Story by Tsumori Tokio
Saladin puts on a coat that a patient had gifted him with for saving his life. Lucifard informs him that the coat is worth a fortune, saying the doctor shouldn't wear it in public without a bodyguard--adding that he believes Saladin himself is worth more than the coat. Saladin struggles to interpret that as an estimation of his professional skills as a first-class doctor, though in his heart he wants it to have a more personal meaning. Since Lucifard doesn't have a coat, having taken it off to be cleaned after it was drenched with beer, Saladin wraps himself around the officer's arm to help keep him warm.
Lucifard mentions that he has had an unfortunate past as an "escort sheep." He clarifies his meaning by saying that, as a teen, he was often tricked into innocently escorting older women (wolves) home, and once they arrived the women would pounce and "eat" him. The conversation turns to what would happen if Saladin took him back to his apartment and pounced him. Lucifard, still a Purple Heaven addict, brightly asks which of them would be the seme and which the uke. Saladin tells him that he needs to cut down on reading that publication and seek help.
They borrow a public hovercraft and Lucifard drives back to the hospital. The doctor watches his hands investigating the controls of the unfamiliar car and imagines the officer similarly exploring "unfamiliar territory" while in bed. Saladin is surprised at his own fantasy, since he has never thought about someone that way before.
Lucifard takes a "shortcut" through a treacherous path that is little more than a cave tunneling through a mountain. He insists that he is being careful and they are perfectly safe, but the doctor is terrified and Not Amused. Lucifard remarks that everyone has to die sometime, and he would consider it a "good" death if he were to meet his end together with Saladin. The doctor counters that he wants to live forever with the one he loves. He intends it as a confession of his feelings, but he knows the officer is too dense to get it.
When they get through, Saladin decides he should turn on his scent and just pounce the officer while they're alone in the car and he can bite to his heart's content. Just before he puts his plan into action, however, he is called by the hospital with the details of the patient he is about to see. As they pull into the hospital parking garage, Lucifard smiles glowingly at something that is said, and Saladin realizes that he's glad he didn't act on his impulse. If he were to turn Lucifard into his consort against the officer's will, he would probably never see a smile like that again. He wants Lucifard to want to be with him.
When they get out of the car, the doctor moves around behind Lucifard and turns on his scent. He has figured out that the officer can resist it as long as their eyes don't meet. Lucifard understands that the doctor is expressing his displeasure at the dangerous ride, but tells him to cut it out, because he doesn't want to risk doing something he will regret. The doctor assures him that the scent won't make Lucifard react to anyone except him, and it will probably wear off in a couple of hours. They're fine...until Lucifard is paged, and in responding, drops something from his pocket that clinks on the ground. They both look at the sound, then in raising their eyes, their gazes lock.
Lucifard grabs the doctor before he can escape and pushes him down on the hood of the car. He starts kissing Saladin passionately, working his way down the doctor's neck, until he arrives at the collar bone.
Saladin is aroused just remembering the event. He is curious that Lucifard seems to react to his scent slightly differently each time, and he wonders if the officer is gaining a tolerance for it. He is afraid at the thought that its effectiveness might eventually diminish. He worries that if he keeps pushing with the scent while Lucifard is reluctant, the officer will become immune, and then he will never feel those arms around him again. He grows even more determined to throw all his effort into seducing Lucifard as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, back at the base, Lilah finds Lucifard sprawled on the floor, helpless from laughing so hard at the issue of Purple Heaven she gave him that day. He tries to tell her what's happening in the story he's reading, but it conjures up such a preposterous mental image that she begs him to stop, threatening to "keep him awake" that night if he doesn't. He protests that he needs his sleep because he's giving Saladin a flying lesson the next day so the doctor can renew his piloting license. The topic turns to his relationship with the doctor; when Lilah refers to them as "friends" it strikes him as the wrong term. She says that she doesn't mind if they become lovers, because she has recently noticed Saladin's overwhelming appeal and, as she puts it, "what's yours is mine." She figures that if Lucifard gets him, she doesn't have to worry about being jealous that someone else is stealing him.
Lucifard denies that he has any romantic interest in the doctor, but it makes him thoughtful. He muses on a rose tattoo that was a point in the Purple Heaven story he was reading and imagines that such a tattoo would really suit Saladin. He pictures the doctor offering to show his tattoo, slowly unbuttonning his white lab coat...and is jolted out of the fantasy when he realizes that he was imagining Saladin naked underneath. He tells himself that it is incredibly rude to think about the doctor that way and that he has no reason to want to see another man naked--he's seen more than enough of that just from being in the military. The more he contemplates it, however, it strikes him that as a Houraijin, Saladin's body has an intriguing air of mystery. He thinks back to the incident in the parking garage, and the pearl white skin that was so inviting and delectable. This time he is startled out of his reverie when he licks his lips at the memory. Shaken by his own thoughts, he promises to himself that he will work hard at making his relationship with Saladin a *healthy friendship*...and will cut down on reading Purple Heaven.
Lucifard receives an email from someone associated with the police named Twinmeia de Ela Red, who wants to meet him the next day. Though Lucifard does not like being reminded that he mind-merged with a complete stranger, the email has threatening overtones implying that if he refuses the meeting, he will be arrested.
The next morning, he goes to the hospital to apologize in person to Saladin for having to delay their first flying lesson. The doctor, who is utterly determined to get Lucifard in bed, has turned his charm and flirtation on full power. When he hears that the officer will be meeting the Mermenoid, he expresses his jealousy by asking Lucifard to swear not to cheat on him with the beautiful telepath. Lucifard, usually unperceptive when it comes to the doctor's flirting, is atypically sensitive. He assures Saladin that he can't imagine he would find anyone else more intriguing than the Houraijin himself. To bolster his own resolve, Lucifard makes the doctor agree that they should maintain a "healthy friendship." Saladin, of course, has his own particular interpretation of what would be "healthy."
As he is leaving the hospital, Lucifard runs into Kaja. The Hakushi is struck by how similar the officer is to Mariliard. The prince had been one of Kaja's good friends, someone who treated him with dignity. He knows that the resemblance is the source of his attraction to Lucifard, but that doesn't make it any less painful that the officer doesn't feel the same way about him.
Lucifard leaves the military base and meets Red at a cafe. The officer wants to gain the cooperation of the Guardians to investigate the peculiarities he discovered during the conflict with the mafia. While Lucifard had been incapacitated from the pain of overextending his powers, Makoto and the other military hacker had fought over examining his Brain Gear and had wound up dropping it on the floor. The sensitive instrument was damaged by the impact and cannot be repaired by anyone but the inventors, who are essentially on the opposite side of the galaxy.
Lucifard shares the information he was able to gather in the few minutes he had spent using his Brain Gear in Full Drive. Not only had he discovered five laser satellites--which have since been destroyed to remove evidence--he detected an unusual amount of computer power *under* the Yellow Town slum. His brief investigation uncovered an underground spaceship that is being used as a base for a group that calls itself "Evil." The spaceship itself had been there since before Vermillion was colonized. Lucifard believes that the slum was intentionally built on top of the ship's location so that the electricity the unlawful residents steal disguises the energy that the ship uses. He detected a second underground base on another continent, Ivory.
During the conversation, Red reveals a little about himself. When Terranauts first left earth under immense population pressures, they began colonizing every habitable planet they found, regardless of whether it already had intelligent species living there. This expansion caused the extinction of at least twelve other races. When Terranauts met up with the Galactic Federation, they were given access to more advanced technology, but in return they had to sign an agreement that stated they would no longer attempt to colonize inhabited planets. By that time, however, a great deal of damage had already been done. Red's race can only reproduce underwater. When humans colonized their planet, the oceans were contaminated with microorganisms that killed the Mermenoids. Unable to enter the water to reproduce, they were driven to extinction.
Red is a clone of the original Twinmeia. When he dies, another clone will be created. The number of times Twinmeia will be cloned has been pretedermined as a kind of "reparation" for his race's extinction. He carries with him everywhere an old book containing the history of his race. He admits that every previous Twinmeia suicided before reaching the full extent of his centuries-long lifespan. Red considers it inevitable, feeling not only that his life has no purpose, he spends it surrounded by short-lived humans who keep dying and leaving him lonely.
Lucifard, whose philosophy is to stay alive at all costs, is furious at Red's attitude. He insists that, though the Mermenoid extinction was the fault of the Terranauts, Red's own unhappiness can be blamed on no one other than himself. If he wants someone to keep him company, he shouldn't keep hanging around humans, he should go in search of someone from another long-lived race to form a relationship. Red responds that Lucifard couldn't possibly know how he feels, to which the officer easily agrees and counters that Red can't know how he feels either, as someone who has seen many people--who wanted desperately to live--killed in combat.
When Lucifard begins heading back to the base, he is suddenly attacked by snipers. Red takes a bullet that seriously injures him. Lucifard is able to heal the physical damage, but the shock virtually incapacitates the delicate Mermenoid. Lucifard forcibly mind-merges with Red to take advantage of his telepathy and target the snipers. He uses his psychokinesis to fling stone fragments at the enemy with deadly precision. He manages to kill all three, but not before one of them called for backup.
Lucifard needs to contact Nicolaroon to cover up the incident, because killing anyone through the use of psychic powers is strongly forbidden by galactic law, even in self-defense. He decides to carry Red to the military hospital. At first, Red was horrified of Lucifard, calling him a monster, for the same reason that Kaja had feared him. Eventually, however, he realizes that Lucifard isn't the robot he seemed, that the officer really does have emotions deep down. Red protests that he shouldn't be taken to the military hospital because Saladin hates him--he was able to pick that up from Lucifard's mind. The officer assures him that he will be in Kaja's care and that he will be well tended. Red bluntly says that he has fallen in love with Lucifard, especially since they have already been psychically more intimate than a married couple. However, he has passed his mating season long ago, so he does not expect that kind of relationship.
Just as they are crossing a bridge over a river, they are confronted by the snipers' reinforcements. It is a group led by the mercenary whom Lilah had fought when rescuing the kidnap victim, a woman named Bloody Les. She is part of a group called the Blue Dragons, and she's incredibly dangerous. She and her flunkies aim their guns at Lucifard, whose arms are occupied with carrying the Mermenoid.
End Volume Six
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