omnicat: (for Darker than Black)
Omnicat ([personal profile] omnicat) wrote2017-07-12 07:04 pm

FIC: Living the Dream [Darker than Black, Hei & Pai]

Title: Living the Dream
Author: Omnicat
Spoilers & Desirable Foreknowledge: Tensai Okamura & co’s Darker than Black: the Black Contractor anime.
Warnings: None.
Characters & Relationships: Hei & Pai
Summary: Pai spent five years as a disembodied superpower dispenser. It’s about time she got to let herself go a little. // 1096 words
Author’s Note: Enjoy!



Living the Dream

Pai gasped and grabbed his arm. For a moment Hei tensed, all his senses going into high alert looking for the threat – before she pointed and excitedly stage-whispered: "Are those cupcakes?!"

He looked in the direction she indicated, and yes, that would indeed be a large, garishly pastel-and-frills bakery selling nothing but cupcakes. And maybe some muffins. He laughed in relief.

"Of course they are. You don’t have to act like you’ve never seen cupcakes before."

"But I haven’t, remember?" she said, with a mischievous smile. "That was you. Come on, I want some. You never fed me enough of the things I like."

She dragged him across the street and into the bakery, a definite spring in her step. He tugged her grip from his elbow, took her hand in his, and squeezed it gently.

Pai put so much effort into blending in with people, these days. It looked a little awkward to Hei – she’d been changed so young, and child Contractors never seemed to relearn how to emote in quite as natural a way as adults could – but then, he was trained to look for it. He doubted many others would be able to tell that almost every gesture and expression was a conscious decision.

He still felt a little guilty about that. After a decade of trying to remake himself in her inhuman image, watching her turn around and pull this affected version of humanity around herself like a coat just looked unnatural. He’d hated living a lie all those years; she shouldn’t have to start now. But she’d told him in no uncertain terms that because he had needs she didn’t – no brother, shut up, they’re needs, not weak selfish desires or whatever you’ve convinced yourself of, we’re getting you a bunch of human psychology textbooks from the library first thing tomorrow – they would live in a way that met those needs.

‘Besides,’ she’d said. ‘Who said anything about lying? Just because I put it on a little strong sometimes doesn’t mean it’s not real.’

"I am going to eat so many of you," Pai whispered to the rainbow of festively decorated cupcakes in their glass displays. The predatory glint in her eyes was definitely one hundred percent honest and proportionate to what she was feeling. "Five years worth of being deprived of you."

"You know, I would have eaten more sweets for you, but someone decided not to tell me I was supposed to be eating for two," Hei said airily.

"Better unsatisfied than dead."

Still a Contractor at the core. Smiling to himself, Hei shook his head. "Just saying, if you wanted it so badly, you could’ve dropped some quantum hints there was a sweet tooth on board."

"Maybe I did, and you were just too dense to get it," she said with a serene smile.

He supposed that was only fair.

(In retrospect, he was really, really glad he’d come out of South America with no libido to speak of. A sign of extreme emotional drain and stress and quite possibly depression, the psychology books informed him, but not one he’d ever complain about. No amount of ‘it wasn’t watching, exactly, more like I kept drifting in and out of a very long, very frustrating dream – and I knew when to look away, I’m a Contractor, not a pervert’ would have made a more active sex life bearable to look back on.)

Pai turned to the politely confused girl behind the counter, switching from Chinese to perfect, accentless Japanese. "Excuse me, can you tell me what flavors all of these are?"

"Certainly! Here on this side we have various chocolate flavors. Plain milk chocolate glaze with a milk chocolate creme filling, dark chocolate glaze with milk chocolate chips..."

Hei watched a new variation of surprised delight, mouth-watering anticipation, and earth-shattering revelation cross his sister’s face with every new flavor, and felt his own heart lift like the head of a flower getting its first taste of rain after a drought. If even half of those faces were genuine, every minute of those ten hellish years had been worth it.

When the salesgirl had reached the end of the glass cases, and the freezers, and the shelves behind her, and the special items on the menu that were only made to order, Pai subtly wiped her mouth and declared: "I’ll take one of each."

"One of..." The girl looked around at her wares in confusion. "One of each of the green tea-based flavors, you mean?"

Those had been the last she’d listed.

"No, one of every flavor. In your whole assortment. The entire store. Everything here," Pai emphasized, waving her arms so there could be no mistaking her intent no matter what language barriers the bakery girl might imagine were at fault. "Oh, and a copy of your cookbook! So my brother can bake me some when we get back home too."

Hei had a Very Convenient Coughing Fit.

The salesgirl sagged with relief. "Ah, you’re joking. Thank goodness."

"Oh no, she’s perfectly serious. We’ll have one of everything you have in stock," Hei said.

The girl paled and inched towards the door leading to the back of the bakery. "Uh... boss!"

In the end, one of the employees had to run and beg some large shopping bags from the clothing store across the street to fit all the boxes of cupcakes into. But Pai got her five years worth.

Or the first course, anyway.

"Leave some for tomorrow," Hei advised, seeing the rate at which she was working through her haul before they’d even made it to the train.

"I don’t tell you to leave some of your lunch for dinner, so don’t tell me how to eat my cupcakes."

"False equivalence. Cake and candy aren’t proper meals."

"Everything can be a proper meal if you eat enough of it," she decreed, mouth full and eyes closed, supremely unconcerned. "And you’re not the only one who inherited mom’s stomach, so cake and candy can too be my breakfast, lunch and dinner. Deal with it."

Their mother would have scolded him until his ears were ringing if she’d known he let Xing buy so many cupcakes in the first place.

Then again, he thought, as the train brought them closer to their apartment and Pai slowly reverted to the smaller and quieter expressions she favored when they were home and it was just the two of them – the ones she didn’t have to think about, more natural, but today no less content, not in the slightest...

Then again, maybe not.

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