"The Ace of Hearts Hasn't Appeared"Story by Tsumori Tokio
Illustrations by Mamahara Ellie
Summary by Amparo Bertram
The Christmas season has arrived and many of the officers on the base have been given time off to spend the holiday with their families. The married men, however, have been effectively kicked out of their houses by their wives because they keep getting in the way of party preparations. Two such married men, Raj and Eddie, drag Walter and Lucifard into playing poker with them to keep them entertained.
They want to bet on the game to make it interesting, but Raj's wife has forbidden wagering money, so they compromise by wagering dares. Each man thinks up the name of a person and writes it on a slip of paper. Each then thinks of an action and writes it on a separate slip of paper. The names and actions are matched randomly, and one set goes to the loser of each round. It just so happens that each man loses once, so they all wind up equal...except that Walter gets stuck with Doctor Alamoot, whose name he himself put in the mix. He begs Lucifard to switch with him, but Lucifard is having none of that.
The men go off in pairs to carry out the dares--one to do the deed, the other to film it as evidence. The four gather once again in Lucifard's quarters to watch the videos. The first is Raj, who is assigned to give a "pony ride" to Melissa. Melissa cracks up when she hears about the bet. She expresses disappointment that she didn't get Lucifard, yet she goes along with it good-naturedly. Next up is Eddie, who picked Lila. He bravely carries out his charge to fondle her chest. Lucifard cringes as Lila vents her annoyance at the harrassment by thoroughly trouncing Eddie...but Eddie himself is in seventh heaven. The three other men are rather disturbed to have witnessed the evidence of his masochistic fetish.
Finally it's Walter's turn. Lucifard films him as they get Doctor Psycho into a deserted hospital hallway and explain the situation. Walter's dare is to touch his rear. When Lucifard sees the doctor's chilly response, he tries to escape, but Saladin swiftly blocks him with a needle that makes him freeze in place. The doctor insists that if Walter is going to use his body for entertainment, then he gets to use Walter's body for entertainment in exchange. He touches Walter's hand to his rear to fulfill his part of the bargain and then marches Walter into his office, confiscating Lucifard's screen glasses as he goes.
Lucifard manages to remove the needles with his telekinesis, ending his paralysis, and rushes to save Walter. He catches them just before Saladin can use Walter to test how long his needles can neutralize desire for the opposite sex. Lucifard's intervention allows Walter to escape, and Walter uses the opportunity to run away at full speed, leaving Lucifard to "entertain" the doctor in his place. Saladin is rather pleased by this turn of events, pointing out that the room is soundproofed, so no matter how big a commotion they make, no one will be the wiser. He then reaches out and turns off the videocamera.
In the doctor's office, no one can hear you scream.
The other men watching all react as if they have just seen the most frightening horror movie of their lives. Lucifard himself likens his experience to bungee jumping, with the doctor playing the role of the abyss. As for Lucifard's off-record Close Encounter...
The doctor begins by running his hand down the officer's body, naming the various muscles as he goes. Lucifard can't quite determine whether he's receiving an anatomy lecture or being seduced. The doctor comments that when people are in a scary situation that makes their hearts race, they often confuse the feeling with the excitement of sexual arousal. Lucifard counters that although he's familiar with that fact, a little tickling isn't enough to make his heart race. Now, about that "payment"...
As the doctor starts to turn away to make some tea, Lucifard grabs him and pulls him in for a deep kiss. The moment the kiss ends, he tries to make a dash for the door--the plan being to "pay and run"--until Saladin points out that he's still holding the officer's screen glasses hostage.
Lucifard's heart starts to race. He hastens to clarify that he is VERY aware that it's because he's scared of imminent danger, and he won't be confusing his fear with love, thank you kindly. The doctor flirtingly responds that the "payment" was a bit too high and he needs to give back some "change"...
Saladin mentions that Lucifard's long hair is beautiful and suits his discriminating taste. Lucifard protests that when it's filthy from battle it isn't attractive at all, but the doctor contradicts him. The moment Lucifard appeared to rescue him from the clutches of Bloody Les, he was profoundly moved by the sight. Lucifard, in full battle mode, enacted revenge for Saladin's capture and humiliation by ripping out the woman's still-beating heart and crushing it in front of the doctor's eyes.
Saladin was quite turned on by this.
Lucifard later realized that O2 had intentionally set him up to be attracted to the Houraijin. That fixation turned out to be the key to unlocking Lucifard's full powers. Lucifard hates to admit that his father was right in comparing him to a child fascinated by something beautiful yet dangerous. He knows he shouldn't touch it, but its forbidden nature makes him want to all the more. He is conscious of the fact that he will do anything it takes to protect Saladin, no matter what the cost.
Contemplating the saying that "if you gaze into the Abyss, the Abyss gazes also into you," Lucifard wonders which of the two is really captivated by the other more. As he muses on this point, their lips meet in yet another kiss...
Back in the present, the men watch the video of Lucifard's dare. His task is, of all things, to kiss Kaja. The men think it's too bad Walter didn't switch with Lucifard, because at least the "kiss" order didn't specify "on the lips." Lucifard is thunderstruck that such a loophole hadn't occurred to him. He internally moans that he's gotten too accustomed to kissing men.
Since Walter abandoned him, Lucifard snags one of the male hospital guards and orders him to videotape the proceedings. (He knows better than to ask one of the Purple Heaven-crazy nurses to witness the event.) He takes Kaja into an empty room and, before the doctor can escape, scoops the small Hakushi into his arms and kisses him deep and long.
The cameraman zooms in for a tight closeup.
Kaja struggles, but he's no match for the officer's superior strength. Eventually Lucifard pulls away slightly--only to change the angle and continue the kiss. His long hair tumbles down to hide the kiss from view, making the other three spectators unconsciously shout in protest.
At long last, Lucifard lets the doctor go, but it doesn't end there. Kaja is furious and dissolves into tears of frustration at being made a fool for Lucifard's amusement. The officer, filled with remorse, takes the Hakushi once again into his arms and apologizes profusely. His sweet whispers as he attempts to soothe Kaja by stroking and kissing his hair have a profound effect on the men watching. Even the cameraman tries to run away to make a copy of the film, but Lucifard stops him. The men are astonished to realize that they now have a new understanding for their slashfic-loving female colleagues.
However, Lucifard dashes their dreams by ejecting the videodisc and destroying it.
After the other men leave, Lucifard decides to buy drinks for Lila, Kaja, and Saladin by way of apology. He has only recently broken his mental seal and doesn't yet truly comprehend feelings of romantic love. Luckily, he and the two doctors all have long lifespans, so there's plenty of time for planning a seduction strategy.
As for the moment, though, no one has drawn Lucifard's Ace of Hearts.
End "Ace of Hearts"