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Shiro really isn't expecting to get summoned. It's a rare occasion these days, and not one he particularly looks forward to.

(a #sheith thread, continuing the #demonshiroverse)

previously:
Maybe he had when he was younger, he thinks as he settles onto his bed in his tiny apartment. Back then he'd been full of all the naive excitement of using the power at his disposal to /do something/ without asking what it was his human masters were doing.
Not that they were inclined to share, even when asked. And asking the question risked knowing the answer and suffering the consequences.

He rubs the seam where metal joins with flesh and tries to yank his mind somewhere else. There's no point in dwelling when he actually has
the wherewithal to pull himself out of that headspace.

Someone shouts on the other side of his wall and Shiro sighs. He doesn't want to deal with the kind of human who would summon him, but he doesn't want to be here either, surrounded by demons he doesn't like, alone except for
Allura, who resides in a completely different sector and is in the human realm more often than not.

Shiro listens to his neighbor start cursing at someone and rolls off his bed to find the earmuffs that are under his bed to hopefully block them out.
He's crouched down, reaching for the underbed box when he feels the tingle of a summons bolt down his spine and ripple out over his skin.

He closes his eyes and breathes through it.

When he opens them, he's no longer in his apartment.
Shiro blinks at the young man across from him, also crouched on the floor. He's staring at him, shock painted on his face.

He's also gorgeous with black hair that looks like hands have been in it and wide violet eyes and angular features.
A glance tells Shiro that the usual trappings for a summoning are missing, and his summoner is dressed similar to Shiro himself -- for an evening alone.

"What the fuck," the man says, his voice deeper than expected with a pleasant rasp.
A sliver of annoyance pricks at Shiro. "You're the one who summoned me. I'm supposed to be the one asking that," he retorts. It stings more than he likes to be rejected on sight. Again.

"Summoned you?" The human -- his new master, presumably -- asks.
Shiro pauses at that. There's no way the human is faking his confusion, his shock. There's also a glint of interest in his eyes that Shiro can't quite parse.

He doesn't know what to make of this man in his sweatpants and t-shirt in a shabby kitchen.
He doesn't like not knowing what to expect.

"Yes. Summoned me," Shiro says carefully. It is prudent to proceed with caution until he gets a feel for his master. He doesn't want to invite punishment by overstepping.
"Explain," he orders.

Shiro feels his shoulders draw back and his tail lashes once before he gathers himself, tries to erase all traces of annoyance, of uncertainty. "I'm a demon," he says, starting with the most basic fact since this human seems confused.
"You summoned me with the incantation and blood and now I'm here."

Something like realization rolls over the man's sharp features before he winces. "I'm sorry," he says, sending shock rippling through Shiro. No one /apologizes/ to a demon they've summoned, just commands them.
"I didn't mean to," he continues.

And oh. That makes sense. Of course he's not actually wanted here anymore than he is back in the underworld. No one wants to deal with a demon who bears the marks of shame as he does, in any sense of the word.
He rubs at his arm and stares at the ugly laminate on the floor and the bits of glass around. His knees ache but he doesn't dare move without permission, not when his presence is already displeasing.
"Let's get out of the glass and we can talk about this," the human says. His voice is gentle and it's enough to prompt Shiro to look back up at him, searching for a reason for the kindness, for a trick.

The human offers his hand to Shiro.
Shiro hesitates before slowly reaching out to grasp his hand. It's been so long since anyone but Allura touched him with anything approaching kindness.

The human pulls to help Shiro to his feet and Shiro stumbles into his chest, old injuries making his legs slow to respond.
His tail whips forward for balance, wrapping around the humans leg for a half second before Shiro springs backward, terrified that his misstep could be construed as an attack.

The contact, brief as it is, was warm and tingly and Shiro wishes it had lasted longer.
It might be years, centuries, before he experiences anything like it again.

His foot lands on one of the shards of glass, slicing it open, and he can't help but hiss at the pain.

The human makes a sympathetic face and then starts to make his way out of the tiny kitchen area.
"Come on," the human says. "I'll get something to clean us up and then we can talk."

"Talk?" Shiro asks before he can think to hold it back. He's leaving bloody footprints on the floor. "You're not sending me back?"
The human turns to look at him, a deep wrinkle between his brows. "No? Is that an option?"

Shiro curses himself for putting the idea in his master's head. He's not sure he wants to be sent back yet. He's curious about this man and his unthinking kindness.
He's different from any human who's summoned him before.

He nods after a minute though. He can't lie to the one who summoned him, not about something this direct.

The human sighs. "Just come sit down and let me stop us both from bleeding and we'll figure this out."
Shiro eyes the lightly bleeding cut on the human's finger as he lets him guide him to the bed to sit.

He watches the human dig around the bathroom area for something, admiring the lithe lines of his body and the grace with which he moves.
He's beautiful and seems completely unaware of it. Shiro's a little enchanted, even as he's wary of his intentions and motivation for all of this.

The human quickly deals with his own cut before looking back up at Shiro. "Let me see your foot?"
Shiro doesn't know what to do with being asked to do something rather than being ordered. It's... odd. "It will heal fine on it's own," he hedges. It's true. Such a shallow wound will heal in a day or two. "You don't need to--"
"Yes I do," the human insists. "You cut yourself on glass that I dropped because I brought you here on accident. Let me fix one thing?"

There's a note of pleading in his voice and in the face of it, Shiro can do nothing but prop his foot up on his knee to display his cut foot.
"Accident?" He asks softly, something squeezing tight in his chest. He doesn't know why he feels disappointed. Maybe he just wants someone like this human to want him, even if it's for a deal.

The human nods and focuses on the cut. The piece of cotton fluff tickles and Shiro
tries to jerk his foot back, but the human closes his other hand around his ankle and Shiro stills under the touch. He barely resists pressing into it to make sure it's real.

He sticks a bandage over the cut and then sets the first aid kit on the floor.
"That's why I was so surprised," he explains, settling crosslegged on the bed next to Shiro.

"So you don't want me here," Shiro says, voicing his thoughts from the last few minutes, his fear. He digs his teeth into his bottom lip. "Should've guessed that."
He's not bitter. He's /not./

There's just a certain point where it seems like the rejection should stop hurting so much.

"I didn't say that," the human blurts out.

Shiro looks at him in surprise. "But--"
"Look, I don't know what's going on, but it doesn't mean I don't want you here," the human says.

And that's.... that's /staggering/. Something like hope tries to sprout in Shiro's chest. "Oh," he says, unable to gather other words.
"What's your name?" The human asks after a moment. "Or what can I call you?"

Shiro ducks his head, letting his hair fall forward to hide behind. Of course he would want that, his full name is the thing that binds Shiro to his will.
"I am the demon Shirogane," he says softly, formally.

"Is that what you go by?" The human presses.

Shiro peeks up at him, suddenly breathless. The human wants his usename. Like a friend instead of a master.
He shouldn't blur these lines but... "You can call me Shiro. If you want."

"Okay, Shiro," he says, tongue smooth over the two syllables. He smiles before completely knocking Shiro off his feet without warning with two words. "I'm Keith."
Shiro stares at him, completely in awe. His master -- Keith -- gave him his /name/. Normally summoners jealously and carefully guard their own names lest they accidentally give their bound demon power over them or power to break their binding.
"Can I-" he swallows hard and tightens his grip on his own knee, claws digging in slightly, even in their filed down state. "Can I call you that?"

"Yeah," Keith assures him, like it's that easy. Maybe it is for him.

"Okay, Keith," Shiro says. The weight of his name feels right.
"So, what does it mean that you're here," Keith asks.

"You summoned me," Shiro says, unable to tear his eyes from Keith now, memorizing the little details of his face. He feels the tip of his tail swaying back and forth. It's an effort to keep the rest of his tail still.
It wouldn't do to reveal entirely how cautiously happy and hopeful he is right.

"And?" Keith prompts.

"And that means I am at your disposal." Shiro says. Keith really doesn't know anything about summoning, apparently.
"Most people are looking for power and influence when they summon a demon."

Especially one of Shiro's reputation and type, but if Keith doesn't know.... Shiro will keep it to himself. It may be a little selfish, but he doesn't want Keith to look at him like he's a monster.
It's incredible that he isn't already, honestly.

Keith reaches over and rests a hand on Shiro's knee, sending a thrill through him. All this contact might actually be the thing that kills him.

"And why did you think I was going to immediately send you back?"
That's a complicated question with a complicated answer, so he goes with a part of the truth. "The last few people who summoned me have," he admits. They took one look at him and saw that he wasn't the Shirogane they expected and sent him back after showering him in derision.
"No one wants to rely on a demon who's down an arm and bears the marks of failure for strength."

He'd looked down again so he doesn't see Keith move but suddenly his hand is cupping Shiro's cheeks, urging him to meet his eyes.
"They were idiots, then," Keith says firmly. "That only proves how strong you are to keep going."

Shiro feels his jaw drop a little. Keith's name escapes on a breath. No one has ever....
He reaches up and rests his hand on Keith's wrist, daring to touch in return. Keith doesn't seem to mind.

"Thank you," he says, putting all of what he's feeling into the two words.

Keith's cheeks color and he pulls back. "Of course," he says, like it was nothing.
He feels like Keith will continue to amaze him without even trying. He want to stick around and find out, if Keith will let him.

He needs to do what he's supposed to when summoned though.
"What do you want?" He asks, forgoing the formal words and reaching out to touch Keith's shoulder. He wants more of that contact that makes him feel real and warm and Keith hasn't told him to stop.
Keith hesitates for a long moment before he gets started on amazing Shiro again.

"What do /you/ want, Shiro?"

Shiro freezes, whirling brain coming to a halt. "That's... that's not how this works."
Keith raises an eyebrow. "Have I followed the rules in the fifteen minutes you've known me?"

That's a solid point. He shakes his head.

"So, what do you want, Shiro?" Keith asks again. He pauses for a second before continuing. "If you don't want to be here, just tell me how and
I'll let you go. Or if there's just something you've always wanted to do that I can help with or whatever."

He trails off and Shiro keeps staring at him, awestruck and a little smitten. "You don't want anything for yourself?"
"I didn't summon you for power or anything, Shiro. What do you want? Please?" His eyes go wide and pleading, mouth on the edge of a pout and Shiro's resolve crumbles.
"I want..." he starts, voice no more than a whisper. "I want to stay here." He ducks his head, hiding from the rejection and the pity he expects to see on Keith's face.

"Okay," Keith says. Again. Like it's that easy. "Stay here then, until you want to leave."
Shiro whips his head up, not believing he just heard what he did. Keith can't know what that means to bind a demon in that way, what it means to /him./

"You mean that?" He asks, voice shaking now.

"Of course."
Shiro keeps staring at Keith. Keith squirms and keeps talking. "I mean, I brought you here. If you want to stay, you can stay, and if you want to leave, you can do that."

Shiro barely hesitates before pitching forward and wrapping his arms around Keith, tail moving to touch too.
He blinks back tears. This isn't something he ever thought he'd get and Keith is just offering it on a silver platter without /knowing/.

"Thank you," Shiro whispers next to Keith's ear. "You are very kind, Keith. I will stay here with you."
He's so glad Keith accidentally summoned him, so glad that it was /him/ that Keith summoned. He might not deserve the easy kindness and care Keith offers, but at least he isn't going to take advantage of it like some might.

Maybe this is his chance to find how to be happy.
Shiro will tell him later, when he's more sure of how Keith will react, what all of Keith's words -- his name and the binding he offered -- meant to him. How they are a declaration and an offering and a promise.

For now, he just holds on.
// fin 💖

(for now. there will be more in this verse!)
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