[fic] Digital Devil Saga, "Trust Exercises" Title: Trust Exercises Author:harukami Rating: PG-13 Warnings: Spoilers for early DDS2 Word Count: 933 Author's Notes: For the springkink prompt: Digital Devil Saga, Roland/Adil: Blindfold - "Actually yes, you *are* scaring the unholy shit out of me."
After, Adil corners Roland, drives him into his office and shuts the door. He hates it the moment he does; hates the crawling conviction that he's shut himself into the room with a monster -- a monster that wants to devour him whole -- because it's not just Roland looking out of those eyes anymore, not just Roland with his brows creased apologetically and pushing his glasses up.
"How the hell could you just do that?" Adil hisses at him.
Roland gives him a pained smile. "I did what I had to," he says. "Gale was right. You know that."
"That thing has no idea what we've gone through! It--"
"He," Roland says. "And... he was right. I've been making others pay for my mistakes. Better to sacrifice myself. Put myself at risk."
"You could lose control."
Roland spreads his arms. "Would you kill me for it?"
Adil stares at him, can't say anything, feels the anger choking him and not going any further. His hand clenches at his side and then relaxes again. He won't reach for his gun.
After a moment, Roland's arms drop again. "And that's why I need to atone."
Frustrated, Adil turns away. He wants to hit something, or mourn, or something; he can't quite find a way to express any of it. Roland stays silent a while, and then says,
Adil's eyes close. "What."
"I'm still me."
He feels himself tense, refuses to look back at Roland again just yet. "Yeah? But how can I trust you now?"
Another awkward pause, and then Roland points out, "I'm not sure how you could trust me before. I don't expect it to make up for everything, but I ...am trying to make up for my mistakes."
"That's not like you," Adil snarls as he turns back.
Roland looks at him for a long moment, then drops his gaze with a weak smile. "Ouch," he says.
Adil rubs his face; too much, he thinks, too much, he's just lashing out. He says, "Dammit, Roland. I don't know what to do. I need to be able to trust you -- you're Lokapala's lifeblood now, you know that."
Sighing, Roland's smile fades, though he doesn't look up. "What can I do, Adil? What will make you trust me?"
"I don't know! Not eating me, I guess, but--"
"Fine," Roland says. He rises, the wheels in his chair squeaking as it rolls back. "Come here, Adil."
Roland speaks evenly, carefully. "Adil. Come here."
Slowly, reluctantly, Adil does, moves around the desk to face him. "Now what?"
"Take a seat," Roland says, waits until Adil does, then digs around in a drawer. "Where were they -- ah, here," and then he turns back with a pair of handcuffs.
"No," Adil says. He remembers those; the last time they were used was on the test subject.
"Trust me far enough that I can prove my trust, Adil," Roland says, and Adil breathes heavily, forces himself to remember that Roland could already have eaten him if he wanted to. He's powerful now, more than ever before.
Slowly, he lowers his hands. "Behind me?"
"That would be best," Roland says, and cuffs him there when Adil obeys. He is kneeling beside Adil to do so and a strange hungry scent is rising from him. Adil turns his face away. "Please look at me."
Adil looks back in time to see Roland transform; lightning travels up him from that mark on his hand, marks his skin in highlights and shadows as the air grows thick around him, and then the monster is in his place. Large, strangely-marked, skin looking slick, shaped wrong so that even in humanoid form he's off somehow; his head's not right. The flaps of coarse armored skin peel away from the sharp fangs of his teeth and Adil's breath hitches as he tries to lean back and away.
Roland leans in anyway, so his face is inches from Adil's and he can't avoid it. The sour scent of hunger is stronger now. Adil tries not to hyperventilate, tries not to show fear.
When Roland speaks, his voice is distorted, growled and magnified through the filter that is his inhuman body. "Am I frightening you, Adil?"
It takes Adil work to talk without choking up. "Actually, yes," he manages. "You are scaring the unholy shit out of me."
"Ah," Roland says.
And then he just... doesn't move. He stays there, waiting, inches from Adil until Adil can't seem to avoid looking at him any more, looks back at him. The monster doesn't have any eyes but he senses himself being watched anyway. Minutes pass, it feels like, and Roland just... doesn't move.
Finally, Adil sighs, drops his head. Too much; he can't maintain terror that long and he feels just tired, suddenly, worn out, like he's run a race and doesn't know where he ended up. His forehead brushes what little the monster has of a forehead; Roland doesn't surge forward at the touch, or move back, just stays.
"Adil?" he asks.
"Whatever," he says, and he feels embarrassed more than anything. "Okay, Roland, okay, you've made your point. Just turn back."
"It's all right?" the monster asks, and it's so weird, to hear Roland's voice like that, all the hesitant pauses with strange changes to it.
"Don't be stupid," Adil says. "Of course it isn't all right. But you've proved it, haven't you?"
Roland changes back, light traveling in reverse along his skin until he's human again. He has his self-deprecating face on. "I guess I have," he says, softly.
Adil looks away. He should feel relief to see Roland human again; instead he feels, somehow, ashamed. "You're my leader," he mutters. "Don't... worry about it."
"Ah. Well," Roland says. He pushes his glasses up and smiles sadly. "I won't."