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WARNING: If you haven't read the warning on the index page, go back and read it. If you don't, and you don't like what you find here, don't come crying to me.
Title: New Scars

Authors: Tynantblue0162 and Eleanor K.

Fandom: Blade of the Immortal

Pairing: Manji/Sori

Rating: NC-17

Spoilers: Blood of a Thousand

Email: emungere@gmail.com, tynantblue0162@livejournal.com

Disclaimer: They belong to Hiroaki Samura. We are helpless to resist the power of the pretty.

Notes: Toooonporn! Bravely beta-read by emelerin. Also, shijin means "poet".

..___..


"You did what?" Manji asked.

"I just--"

"You slept with *who*?"

"I--"

"He's trying to kill me, you son of a bitch!"

"Not while I was fucking him."

Manji and Sori stared at each other, both of them glaring. Sori had managed to keep his voice down so far, but he was breathing faster. Manji was almost shouting, and, as Sori watched, his hand dropped to the hilt of his katana.

"Don't do it again," Manji said.

"Don't fuck people who are trying to kill you? I'll do my best, Manji, but there are so many of them. It's hard to keep track."

He was pushing, and he knew it, but that's what they did. That's what Manji responded to.

"No." Manji sighed and rubbed his forehead. "I mean, yeah, obviously. But not just them. Not... Not anybody but me. Okay?"

That was not the response Sori was expecting. It stopped him.

"Okay," someone said. Someone not Manji, which made it him who'd just agreed to that. Monogamy with his one-eyed killer. Not all that surprising, maybe, but he hadn't expected it to come so easily. Nothing was easy with Manji. It was always a struggle. He liked it that way.

He studied Manji's face and thought it might not be easy this time, either.

"What is it?" he asked.

Manji shrugged and looked out the window. "Nothin'."

"Are you sure?"

"No."

Sori stepped closer, curious. "Manji...?"

Silence. Sori rolled his eyes at Manji's back and turned to leave. Manji's quiet voice stopped him two steps from the door.

"Was he any good?"

"You ream me out for sleeping around and now you want to know--" Sori stopped. "Are you even talking about how he was in bed, or do you want to know if I fought him?"

Manji said nothing.

"I don't fight everyone I sleep with, you know," Sori said.

"Am I just special then?"

"As a matter of fact, you are."

"Just not special enough to keep you out of Anotsu fucking Kagehisa's bed."

"He was in mine, technically. I paid for the room."

"This is not what I want to hear right now, Sori."

"What *do* you want to hear?"

"I just want..."

"What?" Sori prompted.

"Just tell me how he was," Manji said flatly.

Sori moved to stand behind him. "He was good. What do you want? Details?"

Manji crossed his arms over his chest and said nothing. He stared out the window at the failing autumn garden and refused to meet Sori's eyes.

"You're such a stubborn bastard, Manji. And a goddamn glutton for punishment."

He waited, but got no reaction. He shrugged and spat out the words. "Fine. He was exquisite. Smooth and tight and hungry, so fucking hungry for it, even on his hands and knees. Especially on his hands and knees, fucking himself back on my cock, his slim back arched like the moon. And that was just the first time. Shall I continue?"

He saw Manji's arm shift under his robes, saw the tip of his katana quiver as Manji gripped the handle, but he couldn't stop. Wasn't sure he wanted to.

"The third time, I let him ride me. Those long thighs haunted me for days, the muscles flexing and shifting like shadows on water. And when he touched himself, god, it was blinding, a flash of pale on pale that only got brighter until it burst like a star and burned into my skin."

He stopped suddenly, realizing his eyes were closed and his hands were...drifting. He swallowed. "Is that what you wanted to hear?"

"Yeah," Manji said. "Yeah, that's exactly what I wanted to hear. Asshole."

"You asked."

"I asked how he was. You didn't have to paint me a fucking picture."

"You didn't have to ask."

"Just leave it, sensei. I've heard all I want to hear."

"I don't think so."

Manji was still staring stubbornly out the window. Sori wrapped an arm around his waist and pressed up against him. Manji stiffened.

"I don't know why I'm bothering with you," Sori said flatly. He could, if he tried, remember a time when he'd said that and meant it. Just barely. "You've been nothing but trouble for me since the day we met."

Manji shrugged, but didn't try to step away. Just as well. Sori had no intention of letting him go.

"Your problem," Sori told him, "is that you hurl yourself through conversations as if they're sword fights. Has it ever occurred to you that your life might be easier if you thought for a moment or two before you opened your mouth?"

"What the fuck are you talking about now?"

"Just ask me what you really want to know."

"Drop the wise old man routine. You can't pull it off."

"You don't want to know if he was good. You want to know if he was better than you."

Manji snorted. "I think you answered that question pretty well while you were waxing poetic about his thighs. Assuming I give a shit. Which I don't."

"Fine." He let his chin dig into Manji's shoulder. "But I'm not telling you unless you ask."

Manji's body was tense, coiled and vibrating against his side. Sori felt the dull buzz float across his skin and waited for the inevitable. Manji was either going to kill him or fuck him, and he didn't care which. So long as that maddening thrum of power found release.

He pushed with his hips, nudged with his words. "Come on, Manji, ask me. I've got some pretty words left in me yet. Would you like to hear what I think about your--"

Oh, there it was. A blur of movement and Manji's hand was around his throat, hot and sharp like the edge of steel that pressed against his belly. He smiled.

Manji glared at him from an arm's length away. "Shut the fuck up," he growled. "I'm talking now." The tip of the blade kissed his skin. "Listen closely."

He heard the whisper of a sharpened edge sliding though cloth. His robes gaped across his shoulders where Manji had sliced them open. One deep breath, and he thought the blade might split his skin.

So his voice was understandably breathless when he spoke. "I'm listening, Manji. I don't hear you saying much."

Fingers flexed around his throat, and Manji smiled. "I'm saying plenty."

It was that grip on his throat that Manji used to pull him closer, keeping his sword just touching that same spot on his stomach the whole time until Sori felt it grow warm from his skin. He could also feel his own arousal growing. Memories were one thing. Manji right here in front of him was another.

Manji stepped forward, and Sori let himself be backed against the wall. The gleam in Manji's eye could still be either murder or lust. He bent over Sori. Their foreheads touched, their noses bumped, and Sori could almost feel lips moving against his as Manji spoke.

"I don't need to ask. I fucking *know* I'm better. And when I'm done with you, you can tell me so. Use all the pretty words you want. If you can remember any of them."

Sori shivered under Manji's blade, and the white-hot sting went straight to his cock. His pulse quickened under Manji's hand, and he imagined he could feel the bloodworms writhing against his skin. He licked his lips and began to speak.

A sudden flash from under Manji's robes and a thundering noise over his head stole his breath away.

"When I'm done, shijin. Until then? Not one. Fucking. Word."

He looked up slowly and saw one of Manji's knives buried to the hilt in the wall above him. The heat on his neck was gone, and he felt his robes fall open as Manji slid the belt from around his hips. Manji took his hands, and Sori's heart softened at the unexpected gesture. But then he understood. Cloth winding around his wrists, sliding and tightening, and Manji lifted his arms. The fabric looped over the knife. He could just reach the handle.

Manji stepped back and studied him. Sori felt his skin flush, blood surging to the surface, straining to reclaim the lost heat of Manji's body. He could only imagine what he looked like, bare and hard and already aching, a portrait of wanton lust hanging from a killer's sword. He met Manji's gaze and waited, his pretty words already forgotten.

Manji's mouth twisted into something that might be called a smile.

"Better."

A flick of his wrist, and Manji pressed the flat of his blade to Sori's chest and began to draw it downward. Cool as it passed over his nipple, warming as it slid over his stomach. He didn't even dare gasp as it rested on the head of his cock.

He looked down at bright metal on hard flesh, fought to keep from moving as Manji rubbed it back and forth. Pre-come leaked onto the blade and eased its passage.

Precise, controlled torture. It went on for whole minutes until he *had* to twist against it, careless of the danger. The second he did, the blade was withdrawn, and he was left with his body bowed out into space, clinging to the knife hilt, standing on tip-toe in his need.

He closed his eyes and tried to calm himself. He jerked them open again at the touch of the blade flat against his cheek. He looked Manji in the eye as it dragged across his lips, smearing his own fluid against them. His mouth opened involuntarily, and he tasted himself on the steel.

The sound that escaped him was disgracefully close to a whimper. Manji grinned fiercely and tossed the sword to the floor.

Half a step back, a rustle of fabric, and Manji's robes hung open like his own. A full step forward and Sori swore he could feel every scar, every ridge of thickened flesh burning into his skin as Manji pushed against him, and Manji's cock on his was the easy razor-sharp flare of an old wound splitting open. He turned his face into his arm and sighed in pleasure, body straining forward, spreading his thighs as much as his position allowed. It made his arms ache, but he didn't care. That skin, that heat. He needed *more*.

Manji's mouth found his neck, teeth scraping over his pulse and sinking down just as long fingers pinched his nipple. Manji's other hand flexed on his hip, driving them closer, tighter, and it was... God, it was like being devoured.

And then it stopped.

He was too breathless to whimper, so he forced his eyes open instead, looking out into the empty room.

*No. Please, no. That sadistic son of a bitch, how could he just-- Oh...*

And the rest was heat, slick wet heat over his balls and along the crease of his thigh. His leg was lifted, draped over Manji's shoulder, tiny nips and more serious bites stinging the skin of his inner thigh. He made the mistake of looking down. Manji's eye glowed up at him, and he swore he saw the bastard smirk before he felt the first stroke of Manji's tongue over his ass.

Teeth on the curve where it met his thigh. Tongue hot and rough and slippery, sliding up the cleft. Sori let his head hang down and dug his heel into Manji's back. Blood pounded into his cock, and his breathing sped up to match it. He was panting as the tip of Manji's tongue touched his opening--and slid quickly away.

He swore out loud, but the words were lost in panting breaths. Futile effort to pull Manji closer with his leg, even as his muscles shook with strain and desire. Strands of hair, damp with sweat, clung to his face and neck.

He felt another darting touch, circling his opening, licking over it with a pointed tongue. Heat like molten metal poured through him. His supporting leg almost buckled at the knee, but Manji's hands were on him, supporting him, opening him up for more.

The tip of that pointed, forked, fucking maddening tongue pierced him, and he turned his head away, pushing his face against his arm until he saw stars from the pressure on his eyes.

Maybe an inch inside him, maybe a lot less. He couldn't tell. All he knew was the slick, live muscle pushing into him. Too shallow, too intimate. It made him want to squirm, but he was damned if he'd give Manji the satisfaction. He held himself still, breathed hard, gripped the knife hilt with bloodless hands.

He was spread, held open by hard hands that pulled him forward, angled his hips just so. Sharp, wicked heat moved in and out of him until he was biting the inside of his arm to keep quiet, until he realized Manji wasn't going to go any further until--

"Goddamit, you son of a bitch! Will you fucking do it already?"

His choked words filled the room and then slid away. The gulp of air he took afterward was audible. The fabric that bound his wrists rasped softly against the knife hilt.

Manji sat back and ran a hand up his thigh, rubbing lightly as they watched each other. Manji smiled faintly.

"Now those are the kind of words I like to hear from you, Sori."

His cock was leaking steadily against his stomach, a silver-thin stream almost heavy enough to slide. Two of Manji's fingers snaked through it, twisting and rolling until they were thoroughly slick, and the rest happened so quickly that Sori's lust-fogged brain never quite caught up.

Sweet sharp sting as a finger worked into his ass, with another one impatiently waiting its turn. Sudden stretch and burn of his thigh still on Manji's shoulder when Manji stood up and pressed against him. And the shattered-glass shock of that voice, darker than he'd ever heard it and exactly how he'd always craved it, rasping right in his ear.

"Yeah. Those are nice words." Biting his earlobe and humping hard up against him as the second finger made room. "But you only get one more. Make it a good one."

Sori heard drums, an echoing pulse in his head that matched the clenching of his ass around Manji's fingers. He tried to move *down*, but his shoulders wailed in protest. He was already fucked, already beyond any thought of control or contest, his body singing with ancient secrets only Manji's skin could hear. He sucked in a breath added his voice to the chorus.

"Please," he said. "Please, please... *Please*..."

Dark, dark laugh breathed hotly into his ear. "Good choice."

Move, just move, just... Silent stuttering shapes of words that tasted like metal and blood and salt in his mouth and never passed his lips. Every muscle in his arms was a separate ache, but it was nothing compared to his need to have Manji inside him.

He pulled himself up a scant few inches and wrapped his other leg around Manji's body, thigh against his hip, heel braced at the back of his knee. Skin touching everywhere and still not enough. He held himself with elbows crooked and tendons standing out like they were trying to escape his skin--held himself up until his arms gave and he crashed down into a burning twist of fingers inside him.

"God, Sori--wait, just wait a second, okay?"

He shook his head. His voice came out thin and shaking. Saying the same word over and over until it blurred and lost its meaning.

The fingers left him, and his body surged after them, colliding hard with Manji's. An arm wrapped around him and held him there, tight against his side. He felt Manji's hand digging through the pocket of his surcoat until he pulled out a bottle of oil.

"You carry this stuff around with you all the time now, or what?" Manji muttered, his own voice no longer entirely steady.

He could think of a dozen answers for that, but none of them made it from his brain to his mouth. He just watched, his eyes following every movement with desperate attention as Manji uncorked the bottle one-handed.

He watched the oil roll over Manji's cock and trace its length in streams and droplets. Two fingers dragged through oil and pushed roughly into him, twisted, stretched, and were gone again so quickly he barely felt them. He braced his back against the wall and rocked his hips forward. Manji's oil-coated cock pressed against his opening.

Manji met his eyes with a coolness that Sori could have killed him for. His jaw was clenched and sweat beaded on his forehead, but he held both of them dead still. Waiting.

Sori took a breath, and then another and another. He shook his head again, watching Manji's face, willing him to understand. He had no words left.

All he had was a sweaty handful of steel and cloth and the slick throbbing tease of Manji's cock against his loosened flesh. A jumble of images pulsed dimly through his mind in time to that intoxicating beat. Darkly shining skin and flexing, straining thighs and a lightning-quick half-vision of Manji's hips thrusting forward and up and in, in, *in*...

His leg spasmed reflexively on Manji's hip, just a slight tremor, but Manji swayed forward. The head of his cock slipped inside with an almost lazy stretch of muscle, and Sori saw something flicker across Manji's scarred features. Something like a grin.

So that was it.

Understanding spread over him like a blood-warm stain. Manji was just going to stand there, holding them both on the edge of madness and mercy, until Sori made him move. Until Sori fucked himself with Manji's body, tied to Manji's knife, pulling Manji's cock into his ass one slow inch at a time.

Sori grinned back and curled his leg tighter over Manji's hip.

Going to make him sorry, was the thought cutting through the pall of lust that shrouded his mind. Make him sorry he started this, make him want it as much as I do, make him want *me*.

As much, not more, because more wasn't possible.

So he didn't pull Manji to him with the strength of his legs, didn't yank him forward and shove himself down the way every part of his body was demanding.

He settled Manji's shoulder in the crease of his knee, holding it firm, holding him still as he had been held still himself for too long. Watched Manji's face and tightened his body around the head of Manji's cock, just barely inside him.

Manji's lips parted, and his chest heaved, but he was still too cool, too distant, too fucking smug. Sori shoved a heel into the middle of his back, making him stumble forward, crushing both of them against the wall. Manji caught himself, hands on either side of Sori's face, breathing hot over his mouth, watching his eyes as Sori watched his.

A new grip on the knife hilt that already felt like it was blistering his hands, an arch of his back, wave of his body, and he slid down onto Manji like water. He watched Manji's mouth twist, felt the thud of a hand as it slammed into the wall beside his head, heard the whispered curse. Watched the ice melt.

He pulled himself up again, almost all the way off. It hurt to do it, and the hurt was nothing so simple as physical pain. He held himself still with the head of Manji's cock stretching him. He could feel his pulse there, and he could feel Manji's pulse in his own flesh.

Unspoken words in his mouth again, please and god and move and please, over and over, as if Manji was still doing this to him. As if he wasn't doing it to himself. To both of them.

Nine heartbeats he held himself up, nine maddening surges of blood melting through the skin where they joined, before his arms began to tremble and he slid down again. Four heartbeats down, Manji's cock pushing inside and burning every inch of the way. Slightest pause at the bottom, the backs of his thighs sticking to Manji's skin, and his body took over.

Five up, three down. Chasing the rhythm that was pounding in his ears. Four, two. Rocking his hips, cock flexing against his stomach, finally using his legs to catch up to the rush. One, one, in, out, in...

He felt himself smiling and let his head fall back against the wall. His shoulder blades scraped every time he pulled Manji to him, and his arms shook when he lifted away. The pain was bright at first, hot crimson blood on a canvas of new snow, but the smooth slide of friction erased everything except the liquid flow of pleasure spreading underneath his skin.

Eyes closed, back arched, he felt like the embodiment of lust, self-satisfaction come to life, fucking himself harder and getting closer to some pure understanding of art and death and sex and life than he ever would with a brush, so close he could taste it on every breath that escaped his parted lips.

"Sori."

Manji's hands on his hips were a surprise. "Open your eyes, Sori." Whispered. Angry.

Good.

Sori tried to make sense of the blur that was Manji's face, but the sharpest focus came from the fingers digging into his bones, holding him still and full of heat.

Manji leaned in. "I think you forgot who's fucking who here, sensei." And that goddamn smirk is back. "Get yourself a good grip on that knife."

His eyes finally focused on Manji's thumb digging into the flesh of his hip, grinding down on bone. White space where the blood had receded. Rough ridges on the nail, and redness spreading on Sori's own skin in a line as Manji scratched across it.

Fine hairs on the wrist, on the arm. His eyes followed the path of Manji's skin to where it disappeared into his sleeve.

He looked up. The sudden clarity of Manji's face was almost disturbing. The smirk did nothing to hide his anger, and god, that was a sexy combination on Manji. Damn him.

He swallowed and fumbled for words that should come easily.

"T-take it off. Want-- Need to see you."

And he *hated* the way Manji's smirk got bright and smug at that, and he loved the heat of anger and finely balanced insanity running like seams of precious metal through Manji's whole body.

His admission got him what he wanted. The kimono slid to the floor in a tumble of cloth and piled at Manji's feet. The body revealed was perfect in its imperfections, and he had to close his eyes at the sight--but not for long.

"Eyes open, Sori." Manji's face was close to his, smirk slipping now into a twisted smile that Sori knew well. "I mean it. Close 'em again, and I'm walking out of here."

Brief lunge for a kiss he didn't really want yet, turned aside at the last second, and his mouth was on Manji's jaw, neck, salt and stubble and grime and god, he loved the taste of him. Always had. Loved the tiny hitch of breath his tongue across a rough cheek got him. Even, in that moment, loved his own needy whimper as Manji moved ever so slightly inside him.

"Please," in Manji's ear, their cheeks pressed together, chests sticky with sweat. "Want you. Fuck me."

"Giving orders now, Sori?"

He just shook his head. Let Manji take it any way he wanted as long as he *moved*.

And he did move. His hands cupped Sori's ass and lifted him up and pulled him down *hard*.

Searingly, painfully, beautifully hard. This was what he needed and couldn't manage on his own. Jerked down, forced down, his arms pulled taut, Manji up on his toes to get further inside him. And if Sori could have done anything toward that end, he would have, but he couldn't. Could only take it and strain to keep his eyes open. Totally unacceptable to have Manji believe he was thinking of anyone else.

He watched Manji's face, watched the gradual softening that lust almost untainted by anger gave his features. One hand left Sori's ass and tangled in his hair, holding his head in place. Nails against his scalp, Manji's breath palpable on his skin. Flares of pleasure inside him and the intermittent hell of Manji's body pressing his cock against his stomach and then retreating too soon, leaving him hot and cold and aching all at the same time.

"Please." Barely more than a breath as it left his mouth. He knew Manji heard it from the sudden speed of his movements, hips snapping up rapidly, hand now in the small of his back, pulling him close until his cock rubbed constantly between their bodies, and that was it. He was cracked into pieces with pleasure that flattened him and made him sob Manji's name as came.

And suddenly he was starving for Manji's mouth. He ached with it, needing to be full, complete, lost and drowning with Manji overwhelming all his senses. A rough twist of his head, blindly seeking the wet slit of Manji's lips with his tongue, and his eyes slipped closed when their mouths sealed together. He whimpered around Manji's tongue, still coming, breath shuddering and body shaking as his cock overflowed between them.

His legs were tight around Manji's body, holding him still and deep, but his tongue picked up the rhythm Manji's hips had abandoned. Angry, greedy kisses, sucking on Manji's tongue and nipping at his lips until his cock stopped pulsing. Sighing through one last languid echo, his mind thick and fogged, he let his mouth go slack. The kisses turned slow and thorough. Manji was tasting him, taking his time, and Sori felt utterly possessed.

Manji's hands were busy at his sides, stroking through sweat and making him arch involuntarily. The cock inside him swelled. Manji groaned into his mouth and his arms were suddenly free, falling down and looping heavily around Manji's neck. His knee slipped off Manji's shoulder, his hip both relieved at the release of pressure and startled into pain at the sudden movement.

Manji leaned forward, pinning him against the wall while strong hands got a grip on his ass. Still buried balls-deep, still owning his mouth with a slow, steady tongue, Manji carried him to the bed. Laid out on his back, knees bent and spread, mouth left swollen and hungry when Manji pulled away to duck under his bound wrists. Bloodless hands untied and falling limp at his sides, and a wanton moan protesting Manji's gentle slide out of his body.

"N-not yet. Please... You didn't... Please, Manji."

But Manji was silent, shifting higher on the bed, pushing his kimono off his shoulders and tugging his arms out of the sleeves. Manji's hands were steady but his cock still raged against Sori's hip. He had a moment to wonder how Manji could be so calm before the robe was yanked out from under him with a frustrated curse. A nudge to his shoulder, Manji rolled him onto his side and slid in close behind him.

Too hot, the skin on his back ragged from the wall, shallow cuts bleeding over Manji's chest. Too tight, the head of Manji's cock slipping along his cleft twice before catching the rim of his slick hole. And too fucking much, the hand on his exhausted cock and the rough breath warming his ear.

"You didn't think I was done, did you?" Sori couldn't answer. He could only reach back with a trembling hand and pull Manji inside.

He had to push back into it because Manji wouldn't push forward. His hands slipped and grasped at the skin of Manji's thigh. His nails dug in--too hard, but he couldn't stop himself. He ached and burned with overuse, and he had to bite his lip so he wouldn't beg Manji to finish this.

Manji's arm came around his waist, hand moving over his chest in slow circles.

"Easy," the voice in his ear murmured. "I'm a long way from done, Sori. A long fucking way."

Tongue tracing the curve of his ear, and he let himself fall back, caught by Manji's arms, held against his body, head resting on his shoulder. Hot mouth instantly attached to his neck, open and sucking, tongue playing over his skin.

"Do it, Manji." His voice sounded like hell, wavering and rough. "Come on, you've waited long enough."

The thrusts were shallow to start with, teasing for both of them, except that this didn't feel like a tease. This was something else, and Sori was left more open and vulnerable with every short, gentle rock of Manji's hips against his.

Not what he wanted. He wanted Manji to turn him over and nail him, finish hard inside him like he should have against the wall.

Instead, he got a fever-hot mouth on his skin and this foreign gentleness, and he could just--scream.

Hand on his hip, thumb digging into bone, holding him still as Manji thrust *up*, and there was a hand on Sori's cock, working gently over too-sensitive skin as Manji's thrust hit home. Sori was almost shocked to feel his own cock stir.

"Don't-- Stop."

Every light pass of fingers and every slow push into his body was a sword stroke he'd forgotten how to counter. Or maybe it was only that he had no weapons left.

He lay still and let Manji move into him, against him, around him. Languorous and lazy, thrusts that lasted whole minutes, lips and tongue and teeth never idle on his neck. He gave in, turned his head for a kiss that stole his breath and claimed his mind, and all he could think as Manji's tongue slid in and out of his mouth was that he was fucked, god, so fucked, and that if Manji left him here like this afterward he was going to hunt him down and kill him.

The worst part, the part that sent phantom fingers dancing over his skin and had his balls drawing tight again, was how smooth and steady the motion was. Constant like the rolling tide, smaller dips and swirls all falling into one continuous ache that swept him helplessly away. There was no pause, no chance to gasp or beg or die or do anything else but *feel* this, feel Manji fucking him almost patiently until they moved as one, lapping at each other like waves, dissolving into endless, flowing pleasure.

From somewhere deep in the blue-black undertow, just as his swollen cock began to leak over Manji's fingers, the thought occurred to him that Manji could do this forever.

He wondered if that would be long enough.

"No," he breathed, but the word was swallowed down before it could escape. He licked his own lips and let Manji's mouth slide over his jaw as he turned away from the kiss. "Never enough, Manji, I--"

And finally the rhythm faltered, disintegrating into shorter stabs that rocked his body, wet skin smacking and sliding as Manji's hips met his ass. The grip on his cock turned vicious, and he squeezed his eyes closed against the blinding twist of orgasm. His body shook with the force of it, writhing and shuddering and helpless, lost to him but found again in the first searing splash that marked his stomach.

Manji thrust desperately harder, deeper. It wasn't until Manji grunted low in his ear that he opened his eyes again. Opened them just in time to see Manji's eye flutter closed, just in time to watch Manji's face break as the cock in his ass pulsed. Manji came without a sound, pumping him full of hot, thick seed, and Sori suddenly knew he'd spend the rest of his life failing to capture that moment of perfect silence on canvas.

Manji's breath was heavy and hot on the side of his neck. Fingers trailed through the seed on his chest. Spirals and lines and random whorls.

"Thinking of taking up art, Manji?" His voice came out shaky, but at least it came out.

"Talking again already, sensei? Can't have that."

Manji pulled out of him, pushed him onto his back, bent and licked a line through his designs. He glanced up and met Sori's eyes. Sori couldn't read him at all, and that was almost frightening.

Manji's hands held his shoulders, tongue washing across his chest until the skin there was clean and wet and shining. Manji stopped and looked at him, chin resting on his chest.

"Got any pretty words for me?"

Sori opened his mouth, thought better of it, and shook his head.

"Good. Then you can listen to some. I like the way you move. I like the way you can't help begging when I fuck you. I like the way your sweat tastes. I like your killer's eyes. I like all of it. We're done playing games."

Sori couldn't remember the mechanism that would let him get a full breath. His lungs usually worked so well without his intervention. Not right now.

"Are we? Just because you say so?"

"Yeah. Just because I say so."

Manji glared down at him a moment longer before shifting off to the side and sitting up. His hip brushed against the back of Sori's hand, warm and familiar, and Sori couldn't help but turn his wrist and stroke his fingers over the curve.

Smooth. And *soft*. He pressed his palm down, spread his fingers wide. Thought of all the swords and daggers and teeth that had somehow missed this patch of skin, leaving it barren and pale amid the riot of patterns on Manji's body.

He fell asleep trying to imagine Manji without his scars.

***

Hands on his shoulders, rolling him facedown. Sori moaned in his sleep as something cool crawled over his back, lighting his dreams with old memories.

Soothing, gentle strokes over his wounded skin, the cuts too shallow to be permanent. Whispered apologies mumbled low against warm lips, voices mingling and echoing as he drifted off again.

He woke to find Manji watching him. Both of them lay on their stomachs, and Manji's head rested on his crossed arms, turned towards him. Light fell over Manji's face, sharply yellow, highlighting planes and scars and incipient wrinkles at the corners of his mouth and eye.

"You didn't argue much," Manji said.

"No. I suppose I didn't."

"Not too late, if you want to do that." Manji's expression was curiously bland.

"Argue? No. I don't think so."

He was expecting triumph, but Manji just closed his eye and turned his head so his face was hidden in his arms.

Sori stretched upwards, arching his spine. His back was sore, but not as sore as it should be. There was no pull of dried blood, no hot throb of unclean wounds.

He twisted around to look over his shoulder, vague memories coming back. He'd assumed he was dreaming, but Manji really had cleaned the cuts and scrapes on his back. He settled with his forearms braced against the futon and looked down at Manji. He shifted his weight to one arm and touched Manji's tangled hair. Rough, coarse, and dirty. How appropriate.

"You realize this works both ways, I hope," he said to the back of Manji's head. "If I catch you fucking around on me, I will nail your head to my wall."

Manji said something, too muffled to interpret.

"What was that?"

Manji raised his head an inch, just enough. "Good." He rolled away and stood. "I gotta get going."

"Fine." As if he was going to beg him to stay. "Get *that* out of my wall first." He jerked his chin at the knife hilt, rubbing his wrists without meaning to.

Manji pulled on his kimono slowly, taking his time, and wandered over to the knife hilt as if that had been his destination all along. Sori was looking forward to watching him struggle, but the knife came out almost immediately, bits of wall crumbling around it.

It was white with dust. Manji wiped it on his robes as he walked back towards the bed, leaving streaks that looked like scars across the cloth. When he reached the bed, he dropped to one knee. The knife swung up to rest against Sori's neck.

"Nail my head to the wall, huh?"

"Yes."

Cold steel against skin again, but there was no feeling of risk this time. No chance of violence.

Manji flipped the knife and caught the blade in his hand. He offered the hilt to Sori.

"Keep it. You know, just in case. Wouldn't want you to fuck up your pretty painting sword with my brains."

Sori took it, pulled it slowly from Manji's grasp, watched the bloodstain slide down its length as it sliced open Manji's hand and he refused to let go. Sori sat up and let the knife rest across his legs. He took Manji's hand and opened it. The wound was already healed.

He licked the blood away in long strokes and watched Manji's eye go unfocused. Pulled him down to the bed, the knife naked as Sori's body, lying between them.

"You're not going yet," Sori said.

"No?"

Leaning in, inches from his mouth. Breath across his face.

"No. You want to fuck me again."

"It'll hurt, after that." Rough, low warning.

"I know."

"You'll let me anyway."

"Yes."

Sori fumbled the knife to one side just before Manji rolled him onto his back.

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..end..
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