[fic] Digital Devil Saga, "Middle Ground" Title: Middle Ground Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga - Serph/Heat Author:Genuine Replicaharukami Recipient:Thumbaliene gabaruni Rating: PG Warnings: None Summary: Heat doesn't want to follow; Serph doesn't feel he has to. Prompt: Before Coordinate 136. Heat is fed up with Serph's leadership, so he tests Serph's strength
Heat is practically vibrating with nervous energy, tension humming through him, irritation hanging in the air around him almost tangibly. As they walk, Serph watches the other Embryon edge away from Heat; even the ones who admire him don't seem to want to get too close.
He puts a hand on Heat's arm.
Heat whips around, glaring at him, yanking his arm from Serph's grasp. "You got something to say to me?!"
Mildly alarmed, Serph blinks.
"You got a problem?"
Ah; it's like this. Again. Still, maybe. Serph's gaze falls as he considers it, and then he looks up at Heat again, meets his eyes.
"You--" and then it's Heat's turn to grab him, grip too-rough around Serph's upper arm, and Heat is dragging him aside, to one of the private barracks in the middle layer.
Serph stumbles, tries to regain his footing, and then just follows, forced to adjust to Heat's pace.
Serph goes along almost docilely, and that pisses Heat off; he could at least resist, at least not act like he knows he deserves it. Bastard. He slams the door shut and shoves Serph up against the wall, one-handed.
Expression mild, Serph looks at him.
Heat can taste bile at the back of his throat, sharp and unpleasant. He snarls, "This is your fault."
Slowly, frowning slightly, Serph lifts a hand and closes it around Heat's wrist.
His hand is warm, his grip firm, his fingers slightly callused. Heat jerks his face away; all of a sudden he doesn't want to look at Serph, doesn't want to see his expression.
"It's your fault," he says again. "If you hadn't left Cielo here to guard her..."
Serph's lips part. He says, "We'll get her back."
"I know that!" Heat snaps. "...I know that. I'll get her back."
Slowly, Serph's eyes trace over Heat's face.
There's a sharp pain in Heat's chest. He shifts his grip to Serph's shoulders and shakes him, leaning in until they're forehead to forehead.
Heat says, "How the hell can you do that." The silent words hang in the air between them. "Why would I ever want to follow you?
Serph's chin jerks up.
It's Heat, so he means it at least as long as he says it, if not more, but it's troubling. It hurts, a little, an ache only compounded by Sera's loss. Serph finds himself looking at Heat with his eyes too wide and Heat glares back, furious at Serph twice over, once for the challenge of leadership and once for having put him in the position to make it.
In the Junkyard, the leader is the most important person; leadership is never questioned. Serph doesn't mind that it's being questioned, because things are changing, but this is wrong. The way this is happening is wrong. Does Heat think Serph will take Sera away? That's impossible. Sera is a part of the Embryon tribe now; where would he possibly take her?
Serph lifts his hand and touches Heat's cheek.
The reaction is sudden and furious. Heat throws himself backwards, stumbles, hits a bed and sits down abruptly. Serph is left standing against the wall, his hand still in the air.
He lowers it.
"Don't do that!" Heat growls. "Don't touch me."
Slowly, Serph comes over and sits next to Heat. He leaves a few inches between them as he sits, his knees apart, elbows on his knees and hands hanging.
Heat opens his mouth, makes a sound like he's about to say more, then just stares at Serph a long few minutes through narrowed eyes.
"What the hell are you trying?" he asks finally.
There is nothing that is Heat's that Serph wants to take away. It is hard to understand that there may be things Serph has that Heat wants to have instead, but he tries to understand it. He thinks of Sera alone wherever she is and thinks that this is not good, the split between them. Not when they both want the same thing, in her safety.
He reaches out slowly, touches Heat's hair. It's surprisingly soft, surprisingly silky as he runs his fingers through it. It's all right, he thinks. It's going to be all right.
The look on Serph's face is fucking strange and his actions're weirder. Heat grabs him and shoves him back, leaning over. "Don't you understand?!" he demands. "I'm saying you're no leader of mine!"
"Perhaps not," Serph says finally, his voice as soft as always. "We're comrades."
Not leader and follower but comrades? Heat wants to protest but his voice dries up and just strangles. Instead he clenches his fingers in Serph's sleeves, makes thick wordless protest in his throat.
Serph reaches up as well, folds his hands against Heat's arms as Heat is doing to his, and pulls Heat down. Heat tenses -- it's dangerous not only for him but for Serph, what the hell is Serph thinking? He's trapped under Heat's greater body mass, looking up steadily, looks perfectly happy to be there.
Heat wants to abuse him, all of a sudden, just to prove he can. He tenses, hands holding the sheets, breathing hard.
Serph seems to be waiting. Heat can taste the blood-sharp breath between them.
He sits up abruptly again, turns away. "Let's just go."
Silently, Serph sits up as well, looking at him.
"The longer we take," Heat says, "the more she suffers. I won't let you do that to her by dragging this thing out."
Serph smiles. He leans in, presses his lips to the corner of Heat's. Heat stares at him, surprised, touches two fingers there.
A nod, and Serph rises. He gestures, and starts to head to the door.
The corner of his mouth tingles. Heat scrubs at it with the back of one hand and rises.
"Yeah, yeah," Heat says. It comes out gruff, as if to say he's unaffected. "Let's go."
He can feel Serph's gaze on his back. He resists all the way to the door then turns back.
Serph nods to him again, walks forward, passes him. It's his turn to watch Serph's back for a few moments, as Serph passes through the door, and then
To hell with this!
and Heat's taking long strides to catch up, match his steps to Serph's as they meet up with the others and head towards the ruins and Sera.