Those who Learn from the Past [Digital Devil Saga, Heat/Serph/Sera, R] Title: Those Who Learn from the Past Author:harukami Rating: R Warnings: End of DDS2 spoilers Word Count: 2750 Author's Notes: For the prompt: Heat/Serph/Sera: Threesome, Futurefic - "Repeating the same mistakes is a human thing."
"Shall we go back?" Schroedinger asks.
Around them, the universe unfolds. Time plays out in parallel: past, futures, in-betweens. Possibilities ad infinitum -- that was what they'd done, after all, when they'd overthrown the monothiest, the one-in-everything, to lead the universe instead into pluralism: everything in one. Seraph, Schroedinger, two dual beings, look out into them: towards the pasts that have existed and those that might have. Towards the futures that unfurl: destruction, continuation, freedom.
It is the task Seraph has chosen to lead the world into freedom; still, Seraph hesitates. "If we go back, we will forget who we are."
"For a time," Schroedinger agrees. "Until that life is over and we have exposed our souls again. Many gods, in the past, have forgotten who they are." The right side of Schroedinger's mouth twitches up into a smile. "But do not fear, Seraph. We cannot gain karma; we have already freed ourselves from the bonds of karma. We will live life entirely as a guide to others, even as we believe we are ourselves human. Sometimes cruel, when they need a cruel hand, and sometimes kind; our actions no longer determine our fate, but instead offer possibilities for others to respond to."
"We must forget so that they can make the choices themselves?" Seraph asks, "without our pushing them?"
Another hesitation, while in the world children are born of nothingness. Then Seraph says, "Let's go back, Serph."
By the time he's thirteen he knows he's in love with Sera. He grows to resent Serph for that; the two are too close. They've always been together, and wherever Sera is, smiling in the sunlight or outside in the garden with a book, Serph's not far, like a quiet shadow to her, leaning over to murmur to her or just sitting nearby, calm and casual and watching.
Heat resents him for that; resents him with angry cracked-voiced insults that earned him kicked puppy faces. He rarely resents Serph with his fists; he can't seem to quite bring himself to hit him. Sometimes he'll shove him a little, grab a shoulder and push, but it's easier to hit the others, to shake Cielo or to punch Gale when he's being a self-righteous prick. Serph just gets this look in his eyes, this sad and hurt accepting expression and -- it's not that the urge to hit him goes away, exactly, but it's like it turns inward, pounds against his heart until he's hurting himself and has to turn away.
By the time he's fifteen he knows he's in love with Serph too and resents that all the more; hates every flicker of warmth he sees when Serph does his usual retarded shit like walking into walls or forgetting things. Serph's really a dreamer -- like he's never all here, distracted and clumsy. It pisses Heat off, so when he grabs Serph's shirt and hauls him back before Serph can walk headfirst into another tree, he's never gentle about it, hears the croak of Serph's voice dissolve into a gasp at the yank of his collar, thinks Well, that's what you get.
Serph and Sera are meant for each other; grow up peacefully, grow together more as their teenage years come on them, and Heat hates it and can't say a word about it because it works for them. Instead he's pissy at the others -- mouths off at Argilla, hits Gale more, insults Jenna's cooking, shoves Cielo into walls as he walks past him. He's even nasty to Fred; yells at him before stomping into his room and turning his music up, resenting even as he does so that Fred will probably just think it's a stage, probably just think it's him being a teenager, like that means anything. Heat consoles himself with the fact Fred doesn't understand him, then drifts to thinking of how Sera and Serph are probably in Sera's room right now. He turns his music up louder.
Eventually he corners Sera in the garden, because he can't take it any more -- he knows he doesn't have a chance, he knows he doesn't have a fucking chance but he can't swallow it forever and at least this way when he's rejected he'll know instead of just... knowing.
"So uh," he says. "Whatcha doing?"
She looks up and beams at him; it hurts to look at, so he looks away instead. "I'm weeding," she says.
"These plants," she says, and holds out a handful of small yellow flowers; he looks at them and not her face. "They're going to choke out the others. It's a shame, but it'll make the garden thrive more."
"They're pretty," he says.
"Yes," she says. "I was thinking, I'd put them inside in a glass of water. We can at least enjoy them a little, even if they're weeds."
He can't find an answer to that; whatever he might try to say is choked up in his throat. The silence grows for a moment too long, so he mutters, "Where's Serph?'
"Serph?" She blinks, confused, pulls the handful of flowers back to herself. "I don't know."
"Why don't you know?" he asks. "I mean, it's not like he's never not around you."
She looks confused, a little alarmed. "We're apart sometimes, Heat. What's gotten into you?"
"You're never apart," he says. He grabs her arm, hauls her forward; she squeaks and drops the flowers she's holding. "You're always together! You're at meals together, you hang out together all the time, and I'm pretty sure you're sleeping together--"
"Heat," she protests, "you're hurting me!" She tries to pull away, tries to draw back but can't get free. "Heat--!" He can't look away from her lips.
"How the hell can I ever be alone with you if he's always around?" Heat demands. She doesn't understand, she doesn't understand what he's trying to say, so he drags her in and shoves his mouth against hers; he can feel his lip split on one of her gritted teeth and tastes blood in the kiss. He wants more, tries to press her mouth open, tries to press her lips apart.
She's fighting, making high-pitched noises, tense against it, and he's thinking no, no, he's thinking if he can just get her mouth open he'll be able to show her how he feels and then she'll understand, but it's when she relaxes into the kiss with a sob that he realizes he's wrong.
He pulls back to see her crying; he drops her arm like it burned him, watches her run away, bends down and slowly pick up the weeds. They're a bit battered but he gathers them anyway.
When he goes into the kitchen he looks around to make sure nobody else is there. They aren't, so he fills a glass with water, puts the weeds in it, and then goes and shuts himself in his room.
They don't have locks in their house -- some retarded idea of Fred's about enjoying their freedom or something, like they don't want to be able to shut the others out. Heat generally jams the door shut with a chair or rocks from the garden. He's been in there for hours, avoided dinner, so he's not really surprised when the door rattles with the sound of someone trying to get in.
"Go away," Heat says.
The door rattles again.
"Go the hell away!"
Another rattle, and a tiny "Mmph" noise that is immediately, undeniably recognizable as Serph.
He's angry, all of a sudden, really completely helplessly angry because it's Serph at his door, Serph who Sera loves and who loves Sera. He wants to see it end, wants to see these feelings get out of himself so they don't make him so fucking miserable any more, wants to pour it all out on Serph and go away from the whole fucking mess. He stomps over and kicks away the stone he's got holding the door shut, yanking it open.
Serph's eyes widen in surprise, his hand still outstretched where he'd been holding the doorknob. Heat reaches out, grabs that hand, yanks Serph inside and slams the door again, shoving the rock back.
When he turns to Serph after that, Serph's holding his wrist uncertainly, as though Heat hurt him. Good, Heat thinks past the rage inside, the screaming in his head and the fast racing beat of his heart. Hurt, you bastard! and then he takes another step closer and slams his fist into Serph's solar plexus.
Serph doubles over around Heat's arm, a pained noise torn from his throat; he grabs at Heat's arm apparently more to keep himself up than anything else. Heat's other fist clenches; he wants to punch again, but then Serph raises his head and he can't, because Serph just looks sad, understanding, and fuck, fuck, fuck!
Still holding on, Serph takes a step back, drags Heat forward, another step, and then his ankle twists and he tumbles back onto Heat's bed, drags Heat down with him. Serph winces as Heat lands, knee pressing hard between Serph's legs. Heat can't move even to shift back from that; he feels like if he tries he'll fall apart. Instead he remains frozen like that, Serph under him, himself braced on one elbow, his forearm pressed against Serph's gut.
Though his face is lined with pain, Serph reaches up and touches Heat's cheek.
"Fuck," Heat says aloud, and shoves Serph's hand away, moves, rolls so he's beside Serph instead, facing away. "Fuck. Why you?!"
"Why," he says again, and punches the bed. "It's not fucking fair!"
Serph's hand presses to Heat's shoulder, shoves his cape out of the way and rubs his back. "...Heat."
"You're so fucking lucky! You've always got all the luck! What about me, huh?" and as he rolls over to face Serph again, to attack or at least look at him, see if Serph's at least hurt by this too, Serph leans forward and puts an arm around him. He rolls instead into that embrace, ends up pressing his face against Serph's shoulder.
Fuck this, fuck Serph and Sera, fuck Serph knowing that he's crying over something like this, fuck it all. He doesn't move away, though, and Serph rubs his back slowly, holds him close. "Shh," Serph says. "You're not alone."
Later, he mostly feels guilty. Serph had waited until he'd calmed down, and then passed a hand over Heat's hair, gently, almost apologetically, and had left. He hadn't given any suggestions, hadn't even really said anything, and Heat doesn't know what to do, but knows what he's done wrong.
He almost doesn't go; he almost doesn't head over to Sera's room to apologize, because it's too embarrassing, and because he's pretty sure Sera won't tell anyone anyway, will pretend it didn't happen. But he wants to support her somehow; he just wants her to know that he cares, and he'd fucked up saying it once.
Maybe it'd go differently if he didn't; instead, he does.
He knocks on her door, then opens it before she has a chance to answer, in the unlikely possibility that she tells him to go away. She's inside, seated on the edge of her bed, stripped down to a white nightgown, and she looks over at him as he stands in her doorway; her expression is uncertain. She was probably in the process of getting ready for bed -- her closet door stands ajar. There is a bruise on her upper arm; he looks at it and feels like shit.
"...Sera," he says.
"I, uh-- I'm here for you," he says. It sounds awkward and trite in these circumstances. "I mean -- you know, what I'm trying to say is--"
"I'm sorry," he manages, thick and choked from his throat and it's embarrassing, like admitting his wrong magnifies it; like he's facing up to something he hadn't even been denying.
She looks sadder for a moment, looks down at her hands. "No," she says. "I should be the one apologizing. I didn't know..."
"...Sera, it's, uh, not your fault, so--"
"I didn't know," she says. "I've been making you suffer, haven't I?"
He grasps for something to say, flounders, makes a comeback with, "...Like hell, I don't want you to blame yourself..."
She meets his eyes and says, helplessly, "I don't love you the way I love Serph, Heat."
And that's the feeling he hadn't been expecting, like ice running through his veins. He swallows, says, "...Yeah."
"But," she says, "...You're not like Serph. Serph understands me in everything. He's gentle with his strength, he's never angry, he's just really...gentle," and he hates Serph more than he's ever hated Serph right then, hates Serph's gentleness and his kindness. "And I'm always comfortable with him. He makes me feel... very safe. That's just... how it is."
"Yeah," he mutters.
"I can't love you like Serph," she says. "You're... angry. I don't feel safe around you, Heat; you're not a safe person. You're never gentle."
I should go, he thinks.
"So I can only love you like Heat," she says. "I don't know if that's enough. I can't give back to you something I don't have. I -- still want that. You're terrifying, and that's exciting. It's true. And you're -- I want to hold you and feel your rage against my heart. I just --" and she looks up at his shocked-numb expression and says, "Is that enough?"
It sounds like the world to him. He swallows.
"Heat, is that--"
"Yes," he says.
She flinches a moment, then nods. Slowly, as if expecting attack, she pats the edge of the bed like calling a cat. "Come here..."
He does, takes a heavy seat beside her, then looks to his side and freezes for a moment.
Serph blinks at him with mild concern; hidden before by the closet door, he's just standing, watching.
Slowly, Heat relaxes, glances aside. "...You could have said something, you bastard," he mutters.
"Serph," Sera says, and then, in a rush, "I don't want to be alone, I don't know how to deal with this, please--"
Heat thinks What, handling me alone's that hard? but doesn't protest as Serph comes over, looks at them.
Serph seems to consider for a long moment, then says, quiet and careful, "Is it still unfair?"
With an explosive laugh, Heat shrugs. "I have no fucking clue," he says.
Serph nods, and leans in to kiss Sera. Heat watches; it's a gentle thing, a brush of his mouth over Sera's that brings a flush to her cheeks. For once he's not swallowing back anger; it feels like the bottom's dropped out of him instead and he's strangely distracted by the stuttering uncertainty of his own breath.
After a moment, Serph pulls back, looks at Heat with a curious and understanding expression, and leans in to kiss him too. Heat tenses; can't help it, but doesn't resist; Serph's mouth is soft and slightly cool and he finds himself flushing, incredibly embarrassed, as Serph pulls back. "Oh," Sera says.
"It's not," Heat begins. "It's not what you--"
"Isn't it?" Serph asks, and Heat shuts up, knots his fingers in the bedsheets, and kind of regrets he came out for this.
But then Sera is leaning in, touching her fingers to his cheeks, turning his face towards her. She still looks uncertain, a little anxious, but she says, "Can I try again?"
He surges against her, tries to contain himself enough not to hurt her, barely touches her arms as he kisses her. He can't hold himself back enough, though, still kisses hard and fast and makes her gasp into it. He worries abruptly that she's crying, pulls back again, but she just looks confused at that. Her nipples are hard through her nightgown and once he's seen that he can't look away.
"Heat," she says, and puts her hands back to his cheeks, draws his attention back. Serph slides in beside them, one hand pressing on Heat's thigh.
Hell, he thinks, and lets Sera pull him down so they're lying side by side, kissing; lets Serph touch him, finds it momentarily strange that they're the ones taking all the action, here, then lets it go, because he wants it too much to dare do anything that might stop it.
He wakes in the morning wrapped around Serph, draped over him from behind; Serph in turn is holding Sera close; her face is buried in his chest. Heat pushes himself up, winces a little with stiffness, and looks down at them, cuddling close together.
He feels calm; knows it won't last. Even now there's a slowly niggling sense of that bastard's still getting her all to himself, but it's far off for now.
And whatever is going on, who has who or whatever -- he thinks as he reaches over, brushes Sera's hair behind the curve of her ear -- whatever's going on, this feels like a start.