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Keep Your Enemies Closer

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Azusa stepped uncertainly off the train, his mood was dark, though the tears had stopped a half hour ago. He headed towards home, not because he wanted to go there, but because he couldn’t think of anywhere else to go. Part of his mind was shut down by dizzy afterglow while the other part remained occupied with the horror of what had happened.
He knew deep inside that he loved Shinogu, it wasn’t even a struggle to admit it. He probably always had, but labeled it as “gratitude”, “camaraderie”, “friendship”. He shook his head miserably.

“What will I do if he doesn’t forgive me?”

Being separated from Shin would be nothing short of tragic, and possibly the hardest thing he would have to deal with since the death of his mother.His body yearned to return to Shin’s house...to his bed, to the smell of his hair and the warm silk of his skin beneath his fingertips. Azusa hissed softly, squelching those thoughts even as his body responded brilliantly. It was perfect, breathtaking, and though Shin had reacted favorably, it was just one moment, how would further reflection make him feel? He couldn’t help but despair, fearing the answer more than the question. The afterglow slowly began to fade as cold reality mingled with doubt in the pit of his stomach, effectively making his entire body numb.

He was afraid.

On weakened knees he walked aimlessly until he reached the park by his complex. He collapsed on a swing and sifted his useless feet through the sand, in his head he could hear Shinogu’s ragged breathing and the guttural sound of his name torn from that sexy throat. He pondered back to long talks and meeting between jobs just to say hello--hell, just the anticipation of those meetings was enough to drive him crazy. Azusa squeezed his eyes shut, tightly trying to allow the desire to abate. He felt lonely and beleaguered. “Take what you want” had always been his motto, but now he began to see that sometimes “having” was a double-edged sword.
His vision began to blur as again tears wound their way on his face. He gave in to the feelings he was submerged in and burying his face in his hands, cried silently.
He was too absorbed to hear the sound of approaching footsteps but he did feel the small hand on his shoulder.

“…Azusa?”

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The fingers that trailed down his spine were soft, tantalizing. They wandered slowly, tracing small patterns over his lower back and drifted to dance over the swell of one cheek. They turned to nails then, lightly scratching the smooth skin, making him gasp into his pillow. The sensation was pure torture, the kind that made him ripe with need, the kind that made him beg. He bit the soft fabric, trying to stem off the low moans that threatened to break free. The result was a sultry, if somewhat muffled, growl. The hands continued their exploration, brushing down the back of thighs, muscled calves, and fingering a roughened heel. He wriggled impatiently, then started when the hands abruptly left his feet and pushed back up to his ass. They sank into that firmness and kneaded forcefully. His breathing turned to deep moans, when one of those hands found their way around his front and began to pump slowly along his shaft. The build-up was quick, and the release was absolute. He came amidst his own desperate cries with a force that pulled him from his pillow. His eyes slit with desire, opened fully to find himself alone.
He shook the fog out of his mind and looked down to his bed, feeling the warmth of his release pooling there and flushed slightly, realizing that he was completely naked. The morning sunlight slanted across the sheets, and illuminated the damning evidence.
A dream?
He winced as he moved, remembrance shattered the confusion, the pain in his back and hips was a reminder that not everything had been a dream. He smiled softly and reached for the other side of the bed, only to find it empty. His smile changed to a frown, his brow furrowing. Azusa had been here right? They had slept right here together, he remembered those arms holding him...he remembered.
Crawling out of the bed, ignoring the aches, he pulled on a clean pair of boxers and began to search the house.

“Azusa?!”

He scanned the kitchen quickly, then turned to the living room, his eyes taking in the quiet of what could have been any normal morning. They continued their perusal and came to rest on the lotion bottle tossed carelessly on the side table. Another blush crossed his cheeks, but his body thrived on the memory, growing warm and hard as the blush moved south.

“Azusa?!”, he began his call again, but stopped when his gaze left the bottle and rested on a sheet of paper carefully folded next to it. With shaking hands, he snatched it up and read the one line.

“I’m Sorry.”

He cursed beneath his breath as he rushed to throw on some baggy pants and t-shirt. It had obviously been written in a hurry. Not just because it was short, but also because the writing lacked any of Azusa’s flowery penmanship, who knew how long he had been gone. He continued to mutter as he crammed on his shoes and coat. Sliding the note into his pocket he slammed out the front door and headed towards the station. Any discomfort he was feeling from the night before vanished amidst his growing agitation. He tried dialing Azusa’s number and got his voicemail. Trying twice more, he got the same results and he could have ground his teeth to dust with just how angry he felt.
On his last attempt he finally left a message, urging Azusa to call him back.

“We need to talk, Azusa.”

Why?

Why did he just leave like that?

He checked his watch; it was just after eight. He should have enough time to get across town and see Azusa before he had to work. He shoved his hands into his pockets and walked against the cold. He knew that Azusa would be angry if he went to work, considering everything that happened yesterday, but what choice did he have? He couldn’t afford to miss any more time.

Why didn’t he stay?

They could have talked. They could have…

He shook his head, better not to think like that right now, not until after they have talked. They needed to make sense of things. His heart felt heavy, each pounding beat seemed to shake his body, as if to remind him of the fragility of what was built last night. Something he was terrified he might lose. He swallowed back the doubt and fear. He told himself that Azusa didn’t regret…he couldn’t. Not with that amount of passion and intensity, not with how thoroughly they had explored each other. He arrived at the station and waited on the platform, checking his watch constantly and silently willed the train to show faster. He nearly sighed with relief when it did and as he stepped inside, he went over what he wanted to say.
He didn’t know what to expect when he saw Azusa. It was true that there would be some awkwardness at first, of course there would, but wouldn’t they be able to get past that?
He held onto the bar above his head, lost in his own thoughts, his own insecurities. He was held so warmly last night and he knew he wasn’t imagining Azusa’s enjoyment. The pleasure was only paralleled by the pain and even that faded away quickly. Shin thought back to those hands, those lips, that husky voice that made him tremble all the way to his bones.
What the hell was going on in that head?
He glanced at his watch again. It was getting late and taking longer to get there than normal. Assuming that Azusa went home, he would be ok. The convenience store wasn’t that far and he could get there relatively fast. What would he do if he spoke to Azusa and he regretted what happened? How would he bear it, worse yet, how could he believe it? The whole situation was strange and, on his part, sort of unexpected.
It was too late to try to examine why he was so worried. He should be furious about the fact that he was forced to sleep with another guy, but was he really forced, and why did he not seem to care?
Either way, these feelings would sort themselves out when he saw Azusa again. There was also the Hatsumi issue to deal with. He didn’t know how Azusa felt about her. He tried to shake off the feeling of resentment that had been brewing against Hatsumi since yesterday, when he had witnessed them talking and hugging in front of the store, while he sat inside like a weak idiot. Who’s to say that Azusa didn’t still have feelings for her?
Doubt was his companion as the train announced his stop.
He didn’t know what he would do when he saw him, but he just had to trust that he could figure it out when that happened.
He tried calling one more time, receiving the same results as before. He stepped from the train more determined than ever and walked in the direction of the complex, leaving his doubt to get off at the next stop.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

“Azusa?”

Hatsumi’s hand was warm and her voice, concerned. Embarrassed to be caught at his weakest, Azusa wiped his eyes, knowing the evidence was impossible to erase but tried anyway.
He aimed a wobbly smile over his shoulder.

“Hatsumi! How are you?”

His smile and tone were strained but Hatsumi chose to ignore it.

“I’m fine. How about you Azusa? What has got you sitting here alone so early in the morning?”

He lifted his shoulders in a shrug that could have been lighthearted, if it hadn’t been so heavy.

“Nothing, just felt like walking. Being alone can be good sometimes, when you need to think…”

He trailed off quietly his eyes focused on the ground at his feet.

Hatsumi smiled gently.

“Got a lot to think about do you?”

Sitting in the swing next to him, she leaned to look into his eyes.

“Wanna talk about it?”

Azusa sighed and shrugged again.

“I wouldn’t even know where to begin.”

He sniffled and looked at her, his eyes huge and watery.

“I’ve made a mistake. I don’t know how to fix it. I don’t know if I can.”

Hatsumi looked at him, obviously expecting him to elaborate. Suddenly he wanted to, he needed to just let it out, maybe then there would be a solution.

“I love someone. I wasn’t able to control myself last night and I kinda, attacked them, maybe, a little.”

Hatsumi nodded solemnly but kept silent, allowing him to continue uninterrupted.

“I’ve held these feelings in check for so long. Just allowing myself to be close to this person as a friend, not letting them know how I feel. I thought maybe one day, I could say it, but now after last night, I don’t know if I can even allow myself to talk to this person again. What if they hate me?”

His voice wobbled again, he looked so crestfallen that Hatsumi felt the need to comfort him, even if she couldn’t exactly say that everything would be ok. She took his hand and held it warmly.

“Azusa? Have you spoken to this person?”

He shook his head.

“Do you think that this person returns your feelings?”

Another heavy shrug.

“What is the problem?”

His gaze shot to her face and she almost thought that she saw anger there, maybe hatred. She remembered that look, it had been aimed at her more than once a year ago. Whatever it was it left almost as soon as it came and he sighed a soft little whoosh.

“They are in love with someone else. I don’t think that I can compete. I also think that my actions may have driven them away.”

Hatsumi patted his hand lightly.

“There is no way of knowing, unless you talk to them. Is there? I have no doubt that you are capable of making this person melt. It may just take some time.”

There was no answer, but she could tell that he was thinking about what she had said. Satisfied she stood up and made a great show of yawning.

“You look horrible Azusa. Have you slept at all?”

His mind flashed back to last night, the incredible sensations, only partially sleeping, afraid of everything disappearing if he did, afraid of waking up to find himself alone again.

“Not much.”

“Well then, go home and sleep! Is your family home right now?”

“Nope. They all went out of town a few days ago. They won’t be back for at least another week or two.”

Hatsumi looked concerned and asked him if he wanted to stay with her for a little while. He stood and cuffed her chin.

“Yeah, Ryoki would love that. Don’t worry about me, I’ll be fine. I think that sleep is just what I need.”

He wasn’t lying, he felt drained and suddenly extremely tired. He gave her hand one final squeeze.

“Thanks for listening Hatsumi.”

She smiled and squeezed back.

“Anytime.”

He left her standing there and made his way back to the apartment. He thought hard about what Hatsumi said, seeing the truth in her words, but also the naivete. How could he apologize to another man for practically raping him, especially when he didn’t regret having sex with him at all? He feared that this would ruin their relationship beyond all possibility of repair. Opening the door, he let himself in, somewhat afraid of the dark quiet, but it didn’t last long, he was too used to it to allow it to linger. Sagging against the door he drew in a deep breath.

“Ah, Shin, what now?”

As if on cue his phone rang loudly. Only slightly startled he looked at the I.D.

Shin.

He didn’t answer, he couldn’t bring himself to. The phone went silent as the voice mail picked up and his phone’s screen flashed a message almost accusingly. One missed call.
He was disgusted with himself, but didn’t care. He would deal with all of this when could think again. Azusa walked down the hall of the homey apartment, shedding his clothes as he did and entered his room naked, tired. He flopped down on his bed and was asleep before his head hit the pillow.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Shin’s shoes crunched over gravel as he jogged the last stretch towards Azusa’s home. He passed the play-ground and saw movement out of the corner of his eye. Casting only a semi-interested glance he saw Hatsumi walking up the pathway towards the complex.

“Hatsumi!”

She jumped a little, obviously lost in one thought or another. She turned and the serious look on her face melted into a grin as she waved vigorously over her head.

“Shinogu!”

He stopped right in front of her and clasped her in a warm but brief hug. He didn’t know why, but he really couldn’t bring himself to be that close to her.

“Hey Hatsumi, how are you doing?”

“I’m as good as ever Shinogu. How about you? Better?”

Her bright smile couldn’t hide the concern that laced her words.

“Don’t worry. I feel fine.”

Aside from a few foreign aches and pains that is, he added silently. He couldn’t understand his mood swing, he was just as disappointed in his own cold response to Hatsumi, his sister, his friend, as he was with the fact that it was her, he found walking alone out here instead of Azusa. If she noticed his distant tone, she didn’t comment on it and continued to talk.
He filled her in on other things, trying his best to be polite and to keep his mounting impatience from snapping out at her. She was a little confused about his abnormal trip to the complex so early in the morning, but kept the conversation innocent enough. Yet when his gaze kept shifting between her and the complex her puzzlement became suspicion. Licking her lips, she looked at him hesitantly.

“Shinogu. Have you spoken to Azusa since yesterday?”

At the mention of the other man’s name, she suddenly had his undivided attention, and her suspicions were confirmed. He seemed a little tense, and a little too intent on looking only mildly interested in her question. He also seemed a little angry, it couldn’t be just because she had mentioned him could it?
Shin’s mind raced, where did that come from?

“Umm, no, not since yesterday.”

He hesitated, reigning in the startling burst of resentment that flared to life when she had mentioned Azusa’s name.

“Have you?”

She nodded and looked wistfully towards the apartment. His gaze followed hers and then snapped back to her face.

“Azusa....is he home right now?”

There was eagerness underlying every word he spoke, and Hatsumi knew, without looking away from the complex, that there was something there, she nodded again.

“He went home not even five minutes ago. You just missed him...no, wait!”

She grabbed his arm as he tried to make his way towards the building.

“What?!” he shouted and looked at her with such vehemence that she nearly let him ago. Yet the memory of the pain she had seen on Azusa’s face made her tighten her grip and look at him firmly.

“Leave him alone right now Shinogu. I don’t know what exactly is going on but I do know that when I came across him this morning...Oh, Shin he looked so beaten. I haven’t seen him look that defeated in a long time. I told him to get some sleep. He needed it by the looks of him. He just sat here alone and he was crying Shin. Do you know what happened?”

Shinogu’s heart sank into his stomach.

Why did he leave?

How could he talk to Hatsumi about it and not him? Why would he need Hatsumi to protect him? Jealousy was the one poison there was no antidote for, and it consumed him. He needed to get away...before he did something, something irreparable. His displeasure was evident, but he said nothing as he turned to leave. Hatsumi grabbed his arm.

“Wait, Shin. Where are you going?”

“Work.” a one syllable answer.

She tried again.

“What is happening Shin. Do you wanna talk about it?”

“No”, another one syllable answer.

She stepped in front of him then and tried to stare him down, but the look he gave her almost stole her resolve. His eyes were black, burning with resentment his mouth set in a grim line.

“Shin?”

He snarled and grabbed her arms, shaking her violently.

“Trying to be my shoulder to cry on Hatsumi?! Going to tell me things will work out for the best? This is your fault and for once, just once, stay out of my business. I have nothing to say except, get out of my way, I’m late for work!”

With that said he pushed her roughly aside, afraid that she would see the hurt and fear that were quickly counteracting the anger. He tried to fool himself into believing that he didn’t see those same feelings mirrored in her eyes, feelings that he had put there. He tried to ignore everything as he stomped down the pathway and headed to the convenience store. Hatsumi was left behind, her clenched hands shaking at her sides, determined to expunge the hurt from her brother’s face, as soon as she figured out why it was there in the first place.