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Tokyo Demons Book 3: Chapter 3, Part 1

A downloadable package of this chapter (.pdf, .epub, and .mobi) is available in the Sparkler Monthly Issue #019 back issue.

“I want to talk to you.”

Touya looked up from his untouched breakfast.

Sachi, across the table, was hazy in his swimming vision–a faint, pestering presence against a backdrop of shifting futures. Touya blinked, scattering the ghosts, and felt new nausea well up inside him. He closed his eyes and forced a thin smile.

“Excuse me?” he asked, suppressing the bile as he spoke.

“I want to…talk,” Sachi repeated. His voice quieted as he added, “While Kado’s in the bath.”

It was a far cry from Sachi’s usual behavior when they were alone–he either babbled panicked pleas or sat far across the apartment, pale and silent as the grave. Touya wasn’t pleased with the change. He had more important things on his mind.

“Just eat your breakfast,” Touya said shortly. “And entertain yourself. We have nothing to talk about.”

“But you seem like you can be reasoned with.” Sachi cleared his throat. “Touya-san.”

Touya finally opened his eyes. Visions danced along the periphery of the room, but the foreground had cleared somewhat, allowing him to focus on the bespectacled teenager. The line of Sachi’s mouth was soft, but Touya saw the muscles along Sachi’s jaw twitch.

Touya reminded himself that the boy was an empath. He didn’t know the details of Sachi’s power, and assumed most of what Kado had told him was a lie, so it remained the elephant in the room–an exception to Touya’s policy of neutralizing psychic threats.

But Touya was also growing more isolated, and he keenly felt the loss of his usual networks. He needed more forces to manipulate. And like the Malum and Kiri, psychics were powerful, dangerous territory… He needed to understand them before he could bend them to his will.

Or before he could predict the repercussions if he smothered this boy in his sleep.

“Go on,” he said coolly.

Sachi took a breath. “Kado’s sick,” he said quietly. “I’m sure you noticed. This morning he looked like he was…running a fever.”

Touya shrugged.

“Aren’t you worried about him?”

“Worried about Kado-kun being sick?” Touya repeated sourly. “That boy will collapse into a vomiting fit at the first hint of stress. Illness is his body’s way of coping.” He brushed a hand through the air. “He’s been through worse than this and pulled through. He’ll live.”

Sachi stopped, mouth slightly agape. Touya ignored it as he focused on calming his lingering headache. Blood pounded behind his eyeballs as he took a few deep breaths.

Sachi closed his fist on the table. “Kado’s already hobbling around on that broken leg, Touya-san. If you care about him, you’ll stop making it worse.”

For some reason, the words struck a nerve in Touya. His forehead tightened as he stared at the boy. At Sachi’s hard, unwavering eyes through a haze of uncontrolled futures.

Touya massaged his throbbing temples. “You don’t know me,” he said thinly. “And you don’t know Kado-kun, despite what you may think.”

Sachi scraped back his chair. As he walked around the table, Touya narrowed his eyes.

Sachi lowered himself to his knees. He leaned forward and pressed his forehead to the floor in a dogeza bow.

“Please stop sleeping with Kado.”

Touya tried to laugh, but it came out as more of a cough. He stared at that lowered head and his vision swam. The world fogged.

“Touya-san?” Sachi asked, his voice strange in the haze.

Touya shuddered, then cursed his body for doing so. He swallowed the acid rising in his throat.

“Get off the floor,” he ordered.

As Sachi obeyed, Touya tried to narrow his focus and make the boy an anchor in the present. But Sachi straightened under the attention, his hand suddenly reaching out to grip Touya’s arm.

Touya slapped the hand away. His focus broken, the room lurched, throwing off his balance; he stumbled to his feet before he could tilt in his chair. He panted and tugged his shirt straight as Sachi bit his lip.

“You’re sick, too, Touya-san.”

“I’m not sick. And you’re pressing your luck.”

“I’ll…” Sachi looked away, the tremble to his voice betraying him. “If you leave Kado alone, I’ll…sleep with you instead.”

Hot, frustrated anger bubbled up in Touya’s gut. He grabbed Sachi by the shoulders and twisted, slamming the boy’s back against the wall.

Sachi stiffened, but didn’t fight him. The seesaw of Touya’s vision warped Sachi’s face, but Touya stared at him, adamant, nailing the present moment like a stake between the boy’s eyes. He tightened his fingers on Sachi’s shoulders.

Sachi visibly swallowed. “You’re thinking about it,” he said.

“Thinking about what? Touya snapped. “Sleeping with you?”

“You…need something.”

Touya gritted his teeth. Sachi was a single plane in the layers of endless time, and Touya’s eyes wouldn’t focus. Sachi murmured something and turned his head, breaking Touya’s delicate concentration; before Touya realized what he was doing, he grabbed Sachi’s chin and forced the back of the boy’s head against the wall.

Stand still.

Touya didn’t have the strength to regret his indiscretion. He just stared through the muck until futures finally began to dissolve and separate, revealing Sachi’s widened eyes at their core.

Touya slowly took a breath, the dizziness passing as his heart thudded in his chest. In an attempt to regain composure, he weakly flashed a half-smile and loosened his grip on Sachi’s chin.

“No,” he said as coolly as he could. “I have no interest in your deal.”

Something flickered in Sachi’s eyes. “Please,” he begged. “Whatever Kado’s doing for you, I’ll do it instead.”

“You just proved that you can’t,” Touya replied icily.

“Touya-san…I know you don’t want to hurt him anymore.” Sachi’s mouth tightened. “But you are. You’re killing him.”

Touya’s hand closed over Sachi’s face.

“S-senpai?”

Touya stopped, the world suddenly swimming in his vision again. He swung his eyes to his open bedroom and the private bath within.

Kado balanced precariously on his cast in the doorway, shock written across his face. He was visibly feverish; hints of wet, flush skin peeked through the fabric of his robe. There was a wild look in his glassy eyes.

Touya’s desire flared at the same moment as his nausea. He released Sachi abruptly, and instead grabbed the boy’s wrist and dragged him, stumbling, from the wall.

“I’m locking you in your room,” he ordered before shoving Sachi in that general direction. “Now.”

“Senpai–”

“You, too, Kado-kun.” Touya jerked his head. “I don’t need you today. Or tonight. Sleep off whatever sickness you’re going through or you’re useless to me.”

Kado opened his mouth, then shut it. He hobbled past Touya, leaving a faint whiff of shampoo in his wake as the top of his head brushed past Touya’s eye line.

Touya resisted the urge to bury his face in that hair. He just watched Sachi hurry over, gently grip Kado’s arm, and help the boy to their bedroom.

Ghosts shifted around them. Kado stood out in sharp relief, a buoy in the waves, a long-practiced focal point in the sea of time. He tentatively clung to Sachi’s sleeve as he limped into the room.

Touya slammed the door shut behind them.

Proceed to Chapter 3, Part 1, page 2–>