Title: Psion
Author: freeradical9

E-mail: freeradical9 (at) gmail (.) com
Webpage: http://freeradical9.livejournal.com

Rating: NC-17
Warnings: AU, crossover world, explicit M/M, extreme racial prejudice, language, 
violence, rampant abuse of italics, and some additional unrequested kinks
Word count: 9,184

Summary: In a bleak alter-future, a telepath and a fugitive connect. 

A/N: Written for the prompt - Saiyuki - Hakkai/Gojyo - AU, futuristic, technophilic themes - the halfbreed really isn't human. Erm. This prompt ate my brain. Apologies in advance for having changed the intended order for the pairing...although truthfully the line here is somewhat blurred, for reasons that will become clear upon reading. I hope it's still an acceptable match to the request. 

The futuristic themes in this story are largely adapted from the sci-fi novel of the same name by Joan D. Vinge, a tale that revolves around a halfbreed named Cat. One doesn't need to be familiar with that story to understand this one. Additional warnings for being unbeta'd, and about three times longer than originally intended. ^_^  

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Micah knew he was in trouble when his psi limiter began to fail. 

He was walking down a crowded sidewalk on one of the main streets of Little Tougenkyou, one of the worst of the youkai slums on the Federation planet of Ardattee. The dingy shops that lined the street had been closed since some time around midnight, their doors and windows locked and heavily barred against vandals and thieves. In front of the shops, drug-pushers and harlots loitered, hawking their wares brazenly. Most of the pedestrians had come here for just that type of business, and on this warm spring night the sidewalks were thriving with illicit trade.

The signs from Micah's failing limiter were subtle, at first. It started as whispers, his rouge telepathy picking up snatches of thought from the crowd. He began to draw odd, sidelong glances from the people he passed on the street, and as he caught sight of his reflection in the grimy plate glass of a storefront window, he saw why. The image enhancer built into the limiter was starting to go. His youkai ears were shortening, losing their points, and his close-cropped black hair was flickering oddly red in the light from the streetlamps overhead.

Micah cursed his luck, shoving his hands deeper into the pockets of his brown leather jacket. He kept his head down and lengthened his stride, making for the relative shelter and privacy of the one-room flat that was still twelve blocks away. It was getting worse as he walked. The unwanted thoughts were growing louder, and emotions were starting to spill over into his psi. He felt the drug craving from the youkai hooker on the corner who was trying to quit her addiction, felt the lust of the johns looming over her as he strode past. Directly behind him, he felt fear from a youkai businessman who'd worked too late, had taken a wrong turn and wound up in the ghetto by accident. A bit farther back lurked the calm purpose of the mugger who stalked him. Micah started to sweat. He had never been good at shielding himself without a psi limiter, and he was starting to loose the thread of his own thoughts in the clamoring noise of the crowd.

Without meaning to, he rebounded off somebody's shoulder. "Sorry," he mumbled, wincing as sharp anger from the other stabbed into his head.

Clawed fingers wrapped around his shoulder in a vice-like grip. "Watch it, halfbreed," the youkai snarled. Micah made the mistake of looking up. The youkai's eyes widened as he registered Micah's crimson irises and slit pupil eyes. Halfbreed, yes. Half youkai...but not half human. The youkai's anger dissolved into a sudden spike of disgust as his thoughts seared into Micah's head. (Alien freak!)

Micah felt nauseous as the bitter bile of the youkai's prejudice swept over him. Never mind that there was barely any outward difference between humans and hydrans except for pale coloration and slit pupil eyes. Never mind that all three types of humanoids populating the Federation planets--hydran, youkai, and human, were identical enough at the DNA level to successfully interbreed. Hydrans were the ones that supposedly had their origins on a planet other than Earth, and that made them the aliens. Unwanted, outcasts, freaks.

At that moment there was a static buzz, a sharp pop, and the row of studs connected with their length of silver chain burned hot around the edge of Micah's left ear. The psi limiter shorted out completely, and with it went the remaining three-quarters of his psionic shields.

There were too many minds on this high-traffic street. Micah just couldn't block them all. Desperate, he wrenched away from the grip on his shoulder and plunged across the street, deaf to the blaring horns of the aircabs that slammed on their brakes. The youkai behind him was shouting after him, drawing everyone's attention, but Micah could barely hear. There was too much noise, too many people inside his head.

Ngh. Micah clutched at his temples and blindly ducked around a corner into an alley, to sink helplessly back against the wall. Even here, the psionic clamor from the street verged on overwhelming. If he was going to make it the rest of the way home, he'd have to take the back streets. First, however, he needed to find someplace quiet, a place where he could construct rudimentary mental shields and regain his equilibrium.

Cautiously, he lifted his head and looked around, getting his bearings. The alley wasn't lit, however Micah's slit pupil eyes reacted to the dim light like a cat's, allowing him to see clearly in the dark. There was a warehouse district not too far away from this area. It would be mostly deserted at this time of night, a place he could hide out temporarily where his psi wouldn't be overwhelmed. Perfect. He pushed himself off the wall.

He'd only gone a few steps when twin shadows filled up the alley behind him, moving forward, purposeful. Their razor-sharp thoughts cut through the pedestrian garble clogging his mind. Those thoughts were seething with anticipation, exhilaration, and loathing. Micah caught his breath. All that shouting out on the street had drawn the attention of a roving youkai gang. They loved to make easy targets of hydrans because the ineffectual and corrupt street police that occasionally patrolled the ghetto inevitably turned a blind eye when they died.

Calmly, Micah continued walking, aiming to get as far away from the crowded street and the distracting jumble of minds as he could. In the slums, youkai often hunted in packs--and so it came as no surprise when two more minds joined the stalkers behind, and a group of four stepped into the alley ahead. Micah stopped where he was, and they advanced on him, each one radiating a sinister mix of eagerness and hate.

As they closed in around him, Micah's focus narrowed. It was the only time he ever had complete control of his psi without a limiter...when he was in the middle of a fight. The youkai in the lead threw a punch and Micah ducked it effortlessly, having sensed it before the punk had even curled his fingers into a fist. Without straightening up, he swayed out of reach of a set of raking claws, and drove his foot deep into the stomach of a youkai who thought he'd try to sneak up behind. In perfect sync with his psionic abilities, Micah blocked out the backwash of pain as the injured youkai folded over, but let the resulting ripple of shock touch his mind. He bared his teeth in grim satisfaction as he deflected two more attacks.

Someone should have warned you dickwads that "freaks" aren't always easy prey.

It wasn't much of a contest after that. There were only eight of them, after all. Micah left them in moaning heaps on the pavement, absently fingering a bruise along his jaw where one of them had gotten in a lucky hit. He resumed his original course.

He had gone maybe a block when he felt the stirrings of the second wave. There were many, many more of them this time. Micah sensed them falling in behind him as he continued his steady pace. More minds came into range up ahead, blocking the path, waiting. At the next intersection, he felt them closing in on either side, and he began to catch flickers of thought from the rooftops. All seething with anticipation, all oozing hate. It was when Micah picked a stray word out of the mind of one of the ones up ahead when he knew that his situation had just gotten a whole lot worse.

Purists.

Micah moved past the intersection, deliberately placing himself in a position where they could only come at him from two sides. Well, three if one counted the ones lurking above. Micah looked up. He saw a white face staring back at him from a third story window, before battered curtains fluttered and the lights in the window went out. Thoughts garbled with fear slid into his mind. (There's no one here. Please don't notice us. Dear God, let the children stay asleep.)

Micah harshly blocked out the words, turning his attention back to the youkai closing in on all sides. After years of living in this shitty city, he knew better than to expect anyone's help.

There was a wooden pallet lying up against a dumpster a few feet away. Micah stepped onto one end of it and wrenched up a board of half-rotting wood. An icy calm settled over him, his psi coming into crystal clear focus. He heard thoughts in nearly a hundred different youkai voices, but every one was distinct and comprehensible as if each voice whispered one at a time in his ear. The youkai at ground level were checking their weapons, looking out for witnesses, or planning attacks. Overhead Micah heard the spectators cheering on favorites, and the mental arithmetic of some gang members that were taking bets.

...Betting on how many seconds the alien halfbreed could stay standing. On how many seconds until the freak would draw his last breath.

Micah had no illusions about his chances. And yet, in spite of the overwhelming odds, he refused to acknowledge despair. He felt only grim determination as he prepared himself for the coming fight. You assholes think you're the first to try to kill me? I don't die that easily.

The youkai gang members took up positions all around him, waiting. They were wielding knives, chains, clubs, hooks, and lead pipes. Micah even saw a holster for a blaster or two, although he doubted those would be a danger to him here. Purist gangs found shooting their victims to be anti-climactic. They much preferred beating deaths as a way to channel their senseless, mindless rage. 

Micah hefted the heavy wooden slat in his hands. Bring it on. 

The halfbreed expected shouting and taunting from the youkai arrayed around him. Cliched jibes about being lost, or being too naive to be out alone after dark. However, these Purists seemed more interested in getting right down to the business of killing him. The youkai punk who had stopped closest to him took a step forward, lead pipe raised. Others closed in behind him with spiked chains and nightsticks, all of them chuckling evilly, their thoughts thick with hatred and loathing. "Too bad for you, freak," the youkai in the lead said softly, "It's time to die." He swung the pipe back over his shoulder. 

What happened next occurred so fast that Micah didn't even really register what was going on. The youkai with the pipe suddenly wrenched his head back violently, the lead cylinder flying from his fingers to sail through the air. It was still tumbling end over end in free-fall when the punk's head twisted at a sharp, unnatural angle. He didn't even have time to scream as his neck snapped cleanly in two. 

Instead, Micah screamed for him, as the shock of that violent death slammed into the halfbreed's wide-open psi. His mind was lost in sweeping agony, every nerve ending on fire as the mental backlash threw him into physical convulsions. His vision went black, and he felt himself falling, but was unconscious before his body hit the ground. 


*********************

Micah came to some indeterminate time later, lying face down on the slimy asphalt. 

He had barely opened his eyes when he saw something move in the shadows of the alley beyond him. Humanoid shaped, and coming closer. Micah twitched back reflexively. All he heard, however, was a surprisingly gentle tenor voice saying "Hey. Are you still alive?" 

Micah got a breath, shivered, and looked up, blinking. The single figure stood, back-lit by the faint light filtering in from the mouth of the alley. A hand was extended down towards him. Micah cautiously reached out with his psi, testing the waters, but the only things he encountered from the other were the surprising surface emotions of guarded worry and genuine concern. 

Micah took stock of himself. He was alive, and apparently uninjured. ...And lucky, he knew, to still be sane. If he had been full hydran, the shock from the violent death of that youkai punk so close to his unlimitered psi probably would have broken his mind. He looked again at the hand. Whoever this guy was, he didn't seem to want to murder Micah, which was an unexpected and welcome change. Micah reached out. "Thanks." 

The fingers that curved around his own were encased in a skin-tight leather glove, and conspicuously lacked youkai claws. The energy of the aura Micah encountered was completely and unquestionably human. Micah blinked in surprise at the discovery as he allowed himself to be pulled effortlessly to his feet. 

The man had dark hair and was dressed all in black, a shadow blending with the other shadows in the alley. His eyes were hidden behind a pair of slim, angular shades, and a single silver band was clipped to the edge of one rounded human ear. Micah couldn't help but stare. A human, here in Little Tougenkyou. Humans never came down into the youkai slums of the city. Not unless they had some sort of death wish. 

He realized then that the alley surrounding the two of them was completely silent, empty of noise, but also empty of the buzz of emotions and thoughts. As Micah took a good look around for the first time since opening his eyes, he immediately saw why. What the fuck??!!!! 

Youkai bodies were everywhere--slumped over freight cartons, piled on top of each other, hanging from the fire escapes, and crumpled up all over the pavement. Not unconscious. Dead. The alley looked like a war zone. Ice formed itself in the pit of Micah's stomach as he stared around in disbelief. There had to be close to a hundred corpses here. It looked like the whole gang had been wiped out. Micah hadn't heard any blaster shots--hadn't really heard much of anything at all. The ice in his gut melted into apprehension as he continued to gaze all around. If the alley had been the site of a turf war between rival gangs, where were the victors now? 

The only other living person in the alley still hadn't let go of his hand. He was in fact ignoring the surrounding carnage completely, head tilted very slightly in a way that gave Micah the eerie impression that he was being examined with some fascination. The light filtering between the buildings was dim, and humans weren't supposed to be able to see very well in the dark, but Micah was suddenly quite conscious of his bright crimson hair, his bright crimson eyes. 

"Hey, uh...." Micah gave his hand a little shake to dislodge the other's grip. However, the hand didn't let go, it simply shifted to take a firmer hold, and suddenly Micah found himself pushed back against the metal wall of the dumpster behind him, pinned chest to chest as soft lips pressed over his own. Micah froze in shock at the unexpected development, as leather-clad fingers closed over the nape of his neck, and a warm tongue slipped into his mouth. Holy shit. 

Aching sexual need spilled over into his psi. Caught up in that influx of emotion, Micah momentarily lost himself. It didn't help that his body's involuntary response to the blatant advance was unquestionably a matching lust. As the other man leaned in, gloved fingers brushing lightly against the hinge of his jaw, Micah unthinkingly yielded, his cock starting to rise up and press up against the front of his jeans. Fuck. He thought he'd worked his edge off already with that nightclub singer he'd picked up only a few hours before the start of his job. How the hell could one fucking kiss provoke a response in him so damn quickly? 

He already knew the answer, of course. Aside from the purely hormonal release of endorphins from very nearly just having been killed, the silver studs along the outside of his left ear were completely dead. That earlier encounter in the nightclub had been while his limiter was still working, keeping him separate from the mind of his partner of the moment. This...this.... 

Micah fisted his hands in the smooth, slick fabric of the black high-collared shirt, pulling closer rather than pushing away. The metal sheeting of the dumpster beneath his shoulders bowed under the force of their combined weight as mouths and tongues slipped against each other, blindly seeking. Heat was radiating through Micah's groin in subtle waves of pleasure, and his grip on the dark haired man's shirt tightened until he heard the zipper that fastened it start to give way. 

Micah shifted, trying to get some leverage, to regain his balance. His foot came down sickeningly on an unmoving youkai arm. The reality of it instantly brought back what had happened, where they were. This alley was the very last place he wanted to be when Corporate Security showed up to investigate. Micah let the sobering thought wash over him like ice water, and he used it to muster the will to close off his mind and push the other man away. 

...Or rather, to try. He found that moving the guy was like trying to move a brick wall. That made no sense to him at all, because human beings were supposed to be nearly as weak as hydrans--and Micah was half youkai. 

As his attempts to extricate himself became more pronounced, the other man gave an odd little shiver and abruptly broke away. "Sorry," he said breathlessly, turning his head aside as his embarrassment flooded over Micah. "The adrenalin...it takes a little while for it to wear off."

 The loss of that close body heat as the other man stepped carefully to the side made Micah suddenly feel chilly and alone. "Right." 

The human gazed at the bodies around them, and Micah realized that the shades must have night-vision sensors in them, because he was obviously able to see in the dim light. The elegant glasses looked pretty fucking expensive, and Micah wondered who the hell this guy was. "We should leave." 

"Yeah," Micah replied fervently. He still had scars from the last time he'd been tagged by the law for "questioning", and that had been over a relatively minor event. The remains of mass murder around him ranked on an entirely different scale. "We're lucky as hell that the Corpses haven't already turned up." 

The shades swung back in his direction, and in the silence Micah heard the dark haired man's unshielded thought as clear as a bell. (The police should be the least of your worries.) However, he didn't elaborate, nor did he speak the words out loud. He only repeated, "We should go." 

He shifted slightly, and Micah abruptly noticed something beneath the unzipped collar of his shirt. There was a black smudge along one pale collarbone, barely visible in the chancy light, even to his night-skilled eyes. It looked like it could have been charring from a blaster bolt. Without thinking, Micah reached for it. "Hey man, you all right?" 

His wrist was intercepted, caught out of mid-air and held without effort. Micah felt again the unnatural strength coiled within that lean-muscled arm. "I'm fine," he answered, and suddenly, Micah's unpredictable psi made him aware of a seething darkness that rose to the fore of the other man's thoughts--of guilt, of shame, of self-loathing. They were sensations so familiar, they could have been Micah's own. "...Thank you." With his other hand, he twitched the collar of his shirt up, covering the mark. 

Huh.
Well, he wasn't the only one with something to hide. It reminded Micah that his image enhancer was burned out. Self-consciously, he reached up to touch his rounded ears. Stupid fucking cheap-ass limiter. If he was going to make it back to his apartment by walking along the back streets, he needed something to hide the fact that he wasn't full youkai. He spotted a body with a hooded sweatshirt, and purposefully walked over to it. 

It was the guy who had intended to beat him to death the pipe--the one who'd gotten his neck broken in two. Micah saw that the body next to him had a crushed windpipe, and two over was a guy with his chest caved in. Shit. Micah stared at them, feeling a bit weak in the knees. No wonder he hadn't heard any blasters going off. This didn't look like a gang war. It had all the earmarks of a cold, calculated assassination. Assassination carried out by a whole fucking army of assassins, who were all masters of some sort of freaky-ass martial arts. Micah steeled himself and reached out. The body was still disturbingly warm. After checking the dead guy's pockets and pulling out two credit markers and a pack of camph sticks, he started to strip off the heavy sweatshirt. 

"What are you doing?" the dark haired man asked curiously. 

"Staying alive," Micah told him bluntly. He looked up at the human. "This ain't any of my business--but if you want to make it back out of this neighborhood, I suggest that you do the same. Round ears make you a target around here." He nodded pointedly to one of the other bodies. After a moment of consideration, the human knelt down beside the body, which had on a hooded jacket, and began to follow Micah's advice. 

Micah took the opportunity, while his back was turned, to study him--deliberately not thinking about whatever the hell had happened by the dumpster a minute ago. After a moment, he reached out with his psi, brushing lightly at the edges of the other man's mind. Again there was no trace of immediate threat...or of whatever the hell had been going through his head when he'd so casually helped himself to Micah's mouth. Micah's cock twitched at the memory. Not thinking about it. Not thinking about it, really. Shit. 

All Micah got were surface thoughts of calm purpose as the other stripped the navy blue windbreaker from the body of a dead youkai. The man's black clothing lacked any identifying corporate badge, and looking at him now, Micah realized for the first time that both of his wrists were bare. That doesn't make any sense. The expensive shades and gloves indicated a bank account swimming in credit. If that was the case, then where was his databand? 

Acting on a hunch, he rose to his feet. The dark haired man was carefully folding the looted jacket over his arm, and his head tilted up as Micah's shadow fell across him. "Here," Micah passed him a databand he'd re-set after taking it from the arm of the dead pipe-wielding youkai. Wordlessly, the man took the slim plastic bracelet. He held it a moment, then looked back up at Micah expectantly as if waiting to be told what it was. Micah felt a little thrill of triumph. "Your wrist. Put it on. Fuck, how'd you get here without any ID?" 

"Ah." The other man brought the databand up close to the dark surface of his shades, studying it to avoiding looking at Micah's face. His mind had gone still and quiet with caution, and Micah shamelessly eavesdropped on his thoughts as he pragmatically considered the pros and cons of putting the databand on his wrist. After a moment, slipped the plastic bracelet over his hand. 

In the distance, Micah heard the blare of sirens, coming closer. He looked up, and saw three modules with searchlights starting to descend from the sky on a rather alarming trajectory. Shit. "Time to go." 

They ran. Down through interconnecting alleys, across side streets, vaulting the fences of deserted lots. Still hampered by the loss of his limiter that left his psi largely unshielded, Micah avoided the main streets. Instead, he took an oblique path towards his original destination, the warehouse district. Without asking permission, the human followed him, and Micah was more than a little surprised that he kept up with the halfbreed's full out pace. After about twenty minutes of near-sprinting through the labyrinth of mostly-deserted alleyways and cross-streets, they ground to a halt in the shadow of a large, lit building. There was nothing in the night sky above them save for the normal traffic patterns. It looked like they had avoided any kind of pursuit. 

Micah pressed a hand to the stitch in his side as they both panted to catch their breaths. He cast a sidelong glance at the man who had followed him. The last thing Micah wanted was for this guy to trail after him all the way home like some sort of stray. "Look, you. Where is it exactly that you're trying to get to?" 

"Ah. I'm afraid I don't really know my way around here." That much was painfully obvious. "Which direction is the quickest way out of the city?" 

"That way." Micah jerked his head back down a side street, a continuation of the last alley that they'd run through. "If you follow it far enough, it turns into a thoroughfare. At the first big intersection, take a right. You should be able to find a ramp that leads up and out. Or flag the first aircab you come across. That would probably be the fastest." 

"Oh," the dark haired man said after a moment. "Thanks." His breathing was staring to even out now, and if Micah's psi was reading him correctly, he felt relieved by Micah's brisk hint for him to leave. He shook out the blue hooded jacket that he'd been carrying all this time, putting his arms through the sleeves and settling it onto his shoulders. Then looked down at his gloved hands thoughtfully a moment, before peeling the sleek black leather off and stowing it away in his pocket out of sight. 

"Well," he said, as there was a faintly awkward pause. "Goodbye." 

"Yeah. So long." 

As he turned away, Micah found himself staring after him. Surprising even himself, he abruptly blurted out, "Hey. What's your name?" 

The dark-haired head swiveled back to him. "My name?" The human faltered a moment. "I don't..." His lips pressed together to keep from saying any more, but his mind completed the sentence within reach of Micah's unleashed psi. (...have one.) After a moment's uncomfortable silence, he said blithely, "J.D." 

"Micah." 

"Pleased to meet you." J.D., or whatever his name really was, extended his hand politely, and out of politeness, Micah took it. 

...And caught his breath as the skin-on-skin contact overrode his rudimentary empathic barriers. Micah became suddenly and excruciatingly aware of the barely-contained lust that still seethed away beneath the other man's painstakingly maintained layer of surface calm. The desire that the human was emoting was pure and wild--and directed entirely at Micah. 

Just that one touch was enough to bring Micah's own arousal flooding back. Shit, he wanted that. He wanted it all--everything that the other man might be willing to give. He knew that it wasn't smart. Quite the opposite, in fact. And yet...something about the human's presence made Micah feel strangely at-ease. On impulse, he laced those slender fingers between his own, immobilizing them, and then reached out and plucked the shades from the bridge of the other man's nose. 

J.D. let him do it. At least, his free arm remained at his side, making no attempt to catch Micah's wrist. ...And Micah found himself staring into faintly puzzled eyes. Round pupils, as he'd known they would be, and irises of brilliant, brilliant green. Micah's heart rate sped up. 

"I'd appreciate it if you'd be careful with those," J.D. said, a bit wary now. "I haven't got a second pair." 

"I'll take care of them, all right," Micah said, as he pushed the sides of the dark glasses against his chest to fold them up. Those green eyes followed the shades as they disappeared into the inside pocket of Micah's jacket, then they returned to his face. He felt J.D.'s attention sharpen, and realized that he'd licked his lips. Oh yeah. Greatly daring, he took a half step forward to close the distance between them. J.D. didn't blink...not even as Micah tipped his chin back to receive a tentative kiss. 

J.D. shivered and closed his eyes. It was like touching a spark to dry tinder. Raw desire ignited at the contact, rising within the dark haired man, consuming him. Micah felt it, basked in it, and as J.D's lips parted under his, Micah took the unspoken invitation without hesitating. He leaned in, devouring his mouth, gliding his hands under the jacket J.D. had just put on, sliding it back off of him again and letting it pool onto the pavement as J.D.'s arms came up around his shoulders. 

They were standing in the middle of the street, a place that was both open and well lit. Neither of those things were to Micah's liking. Without letting go, he pushed forward insistently. J.D. allowed himself to be herded, retreating slowly until he bumped up against the solid surface of an adjacent warehouse, in the shadow of some discarded shipping crates. Out of the way of errant traffic, hidden from the watchful eyes of any stray security vids, Micah forced J.D. back against the cool metal wall, pressing the length of their bodies together. He felt a tightening in his groin, and the answering swell that rose between the other man's thighs. Longing and hunger mingled together and Micah wasn't entirely sure how much of those emotions came from himself or originated from the warm, lithe body under his. 

It had been a long, long time since he'd last dared to touch someone like this without a psi limiter. ...Since he'd last let himself take such a risk. The danger of it heightened his excitement. It felt good, so good to do this, with the human's desire, hotter and sweeter than anything he had ever tasted, flooding over into his psi. He drew those emotions into himself, savoring them like the drug dreams of some street junkie. ...And like an addict, he just couldn't seem to stop. 

They continued to explore each other's mouths, bodies pressed up tightly against each other, hands gliding over fabric and skin, until they both ran out of air. Panting, Micah turned his head to trace his lips along the side of the other man's neck, nuzzling into the hollow of his throat. J.D. made a helpless sound, his hips surging up as his pure physical pleasure washed over Micah. He wanted more, was nearly incoherent in his craving for more, and Micah was happy to oblige. He found the tab of the shirt zipper, drawing it down to the navel, exposing skin so that he could scrape his teeth against the elegant line of a collarbone. 

As the black cloth slid back, J.D. stiffened slightly, his mind shuttering itself as if a breath of cold air had fanned across his emotions. He didn't pull away, however. Now that he was closer, Micah could clearly see the mark that had been partially visible beneath the open collar earlier. It was a barcode in black ink, tattooed against the bone. Micah mouthed gently at it, and at that unflinching acceptance, he felt J.D. relax again. 

"Ex-con," Micah murmured in enlightenment. This guy didn't have a bond tag, didn't exactly have the look of someone who'd worked for Contract Labor; but maybe he'd escaped before he'd made it to the telhassium mines. 

"Hnnh. I'm afraid not." J.D.'s breathing quickened as Micah moved lower, stroking his tongue lingeringly over the jut of a hardened nipple. "It's...I'm bioengineered." 

"Oh. I see," Micah murmured...even though he didn't, really. He was only half-paying attention by that point. He sucked skin, and was gratified as hands came up to twine in his hair. Satisfaction swept over him as he listened to the helplessly stuttering breaths, and with his psi he drank in the resulting waves of pleasure like a man dying of thirst. 

"Nnn." J.D. arched a bit as Micah trailed a line of open-mouthed kisses across the shallow ridges of his sternum and began to work up the other side. "I'm not kidding. And this is your last chance to stop this. Before...haaanh...before I lose control completely. I've killed a lot of people today." 

That last bit really should have given Micah some pause. However, rational thought seemed to be eluding him right now. It was hard, so hard for him to think straight, with the other man's intoxicating sensuality lapping at his mind. He was half-unmoored by the sensations, set adrift on that ocean of sheer bliss. It wasn't enough. He wanted more. Somehow he found himself reaching downward, unfastening the front of J.D.'s black trousers and slipping his hand inside. His fingers followed the sharp definition of abdominal muscles, dipping under an elastic waistband to stroke against the hardened length beneath. J.D. made a choked noise, canting his hips up as exquisite pleasure spilled over into Micah's psi. (Yes.) 

The world suddenly spun dizzyingly around Micah, and between one moment and the next, he found himself flat on his back on a pile of old crate-packing material, the wind knocked completely out of his lungs. He blinked up at the night sky, utterly disoriented and without really knowing quite how he had gotten there. He got a breath and began to feel vaguely alarmed. 

Then J.D. was on top of him, mouth sealed hungrily over his own, hot and slick and driving deep even as his hands fumbled with the front of Micah's jeans. As the fastening on Micah's pants slid open, Micah found that he didn't really care how he'd gotten where he was. The intensity of emotions rolling off of J.D. drowned out anything else. He had to bite back a whimper as hands found his cock and freed it from the entangling cloth. There was something slick on J.D.'s skin already, and the silken glide of those first few pumps almost made Micah lose it then and there. 

"Pants," J.D. commanded roughly, pulling clear of Micah's mouth just long enough to get the words out. "Off. Now." 

"Wait..." Micah felt a sharp stab of apprehension as the other's intentions became abundantly clear. And yet, J.D.'s hand on him felt so good, his emotions so overwhelming that Micah found he couldn't bring himself to offer any resistance. As J.D.'s other hand snaked around to grab the back of his waistband, Micah canted his hips up, letting the denim and cotton slither down his thighs. A moment later, there was a warm touch cupping against his ass, and the slick fingers were stroking and sliding down into his crack. "Ahhnnn...." 

There was a slight pause as J.D. shifted. Micah saw a glint of light flashing off a small metal tube. This guy always carries lube around in his pocket? "W...wait," he said again, breathless, wrapping a hand around J.D.'s wrist. It was completely ineffective. Shit, this guy was strong. The slicked fingers brushed with deceptive gentleness up against the rim of his hole. Fuck. "J.D.!" 

J.D. paused, trembling. He lowered his forehead to Micah's shoulder, warm breath coming raggedly now, dark hair fanning across skin. "What is it?" he asked hoarsely, desperately, his voice cracking slightly under the strain. Micah realized that he was restraining himself only by main force of will. What are you? he wanted to ask, knowing at some level that the passion driving the other man was too deep, too wild to be entirely human. 

Do you know what I am?
 

If J.D. knew, he obviously didn't care. A knee slid between Micah's legs. It pinned the crumpled jeans still tangled around him to the pavement, forcing his knees apart. The tip of an engorged cock rubbed at the inside of his thigh, the velvety touch leaving a cool trail of moisture against his skin. Human teeth grazed at Micah's throat, nipping lightly along the arch of his neck, and Micah shivered. The dark haired man's sweeping emotions were completely possessing his psi. ...Wanting him, needing him, aching to be inside. "Please," J.D. whispered huskily, as moist fingers brushed lightly across the sensitized skin of his opening. "Let me...let me...please." Micah caught his breath, lost in that agonized yearning. After a long moment, he gave a tight nod, closing his eyes. 

J.D. moved, then, long fingers pressing in deep. Micah arched up helplessly at the pressure of it, letting J.D. swallow his moan. Those fingers flexed and stroked, testing him, teasing him, scissoring him wider as his muscles responded to the painfully intimate touch. Through it all, that other warm, slick hand moved in long caresses, stroking at Micah's hardened shaft and tracing delicate circles over the head until he was practically whimpering. 

The next thing Micah knew, hands were guiding his knees up and stripping the jeans and underwear from him completely. More lube was applied, this time accompanied by the aseptic smell of latex, and Micah had one moment to stare up into J.D.'s face. One moment of suspended, gut-tightening anticipation as the other man knelt over him, pushing up against his thighs. "Now?" J.D. whispered, and it took Micah only a fraction of a second to realize that it was a request. Micah had no idea how he could maintain that barest semblance of control with the overwhelming sexual imperative that was driving him. ...Driving both of them--Micah could deny him nothing with that white-hot need wrapped around his mind. 

He nodded a second time. With a hitched breath that sounded like a sob of relief, J.D. bent forward. Micah felt a touch and then pressure where the fingers had been. The pressure was followed by a sudden sharp thrust that forced him wide open and made him shut his eyes with a frantic gasp. "Nnnnngggghhh...." 

It hurt. It had been a long time, since he'd been with another man, and far longer still since he'd allowed another man to take him. The absence of a psi limiter helped. He felt J.D.'s pleasure swirling into his psi, cresting in him as that tight heat clutched at head of his cock. Hands feathered over Micah's ass, then J.D. was pushing deeper, causing Micah to writhe at the pain and erotic pleasure of it, at the feeling of fucking and being fucked. His hands slid through J.D.'s dark hair, down the black shirt still covering his shoulder blades, to the waistband of his pants, pulling it up and slipping his hand beneath to trail over J.D.'s backside, feeling the results of the caress through his psi. Both of them were breathing hard, seeking out each other's mouths as hips canted up and thighs opened wider. Micah felt J.D. start a slow, shallow rhythm, and bucked upward helplessly, lost in the sensation. 

"Oh!" J.D. suddenly gasped, high and sharp. He froze in place, poised above Micah. His expression had gone blank, eyes turning inward--and Micah realized then that he had inadvertently reached out to him with his psi. Soft tendrils of it were spilling out over his nearly nonexistent mental shields, spanning the tiny bit of distance between them, weaving gently into the other man's consciousness. J.D.'s body trembled as he tried to assimilate the flood of new sensory information filling him through that contact. Identifying it, tracing it back to its source. He blinked, and suddenly his eyes came into sharp focus, staring at Micah, wondering. "You...." 

Micah's awareness of his own mistake came far too late. Knowing that he had trespassed across a private personal boundary heedlessly, irrevocably, Micah gazed upwards, holding his breath. ...Waiting for rejection, waiting to feel the other's betrayal and revulsion to come crawling over his skin. Moments ticked by, and J.D. continued to stare, his mind still numb with shock. Micah had given him no warning at all, and he appeared unable to grasp the full consequence of the intimate psionic contact that had suddenly wrapped itself around his thoughts. 

Micah never should have tried to touch him without the protection of a psi limiter. (I'm sorry,) Micah thought, as sudden, aching regret tore through his chest. He didn't care if his thoughts were overheard. (I didn't mean.... It was a mistake. This was all a mistake.) 

Before he'd even really completed that last thought, J.D.'s palm came down solidly in the center of Micah's chest. It trapped him in place, preventing him from following through on his intention of shifting backwards and away. "Don't," the human said in a strained voice. 

Micah felt the mental effort it took for J.D. shake off his confusion, to adapt to the odd, dual perceptions imprinting themselves in his mind. Closing his eyes with a faint frown of concentration, J.D. yielded to Micah's psi, clumsily attempting to make it a part of himself. His hand flexed on Micah's chest, testing his own awareness of it, adjusting to the idea of being able to sense the effects of a touch from both sides. Feather-light, the pads of his fingers slid down, tracing lightly over the outline of ribs, the hollow of Micah's stomach. Letting his hand come to rest, he hesitated. Then he leaned in close, deliberately pushing himself forward again. 

Micah hissed. He heard J.D. make a small sound, saw him clench his teeth as the discomfort of that deep penetration washed over him as well. Hips began to flex rhythmically again, slow but purposeful. J.D. worked gradually, testing, seeking, always giving Micah time to adjust to his movements, but never holding still for very long. The burning ache Micah felt from that deep touch inside him was slowly changing, unfolding into sensation that was really, really good. Micah's breathing quickened, he angled his hips up, and J.D. to let out a barely-audible moan. 

With the psi linking them, Micah realized that J.D. knew instinctively exactly how much pressure the halfbreed could take. More than that, he knew exactly where to...(Fuck!) The tip of that hard, hot cock abruptly ground down in exactly the right place, causing pleasure so intense it verged on pain. Micah's shoulders slammed back into the cushioning plastic packing material, and sparks shot across his vision as his eyes involuntarily squeezed shut, fingers digging into J.D.'s hips hard enough to bruise. 

Caught up in the emotional backwash of that intense response, he felt J.D. hover for a moment, panting tightly. Then the hand on Micah's stomach shifted, flattening onto the ground for support, and J.D.'s body began to slide forward into Micah's own in long, deliberate thrusts. Scintillating sensation traveling like heat lightning across the empathic bond, each stroke making mutual pleasure spiral higher. In and out, again and again, faster and faster. Micah writhed, feeling J.D.'s satisfaction, the lust, the incredible bliss as he buried himself deep within willing flesh. In turn, Micah let him taste his own pleasure, the feel of that wide firmness caressing just right, the sensation from the tip of his own straining cock rubbing wet patterns against the other man's skin. 

Realization sparked across their joined minds, followed by reaction to that unspoken need. J.D.'s hand closed over his length, slick, skillful fingers tracing gently at first, then applying more friction, massaging the full, heated shaft. Rapture unfurled at the contact, and through his own ecstasy Micah heard J.D.'s helpless groan. The low sound made Micah's muscles clench tight, triggering sensation--and suddenly he was arching up, crying out with pleasure as he reached that pure, perfect climax, cock spurting thick white fluid in release. 

The intensity of his orgasm flooded over into his psi, colliding with J.D.'s unshielded mind. The dark haired man made a high, desperate sound at the back of his throat, his green eyes going very wide. 

Micah felt it as his control broke, the paper-thin veneer cracking apart and completely shredding away. Micah hadn't even realized that he'd still had any control, until suddenly it wasn't there anymore, and he found his psi locked point-blank onto the dizzying, mindless sea of emotion that was unleashed. Oh, he thought muzzily, still half-caught up in the tingling aftershocks of pleasure. Shit. 

Too late now, to stop what had been set in motion. J.D.'s left hand shot out, pinning Micah's shoulder immovably to the ground, while the right lifted Micah's leg. He slammed in all the way. Micah realized then that conscious thought had given way to blind, unreasoning instinct. J.D. had lost himself utterly to the seething chaos of the dark passion that consumed his mind. 

For Micah, it was like being poised precariously at the edge of a maelstrom...and with their minds still tangled together, he felt the shadowed undercurrent of that emotional storm trying to suck him in. The depth and the intensity of it should have scared Micah shitless. ...And yet, somehow it didn't, because he knew automatically how to respond. 

As J.D. moved, riding deep and hard, Micah moved as well. Strong hands skimmed upward, clutching taut shoulders while knees rose to cradle heaving flanks. Lips opened against the sheen of salt perspiration on the unmarked collarbone. Lapping gently there once, twice...before Micah allowed his teeth to sink deeply into the flushed skin. He felt J.D. flinch, felt the thread of that sharp pain reach through the chaos to ground and anchor him. Without letting go, Micah stroked against that tether with a soft whisper of psi. (Now.) J.D. caught his breath. For a few heartbeats, they balanced together on the brink, so very close. And then J.D. was shuddering, arching back in utter silence, rocking nearly imperceptibly in place as he came. His heat filled Micah as the return crest of pleasure from that intense second climax swept through the psionic bond. 

The pure white-heat of orgasm had faded into blissful lassitude before they managed to disentangle themselves. J.D.'s slow sprawl to the ground kept him almost within touching distance, and he lay there panting, completely spent. As their bodies had slipped out of physical contact, the link that had formed between their two minds had faded also, but that didn't stop Micah's psi from picking up the subdued aftershocks of pleasure that continued to resonate along highly-responsive nerves. Micah sensed that, whatever it was that had happened when J.D. lost control, he had already come back to himself. His thoughts were once again clear and coherent, and radiating contentment tinged faintly with disbelief. 

Micah's heart was pounding as if he'd just finished another twenty minute run. He felt warm, complete, and utterly satiated. "That was..." Micah mumbled after a moment, gesturing incoherently. ...And maybe some trace of his thoughts were still reaching the other man, because J.D. immediately understood. 

"...Yes." They were both silent for a few long moments, catching their respective breaths. Through his psi, Micah felt J.D.'s curiosity wash over him, as J.D. recovered enough to lever himself up on one elbow. "Who are you?" 

The question wasn't as stupid as it sounded. He felt it, too, Micah realized. The lingering connection that was more than just the after-effects of the psi. The disconcerting sense of familiarity. As if they knew each other, had met somewhere before, even though Micah knew that was impossible. 

He didn't have an answer for that question. So he answered the unasked, instead. "I'm half hydran. Hydrans have psychic abilities. Telepathy. Empathy. Other things." 

"I see." J.D. lay back again quietly, digesting that information. 

Micah scraped sticky fluid from his skin with a corner of a sheet of crate packing material and felt around on the ground beside him until he found his clothes. He pulled them on, putting the hooded sweatshirt on underneath his leather jacket. It must have seemed like a good idea to J.D. as well, because the human immediately began to attend to his own personal hygiene. 

When they were both more-or-less presentable again, Micah rummaged around in a pocket until he located his pack of camph sticks. He took one out, sticking the end of one in his mouth and biting down, letting the familiar numbness spread over his tongue. He offered one to the dark haired man, but J.D. only shook his head, and Micah put the pack away again. At last, Micah gave in to his own curiosity. "What about you? I never heard that it was normal for humans to jump complete strangers in the middle of youkai territory." 

J.D. seemed to consider that for a moment. "Hmm. I don't think it is." He absently rubbed at his left collarbone, the pads of his fingers tracing over the barcode there. "I have what you might call a..ah...metabolic imbalance," he said delicately. "This, just now...it's sort of a reaction to stress. A side-effect of how I was made." He stopped then, giving Micah an odd look as his fingers traced over the livid bite mark that now graced the opposite side. "Most of it was a reaction to stress. I can say with absolute certainty that I've ever experienced anything like that before." 

Neither had Micah. Hearing the sentiment spoken out loud made him feel particularly pleased. He remembered the little metal tube, and the practiced ease with which J.D. had used a condom, and settled back on his elbows with a smirk. "Heh. So what you're trying to tell me that you were custom-ordered to be some rich bastard's personal love slave." 

"Ah...no." There was a flash of genuine humor in J.D.'s smile for a moment. It warmed his eyes, and made him breathtakingly beautiful. Abruptly, that humor flickered and went out. Micah found that he missed it. "No. Rather, some rich individual's personal killing machine. A super-soldier. A prototype one-man-army." 

J.D.'s statement from earlier suddenly came back to Micah with a rush. I've killed a lot of people today. The halfbreed abruptly raised his head to look at him, wide eyed. "Holy shit. You really weren't kidding, were you?" A second realization hit him then, closer to home. "That was no gang war in the alley." 

J.D. met his gaze without flinching. "No." 

Micah had seen enough newscasts on the threedee to know that any person or company that had any status at all in the Federation based their operations out of planet Earth. He said, a little more sharply than intended, "What the hell are you doing on Ardattee?" 

J.D. tilted his head, his expression sober. "I wasn't really interested in what my superiors had planned for me. Unfortunately, they objected to me leaving. I needed to find a place to get lost in for a little while." He paused, looking down at his hands. "Things happened. I wound up here." 

Micah continued to stare. Outwardly J.D. looked completely unconcerned, but inwardly Micah sensed him watching carefully. Waiting for Micah's reaction. Bracing himself for Micah's revulsion and rejection. 

Micah drew in a deep breath. "Not that I want to seem ungrateful or anything, since I'm pretty sure that you saved my ass back there...but just why the hell did you get involved?" 

"I followed you," J.D. admitted, and the words had the bare ring of honesty. "I saw you change, on the street. I thought you might be human, and therefore heading back to the human parts of the city." 

"You couldn't have just asked for directions?" 

"Hmm." That earned him a sidelong look. "Well. As you said earlier, people who lack pointed ears stand out here. Out of necessity, I'm trying to avoid drawing attention to myself. It seemed the easiest solution at the time." 

Killing about a hundred youkai was an easy solution. And wouldn't draw any attention. Right. Their eyes met, and Micah suddenly felt a shiver run down his spine as what J.D. had left unsaid flashed across his psi. (...And I wanted you right from the very first moment I saw you.) 

Oh.
 

When Micah finally managed to look away from that incredible green once again, he found that the sky above was starting to lighten with the first faint traces of dawn. Soon workers who had their day jobs in the warehouse district would start to filter in to the area. Micah didn't want to, but he made himself reach into the pocket of his jacket to retrieve J.D.'s expensive shades. He held them out. "I expect you'll be wanting these back." 

"Yes." J.D. took them, but didn't put them on immediately. Instead rose to his feet and went to fetch the discarded jacket that was lying in the middle of the street. Slipping it back on over his shoulders, he tucked the shades in the pocket opposite the gloves. Micah propped his chin up on one hand watched him getting ready to leave. 

...And some part of his soul rebelled at the idea of this man walking out of his life forever. 

He got up, absently dusting off his jeans. "Here," Micah tapped a code onto his databand as he walked over. He hooked J.D.'s wrist, drawing the two plastic bracelets close together to provide a seamless interface. As J.D. looked on, he added, "You might need this someday." 

"What is it?" He felt surprise as the other lifted his wrist into the light, looking curiously at the symbols that scrolled around the circumference of the band. "This is an address?" 

"Mine." Micah looked down, to hide the heat that suddenly rose to his face. "You know, in case you ever come back this way, and want a place to get lost in for a while." 

J.D.'s face betrayed nothing, but his emotions were a mix of gratitude and regret. He hesitated a moment...and he sure was one hell of a fast learner, for he found and triggered the key for data-wipe on his plastic band. "I'll remember the street number," he said quietly, "but it's better to get rid of the evidence." Micah didn't need psi to hear the unspoken ...For when they catch up with me again. 

His gaze shifted from the databand to Micah's face, and suddenly he was leaning forward, those long, slim fingers catching at the halfbreed's jaw and pulling him in. Their lips met in a soft and surprisingly chaste kiss. Longing of an entirely different sort brushed against Micah's emotions this time. Bittersweet. (Thank you.) 

The dark haired man had a small smile on his face as he pulled away again. It was an expression that exactly matched what was going on in his head, and Micah felt the pain of it tighten in his own chest. Still smiling faintly, J.D. pulled the hood of the navy blue jacket up to cover his rounded human ears. Without another word, he turned and walked away. 

Micah stood alone in the middle of the deserted street, gazing after him. He remained there, unmoving, until long after the dark figure had disappeared into the early morning shadows and that clear imprint of thoughts and emotions vanished out of range of his psi. 

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