windhover: (tactics ❧ agrias)
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Title: Ascension (2/?)
Word count: 2,340
Warnings: brief allusion to sex?
Summary: Buer and Konrad both reflect on their respective situations.

After their rather informal introduction, a long silence followed. Buer felt like he was being stared at; it made him nervous. “Er…” He cleared his throat. “Is there a problem?”

“Huh? Oh—no, sorry, I just spaced out for a second.” The other man, Konrad Sharpless, quickly shook his head. “Weird. I thought you might look different.”

Buer arched an eyebrow. “Different? Like how?”

“I don’t know, maybe…a little more Earthling?” Konrad answered with a shrug. Then it seemed to dawn on him exactly what he had just said and how it could possibly be interpreted, and his eyes widened. “No, I mean—that’s not what I meant!” he quickly continued. “I-it’s just, your name, it sounded—I mean, not that it would…”

Buer sighed as the man floundered for an appropriate response. It seemed to him that Konrad was the type of person who tended not to think before he said things. “It’s all right. I don’t mind.”

“Oh—that’s good!” Konrad gave a small, nervous laugh. “So, uh… I actually have to head back out in a few, so let me show you around!” He took another few steps into the room, and then he appeared to realize something else. “Hey, where’s your stuff?”

“Here,” Buer said shortly, pointing to the bag on the couch beside him.

“Wait, that’s it?” Konrad looked incredulous. “Huh… Your brother gave me the impression that you had a ton of stuff to move in.”

“My—?” Buer was about to wonder aloud how Konrad could have possibly had contact with any of his brothers, until it occurred to him that Azazel, the one who had arranged all this in the first place, couldn’t very well go around telling people who he really was. Come to think of it, Azazel seemed equally incredulous earlier that day when he discovered that Buer had so little to take with him. “Oh—my brother, yes.” He laughed as weakly as Konrad had. “He tends to exaggerate things.”

“Yeah, I can tell.” Konrad grinned again, seeming to have regained his confidence. “Well, come on,” he said brightly, after pausing to kick off his shoes by the door. “I’ll show you where your room is.”

Buer nodded, silently following him. The living room exited into two halls on the far left and right side; he had guessed that the left hall went to the kitchen, but he didn’t know for sure as Konrad led him down the right.

“Here’s your room,” said Konrad, opening a door at the far end of the hall. “It’s not much, but you don’t have a lot of stuff, so I guess it’s okay…”

He stepped past Konrad into the room, setting his bag on the floor. It was a small room, to be sure, with a lone twin-sized bed in the corner and a dresser against the wall, but it was no smaller than the last room he had occupied. It was awfully bare, but Buer decided that, as the Dark Regenerist, he probably wouldn’t be spending too much time in here anyway. He paused, noticing a small window to his left—it was already dark out—and turned back to Konrad. “This will do.”

“Ah, good,” he replied, sounding relieved. “I’ve just been using this as a guest room, so there’re extra sheets in the dresser… All right, let me show you the rest of the place.”

And so he was given the grand tour. There was a bathroom next to his, but the only door to it opened from the hallway. Buer was led past the living room and down the other hall, which opened into a kitchen, just as he had guessed, but also had another door further down. (Buer assumed that was where Konrad’s own room was.) He followed Konrad into the kitchen, and couldn’t help but stare longingly at the refrigerator.

“Oh, yeah,” Konrad said over his shoulder, as he squatted down to rummage through a cabinet. “You can help yourself, if you want. I’d stick around for a real meal, but I don’t have the time tonight.”

Buer felt his face burn; had it been so obvious that he was hungry? “Thanks,” he muttered, trying to cover his embarrassment.

“No problem,” he answered cheerfully, pulling out a dark red bottle. “What’s mine is yours. Er, except for the wine. That’s not even mine to begin with.”

“It isn’t?” Buer sat at a small table and gave Konrad a curious look. “Whose is it?”

“Ah, it’s my friend’s,” he said quickly, standing up to inspect the label on the bottle. “He’s, uh, something of an enthusiast, but he can’t keep too much alcohol at his place. Fire hazard, or something like that.”

“I see.” It sounded like a quickly-wrought excuse—something Azazel had taught him to spot in his line of work—and Buer had no idea why he would lie about such a thing, but he decided it would be pointless to press him on the issue when they were just getting to know each other.

“So, what do you do?”

“Huh?” The question caught him off-guard; he had to struggle to remember what Azazel told him to say in situations like this. “Er… Well, I was just recently naturalized, so, um, I’m still looking for a job.”

Konrad appeared thoughtful for a moment. “The City Hall has a career placement service, but if you’re unlucky, they’ll give you a migrant job. I’d help you out myself, but my own work schedule is pretty hectic as it is.”

“Oh?” Buer tilted his head. “What do you do, then?”

“Lots of things,” said Konrad, flashing him a toothy grin. “Odd jobs here and there, all for the same contractor. It’s tough, but it stays interesting.” With that, he started heading for the door, bottle in hand.

“You’re going?”

“Yeah, it can’t be helped. My friend’s pretty impatient.” He bent down to put his shoes back on. “Sorry I can’t stay any longer, but you ought to be fine on your own for at least one night, right?” He finished lacing his shoes and stood again, waving back to Buer. “See you later—or tomorrow—or the next day, I don’t know for sure. Anyway, see you when I see you!”

And he was gone, leaving Buer alone once more. He sat quietly at the table, wondering what he should do. Konrad seemed like a nice enough guy; Azazel certainly could have done worse in finding him a roommate. Plus, even though he was apparently flighty, it would be much easier for him to maintain himself as the Dark Regenerist without someone around most of the time.

But there was something about Konrad Sharpless that deeply troubled him.

That man had no desires.

It was the strangest thing. Since he first took up the staff and power of the Dark Regenerist, Buer had the ability to read a person’s deepest, darkest wishes and wants as clearly as if they were written on his chest. But for Konrad Sharpless—Buer could read nothing.

It was unfathomable. He had never met a single person, aside from Semjaza and Azazel, who did not have a single desire in his heart, and furthermore, Konrad seemed like the ambitious type. But there was no mistaking it: he could not detect a single significant wish belonging to him.

There were only two possible explanations Buer could come up with, and they were both extremes. One: he was perfectly content with his life, and had no desire of accomplishing anything further. But that would make him a saint, and he doubted that Konrad was anything of the sort. So that only left the other option: he had already completely given up on his desires.

That can’t be true, can it?

His powers wouldn’t lie to him; it wasn’t possible. Still, he wasn’t sure if he liked this new information he had gained about his roommate—Konrad Sharpless was a man who had already given up on his greatest desire.

If that was the case, there was nothing he could do about it. At the very least, he wouldn’t have to worry about being summoned and having his cover blown. Buer sighed, putting the thought from his mind, and got up to find something to eat.

There were many things about Auster’s flat that Konrad vastly preferred to his own. One of these was the bathroom, which was much nicer and more expansive than Konrad’s could ever hope to be.

For one, the shower was entirely separate from the bath, and its size made the one in Konrad’s flat feel cramped. It was perfectly sizable for more than one person, and even if one was alone, it was the perfect place to stand and think.

As Konrad was doing now. But there wasn’t much to think about. Idle thoughts vapidly drifted through his mind—or was it the other way around—either way, he didn’t much care. He thought about what excuses he could give Rigel for not getting his work done. He wondered where, what universe Kasahara had come from, trying to stick it just so in his mind that he would remember later to ask. He tilted his head back and wondered if Auster was asleep.

As if on cue, he noticed then that the water was running cold. Damn. Well, it was partly Auster’s fault for going before him and taking so long. He turned off the water with a groan, stepped out of the shower, and toweled himself off before returning to the other room.

The lights were turned off, but Konrad was familiar enough with the room that he had no trouble finding his way to the bed. He could barely make out the outline of Auster’s form, lying peacefully on his side. Konrad sat next to him on the bed, and watched him for a moment—his chest rising and falling with each breath, the slight part in his lips, the utterly serene expression on his face—before he gently shook his shoulder. “Auster… Hey, Auster. I’m leaving now, all right—?”

The (apparently) sleeping man hooked an arm around Konrad’s neck, pulling him down into a deep kiss. Konrad was surprised at the gesture, but decided not to fight it, leaning further down and deeper against Auster’s lips. When he broke away, Auster leveled him with a heady look. “Stay with me tonight.”

Konrad stared at him quizzically. “Uh—sure, I guess.” Hesitantly, he started to crawl beneath the covers. “But I’m done for tonight,” he said firmly. “Got it? No more.”

Auster chuckled, then pulled Konrad closer against him. “Your stamina isn’t what it used to be,” he muttered, softly moving his lips along Konrad’s collarbone.

“It’s got—ah, don’t—it’s got nothing to with st—stop—stamina,” Konrad replied, doing his best to ignore Auster’s uncharacteristic enthusiasm. He had never known the man to be so…well, the only word he could find for it was needy, and it wasn’t like him at all. If Konrad didn’t know him better, he would have attributed it to the alcohol, but Auster’s tolerance was nowhere near that low. “I already used up the hot water, so I’d like it if I didn’t have to take another shower.”

Auster stopped. “You did what?”


A moment’s silence passed, and then Auster sighed heavily. “Never mind, then.”

“Er, if you say so.” Konrad moved to get out of the bed, until Auster wrapped his arms around his waist and pulled him back down.

“I didn’t say you could leave,” Auster said, a little more coldly than before. “I told you to stay with me.”

“Fine, fine.” Konrad had no idea what had gotten into him, but decided it would be best just to go along with him. He didn’t really have a pressing desire to return to his flat, anyway.

He kept his back turned to Auster, and the two of them lay just like that—pressed gently against each other, Auster’s arms draped around Konrad’s sides—for a while in silence. Konrad started to think perhaps Auster had fallen asleep again, and allowed his own eyes to flutter closed, letting his mind drift off…

“Why were you late?”

“Oh.” Konrad grunted, having been caught by surprise. “Uh. Well, someone answered my ad—”

“What ad?”

“Didn’t I tell you, I was looking for a roommate. Rigel keeps paying me less and less, so I need someone to split the rent with.” He wondered why Auster was being so nosy, but couldn’t dwell on it. “Anyway, I got a call from this guy, and—well, he’s not the guy who called, but he moved in today. I had to show him around, help him move in, you know, that kind of stuff.”

There was a pause, and Auster tightened his embrace. “He doesn’t know what you do, does he?”

“What? No, of course not.” Why was he being so paranoid all of a sudden? “What would make you think that?”

“I wouldn’t trust him,” Auster continued, apparently ignoring Konrad. “You shouldn’t. If you spend that much time around him, there’s a chance you could reveal yourself.”

“That’s ridiculous, I would never make that kind of mistake—” Then something occurred to Konrad, a possible reason for his senior’s recent clinginess. “Ah. Wait. You…” His tone became sly. “You’re not jealous, are you?”

There was a longer pause. Auster withdrew his arms and rolled over onto his other side. “Don’t be stupid,” he growled, and was silent for the rest of the night.

Konrad considered apologizing, but there was nothing to apologize for. Auster would forget it by morning. Besides, there was really never any reason for him to be jealous in the first place…

Forget it. Just forget it.

There was a small ache somewhere in his chest, somewhere deeper than his flesh, but he did his best to ignore it. It was a long time before he was finally able to ignore the pain just long enough to get to sleep.


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