conversation with an indignant slam of the door.

The rest of the night was spent by Seto giving his feedback on the rest of the designs (alone, no thanks to someone), with clear instructions that the collection must not bear any resemblance to streetwear.

He shut his eyes, weary from the incessant glare of the screens, and anger still not completely abated as he revisited the events earlier. For all that the gripes the other man had about him being obstinate, Katsuya too, was dogged in his various pursuits (which were definitely not limited to making his unhappiness known). Although the latter tended to cave first, it could be days before that happened. Which was going to be quite the inconvenience because the introductory meeting for Katsuya was scheduled for the start of the upcoming work week.

Whilst Seto was still brooding, he heard the soft click of the door opening. Sure enough, Katsuya was by the doorframe, bare bodied save for the same boxer-briefs.

Even against the prickles of annoyance that bit into his skin, and the steel that bound the other man’s jaw, Seto’s resolve faltered against the rue that dulled the latter’s brown eyes, the same ones that had illuminated even his darkest nights. This entire thing was a labour of love for Katsuya, and it would be the biggest dishonour to let his pride squander the opportunity away. (Moreover, he would be lying if he claimed he wasn’t captivated by how the black of the piece sat in contrast against the glow that was intrinsic to Katsuya’s skin.)

Still, the nature so fundamental to him prevailed, and all Seto could do was to compromise the apology trapped under his tongue.

“Aren’t you cold?”

Katsuya looked up, surprised at the verbal surrender. His own grudge waning (but not enough for him to fall into the other’s lap, lips offered to seal his apology), he kept an eye on the other man as he cautiously entered the room, and closed the door gently behind him.

He carefully searched Seto’s face — the gentleness of his eyes, and the tiredness of his lips betrayed the steeple that Katsuya knew was originally intended to intimidate an apology from him. So, he shrugged as nonchalantly as his could, arms unconsciously circling himself before he answered.


Seto resisted the urge to throw his mug of piping hot tea at the blond. It was still winter, and the heating outside the rooms left much to be desired this late into the night. That aside, he was honestly impressed that his boyfriend was stubborn enough to tolerate the cold alone for a solid three hours. He repelled the urge to throw a snide remark, more concerned about the micro-shivers his boyfriend tried to suppress.

“Why didn’t you put something on?”

Katsuya met the brunette’s gaze, relaxing into its warmth as it washed over his cool skin. He instinctively rubbed his palms across the length of his upper arms, trying to disguise the sheepishness that had teased itself into a smile on his chapped lips. Now would probably be a good time to jump onto the other’s lap, and let himself sink into the heat of Seto’s kiss, but not often was he a recipient of his boyfriend’s submission, and the cheekier part of him wanted to push it further.

“Ya thought I was hot enough like this.”

Neither was sure if it was the sheer ludicrousness of Katsuya’s answer, or if it was the act of it that finally broke the tension they were trapped in. Katsuya watched on proudly as he saw his stoic partner crack a sliver of a smile, just before it was exchanged for a signature eye roll.

With the last of the latter’s frigidity melted, Katsuya was so close to what he coined a flawless victory. All he had to do was to push the other to initiate physical contact, and he would have achieved the impossible.

He loosened his smirk into a hearty chuckle, fuelling its brilliance with the relief from the resolution of their dispute, and sustained with the fondness for his other half that he could never fully suppress. This was his final blow, because Katsuya knew that deep down, somewhere beneath the hostile glaciers, and impenetrable ice sheets, was where the spark of Seto’s heart danced alighted amongst the embers of Katsuya’s laughter.

The tinkle of Katsuya’s laugh whistled, coaxing in its caresses against the artificial strain Seto hid behind. The angles of his limbs, and the harshness of his mouth betrayed the grace birthed in him. He inhaled, breathing in the light that seemed to always spill from his partner’s seams, holding it in his chest until he could feel the same explosion chase away the chill that he had once called home. There was a desperation in Seto, as he held it in his palm, pulsating and wanting, until he could return it to the enclave of the other that was his.

He extended a hand, wrist gentle as he pulled Katsuya into an embrace. He pushed into the latter’s back, searching, filling the space under his initials with love unvoiced. In his damage, he had cost the other that same comfort he selfishly monopolised. But Katsuya returned (he always did), petty game forgotten, filled with a greater fullness than before. Seto could feel the former weave it between his spine; rethreading all that was frayed, pulling, until their backs aligned. There they set, reinvigorated, brimming, lips swollen and limbs entwined in the light they now shared.
When dawn arrived, the pair awoke against its faded intensity, soothing in its existence. Before Katsuya managed to get a foot out of bed, an uncharacteristically touchy Seto rested an arm heavily on him. Whilst it was refreshing being the one clung on to instead of being the ‘clinger’, Katsuya non-too-gently pushed the offending limb off.

Knowing Katsuya was rarely the first one out of bed, Seto sniffed blearily, voice husky with sleep as he called out to his partner. Unable to resist the unexpectedly adorable sight of his usually immaculate boyfriend floundering, Katsuya paused to watch the former struggle to heave himself into a sitting position amongst the plush sea of duvet.

“I need ta shower, didn’t get ta last night.”

Once more, Seto did the unfathomable, making a noise that sounded curiously like a whine as he leaned his full weight into Katsuya’s side. Wondering if the infamous iron will of the brunette was finally broken by the overdose of affection between them the night before (or if somehow Seto had managed to conceal this side of him for so long), Katsuya eased back under the covers, finally deciding to savour a moment that was quite the rarity in their relationship.

They stayed; watching as the beams of sunlight trickled under the heavy curtains, and skipped along the outlines of their silhouettes; listening as the rhythm of each other’s breaths played symphonies across their skins, and gradually diffused into their beings; inhaling the familiarity of each other’s presence against their strange serene, and imprinted its entirety into their shared memories; savouring the aftertaste of yearning skin until it found a home in the hollows of their tongues, and there it remained enduring into eternity; touching, just touching, always touching.

“Ya never answered my question.” Katsuya felt Seto shift, and exhale a muffled sound of confusion against his skin. Dammit, can’t ya spread ya cuteness out instead of dumpin’ it all onto me at once?!

Pretending to ignore the (welcomed) change in his boyfriend for the sake of his own sanity, Katsuya continued, “The fashion thing. Why fashion? I ain’t fashionable like ya.”

It was several beats before Seto even registered the question. Despite how late an hour it was versus his normal routine, somehow his brain had persuaded itself that it was still too early to process any coherent thoughts.

Grumbling, Seto detached himself from the warmth of his boyfriend’s skin, a hand rested on the latter’s thigh as he willed the room to stop spinning. He could have sworn he heard the blond lightly chiding him for his horrific lack of sleep in general, but dismissed it in favour of once more closing his eyes, and leaning his forehead into the sturdiness of Katsuya’s back.

Seto fell into its steady rise and fall as he tried to construct an intelligible sentence, letting the motion ground him from the reverie he had trouble leaving.

“Does that matter?” Seto felt the other’s dissatisfaction at his response in the stuttering of his rhythm, and the tightening of his muscles.

Gathering his still fragmented thoughts into some semblance of logic, Seto added, “Accessibility.” He rested himself deeper into the butterfly of Katsuya’s back, thumbs kneading the knots at its base before he elaborated.

“Unlike many industries, the barriers of entry to the fashion industry are significantly lower. Less technical jargon that you so detest, and the absence of numbers to reduce your confusion.”

He felt Katsuya relax into his ministrations, as though whatever fear had haunted him had dissipated.

“But it is an unfair industry, one in which the product competes with packaging. It runs on the paradox that the trade skill is both valuable, yet disposable. Past the setting of the brand’s foundation, success lies not in the designers, but in a creative yet adaptable marketing team.“

He traced imaginary lines across Katsuya’s back, watching them fade past his imprints.

“What we lack aren’t good designers. There is an abundance of them, each more talented than the next, all clamouring for a chance at fame. But a good leader with an innate ardour, who is also able to follow the industry’s whims is hard to come by, and imperative for success.”

Seto straightened up, removing the distance between them, climbing the expanse of honeyed brown until his breath grazed the peak of Katsuya’s shoulder bone.

“You fit the bill.”

The conclusion was set in certainty, undeniable in its direction. Still, Katsuya felt his breath hitch, less at the content of Seto’s words, more at the simple conviction they conveyed.

It wasn’t as though Katsuya had debilitating self-esteem issues. Throughout his life, he has showcased a remarkable resilience against even the most calamitous faces of adversity. He wouldn’t be where he was today if he lacked the willpower to fight against the unfavourable hand he was dealt at birth, and to undo the impetuous decisions of his youth.

If this were any other topic, Katsuya would have laughed off his worries, falling back on his inflated confidence that was also proof that the advice fake it until you make it was sound. Of course he could do it, and he would do it well! With his tenacity, there was nothing under the sky that he couldn’t conquer! (Except for Seto’s hatred for his favourite pair of sneakers — nothing save for the wrath of Exodia could expunge his boyfriend’s disgust for it.)

The problem lay not in himself, but in the obligation he now had to another. The former was contained in its consequences, but the latter begot compounded effects that tugged at his confidence in their ramifications. Katsuya wanted to work alongside Seto; to see the latter in his element, all grace and power, the reliable support he had always held on to. But how could he bear a burden this heavy, when failure meant the betrayal of trust from the one he admired most?

What could–, should, Katsuya say?

“I… Do?”

His words thankfully carried more confusion than the uncertainty he tried to mask. He turned his head slightly, and was met with a mess of brown locks that tickled his cheek, its owner still contented despite his reply.

The answer although innocuous, betrayed the doubt that had long made its residence inside Katsuya. Seto knew, having long discovered how the other laid himself out like an open book. He thumbed through the crispness of the other’s fragility, a quiet beseeching, his own vulnerability extended. It nipped, more defensive than hostile, seeking solace in their shared inadequacies. Still, he persevered, kneading, until it yielded; quivering, unlike the crumpled scraps of potential discarded, but from the determination it contained, persisting until it could touch the sky once more.

For all the eloquence he possessed, Seto wished he could pull out the appropriate signifiers trapped inside his throat. He grasped at the words, and syllabus, seeking the chance to express even a minute fraction of the faith that pulsed inside him in like a second heart.

Seto saw what only he was allowed access to — the purposeful hunt for success etched in coarseness of Katsuya’s palms; the unwavering focus at goals most would have deemed too farfetched in the strength of Katsuya’s back; the unbreakable grit that always tided him to an uncertain tomorrow, but weighed at the uneven stumbles of Katsuya’s footsteps during late nights; the wholeness of devotion painted in the afterglow of Katsuya’s lips as they drew a definite future on heated skins, a promise of infinities.

How could he fill words so empty, with the depths of his belief so deep?

So, he doesn’t. Instead, Seto murmured in wordless assurance, exhaling them into the tenderness of his partner’s neck, pressing, a soft dominance, until they bloomed against the intensity, the hearts of each bearing his unvoiced comforts.

“Not good enough,” Katsuya laughed (its sharpness not escaping Seto), tilting his head to grant the other better access to his neck. Seto took up the offer anyway, hungrier, bolder, almost frenzied– Why do you hide in the shadows of the person I see?

“Not that,” Katsuya breathed, his eyes fluttering. (And Seto devoured the sight, swallowing, until it beat inside his flesh like a swarm of butterflies.)

“Of course you do. I’m never wrong.”

“Don’t say that for the sake of sayin’. And ya are wrong a lot.”

If Seto heard Katsuya’s second sentence, he made a very good show of ignoring it.

“Say what? The truth?”

“Nice try. Ain’t workin’ on me this time.”

Despite the retort, Seto could hear the smile in his partner’s words, and that was all the invitation he needed to pull Katsuya into an impassioned kiss.

Only parting when both were starting to feel lightheaded, Katsuya found himself the recipient of more intimate touching than he would like this early in the day. That needy bastard!

Jumping out of the bed as quickly as he could, Katsuya scampered off to the bathroom, and away from the greedy hands of his insatiable partner.

Before he could close the door, he heard Seto smirk, “As a bonus, you are also hot enough to succeed in the industry.”

Katsuya let out an exaggerated groan before literally shutting the brunette out.


The rest of the day passed by rather uneventfully, with Katsuya familiarising himself with the rest of the designs, and Seto preparing the former for the meeting.

When Seto was finally convinced that his partner would not run his mouth off on the unrelated, or make his usual asinine comments in front of the team, he finally released the blond from his intense crash course. Exhausted, Katsuya flopped onto the bed, releasing a loud yawn as he stretched his stiff limbs.

Seto rolled his neck, grateful to finally alleviate the tension. He moved to the bed, and seated himself by his partner. Katsuya’s tee had hiked up from his movement, exposing a glimpse of defined abs. For all the unhealthy food Katsuya insisted on ingesting, even Seto was amazed at the other’s ability to maintain his build.

Weariness fading into a newfound excitement that gnawed prominently in his chest, Seto’s vision narrowed at that almost upsetting exposure. He reached out, hesitating just before contact, considering his options as he visually traced the curvature of the muscles to the hem of Katsuya’s sweatpants.

Noticing Seto’s sudden lack of motion, the blond pushed himself partially up, only to catch his boyfriend staring a little too intently at–, oh. Sighing, he rolled off the bed, not caring when his leg accidentally caught the chest of the other man.

“Ya are incorrigible.”

Snapping out of his stupor, Seto regained as much of his composure as he could before replying coolly, “Oh? Parroting’s word of the day?”

“Nah, ya keep usin’ it on me, so now I’m returnin’ the favour!”

A sense of dread smacked Katsuya right in the gut as he became the recipient of a very devious smirk.

“Looks like an old dog can learn new tricks.”

Katsuya sputtered hotly, an accusatory finger pointed at an overly smug Seto.

“Ra damn it, how many times must I tell ya, I ain’t no dog!”

Leaning back on a propped arm, Seto looked on amusedly at his scowling boyfriend. How is it possible for someone to be even more attractive when flustered?

“Perhaps, but you bark at me daily, you are very fond of my lap, and you have a ravenous appetite for bones…”

“ARGH, ya are hopeless, Kaiba Seto! Hopeless!”

“I know, you just told me. ‘Hopeless’ is a synonym of ‘incorrigible’. Please vary your barks to avoid committing pleonasm again.”

Katsuya started towards the door, and for a second, Seto was pierced by a very real regret that he had probably overstepped the line. Instead of stomping out like the night before, Katsuya stopped by the door, arms folded, and lips pursed. Now, it was Seto’s turn to feel like a helpless kitten seeking its owner’s forgiveness. (Not that he would openly admit his mistake, well, only if it placed what they had in peril. And this was inching dangerously close to that maximum.)

“Look, Seto, I ain’t some dirty mongrel ya picked off the streets to play with–.”

“I know, Katsuya–,”

“Then why the fuck do ya keep callin’ me a dog?!”

Seto knew that it was not Katsuya’s favourite nickname, and it was no fault except his own that its meaning here got misconstrued. In spite of that knowledge, he did not expect it to materialise into the rage that was almost palpable around the blond. Which in turn, only reinforced how Seto felt like a tiny kitten pawing in futility at its owner. (Perhaps the comparison was rather dramatic, but Seto certainly empathised with the kitten in its situation.)

“When I don’t mean it as a dirty mongrel, but as–”

“As what? A cute little puppy?”


“Really.” Katsuya glared at the other man, completely sceptical at the reply’s authenticity as anything other than a last ditched attempt to curb his temper. “Ya think I’m an idiot or somethin’?!”

Hearing the other man’s outburst, Seto pinched the bridge of his nose, muttering that it was way too late for him to deal with yet another argument.

“No, I do not,” he clarified, trying to keep his own emotions intact. Although at this point, Seto was almost tempted to pull no less than twenty instances of precisely that from his memory, and agree out of petty spite. But that which was concealed in the shadows of Katsuya’s eyes, and the way his brows pinched from something beyond his trigger temper cautioned Seto’s reaction. He reverted back to the rational, deciding that the truth was his best option.

“I was trying to change the word’s association from before we got together.”

Katsuya paused, surprised by the explanation, but not enough for it to nullify the ire that accumulated in the crests of his knuckles, and in the edges of his jaw.

Taking his boyfriend’s temporary silence as an opportunity to explain himself, Seto continued, voice unsteady in the breaking of his composure, “Back then, I–, relished in the schadenfreude of putting you down. I wanted, needed to break your spirit, the same one that kept you defiant against me. There was no better way to demean you than to strip away what was fundamental to your identity, so I denied you even of your species.”

“And it worked.” Too well.

Deluged with decay, his mouth was the cemetery of a traitor long buried. His tongue choked from the ashes of shame and apprehension, still fighting past the rot that was his pride’s inertia.

“I’m sorry, Katsuya. I’m sorry.

There was something visceral in the emotions that swelled between Katsuya’s ribs upon witnessing a moment that poignant. Of a resolution coveted but long abandoned, finally attained not by his own hands, but by the initiative of the perpetrator. Katsuya never expected this day would arrive.

What triggered the tears that teetered precariously at their precipice of release in Katsuya’s eyes was not the act of apology itself. This wasn’t the first time Seto has apologised, and it would definitely not be the last.

Throughout their time together, Katsuya grappled with the irony of his situation — how could a tongue that dripped with such affection from its lavish tenderness that even the most wretched of his scars found luxury; a tongue that willingly replaced its world with the map of his skin, resolute in its decision that the entirety of its future could be contained in his present; a tongue that pressed cherried words into his bruises until the pain felt like the same sweetness again, and again, until he forgot the agony of raw suffering; a tongue that buried all his wilt in its shadows, infusing them with an essence that is neither his nor his, and when he received it again, what was became what is — how could the same tongue had slipped between the shadows of his light, burying itself in crevices he never knew he had, twisting, him unravelling, until all he bled was the hollowness of what he had never been?

How could he relinquish the last of his softness, press it into the control of Seto’s palms, and bear the ache of the loss (then, and now) that lay just beyond reach? How could he lay content, the other picking apart his pieces, until his angles fit perfectly into the enclave of Seto’s arms? His lack, filled with the other, a foundation of buried old open wounds, upon which the temple of the other would rise. In its silent halls between his prayers, the rattle of bones from a past unresolved punctuated; the illusion shuddered, shattered. It echoed in his nothingness, fading, into a new frequency; pieces now unbroken, oscillating in a resonance of a cycle anew, awaiting the amplification of his ghosts sleeping between his cracks again.

After years of containing that which was unsettled between them, Katsuya didn’t know it was relief or fatigue that overwhelmed him. His knees buckled under the absence of the weight he had long grown accustomed to, face partially buried in his folded arms as he allowed himself to fall into the reassurance that had eluded him.

What he didn’t expect was the arms —normally steady in their strength, now slightly trembling— that encircled him, and pulled him into Seto’s own hesitation. It heartened Katsuya to know that his other half wallowed in his own misdeeds, and that his avoidance of the issue was not from his apathy, but his anxiety.

He felt the unsure stroking against the side of his face of fingers light, and cold. They barely skimmed the edge of his cheek, brushing past the wetness, redrawing them into circles of comfort in a quiet gesture, trying to assuage the grief they had caused. Katsuya pushed into their coolness, feeling them absorb the heat of his anger, and despair, until what was left was the relative tranquillity of a past removed.

Katsuya breathed unhindered for the first time against Seto’s support, hands rested against the uneven cadence of his heartbeat. He released his softness from their prison, pressed it into the caution of Seto’s palms, feeling not the ache of its loss, but the peace of its departure. He lay contented, the other putting back the pieces he had thought were lost in history, manoeuvring in accommodation until his angles fit perfectly into the enclave of his partner’s arms once more. His fullness, filled with the other, a foundation of cauterised wounds laid to rest, upon which their temple arose. In its quiet halls between his prayers, the whispers of hope from a promising future inspired; the reality reinforced, solidified. It echoed in his everything, infusing, into a new frequency; pieces now unbroken, oscillating in a resonance of a cycle anew, awaiting the crystallisation of a shared tomorrow now waiting between their seams.


The couple spent the last day of their weekend indulging in each other as they worked, basking in the strengthening of their bonds past a history they should have conquered sooner. They sat next to each other as they went through the catalogue of designs once more, bodies barely touching, and fingers half interlaced in their lazy perusal.

Satisfied with how familiar Katsuya finally was with the material, Seto concluded their session. He looked at his partner, admiring the way his eyes gleamed against the setting sun as he excitedly retold a story Seto had heard countless times before. Still, he nodded absently, lost in the motion of his partner’s plush lips as he willed the shapes they formed onto his own neglected flesh.

There he continued to sit, watching Katsuya’s hands paint in haphazard companionship to his verbal tale, admiring the sharpness of their incline against the gentleness of his hold. A tee slack from years of washing hung against the edges of his collarbones, barely dipping into the cusp brimming with innumerable nights of Seto’s confessions. All he wanted to do was to suckle its sweetness until the honey of Katsuya’s skin filled him, and all he spilt was the same pleasure.

Seto did not remember if Katsuya had finished before he clambered onto his very surprised boyfriend, his urgency knocking them both (thankfully) into the softness of their bed.

“Hey! I ain’t done!”

The blond’s complaints were silenced by a hungry kiss from his partner. His own want penetrating the latter’s growing desire, brown eyes dipped against the ridge of the other’s nose, falling shut from the sensation of Seto palming down the length of his heaving chest.

Katsuya finally (half-heartedly) pushed Seto away, only to have the latter seal his lips to his collarbone, their cushioned tenderness obscuring the occasional bite from his teeth. Before Katsuya could continue his story (because its climax was definitely worth making his impatient partner wait), the latter summarised his tale in slight annoyance.

“And you proceeded to change all the sugar in Honda’s house to salt, and vice versa. I suppose stupidity–,” Katsuya reactively smacked his forearm, and it took all of Seto’s willpower to not retaliate by punishing him there and then, “–affects your sense of awareness, because somehow he didn’t notice, and completely ruined his meals for an entire week.”

“It’s a real cracker!” Katsuya chortled wickedly, whatever he was doing with Seto already forgotten. “He even gave cookies, salt cookies to Shizuka! I love ya sis, but ya reaction when ya took a bite was priceless!” He wiped away a stray tear from his laughter, still chuckling when he concluded his story. “Fuckin’ Hiroto, man.”

How could Seto remain miffed at his boyfriend’s inattention, when the crescents of Katsuya’s eyes, and the ringing of his laughter, nestled themselves inside the concave of his chest, growing, until all he felt was the same happiness? (It was his fault, again, for choosing to be with someone who had the attention span of a goldfi–, toddler.)

Despite having what Katsuya always teased as the warm fuzzies from seeing the blond smile, Seto could not continue ignoring the heat of his own need. So, he mumbled a reply —less in agreement, and more as a hint to his (still very dense) boyfriend—, trying to get the other man to redirect his focus back to him.

Oh, lemme tell ya about another thing Hiroto did…”

Seto groaned frustratedly, stopping his partner before he wandered off along another tangent. It was bad enough that Katsuya tended to run his mouth during their moments of intimacy, noticing none of the hints Seto threw at him with increasing disgruntlement. This on the other hand, was a whole different level of self-indulgent disregard, with his repeated mentions of Honda’s name more than counterproductive.

Interrupting Katsuya’s yelp by capturing his startled mouth in a fervent kiss, Seto took a more direct route of tugging pointedly at the elastic of the former’s sweatpants (the same ones as the day before, and the day before that, because even with over ten housekeepers at their beck and call, the blond still insisted on rewearing them for the entire week).

Finally feeling Katsuya liven up under his touches, Seto mouthed at the steps of his ribs, fitting his fingers into their notches. He slid down them, playing, like keys on a piano; fleeting, past the tautness of the other’s stomach; holding, until his partner panted out a melody so resonant, it reverberated in the trembles of his own hands.

Katsuya gasped, fingers tightly clutched around the material of Seto’s shirt, nails digging unkindly into the brunette’s flesh. The former’s chin rubbed roughly against the bone of his shoulder, as Seto grasped blindly past their motion, and clothes for–

“Seto, Seto, dinner is–, soon,” Katsuya breathed into the musk of Seto’s exertion.

“It can wait,” Seto replied hurriedly, descending until he could almost feel the sear of Katsuya’s want–

“But I’m hungry!”

The abruptness, and shrillness of Katsuya’s whine startled Seto from his fervour, the placement of his hands awkward in the sudden change of atmosphere.

Stifling his annoyance at yet another intrusion, Seto tried to urge his partner on before the entire mood was lost.

“We can be quick–“

Ya can, not me!”

“We can still try–“

“And I don’t like it quick–“

By then, Katsuya had escaped from Seto’s hold, swatting away the hand that tried desperately to grab at him. The former narrowed his eyes, tightly folded his arms, and completed his look with a childish sulk. The entirety of his demeanour was made all the more preposterous when he peered at the brunette searchingly from under his dishevelled hair.

Making a mental note to confront Katsuya about his impeccable ability to deflect most of his advances, Seto pinched the bridge of his nose again, hoping the motion would squeeze away both his exasperation, and his arousal. He gave a cursory downwards glance at his boyfriend, and sure enough, the prominence of the other’s lust had almost completely disappeared. Seto straightened himself up, own eyes tight with vexation as he questioned the still unapologetic blond.

“What am I going to do about this?”

Seto gestured brazenly between his legs, eyes unflinching as he stared at Katsuya. His irritation spiked uncontrollably as he saw not only the other’s relative nonchalance in his relaxed stance, but also the glimmer of amusement of his pout. Don’t think I’m unaware of what you’re up to.

“I dunno. Get rid of it, or somethin’.”

Katsuya shrugged easily, eyes already resting on the clock across the room.

“It’s not a switch. Unlike you, I can’t just turn it on and off.”

Once more, Katsuya shot him a patronisingly apologetic look, the sides of his mouth then slowly curling in enjoyment at the latter’s predicament.

“At least give me a blowjob,” Seto demanded (tone closer to a plead in reality) as he felt himself twitch at the sight of Katsuya giving him a very nice view (the nerve of that brat), before turning around and climbing off the bed.

“Not on ya life!”


“Fuck yaself!” Want me ta pleasure ya, and not myself? Fat hope, ya selfish prick!

Stuck between a rock(headed boyfriend), and a (literal) hard place, Seto’s options were not particularly enticing. Despite that, he wasn’t about to let his partner saunter away in all his smugness to victory. If Katsuya weren’t going to be physically present in his activity, Seto was still adamant on making his boyfriend aid him indirectly.

“Fine, I will.”

Katsuya turned around to stare at his partner, wondering if all of the latter’s blood had indeed rushed from his brain to his groin.

“Only if you put those on.” Seto gestured to the pair of black boxer-briefs from two nights ago, sitting newly washed, and pressed atop their pile of fresh laundry.

“Wha–, again?! No!”

“Or I’ll call the kitchen to clear our dinner.”

“Ya dare!”

“You are the glutton, not me.”

“I’ll–, I’ll shout for ‘em not ta!”

“I’m certain they will listen when I’m the one paying their salary, not you.”

Katsuya gaped at the other man in disbelief, aghast that the latter would resort to blackmail of such extent. It was one thing to seduce him, or even to coerce him with intimidation, or outright punishment. However, both seemed inconsequential in comparison to the current threat of having a meal, an entire meal, removed. Faced with the gravity of his situation, what else could Katsuya had done but to comply? Especially when it was a gigantic plate of delicious pork curry rice at stake.

“Okay, fine! Jus–, just don’t cancel dinner!”

Katsuya huffed in defeat, ignored the grateful growl of his stomach, and trudged grudgingly to the undergarment. Skin already moist with apprehension at the prospect of squeezing himself inside the dreaded piece again, he considered hightailing it. I shoulda just agreed ta suck him off… As he stared forlornly at the piece in his moment of self-pity, he missed the utterly triumphant smirk Seto shot at his back.

“Move it. I thought you were the one in a hurry.”

“Shuddup! Ra, I hate ya…”

Giving as scornful a scowl as he could to his overly pleased partner, he changed out of the comfort of his clothes, feeling unexpectedly self-conscious as he carefully tucked himself into the undergarment. He could feel the intensity of Seto’s gaze boring through his back, scrutinising every minute shift of his muscles as he adjusted the article until he felt somewhat comfortable. (He did the exact same thing multiple times a day in front of Seto, so why did he feel so embarrassed now?)

Unsurprisingly, when he finally gathered the courage to turn around, he was met with a stare so piercing that he almost crumbled under its ownership, and a smile so ravenous that he felt more nervous than the pork cutlet on his dinner plate. Before he became completely petrified, Katsuya angled his head to the side, eyes latching on to the first thing they saw beyond the eagerness of his boyfriend.

“Happy now?” Katsuya finally voiced, arms still protectively wrapped around his uncovered midsection. He tried to let the defiance that characterised most of his interactions with Seto seep into his question, hoping it would deviate the other’s attention from how flustered he looked behind his bangs.

Rather than latching on to his growing unease, Katsuya heard his partner hum in appreciation at his compliance. Although unsure if it was an illusion his mind had conjured as a buffer for his distress, even if Seto did dole out such a compliment, Katsuya was not sure if he could hear it beyond the deafening thumps in his chest, let alone take full advantage of the other’s preoccupation.

“I dunno why ya like this so much,” Katsuya wrinkled his nose, fingers distractedly stretching the hem of the material. “Can barely breathe in ‘em.”

“It’s for support.”

“This ain’t support! This is how ya become infertile!”

Instead of snapping at Katsuya for ruining the moment again, or pinching his nose bridge in amazement at the things that spewed from the blond’s mouth, Seto half-shrugged impassively. He remained more interested in Katsuya than the allegation even as he answered, “Doesn’t matter since neither of us can birth children.”

“Ain’t. The. Point! How can I sell somethin’ like this?!” Can’t have kids, or don’t want kids? The answer Seto gave was rather peculiar, and Katsuya reminded himself to bring the subject up again at a more convenient time. “Also, I don’t wanna be impotent!”

“Cut the dramatics, Katsuya. You are not going to be impotent. Definitely not from wearing those.” Seto rolled his eyes before returning to his observation of the other man. A little stuffy? Perhaps. An instrument of infertility? Not so much. (Katsuya should know by now that Seto would never let the former near anything untested, let alone something potentially damaging.)

It was difficult to be cross when all Seto could focus on was how the blend adhered to the firmness of Katsuya’s body. It generously outlined every bump, and dip it was attached to, leaving little to no margin for imagination even against the darkness of the fabric. It was just the way Seto liked it. More importantly, this was also something Seto was confident he could get Katsuya to adapt to.

“And you aren’t the one selling it. That’s what we employ the sales team for. Until you are more familiar with the business, your job is to just look good in it.”

“Wait, I’m just a walkin’ clothes rack?! I’m not–”

Until you gain the skills necessary to keep the business from collapsing, it would be to the business’ advantage to self-promote. To have a frontman, who is also in charge, to wear the brand’s items in public.”

The explanation although logical (like most of what Seto tended to say was), still left Katsuya somewhat unconvinced. But as much as he wanted to further their disagreement, there was a hot meal of his favourite pork curry waiting downstairs. Everything, and everyone else could wait.

“Ya done starin’? I’m gonna–“


“Seriously?! Ya still ain’t done?!”

“Turn around.”

Before Katsuya could protest, he felt himself slowly turning at the command. Confounded by his sudden willingness (and blaming it on his hunger messing with him), he laid his hands on the worn handle of their dresser, shoulders hunched, and head slightly bowed as he grumbled, “Hurry up.”

Whilst Seto was pleased with Katsuya’s unusual obedience, he had no intention of rushing his indulgence. He traversed the ridges of Katsuya’s spine, tame against the weight of his gaze, counting the blessings he had left in the shadows of each joint. He sunk into the hollow between his partner’s shoulder blades, pulling past its curve, imagining his neat nails dragging against its smoothness, encircling, etching in possession. Katsuya shivered, leaning his weight against the furniture (and for the first time in his life, Seto felt envy towards an inanimate object), as though reacting to the sensation of his boyfriend’s imaginary touch. The ends of the former’s hair parted from the motion, exposing the smooth of his neck in an invitation that Seto could not refuse.

Katsuya was still trying to steady himself from his unanticipated loss of composure when he heard rustling behind him. Suspicious at what his partner was going to try this time, he snapped around just in time to see Seto retrieve a coil of something red. He squinted at the item, following its trail as it hung loosely from the brunette’s grasp, silver accents glinting under the light–

“That thing again?! I thought I told ya ta toss it!”

Regretting turning when he did, Katsuya physically repelled from the sight before him. He eyed the collar warily, thoughts of his dinner abandoned as his gut flipped in dismay at the other’s silent suggestion.

“No. No. Whatever ya are thinkin’, stop it. Now.”

“Not even–“

No, Seto! I told ya! I don’t want no doggy leash near me–“

Before Katsuya could further his outrage, Seto had shifted his position, moving towards the end of the bed with a nimbleness that should not be possible given the flagrance of his problem.

“Katsuya. Katsuya–”

“–ain’t repeatin’ myself–“

“Katsuya, listen to–“

“–I ain’t a damned pet–“

“I never said–“

“–or I’m fuckin’ leavin’ ya–“


If anything could stop Katsuya mid-rant, it was Seto shouting. The latter rarely did, preferring to emphasise his points with scathing precision, directed mostly at the recipient’s intelligence (or rather lack thereof). So, when Seto found a reason to shout outside dueling tournaments, Katsuya would listen, and would listen very intently.

“Don’t ever say that again. Not unless you mean it.”

Seto seethed, jaw tight, and knuckles white with bridled rage. A density hung in the air, smothering in its pressure. It bled past the adrenaline of Katsuya’s evaporated temper, constricting in its descent down his dry throat, unfurling into his constricted chest, pervading in its heaviness, blotting out even the spaces in which he had hid the cinders of moments treasured.

Jounouchi Katsuya, do you understand?

Each word was punctuated with a frigidity Katsuya had not felt from the other man in years. He hastily swallowed, the lump stuck in his throat not helping as he tried to placate the other’s anger.

“Yes, Seto.”

His answer was almost meek, but given how he was the one who had antagonised the other, Katsuya figured not escalating the matter further was the best choice he could have made.

Perhaps he had jumped (headfirst, and full bodied) into conclusions earlier. Regardless of how vehemently he hurt at the presumed betrayal, he should not had said what he did. But given how the memory of his first introduction to the collar was tarnished by yet another dog joke, could one really blame him for his overreaction, especially after he had spent the entirety of the previous night admonishing the other for that exact thing?

Weary from the confrontation, Katsuya avoided the eyes of the other. He ignored how they pierced through him, puncturing the cover of his excuse; cold steel on supple flesh, they impaled past his hypocrisy, of boundaries violated; a ruthless retribution, until the bitterness of his guilt pooled in his broken mouth.

“The next time I hear you so much as whisper that, I want you out of my house. And don’t you dare return.”

“Seto… I’m–“

Before Katsuya could get his apology out, Seto cut him off curtly.

“It’s time for dinner.”

Katsuya traced the asymmetry of the floor tiles in attempts to block out the laboured silence between them, waiting as the other man tidied himself up. Not even bothering to throw anything else on, he fell in step behind the brunette, eyes downcast in resignation as he tried to avert his vision from the unmistakable tension in the other’s back, only to be bitten by the terseness of his steps.


Dinner was strained, with neither fully acknowledging the other. Katsuya tried initially (he swore he did) to find an opportunity, or any opening that allowed him to express his remorse. However, each time he did, his tentative words were met with the finality in the sharp clinks of Seto’s cutlery, the hardened set of their owner’s jaw a further warning that preserved the oppressive stillness.

There Katsuya sat, barely remembering (or feeling) his state of undress as he forced the meat into his mouth, its usual sweetness lacking as he washed it down with the similarly tasteless curry. He knew this wasn’t the fault of the chef, whom he had once declared was the best in the world, something he continued to stand by even as he chewed into the blandness of his dish.

It was Seto’s fault (and his own) that the one meal he was most looking forward to for the entire week was ruined. If the former had not insisted on bringing that thing out, he wouldn’t had ran his mouth, then Seto wouldn’t be pissed off, and they wouldn’t be in their current positions. Katsuya felt the infinity between their elbows, an intentional void of exile, one which they both sought cover behind, preserving their conclusions in a thought vortex of mutual accusation.

Katsuya crunched his salad with much more force than necessary, occasionally glancing up at the unchanging look of aloofness the other man wore. At least give me somethin’ ta work with, ya stubborn nut. He sighed, pushing the remnants of his mostly untouched meal away. (But not before setting his cutlery on his plate neatly, like how anyone who isn’t uncouth should, as Seto used to lecture.)

The mid morning after was the meeting they had been preparing for. Although Katsuya was certain Seto’s professionalism would mask whatever personal discontentment he felt, the former was less than confident in his own ability to retain whatever advice the latter had given him, and repress his own feelings of disgruntlement whilst seated next to the exact person he was mad at.

He recalled the flash of agony that tormented the other man’s normally indomitable demeanour — icy eyes clouded with indictment at Katsuya’s blatant insolence, their ends tightening at the provocation, tautness stretching past the cliffs of his cheekbones, finally accumulating into an almost vicious snarl that sat challengingly on the angles of his thin lips. More worryingly, it vanished just moments after into the apathy Katsuya had grown to fear.

The discordant dragging of expensive wood against similarly pricey marble interrupted Katsuya’s reflection. He focused on the other man, watching as he departed without a second glance. Quelling the imminent surge of indignation from being ignored, Katsuya started his long journey back to the bedroom, wondering how he could atone for his mistake.

Seto exited the bathroom, the strain from controlling his emotions partly alleviated. Even for him, it was difficult to not relax under the therapeutic massage of warm pellets against the tightness of his muscles, especially when they not only rained from above, but sprayed steadily at his sides too.

He was met with the sight of the blond seated by the edge of the bed, the latter’s back partially turned to him. If you want to continue sitting there like the immature devil-spawn you are, I– Before Seto could finish the thought, he noticed a hint of red under the cover of dusty gold, trailing past the length of burnished bronze before resting in the hesitance of the other’s hold.

Unsure if the extended length of time he had spent in the shower had caused the steam to affect his eyesight, Seto approached the other man soundlessly, maintaining the item in his scrutiny as he did.

He paused a safe distance from the other man, finally positive that the latter had indeed put the collar on. Willingly. Seto stood distractedly, pondering the blond’s sudden change of heart as he admired the contrast of the ribbed material against the silk of the other’s flesh.

Resisting the urge to caress the leather, Seto folded his arms, mask of detached neutrality adorned once more before confronting the still oblivious man.

What are you doing.”

The abrupt breaking of silence startled Katsuya, who nearly fell off the bed in shock at the disturbance. As someone who used to run in one of Domino’s most notorious gangs, Seto wondered how the man managed to survive with his complete lack of situational awareness. In any other instance, Seto would have felt the pinpricks of endearment at the other man’s gaffe. But when the brunt of the other’s mistake still smarted his pride (and although he refused to admit it, bruised something more tender inside him as well) with every pulse in his veins, all he could muster was the slight unhitching of his brows.

The blond composed himself, grievance at Seto’s almost uncanny ability to sneak up to anyone already half-formed as he turned around. However, instead of the playful smirk he was so accustomed to, he was met with the indifference from the stoic disposition of the man before him. Remembering, Katsuya tapered the animations of his motions, and let his teasing gripe die on his tongue.

Reverting to a cautious optimism as he acknowledged the brunette, Katsuya was taken aback by how bizarre their interaction was. He felt like he was putting on clothes he had outgrown, feeling them pinch in places that had never before, and tripping over the excesses from crests long eroded. The result was a formality, spurious in its creation, from the unnatural rigidity of his motions. Yet when he moved, he found familiarity in the way the fabric shifted, lingering in the memories of a past self that Katsuya thought he had long left behind. It was not unpleasant, but neither was it comforting, as he traced the clumsy stitches of a tear mended, remembering the scar that had long healed beneath. It was just another incident, like the splash of a stain just above his hip, or the faded strokes of the marker-drawn smiley on his right sleeve — moments that were indelible to who he was now, but from a chapter long passed.

It was frightening, when things he thought were lost in their closures returned from their graves. Even more terrifying when he fell into their patterns, of actions once repeated, and repeated, time, and time again, now entombed so far within they became immortal. Katsuya could feel them throb from just under his skin — the anticipation of a bloodied war, bones shattered, and flesh severed; the clash of weapons unbound, lethally sharp, and savagely blunt; the command of an assault unrelenting, bridges burnt, and walls constructed; the annihilation of unmitigated devastation, past charred, and future scorched; the insistence of a victory all-encompassing, he survived, but he didn’t.

Was this what they truly were? Enemies in a temporary truce, remaining by each other’s side not in genuine favour, but in a disguised precaution? Participating in an exchange of secrets (some real, but mostly false), only looking for an advantage in their inevitable reprisal, tolerating, until the other’s convenience was exhausted?

Katsuya refused to believe it. He had never fallen in the face of adversity, and this would not be his first, not when the stakes were this high. He swallowed the pounding in his chest, hand wavering (but eyes determined) as he wordlessly extended his hand towards the other, where the leash of the collar laid within the heart of his palm.

And he waited.

No words were required for Seto to understand the significance of Katsuya’s gesture. He felt the weight of the latter’s essence, an offering of self in sacrifice for their collective peace. He reached, balking before the gift. Wasn’t this what he had originally coveted? His ultimate goal from when he had first set his sights on the other man? To create a malleable other who conformed to his whims, performing all it was told with broken wrists, and an absent tongue. To have a puppet shackled to the ends of his fingers, coming when beckoned, leaving when dismissed, a caricature, but still the perfect shell of a companion.

Was that really what he wanted? To strip Katsuya clean from his bones, leaving but the spirit of his devotion, beaten, and worn, its dimness barely a flicker, just so the man could finally be his, and only his? Perhaps in a past life, when all Seto could see was contempt, and spite in the amber of the other’s eyes; when the other’s hands were all fists, and Seto’s blood; when the other’s tongue was a sword unsheathed, grinding against the brutality of his teeth; when the other’s body was the pain reflected from Seto’s own, twisting, contorting, into the nightmares Seto thought he had finally escaped from.

This was a different life; the scarlet of Katsuya’s mouth echoed not of war, but of a passion now in peril. Seto looked back to the image of Katsuya, the latter’s calmness an earnest surety, strap still dangling freely between his fingers, the same ones that gently curled upwards in latent memory, as though clasping Seto’s own.


AO3 Link (Parts 1 & 2): [x]
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May 2017

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