Suiren does not like the Galvus Family heritor. Scratch that─he hates him. There. Much better.
Zenos yae Galvus takes up too much space, makes too much noise, and gives too many orders. He is made of militant excess and smells like the chamber of a gun. In short, he is disgusting.
He is also Suiren’s fiancé.
It makes his skin crawl just to think of the contract. A misunderstanding that stemmed from him tossing a beretta at Zenos and saying “It’s a smooth thing. Annoyingly simple just like you.” Who would have guessed that the Garlean way of proposing was exchanging weaponry. How utterly romantic─ not! (Okay… maybe a little. Suiren is a simple man with simple needs. He likes gifts and deceptively dangerous items. It’s like the knife he was given in return was made for him.) As it is, they sit together in one of Suiren’s usual haunts like any other marriage of convenience and accept offers of drinks and information for “the happy couple.”
Suiren is not happy. He is absolutely livid. Here is Zenos yae Galvus, sitting casually with a champagne flute in one hand, the other wrapping a little over halfway around Suiren’s waist. Here is the Galvus heritor whose wandering hands are strictly forbidden from walking down toward anything more dangerous, ignoring his glaring and hissing to glide upward instead. Suiren is suddenly furious with his past self for not buttoning his shirt up to the neck and instead tucking it into his pants with artful dishevelment. Zenos takes full advantage of having easy access to less than appropriate places by shoving his hand underneath the fabric to hook a finger in one of his piercings and tug.
Forget wanting to break the engagement, tear up the contract, and set fire to the entirety of the Galvus territory for fun and profit. Now, all Suiren wants to do is break every bone in Zenos’s hand and then step on it none too gently with a red-bottomed heel. Due to being unable to murder, maim, or otherwise mutilate his finacé, he settles for smiling in a very clearly fake way and asking, “Could you control yourself for more than a second at a time, you insolent fool?”
Zenos ignores him to take a long drink from his flute (what a waste of good champagne, to be served to someone without a palette for it). He listens to some businessman prattle on blankly, still feeling up nearly the entirety of Suiren’s chest at his leisure. He nods and frowns when required, but is very obviously detached from the situation. Or rather, detached from those who are trying to hold his attention, rather than the one he wants to focus on.
Suiren does not dare wriggle. His back does not bow. He does not flush red. This is far from the most discomfiting of all advances he has sat through─with Yotsuyu’s claim on full display, brilliant black inkwork spilling down his back, he has been her bargaining chip more than he cares to admit─but it is still demeaning. If they are to be fiancés, they should at least make it equal. Zenos is not the only heritor. He is also not the only one with wiles and a suspiciously possessive touch.
He stretches, raising his arms above his head to pop his back. The clicks and cracks that follow are welcome relief. It’s of no surprise when he notices eyes following his every move—from the roll of his shoulders to the fall of his hair where it ends just about even with his hips—colored with open want. This is his old game, the one he abandoned in favor of becoming a knife in the dark, and being able to play it on his own terms is a lovely little rush.
He has power. He is desirable just as he is deadly. The Galvus Family is lucky to have the chance to join together with one of Yotsuyu’s Flowers. He is the best of them. Her absolute favorite. A treasure without compare.
And there is still a hand in his shirt.
Suiren has always found it easier to beg for forgiveness than ask permission. Yotsuyu can lash him later. For now, he cares far more about decimating Zenos’s ridiculously pretty face than he does a week’s worth of pain.
He stands (and not too subtly stomps one tall heel atop Zenos’s ridiculous, monogrammed oxfords). There are old regulars calling to him, offering drink and decidedly tolerable company, and he would be a fool to refuse a break from this farce of an engagement.
One of them, a loud and very built Hyur, slides a shot across the table the moment she hears the tap of his shoes. “You need it.”
He smiles, ready to scream but not in the place to do so, and replies, “That I do. Thank you, Fordola.”
To her benefit, Fordola is one of the few Suiren trusts with any manner of honesty. If she was not so heavily tied to the Galvus name, he would have asked her for her loyalty instead. Few are the dynasties who survived without disposable might. Fewer still are those without allyship.
She watches him down the whiskey without so much as a wince and pours him another. “That bad, huh?”
“I hate him.” Suiren sighs, checking his watch before sighing again. “Four hours left.”
He takes another shot.
“I’d wish you luck,” she says, frowning, “but he isn’t the sort to care about that type of shit.”
Suiren nods, smiling tightly. “I might kill him if he tries something again,” he admits. His shirt is askew but very much on purpose. He is an icon. Being buttoned up to the neck isn’t his style. Beyond that, he has the money to look good. Why waste it on stuffy suits and dress shoes when he can have scandalously fitted slacks and an entire closet of Louboutins instead.
Zenos is always wearing red and black. Red and black and stupid gold insignias. Boring. Tasteful, unfortunately. The type of thing that clashes with his white and silver philosophy.
They have to look different. If the heir wears a red tie, Suiren is sure to be seen with a green hair ornament. If in a suit like tonight, Suiren simply goes all out with faking his adoration and confidence in the form of a barely decent shirt (white silk, of course. He is no savage) with high-waisted black slacks (not at all like those popoto sacks the Galvus family like to wear) and a very wonderfully tall pair of heels. He is, of course, the best thing to ever happen to Zenos. He should look the part.
Maybe someone will be jealous enough to do the job for him and kill the man before he does.
He barely notices someone coming up behind him, lost in his internal stabbing-related dream, until there is a very distinct click- tap and Suiren turns just in time to be greeted with a faceful of chest. Zenos’s chest, specifically.
“Are you drunk?”
Suiren all but hisses, swatting discreetly at his hand when it tries to rest barely above his butt, and spits, “From a few shots, of course . After I drank you under the table, you seem very concerned about the state of my health.”
Zenos raises a brow. “Drank me under the table, was it?”
“If you think I meant that as an innuendo, you might need to get your head checked.”
Fordola snorts. She refills his glass one last time and says, “To the happy couple. Don’t murder each other until after I get benefits.”
Suiren tosses it back, smiles, and says, “Oh, don’t worry. They won’t find the body.”
Zenos laughs at him.
They sit together again. This time, Suiren kicks his legs up and uses Zenos’s lap as a footrest. He makes sure to be as elegant as possible up until the point where Zenos grabs him by the ankle and yanks. He makes a sound not unlike a shriek (though anyone who says as much would undoubtedly face his wrath) when he nearly topples over, half on Zenos’s lap with one leg still held firmly in his grip.
“Release me,” Suiren snarls. He does not move past propping himself up on his elbows, hair a mess and eyes promising a slow and agonizing death. Zenos has more strength than he does. They are different as the sun and moon—Suiren relies heavily on adaptability and cunning, Zenos simply slaughters with wanton abandon—and it is obvious in their difference in size same as it is their ways of conducting business. Zenos’s hand dwarfs the slender curve of his ankle. He would be so easy to break.
It sets him aflame with a need to prove Zenos wrong.
Unfortunately, things rarely go as planned.
(Unfortunately, he only seems to prove Zenos right.)
“I don’t think I will.”
Suiren seethes. “I will castrate you and─”
Zenos blinks, bored and unintimidated, and sighs. Suiren shuts his mouth, angered further by how easily he is dismissed. It’s not like he wants to be treated as an enemy (he is under no illusion as to how Zenos handles those he considers important enough to be called as such) but he would still like to be taken seriously! It really makes him want to snap something like, “Look at me, you infuriatingly handsome bastard!”
Which he may have said out loud and not in his head. Well, he did try his best to be civil. Lady Yotsuyu can’t be all too upset with him. He did follow orders. She never stated he had to marry in full. Just that it would be troublesome if he died.
Suiren is nothing if not loyal.
Zenos is talking at him again, asking ridiculous questions about lies and truth like a club is the best place to get philosophical and, for the record, it sort of is. Alcohol is a great stand-in for a truth serum or sedation. But regardless of setting and circumstance, Suiren is not someone who makes a habit of spilling his heart. His wants are kept under lock and key.
His needs match his taste in men. Rich and easy to kill, preferably. He just wants power and a fortune.
It isn’t easy being adored. Zenos just had to stick his nose where it didn’t belong and ruin everything.
Though he can’t take the engagement back, now. He gave Suiren that knife. It’s his now.
Even if he changes his mind, Zenos will still be beholden to him. They would have to mutually agree.
Or one of them has to die and there is no way it will be Suiren.
Even while disheveled and off balance, he will be in control. He repeats, “Release me.”
“Or you’ll castrate me, was it?”
He nods sharply. “I had thought your ears worked just fine, given how much you enjoy listening to your own voice.”
Zenos laughs. It is a terrible, hollow sound—grating, really—and woefully insincere. His smile is even worse, a horror only topped by the sound of his voice when he purrs, “Do you ever stop yapping?”
“I am not a dog.”
He shrugs, voice carrying only disdain when he asks, “Dogs, cats, Miqo’te… is there is even a difference?” His inflection changes ever so slightly when Suiren growls. He is pleased. Entertained, even. He takes everything too lightly even when there is a gun to his temple and a boot precariously near to crushing what pitiful excuse for family jewels he may have. He has no sense of urgency, only that of agency. Free and fleeting.
The conversation is going nowhere, nor is Zenos’s grip. Suiren twists his leg, yanking it free, and grimaces at the state of the ribbons wrapping around his ankle. What had been orderly and evenly woven grosgrain now bears a lopsided bow and two count loose threads. There is nowhere he can have these fixed without shipping them out to the atelier they came from. He will have to stay hideous until the night it over, it seems.
He unties the black fabric and fixes it up with practiced ease, tucking in the loose ends when finished. He checks the metal studs lining the back and wonders if maybe keeping hold of him was uncomfortable for Zenos. He is not one to wear gloves all too often.
But maybe that works in his favor.
It’s a simple thing to pin Zenos’s arms. It is a lot less simple to ensure they stay pinned, but with his leg free and a whole lot of anger fueling him, Suiren manages a fairly secure hold.
Zenos watches him with amusement, allowing himself to be kept in place by the Keeper’s biting grip. He asks, “And what are you attempting now?” He is relaxed, wholly unconcerned, and Suiren wonders how long that will last when pit against a heaping serving of pain.
He does not answer, simply adjusting his hold to slot a knee between Zenos’s thighs. He presses it upward, leaning into the apex like he is not heavy enough to prove painful.
Zenos blinks slowly. He does not smile. “Is that all?”
Suiren takes the chance for him, smile less of happiness and more of petty pleasure. His voice is colored with self-satisfaction when he says, “Oh, don’t worry. I haven't put my weight into it yet, darling.”
Zenos grimaces. “Don’t call me that.”
“Is baby better,” he asks, “or is that not to your taste either? What about sweetie? Boo? Handsome? Wait, no. You’re more nauseating than pleasing. Pet, perhaps?”
“Maybe you could show some respect and call me by my—“
“Title? Mr. Galvus Family Inheritor. Do I call you sir or is that only your father, hm?”
“Call me by my name,” Zenos growls.
Suiren shrugs, grip never faltering. “Just because I know it doesn’t mean I care enough about you to use it, honey.”
“So if I call you by a pet name, we’ll be on equal grounds.”
“You may,” he replies, acting as if he is making a grand concession and not simply allowing the same treatment he had been meting out.
Zenos grins, then, and it has a razor sharp edge to it. He sounds all too pleased when he says, “Care to hurt me, love?”
Suiren recoils and falls ass-over-teakettle backward off the sofa. Love? Him? Insolent! “How dare y—“
“What’s the matter? I thought you wanted to hold my regard as an enemy. What’s so wrong with playing house instead? It’s similar enough.”
He collects himself, shaken by how that nickname sounded rolling off Zenos’s tongue. He covers the loop whispering love on repeat by snapping, “I am not someone you can just push around!”
“You’re something I can break, though,” Zenos replies. “It is not so different.” He leans forward, clasping his hands together and placing his chin atop them. His eyes shine with animalistic hunger. He looks down upon Suiren without care or respect. He is an apex predator.
Suiren picks himself up, brushes off some invisible dirt from his clothing, and huffs. “Well then, I will see to it that the entirety of your life is devoted to this item you seem so intent on destroying. You can rot beside me, for all I care,” he says with vitriol. He is nearly out of their private booth when a hand closes around one of his wrists. He sighs. “Are you lonely, beast?”
Zenos, all dressed up in a fancy suit and tie, does not look the part. He holds fast to Suiren’s arm, fingers overlapping where they wrap around the joint, and says nothing.
“I asked you a question,” he spits. “You will answer me.”
Zenos takes a breath, opens his mouth, closes it, and opens it once again to say, “You’re the lonely one.”
“I am not.”
“Yes, you are,” he asserts. He pulls Suiren back toward him to hook a finger underneath the strap of his choker and lean in close. They share the same air.
Something is there between them. Zenos has no idea what that feeling is, just that is exists and it makes him lean in a little more.
“I hate you,” Suiren whispers, speaking barely an inch from Zenos’s lips.
“I know,” he replies, and kisses him.
Suiren tastes like the alcohol he drank earlier and the chemical tang of lipcolor. It isn’t a good taste, but it is still somehow addictive. Zenos still pulls back and takes a steadying breath.
He wasn’t supposed to do that.
He wasn’t supposed to tease, to hold, to want. This is all an arrangement of convenience that he was instructed to take advantage of. But now there is also Suiren who he isn’t sure he hates quite so much as he did last week, Suiren who drags him out of the armory for drinks and decent food… Suiren who is staring at him with cheeks flushed and lipstick smeared down towards his chin.
There is a very loud voice in the back of hsi head that yells, “Newsflash, asshole, you’re in love with him!”
Zenos drowns it out with a surprisingly light question of, “Do you still hate me?”
Suiren blinks, visibly caught off guard. He fumbles for an answer before settling on a plan of action consisting of snagging Zenos by the tie, yanking him down, and saying, “Well, you failed to impress. Let me show you how it’s done.”