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“Goro,” Joker whispers.

It’s too late for his nonsense.

“Goro?”

He has an appointment with Sae in the morning. It’s really, truly, much too late for this.

“Goroooooooo—"

Goro cracks an eye open. Joker blinks back, flat grey gaze nearly luminous in the half light of the moon and flickering city-lights filtering through the window. Tokyo never rests, not really—not even Leblanc’s atmosphere can shut it out entirely. “What.”

“Let’s play a game.”

They’re face-to face on Joker’s lumpy excuse for a mattress, blankets piled on top of them like a scratchy mountain. Goro has his arms wound around Joker’s middle like a vice— they’d been, Goro supposes, spooning, before Joker had twisted himself around. Face-to-face on Joker’s lumpy excuse for a mattress, and Goro is the one who has to deal with Joker’s stale early-morning breath, and the kind of cat-got-the-cream self-satisfaction only he could muster at three in the morning.

…or whatever time it is. “Joker,” he says, “are you going to let me sleep.”

“Absolutely not.”

“You’re going to wake the cat up.”

The cat is laying on Goro’s feet, which is a completely different problem. God, he hates that stupid fucking cat. At least his fur is soft. And warm. Soft-and-warm is a poor compromise for dubious sentience, but whatever, here they are.

“Mona’s out,” Joker snorts, “and he’s not getting up until like… at least a few more hours, try again.” He kisses Goro’s nose, like the underhanded bastard he is. “Gowooooooo--”

Jesus. “Alright,” Goro says. “I cannot wait to participate in this fascinating dialogue you just— could not wait until morning to instigate.” Kicking Joker is absolutely out of the question unless he’s willing to wake up the cat— which he isn’t— forcing Goro to settle for extracting his arms from Joker’s insensitive bastard embrace. Joker whines, reaches back, like they aren’t still literal inches from each other’s faces.

“The rules,” Goro says. “What are they.”

“Gooooooorooooooo—”

“The rules,” Goro repeats.

Joker grabs at the sheets and pulls the pile over their heads, locking them in a cocoon so dark Goro can only make out the vaguest outline of Joker’s head, his chest, his arms. “Questions,” he huffs. “You ask a question, and I ask a question.”

An honesty game. That’s… suspiciously uncharacteristic. “What happens,” Goro asks, “if one of us doesn’t want to answer?”

“Hold me again, jerk.”

“Joker.”

He pushes at Goro’s chest with his hands. “You’re so cold, Go-chan,” he chuckles— not loud enough to wake the cat. “…Mmm… The person who dodged the most questions after five? Has to kiss Mona-chan good morning.”

Fine.

“Fine,” Goro agrees, grabbing Jokers hand. It isn’t a capitulation, he’s just cold. Something about Joker’s face suggests movement in the darkness— Goro can imagine him grinning like a fool, when he squeezes Goro’s hand back.

“First question,” Joker says— Goro imagines him grinning wider. “Do you… hm, like me?”

Regrettably. “We’ve gone over this.”

“I like to hear you say it, honey.”

“…very much,” Goro admits. It’s still and warm under the covers. Joker curls up closer to his chest, drawing their hands to his lips. “You’re so childish, you know?”

“Am I,” Joker murmurs. Presses his lips to Goro’s knuckles, one at a time, proving the point-- “you’re up.”

He’s missing sleep for this. “I’m missing sleep for this,” Goro complains. The question is again begged: Joker always wants something. Playing this stupid game with him will— inevitably— lead Goro to the answer, of course, but if he could head this off now… but he’d already agreed to play. He wasn’t losing. To him? Tcht.

“What about you?” Goro asks. “Do you like me? Joker?”

He’s mouthing inaudible nonsense onto Goros hand still clasped with his, like that isn’t utterly bizarre. Pauses. “That’s a waste of a question, Crow.”

“But I asked.”

“Then I do, of course.”

Of course, he says. “Of course,” Goro says.

“...My turn next…?” Joker pauses. “...aha, yeah. I have it. Goro, what sport does Ryuji play?”

Sakamoto?

“That’s a terrible question,” Goro sniffs.

“Yeah.”

Of course he knows what sport Sakamato plays.

“Of course I know what sport Sakamato plays.”

“Uh huh.”

“It’s—“ Goro recalls what Sakamato looks like. Blonde. Very loud. Blonde. “Baseball,” Goro decides. “He plays baseball.”

“Buh- baseball,” Joker begins. “Baseball,” he repeats, the rest of the sentence smothered in a helpless kind of laughter, wheezed fitfully into Goro’s wrist. What was his mouth even doing there.

Whatever! “Baseball.” Legs still trapped by that damn cat, Goro tries to once again extract himself from Joker— as much as he can in a spot this tight— but— “Did you seriously forget your own, dear, dear friends sport? Let go. I don’t have to put up with this!”

“Track,” Joker wheezes, unrepentantly tightening his death grip on Goro’s hand. “He plays— where did you even get baseball? Oh my god, aha, you’re—“

“Right. I’m right. Track isn’t even a— it’s not a game, fool, you don’t play track.” Running around in circles is not a

“WILL YOU GUYS SHUT UP,” Morgana yowls.

Goro kicks him off the bed. The cat goes down screaming. “Hey!” Joker hisses, like Goro was at all obligated to humor his stupid cishet cat a second longer then he has too. “You punted my cat!”

“Joookerrrrerr,” Morgana whines from the floor. “Bros before hoes!”

Jesus. “If you stupid fucking cat wants to be treated like a person,” Goro swears, tugging uselessly at their clasped hands, “--he can sleep somewhere else.

“Hoe’s mad, Mona.”

Goro kicks him off the bed too, or tries too, Joker pulling him down with him. They hit the floor hard, a wild tangle of limbs and sheets and breathless gasps. If Goro had to explain to anyone how he ended up like this; Joker sprawled out on top of him like a particularly smug cat…

His face is warm. The real cat is bad enough. “Ew,” Morgana bites, shadow-black shape swarming into focus after so long trapped in the darkness. Cats always land on their feet-- Goro should have kicked harder. “This sucks. You guys are the worst roommates ever.”

Goro lifts his head just to let it fall. The sound is painfully loud; kaTHUNK, his skull hitting the painfully solid rough wood slats and bouncing. “Joker.”

Joker doesn’t blink.

If he doesn’t get it now. “You,” he says, “are making me listen to your cat commit a microaggression.”

“Futaba is probably lonely.”

“It’s three in the morning,” Mona moans, tail flicking erratically. It’s hard to tell when he’s a real cat-- harder still with Goro’s head twisted at such an uncomfortable angle to see it-- but he’s pretty sure that little white muzzle is scrunched up in irritation. “She’s not awa--” pause “--urrrrgh, I guess she is, but you guys shouldn't be!”

Goro will not agree with the homophobic cat.

He won’t.

“It’s not like I chose this,” Goro relents.

“Aht tat tat tat tat.” Joker, right hand still (still!) entwined with Goro’s, shoves the free one into his face. Goro should bite it. “Babe,” Joker says, to him. “Free sushi,” Joker says, to the cat. “If you leave. Right now.”

“Who do you take me for?!” replies Morgana. “Somebody has to keep an eye on you two! I’m a chaperone.” The tail twitches. The snout scrunches further. “Jeeze... five mew-inutes and you’re practically indecent.”

Goro bites his hand.

“Betrayal!“ Joker falls off of Goro, dominant hand draped loosely over his eyes. He’s sprawled out on the ground like a corpse. Not his corpse. Obviously. That cognition hadn’t sprawled, just kind of… slumped. “Oh, WOE is ME—“

Morgana turns half moon eyes on Goro, like he’s at all responsible for Jokers dramatics. Goro sits up. Matches the gaze. Like hell he’s letting a cat stare him down. “Aren’t you supposed to be the responsible one?” Morgana meows, cutting off an exaggerated moan before Joker can really get started.

What else are you good for?

He doesn’t have to say it. Goro is nothing if not intensely aware of-- collective misgivings. Misgivings Joker was insistent he didn’t share. Terribly, impossibly, empathetically… he’d even given up Sakura’s guest room, in favor of reclaiming the shitty claustrophobic attic Goro had been banished too.

“Do you honestly,” he asks the cat, “think I can make him do anything?”

Sakura certainly couldn’t.

...He’s being uncharitable.

Undoubtedly.

The shattered fragments of the life Goro had led scattered around him (conspiracy and assassinations and missing time, months he’d spent trapped) and Sakura Sojiro, of all people, had no obligation to help the man who’d murdered his girlfriend.

(had murdered isshiki-sensei).

(not now. shut up.)

“He’s my friend, Mona,” Joker interjects, closer than Goro thought he should be. “Not my handler? Quit mo - ther - ing me—” he stretches the syllables out in a near sing-song. It strikes Goro his fists are clenched near tight enough to bleed only when Joker nudges his right hand into Goro’s left, side by side on the floor.

Tcht.

At least he was sitting up.

“Maybe you need to be mothered,” Goro allows, the second time today he’s agreed with the cat, implicitly or not. Joker rolls his eyes. Goro can feel it, even if he can’t quite see the fool’s face from this position.

“Auuurgh.“ the cat chuffs. Indignantly. Very indignantly. He pads closer to the two of them... his breath smells like salmon. “I am not! Mothering you! You guys woke ME up! You’re not doing anything you can’t do tomorrow— and did you,” at Goro, “forget you have to meet Sae tomorrow? About important stuff. I want my bed back!”

Important stuff. His ‘future’, such as it was.

(not much).

“This is all incredibly stupid,” Goro says. To the cat, “nothing is stopping you from, ah,” how to say this. “Going to sleep? Go to sleep, Morgana.”

That does it. Joker bursts out laughing. “Yeah, Mona, go the fuck to sl—“

“CHAPERONE.”

Joker pulls Goro’s head to his, in lieu of responding— Goro would complain at the redirection if he wasn’t suddenly far more occupied with the way Joker's mouth is moving, the spindly fingers winding roughly into his hair.

Ahaha. Aha.

...okay.

Goro tilts his head sideways— tries to find a better angle, clacks their teeth together instead. Joker laughs into his mouth and pushes him back down onto his back, nipping and sucking and ahahaha okay.

Re-ci-pro-cate.

He can absolutely do that, of course.

Morgana yowls something disgusted Goro doesn’t give a fuck about, blah blah blah I’m telling. Telling who. Everyone who gave a shit already knew Joker was stupid enough to be seen sucking face with his hitman.

Not… now, though. He stopped? Fuck.

“Mona’s gone,” Joker laughs. “And you are lucky that on all levels except physical—“ oh kill him now “—I am French.”

Goro lets his head hit the floor, again, because he was the fool who let Joker steal the upper hand and he isn’t letting Joker anywhere near his mouth. If he bit him now the freak would probably like it. “Kinning Lupin doesn’t count.”

“Hon hon.”

“I swear to god, Joker.”

“Hey, hey. You ARE getting better— less, fish with teeth?” A stolen kiss, pressed against his forehead. “Practice makes perfect…no?”

JESUS.

“Oho,” Joker continues (chuckles) pressing his lips near Goro’s ear. Like a freak. “I was your first, right?”

God damn it. Yes. “Oh, deflate your ego. Just because— not everyone is possessed to fool his way around literally everyone he knows.”

“Is that an answer I hear?”

“We’re playing a game, aren’t we?” Christ, his face. The very definition of smug. “My turn, not yours.”

Joker seems to find something about that perfectly reasonable sequence of words hilarious: incredibly so, because now he’s laughing hard enough for Akechi to shimmy out from underneath him. Goro could be sleeping right now, he thinks, standing up on shaky legs.

“Well?” Joker follows suit, rises from the ground with the usual preternatural grace. He’s still smiling— sunnily, easily, so very him— but he seems to have laughed himself out of the fit. “Your turn, Crow.”

God. Okay. “My second question,” he muses. “...ahhhhhh. Hm. Eh…”

The problem— there are a lot of problems but The Problem— is that Joker is not only an evasive bitch, he’s the evasive bitch, and will dodge anything remotely resembling a serious question. Nevermind that it was his game to begin with. This isn’t the end-all-be-all of the match, of course, Goro can still win, but what to ask...

“When did you start wearing fashion glasses?”

Joker blinks. Whatever he expected Goro’s first (second, really, but ah well) move to be, it wasn’t that. “...What makes you think they’re fashion glasses?”

“You—“ literally! “—wrestled them onto me, before.”

Joker tilts his head minutely. Snorts. “Oh, right. Ha. You know how it is with—“ he waves his left hand from side to side “—appearances. I like contacts better, but the frames make me look… uhhh, nonthreatening? Life is compromise.”

“You wear… prescription contacts. Under your fashion glasses.

“Yeah?”

Of course he does.

“My turn, I guess...” Joker hums. “Favorite color?”

“Red,” Goro replies. “Yours?”

“Red.” Joker smirks-- sort of, it doesn’t quite reach his eyes-- and tilts towards the open window. It’s far too hot to be closed, lest they all suffocate on stuffy air and cat hair. “...meet me on the roof,” and he’s halfway out the frame before Goro could even consider objecting.

And… Goro isn’t… embarrassed, per say. But being seen (in public! on a roof!) wearing Joker’s almost-too-tight pants, Joker’s obscure band shirt…

It’s three in the morning. He crawls out the window.

“Glad you could make it,” his boyfriend hums, perched a few feet above Goro’s head, legs swinging over the flat edge of the roof. Not exactly an easy place to get to barefoot, but hardly a challenge. So he climbs, and takes Joker’s hand when it’s offered, swinging up onto the empty spot to the left of him.

He looks terribly pretty in the moonlight. It’s unfair, how he never has to try.

“Did I ever tell you...” Joker stops, looks at him sidelong through his bangs. “...hm.”

Joker doesn’t tell anyone anything. That’s written on Goro’s face, probably, because Joker huffs and squeezes his (held, jesus, Goro feels like a sappy magnet) hand.

“You just. Mentioned baseball.”

“...yes?”

“My older brother is… really into it,” Joker elaborates, and whatever direction Goro was expecting this conversation to take wasn't that. “I mean, he’s really into gambling. About baseball, though, it counts. Uh— man, I haven’t thought about him in a while, I guess.”

“Joker,” Goro responds. Very calmly. “Do you, perhaps, have a concussion?”

He’s being serious. He’s being very serious. Maybe he’d gone to sleep with one, it would explain a lot— Joker rolls his eyes and nudges Goro’s shoulder, hard, like he’s not being deadly serious.

“Shut up, dude. And. Eh— Kaito’s older than me? Like. A lot older. ...didn’t know him very well, growing up. Dead jealous of his name, though.”

“Kaito,” Goro states, because Joker must be joking.

“I know! He doesn’t even deserve it, he’s a cop.”

That might even be the truth. Goro pinches the bridge of his nose with his free hand and tries to ponder something that isn’t the ongoing comedy that is his life— except that he can’t, because Joker is feeling chattier now then he has in the last month combined. He drops his hand. The tile of the roof is cool to the touch.

“...I didn’t drag you up here to talk about him. We don’t— like I said, I haven’t thought about it. Mutual. I just— he’s— on the mind…?” Joker exhales harshly, gestures to the moon like it has the answers he can’t seem to spit out. “So. My fourth question.”

Goro would be a worse boyfriend then he is (pretty bad) if he didn’t give the guy an out. “Joker—“

“No, we’re not done. Fourth question. ...Uh. When did you know? That you were gay?”

Haha. If those ‘attendants’ spy as much as Goro thinks they do, somebody is undoubtedly playing the laugh track as they speak. Or— awkwardly sit in silence. Hellish, really.

“...Ah. Fuck, you don’t have to answer that, it’s not losing. Sorry. I can—”

“Joker?” Goro grits, through his teeth. “Shut up.” Hellish, but he’ll try. “I was thirteen. It was middle school— my lab partner had the worst hair, it got on everything, I fucking hated it. Had vivid daydreams of reaching over and just—“ hand extended, he makes a gesture halfway between yanking and petting. Joker snorts. “—ah, perfectly normal desire to... stick my hand in… another boy's hair. As you do.”

“As you do,” Joker snorts again— shakes his own irrepressible mop out of his eyes so they’re fully visible in the pale moonlight. Visible to anyone who cares to look, really, and aren’t they playing with fire tonight? “Sorry, but. Is that a type?”

“Shut up. Anyway, I was into him, obviously.” And hadn’t that been a singularly unpleasant epiphany. “And nothing came of it, obviously. Everyone hated me when I was just the crazy orphan, let alone the crazy gay orphan.

Thus began Goro’s years long, mostly successful campaign to bury that. Better to extract himself from the messier desires entirely then indulge and ruin whatever good he had going for him. Which hadn’t been a lot, but…

Joker squeezes his hand. That wry half smile is— part commiseration, not sympathy, he can deal with that. Part something he can’t quite read. “You deserved better.”

Oh, to hell with that. “It’s hardly a unique experience.”

“So? I’m still… sorry.” Goro looks away. He doesn’t need to see Joker to know he’s pulling a face. “I’m sorry. Your turn.”

“...Eh…” And he could win, if he wanted. Mirror back Joker’s question, therein lies the path to victory-- the end of the nonsense when Joker inevitably bails on the spot. “...Older brother? Does that imply the existence of a younger…?” Joker’s still getting at something. It’s not the time.

“Oh, you—“ Joker pauses, and Goro risks a glance… that’s surprise, mild as it is. Did he really think Goro would just go for it? “Yeah, Akito. My half brother. Uh, Mom’s kid, with her husband.”

Curious choice of phrasing. “I’m sensing some animosity,” Goro tries, tactfully.

“Oh, are you.” He risks another glance. Joker’s expression is hardly impressed. “Shouldn’t you know some of this already, Stalker-kun?”

Some. Not as much as he could have-- at the time, it’d seemed too much like… cheating. How childish. “Believe it or not, I had things on my mind other than the particulars of your family life.”

“Sure you did. But no, we don’t get along.” This is getting stupid. Goro meets Joker’s gaze and keeps it, Joker rolling his eyes at the action or the sentiment falling from his own lips. “I’m not a part of their happy little family— my old man was the one who couldn’t keep his dick in his pants. You know how it is.”

“I guess I do,” Goro agrees.

They fall quiet, the sounds of the city muffled and somehow distant.

“...My turn,” Joker states, breaking the silence after minutes of city-sounds and little else. It’s his turn to not look at Goro, which is an alarming sign, so Goro squeezes his hand and hopes that this isn’t a break-up sort of conversation. Which. Well. He probably has coming. “Last question.”

“Get on with it, Joker.”

“Yeah, yeah. Yeah.” Because that’s a good sign. Fuck. “Okay— please don’t— I mean, don’t be weird about it? Just. Listen.” Joker inhales, hand spasming in Goro’s. “I mean. If you… hypothetically… were dating somebody that wasn’t a boy…. hypothetically... would that be a problem…?”

Holy shit. “Joker.”

“Hypothetically!”

“Joker, have I,” don’t fuck this up holy shit, “are you a woman?”

“No!” Joker dropped Goro’s hand in favor of running his hands through his hair in disturbingly open distress, and Goro resists the urge to flinch back-- the last thing either of them needs is for him to fall off the roof. “I’m not a— hypothetically. Hypothetically, if you were dating someone that isn’t anything at all.”

“That’s fine. Of course, that’s…? I thought— Joker, have I been misgendering you?” Oh, god. Fuck. “I sort of— assumed you were— already…? Joker, have I been misgendering you this entire time.

“No? No. Nooooo…?”

“That’s a question.” Joker woke him up at three in the morning just to tell Goro he was trans, which Goro already knew, or thought he knew, because APPARENTLY he didn’t know shit! “Why is that—? Wait. Okay.” Oh god he’s fucking it up. “Do you want me to use different pronouns.” Better.

“...you don’t have too,” Joker hedges.

Joker.

“You could,” Joker allows, “try ‘they’? I don’t really… I dunno, I’m testing it out. I don’t have a problem with ‘he’, I just— you know?”

“Of course,” Goro says. He sets a cautious hand on their knee, Joker’s hands— which had been twining roughly in their hair— freezing in place. But they don’t kick him off. “I’m sorry, I… honestly presumed…?”

“Really.” Joker’s voice is flat, maybe a little incredulous.

“Well, it’s not like you ever actually… you aren’t the type to spell things out. You didn’t actually tell anyone you liked men, either.”

“Yeah, I…” they exhale, hands dropping back down to their sides. If they don’t instigate anything, Goro is hardly in a position to hold them. So he doesn’t. Maybe that’s just his own foolishness-- to find the act of holding someone’s hand so much more intimate than a gentle touch to the knee. “I mean, the last time I officially came out for anything it was to my brother.”

Ah.

“Kaito… it wasn’t that bad, I guess. I just didn’t… there was a slur involved. Anyway. And my hometown isn’t exactly a place where you can be gay or bi or whatever without, fuck. Consequences. Easier to let people make their own assumptions.”

“You still managed to acquire a hell of a lot more experience then I did,” Goro says. “I’d call that… batting ahead?”

“Ha! Sure.” City-sounds and silence. “...you still have one last question.”

“Do I?” Goro replies. “Are we really still playing that game, Joker?”

That shakes a laugh out of Joker, unexpected and short. “Of course we are, who do you think I am.”

Oh, he couldn’t answer that question now. “Well,” Goro says instead. If a game must be played, he’ll be damned if he loses it. Tcht. “My question is… where does that brother of yours live, anyway? Kaito… -san?”

“Endo,” Joker replies reflexively— which Goro had at least assumed, he knows some things, but the look on Joker’s face is… just, priceless, when they catch the slip. He’ll have that framed.

“Endo-san,” Goro appends, primly.

“I,” Joker hisses, “am not telling you that.”

“Then you lose!”

“You are not— seriously?”

“Those are the rules. If you can’t answer a question, that’s the end of it.” Goro can’t help the smirk that creeps over his features any more then Joker can help the outrage flashing across theirs. “...Checkmate?”

“I,” Joker tries. “You— this—“ their hands move frenetically in beat to frustrated exclamations— you, you, you! only freezing at the climax of it all, frustration giving way to laughter, of all things. They’re going to wake up the neighbors-- is what Goro would say, if Joker didn’t choose that moment to strike, like the underhanded bastard they are.

“Mmmph!”

Not a lot of other things to say when your boyfriend (partner? they need to have conversations) has you liplocked, hands twining roughly in your hair. Goro’s hand spasms on their knee, teeth clacking harshly against Joker’s. They kiss him harder. “H-hey—“ Goro tries, emerging for air. “We’re on a—“ this is a public space “—roof!”

“So,” Joker parries. They get back to kissing, until Goro finds it in him to break them apart. He deserves a medal. Maybe two. “Hey! Goro!”

Fuck, he hates it when Joker gets like this. Not that he resents it, not that Goro himself is any better, but... “I think,” Goro tries, “that you are slightly manic right now.” Wigging out, Christ. “I’m not kissing you when you’re spiraling.”

“Am not,” Joker pouts. Then, “...Okay, fine. I thought you might break up with me. Sue me.” A beat of silence-- “...damn brat,they append, as if that’s supposed to make sense, or explain the hiccupy sort of laugh that follows. Oh, God, he’s properly concerned now. “Maybe you have a point.”

“Tcht. Of course I do.” Goro extracts his hands from Joker’s waist-- when did they even get there-- and begins the thankless task of untangling Joker’s fingers from his hair. Joker certainly isn’t helping. “We are going to sleep, because it’s three in the fucking morning, and I need to talk to Sae-san at six.”

They’re not even sorry. “Urgh. Fine”

“...if it helps,” Goro allows, “you’ve got at least something to look forward to, tomorrow.”

They perk up at that, eyes glittering. “...Yeah?” Oh, he really can’t help himself.

“Of course,” Goro smiles. “Mona-chan still needs a kiss, right?”

Joker almost pushes him off the roof.