They want different things.
"I'll never be that," he says, and Magatsu says, "Huh?" so he presses Magatsu's shoulders to the floor of the dojo and kisses and kisses him until Magatsu slides fingers into his hair and rakes them down sharply, leaving eight trails of burning reddening skin.
Magatsu, always careful in the beginning, grows harsher and bolder, lust dulling the distinctions of hierarchy. Do you see this, Grandfather? to make the long-suffering shade hovering over his shoulder shake its fist in impotent fury. Years into the grave, and his grandson won't stop challenging him. Anotsu lets his lips curl up, predator-smirk, and watches Magatsu's eyes darken.
Push. Prod. He won't stop challenging anyone, and those who can't take it leave him.
Those who can take it, grow.
Magatsu's hair is crushed around his face -- pity, because Anotsu has a partiality for those proud spikes, but difference, unfamiliarity is always appreciated. He grinds down with his hips (quicksilver explosion of /ohyes/), waits for Magatsu's hiss, then lowers his head when it comes and nips hard on the dimple in Magatsu's chin.
"God/damn/ -- " Breathless, accusatory hiss. There's a clear curve of teethmarks on skin when he lifts his head, like an imprint of the smallest necklace in the world.
He's prepared when Magatsu surges up, a sharp, clean movement, trying to flip him over; before Magatsu can gain leverage, he moves his hand between Magatsu's things and gives a vicious stroke. Stroke, sword-stroke, and it's as effective as one, stiffening the muscles beneath him before they relax into water.
"You unutterable bastard," says Magatsu, a compliment that Anotsu takes in the spirit offered.
They rut there on the plywood floor the obasan wipe spotlessly clean after training sessions, and by morning there will be mess, and talk, but neither care to listen. The lamplight flickers and dances. Night breathes languorously, with hunger.
Anotsu's bracelets clink against each other, slowly at first and then, by degrees, with increasing frequency until it becomes a frantic jangle and finally yes, yes, yes, yes, /yes/, and this time Magatsu doesn't say anything when he bites down, just crushes his hands on Anotsu's torso as the world goes dark.
In the past, he's wondered what it is that defines her, turns her into the perfect killing force that she is.
Nothing as simple as enhanced speed or strength; she's strong for a woman, swift for a fighter, but there is nothing astonishing in her physical makeup to explain how an untrained girl drove her brother to suicide out of shame, decimated a pack of dogs without effort.
The responses of her body are remarkable, but human; the economy of her movements, the perfection of placement, are not. It's in mid-combat tactics that she excels, a girl who's fought perhaps ten battles in her life, maybe fifteen, certainly no more than twenty.
She rarely allows him a chance to watch her fight. When it comes, he makes the most of it, and this is his conclusion: that her mind is caught on a slightly different plane than the rest of her, where time runs in slow, syrupy threads.
He wonders how the world looks from there.
There are stories of men who live in dreams, the prophets and visionaries of bygone ages, who'd marked the edge of each wave of revolution before being trod into the dust underneath. Anotsu stands beyond their ranks. His mind flies, but his feet are firmly rooted in reality, and for all his ambition he never loses sight of the earth that supports him. Once he'd thought that she could be a leader -- his leader -- but time has revealed the flaws in that idea.
Makie knows nothing of the world, or the value of her strength. She can shine brighter than Amaterasu with steel in her hand, but she would trade it all in a heartbeat for his love.
Of all things, love.
Magatsu is doing up his kimono. Anotsu has already finished, not a hair or thread out of place. If he looked in a mirror, there would be nothing to indicate how his body throbs and aches.
Appearances must be maintained. Some lessons do stay beaten in.
"I won't stop you from going, you know," he says, but Magatsu only shrugs, tying off the sash at his waist, with an occasional wince at intervals.
"Couldn't if you wanted to, eh, Chief? I'll stick close a while, I think."
"The sentiment is appreciated."
"Hey, no sentiment involved. You're an interesting guy to be around."
"I could say the same," he murmurs after a pause. The back of his neck itches, and his ribs hurt, and it's all very interesting. "You should sleep; there are hard times ahead."
Magatsu will leave again, not even a question, sure as the leaves fall. The Itto-Ryu's had its share of fair-weather friends, but Magatsu is the opposite, interested only in ten-to-one odds, there to fight the underdog's battle (and to satisfy some odd sense of chivalry that Anotsu isn't sure he wants to know about). When the pendulum swings back in their favor, there will be nothing left to keep him.
Magatsu's not the strongest fighter in the group, but among this brotherhood of ruffians and vagabonds Anotsu holds together with gum, his ambition is unique.
Makie longs for love, Anotsu chases power, and for Magatsu, freedom is the treasure he grasps with both hands. They're headed towards different destinations, but for now, they walk the same path, facing the same direction.
"You look like you're thinking of something funny." Magatsu's looking at him slantwise, curiousity turning his eyebrows into thick black arches.
"Just pondering the inevitable."
"Sunrise, sunset, life, death?"
"Yes." He lifts his arms, stretches, tries to let the misfortune and tension of the last few months disappear in the movement, free himself of sickness, dead wives and meaningless slaughter. "Something like that."