Kantarou has a collection of feathers, shiny black feathers that fall to the earth whenever Haruka unfurls his wings. Kantarou occasionally asks if it hurts when Haruka sheds feathers, but Haruka curls his lip or rolls his eyes and grunts, "Don't be an idiot." Kantarou is always asking silly questions.
Kantarou gathers the fallen feathers and keeps them in a round bowl in his room. Haruka cannot imagine why Kantarou would want his discarded feathers, nor why he would spend so much time peering through them at the sun or moon. Kantarou tells him that in the sunlight the bowl of feathers shimmers, the black plumes turning into an iridescent mingle of green and blue flecked with red and purple. But by the light of the moon the feathers in the bowl are blacker than black, their mysterious colors reduced to a velvet darkness that obliterates the sky. Kantarou seems very interested in sharing these facts with Haruka. But then Kantarou has many peculiar habits.
Most nights Haruka sprawls on the roof under the stars, staring at the vast blackness surrounding them, but sometimes he sits with wings unfurled and grooms them, plucking out pinfeathers that stick out at odd angles, straightening the larger, longer feathers until they fall into line. His reason for doing this has everything to do with comfort and virtually nothing to do with appearance, for Haruka is not particularly vain. Nor does he care when Kantarou climbs up the shaky ladder to join him on the roof, to watch him run his fingers through his wings. It's merely another odd facet of his master's personality, and Kantarou is very odd indeed.
But tonight, tonight, Kantarou does not sit beside him, watching. Instead he moves closer, until he is behind the Demon-Eater, his legs splayed out on either side. Haruka tenses. Kantarou reaches with small white hands to stroke Haruka's wings – tentatively at first, and then with more purpose. Those delicate white hands grow bolder, combing through the long black feathers, straightening, organizing, grooming them, and with each rhythmic movement Haruka grows more relaxed. There is a thrumming inside him, a rhythm in synchronization with Kantarou's hands: stroke, stroke, comb, stroke, stroke, comb. Haruka leans back until his torso rests against Kantarou's smaller body, his head falling back against Kantarou's shoulder. The thrumming, humming, drumming inside him increases. Haruka has petted a kitten before; he understands purring. He does not know why his own body whirrs with the same feeling now.
The fingers stroke and straighten, groom and calm, and all Haruka can feel is one heartbeat – his, or is it perhaps Kantarou's? – and a soft familiar voice whispering over and over again, Haruka. Haruka. Haruka.
Feathers fall from his wings with every stroke, black iridescence against Kantarou's white, white hands. Haruka sighs and closes his eyes. He trusts Kantarou to gather them all. He will collect them, keep them safe, keep them always.
Kantarou has many odd habits, after all.
It begins innocently enough, or so it seems.
Like so many nights before this one, they're on the roof, watching the stars. Kantarou grooms and straightens Haruka's wings, going with the grain, as always. For his part, Haruka has given into his master's whims — he's relaxed, seemingly content, humming with that peculiar sound Kantarou has come to think of as a tengu's purr.
—on a whim,
—and just to be annoying,
—Kantarou slides his fingers backwards against the feathers, deliberately forcing them against the grain. The result is instantanous. Haruka gasps, and sits bolt upright as if struck by lightning, his eyes in an instant going wild. His claws extend, and low hum in his throat becomes a growl. Kantarou laughs at the sharp reaction, but the laugh dies in his throat as, too late, he realizes his mistake. Haruka leaps, flinging him down against the tile, pressing heavily against his slighter body. No longer content and quiet, Haruka now seems feral and dangerous, looming over Kantarou with dark intent. "Oh," Kantarou says, laughing nervously, "I didn't mean to—"
"Don't," Haruka rasps. "Don't ever—"
"Sorry, Haruka, I—"
"—Or something might happen."
Kantarou blinks. Against the night sky Haruka is a solid shadow, and what light there is turns his face a ghostly gray. And his eyes…his eyes glitter with barely-controlled danger, but there is something else in his expression. Kantarou catches his breath. What if... "What might happen, Haruka?" he goads, his voice barely a whisper. "What if I did it again?" His small hand reaches up to the shiny black wings and slowly, deliberately moves against them in the wrong direction.
Haruka growls, his fangs showing now as his lips part in a terrifying grin. For a moment Kantarou fears his throat is about to be torn out, but instead the sharp teeth close gently on his pale neck and nip him softly there, moving upward until they are mouth to mouth. Kantarou shivers with desire; above him Haruka shifts and lowers himself, the evidence of his arousal all too apparent as he presses against his master's body.
"Haruka," Kantarou sighs against Haruka's mouth. "Show me what might happen." His pale arms reach up to encircle Haruka's neck. "Show me, show me."
Kantarou is not as young as he looks.
People take him for an adolescent instead of a grown man. While sometimes this has worked in his favor (when he wants to appear naïve and harmless, for example) for the most part his appearance has proved disadvantageous when he wishes to be taken seriously. Those who know him by his writings take him as a mature author…until they happen to meet him, at which time he is labeled a "prodigy" or brushed off as an immature talent. Even Youko, who knows better, tends to treat him as a petulant child.
(Perhaps that's understandable, given his behavior.)
It's something he's learned to live with over the years. It's not likely to change. But his childishness is a façade; inside, Kantarou is old, and sometimes wise. Kantarou knows exactly what he wants.
Haruka is not as old as he really is.
That's not literally true. He's old – immensely old, in fact, but within his tengu breast his heart is a child's heart. He who knows so much of the darkness, is captivated by the light, by how it sparkles in a pond, or reflects in a glass marble. In many ways, for all his dangerous abilities and shadowed past, Haruka sees the world around him with innocent eyes.
He has taken the measure of his master, but he cannot fully comprehend Kantarou, or understand what moves him. And it is precisely that fact that has brought him to this point, with Kantarou sprawled before him, the look in those odd eyes very adult indeed, so adult, in fact, that Haruka is startled by the intensity of it.
Haruka is old, immensely old, and he has seen and done things that make demons fear him and humans revere him. He has felt desire from humans before, and submitted to them, but even so he's not certain how he and Kantarou arrived at this point, with Kantarou offering himself body and soul for the taking. Haruka never saw it coming, not in all the mocking and provoking that Kantarou has done, not in the ordering and demanding, not in Kantarou's petulance or in his own indifference. He didn't know they were headed for this even tonight on the rooftop, when Kantarou playfully groomed his feathers, and the innocent touches turned intimate. He thought it was a mistake, that Kantarou had pushed him too far simply out of ignorance.
How wrong he was. It seems he was the ignorant one after all, not Kantarou.
Because instead of fleeing when Haruka flung him down on the rooftop, growling with rising lust, Kantarou pulled him closer and rolled his hips against Haruka's loins. And when Haruka gathered him roughly into his arms and flew with him to a clearing in the woods, and stood over him panting with sexual arousal, Kantarou merely smiled – not the smile of a child, oh no! – and calmly undressed, slowly, provocatively. And when, astonished, Haruka took a step back and opened his eyes wide, Kantarou lay down and opened his arms wide, and in a voice roughened by desire whispered Haruka, Haruka, in a chant as powerful as those he uses to charm spirits, but did not make it an order. He's left the choice to Haruka.
Or has he?
Haruka thinks he should be angry. He has been outmaneuvered by this ridiculous child-man, he of the peculiar habits and silly questions and annoying demands. He should turn and fly away, to perch somewhere until he calms.
Instead, he kneels, and gathers the annoying manipulator into his arms.