Motion Can Keep Me Still
by Rana Eros
Written for the Yuletide 2006 Rare Fandoms Secret Santa Challenge. This was a pinch hit written for WhiteCat. Eliza and Phoebe did beta duty. Summary and title both from Theodore Roethke's poem, "Words for the Wind."
Kantarou can't sleep. That's never really been a problem before; if he's up, it's because he's not tired. Tonight he's tired, almost mind-numbingly so, but it's the almost that's plaguing him. His thoughts whirr like cicadas, not giving him anything productive, but not allowing him to slip into dreams.
Thinking Haruka might still be awake, and maybe they can talk --or he can talk and Haruka can sit and listen or ignore him as he's inclined-- Kantarou gets up and steps out onto the porch. He moves farther into the garden, turns and looks up at the roof to see if Haruka's perched there. Either Haruka's asleep, though, or this is one of those nights he's given to flying. Considering the events of the past several days, it could be either one.
Kantarou sighs, tells himself it's only weariness that makes it come out so forlorn, and starts back toward the porch. Movement in the shadows beyond the house gate catches his eye, and he turns his head to see Minamoto Raikou watching him.
Blood startles through his heart, and he feels the hard smoothness of beads in his fist before he consciously thinks to reach for his rosary. Perhaps this is why Haruka's not out here, but Kantarou won't ask. Let Minamoto be the one to show his hand.
Minamoto's alone and has not moved since Kantarou spotted him. It's difficult to see his expression in the darkness, and going by their past encounters, he doesn't seem given to extravagant display regardless. Perhaps he's waiting for a stronger reaction from Kantarou than a start and an instinctive grab for a talisman. Perhaps he's waiting for his servants to attack. Kantarou's not inclined to oblige in the first case, and he's as prepared as he thinks he can be for the second. He too can wait.
He's outwaited other monsters, after all.
"He hasn't killed you yet," Minamoto says at last, and Kantarou feels a little thrill of triumph. "I had wondered."
"You mean you had hoped."
"You must understand, Ichinomiya, I don't care one way or the other about you. Only the Ogre-eater."
Kantarou cocks his head. "As long as I'm alive, that means Haruka has kept his control. You care about that."
"You won't live forever." It's not a threat. It's not even particularly interested. "My family plans in generations, centuries, and you are not the most careful man, Ichinomiya."
"Monsters react to fear. If you show them you're not afraid, they're much more cooperative. Most of the time."
There's a brief flash of teeth. "And then there are the ones who take it as a challenge to find what frightens you."
Kantarou shrugs. "That's not hard. I'm human, and as you said, I won't live forever."
"Do you fear death? You don't seem to."
"I don't think about it much." Which both is and isn't true, but more than most people, Minamoto doesn't need to know when he's lying.
"No, you're more concerned about your monsters dying." Minamoto takes a single step closer to the gate, raises his hand as though he could touch Kantarou through it. "You're afraid they'll leave you. You should be. They will."
"I don't name them to chain them to me. Nor will I un-name one just so you can chain him."
"You misunderstand my purpose. I want him to feel his nature."
Kantarou allows himself a thin, humorless smile. "You forget who I am. I know a lie when I hear it."
Minamoto doesn't immediately reply, and Kantarou feels tension rising in the still air. The attack will come now, he thinks, and he's placed protections and charms on his house, but they've never been tested against the likes of Minamoto and those who serve him. Kantarou holds his rosary a little tighter, bracing for a fight.
What he's not braced for is a gust of wind from a pair of great black wings, the sudden shock of Haruka's arms tight around his waist, the dizzying drop of the ground under and away from them. He thinks Minamoto might actually look surprised, but it's only a glimpse he catches before the bulk of Haruka's body hides everything from sight but the stars.
"We should go back, Haruka," he says.
"She's safe. You were safe."
"You don't know--"
Kantarou takes a deep breath. Haruka's clearly feeling stubborn tonight. "We should still go back."
"I don't want you talking to him anymore."
"Oh." That throws him off-track. Haruka sounds very annoyed; Kantarou's fairly certain it's not entirely at Minamoto. Still, he can't help asking, "Why didn't you just chase him away, then?"
There's no answer. Kantarou twists his head to catch a glimpse of Haruka's face. Haruka looks more confused than annoyed, and he sounds uncertain when he says, "That wouldn't have worked."
"It might have. He didn't seem to have Ibaragi and Watanabe with him."
"Too much trouble." And Haruka takes a swooping dive that drives the air from Kantarou's lungs before he can say anything to that. He clutches at Haruka's arms convulsively. The beads of his rosary dig into his palm and Haruka's forearm, and he hears Haruka growl. He forces himself to loosen his grip, swallows a shocked sound as Haruka turns him so they're face to face, Haruka's hands warm and sure against his back. "Sometimes you're too much trouble."
Kantarou blinks, not sure how to interpret Haruka's tone of voice. "If you'd chased him off, you could have left me--"
"Alone?" Haruka's face is more expressionless than Minamoto's. "Can we leave each other alone, Kantarou?"
Kantarou's used to being the one to say such things; he reminds himself Haruka means it literally. "Of course. You were flying alone before you came back to the house, weren't you?"
Kantarou's close enough to see the way Haruka's eyebrows quirk and his lips purse, as if he's about to say something. Then he shakes his head and sets down on the ground. Kantarou's startled to see it's the back garden. He expects to be released, but Haruka holds on as Kantarou finds his feet, simply watching him. So Kantarou holds on too, his hands resting lightly on Haruka's upper arms.
"Haruka?" he says, because sometimes Haruka needs something to get him started. Haruka just shakes his head again, then leans down and presses his mouth against Kantarou's.
It's the most pleasant shock of the evening, and once more Kantarou's instincts take over. He leans into it, tilting his head so the angle's not as awkward. Haruka gathers him closer, growls again, and Kantarou can't help but pant at how that feels when they're like this. Haruka opens his own mouth, perhaps in reaction, and his tongue flicks out, touches Kantarou's bottom lip. This time Kantarou can't hold back the shocked sound, but Haruka swallows it for him, presses in for more.
Kantarou's lightheaded with the lack of air, some small and distant part of his brain wondering if Haruka even needs it, when Haruka finally pulls back. Kantarou takes several gasping breaths before it registers the discomfort he's feeling is the beads of his rosary once more digging into his palm. And Haruka's arm.
He loosens his grip, keeping his eyes on Haruka's face. Haruka looks very intent. Kantarou wonders if he should say something. For once, he can't think what that would be.
"Sometimes," Haruka says again, but he doesn't finish the thought.
Kantarou swallows and says, "Now?"
"Definitely now." Haruka hasn't let him go. "Too much trouble to leave alone."
Haruka seems to think that's sufficient commentary for the night, because he keeps Kantarou's mouth occupied after that.
Kantarou just follows his instincts.