withered spring


sometimes, late at night, he finds himself crying and cannot say why.


Watanabe disapproves, of course, but Watanabe is actually a lot softer than his craggy face gives away. He will not say anything, though: a man like Watanabe will take death before dishonor, and there is no greater shame than to betray his master.

Ibaragi just smiles as she plucks notes from her koto, and never says a thing. He thinks he will have to deal with her soon: an oni is always dangerous, no matter how short her tether, and her purpose has been fulfilled.


the room is narrow, but it is the width and breadth of his entire world. he knows there is an entire universe beyond the walls, and sometimes he sees birds across the sky and something strange and hollow aches in his chest — but then Raikou comes, Raikou comes and things are fine again.

when the sky turns scarlet and the shadows are long enough to stretch from wall the wall, Raikou comes.


The only place Raikou can’t touch Ichinomiya is the center of his chest, where the deepest scars crisscross. If he does, with fingers or mouth, Ichinomiya makes a sound like a wounded bird and his eyes drift to the open window and the wide expanse of sky beyond.

Otherwise, he is always eager; when Raikou comes to his room, Ichinomiya’s clothes are already half-undone, and his one unbandaged eye is heavy with invitation. When they kiss, Ichinomiya twines around him and plucks at the buttons of his uniform with greedy hands, leaning back in willing sacrifice.

He tastes like victory.

Raikou bites at the fragile skin of Ichinomiya’s throat until it turns bright red, keeping him pinned down by the shoulders as Ichinomiya mewls and twists under him.

“Raikou,” Ichinomiya mumbles, his eye gleaming bright, fevered, “Raikou, Raikou, I want, I want –”

Raikou smooths a hand down his side, feeling out the edges of ribs and the bony jut of his hip, then tugs the knot of his hakama free. Ichinomiya gasps and knots his fingers into Raikou’s uniform, his hips already moving when Raikou takes his cock in hand and strokes it with slow deliberation, without taking his gloves off first.

“Raikouuuuu–” Ichinomiya scrabbles at him, panting. “Raikou, Raikou …”

“Sensei,” he purrs in acknowledgement, voice pitched low and his lips pressed to Ichinomiya’s ear. “More?”

More,” Ichinomiya gasps immediately, and spreads his legs wider. He turns his head, and strands of Raikou’s hair catch on his lips as he speaks. “More, Raikou, more …”

Raikou chuckles and slows his hand, watching with heavy eyes as Ichinomiya tosses his head and gasps for breath. It is not quite the same as the clash of swords or the look in the Oni-Eater’s eyes at the moment of defeat, but every whimper and every soft sound is testimony to his strength, and he is eager to accept what is his due.

Ichinomiya’s entire body arches when he comes, and the sound he makes is almost like pain.

It spatters across his stomach and the fingers of Raikou’s glove, and a moment later he’s moving again, whining a desperate litany deep in his throat. He rubs his cheek against Raikou’s shoulder and tugs hopefully at the fastenings to his pants, fumbling until they come undone and Raikou’s breath hisses out through his teeth when Ichinomiya’s thin sweaty hands reach to pull his erection free.

“More,” he demands, his voice husky and raw. The light in his one good eye is hypnotizing, and he runs his tongue across his bared teeth, stroking with enthusiastic clumsiness. “More, Raikou, more.”

Raikou takes his wrists, holding them until Ichinomiya lets go of his cock, then pulls his hands away. Ichinomiya whines like a denied child and wriggles, though he doesn’t try terribly hard to break free.

It takes a few moments to compose himself; when his pulse has slowed a little, Raikou opens his eyes again and smirks. This is his moment of true victory, the one he savors reliving every night. “Sensei, you want this?”

“Yes,” Ichinomiya gasps, and there is a light in his eye that is bright and pleading and almost — almost sane — but that spark shuts down as he continues to squirm. “Yes, it feels good, Raikou, yes, yes, I want it, I want –”

Raikou twists his grip and presses his lips to Ichinomiya’s pulse; it flutters fast and hard. “More than you wanted the Oni-Eater?”

“Eh?” For a moment Ichinomiya stops; that spark in his eye flares again, briefly. Every time it comes a little weaker, and Raikou isn’t sure what he’ll do with the man when it disappears completely. “Oni-Eater? Who’s that?”

“Ah,” says Raikou, lacing their fingers together. “It’s fine, you don’t need to worry about it.”

Ichinomiya’s brow furrows, and that small attempt at coherency fades away again, and he smiles brilliantly. “All right,” he says. “All right, Raikou.”

Pleased, Raikou leans forward and kisses him hard, until Ichinomiya’s soft mouth splits under his teeth and he tastes blood, and Ichinomiya kisses back — not as fiercely, not as hungry, but the noises he makes when Raikou presses fingers into him, finally presses into him, are indescribable. He arches, panting, and Raikou puts an arm around his throat, draws him back so that they are flush together, front to back, takes his cock back in hand.

“Sensei,” he gasps, as Ichinomiya moves against him. “Ah, Sensei, you feel good.”

Ichinomiya just moans enthusiastically. He covers Raikou’s hands with his own, and the look on his face — what Raikou can see — is mindless and hungry, his mouth hanging open and his skin glows in the moonlight. He moves with animal instinct, and Raikou jerks him off hard and fast, keeping one hand at Ichinomiya’s throat as he writhes. Raikou mouths Sensei against the back of Ichinomiya’s neck, and recieves in answer a babble of words, pleading, praise, Raikou, yes, I love it, love it, love —

Raikou finally comes himself with a gasp, his fingers tightening briefly on Ichinomiya’s throat. Ichinomiya makes a choked noise, his fingers clenching hard over Raikou’s own, and when Raikou finally lets go, Ichinomiya arches and he’s beautiful, he’s beautiful as he was when the Oni-Eater cut him down, white and red from his blood and the Oni-Eater’s as Raikou’s sword drove through the legendary tengu’s heart —

Ichinomiya goes completely limp afterwards, sagging back against Raikou. His one eye is closed, lashes fluttering against his cheek and lips parted. This is the poetical sleep of the innocent, Raikou thinks, and curves one arm around, placing his palm flat over Ichinomiya’s heart, over the deeply-cut scars. And even in his sleep, Ichinomiya’s brow furrows and he makes a plaintive sound that might, if he were awake, be a name.

Maybe something like pity moves him to keep this shell, when his cohorts have pointed out the liability of keeping Ichinomiya Kantarou. He isn’t sure himself, and as he stands, cleaning himself off with the blankets and refastening his clothing. He twitches a single sheet over Ichinomiya’s body, and leaves the room without looking back.


in the moments just as he’s waking up, he feels giant wings fold around him and even without blankets he’s warm. once he opens his eyes and finds a single long black feather on his pillow, but when he touches it, it melts away. something empty aches in his chest, but he cannot figure out what, so he pushes the thought away. it’s safer this way. it’s safer. he’s safe.

he sits up and looks out the window to the blue sky beyond, and waits patiently for Raikou to come.

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