Waka likes dangerous things. They aren’t boring, at least. He sometimes wonders if this is a result of staring death in the face every time he steps into the training ring, but concludes that such excuses are far too easy. Nurture is so much more convenient than nature; no one wants to admit that they were just made wrong.
Fire, Waka had found out early on, was a lot less boring than squaring off against other gladiators, who telegraphed their moves and told you everything with their fierce, terrified eyes. Fire only follows the crudest of guidelines, and from there it is anyone’s guess. Will this match destroy the pile of newspaper he throws it on, take down the building he stands in? He won’t know until he lights it.
* * *
When Waka first met Daku, his pulse pounded in his head and red flicked at the corners of his vision. Something about his eyes, the way he moved, the sharp grin carved across his face. Waka was holding a torch to a pile of oil-soaked rags, he was standing across the road watching flames leap between rooftops, he was watching a bit of paper curl and smoke and burn his fingertips.
Daku sauntered over to him, his movements smooth and without a hint of warning to them, like his limbs moved entirely of their own accord. “I hear you used to burn down stuff,” he said, raking a hand through his stiff blond hair. “What for?”
“Bored,” Waka answered after a moment’s pause. His fingers twitched in his pockets, out of sight.
* * *
“If you put our names together, it’s a shark god, did’ja know that?” Daku reclined on a rock jutting out of the water near shore. Sunlight gleamed off his wet hair. “D’ya think she meant it like that?”
“No.” Waka was propped up on his elbows, his legs dangling in the water. “It’s a coincidence. She doesn’t have her eye on everything.”
Daku pouted. “You’re no damn fun.”
“What are you talking about, moron?” Waka squinted in the glare of the sun off the water. “Isn’t it a way more interesting world if it’s a coincidence?”
Daku grinned, and his teeth flashed white-hot and sharp. “I guess.”
* * *
There was no warning when Daku shoved him into a bathroom stall, his mouth at his ear, “I’ve never felt so fucking horny in my whole life, you know that? I think I’ve wanted to suck your cock from the second I saw you.”
* * *
Waka stares at the charred, gutted remains of an old warehouse. There is a man there he has never seen before, running his finger through the thick layer of soot on the wall. He’s a shark, Waka can tell from the way he moves.
“I hear you’re cold and brash and frighteningly good,” the man says. “What’s a gladiator of your calibre doing with arson?”
Waka flicks his lighter off and on. The man can see the twitch in his fingers. “It’s not boring,” he says.
“Six in two weeks,” the man says, and Waka wonders how he knows, maybe he hasn’t been hiding as well as he thought. “I’d say you’re tiring of it.”
“There’s something bigger,” Waka says, and he doesn’t know why, something about the way the man looks at him. “Better. Something I’ve been looking for. I’ve almost got it, I can feel it tingling.”
The man’s glasses are sliding down the ridge of his nose, he pushes them back with one hand and draws a card from his pocket with the other. “Come look for me when you’ve given up the search,” he tells Waka. “I promise, I’ll find you something far more interesting.”