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by any other name, a rose

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When Kouki first got together with Akashi, everyone had been shocked. There had been plenty of screaming, heaps of accusations, and someone had outright thrown a balloon filled with holy water at Kouki, claiming that it was the only way to break the evil spell Akashi had cast on him.

Sixteen-year old Kouki, who’d been more scared than the average mouse, had surprisingly found it in himself to stand up to the accusers and the outcry of Stockholm Syndrome. Most people had taken one look at the uncharacteristically obstinate look on his face and given in. Still, a handful of doubters had persisted; some of them still did, despite the five long, wondrous years of marriage. It hardly bothered Kouki anymore, not when he knew Akashi-kun had his back, a constant reassuring presence propping him up no matter what.

During his time with his then-boyfriend Kouki had learned that he didn’t even have to look at his eyes to know whether it was Akashi-kun or Sei-chan. They both had entirely different auras. Eventually, he became able to tell the difference between them with his eyes closed.

Akashi-kun was powerful and impressive, but he was also warm. His aura always made Kouki feel like he was safe, like nothing could ever get past Akashi-kun to hurt him. Akashi-kun felt like home, like comfort and sinking into a warm bath, and Kouki’s favourite place in the world was the cradle of Akashi-kun’s lap, where he could sit with his face tucked into the crook of Akashi-kun’s neck, his hands and arms wrapped securely around Kouki’s chest. He knew it sounded a little childish, but he didn’t care, when being surrounded by Akashi-kun’s warmth and scent and heartbeat made him happier than almost anything in the world.

In comparison, Sei-chan’s aura always made a little shiver run down his spine. Initially he’d been quite afraid of Sei-chan, and rightfully so, especially after their first ever meeting during which Sei-chan had threatened to take out Kagami-kun’s eye with a pair of scissors. Later though, the shiver Sei-chan sent down his spine was more often one of excitement and thrill, instead of fear.

Of course, during that first encounter he hadn’t known the difference between Akashi-kun and Sei-chan. He hadn’t even known to notice the difference between Akashi-kun’s red eyes and Sei-chan’s red-and-gold, which had of course prompted Kuroko to give him that advice.

But once he’d started dating Akashi-kun properly, Akashi-kun had wanted them to be introduced because Sei-chan was an important part of his life, and if Kouki wanted to be with him he’d have to at least know who Sei-chan was. Better the introduction take place in a controlled way.

And in his usual over-dramatic way, Akashi-kun had insisted that Kouki strap him into what looked like an archaic torture chair before he agreed to let Sei-chan emerge. He didn’t know what he’d do if he came back to himself and found Kouki lying bleeding on the floor, or worse still, gone from him forever. The thought of Kouki being scared of him made him want to throw up, even though he knew it was a reality; that there were parts of him that Kouki was scared of, and he’d never forgive Sei-chan for it.

Even tightening the flat leather restraints around Akashi’s wrists and ankles brought Kouki to tears, and he could only hope that the encounter with Sei-chan would leave his lover unscathed. When his body was secure, Akashi had no choice but to fulfil his part of the bargain, nudging his little brother into alertness.

What is this, Bakashi?

I had to protect him, Sei-chan.

From little old me? Sei-chan sounded delighted. He didn’t give Akashi a chance to reply before he opened his eyes, and from there Akashi was little more than a passenger in his own head. He knew Sei-chan could hear his prayers and pleas to be gentle and kind, but he never knew whether Sei-chan would oblige him or whether Akashi’s requests would spur him in a contrary direction.

He opened their eyes to see Kouki on his knees between Sei-chan’s legs, peering up at him with huge watery eyes. His lashes looked like they were burnished gold in the dim yellow light of the room. Sei-chan yanked at the leather restraints holding him in place but Kouki had done his job well.

Sei-chan tsk-ed but didn’t try to escape again. “Such a lovely creature on his knees in front of me and I’m not even allowed to touch. Such exquisite torture,” Sei-chan whispered, using his voice, and Akashi-kun hated him, hated that Kouki would remember these degrading things as though they had been said by Akashi.

Kouki flushed pink but didn’t look away, making unflinching eye contact with Sei-chan. Many men stronger than Kouki would have faltered but Kouki didn’t. Maybe the restraints were making him brave, but Akashi had always thought bravery was overrated. He would rather Kouki be cowardly and stay safe.

Sei-chan sighed. “Wipe your tears Furi-kun. I’m not going to do anything to you or to Bakashi. You’re too important to him, I think.” Kouki made a pleased little noise in the back of his throat and Akashi could feel delight lighting up Sei-chan’s nerve endings. If it had been him, he’d probably have reacted the same way and he hated that it was something he had to share with his foolish little brother.

“You’re important to me too,” Kouki warbled.

“You’re not very bright, are you Furi-kun? I’m not your Akashi-kun. I’m a different person even though I look and sound the same.”

Kouki quirked a smile which glowed through his tear-stained cheeks. “I know, Sei-chan. But you’re a part of Akashi too, and that makes you important to me.” He gently put a hand on Sei-chan’s thigh the way he would have if it was Akashi, to make contact and to give comfort, and then peered at Sei-chan’s face to see how he was reacting.

Sei-chan’s expression was easy to read, unlike Akashi’s, eyes glowing with unabashed delight. “Well, well. I begin to see what Bakashi likes so much about you.”

“I hope we can grow to be friends too, Sei-chan, even if you don’t care for me in the same way,” Kouki ventured, putting another hand on Sei-chan’s other knee to support himself so he could look straight into Sei-chan’s eyes.

“Don’t you think friends should trust each other, Furi-kun?” he asked, playfully, lightly, eyeing his own restraints. Akashi’s mind leapt into action but Sei-chan’s hold on their body was too strong; Akashi was helpless to stop him.

“I don’t know, Sei-chan, but I certainly think friends shouldn’t try to manipulate each other,” Kouki replied with a sweet little grin.

Sei-chan actually laughed, and that was a first. “Good boy, Furi-kun, very clever.”

“I’ve been known to have my moments, Sei-chan,” Kouki said, and Akashi wanted to beg him to not play along. Playing with fire never ended well for anyone.

“Alright then, Furi-kun. How about this; I’m a man of my word, surely this you know by now. I’ve been sleeping for a while but I still remember when I saw you at the Winter High quarter finals. Do you remember I promised I’d gouge my own eyes out in retribution if we lost against Shuutoku? Did I sound like I was lying?”

Kouki shook his head. “I believed you even then.”

“Yes, because I am eminently trustworthy and reliable,” Sei-chan said, smirking at Kouki as if daring him to call him out on his poor joke. Kouki snorted but didn’t take the bait. “So,” Sei-chan continued, “let me out of these restraints and I promise I will not hurt you.”

“That’s a very poorly drafted proposal. Lots of loopholes,” Kouki commented, fingers tracing lightly on the restraints anyway, teasing. Akashi would have sworn he could feel the heat of Kouki’s touch even through the sturdy leather, but he knew it wasn’t possible. Still, he couldn’t look away.

“I know,” Sei-chan replied, but made no move to amend his proposition, daring Kouki to trust him. Kouki’s fingers slipped beneath one restraint to touch the bare skin of Sei-chan’s wrist and it should not have been so erotic, but it was, blindingly so. Kouki took the moment of distraction to crawl into Sei-chan’s lap facing him, chests pressed close, sharing breath. Akashi could feel the shock pealing through Sei-chan; people didn’t often come close to him, most only inched further away. What kind of steel did Kouki have in his backbone to walk into the jaws of danger?

Without speaking, Kouki leaned further into Sei-chan’s body to keep balance while he slid fingers beneath both wrist restraints this time, loosening them incrementally. Akashi knew that if Sei-chan wanted to, he could have yanked his wrists free from both with even the slightest give, but he was gazing directly at Kouki’s blushing face so intently that neither of them wanted to look away. Kouki smelled like clean laundry and left-over curry rice from dinner; plebeian, but Sei-chan wanted to eat him up and Akashi could feel the desire surging in himself.

“Furi-kun,” Sei-chan said when Kouki had loosened both restraints enough for him to slip his hands free. Akashi knew his heart was beating fast, but it wasn’t fear he felt thrumming through his veins.

“Yes?” Kouki asked, one hand coming to rest softly on Sei-chan’s shoulder, fingers pressing into the thin material of his shirt.

“Will you kiss me?” Sei-chan asked, finally putting a name to the tension pulled tight between them.

Kouki squeaked but didn’t immediately refuse. Instead he took a deep breath, as though to muster his courage. Akashi didn’t know how Kouki could possibly get more courageous than he already was, sitting in the lap of the most dangerous man he knew. His fingers braced firmly against Sei-chan’s chest and that was all the warning they had before he used the point of contact to lean up and plant a kiss against Sei-chan’s familiar lips. It was short and sweet, the most innocent of kisses. Akashi felt his tongue flicker out to taste his own lips, as though to see if Kouki had left anything of himself behind.

Kouki squeaked again when he drew back, like he was shocked at himself for having gone through with it, and in the confusion almost over-balanced. He would have tipped backwards onto the floor if Sei-chan’s hands hadn’t slipped around his back, holding him close and in place, on his lap. Kouki covered his face with both hands, dark red with embarrassment.

“Wow, Furi-kun, you’re very cute. I absolutely see why Bakashi is so taken with you. You’re very fetching,” he said, pulling Kouki’s trembling hands away from his face with his own steady ones. “Will you let me kiss you?” he asked, and waited until Kouki nodded before he moved. It was more courtesy than Akashi had expected.

Kissing Sei-chan was an entirely different experience from kissing Akashi-kun. Akashi-kun kissed like a gentleman, though a very thorough and diligent one, taking care to kiss Kouki precisely until he was breathless and dazed, and then making sure to keep him that way with rigorously tested techniques. Akashi-kun kissed like he wanted to protect Kouki.

Sei-chan kissed like he was barely human – like he was just a human-shaped shell with a storm within. There was nothing soft about it, nothing careful in the way his teeth clacked with Kouki’s own, nothing gentle about how he sucked on Kouki’s lower lip hard enough to leave it swollen and purpling. He ravaged Kouki’s mouth and Kouki thought he’d be feeling it for days, the way Sei-chan’s tongue seared long paths inside his mouth, so deep he thought he might choke from the closeness. Their noses pressed together and Sei-chan’s hand on the back of his head pulled him in to deepen the kiss until Kouki was gasping. Sei-chan only broke the kiss when he started laughing into Kouki’s mouth.

Akashi would have worried that Kouki was hurt based on the way he was panting and trembling, if he hadn’t noticed Kouki’s fingers tangled in Sei-chan’s linen collar, desperately keeping Sei-chan close throughout the kiss. Kouki’s eyes were still closed and he’d pressed his forehead against Sei-chan’s, still breathing heavily.

“Furi-kun should really close his mouth,” Sei-chan said casually, moving to nose at the soft point where Kouki’s neck met his jaw, “unless he wants me to put something else in it.” He closed his teeth around the corded muscle of Kouki’s neck and Kouki hiccoughed, making Sei-chan press his teeth in even deeper.

You’re an animal, Sei-chan, stop this at once.

Hush now, Bakashi, he’s enjoying this, Sei-chan retorted in his head, directing Akashi’s attention to the bulge in Kouki’s pants pressed between their bodies. Akashi had no response to that, the physical evidence overwhelming.

Sei-chan untucked Kouki’s shirt from the back of his pants and slid his hands up to touch skin. Kouki started squirming almost instantly, forcing Sei-chan to grip his hips and hold him still.

“You really shouldn’t do that, Furi-kun, unless you want me to do something I’m not sure you’re ready for. Besides, I didn’t think you were ticklish,” he chided gently, admiring the red bite marks on Kouki’s throat. He hadn’t broken skin, yet.

“I’m not,” Kouki replied. “Your hands are just cold.”

Sei-chan smirked. “Want to warm them up for me? It’s my poor circulation, you see, and the bondage didn’t help.”

Kouki didn’t back down, drawing one of Sei-chan’s hands to his lips and then two fingers into his mouth, rendering both Sei-chan and Akashi speechless when he began to suck. His tongue was warm and wet, dextrous when it slipped around his digits and then in between, and neither of them could help but imagine something else in Kouki’s mouth.

“God, Furi-kun, where did he find you?”

Kouki hummed in reply and that was more than Akashi could take. Thankfully Sei-chan agreed, drawing his fingers away and replacing them with his mouth to kiss Kouki again, deep and slow and bruisingly hard.

Akashi wasn’t sure at which point exactly Sei-chan retreated and allowed Akashi to emerge, but when Kouki pulled away, he was smiling.

“Hello Akashi-kun.”

“Kouki, I don’t know whether you’re brave or incredibly stupid, but I’m so relieved you’re alright.”

I won’t hurt him, big brother. He’s good for us.

“I like him, Akashi-kun. He’s you, but he’s different. He’s dangerous but I don’t think he’ll hurt me unless I cross him.”

“He likes you too, Kouki, the way I do.” Kouki blushed fetchingly and Akashi kissed his warm cheeks as softly as he could. His erection pressed into Akashi’s belly was reassuringly firm.

“Sorry about that, by the way, Akashi-kun,” Kouki said, eyes flickering down where they were touching.

“It’s fine, of course, Kouki, but. Well. He’s like my little brother. Isn’t that a little strange?” Akashi sounded normal but his white knuckles gave him away.

Kouki huffed warmly. “He’s not your little brother, Akashi-kun. He’s you, and I love you.”

Somewhere inside, a voice rumbled. I like him, big brother. Akashi didn’t bother telling Sei-chan to shut up. He liked Kouki, and it was good that his mirror-self did as well. Kouki was less likely to come to harm that way.

“Can I undo your legs now?” Kouki asked, drawing out of his lap. Akashi almost complained about the loss, until Kouki dropped to his knees again, between his thighs. The only response he could find in himself was to nod.

He should have known better; Sei-chan never left until he was asked to leave. The moment his bonds were undone, Akashi was yanked back inside and Sei-chan emerged, surging to his feet in one smooth movement. With strength Akashi would never have used like this, Sei-chan hauled Kouki to his feet.

Kouki trembled but he didn’t look afraid, hands coming to rest on Sei-chan’s hips. Inside Akashi was shouting, more enraged than he had been in a long time.

Don’t worry, big brother. It’s only fair for us to share.

You don’t even know if he wants to share, Sei-chan. Will you be able to live with it if he can never look us in the eye again?

Sei-chan didn’t reply but he seemed to concede the point. Neither of them would survive it, if this fascinating creature left them.

“Are you afraid?” he asked Kouki, instead, pressing two fingers against Kouki’s pulse fluttering in the hollow of his throat.

“A little,” Kouki replied, honestly, but didn’t pull away.

“Will you trust me as a man of my word?” Sei-chan asked again, rephrasing his earlier question.

“Will you be gentle?” Kouki asked in turn, leaning closer and baring his pale neck to Sei-chan, setting off sirens in their head. His bite marks from earlier had all but faded, and Sei-chan felt the almost irresistible urge to make more lasting ones, deep purple to stand out against pale skin where everyone could see.

“As gentle as I know how,” Sei-chan whispered, stepping in so close that Kouki had no choice but to step back. Sei-chan edged Kouki all the way back to the western-style bed behind him, tipping him backwards so that he bounced on the mattress when he fell. Kouki stared up at Sei-chan from where he landed, brown hair tousled and mussed, lips swollen from kisses, and didn’t make any moves to run.

“Then,” Kouki whispered as Sei-chan crawled onto the bed over him, every inch a predator, “please take care of me, Sei-chan.”

“Of that,” Sei-chan replied, quelling Akashi’s fury within, thumbing open the buttons of Kouki’s shirt, “you can be sure, Furi-kun.”