Tokyo Demons Book 3: Chapter 2, Part 1
A downloadable package of this chapter (.pdf, .epub, and .mobi) is available in the Sparkler Monthly Issue #016 back issue.
Trigger warning (abuse) for prologue scene.
It was getting harder for Touya to leave the penthouse. The side effects of his nightly Pitch reductions were getting worse, but he’d expected that; he had plenty of space in his 12-hour block. As planned, he started the weaning earlier to give him longer to recover before the 8 A.M. deadline, and that left him strong enough to leave, if he needed to.
No, that wasn’t why he was cautious of the outdoors. It was the fact that the more time passed, the more likely Core was out there looking for him. And the fact that, as his detox continued…
He was missing things.
The fluctuations in his power left him with sensory overload; he had trouble organizing the quantum slices of time that jumbled up in his eyes. He was so involved in the tiny, closed system of the two-bedroom penthouse that the future was warped by his intervention and thus impossible to see. Amidst the layers of strangers, he saw snatches of Kado or Sachi, talking together or whispering…but he couldn’t establish a reliable timeline.
Things went badly one day. He came back from errands and unlocked the boys’ bedroom door–only to find them unusually distraught. They sat on their bed, sweating and wild-eyed, breathing heavily as Kado choked back a sob. Touya’s eyes zoomed in on Kado to dispel the ghosts around him; when Kado wiped at his eye, Touya saw the boy’s bloody fingers.
“What’s going on?” Touya snapped.
Kado recoiled the same moment that Sachi jumped to his feet. “Nothing!” Sachi blurted. There was an odd rasp to his voice–like he’d been yelling. “We’re just…uh…!”
“He’s bleeding,” Touya said thinly.
Sachi’s head snapped to Kado. “He was…biting his nails a lot! He was just upset!”
Kado looked up at Touya with tear-filled eyes. “You didn’t see?” he whispered.
Touya froze for a moment, his mind racing through his memories. He’d checked the future of the room before leaving the penthouse–he was sure of it. He knew he hadn’t seen anything unusual. But when he tried to remember the details, they were strangely hazy…
“We argued,” Kado breathed. “We’re just…stressed. I’m sorry.”
Touya hadn’t seen anything of the sort.
A sudden panic overcame him–that familiar, dizzying nightmare of losing control. He felt weightless and helpless, clutching for a handhold before he drowned in the rushing waves of endless time.
His panic twisted into rage. He angrily blinked away the crowding slices of the future and grabbed Sachi by the front of his shirt.
He yanked Sachi close; the tall boy stumbled forward, his head flopping back on his neck. Kado cried out as Touya hissed in Sachi’s face.
“You have one job here,” Touya warned, “and that’s to alleviate Kado-kun’s stress–not add to it. So suppress any and all arguments and keep Kado-kun happy.”
Sachi’s trembling mouth opened, his glasses sliding down his sweaty nose. Then something hardened in his eyes; a faint grunt rolled up his throat.
“Keep him happy?” he shot back. “How the hell can he be happy here?!”
Touya narrowed his eyes. He released Sachi’s shirt and instead gripped him around the throat.
“S-senpai!” Kado cried as he leapt from the bed. He stumbled over on his cast to wrap his arms around Touya’s elbow. “It was my fault! C-can we talk in private? Please?!”
Sachi choked under Touya’s warning grip, stretching to his toes as Touya raised the arm. Touya flexed his clenching fingers around that supple neck and watched Sachi’s bugging eyes shift into fear.
It was enough. Touya released.
He grabbed Kado’s arm and marched the boy out of the room, not even sparing a glance for the coughing Sachi. Touya slammed the door shut and heard the familiar clicks and beeps behind him.
Kado suddenly leaned closer, his body warm against Touya’s clutched arm. A new, sharp focus glimmered in his glassy eyes.
“We didn’t argue until you left,” he breathed. “And…hearing the front door close triggered Sachi to say something. I think that’s why you didn’t see it with your power.”
Touya paused, trying to unravel his tangled thoughts. “My action triggered that future?” he clarified. “And that’s why you think I didn’t see it?”
“Yes. So…please don’t be mad. I think your power is still working normally, even if you’re…sick.”
Touya tightened his jaw. That nagging suspicious deepened in his gut, driving him to catch and lift Kado’s fingers.
They weren’t bleeding badly, but they were definitely bruised. They looked…worn down, like he’d scraped them against something hard. He possibly had bitten them, since most of the nails were broken, but Touya had a mental image of Kado clawing at something…
Like the locked door of his bedroom.
And Sachi’s raspy voice, like he’d been screaming…
“Senpai,” Kado whispered. “What does it even matter? I can’t…get through these doors, whether you see my future or not.”
Touya caught the edge of hopelessness behind the words, and it moved something in him. He felt the uneven weight on his arm as Kado clutched at him, balancing precariously on his cast. Kado slowly lowered his eyes, his bruised fingers trembling in Touya’s grip.
Touya brushed his lips across those fingers.
Kado stiffened. Touya waited, willing himself to be patient, as Kado’s tight muscles slowly relaxed.
“You’re right,” Touya murmured, releasing Kado’s hand to instead grip the boy’s chin. “You can’t leave here. I’ve planned for all possibilities.”
Kado didn’t reply. Touya gently tilted his face up.
Kado took a shaky breath, his eyes flicking away from Touya’s gaze. His brow softened in familiar resignation.
It was enough to stir Touya’s desire.
Touya knew, logically, that Kado hated him. He was prepared for that–he had planned for that–and all he needed for this detox was Kado’s presence, not his love. Touya had destroyed the trust between them that day in their dorm room, and he’d known that Kado would never look up at him with affection in his eyes again.
But now, in this isolated penthouse, Touya was feeling his old lust return. Not the dark, angry lust that had driven him to rape, but the quiet desire of gripped hands and shared secrets, of a time when Touya had looked down at this boy and thought of a different future. Kado was still his anchor, his zero point…and any acceptance on Kado’s part, even if it was clearly forced obedience, was a small measure of relief in Touya’s constant battle against the world. Kado’s quiet resignation smoothed the edges of Touya’s frayed nerves. And that was what Touya needed, desperately–a balm for his ragged mind.
Touya tilted his head down until he could bury his lips in Kado’s hair. He closed his eyes.
“I didn’t bring you here to hurt you again,” he murmured.
Kado swallowed. “I…I know.”
“Fighting you makes everything harder, and I don’t take pleasure in your pain.”
“But Kado-kun…I know you’re using little tricks to get around my power, and it’s not going to help you. And not just,” he said, cutting Kado off as he started to protest, “whatever happened with Sachi-kun today. I know you’re doing more at night, especially when I’m sick.”
Kado slowly closed his mouth.
Touya slid his temple against Kado’s. He pushed his lips into Kado’s ear.
“Like hiding the condoms.”
Touya felt Kado’s jaw tighten, but the boy didn’t reply. Touya wrapped an arm around Kado’s thin shoulders and pulled him close.
“Kado-kun, you have to know that’s not going to stop me.”
Kado took a breath. Touya held him against his chest, feeling Kado’s heart pound through the thin fabric of his shirt, and waited for Kado to push words past his throat.
When he finally managed, his voice was a quiet rasp. “I know,” Kado breathed, something hard behind the words.
Ayase faded in and out of consciousness, unsure of how much time was passing. She was vaguely aware of being carried, the rumble of a car, soft talking. She felt the faint heat of the sun on her skin.
Strong arms lifted her again, cradling her close. Her limp body bobbed with its steps, tingling as a slight breeze shifted to the dead air of the indoors.
“This is it?” a voice rumbled, reverberating through the warm surface pressed against her cheek. It was solid but soft, and rose and fell almost in tune with her breathing. “What floor?”
She knew that voice. It was tangled with her dreams, reminding her of emotional anguish that seemed simple and almost quaint in retrospect. In her new reality, that old conflict twisted into nostalgia.
She buried her face against that chest.
The arms that held her stiffened, and a surprised grunt rolled against her temple. She felt the comforting thump of a pounding heart pick up speed.
“What’s the matter?” a woman asked, her voice hazy.
Ayase felt a mumbled reply, but couldn’t make out the words. It didn’t matter. She just leaned in against that thumping heart, breathing in the faint scent of tacky body spray.
Muscles clenched around her. Her body jostled slightly until warm breath tickled her temple.
“I’m gonna take care of you,” Kiyoshi whispered, his voice gentle in the black.
Proceed to Chapter 2, Part 1, page 2–>