Chapter 41:

Secrets Are Meant To Be Revealed

Red is the Color of You

     Work was fairly uneventful, aside from Takeda’s constant pestering as to the morning’s events, though Izumi was unrelenting and refused to give Takeda any more information regarding Eiji. To clear his mind, Izumi decides to take a different path home. He visited a few areas trying to elongate his trip, before ultimately heading home by the call of the night, but not before he made one more stop. Izumi stood before the abandoned office building, one that he would never forget. It reminded him of the time in which he feared Wraith: his strength, guise, mannerisms, wrath. Some part of him chastised his younger self for taking the specter at face value, but then again, Wraith said it himself that he somewhat preferred it that way. The thought of being in a romantic relationship with the same man now still mesmerized him. Maybe one day Eiji would grow past his hatred for Wraith…

An enormous black blur suddenly whizzes by his face accompanied by a gust of wind as it crashes behind him. His hand clasping his necklace, Izumi was prepared for the worst upon turning around, which to his surprise was actually a face he welcomed.


The deer spirit stumbled to its feet, rubble still dripping onto its dusty fur. “Oh, Izumi. What are you doing here?”

“I should be asking you that.”

“HEYYYY IZUMII!!” Before he could even react, a large brute slams beside him and yanks him into a tight squeeze, roughly messing his hair. “Haven’t seen you since–I don’t know when! But it feels like forever!” Neio releases his vise hold, Izumi trying not to make his slight pain obvious.

“The party.” Dahlia emerges from the shadows, dusting off Faelan.

“Yea, that! Which now that I think about it really wasn’t too long ago. New job treating you well?”

“The best it can haha.” He nervously laughed off. It was a lot at times, mainly the aggravation of working with Takeda, but he still enjoyed it overall nonetheless. “What about you guys?”

“BORED!!” Neio loudly groaned, giving an exaggerated eye roll. “We’ve resorted to fighting each other now!”

“What Neio means to say is that the attacks started to die down and he forgot what it’s like to sit peacefully from time to time, so now he’s trying to solidify his position as a general to Faelan who is very much so not trying to steal it.” Dahlia sighed, shaking their imaginary head.

“But he thinks I am because Lord Wraith had joked and said, ‘If you don’t pick up the slack Faelan just might take your job’.”

“You think he’s joking! You don’t know Boss like I do, my position is never safe. He could easily just wake up one day and say you know what I don’t feel like having generals anymore and he would just run with it!”

The near perfect read on Wraith’s character gets a chuckle out of Izumi, which turns into slight fondness and remembering that he hadn’t seen Wraith in the last week either. “How is he by the way?”

“Boss? Same as usual but he’s got this funny glow to him, like nothing could piss him off, which is weird.” Suddenly, Neio kneels over and slyly smirks. “What, you miss him?”

“Kinda.” Izumi scratches the light pink off his cheeks and glances away.

“He isn’t doing anything right now I don’t think if you wanna come over, sure he wouldn’t mind. If it’s you, he lets anything go.”

Although he wanted to, he was a little hesitant. In the case Wraith was busy, he didn’t want to intrude or bother him. Then again, he could just blame Neio and feign innocence… Just the imaginary scenario made him smile. The idea was more like something Wraith would come up with. After texting his mother, he agreed to stop by Wraith’s home.

If there was something the trio was unexpectedly good at, it was giving the couple their space, as almost as soon as they arrived, they left Izumi alone in Wraith’s room, only telling him that he was probably taking a bath. He stood before the door to the bathhouse, steam clouding the stone directly in front, his heart rapidly beating. Fiddling with his necklace, he stuttered to open the door. Why am I so nervous? It’s only been a week and I’m just here to say hi and then go home. With a deep breath, Izumi entered.

There was a thick cloud of steam in the bathhouse, making it incredibly humid and impossible to see more than a few feet in front. Closing the door behind him, Izumi carefully waded through the fog, trying not to slip on the wet tiles. It surprised him that Wraith didn’t say anything. Surely he heard him enter if he didn’t smell him beforehand. Was he even here? A plop of water quickly answered that question as a figure came into view. He was sitting in the bath, back against the pavement. Something seemed…different. Not just in his lack of notice, but in appearance as well. The fog made it hard to discern. Maybe his hair? Izumi didn’t give it much thought. With his nerves fading in turn for excitement, he knelt against the tiles and leaned his lover’s head back, cradling his hair which he now realized was longer than usual.

“Guess who!”

“I smelled you the moment you got here you know.” Wraith warmly smiled. Lowering himself more, Izumi sealed the greeting with a kiss. “Why don’t you come in?”

“Sure, if you turn the temperature down. What’s with all this steam?”

“I like it hot sometimes.” With a wave of his hand, the steam slowly fades away and Izumi’s vision clears. He laughed at himself for not noticing Wraith’s change in appearance even with the steam, but he decided to question him after getting in the bath. As such, he threw off his clothes and sat beside Wraith, which didn’t last long as he pulled Izumi on top, now facing each other. Wraith’s hair was not only longer, reaching to about his waist, but it was dyed fully red rather than its usual ombre. Both eyes were a royal blue, no longer differing in color. In regards to his body, it was the most inhuman that Izumi has seen so far for him but still humanoid. Overall he was larger, still not bigger than Neio but noticeably taller and most of his skin lacked normal pigmentation, as it was a charcoal tone–his talons now present. Only his face and chest were its usual tone. An extensively long spiked tail waded in the water, his wolf ears twitching in curiosity.

“So…what’s with the look?” Izumi finally asked.

“You don’t like it?”

“If I’m honest, it’s fine, I prefer your short hair though.”

“Then I’ll change back later, I’m too lazy right now. I sometimes use this form when I’m fighting and sometimes to stretch my legs, use something other than my 100% human look from time to time.” As he spoke, Izumi glided his hands across his partner’s body, trying to fully absorb the difference. “I wonder if this is how I looked before everything, but at this point it doesn’t really matter.”

Somewhat spacing out, he drifted to Wraith’s animal ears, delicately rubbing them as they fluttered at the touch, his mind absorbed in amazement.

“I won't start panting if that's what you're thinking, they're just for show.”

“Ah-” Snapping back, Izumi retracted his hands. “Sorry it's just...weird I guess, but in a cool way.”

“Or maybe you have some repressed emotions you'd like to get out?” Wraith smirked, pulling him closer.

“I can miss you without being horny, Wraith.”

Gradually, they gravitated into another kiss, the bathhouse echoing the amorous interaction. Their intertwined embrace spoke louder than words ever could, and if Izumi had any doubts that Wraith felt the same, they were gone now. When he tried to part, Wraith only held him tighter, deepening the kiss with his tongue. It became increasingly difficult for him to not get aroused at this point, but just as he began to reach his limit, Wraith finally released him--though a string of saliva still connected the two. On the other hand, Wraith was the more excited one, repressing his desires for Izumi's sake. Still, if he had to go another week without seeing him...

“Do you wanna go on a date?”

Wiping his mouth, Izumi tried to catch his breath. “Like...a date date?”

“Unless you know another kind apparently?”

“N-no, no I was just surprised is all. It'll be our first actual date right? As a couple I mean.”

“Minus that time some months ago with the whole Eiji thing, yea, and if you're not counting the picnic.”

Eiji. The name rang bitter in his ears. He didn't want to be reminded of their argument earlier in the day.

Wraith caught onto his slight facial twinge and questioned, “What’s up? You guys got in another fight?”

“Kinda, just him being stubborn. I'll talk to him again some other time I promise, you don't have to worry about it.”

“You sure?”

“Mhm.” To affirm, Izumi gave him a quick peck. “We can go on a date, I'm off tomorrow. Did you have an idea of where you wanted to go?”

“I have a place in mind but only one really, so if you wanted to do anything outside of that it's your choice.”


“It’s a surprise.” Wraith grinned, playfully pinching his nose. Momentarily scowling, Izumi sighed, too tired to pester him. They wrapped up their bath, drying and clothing themselves as Wraith reverted to his usual appearance. “You know, you actually saw me like that before technically. But you also didn't.”

“Huh? When?”

“When you were drunk and I blindfolded you. I can change my tail, have more or less, spikes or no spikes, fur, whatever it is-”

“Please don't even finish, I don't wanna think about what you might've done with those tails, let alone everything else.”

Lightly laughing, he refrained from ruffling Izumi's hair, knowing it would only make him more embarrassed.

“I’ll take you home and tomorrow morning we can go out.”

     Magic always proved to be a valuable convenience, as they quickly arrived in Izumi's bedroom, skipping the steps of going through the front door and up the stairs. He wanted to greet his mom and Lala, but supposed it'd have to wait until Wraith left. As Izumi got ready for bed, Wraith looked around the room, going through his belongings.

“Man it's been forever since I've been in here. Few months at least I think. Smells less like virgin.”

“I’m too tired to even fight you right now.” Defeatedly, Izumi sank into the bed, staring at Wraith as he fumbled about the room.

Gesturing to the office chair draped in teal, Wraith teased some more, “Hey look it's the shirt I gave you. You wear it that often I see?”

“It’s comfortable to wear around the house.”

“Sure that's the only reason?”

Again, Izumi only sighed in response as Wraith continued scouring until he finally found the photos above the dresser. They consisted mostly of himself with his family, but there were two that stood out--both of the wheat field where they met. While Wraith was busy drowning in his nostalgia, Izumi was entangled in his infatuation. As much as he knew how and why people feared Wraith, it still was strange at times. On the surface, he was alluring. An unachievable temptation for most. Tall, well-built, with an enticing face and a heartwarming smile. Even under the surface, Izumi loved every part of him. Though exhausted, he still loved Wraith's teasing and its familiar yet caring fondness. He wished he could spend everyday with him, fully devoting himself to Wraith's side just as Neio and Dahlia have, and now Faelan. But, he had his place here, too. He couldn't leave his mother and Lala, and as much as they fight, Eiji too. A muffled voice eventually broke through, bringing him back to the present moment.

Wraith sat on his knees, cradling Izumi’s arms. “Izumi? You alright? I’ve been calling your name.”

“Y-yea I was just thinking about something.”

“Mind if I ask what?”

“....” Izumi scratched his temple. “…”

Wraith’s lips slightly parted then closed with a gentle smile. “Why are you thinking about me? I’m right here.”

He stood up, gliding a few locks of Izumi’s hair behind his ear and giving him a comforting kiss. Before he can pull away, Izumi jerks him back by his shirt, reconnecting their lips. Desperately he flipped Wraith over, pushing him onto the bed and adding more moisture to the inside of his mouth. Originally, Wraith was unsure what to do with his hands as he was surprised from the sudden advance until finally he settled them on Izumi’s waist. Aggressively he parted Wraith’s dress shirt, the buttons dismantling with a collection of loud pops. Izumi pawed at his partner’s torso, ranging from his chest to his abdomen. He didn’t necessarily want intercourse; rather, he just wanted to feel Wraith. The warmth of his skin, his touch. The comfort and consolation provided from just his presence alone. Through their connected mouths Izumi tried to convey these feelings to him and soon enough he understood, relaxing in his embrace and letting him do as he pleased. They became so engrossed with each other that they didn’t hear the footsteps creeping towards the door until it creaked open with a gasp. While Wraith didn’t care too much, Izumi felt his heart sink as he quickly peels himself off with a petrified stare at the entryway. Lala rushed in, excitedly wagging her tail and nuzzling Wraith’s leg.



Kanae cleared her throat, looking away. “Sorry I didn’t know you were home, I was wondering why Lala suddenly ran upstairs and well um….” She took a quick glance at Wraith half shirtless under her son before immediately removing her eyes again. “N-nice to see you, Wraith.”

“Y-yea…um…” Embarrassed, he fumbles to button his shirt as Izumi moves over to let him stand. He ruffles Lala’s fur and awkwardly smiles at Kanae then Izumi. “I was uh just leaving so um yea…have a good night.” Quickly, he gives Izumi a peck and disappears with a slight puff of steam.

“So……good night…?”

Too flustered to even respond, Izumi watches his mom leave the room, Lala trotting behind. As soon as the door shuts, he screams into his pillow, wishing for a moment that he didn’t live under his mother’s roof.


     Vahan’s smile didn’t reach his eyes; this, even the new and innocent specter of guilt could discern. She held some of her Victorian dress in her quivering hands as she sat down before the small coffee table. Her eyes darted everywhere, trying to figure out Vahan’s intentions for the invitation before he could speak. Before he sat, he poured a cup of tea for both then offered sugar, to which she declined. Thia didn’t even reach for the cup, keeping her fists balled over her knees.

“There’s no need to be so tense, I won’t hurt you.” The only response he received was kneaded eyebrows in doubt and contemplation. Sighing, Vahan’s wings stretched out, fluttered, then relaxed once more. “Then I suppose I’ll get to the point. I saw how you looked at Wraith at the ball. It’s only natural that you feel strangely about him considering he brought an end to your predecessor, but it’s something more, isn’t it? It looked more like you know something about him, something no one else knows.”

Finally, she spoke, breaking under the pressure. “I should go! Thank you for inviting me!” She bolted from the chair, nearly tripping over herself on the way out. Vahan didn’t try to stop her. The robust reaction was all he needed to know that he was right, and that he needed to learn what she knew.