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Keep Your Enemies Closer

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Winter had passed.
The early march of Spring now warred with the last vestiges of frost that covered the ground outside of the tall, brown-bricked apartment complex. The day was just about spent, the sun set slowly in a stunning display of reds and purples casting its rosy hues across a down-turned face. Soft light played across attractive features, casting relief on sleepy brown eyes, straight nose and full lips, which at this moment were compressed into an impatient line.
Azusa Odagiri sat perched on a bench in the park outside of the complex. The park was small but beautifully landscaped with aspen and maple trees, narrow white-pebbled paths, and a small pond, which at this moment was partially frozen. Occasionally, when it was quiet like it was now, the sound of trickling water pooling around the ice could be heard. In the summer it could be heard more loudly, but for now, it was still partially silenced by the cold. Azusa sat, scuffing his foot through the frost on the ground, gazing at the thinning pond ice without really seeing it. His heavy black coat kept the chill at bay, though some evidence of it remained stamped on his nose and cheeks, which were both slightly pink. The fur from his hood tickled his face and he impatiently pushed it off his head and replaced it with a black beanie that he produced from his pocket. Impatiently, he checked his watch for what seemed to be the twentieth time in the last ten minutes. His sigh was long-suffering, his gaze darted between his wrist and the resounding silence of his phone.

“Shit…” his epithet broke the silence, only briefly stirring the crisp air, before it faded and the silence resumed.

He didn’t really know how long he had been sitting there, to be honest he didn’t really care. He didn’t mind spending the time, it was worth it if he could…
He shook his head softly, rubbing his hands over his face. His breath was warm on his fingers and he took a moment to breathe on them again, to ward off the chill. He stared at his fingertips intently, as his thoughts drifted inward. He was waiting to meet a friend. Well, in truth, more than a friend in his mind though he was sure that his friend wouldn’t agree, or couldn’t even guess…
Brown eyes shifted their focus to the sky, barely noticing the grace of the sunset that blazed there, lost in thoughts that he had shuffling around in his head for months.
It’s been a year since the dust had settled, since the final confrontation, and final reconciliations. Hatsumi and Ryoki are together, going strong despite the war of wills that erupted from time to time.
A smirk passed his lips at this. Hatsumi had grown more confident over the last year, sure enough in her relationship that she had become quite the force to be reckoned with. Ryoki put up a brave front though, and still liked to believe that Hatsumi was his pet…nothing ever really changed at the core, not with them.
Azusa shook off past shadows and stood up from the bench, once again checking his phone. The sun continued to sink lower and still the damned thing hadn’t rung. He issued another impatient sigh and glanced at his watch once more. As he did so the silence was once again interrupted, this time by the sound of footsteps, which crunched to a stop behind him as a bouncy voice drilled into his ear.

“Azusa!”

Azusa ducked his head and turned his gaze to his unwanted intruder. Akane Narita was dressed for the cold, donned in a bright white coat, a soft pink scarf coiled around her neck. Bright eyes greeted him warmly and her breath puffed in tiny clouds that disappeared in the air between them. Her hand was clasped behind her, grasping tightly to her boyfriend, Subaru.
Azusa smiled, stooping forward to look into Akane eyes.

“Hey Akane-chan.” His gaze darted behind her., "and Subaru. What brings you two lovebirds out tonight?"

Subaru stepped to stand beside his girlfriend and bowed slightly, smiling an embarrassed smile. Akane however was much more poised.

“Subaru and I are going a double-date with Hatsumi and Ryoki. We are waiting for them now." Crossing her arms across her chest, she looked a bit annoyed.

"I can’t imagine what is taking so long, Hatsumi was ready an hour ag-”.

Akane was interrupted by fierce bickering, as the couple in question appeared around the corner. Their heated debate didn’t cease and the trio stared on in confusion. Hatsumi’s voice carried a hint of agitation, though her words worked to defuse the conversation, before it became a full out war.

“Really Ryoki I don’t see what the big deal is!”

“Hatsumi, I told you that I didn’t want you to speak to that guy ever again, you are my girlfriend, remember?”

Hatsumi stopped and tucked her hair behind her ear, before turning an affectionate gaze to the man at her side.

“Ryoki, Shinogu is my brother. What is past is past. You know that I love you right?”

Her eyes were liquid, the sunset cast a gem-like light in their depths. Ryoki immediately relaxed and gave in grudgingly, but not without striving for the last word.

“I just don’t see what you could have been talking about for the last hour”.
Hatsumi kicked Ryoki in the ankle. She grunted her disgust and continued to walk as he rubbed his injury.

“Really, I rarely ever get to talk to him. He lives so far away and works so much, I worry ab-ah, Azusa!”

They finally joined them and Hatsumi’s eyes softened when they encountered her childhood friend. Azusa couldn’t help but smile back, this girl had saved him many times, and he would always have a soft spot for her. Seeing the smile, Ryoki approached behind her and placed his arm around her shoulders possessively, aiming a curt nod of greeting in Azusa’s direction. Azusa eyed him coolly, but still acknowledged him with a nod of his own before shifting his attention back to Hatsumi.

“Well girlie, I could hear you two arguing as soon as the door opened…nothing really changes does it?”

A wide smile parted her lips and she rolled her eyes heavenward

“This dolt, he gets upset over the silliest things.”

Azusa nodded in agreement, Ryoki glared at them, clearly disliking the idea of the pair sharing the same view on anything. Azusa paused a moment and looked at his watch again.

“Hatsumi, did I hear you mention speaking to Shinogu?”

Hatsumi nodded and began a tirade, outlining the beginning of their argument. She didn’t notice the shadows that passed his eyes, or the way he glanced at his watch three more times in the course of their conversation. The loud ring of a cell phone broke the steady stream of babble that poured from Hatsumi’s lips, startling everyone within a three-mile radius.

“Azusa, is that your phone?” Hatsumi still looked startled but slightly amused. “Is it really that impossible to hear?”

Azusa didn’t answer that. How could he say that he lived in such fear of missing these precious calls that he always had his phone on him, and the volume turned as high up as it could go. Instead he looked at the number that flashed across the screen and quickly answered, his voice softening. Hatsumi picked up the change in him immediately, though the others seemed blissfully unaware. He spoke quietly, his tone verging on intimate. His voice caught on words that could have been considered the gentlest she had ever heard him speak.
The others were already in deep conversation of their own and didn’t notice Azusa’s wistful half-smile and they didn’t hear him hang up.

“Someone special Azusa?”

He glanced at her quickly and then back down at the silent phone, another ghost smile skittered across his lips.

“Yeah, you could say that…someone special…”

Any conversation died after that. Ryoki loudly checked his own watch, as he and Akane both prodded their “others” to leave.
Hatsumi bowed her goodbye to Azusa, even as she was dragged away. They disappeared down the road, the promise of another argument gearing up between the late couple blossomed as they crossed the street and faded from view. Once they were gone, the silence returned. He was alone with his thoughts again and he found that he liked it, maybe a little too much. The moments where he could sit and think, allowing his mind to be occupied with thoughts of the one, the voice at the other end of the line, were some of his most treasured. He savored that voice, giving unspoken gratitude to the privacy his mind gave him, the space to think, thoughts that were usually both hurtful and beautiful, the poison and the antidote, the injury and the treatment, the disease and the cure. It was always like this, no matter how brief or general the conversation was, when he got the call, he could breathe again. His relief was quite real. In some ways those phone calls were what kept him going through the day.
He sighed, offering a self-deprecating smile and walked down the street.
The sun had completely set while he talked to Hatsumi, the stars now began to appear, tiny punctures of light in the night sky. Little tendrils of breath escaped his parted lips. He rubbed his hands to warm them up, then stuck them in his pockets. How many times had he taken this walk over the last year? How many times did he wait for the call?
How long has it been like this…Shinogu?
Shinogu Narita, Akane and Hatsumi’s older brother, had been his greatest ally and his biggest support when he was investigating the truth behind his mother’s death. His anger, his hurt, and feelings of betrayal were out of control then, he had hurt everyone in his need for revenge. His single-minded crusade for justice pushed everyone away, everyone except for Shinogu. Even if Shinogu’s offer to help originated from his desire to separate Hatsumi from Azusa, to protect her from his unchecked malice, he was at peace with that. They grew closer through their time together and Shinogu’s support, in the end, might have saved a little bit of his soul. Now, a year later, Azusa existed on killing time between Shinogu’s infrequent phone calls. It was o.k. the guy was busy working three jobs and continuing school. True, his own schedule was nothing to sneeze at either. He was becoming more sought after as a model and could be booked for days without any time to himself, but he made time, for him…there was time. He didn’t know what to make of the feelings that had developed over time and constant involvement. He didn’t want to think of it as gratitude, although he was grateful, such a meager emotion did not feel important enough and would not be welcome here.
He kicked a rock and watched as it bounced across the road, as he followed it a car sped past littering the air with shouts and the whine of its horn.
On the street there were the occasional stares of recognition or the “Hey, don’t I know you from somewhere?” conversations. He treated these with the same sort of indifference he showed to the camera.
Wrestling his hand from his pocket he glanced at his watch again and quickened his pace. He was going to meet Shinogu on his only break between the convenience store and the job at the warehouse. His mind hummed in gentle anticipation. He knew that Shinogu could never return his feelings, he was a guy after all, and Shinogu still seemed to show some indication of being completely head-over-heels for Hatsumi. Every fiber of Azusa’s body rejected that thought, pain resonated deeply, somewhere in the vicinity of his chest.
His hand grazed the area, an action meant to soothe the ache, but it did little to accomplish its mission. The lights grew brighter as he approached the convenience store where Shinogu worked, hesitating only a fraction of a second, he stepped inside the awaiting warmth.

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

Shinogu glanced at the clock on the wall.

“Hey, Sasuke, it’s time for me to leave now. Thanks for all your help. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

His words were met with a parting wave. He removed his apron and grabbed his backpack. The sound of the bell signaled a customer, he looked up to greet them and smiled.

“Ah, Azusa!”

Azusa stood in the doorway and removed his hat; pushing his hair out of his eyes, he returned the greeting warmly.

“Shinogu.”

Shinogu took a moment to take in the other man. He was just as beautiful today as he was yesterday, but he would probably only get better tomorrow. His hair had an irritating tendency to cover his eyes, making Shinogu itch to brush it back, so that he could see them. Those incredible eyes, that seemed so intense when they spoke...too distracting.

“You came just in time; I am just getting ready to leave.”

Azusa, shrugged, “I had some time to kill. Since we don’t get to hang out that often, this seemed like the perfect opportunity. Besides you know if you call, I will be here.”
Shinogu nodded and slung the pack across his back.

They headed out the door and across the lot in companionable silence occasionally asking mundane questions about the other’s day and the like. Shinogu stole a glance at Azusa, watching his face melt as he spoke, showing a gentleness he normally saved for their conversations or when he was talking to Hatsumi.

Hatsumi...

Shinogu could smile now when he thought of his sister. The pain no longer ate at him when he spoke with her, it had settled into a dull ache that had gradually faded over the passage of time. He wanted what was best for her. He wanted what would ensure her continued happiness. He was ecstatic that he could finally call her “sister” without praying for something else.
He worried about Azusa though. He knew that Azusa had a thing for Hatsumi. He knew that Azusa also wished what was best for her and stepped aside. Yet he wondered how long the younger man would wait, before he had decided that he should give stealing her away a shot.

“--gu? Shinogu?”

Azusa had stopped walking and was looking at him expectantly. Shinogu shook the thoughts out of his head.

“I apologize, what were you saying?”

Azusa smirked.

“I knew you weren’t listening. I asked if you wanted to sit here?”

“Here” was the park bench Azusa occupied earlier. Shinogu nodded his agreement.

“So, wanna tell me what you were thinking about just now?”

“Nothing, just…stuff.”

“I hardly think that it’s just “stuff”, to make you smile like that.”

Shinogu smiled again.

“The past then. I was thinking about the past.”

“The past? What is there worth smiling about in the past?”

Shin took in Azusa’s frown and shrugged. He was right, there shouldn’t be anything to smile about concerning the past year. His budding friendship with Azusa was the only thing that he could categorize as being a positive by-product of all the disorder. They were thrown together a lot, while looking for clues involving Azusa’s mother and her mystery lover. Azusa was a major support through the hard times, seeing Ryoki slowly take Hatsumi’s affections into his undeserving fold. He even goaded him into taking her away from Ryoki several times and then threatening to steal her himself. Shin always thought that Azusa loved her also, even now, he couldn’t be sure if he still harbored feelings for her or if he moved on like he himself had. Somehow the thought that he might still be dwelling on his feelings for Hatsumi made Shin uncomfortable and little agitated. He didn’t understand why, but a lot of things about Azusa made him feel strangely paranoid or overly warm and anxious where the younger man was concerned. He chose to ignore it then, but now as the feeling grew to be more of a presence, he was faced every day with the busy task of analyzing the whole mess.

“Shin?”

Shinogu started, “Huh?”

“See, you drifted off again. Still playing in the past? Why don’t you join me in the present for a bit and tell me about your day?”

Shin complied. He outlined the day, that was just like every other. The endless stream of jobs and school, the back-to-back shifts that gave him little time for study or sleep.

“Be careful Shin, you need to pace yourself or you will collapse again. You work so hard and so often, I worry.”

Shin smiled, feigning irritation. “You’re not my mother, you don’t need to be so worried all the time.”

Azusa’s eyes grew intense for a second, then were veiled as he lightly jabbed him in the arm.

“No. I’m not, am I? I’m not even related, but even so, that doesn’t mean that I can’t worry. Maybe I do abuse the privilege, but you enjoy it, I think. Anyway, you wouldn’t have to work so hard if your roommate hadn’t decided to move out, you really should look at finding a new one.”

Shinogu shrugged.

“Maybe I do, but I have neither the time or the inclination now. I will have to wait until I get a break from school.”

He changed the subject then, asking about Azusa’s work. Modeling, huh. Azusa couldn’t really talk about him working too much. Right now, Azusa was one of the most sought-after models in the industry. I might not be long before he stretched the power of his beauty further west, he shuddered, hopefully that was a long way off.

“Well, there’s nothing for a couple of weeks. I have a small vacation planned, nothing spectacular just being lazy and quiet for a bit. It has been a while. My father and his wife are not here right now, so quiet is just what I will get.”

Shin sighed and leaned his head back on the bench top. Azusa followed his lead and leaned back as well.

“Sounds great. I really envy you right now.”

He turned his head, still reclining lazily on the bench and shot a glance at Azusa. He took in the slightly disheveled hair, the shining eyes and cold-reddened cheeks and smiled. He reached his hand out to his hair and brushed his fingers through the silky length.

Azusa looked startled. His eyes were wide and his face flushed a deeper red. Just as suddenly as the innocent contact had started, it ended and Shin was holding something up between them.

“Leaf.”

Azusa looked away and Shin snickered at him.

“Azusa are you blushing?”

Azusa shook his head violently.

“Liar.”

Azusa brushed his fingers across his cheek.

He stammered, “No, it’s not that. It’s just the cold.”

Shin went from teasing to concerned in less than a second. He checked his watch and stood.

“Well, why don’t we go then? I have to work anyway and you should get inside where it’s warm.”

Azusa looked unsure. Shin hissed and jabbed him lightly with his elbow.

“I’ll call you later. Now go home.”

Azusa nodded.

“I’ll see you tomorrow.”

Shin left then, looking over his shoulder at Azusa’s receding figure.

Azusa was acting strangely. He didn’t know why, but it wasn’t really new, just different. He shouldn’t be worried but he was. He needed time...time to figure things out.

However, now was not the time for thinking, it was time for yet another grueling shift at a thankless job and groaning, he walked as slow as he could in the opposite direction.

Chapter Text

“Odagiri, chin up! To the left, the left!”

Azusa did as he was told, rolling his eyes at the ceiling as he struggled with the pose. They owed him.
This was supposed to be his time off, time he needed, but this was an emergency. One of the other models in the company was sick in hospital and he was asked to fill in for a shoot. The client was, of course, delighted with the free upgrade. However, because of the schedule he was pulled away for almost the entire week. He hadn’t seen much of Shinogu lately and the separation was enough to drive him crazy. They had talked enough recently to keep him from absolutely losing it, but during every single one of their conversations, one of them was in a rush, so their time was brief.

“Azusa, keep your chin up!”

He breathed another heavy sigh and tilted his chin as far up as it would go; the photographer signaled his approval by jumping in front of him and beginning to snap away with his camera. The shirt was a soft blue with silver buttons that dotted down the front. The top three were undone and it hung a little loosely to one side revealing the strong corded length of his throat. His pants were soft black leather, that fit him like a second skin, but did make the shoot a little uncomfortable. Dark, smoky eyeliner rimmed them, making already intense eyes even more lethal, or at least that was the desired effect, but right now it was smudging too much underneath layers of sweat.
The lights were hot, hotter than usual and he could feel the drops of sweat beading on his lip and running down his temples. His shirt was beginning to stick to his back and he was ready to scream in frustration.

“Azusa! You are sweating too much. Someone, get in there and do some damage control! Hair! Makeup!”

He rolled his eyes again and sat down heavily as a fleet of grabbing hands and fussing eyes tsk-tsked over his ruined appearance. He just wanted it over with already, he wanted a shower and sleep. He wanted to see Shinogu. He winced as his hair was pulled roughly and turned to glare at the offender even as they were sighing in frustration and snapping their fingers at the photographer.

“It’s a no-go. Complete re-work from the ground up.”

There was more cursing, but finally decisions were made and everyone scurried about to complete their assigned tasks.

“Everyone in wardrobe, get on those clothes I want them washed and pressed and looking like new in an hour, no more. Everyone else get your stations greased and ready to go. Afterwards, you may break for a meal, thirty minutes. As for you Azusa, go get those clothes to wardrobe, get yourself a bite and clean up, looks like the day is just starting.”

Azusa nodded and silently took his leave, grateful that he had some time to himself, yet resenting how long the shoot was taking.
People scampered by as he walked down the hall to the changing room. After arriving at the mid-size changing room, he stripped, and pulled on a robe, placing his clothes on a rack outside the room door. Like a scavenger, a slim young woman dressed completely in black swooped in and removed the outfit, rushing towards the wardrobe area. Azusa shook his head and closed the door behind him. He headed to the bathroom, taking in the stark white decor while he turned on the shower and decided that it made him feel a like he was in a hospital. After running his hand under the tap and adjusting the knobs he stripped his robe off of weary shoulders and stepped beneath the steaming spray. The feel of the water massaging away every little ache like a million little fingers was enough to make him moan long and low, which he did as he ducked his head to soak his hair. He just needed to make it through this last portion of the shoot. Then he could check out of the insanity and let loose for a couple of weeks, they did owe him that. He was seriously starting to reconsider the modeling. It had helped him with the initial task of earning the money he needed to keep himself off the street after his mother had died, when he had nowhere to go. However, he didn’t need the money as much anymore and thought it might be time to really focus on school. That way he could make more time to see Shinogu. He backed away from the onslaught and slumped against the shower wall and wiped the water from his eyes. Shinogu would be working now. He was sure that if he called him, he would just get the message in that irritatingly sexy voice telling him to leave his name and brief message, and assurance that he would be called back.

Shin.

Azusa’s stomach ached and his mind drifted back to their conversation the other night. Shin. He was still dwelling in the past and the knowledge that he may be happy there was enough to make Azusa choke. He really did think highly of Hatsumi, but just once he wished that she didn’t exist, so that maybe he would be the center of Shinogu’s attention. Five minutes was all he asked.
His thoughts shifted a little further down the conversation highway, to Shin running his fingers through his hair, removing that twig and making him so damn hard he wanted to take him, right there on that damned bench. His body throbbed in remembrance and he laughed softly, almost painfully, knowing that just a mere touch could affect him this much, days later.
He tried not to think of Shinogu spread beneath him, begging, writhing, because no good could come from that train of thought.
On the contrary something very good could come from that train of thought, it was the treacherous voice inside his mind that deemed itself the authority on Shinogu. It was that devious plotting voice that taunted him now, sliding those oh-so naked thoughts into the front of his brain, images of bucking, taking heat that made his body jump to attention and pulled the air from his body in tangled breaths. Every ounce of blood in his body seemed to shoot down to his erection, throbbing and teeming with want so intense a hole was torn straight through his middle and pulsing down his engorged length.
Moaning, he turned under the spray and braced one hand against the wall, his fingers digging into the cold tile. A feverish hand teased the length first, then gave it a small slap as if testing it. The sensation elicited another groan a little, a throaty sound of desire he bit back behind gritted teeth. He added a small amount of conditioner to his hand seeking gratification and found the tip of it as he wrapped his hand around his cock.
His hand slid wetly over the smooth flesh, slow at first, then picking up the tempo. He panted with the steady rhythm and his body coiled tightly at the core. Images of Shin, sucking him raw left him weak, tortured. Resting his cheek on the wall, his eyes closed tight against the downpour and the sloppy sodden sounds of his hand. His thumb quested across the tip, his mind replacing it with the image of Shin’s tongue and feeling that wet firmness as though it was really there, lapping at his tumescence, taking him deep and swallowing him whole. He murmured the other man’s name over and over like a mantra. His pace quickened, his back arched into his hand as he hunted release with utter ruthlessness. His muscles in his ass flexed violently as he came warm onto his hand, his panting movements growing more frenzied, more intense.

“Shin!” It was a hoarse cry that he had issued almost every night in his dreams, a cry that carried the ache and the want down the entire length of his body, leaving him shaking and spent.

It never filled the void. He was always just as frustrated after these dreams and solo shower-time rendezvous then he was before.
Water streamed down his back, dripping off his ass and running down his legs, washing the evidence of his desire down the drain as he levered himself away from the wall and sighed.

“Damn it….”

There was nothing to say, nothing he could do. He was a man, in love with another man, these things just weren’t done, not in their world. Not with their past. Not when the other, was happy just thinking of something or someone that wasn’t him. He grimaced in pain, mixed with frustration and jealousy. He had to conquer this but just how was he going to do it?
He turned off the taps and stepped out of the shower, goose bumps and steam rose simultaneously from his heated skin and he shivered as he grabbed for the robe.

“Avoiding him won’t do", he muttered to himself. Surely it wouldn’t. Better to be his friend than never see him at all. He could continue to feed his selfishness by making himself believe that Shin wouldn’t want him to disappear either, but then, Shin didn’t know that he fantasized about him while masturbating in the shower. His weakness appalled him, but he shouldered it off and reminded himself that it would be better to have him close, yes, that would just have to be enough.
He left the stark white of the bathroom and found his clothes hanging neatly in the dressing room. He towel-dried his hair and was reaching for his pants when his phone rang, making him jump. He just couldn’t get used to how loud the thing was...but he never missed a call. He frowned as he looked at the caller ID. It was Shin, strange to get a call from him in the middle of the day. He tugged on his pants one handed as he answered, his tone tinged with concern.

“Odagiri here.”

“Azusa?”

“Shin, what’s wrong?”

Shinogu chuckled but it didn’t sound too heartfelt, in fact it sounded strained and a bit…weak.

“Nothing’s wrong. Why would you think that right off the bat?”

“You never call this early in the day. Aren’t you at work right now?”

Azusa could hear the exhaustion rolling down the line as Shin struggled to speak.

“Yeah, I’m working, just took a little break right now and decided to call you, we haven’t talked or hung out in a few days, thought I would check up on you and make sure you are alright.”

Azusa bit back a smile, selfless Shinogu strikes again.

“Fuck being worried about me Shin; you don’t sound too good. Have you been working too much again?”

Shin hesitated, briefly, but it was a long enough pause for Azusa to know that he was thinking too hard about what to say.

“Not too much. One of my co-workers at the convenience store is visiting a sick relative and I was asked to cover. They are also increasing my hours at the warehouse, so I haven’t had much time to do anything else. I didn’t want you to think that I had forgotten about you, so I made it a point to call you as soon as I could. So how have you been doing?”

Azusa filled him in on his week, explaining about his sick co-worker and the spread that he was working on. He paused frequently asking Shin if he had enough to eat and if he was sleeping. Shin shrugged off the questions and gave pseudo answers, sometimes he didn’t even seem to be there at all.
A loud knock at Azusa’s door made him jump and he cursed under his breath as he swung it open. The waif swathed in black stood at his door looking up at him with large eyes, made even larger by her large thin-rimmed glasses. Armed with a clip board that she checked frantically, she gazed at his robed form and compressed her lips in a thin line with obvious pique.

“5-minute call Odagiri, Mr. Kaneshiro is getting impatient.”

Azusa snorted at the mention of the photographer’s agitation, was there a time the miserable bastard wasn’t getting impatient?

“I’ll be ready, please tell him I am on my way."

She nodded and he closed the door before she could say anything else. He grabbed his shirt and shrugged it on.

“Shin, I have to go make pretty for the masses, will you be alright?”

His voice was laced with regret. Shin did sound terrible, and he didn’t want him to feel abandoned.

Shin picked up on his hesitation and a soft sigh wafted into his ear.

“Go to work Azusa. I will call you later.”

“Promise?”

“Yeah. I will have a break between jobs in a few hours. I will call you then.”

Azusa wiped his hand down his face and smiled into the line.

“You take care of yourself and I will talk to you later.”

Shin agreed and then broke the connection. Azusa stared at his phone for a minute before buttoning up his shirt, again leaving three of the buttons undone. He felt uneasy. He knew he was probably just being over protective, but the man did not know when to take a break and allow himself to rest. He would just have to go visit him later tonight and see for himself that he was doing ok.
It took all of four hours for Azusa’s makeup and hair to be finished, for the lights to be set just right and for Mr. Kaneshiro to finish the rest of the spread. He was exhausted, but happy to finally be finished. He returned to the dressing room and changed into a pair of baggy jeans and a t-shirt. He left without even so much as looking back. He checked the call list on his phone. Shin still hadn’t called, dismissing the doubt, he dialed his manager and warned her that he would be unavailable for the rest of the night. She seemed ok with that, but did it really matter if she wasn’t?
He was walking down the hallway, when his phone rang, scaring him again and making him wonder if getting every phone call was worth all the heart attacks.

“Odagiri here.”

There was a moment of silence on the other end before Hatsumi’s winded voice broke it.

“Azusa, it’s Hatsumi. Are you busy?”

She sounded panicked and he was immediately on alert, even though that voice that knew everything screamed out in frustration, demanding that he hang up and just go see Shin. He pushed those thoughts away, frowning.

“What’s wrong Hatsumi?”

“It’s Shin…”

His heart skipped a beat and his hands gripped the phone fiercely.

“What about Shin?”

“It seems as though work has caught up with him again. He was almost finished with his shift at the convenience store when he just, collapsed. I thought that he was working too much, but apparently, he doesn’t notice until he has pushed too far. He is awake now, but he doesn’t want any help getting home, and he doesn’t want me to call our parents. I think that he intends to go the warehouse, but he isn’t strong enough to make another shift there, not tonight anyway. Oh, Azusa I am so worried, he just won’t listen to me. He is being so dang stubborn.”

Azusa cursed and kicked a nearby trash can. He knew that Shin wasn’t well, but instead of pressing the issue, he just continued to work. Why wasn’t he ever there when Shin needed him?

“Hatsumi, you keep him there, I will be right over to help you get him home.”

He could feel her relief through the phone.

“I admit Azusa, I was hoping that you would be able to help. I think Shinogu might listen to you.”

He grimaced, he wished it were true, but Shin very rarely listened to anyone, including him.

“Just hold on Hatsumi, I’ll be there in less than twenty minutes.”

He waited for her assurance that Shin wouldn’t be allowed to leave and hung up.

He sprinted out the door and called for a cab. Walking was too slow and he couldn’t bear a lengthy train ride. He shuddered, did he always have to do this? He had collapsed more than once due to sheer exhaustion, but he still refused to take the hint. He slid into the backseat and directed the driver to the convenience store through gritted teeth. Shin was going home, even if he had to bludgeon him and carry him there himself.

Chapter Text

The cab took fifteen minutes to get to the convenience store.
Azusa’s nerves were bursting tight at the seams. He practically threw the cash at the driver in his haste to get out and once he did, he sprinted up the walk and made it through the door in just a few steps. Worried eyes hurriedly scanned the front of the store seeking out that familiar mass of black hair. He saw Hatsumi first. She rushed to his side and immediately tugged his hand to lead him to the back of the store. His breath hitched in his throat when he saw Shin, slumped in a chair, pale as a ghost. Hatsumi spoke first.

“He’s lucid but very weak. He seems to be coming around to the idea of going home.”

Azusa slipped his hand from her grasp and knelt down between Shin’s knees to gaze up into his shadowed eyes. There was no disguising the fatigue written there, muddled in with the dark circles and the ashen face. He traced shaking fingers over that pale cheek softly, before he could stop himself. The man would never understand what these episodes did to his blood pressure.

“Shin?”

Shinogu slid a sleepy glance from under heavy lids.

“You really know how to scare a man don’t you?”

A small laugh escaped between thin gasps.

“Didn’t I tell you to stop pushing yourself so hard? Everyone worries when you do that.”

“Sorry. I will be fine if I can just rest up a bit. I still have the shift at the warehou—"

Azusa grabbed his wrists, pulling him down to look at him face to face. When he spoke his words were gentle but firm, there would be no argument.

“You are not going to work...you are going home to rest.”

When Shin looked as if he was about to argue, Azusa hissed in annoyance and pulled him roughly to his feet. Shin swayed slightly, the brunt of his weight coming to rest on Azusa’s side. The younger man eyed him pointedly and placed his arm around his waist for support.

“You can barely stand on your own, please just listen to me for once and let me take you home.”

Shin seemed ready to argue, but thought better of it. Satisfied, Azusa motioned to Hatsumi, who looked on, her gaze analyzing.

“Hatsumi, would you get us a cab?”

She nodded and left the store. Azusa helped Shin back into the chair and followed her out, unaware of the eyes that followed his departure. When he found Hatsumi, she was outside, talking on her phone. She hung up when Azusa came to stand beside her and she looked at him apologetically.

“I’m sorry I bothered you, but I-I…”

Azusa shook his head.

“No need to apologize. If you ever need help, I will be there. It’s the least that I can do, you know…after all that happened.”

Hatsumi sighed and leaned against him. He wrapped an arm around her shoulder and they stood in companionable silence for a moment.

“Azusa, I can’t go with you take Shin home, I have to meet Ryoki in a few minutes, you know how he gets.”

“Don’t worry about it. I can take care of him.”

Hatsumi relaxed visibly and turned to give him a warm hug.

“Thank you.”

The cab pulled up then and Hatsumi broke from the embrace to go inside and retrieve Shinogu. She stopped short as she nearly ran into him in the doorway, he was so quiet neither of the two had noticed him come out. His face was pale, and his gaze worn, it also appeared to be tinged with pain. She rushed to his side and put her arm around his waist.

“Shinogu, are you alright?!”

He shook off her arm and stood away from her. The gesture was lost on Hatsumi, but Azusa recognized the change in the other man's mood. Shin seemed to realize that he was being cold and tried to soften his reaction with a short smile.

“Don’t worry Hatsumi. I will be o.k. I am sure that Ryoki is waiting on you, go ahead and go. I will go straight home. I promise.”

Hatsumi looked at the both of them, the struggle was plain on her face. She looked from the reassuring grin on Shinogu’s face, to the determined look of Azusa’s. She swooped up to give Shinogu a sisterly kiss on the cheek and squeezed his hand.

“You take care. Call me if you need anything.”

With one last look at the both of them, she left, dialing on her cell and speaking in hushed tones. The two men watched her leave for a moment and then looked at each other.

“Well, let’s get you home.”

Azusa snagged his elbow and ushered him into the waiting taxi. He slid in beside him and gave the directions to Shin’s house, as Shin was already nodding off. His gaze wandered over those strong features, his head was tilted back on the seat, his breathing an even whoosh in and out of his slightly open mouth. He looked so fragile, so vulnerable and Azusa had to reign in all desire to take him in his arms. Azusa’s mind replayed the scene from just a moment ago. That look on Shin’s face. How much of that conversation had he heard? Was he upset because Hatsumi had to leave him to be with Ryoki? Pain throbbed in his chest and he looked at the other man again sleeping soundly beside him, despite the bumpy ride. Nothing made sense anymore, and the more he tried to pick apart all the ill-fitting pieces the more it hurt. The ride was conducted in silence, his head wrapped around thoughts of Shin and his growing resentment of Hatsumi. He knew that these feelings were nothing but trouble. That eventually they would break him. The large irrational area of his brain wanted to blame Hatsumi and Shin each in turn. Yet, he couldn’t justify anything anymore, maybe a year ago, but not now.

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

Shin’s eyes fluttered opened slowly allowing them to adjust to the light.
He was in a car. Why was he in a car again? He let his gaze wander and it encountered a very serious Azusa looking out the opposite window. The fog dissipated slightly and a vague remembrance of the night’s events struggled to life in his brain. He struggled to sit up and Azusa’s eyes snapped to him, warmly observing.

“You’re awake.”

“So, it seems.”

Azusa reached out to touch his hair and every muscle in Shin’s body tensed immediately. If Azusa noticed he didn’t let on but continued to stroke his hair.

“Are you feeling better?”

“...a little.” the reply was given grudgingly. Of course, Azusa had to be sensible about everything.

The hand was removed from his hair and he found that he could relax again, somewhat. He couldn’t put his finger on it, but for some reason he felt angry. Azusa, however, seemed pleased with his answer and the conversation tapered off there. He let his thoughts roam, wondering what Hatsumi and Azusa were talking about while he was sitting inside. He wasn’t allowed the time to delve too deeply into his imagination on the subject, so he permitted the curiosity to mingle with the anger as the cab pulled up in front of his building.
There was some argument over who would pay the fare, which Azusa eventually won by default, overriding weak protests. He shoved money into the driver’s hand and opened the door to help a seething Shin out of the car. Shin fixed him with a glare and ignored the offered hand.

“Being a little high-handed, aren’t we?”

Shinogu turned his back on him, staggering slightly up the stairs but steadfastly refusing any help. He couldn’t quite understand the anger, any more than he could make it go away, so he coped with it the best he could. His hand shook as he opened the door that lead to the winding staircase. His apartment was on the second floor and he nearly groaned out loud at the prospect of trying to get his leaden legs to carry him up. Azusa anticipated this and swooped in, despite Shin’s protests, wrapping his arm around his waist to haul him up the stairs.
Shin muttered a small thank you and let them in. The apartment was small but clean with wood floors. There was a soft black sofa and light ash colored tables scattered about the room in a cozy clutter that said home. A small T.V. was placed against one wall and black curtains were drawn tight against the setting sun. It wasn’t the first time Azusa had been here, of course, but he always looked on the place with reverence. This is where he could just unwind and be, without too many people getting into his business. He could think here…well, sometimes. Sometimes he would encounter a freshly showered Shinogu when he walked in that door and any possibility of thinking flew straight out the window. He stared at him now as he slumped down on the sofa and put his feet up on the low coffee table.
He had kicked his shoes off in the doorway and was wearing a pair of mismatching socks with a hole in one toe. Only Shinogu could make that endearing. The color seemed to be returning to his face and his hands were much steadier. He wished he could say the same for himself. Clearing his throat, he walked towards the kitchen.

“I’ll make some tea; do you want some?”

Shin looked over shoulder.

“Make it a beer and you’re on.”

Switching on the kitchen light, Azusa reached into the fridge and grabbed two beers. A picture on the refrigerator caught his attention. It was from a year ago, maybe more. Shin and Hatsumi sat on a bench outside of the complex together, smiling as the sun set. Shin looked happy, Hatsumi made a strange face with her eyes crossed and her mouth wide with laughter. He tried to shrug off the uneasiness, the fear that what he wanted, was slipping away.
He forced himself to look away and plastered a bright smile on his face as he turned to head back into the living room. He ran right smack into Shin. He really needed to stop sneaking up on him like that!

“Whatcha looking at?”

Shin’s arms were crossed over his chest the look on his face was forbidding and Azusa’s confusion once again kicked into high gear.

“That picture of you and Hatsumi. It was taken, what, maybe a year ago?”

Shin shrugged.

“You should remember Azusa; you were the one that took it. I think about five months ago?”

“Oh?”

He didn’t remember. How could he have forgotten that?

Shin sighed heavily, taking the beer that Azusa offered. He left the younger man standing there and returned to the living the room to flop on the couch and wipe the sleep out of his eyes with shaking hands. Azusa took a position beside him and they sat sipping beer in awkward silence.

“So, what are you going to do about work?”

“What do you mean “do”? I’ll rest up tonight and return tomorrow. It’s no big deal. Besides, the bills won’t pay themselves you know.”

He punctuated he sentiment by taking a large swig of his beer. His mood inexplicably growing darker. He didn’t notice the subtle narrowing of Azusa’s eyes.

“I don’t think that is a good idea Shin, you need rest.”

“Not an option,” he snorted.

Azusa’s eyes narrowed further; his mouth set in a stubborn line.

“Shin, I know you need the money but your health is important, taking a day off will not kill you in fact--“

Shin didn’t let him finish.

“This is not open for discussion and really Azusa, what I do is none of your business…”

Shin could feel his temper rising. Just how did Azusa know what he needed? He didn’t know anything. His attention was elsewhere. Shin caught himself. Why did where his attention was suddenly matter? His heart thudded with an unnamed need. Something he could feel but not identify and this close proximity to Azusa made it worse. He stood up to pace it off, running his hand over his face, tugging at his chin, darting looks in Azusa’s direction. His anger was rising rapidly, feeding on the confusion. He couldn’t grasp why he felt this way and the ambiguity just served to deepen the confusion and make the anger grow. Why was he so angry? Every little thing was setting him on edge. His mind raced furiously, trying to pinpoint the exact moment he started to lose control.

“Shin?”

Every word out of Azusa’s mouth, every gesture, every glance, made his blood burn.

“What’s wrong? Would you stop pacing and listen to me please?”

Shin stopped suddenly and pinned him with a glare. Placing his hands on the back of the sofa bringing himself nose to nose with the younger man. His eyes pierced, never flinching.

“I’m listening what do you need to say?”

Azusa’s mouth opened, but nothing came out. All words failed in the face of Shin’s surprising mood swing and he just didn’t know where to go from there. Shin laughed harshly and backed away.

“No words of wisdom? No brotherly advice to help me along? Just butt out! I will be ok, even after your high-handed shit. I just hope that I don’t lose my job over your paranoia.”

Azusa’s eyes hardened, this was beyond any fainting spell or one missed shift. What was upsetting Shin to the point of casting off his normal air of calm reserve. What caused this shift in attitude? The look on shin’s face struggled to find middle ground between anger and something else. His heart lunged to his stomach and everything became tinged with red. How could something hurt this much and not kill? He raised his hands in a placating gesture.

“What the hell Shin? You know damn well that you couldn’t handle another hour of work. You need rest. You need time to recuperate.”

Shin’s eyes burned into him and his mouth twisted in anger. He closed the distance between them in two quick steps and grabbed the front of Azusa’s shirt. He wanted to shake him. To make him understand. Understand? Understand what? How dare he presume to know, when he refused to see in the first place?

“Who the hell do you think you are?! You have no idea about what I need...you know nothing!”

He yelled it; his eyes glassy. The damning words floated down from where they had risen and settled like a toxic smog around them.
Shin’s breathing was heavy.
What was happening to him? What was he going to do with these bullets in his throat?

Chapter Text

Shinogu clutched the front of Azusa’s shirt in balled fists. They stared at each other in silence.
Their gazes were steady, focused, waiting.

“You don’t know, you don’t see anything.”

It was a whisper, but it had the same impact as a sonic boom. Azusa’s eyes narrowed; shadows crossed his face, and he glanced down at the hands holding his shirt.

“I don’t know…you?”

His gaze slid up again locking with Shin’s. He licked his lips slowly, anger warring with pain twisted deep into his gut. How could someone be so wrong? How could he not understand? Yet despite his growing anger, his pulse beat rapidly as he stared into Shin’s eyes. Boiling lust won the conflict between logic and desire in the back of his head as he took hold of Shinogu’s wrists.

“…you…”, he muttered. In an instant the situation shifted. He moved quickly, tearing his hands from his shirt and pushing Shinogu’s back to the wall.

He lowered his face scant inches, nose, mouth hovering before each other, breath hot and heavy met and mingled somewhere suspended between. Shinogu placed the flat of his palms on Azusa’s chest in futile resistance, which was countered when his hands were seized roughly and pinioned to the wall above his head. His body heated slowly; he could feel the slow surprising curl of desire roil in the pit of his stomach. Nothing could have prepared him for the intoxication of being this close to him or the satisfaction of seeing that same naked desire mirrored on the other man’s face. His friend who was looking at him with what seemed to be pain in the depths of his eyes. His breathing grew a little more rapid and he found it increasingly difficult to form a coherent thought.

Shin's whispered, “What are you doing?”, received an equally husky response.

“Doing? I’m proving something.”

When Shinogu tried to turn his face away from that penetrating look, his chin was grabbed roughly and he caught a brief glimpse of smirking lips before Azusa closed the space between, catching his mouth with his own and using his startled gasp to snake his tongue between the older man’s teeth.
It was a sweet invasion, a series of probing flicks mating amidst soft moans.
Shinogu knew that he still had time to protest, he thought he had the strength somewhere in this body, that at this moment threatened absolute betrayal.
His mind registered the confusion that kept him docile, the fear that maybe he had wanted this to happen, that maybe one feeling was just as guilty as the other, just as needy. The grip on his wrists loosened, but instead of pulling free, Shinogu used this new-found freedom to glide them up strong arms and burrow his fingers into that dark hair. He pulled on it gently but it was enough to incite a small whimper from that slender throat and enflame them all the more. The kiss became more frantic as Azusa inserted his knee between Shinogu’s thighs. His hands slid their way down over his lean chest, bumping over slightly protruding ribs that became more pronounced with every heavy ragged breath. They found their rest at Shinogu’s waist, his fingers locking into the belt loops of his jeans and pressing closer to gently rub, zipper to zipper.
Shinogu gasped, ripping his mouth from Azusa’s, his eyes were unfocused and his body hummed to a fever pitch. He had never felt this before, never even knew this feeling existed. He clung to Azusa on weak knees as those plundering lips brushed their way over his cheek and stopped at one tender ear lobe, lapping and nipping it gently, drawing another throaty moan. His hips continued to undulate slowly, brushing throbbing length to throbbing length.

“I don’t know you?”

He nuzzled closer to his ear and breathed silkily into it. His hand ventured under Shinogu’s shirt to splay across his ribs, thumb grazing a nipple in slow circles. Shinogu’s hands tightened in Azusa’s hair and pulled his head back up. Their eyes locked once again, the look in the younger man’s eyes was unfathomable, like glass chips in a pool of dark. He brushed his thumb across one arched eyebrow and that gaze softened.

“Shin, when will you realize that I am the only person on this planet that really knows you...everything about you?”

He ground his hips forward again, increasing the pressure, his eyes searching his face. It was beautiful, sweat beading desire on his lips and cheeks, running in salty drops down to his chin. He placed his tongue here, tasting the salty sweet offered by the longing of one man. Azusa’s hands began to prowl again, pulling Shin’s shirt over his head in one fluid movement, then brushing down his stomach, hips, and reached round to sink in to the firm roundness of his ass, pulling him closer to the core of his arousal. The line between their bodies distorted and Shinogu was allowed one quivering sigh before his mouth was taken again.

“I will show you, just how much I know Shin…”

It was a promise made between small sips and bites at now swollen lips. Shin’s heart thundered in his ears, the pounding so violent, he almost couldn’t hear around it. Either way he had the general idea.
Azusa abandoned his lips once again in favor of the hollow where his neck met his shoulder, sucking and nibbling in equal turns, his hand moved of its own accord, running smoothly up the side of his neck, forcing his chin up for better access to the tender region of his throat. Shin shuddered under the barrage of sensations. Azusa snickered against his throat and began his descent. Moving on he found his way to one small nipple. Teasing lips rubbed against it, teeth grazed gently, before turning hungry and opening fully over it to suck roughly. Shin was panting now, with every torturous nip and suck, he lost a little more of his control. Azusa was well aware of his bodies growing demands, it was evident in the beads of sweat, the rosy blush that had spread over every ounce of exposed flesh. He marveled in the firm softness of the luscious body. His cock pulsed, jutting towards the promise of that taut form. As if answering on its own accord Shin’s body shivered and his ass flexed convulsively beneath Azusa’s cupping hands. Pleased with the reaction, he rewarded him by sliding his mouth lower, over a flat stomach and stopping at the belt line. A small sprinkling of dark hair ran from his bellybutton, disappearing below this mesmerizing line. He followed it with a fingertip, relishing in the shudders that ran through Shin’s body. His gaze skimmed up the length of exposed torso, then darted back level. His hand massaged softly between ass, stroking the back of the thigh and the ass again, creating a delicious friction through the denim.

“Ahnnn, -zusa”, it was a panting breath that bordered on begging. He could not feel shame in his need, nor could he dowse it, all he could do is put himself at the mercy of the man at his feet. Azusa laughed deep in his throat and looked into Shin’s eyes again. Seeing the heat there his tone changed, suddenly he wanted to know that he felt it too.

“Can I have you Shin?” his voice, barely a whisper, was husky, tinged with urgent need and something the ran deeper than the desire did. Shin’s gaze never wavered, his mouth worked to answer through desire and uncertainty. When he couldn’t seem to do so, he just nodded, his fingers tightening in Azusa’s hair. The consent unleashed a torrent of desire. Azusa feverishly nuzzled his face to the denim clad length, bathing it in the heat from his breath.

“What do you want Shin?”

He moved his hand roughly up the zippered ridge and tugged the button loose there.

“This?”

The zipper gave way easily enough and he allowed his lips the pleasure of free reign over the newly exposed skin. His tongue slid stealthily along the front edge of black boxers, sliding beneath the puny defense of the flap and encountering the weeping tip of Shin’s desire. He flicked his tongue across it experimentally, finding the taste, exactly what he had been craving. His quarry writhed, his hips bucked, instinctively seeking out the hot questing mouth. Azusa chuckled again at the urgency behind the panting breathes and thrusting hips, in the hands that clung to his hair. His own arousal was growing heavy and hard to bear as he released Shin's cock from the confines of his boxers and gave one long indolent lick from base to tip. The hands in his hair contracted in his hair painfully in time with eager huffing. Azusa smirked and took Shin’s full length deep into his mouth, his tongue sucking, cradling as his throat contracted around the hard, wanting organ.
Shin’s voice carried down to ears, spurring him on as his pace gradually increased.

“Ahnnn...so good. ‘Zusa, please...”

Prodded, Azusa took him deeper, his teeth grazing, his hands keeping hips still, stroking and grasping in time with every plunge.

“Please no more...I can- uhnnnn”, the hands in his hair pulled him away and Shin sank to the floor in front of him, his knees giving way to pleasure.

Not wasting a moment, Azusa relieved him of his jeans and boxers, absorbing the full effect of Shin’s nudity, on display for him. Shin reached out shaky fingers to trace full lips, trailing down his throat to the front of his shirt which he ripped open, buttons popping and scattering across the floor. His mouth zeroed in on the Azusa’s chest, while his hands made quick work of the fastenings on his pants. Azusa moaned, trembling hands found and slowly stroked the object of their search, cupping and sliding across skin in time with the rapid flicking of his tongue across Azusa’s
nipple. Shin’s eyes were mere slits of lust in his face, a fine sheet of perspiration covered his body and Azusa nearly came witnessing that potent combination. He needed him, spread beneath him, right now.

The want arrowed deep within his gut and he pushed Shin away to sprawl out on the floor, his body issuing a clear invitation that his eyes mirrored. Ridding himself of the rest of his own clothing, he knelt between Shin’s legs and stared into his eyes. His gaze never wavering he thrust his finger into his mouth, working it in slow even thrusts between his lips, before pulling it out, moisture glistening all the way to the tip. Shin’s face contorted; his eyes hypnotized by the plunge of those fingers.

“Shin...”, it was only a brief warning before that moistened digit was thrust into hot yielding flesh.

His hips rose of the floor, a heady mix of discomfort and pleasure rolled through him even as the tears sprang behind his closed lids.

“You’re so tight here Shin, so…”

“ ‘Zusa, uhnnn,”

He withdrew his fingers then and bent to press his face to the plundered area, his tongue lapping greedily alternating between sucking and licking. His hands remained busy, kneading the soft flesh of his ass. Shin's moans deepened, begging for the release that only Azusa could give him. The long steady strokes began to head north again, swirling around the base and again taking the full length into his mouth. He withdrew almost completely, his mouth sucking intensely on the head, before bobbing down again working his tongue in little thrusts as he moved. A seeking finger plunged, then increased to two, thrusting in time with each heady deep-throated stroke.

“ ‘Zusa, now! Please! If you keep doing that I will c—“.

Tearing his mouth away he repositioned himself, placing Shin’s legs over his shoulders, as he began to gradually sink in. His turgid length sinking slowly into the hot, silky confines of Shin’s ass. Shin was tearing up in earnest now. The fit was too tight and his face was marked with pain, his teeth gritting. His breath caught and held as he was invaded, Azusa’s length filling him.

“Hurts- Azusa, it hurts…”

“Do you want me to stop?”

Shin’s eyes snapped open; intense, enraged,

“Don’t stop, don’t ever sto-”

Azusa gritted his teeth and stood, looking for relief, and finding it in a little bottle of lotion left on the table, he snatched it with trembling fingers and glanced at the label. “For Sensitive Skin”
His eyebrow arched, the Gods of Great Sex had a sense of humor but he made no more of it as he slathered it on his hands, once again kneeling between Shin’s legs, he rubbed the lotion liberally down his shaft and spread Shin open, giving one more long soothing lick before rubbing in some of the lotion. His greased fingers wriggled their way into his ass once more stretching him further, drawing out sharp mewing cries. He withdrew at Shin’s desperate insistence and returned to his waiting arms. He placed sweat slicked legs over his shoulders and sank in, still slowly, but this time, he slid home with less effort. He buried himself to the base, and waited for Shin to regain some of his composure before he began his slow, deep pounding thrusts, angling until he found that sweet little spot that made Shin moan thickly at the ceiling. He bit on his knuckles, the thrusts growing more intense, his breathing was ragged but not so much from the pain anymore. It came out in sobbing gasps as his hands clawed at the skin covering strong shoulders, but the other man failed to notice. His toes curled, mounting desire built deep and hot in his spine.

“So damn tight, Shin, feels..so, uhnnn—"

“Ahh, Hahn, ‘Zusa, please, more, nnnn,more —"

Azusa leaned in, the thrusts penetrating deeper and harder, driving Shin’s broad shoulders into the floor.

“Nnnn- Azusa, I’m gonna —"

Azusa grabbed the base of his cock, and growled in his ear.

“Not yet.”

He withdrew then, ignoring Shin’s whimper of protest as he forced him onto his hands and knees. Planting his lips on the soft skin drawn tight over shoulder blades, he licked his way down Shin’s back. His mouth plunged lower pausing to suck loudly at one taut cheek, before slapping the other and driving in from behind. His panting matched Shin’s with each plunge. His hand reached round to hold the base of Shin’s cock, again squeezing off the impulse to come alone. Shin’s scent surrounded him, and he buried his face in the back of his neck, breathing deep and sucking avidly.

“-ha..nnn, ‘Zusa, more, now, give me more, so good.”

Azusa changed the tight grip to a fisted stroke that matched the frantic thrusts of his hips. Shin found Azusa’s lips over his shoulder, lips parted in a probing that swallowed the deep throaty moan as he fell over the edge, coming again and again, gasping Azusa’s name frantically. Azusa followed soon after, his thrusts becoming wild and almost clumsy in their release, before he collapsed sated and happy. He withdrew almost immediately, leaving Shin to grab tissue and gently wipe him clean. Returning to his side, he laid with his head on Shin’s chest. He could hear Shinogu’s heart beat start to slow, felt his hand in his hair and lips brush the top of his head.

“ ‘Zusa…”

Azusa caught his lips one more time kissing him deeply. He didn’t want regret right now, so he sought refuge in levity.

“You know Shin, I know this may not be the time, but I believe an “I told you so” is in order.”

Shin grimaced but slapped his ass playfully.

“Maybe…” he murmured.

Azusa laid his head on his chest, promptly falling asleep, right on the floor. Shin brushed the hair off his forehead and traced his brows once more, before drifting off himself, wrapped in the warmth of those arms. The arms that knew him.

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

Azusa woke a little while later and gazed at Shin’s sleeping form. He stood cracking the muscles in his back, and stretching out to his body’s full length. Then, slinging one of the sleep laden arms around his neck, he carried Shin to bed. He placed him in the center and covered him, leaving only to dress and drink a glass of water. When he returned Shin was still sleeping, chest rising and falling evenly under the thin blanket. His face was bit pale still, despite the rosy blush that he had worked up only an hour before. He still looked so tired and fragile. Small purple bite marks were forming on the tender flesh between his neck and shoulder. He was too rough. Azusa blamed his stupidity and lack of control. Shin was still unwell and he had taken advantage of that. He pulled up a kitchen chair next to his bed and sat, resting his face in his hands. Tears dropped into his palms when he imagined the borderline rape he had committed, even justified in his mind as something that he had to do to prove himself to the one he loved. He cursed his own selfishness and prayed for the courage to look Shin in the eye in the days to come. He looked at Shin’s still form and, sniffing deeply, moved to press his hand against his face. He was truly beautiful and Azusa was first class shit.

“I’m sorry Shin, sorrier than you will ever know. I should’ve waited. I should’ve left when I had the chance to keep all this awkwardness where it belongs. I should’ve known to keep myself from dirtying you with these hands that ache to touch you.”

He gathered one warm hand into his two cold ones, and pressed his lips to it.

“I love you Shin.”

He left then, sparing one parting glance before shuffling out the door. His feet dragged, each step resonating in his ears with a new heavy burden, one that should have never come to pass. The guilt caught in his throat and joined with the left-over feelings of desire, making his chest burn and his breath part from his lungs in gasping ripples. Nothing would ever be the same, it wasn't possible anymore.

Chapter Text

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.

Chapter Text

Shin’s pace didn’t slow, trying not to think about the complex getting smaller in the distance behind him. He couldn’t pinpoint the exact moment his affection turned to resentment, or how it had happened, but it did and now it was the only thing he could think about.
Hatsumi’s face floated into his field of vision and he was horrified by the aggression that threatened to over-take him.
He knew that he needed to fix this and soon before his idiosyncrasies drove a rift between him and his sister.
He stopped suddenly, the full reality of what he had just said and done finally sinking in.

What the fuck?!

Just a few days ago he was normal.

He had dinner with his family, worked, went to school, and hung out with friends. Now he had nothing in his head but Azusa. Sure, the other man had been taking up a little more real estate in his thoughts lately but before, there had been room for everyone else. Now, something was different. Fantastic, body-numbing sex aside, his heart felt strange, like it was suddenly a little too big for his body and pumping like mad. And yet, despite it’s wild humming it felt contained, like it was leashed by some unknown force, which made the air stutter in and out of his lungs. His very breath sounded like Azusa’s name and he couldn’t help but resent it a little.

What was happening to him? His ears picked up the sound of distant ringing, breaking through the fog, and he looked around for the source. He had been too preoccupied to notice that he had stopped right in front of the convenience store doors. They opened and closed repeatedly, the bell welcoming him to work with absolute indifference to how upset he was.

“Damn Azusa,” he muttered.

He wasn’t there, but he could still smell him, hear his voice. He wanted him here right now.He sighed heavily and put the doors out of their misery. It was going to be a long day.

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

Ryoki and Hatsumi sat together in their special place. The day was warming up, a sure sign that spring was arriving, but they still huddled together under the winter pretense. Ryoki found that he could cheerfully bear winter if it meant that Hatsumi would stay as close to him as she was now. She was there sitting right next to him, however, he had to say that at this particular moment in time, she was farther away than she ever had been. She was shaken up. Ryoki could tell and he could not figure out if he was worried or annoyed.
On one hand something was bothering her and she had taught him that being a good boyfriend meant that he needed to be supportive. On the other hand, SOMETHING was bothering her, which meant that she was thinking of something other than him, which he had learned from experience was something he just could not tolerate.
Now the dilemma. Though he considered himself wiser, after over a year of dating her, sometimes his decisions weren’t as educated as he believed them to be.

No.

He corrected himself.

His decisions were just perfect. Hatsumi could just be extremely unreasonable and unpredictable. That aside, the dilemma still existed, how did he separate his feelings and get what he wanted without upsetting her more or just making her angry at him again?
Throughout their relationship, Hatsumi had grown a lot more confident and he found that he loved her even more this way, even though she was a little harder to maneuver. She’s more assertive and he needed to learn to choose his battles and plan his strategy before even thinking about approaching the front. He needed to be prepared.
Not like he could lose a battle, he thought, then snorted behind his hand.
No, never, but, for the sake of balance in the relationship, he had to let a couple of slip, on principle. So now he was reduced to arguing over that dilemma with himself, squaring off against Option A, B and C. Which did he feel would defuse the situation and make her smile at him?

He played each formula over in his head:

Option A: Involved a caring smile, an arm placed around her shoulders and a flawless speech.
“Hatsumi, what is the matter? You can tell me, as your boyfriend I am here to help you.”
This would, of course, be followed by a lengthy discussion about feelings, from which there was no escape.
He shuddered...hmmm.

Option B: A caring smile, one arm around her shoulder. The direct approach.
“This better not be about that wimp brother or that bastard Azusa!”
Of course, this may bring up other things, mostly on Hatsumi’s part that were errr...perhaps better left alone.

Option C: Again, a caring smile, an arm wrapped around her shoulder, and that one happy hand settled happily on her breast, which was still a little small, but he learned to appreciate it.

Upon further reflection, he decided that Option A was kinda weak, he had dismissed it almost immediately and sorted through his other two options. Again, with careful thought and past experience, he eliminated option B, nothing good ever came from saying anything derogatory about her brother, no matter how true it was.
So, with his decision made to his satisfaction, his hand seemed to move on its own accord. It was stopped mid-way through his journey by Hatsumi’s own impatient hand.

“Not now Ryoki.”

His fingers twitched a little but his hand just rested on her shoulder.

“What’s wrong Hatsumi?”

She looked distracted, pale.

“Azusa was upset today, but seemed ok when he left. He is resting now. So, he isn’t the one that is really concerning me.”

She looked at him.

“But…”

Her eyes misted and his machismo withered. He didn’t care if she talked about Azusa or Shinogu, or even her feelings, as long as she stopped looking like that, he would listen.

“It’s Shinogu.”

He struggled to snuff out the annoyance, damn Shinogu, the jackass was everywhere!

His silence seemed to encourage her to talk more, and she seemed hesitant to divulge too much. He went on instant alert as she continued, fingering a crack in the concrete.

“He seemed so detached today. Normally he is so warm and always happy to see me but today was different. He only asked after Azusa, and then seemed angry when I told him to let him rest. I tried to talk to him but…” she whimpered a little and unconsciously rubbed her arms where Shinogu had grabbed her.

Ryoki zeroed in on the movement and that’s when he saw it, the small blurred edge of a purpling bruise peeking from beneath her short sleeve. He moved abruptly, seizing that sleeve and pushing it up to examine it. There were four more like it spanning the circumference of her arm. His look became grim as his eyes darted to the other arm, moving that sleeve also to revel a matching set of purple marks dotting her tender flesh. He looked at her, his eyes slanted in suspicion.

“But, what? Hatsumi?”

He was calm, almost cold, waiting for her to say something different from what he had already guessed, anything to quench the growing desire to maim that was brewing within. She pushed his hands away and busied herself with adjusting her sleeves.

“Hatsumi?”

She couldn’t look at him.

“It’s like he didn’t know who I was. He just looked straight through me. Usually he is so gentle, I- -he, just doesn’t know his own strength. He would never hurt me on purpose. I just don’t know what I did wrong”, her chin trembled as she fought back tears. She snuggled into his embrace, wrapping her arms around his waist and burying her face in his chest.

Ryoki held her close, rubbing his chin on the crown of her head.

“Dummy, that’s why I said not to waste your time and energy on him or Azusa. You should just stay away from the both of them. They both cause you more pain than they are worth, and if you focus on me, well, let’s just say that I would never do anything like that to you!”

Hatsumi sniffled and looked up into his face, her eyes softened by affection.

“Oh Yeah? Well what about that one time you—", she was silenced by a swift kiss.

The contact was fleeting but so calculated, she smiled wickedly.

“Or do you remember when— “, another kiss, this time more lingering, insistent.

She sighed softly.

“It’s like the first time, every time, you can always make my heart thump.”

Pushing her forehead against his, her eyes locked with his, her expression serious.

“Promise me that you won’t confront Shinogu? I will try to talk to him later, when he is ready.”

She grabbed his chin when he snorted and tried to look away. She forced his gaze to remain trained on hers.

“Please Ryoki?”

He looked down at his clenched hands.

“This really pisses me off. I have told you repeatedly that you need to stick closer to me. If you don’t talk to him, then you don’t have to deal with the shit. But since you are absurdly determined to let him be your brother, I have no choice but to be o.k. with it, even if it does piss me off.”

Hatsumi’s mouth twisted.

“Tachibana that does not sound like a promise!”

Ryoki smiled and waggled his eyebrows before giving her a loud smacking kiss.

“That’s because it wasn’t one.”

“Bu- Ryoki…”

Another kiss, and she melted. The man certainly had a way about him. Holding her close, he looked down at her thoughtfully.

“Now that we have that squared away, the world isn’t ending, and we have irrefutably proven the fact that your brother is a dumb ass, I was wondering if you would be interested in a little Option C?”

Hatsumi looked curious and amused as she sidled closer to look at him beneath the long sweep of her lashes.

“Option C?”

He cleared his throat.

“Yeah, well, it’s currently under development, but I think that the results would be more favorable...that is to say, more enjoyable if you helped to finish it.”

She wrapped her arms around his neck and chuckled softly.

“Show me?”

Ryoki smiled as he bent towards her.

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

Shinogu looked at his watch. His shift at the convenience store was almost finished. The last hour dragged slowly on and though it was predictable, it still had the power to frustrate. He was currently finding ways to cope with it, once by lining up a row of canned fruit in a perfect line, and once by dusting the same magazine rack over and over. Guilt over the way he had treated Hatsumi took up residence in the front of his mind.

“Damn Azusa…”, he sighed, running his fingers through his hair roughly.

“Fuck me…”

He had been muttering to himself all night, no wonder he was getting strange looks. The hands on the clock seemed to stand still, increasing his agitation. When it was finally time to leave, the control he had spent all night building was ready to snap at any trivial thing that he may happen across.

“Suzuki, I’m leaving!”

Only slightly noticing the answering wave, he grabbed his jacket and left.

When the doors parted, they revealed an angry looking Ryoki, staring in from the other side. Shinogu could have cursed his rotten luck. He could feel his patience slipping, he had another job to do, and people to see. He glared, even as his head screamed silently at Ryoki to just let him go.

Azusa had to be awake by now, right?

He had tried reaching him again when he arrived at work, with no luck.

As a result, he had thoughts of Azusa and Hatsumi together running through his head, making him crazy. Alright, he needed help but later, right now he just needed to get by and Ryoki looked far from complying. He couldn’t figure out what he wanted here, right at this moment, but the look in his eye promised that he wasn’t there to get coffee and chat about the old days.

“Ryoki?”

The younger man inclined his head.

“Shinogu.”

He didn’t know where the fist came from, the one that connected solidly with his mouth, ripping his lip open on his teeth and sending him in an ungraceful sprawl to the concrete. No, the source of that hand remained a mystery and as he lay amidst chewed gum, wrappers, and cigarette butts he found it really didn’t matter much. He was down here, Ryoki was up there and the situation being what the situation was, it did not seem equal. His tongue sought the rusted saltiness that stained his tongue. He could feel the slow seep out the corner of his mouth, but refused to be impressed.

“Nice shot…”

He struggled to stand and wiped at the blood at his mouth, only succeeding in smearing it across his lip and chin, not noticing, not caring.

“What the hell Ryoki?!”

The question was met with another quick blow, this time to his temple and although it was just as harsh as the last blow, he didn’t fall. Instead he was just forced against the glass door of the store, little lights danced in front of his eyes. The doors opened suddenly and Suzuki rushed out, a baseball bat raised in one hand.

“Shinogu? You all right? Want I should call the cops?”

Shinogu shook his head and stared at Ryoki, his hand extended.

“Ryoki, calm the fuck down.”

Ryoki’s hands were still clenched in tight fists but the presence of Suzuki and the baseball bat kept him from making any other move. It didn’t matter, Shinogu would not be caught unaware again. He looked at Suzuki.

“Go ahead and go back in, thanks for the concern Suzuki, but I’m alright. Besides, a couple of lame shots won’t kill me.”

Suzuki looked between the two men, as if unsure of Shinogu’s decision-making capabilities, before lowering the bat.

“Alright. Call me if you need anything.”

Shinogu thanked him again as he left, his eyes never leaving Ryoki’s face, which was cold despite the flush that was spreading up his cheeks. He was livid and seemed to grow even more so with every passing second. Ryoki seemed to be searching for words and when he finally spoke his voice was low, menacing.

“I have told you repeatedly that Hatsumi is my girlfriend.”

Shinogu blinked.

“Well...yeah.”

Ryoki stooped forward.

“Well then, since you know, logic dictates you would know that touching her is unforgivable. You hurt her, made her cry. Yet, she tries to justify what you did by trying to figure out what she did wrong. Tell me how that works, dickhead.”

Shinogu wanted to fight back. The accusations stung but weren’t false so, how could he?

What had happened to him?

When has he stopped protecting and start hurting?

He hung his head and pinched the bridge of his nose with his thumb and forefinger.

“You’re right.”

It was Ryoki’s turn to blink. What the hell?

“I crossed the line this morning, I don’t know what is wrong with me, but I never meant to hurt Hatsumi.”

He levered himself away from the wall, with a sigh.

“I’ll go talk to her now and apologize.”

He moved to step past Ryoki but his arm was seized.

“If you hurt her again…”

It was only after Shinogu acknowledged his threat that he was allowed to leave. As he walked, he pulled out his phone and dialed Azusa, reaching his voicemail again.

“Azusa, it’s Shin. We really need to talk. Hatsumi said you weren’t looking so well this morning. Are you o.k.? Call me back.”

After he hung up, he called the warehouse, making up a paper-thin excuse and begging off work the second night in a row. He would just have to take the loss. The situation demanded it. Only after this did he dial Hatsumi. She sounded nervous when she answered the phone after the third or fourth ring. He could have kicked himself for putting that uncertainty in her voice.

“Hatsumi? I need to talk to you. Do you have a moment?”

She stammered.

“I don’t know Shinogu.”

His temple had started to throb, it hurt like hell, but it helped to lend a certain amount of urgency to his request.

“Please Hatsumi.”

Silence. It seemed to stretch on for an eternity before she answered.

“Alright Shinogu, when do you want to talk?”

His relief was tangible.

“I’m on my way now, can you meet me at the park by the complex?”

When she agreed he hung up and turned up the street, picking up the pace.

He debated whether or not to try Azusa again but decided against it. If he didn’t answer again, he just might lose it. He couldn’t afford to be angry and talk to Hatsumi again, he just couldn’t trust himself anymore. His thoughts couldn’t help but linger on the recent change in his personality. It seemed to have everything to do with his feelings for Azusa. That thought stopped him short.

Feelings?

He couldn’t get past the confusion. Not on his own. After he spoke to Hatsumi, then maybe he would have a chance to talk to Azusa. His heart turned over in his chest. He wanted to see him…
He was almost jogging now; he would be there soon.

Soon
.

Chapter Text

Azusa woke up in darkness. It was his bed, but for some reason he couldn’t recall getting there. He sat up; the covers slipped down to pool around his bare middle as he tried to remember what had happened.
His heart lurched.
Shin.
An episode with a lotion bottle.
Shin.
Oh....shit.
He grabbed his phone.
Twenty-three missed calls and three messages. One from Hatsumi and the rest were from Shin.
He dialed his voicemail carefully, suffering between swells of hope and fear as he listened to Hatsumi’s message first.
It was direct. Just checking in, asking for a call back etcetera, nothing to write home about. His hand trembled as he deleted her and it automatically moved to the next message.
He nearly choked when he heard Azusa’s low raspy voice, his body ached bone-deep with need.
All from just hearing him speak.
They needed to talk, hm?
His stomach clenched.
What should he do?
He was half tempted to hide, buried deep in cowardice, yeah, that idea was definitely appealing.
However, the other half of him wanted to run straight to Shin, straight to relief.
He wanted to touch and be touched…he wanted to fuck.
He hung up the phone, not bothering with the first message, he would call Shin, he would, soon.
It had better be soon, he was sure that Shin would pound down his door if he continued to avoid him.
Yes, definitely soon, to put this throbbing pain in his chest to rest.
Gathering himself, he went to take a shower. He would call Shin after, when he was prepared, better equipped.
Hatsumi was right. He shouldn’t hide.
He didn’t know quite how to handle the situation as of yet, but he was sure that he would when the time is right.
Deep in thought, he ran shower water and stripped. Soon the bathroom was full of milky steam and he still was no closer to an answer, no matter how many times he turned the problem over in his head.
The water beat down, massaging all the knots out of his shoulders and back. Over the noise he could faintly hear his phone ringing. As much as it pained him, again, he ignored it.
He lathered rich foam down his arms, over his chest, floating ghost-like fingers over his hip bone and down the soft globes of his ass.
Clearing his head was impossible, here, now. All he could think about was his own mouth allowed to explore and taste every solid inch of Shin’s body. His tongue, generously permitted to trap and take, everything.
He moaned, his own body becoming rigid.
Enough!
He slammed the flat of his hand against the tile.
Enough.
He left the shower hurriedly trying to put these thoughts out of his head for the time being. Carelessly slinging a towel around narrow hips, he sauntered into his room, wisps of steam rolling off his skin. Rivulets of water dripped off his hair to venture down the length of his body, beading across his chest and daring to slip lower and disappear into the absorbency of the super fluffy towel. He paid no attention to the goose bumps rising all over and instead shook the water out of his hair.
His room was still dark.
It was after 10pm and he had slept all day, he was restless and full of pent up energy. Removing the towel from his hips, he stood naked and towel dried the rest of his hair, before finally picking up his phone to check his missed call.
Another from Shin.
The message was just a repeat of the last, he deleted it while he struggled to dress one handed.
One pair of baggy pants and grey button-down shirt later he was putting on shoes and calling Hatsumi. He received no answer and decided against leaving a message. It wasn’t that important.
He couldn’t help but feel relieved that she did not answer, but guilt paired with that feeling.
After all, Hatsumi had done nothing to deserve those kinds of feelings. In fact, her innocence, her blind faith in her friends and family should be rewarded with honesty, with kindness.
Yet, he couldn’t seem to get his mind around this obstacle until he saw Shin, until they could decide where to go from the last disaster. His phone lit up, almost impatiently, in his hand then it suddenly started to ring.
Hatsumi.
He swallowed his disappointment.

“Hello?”

“Azusa? It’s Hatsumi.”

“Yeah, what’s up?”

Hesitation.

“Nothing much, just returning your call and checking to see if you’re ok. So…. how are you feeling?”

He smiled.

“I’m better, thank you. I guess sleep was just what the doctor ordered, in fact I just woke up.”

“I’m glad.”

Silence yawned between them, the vibe carried down the line and settled into his ear.

“Hatsumi? Something wrong?”

Hesitation again.

“No, it’s just, well…” she stopped uncomfortably before rushing on.

“It’s just Shinogu, he, uh, he was here this morning looking for you before he went to work.”

She had his complete attention now, his ears perked up at that last word.
Work?
Shin went to work?
After everything he went through getting him home, he needed his rest!
He spoke through gritted teeth.

“Hatsumi. Don’t worry I am fine. I am going to talk to Shin about taking better care of himself. Rest assured, everything will be settled soon. I am gonna let you go now and head over to the store to see him. I’ll talk to you tomorrow.”

Hatsumi tried to speak, asking him to wait, but he was already hanging up.
He cast a disgusted look at his phone and began to dial for a cab. Shin should be off of work soon, he needed to get there quickly, he didn’t intend to miss him, not while he was feeling brave enough to face him.
Pacing the room, he grabbed his jacket and keys.
Damn him! Was his opinion so inconsequential that it could be shelved so easily? True it wasn’t meant to be an order, or was it? Either was he would bet on the fact that Shin was smart enough to put his own welfare above money, he just didn’t understand.
Idiot. The man was going to drive himself into the ground, with stubbornness as his vehicle. He left the house, seething as he locked the door.
He bypassed the elevator in his impatience and took the stairs two at a time. He was going to see this through, even if his anger was giving way to nerves with every step, making his stomach flop like a dying fish.
The cab was waiting outside of the gate and as he slid in, he rattled off the address. He slumped in the seat and it pulled away.
He warred between worry and hurt. These past couple of days had been the most emotionally crippling 48 hours of his life and he tried his hardest to just breathe. He continued to coach himself through the process as his ride sped towards the cause.

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

The elevator doors slid open. Hatsumi stepped out her stride quickly eating up the distance between it and Azusa’s front door.
She rang the bell.
Once.
Twice.
Three times.
Seriously, he was gone already?
She heard the sound of a car door slam and looked over the side of the balcony.

“Azusa!”

Shouting did no good, as the cab was already pulling away. She brushed the hair out of her eyes and sighed.

“Honestly”, she said to no one in particular, “Does he always have to jump the gun like that?”

She took the stairs down, no longer in a hurry as she dialed Azusa’s number. She let it ring until she got his voicemail.

“Azusa—" was all she could say before a strong hand clasped her shoulder making her jump.

She spun around her eyes wide.

“Shinogu!”

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

Shinogu came around the corner as a cab pulled away from the walk, he heard shouting from above, but paid both no mind as he made his way up the walk. He checked his phone again, and frowned. No calls. Where was Azusa?
The anger had long since turned to worry, which was beginning to spiral into paranoia. He never waited or hesitated to call before even when he was upset or working.
What if this was it? What if there was nothing to be done about this situation that he didn’t understand in the first place. Just a one-night stand and a whole shit load of unanswered questions.
It was probable that he would find another lover and that Shin would just go on as normal. Why did just the idea of Azusa touching anyone else make him see red, he could feel his blood burning in his veins, he would kill him first.
Damn bastard, running away, hiding.
He should have seen this coming. After all history didn’t lie and this was rote for Azusa. The younger man seemed to be able to dodge the repercussions of drama he had started with unmatched flair. A trait that currently had Shin beside himself with confusion. He tried to clear his mind as he shoved his phone back into his coat pocket and passed the gate, headed towards the park. He did a double take as he passed spotting Hatsumi standing at the foot of the stairs with her back to him.
He stalked her silently, hiding behind large potted plants and topiaries, quietly sneaking until he was right behind her.
She never would have heard him anyway, she seemed to be engrossed in her phone. He raised his hand high above his head and clasped it roughly on her shoulder.
She jumped and spun around.
Her startled “Shinogu!” came out in a breathy whoosh.
He smiled broadly at her and waved his fingers in her face. She looked at the phone in her hand and hung up hastily.

“Hi, Hatsumi! Who ya talkin to?”

She smiled.

“No one, just leaving a message, and anyway, did you have to scare me like that you jerk? Surely you know how dangerous it is to sneak up on a person?”

He snickered.

“Even if that person, is you?”

His answer was a light punch in the arm.

“Don’t test me pal, you are in enough hot water right now.”

She looked at him, and her eyes narrowed.

“Shinogu! You look horrible what happened. Your lip…your eye?”

He shrugged.

“Nothing. Just getting some advice I guess.”

He looked up at Azusa’s apartment and Hatsumi rubbed her hands together pretending not to notice.

“Almost spring and the nights are still freezing!”

When he didn’t answer, she put her hand on his elbow and followed his gaze.

“Azusa left. He went to the convenience store to look for you. He was pretty upset.”

Shinogu’s brows furrowed. He missed him again? Upset huh? Hatsumi grabbed his hand and began tugging.

“Come on, let’s go talk.”

He followed as she dragged him along towards the park.
They opted on a bench on the outskirts of the park, for its proximity to the complex and the fact that it offered a fair amount of privacy. The opening mirrored the gate to the complex, situated straight across from it with only the walkway dividing it. The rest of the area was flanked by bushes that hid the bench from anyone coming in or out of the apartment courtyard.
Hatsumi noted Shinogu’s sullen look as they sat. She settled facing him and went straight for the throat.

“Shinogu, I need you tell me what is going on. Maybe I can help?”

He worried his lip and then bowed deeply to her.

“I am truly sorry Hatsumi, I never meant to be so rude to you and I definitely didn’t mean to hurt you. When Ryoki told me what I had done, I knew I had to set things right immediately.”

“Oh really. Ryoki, huh?”

Her eyes turned red and Shin swallowed loudly. Almost instantly she was all sweetness and smiles again, for some odd reason he felt a sudden sort of pity for Ryoki that was quickly canceled out by the wicked stabbing pain in his eye.
Let him suffer!
Her attention focused back on him, he shifted in his seat uncomfortably.

“What is going on between you and Azusa?”

His eyes grew guarded.

How could he tell her without any real idea himself?

“Nothing. Just a misunderstanding.”

Hatsumi grabbed his jacket.

“If I could believe that, we wouldn’t be talking like this, there would be no need. Try again.”

Shinogu paused, zoning her out, picking half-hazard through feelings he had been trying to ignore until now. Trying to figure out how he felt and how much he wanted to admit.

“He is special to me Hatsumi.”

She looked confused.

“Shinogu, I know that. He is special to me too. What I want to know is why the both of you are so edgy?”

He looked away from her.

“It’s different from that. He is the most special person in the world to me. Hatsumi, I think that I may like him.”

When he looked at her again, he nearly laughed out loud at the look on her face. To say that she looked surprised didn’t even begin to cover it, shocked...not even close. She cleared her throat and sorted out a wrinkle in her jeans. She continued to focus on it when she spoke again.

“Shinogu, you mean...love-like?”

He nodded slowly. It felt right to say it, like home, but he prayed that it wasn’t disgust he heard in her voice, not from her.
They sat in for a few moments absorbed in quiet. Hatsumi continued to stare at her jeans while Shinogu tried to think of something to say.
He didn’t regret saying or feeling the way he did. He just regretted not giving her time to prepare for something like this. On the other hand, he didn’t even know it yet so why should she be prepared if he wasn’t and exactly how did you prepare for something like that. Like finding out your brother is in love with another man. When you put it that way, well there was just no warming up to that sort of topic.
He patted her hand and smiled weakly when she flinched but didn’t pull away.

“I don’t know what to say Shinogu. I mean, if you’re happy, then who am I to disapprove?”

She looked at him, her gaze level.

“However, I am not the whole world. I can’t pretend that I am not worried. I mean, not even mom and dad would accept this and how do you know that Azusa even feels the same?”

Shinogu’s eyes darkened and he at least had the sense to look worried.

“Mom and dad don’t need to know, not yet anyway. And as far as Azusa is concerned, I’m not sure how he feels.”

He looked upset as he said it, Hatsumi tried to cheer him up.

“Shinogu, I know that Azusa thinks more highly of you than anyone else. I have been there when you call, he can’t answer the phone fast enough. With you he isn’t on guard, he is softer. He mentioned something strange this morning. I think that you need to talk to him as soon as possible, it is the only way you will be able to have peace.”

His gaze snapped to her.

“I really am sorry Hatsumi.”

She looked at him, light dawning in her eyes.

“You thought that Azusa and I…”

He nodded slowly.

“That’s why you were so abrupt this morning?”

He nodded again and she giggled.

“Oh, Shinogu. You are both brothers to me. Besides, Azusa has feelings for someone else, he told me this morning.”

“This morning?” He stood up, and looked down at her, every muscle in his body on alert.

“What did he say this morning?”

Chapter Text

It wasn’t his night.
He arrived at the convenience store in time to be late. Shin had already left and he was standing here, with an expensive cab trip under his belt with nothing to show for it.
The guy on shift right now, he believed his name was Suzuki said that Shin had a run in with some cocky looking guy in glasses.
Now, Azusa knew of plenty of people who wore glasses or looked cocky, however, he didn’t know anyone who would lay a hand on Shin except for Ryoki.
He couldn’t even guess why the asshole was here, but it was almost definitely him, and it couldn’t have been good.
He decided to walk home, not really caring how long it took him to get there. It was cold despite the lateness of the year.
He felt lonely, cold nights usually did that to him.
Looking down at his phone, he double checked, making sure he hadn’t missed Shin’s call, and found instead a new message from Hatsumi.
Impatiently he punched in the code and listened. There was just a faint whirring sound at first, then her cheerful voice piped up.

“Azusa?”, there was a startled yelp, and then what he had needed to hear.

“Shinogu!”, the message ended there and Azusa started running. He wouldn’t miss him this time.

So, he had gone to the complex. To see him or Hatsumi? His lips thinned as he tried to not think of any reason why Shin would need to see Hatsumi above him.
He felt nauseous, why did she always come first?
With at least another fifteen-minute jog ahead of him, he prayed that Shin would still be there when he got back.

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

“What did he say?”

Shinogu was two steps from grabbing her and shaking her in desperation.

She shrugged.

“Nothing that gave a hint as to what he was thinking of doing. All I know is that he said he was afraid that some action might have driven this person away…Shinogu?”

She looked at him, puzzled, as he smiled a small knowing smile. She stood then and folded her arms across her chest.

“What do you suppose he means by that?”

Shin just continued to smile and combed his fingers through his hair. He stopped paying attention to her and allowed himself a small iota of hope, this was an interesting turn of events!

He grabbed Hatsumi in a tight hug and whispered in her ear.

“I know. I think, I know. Thank you Hatsumi.”

He gave her a soft kiss on her cheek.

“I love you, lady.”

It was her turn to smile broadly and patted his cheek.

“I have to go. Ryoki is expecting me and we have something we need to discuss.”

Shin swallowed again, that evil look was back. She began to walk away and then looked over her shoulder.

“By the way, you should go wash your face. You still have blood on it!”

He barely heard her; he was already calling Azusa. It began to ring and that’s when he heard that familiar sound directly behind him.

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

Azusa had plenty of time to think on the way back to the complex. He turned scenarios over and over in his head, as he was prone to do, trying to get a handle on what he wanted to say.
He knew that regardless of what happened, he needed to tell Shin, tell him how he felt, or he would burst.
He loved him down to the very last hair on his head, to his very breath, and though he wasn’t sure whether or not his feelings would be rejected, he needed to share them.
Being together under false pretenses was painful, but being apart for even a few hours was proving to be more than he could handle.
He could see the complex in the distance and suddenly felt nervous. What if he told Shin and he was rejected completely? Was it better to be truthful, or to lie to himself? He may not be able to stay close to him if he spilled the beans now. He was passing the shrub border of the park when the thought struck him and he was frozen in his tracks by that doubt.
What to do?
He didn’t have too much time to think about it, as he stood there, he heard voices on the other side of the bushes.
He strained his ears.
It was Hatsumi and Shin!
He crouched low to the ground and peered through a gap in the branches, ignoring the little voice in his head that said eavesdropping only led to disaster.
What did it know?
Apparently, a lot more than he did, he amended, because what he saw nearly tore him in two.
Shin was standing there with Hatsumi wrapped in a tight hug, whispering in her ear. He couldn’t hear anything but the pounding of his own heart and wriggled closer to make out what they were saying. He tried to swallow around the knot in his throat and almost cried in earnest when Shin kissed her on the cheek.

“I love you, lady.”

He heard that plainly. His heart strained against the control he seized it with. He had to hold on, make it home, he could permit it to break there. He watched as Hatsumi left, edging into the shadows when she passed him. He looked through the branches again at Shin. He was standing with his back to the gate and it was the perfect time to make his move. He ambled semi-hunched, towards the gate, but paused a moment to look. His back was still to him and he drank in the sight of those broad shoulders and strong back. He seemed to be looking for something even as he put the phone up to his ear.
What was he-?
He never got to finish his thought as his phone rang loudly, obliterating silence. He held it aloft like a live snake, his hands fumbling and finally shutting it off. He raised horrified eyes to lock with steady black ones.
Shit!

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

Shin stood with his phone slightly away from his ear, literally frozen in place. He was sure he didn’t look as surprised as he felt, his gaze was fastened on Azusa. So beautiful. Even hunched and looking guilty, Azusa had the power to make him mad with want.
He hung up the phone slowly, his heart thudded as he soaked in all that beauty.
How could he have gone this long without realizing that only Azusa could make him feel this way...make his body react this way?
Their eyes remained locked and he took a few slow steps towards him.
Azusa stood transfixed and made no move, until Shin spoke.

“Azusa?”

He jerked as if slapped and Shin only had a brief moment to register the hurt look on that face before he turned and fled swiftly through the gate.

“Azusa, wait!”

He ran after him. Determined to end all these misunderstandings once and for all, to find out where he stood.
What had he heard and why was he acting this way?
Had he seen him and Hatsumi together?
For the first time he cursed the athleticism that kept that body so damn lean, as he grew more distant.

“Azusa stop now! We need to talk!”

He just seemed to run faster.

“Azusa! Stop running!”

All he got was a shouted, “Not until you stop following me!”

Shin could feel the anger bubbling to the surface as Azusa flew up the stairs. He followed without hesitation, though his legs protested his two-step stride.
His only thought was:

Don’t let him get through that door.

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

Damn him!
Azusa could feel the quivering in his legs, an exhaustion that was ready to raise the white flag.
He just needed to get away, to be alone. Why couldn’t Shin understand that and leave him alone? Tears were pricking behind his eyelids, his vision was blurred, but none of that mattered, he had a lead and he could see his front door well enough.
He slid to a stop in front of it and fished his keys out of his pocket. He nearly screamed in frustration when he dropped them and the sound of running feet came closer.
With clenched teeth he sorted through the keys until he found the right one and slid it into the lock. When Shin appeared at the top of the stairs his hand stilled on the knob, and dared a look over his shoulder.
He was so close, his chest rising and falling rapidly, the look on his face was panicked.

“Why are you running away? Azusa, talk to me.”

He shut his eyes against the tears that were forcing their way out, and leaned his forehead against the door.

“Just go away Shin…”, it was whisper as he turned the knob, one that went unheeded.

His sigh of relief as he stepped in the door was choked off by a hand at his back that pushed him inside with enough force to make him fall to the floor. He was rolled onto his back and caught a glimpse of the door slamming as Shin straddled him. Strong hands braced against his ribs. The hair fell away from Azusa’s eyes and Shin frowned. Tears were flowing freely now as their hurt and confusion collided right there on that floor. Shin groaned huskily, leaning forward to wipe away those twin trails of moisture, his heart aching.

“Azusa? Azusa!”

He refused to meet those eyes, his hands moved to cover his face, but Shin caught them one handed and held them above his head. The other hand gently urged his face forward.

“Look at me Azusa.”

His mind resisted even as his eyes obeyed. Anxious black eyes looked back, while his free hand explored his face. When the younger man’s chin began to tremble, he fingered it tenderly.

“What’s wrong? Why did you run away?”

No answer.

“How long were you there, listening to our conversation?”

Defiance.

“Long enough!”

Shin’s face paled, but he held tighter to those wrists and leaned closer, until they were nose to nose.

“Long enough for what?”

His tongue darted out, flicking across thin set lips.

Azusa shuddered; his warm stirring heat betrayed him. Shin could feel that pulsing hardness jutting against his own engorged length. He writhed, unconsciously aiming to get closer, the subtle grinding
making sweat bead along his brow.

“Long enough for what?”

He held his breath. What would he do in the face of rejection? Especially when Shin was here, sitting on top of him. His whole body hummed, aroused and half-crazy with desire.
Azusa looked away, attempting to bury his face in his shoulder. When he did speak, his voice was barely above a whisper.

“Do you really love Hatsumi still?”

Shin sat up causing more friction at the meeting point, but only Azusa noticed, and as he lay gasping, Shin sat with his hands on his hips. Hatsumi?
Forget Hatsumi, what did she have to do with anything? Unless….
He looked down at Azusa, easing his way back down, fobbing the question of with one of his own.

“She is my sister, of course I love her, does that make you jealous?”

When he didn’t answer fast enough, he grabbed his chin and forced him to look at him again.

“Are you jealous Azusa? Let me ask you the same question then, are you that interested in Hatsumi? Do you still like her?”

Azusa’s eyes widened and he shook his head slowly.

“Then what’s wrong Azusa?”

The pair stared at each other, laboring against the weight of fear, anger, and lust.

“Azusa?”

Still no answer. He rolled off him and leaned against the wall, staring.

“Why can’t you just tell me what you are thinking, ‘Zusa?”

Sighing heavily, Shin stared at the ceiling.

“I don’t know what this is Azusa. I don’t know what we are or what you want. I can’t know unless we are willing to be honest with each other.”

After a lengthy pause he stood, his own chin trembling. He didn’t see Azusa’s look of alarm as he headed towards the door, nor the desperate struggle to pull himself off the floor. His back still to him he stopped briefly at the door.

“If you want me to leave, that’s fine. I will. For now. Just know that I will be back and we will figure out where to go from here. I hope by then, you are ready to face me and talk.”

Turning the knob, he started to open the door when a hand appeared next to his head, keeping it shut. Soft lips feathered along the base of his neck and he couldn’t help but lean back into the exploration. The hand left the door and joined the other in a journey down his torso to the front of his jeans. They eased under the shirt there, teased along the exposed flesh before delving beneath straining denim. They found the object of their search and cupped him as he gasped, pushing into the caress.

“I ran because…”

Shin stilled and tried to turn in his arms, but was held fast by the hands rifling through his pants.
Instead he settled with looking over his shoulder, only one of Azusa’s tear drenched eyes was visible, it pierced him with one look.

“Go on ‘Zusa…”

Those hands pulled him closer, bringing the curve his ass to rest against him. He could feel the warmth and his legs shook with the need.

“Because...I didn’t know how to say what I want to say to you, or whether or not to say it. I was scared because if I lost you, I truly don’t know how I could possibly exist.”

He released his hold on Shin and turned him abruptly in his arms.

“You are everything in the nothing.”

He looked at him desperately willing him to understand.

“How can I risk that?”

He stepped back, skimming his fingers up lean arms. Dark eyes pinned him in place as Shin spoke.

“Just say it, Azusa, please.”

Azusa nodded, averting his gaze.

“I am still scared, but…I love you Shin, more than anything; enough to respectfully tell you the truth. I love you; I think I always have.”

Shin let out the breath that he had been holding. Time seemed to stop in some sort of eerie suspension, his heart enveloped those words and stored them away for safe keeping, for silly private moments when he could hear them again and again, if there was ever any doubt. He cradled this moment to himself and seemed to lose track of how long he stood silent. Azusa moved away from him and he snapped to attention.

“Now that you know Shin, what will we do?”

Shin knew exactly what they would do but wisely refrained from mentioning anything about that until he had reassured him. He approached him from behind and wrapped his arms around his middle.

“Thank you for being so honest. You are braver than I am, but it doesn’t mean your feelings are any stronger or deeper than mine.

Azusa turned to look at him puzzled, the battle between fear and happiness apparent on his face. Shin ran his fingers down his cheek.

“Azusa, I…”

His words were cut off by the sweeping invasion of Azusa’s mouth. He sighed deeply as his tongue filled his mouth, plundering its softness, alternating between long sweeps and gentle flicks. He whimpered, his knees, weak.

Azusa tore his mouth away and looked at Shin steadily.

“Shin?”

The older man nodded vigorously.

“Yes, right now!”

The kiss this time was almost violent as they made their way towards the darkness of Azusa’s room. When they finally tumbled onto the bed they rolled until Azusa straddled Shin. His smile only evident in his voice through the dark as he brushed Shin’s cheek.

“Now that I have you Shin, what am I going to do with you?”

Chapter Text

His hands shook. He couldn’t see Shin’s face, but he could feel every warm inch of him, writhing beneath him. It was intoxicating, enough to make his head reel. Busy hands worked their way under his shirt. He moaned throatily, rocking his hips, grinding on Shin’s lap, moan matched moan long and low in the dark.
Using his body as a guide, Azusa slid to lay flat on top of him, kissing him thoroughly, probing the sweet recesses of his mouth. His hand sought the switch on his bedside lamp and turned it on. The room was bathed in soft, almost orange light and Shin blinked up at the face a mere inch or two away from his own, his eyes questioning.
Azusa pushed up onto his knees, dragging Shin with him. He pulled his shirt off over his head and bent to lick a long trail from navel to nipple.

“I need to see you Shin...all of you. This sweet body and the sexy faces you make when I touch you, everything.”

Shin gasped when that mouth opened over one flat nipple, sucking roughly, the other wrapped in his hair to bend him back slightly, allowing better access to the sensitive nub. His tongue laved in languorous circles, occasionally leaving one in favor of the other, sweeping damp paths between the two, the air cooled them, and it took every ounce of Shin’s control to keep from coming right then. He nipped at one, Shin bowed beneath the pleasure of it, his hands coiling into Azusa’s hair.
He smiled coyly.

“Like that Shin?”

He pushed him back roughly. His impassioned arrogance made Shin harder as Azusa kneeled between his legs.

“Let’s just see what else we can do.”

His nails scraped lightly as he massaged Shin’s shoulders, slowly sliding down the slight curves of the lean body, resting on his hips before sliding beneath his ass and lifting it away from the bed. He leaned in breathing deeply, eyeing his offering before sliding his tongue beneath the denim flap. Shin gasped, bucking up towards that tongue, but the hands beneath him clung to his ass, keeping him still and utterly at his mercy. He used his teeth and tongue to work the button on his jeans and slid the zipper open, his gaze fastened on Shin’s, glazed with anticipation. His lips remained busy, freeing the head of Shins cock from the slit front of his boxers. A small drop of moisture crowned the tip and Azusa nearly lost himself at the sight of it. Sighing deeply, he used his leverage beneath Shin to pull that most desired part of his body closer. Shin’s hands were tight fists in his hair, and when the younger man just examined him tenderly, he pulled it, their eyes meeting again over his erection.

“ ‘Zusa!”

Azusa didn’t look away. His tongue darted out, sliding slick and warm over the tip of him, sucking up its seeping wetness.

“ohm, god! Azusa! mmmnnn, more…please.”

It was he wanted to hear, absolute surrender. Pulling his hands away abruptly, he allowed Shin to rest against the bed as he yanked off his shoes, socks, and worked at removing his jeans, his hands were shaky, uncoordinated in their impatience and Shin egged on his urgency, begging him to hurry.
Once he freed all that glorious flesh from the confines, of “not as glorious clothes” he fell immediately on him. Kissing that waiting mouth, sucking along the strong tender lines of his throat and lightly teething along his color bone. He continued his full body worship. Searching lower, down past a flat, muscled stomach, and the gentle sloping of hip bones into toned thighs. He nuzzled behind one slightly bent knee, his tongue snaking out to taste the sinuous curve of Shin’s calf.
He had his own special flavor, it was one Azusa craved more than anything else, and he couldn’t stop until he was satisfied.
Shin’s breath came out in heavy sobs, grew more frantic as he was rolled onto his stomach. That hot mouth that showed no intention of relenting, played havoc on the back of his leg as his hand massaged the other. He moved slow, and it seemed to blaze hot across his skin. Up over the swell of one smooth cheek, down over the other. His hands massaged them in slow liquid circles before dividing them for his marauding tongue. Shin’s eyes widened, then rolled back in his head, a long moan spilled out between slack lips. His hand clenched the pillow beneath his head, opening and closing...finding no real outlet for the pleasure of that mouth lapping greedily at his core. Stiff wet muscles delved deep, then retreated behind playful flicks. His ass convulsed; long shuddering cries were drawn from his throat one wet plunder at a time.

“Nnnnahhh, oh god, -ple…please, ahnnzusa…ahh…”

All at once Azusa abandoned that pooling warmth and traveled the rest of the way up his back, stopping to press a long kiss at the nape of his neck, before rolling him onto his back and starting all over again. Shin gasped, riding waves of erotic exhaustion, his body tingled with more sensation than his mind knew how to handle, he knew he would go crazy if he didn’t fuck him…and soon.
His hands grasped at Azusa’s scalp as he once again, burned his way down the full length of him until he reached the throbbing evidence of his desire. He eyed it, taking several moments to memorize its shape and color. Its size and texture could be measured in other ways. He lovingly bestowed a slow ardent kiss to the tip, wrapping his tongue around it in languid strokes, before sucking it into his mouth. The action elicited deep, throaty moans and exciting him to the point of release himself. His mouth released him, only to unleash a barrage of long sweeping licks from base to tip, his free hand, massaging his sac. Shin’s head moved back and forth on the pillow, his fist found refuge between his teeth, making a valiant effort to stem off the hoarse cries that threatened to break free from his chest. However, when Azusa stopped licking only to take his entire length deep into his mouth, working every ounce of flesh with the back of his tongue, all pretenses were stripped away, he groaned loudly, his hands alternated between his hair and scratching the wall above his head. He withdrew slowly, then invaded back again, swallowing in his throat, constricting around that shaft, as he milked it for every pleasured moan, he heard escape Shin’s lips. His pace alternated between languid strokes and impassioned sucking; his cheeks hollowed with each heavy pull.

“Oh, god…oh, god. Azusa, pleeeaasse, I’m gonna, ahnnnn…”

He came then, in his mouth, down that throat and Azusa lapped every last drop, as he continued to invade.
The heaving of Shin’s hips became less frantic, but the moans still echoed against the walls.
Shin’s tried not to look at him as he continued to lick and suck, lapping at his cock until it was completely picked clean. He raised his head and met Shin’s eyes. His face was flushed, his breathing heavy and although he had just come, in a most spectacular display, he was already beginning to get hard again. Azusa smiled and Shin rolled to his knees.

“My turn,” he whispered. Kneeling between his legs as Azusa sat, resting his weight on his arms.

His hand clasped around the hard ridge of Azusa’s cock, hard and throbbing beneath his jeans. There was no teasing, no playful skimming of hands over skin, there was just release, as Shin relieved Azusa of his clothing, his mouth zeroing in on that newly revealed arousal. He took it deep, with a minor scraping of teeth on flesh that made Azusa whimper. Shin’s eyes narrowed, not a good enough response. He wasn’t trying hard enough, apparently. He took him deeper, ignoring the discomfort in the back of his throat as he changed his pace from slow to frantic pumping.
Azusa’s arms began to shake, pleasure stealing his strength. His head dropped back, he panted, wetting his lips and focusing on the ceiling above him.

“Shin…ah...”

His hand found its way to Shin’s hair, not permitting him to withdraw completely, making his wet thrust shorter and deeper. His hands found the half-concealed globes of his ass and began to massage in time with his thrusts, making Azusa moan deeply, his hips undulating in time.
His breathing grew more ragged, more uneven, he moaned deeply his shaft throbbing with the need for release, even as he pulled Shin away from him, pushing him face down amidst blankets and pillows.
His mouth once again fastened on the core of his ass, tongue plunging deep, licking and sweeping. He reached around, wrapping his hand around the hardening flesh, pumping in time with his own furious movements.
Shin moaned, loudly, the pillow against his face muffled the sound.
Azusa pulled away suddenly, slapping his ass roughly before standing.

“Wait here.”

Shin watched him disappear into the bathroom, his muddled mind not fully comprehending anything beyond the sudden cooling of his skin. Azusa returned shortly carrying a little tube. He sat on the bed next to Shin and showed it to him.

“Sometimes...well, sometimes there just isn’t enough…”

Shin kissed him, deeply then lay back and wrapped his arms beneath his knees, presenting himself before Azusa.

“Please…Azusa, I don’t know how much more I can stand.”

Azusa nodded, pouring a liberal amount of oil onto his hands, rubbing them together until they were slick and shiny. Crouched between his legs, he lovingly applied a liberal amount to that waiting mouth, before pushing in one slick digit until it reached the base. Shin arched off the bed, the discomfort slowly turning to bliss. He began to move, reacquainting Shin with the alien feeling, before adding another lubed finger, and then another, still moving all three in a steady cadence, Shin’s gasps matched them stroke for stroke. His fingers twisted, seeking out different angles attempting a deeper probe. His eager force pushed, Shin sighed, the assault on his senses making his mind reel. Azusa could feel the flesh loosening, becoming more accepting and withdrew.
Shin was urged to sit up and the tube was placed into his hands.
Without even a second glance Shin began to spread the liquid over Azusa’s shaft, in long steady pulls that left him gasping, wanting.
Azusa eased back, feeling those hands play down his length. Deciding when enough was enough, he grabbed Shin’s elbows and pulled him flat against his body, kissing him deeply.
Levering himself off the bed he prodded until Shin straddled him. The tip of his cock probed Shin’s entrance and the older man shuddered.

“ ‘Zusa…”

Shin shifted, taking in the whole of Azusa’s length, sinking lower, struggling against the tight fit. Their breathing synchronized, as Shin began to move. Slowly at first, he picked up the pace, rolling his sweat drenched hips in heavy pounding thrusts. Azusa’s hands flexed on his ass, pulling him deeper, moving his hips against his own rhythmic plunges. Shin’s hands splayed across his chest brushing softly over puckered nipples, attempting to keep his balance though the onslaught. His stilted cries meshed with Azusa’s as he drove into him.

“-ahh, Zusa! Harder..haar…ahh…”

Azusa withdrew, pushing Shin onto his back. He leaned forward on the back of his legs, the weight of his body nearly folding him in half as he drove back in, on the verge of weeping at the sensation of that velvet channel fisting every inch of him. With the feel of Shin’s nails in his back, he became more demanding, sweat beaded on his back, running down to pool at the base of his spine.

“Oh, god, ‘Zusa...I’m gonna...”

Azusa kissed the corner of his eye.

“Let me see your face, let me see the face you make when you lose it Shin...”

The nails at his back ripped crimson rivers as Shin came for the second time, shouting Azusa’s name over and over, clawing for purchase on the edge of his sanity.
His eyes were a glassy black, like onyx, his jaw worked furiously against his drugged moans, sounding his name like a siren. His skin was kissed with a heavy flush, awash with a fine sheen of sweat...the sight was too much.
Azusa came not long after, came so hard that his vision went white for a long moment after he collapsed on top of Shin, resting between his legs.
Shin’s arms wrapped around him protectively and Azusa nuzzled in closer, still inside the other man’s cooling body.

“Azusa?”

The form above him was still and quiet.

“Azusa...I just wanted to say, that I love you too.”

Silence. Shin looked up to see Azusa studying him intently.

“Prove it.”

Shin grinned and grabbed his ass playfully.

“I thought I just did, rather brilliantly if I might say so myself.”

Azusa palmed Shin’s face, looking him deep in the eyes.

“Sex is sex Shin. Stay here with me tonight. I want to wake up with you next to me.”

His jaw set stubbornly, ready to dismiss any disagreement with whatever his arsenal had left. Shin put him at ease rolling from underneath him.

“If that is all it takes to prove myself, well then, I’ll sleep here every night.”

Azusa chuckled.

“That may be a little hard to explain to my Dad. How about we just shoot for the rest of the week. We’ll see where we go from there.”

Shin kissed his chin.

“Deal.”

Azusa sighed contentedly. Laying down behind Shin he wrapped his arm around his middle dragging his back up his chest. He nudged a knee between his leg, and while one hand stayed at its starting point, the other drifted lower to rest against Shin’s softened length. His own nestled in the crease of Shin’s ass, and the older man tensed, a small shudder running through him.
Azusa didn’t seem to notice, but just buried his nose in Shin’s hair and sighed.

“G’night Shin.”

Goodnight? Goodnight!

How the fuck was he supposed to sleep like this? He could feel his arousal stirring to life again and the bastard was already sound asleep!
He seethed as that hand unconsciously massaged his cock and shifting uncomfortably, he wriggled against Azusa.
He would pay him back...oh yes, when he least expected it.
Shin cackled quietly, oh yes, revenge. He laughed evilly one more time, before surrendering to sleep.

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

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 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 a heated mouth sucked him into its depths, sipping deeply as the tongue wriggled around the shaft. A hand was at the base, stroking him sweetly, in time with that lush mouth.
Azusa’s eyes snapped open, feeling the need well beneath the covers.
He frowned as the dream continued, that mouth torturing his turgid flesh, his sigh whooshed out, carrying a moan with it and he turned to seek out Shin. Only his legs stuck out from beneath the covers, as the rest of him was obviously occupied below.
He chuckled warmly, hissing out his breath as that precious mouth worked him into a lather.
Thought he had the upper hand, did he?
Pushing back the covers, he found Shin’s bare waist, tapering down to a rather proud erection, flushed with his exploits.
Without hesitation, he seized Shin’s ass and pulled him closer, breathing the smell of sex before slipping that pride deep into his mouth.
A small moan wafted from beneath the covers, but that mouth did not stop, and not wanting to be outdone, Azusa began to conquer his senses, licking and sucking, in turn as Shin began to squirm beside him. The hands that held his ass began to knead the flesh furiously, seeking that same relief. He planted kisses down the shaft, stopping to nibble at the tender spot between his thigh and arousal, sucking in the soft skin there, Shin cried out, but continued to plunder, unwilling to succumb. Azusa smiled his appreciation, but that smile disappeared when the covers were tossed to the floor and Shin rolled on top of him, never once breaking contact with his cock, taking it deeper. Azusa found his face pressed tightly between Shin’s legs and he could barely contain the pinpoints of heat that shot through him, as he again took that willing flesh into his mouth, his hands busy running up and down the soft insides of heated thighs. It was a pleasurable tangle of limbs and tongues that had them struggling for supremacy, both fighting a losing battle. The need coiled deep in the pit of Azusa’s stomach...he could feel his control starting to snap, but pressed on, expanding his onslaught to Shin’s soft hollow, inserting two fingers into his mouth, then sliding them home, he began slow thrusts as he worked his cock in his mouth. Shin cried out; his mouth torn from his revenge as wave after wave of pleasure rolled through him.

“Ahn--Azusa…”

He came sweetly jerking slightly away from the mouth that was still moving, pushing him past the draining point.
He buried his face in Azusa lap, his tongue flicking out as his strength seeped out of him. His hand was still clamped tightly around Azusa and he slowly began to move it, frantically pumping as he leaned into the grinding motions of those fingers.
Suddenly he was pushed off and landed on his stomach, just beside Azusa, who took a few precious moments to stare at him as he readied himself, applying a thick layer of lube. He pulled Shin away from the bed and spread his legs, entering him urgently from behind. He knew he was too close to the end for this to last long but he needed, so desperately to be inside. Shin’s ragged, panting breaths were covered by the sounds of Azusa’s frenzied moans, his plunge became awkward, fast, as he came in spectacular fashion and Shin collapsed, gasping for air.
Azusa withdrew and dragged Shin face down across his lap, using a tissue to wipe him clean before tucking him to his side.
He smiled.

“If I could wake up like this every day, I don’t think I would ever make it out of bed!”

Shin pouted.

“It was supposed to be a punishment you ass.”

Azusa lifted an eyebrow.

“Punishment? Punishment for what?”

Shin crossed his arms and looked away.
Azusa chuckled and rolled on top of him, grinding as Shin tried his best impersonation of “disinterested.”
He kissed him lightly, smoothing his hand through his hair.
Shin melted.

“Never mind all that, just come here and lay with me.”

Azusa complied, and they lay together beneath a warming ray of light that slanted through the closed drapes. Shin couldn’t remember ever being this content and said as much to the ceiling.

“You know Shin, this won’t be able to happen as much, once I go back to work, so…”
Shin sat up suddenly, accidentally elbowing Azusa in the jaw.

“Work? What time is it?”, his eyes scanned the room quickly picking up the glow of the clock.

8:44? Shit!
He bounded out of the bed, not paying any attention to Azusa’s glare as he rubbed his face.

“I’m going to be late. How the hell did I manage to lose track of the time like that?”

Azusa opened his mouth, but one look from Shin had him closing it again. So much for making a point.
Shin grabbed his clothes and headed for the bathroom; Azusa trailed after him.

“You know Shin, you haven’t rested completely, why not just take one full day off?”

Shin ignored him as he turned the spigots, adjusting them until the water was ready, then stepped under the spray, sighing beneath the therapeutic downpour.
He could hear Azusa on the other side of the curtain rattling on, but the din from the shower effectively drowned him out. Honestly, he just would never understand until he lived on his own, and probably not even then, as his modeling career earned him quite a substantial living. He sighed again. He did wish he didn’t have to work so much, then he would be able to spend the time he needed, showing Azusa, just how important he is. His thoughts were interrupted as the shower curtain was pulled aside and Azusa stepped in behind him.
He leaned in closer and whispered in Shin’s ear.

“Have you been listening to a word I have been saying?”

Shin pretended not to hear him, pointing at his ear then the shower. Azusa pouted but grabbed the soap and began to lather his body, back to front, lingering below. Shin wasn’t sure he heard the breath escape between his teeth and wasn’t sure he cared about anything else but the lips that explored his shoulder. This was going to be a long morning.
Another hour and a half later. After using all the hot water and some of the cold, one satisfying bout in the shower added to their arsenal of experience. The two sat at the kitchen table, quietly eyeing each other. There was no doubt that Shin would miss work, so he caved and called his boss, pleading exhaustion. The old man was polite and told him to take care of himself, and Shin immediately felt like a heel.

“This can’t happen every day Azusa. Like I have said before, I have to work, it’s not a choice.”

The younger man nodded and fingered the place mat in front of him. It featured cats with overly large heads and eyes…who the hell made that decision? He shook his head in wonder.
He looked at Shin and melted. It made him think, would there ever be time when he didn’t react that way? He hoped not, but there was always the possibility.
He cleared his throat.

“Shin, I have something I want to talk to you about.”
Shin blinked at him, wondering what subject he was going to bring up that it made his voice grow so distant. He suddenly felt afraid…what was it?
He cleared his throat again and feigned interest in the tabletop.

“I wanted to talk to you about it this morning, before you broke my jaw and used up all the hot water…”

Shin glared at him, but he continued on.

“As you know, I am 20 now and have a reliable job. However, this job can have crazy hours and when my vacation is over, we won’t be able to see each other as much. Umm, what I’m saying is…Shin, I want you to quit working one of the jobs and settle for part time employment.”

Shin’s jaw dropped. Well, whatever he expected it wasn’t this.

He stood and Azusa put his hands up in a placating gesture.

“It’s a request, not a demand Shin. You’re working yourself to death and it worries me.”

Shin shook his head in disbelief.

“You just don’t understand, do you? I can’t afford it, and I am lucky to get away with just the two while school is in session.”

Azusa approached him and placed his hands on his chest.

“I think that you should consider finding a roommate.”

Shin’s brow arched.

“What, are you applying for the job?”

Azusa peered up into his face.

“Why not? I have a job and, despite what you may think, I am old enough to handle things on my own.”

Shin smiled, a sexy little play of his lips, looking at him suggestively, running the flat of his hand over his taut ass.

“I know full well that you are old enough to handle plenty, but...it’s out of the question.”

Azusa stepped back, glaring at him.

“Out of the question?”

He cupped the tightening bulge in his pants and Shin growled low in his throat, Azusa crept closer to purr against his throat, changing the casual grope into a full massage.

“Well, we will just see about changing your mind, won’t we?”

Shin pulled him closer, kissing him softly.

“Try your best.”

Chapter Text

“Shin, where do you want the table?”

Shin rolled his eyes and continued to unload several heavy boxes into the vacant room down the hall from his own.

“Anywhere is fine, I don’t know why we even bothered to bring it, I already have one.”

There was silence as Azusa pretended to consider this.

“Yeah, but mine is better.”

Shin snorted.

It had been four months since that night at Azusa’s apartment. Four months of constant harassment from Azusa, griping about being allowed to move in. Shin remained steadfast in his refusal, not wanting to push their luck any further than they already had, all the while reaping the benefits of that denial, benefits that took the form of mind-blowing sex.
However, Azusa returned to work, and Shin continued on with his hectic schedule and they barely had any time for each other. After a week of absolutely no physical contact, Shin became edgy and frustrated, losing his temper over trivial things. He called his warehouse job again that night and went in search of Azusa, finding him alone at home and looking very content.
Shin tried his hand at seduction, sitting on his lap, littering his face and neck with kisses, unconsciously grinding on his lap. His hands roamed up and down his body but Azusa stayed calm, running his hands over broad shoulders.

“We can’t do anything right now Shin. My family should be home soon and I think it might be a little awkward if this is how they found out about us.”

Shin nearly exploded, but was silenced by the gentle hand placed on his cheek.

“Just think how much more time we would have for each other if I just moved in with you. You could take a part time job and still be able to afford your expenses without any hassle.”

It was beginning to be impossible for them to see each other on a regular basis, and even harder to relieve the pent-up frustration when they did. Shin colored slightly when he remembered their last encounter.
They hadn’t seen each other in almost a week. His jobs kept him fairly busy and despite all that, the bills were piling up one after the other. Azusa used this to argue his point, but Shin refused to see the logic of them sharing a home. He didn’t want to complicate the issue more. Sitting on the edge of his bed, he was attempting to enjoy the post-coital glow, when Azusa brought up the subject again.
It had ended in an argument that had both men seething.
Azusa had tried to leave again that day, slamming towards the front door.
He couldn’t forget the terror, the naked desperation, that clawed to the surface, accompanying the thought that he might not come back.
He caught him that day, holding him at the door and apologizing profusely.
Azusa’s eyes were bright with unshed tears as he brushed his thumb across his lips.

“I just want to be with you Shin. I push because it is the first thing that has felt right to me in a long time. I just thought that if we are apart for too long.” He paused to wipe away a tear that snaked its way down his cheek before he continued.

“...if I don’t see you, if you aren’t made to remember, that you will vanish.”

He looked so vulnerable when he looked at him, his voice was a raspy whisper.

“I couldn’t bear that Shin.”

Shin shook his head kissing him deeply.

“It’ll never happen.”

The sex that day was more meaningful than it ever had been, whole, and full of the answers that both men had been searching for. It continued to bring them closer, to deepen their intimacy with every embrace. Shin shook his head, snapping out of his reverie. He stopped arguing then and eventually Azusa got his way. Shin did, however, get to establish the ground rules.
They agreed that Shin would take a part time job with the understanding that the expenses would be split evenly, the second rule was that they would have separate rooms.
Azusa protested at first. Shin explained to him the necessity. If their family came to visit it would be a good idea to have two rooms that were obviously used, arousing suspicion now would just be asking for it.
Shin rubbed a hand against his chin.
Would they ever tell their parents?
Maybe.
At this point no one but Hatsumi knew of their relationship. They planned to keep it that way for as long as they could, as it was almost certain that neither of their families would really understand. The fact that they were still trying to understand themselves made the process slower, and the interference would be unwelcome. Who knew what the future held, but the present promised something so important that for a change, he did not care what may come, as long as they could be together.
Azusa appeared in the doorway; he lifted his gaze from his shoes to his face.
The look on his face was one of such blinding affection, it never failed to take his breath away.
He wrapped a hand around his calf and smiled up at him. The smile was returned as Azusa stooped down to wrap his arms around him and settle between his legs.
The kiss was drenched with innocent pleasure and Shin sighed into it, letting it skate over his skin.
Azusa pulled away first, still smiling as he rested his forehead against Shin’s.

“What are you thinking about that made you smile like that?”

Their eyes met.

“You…you were right, this feels good, us, here, together.”

Azusa’s mouth quirked.

“Huh imagine that! Me being right about anything.”

Shin laughed and put his arms around him, squeezing him tight.

“I thought you would be more gracious than that, but I guess an “I told you so” wouldn’t be too out of line now. You were right this time but, I mean, accidents do happen.”

Shin grunted as Azusa poked him in the ribs and stood up shooting an injured pout over his shoulder that directly contradicted the teasing glint in his eyes.

“You said I’m right. I guess that is the same as acknowledging that you were wrong, pig-headed, stubborn, you know, just being yourself.”

Shin rolled to his feet and grabbed Azusa’s hands.

“Stubborn or not you are stuck with me.”

The playfulness faded from the younger man’s face as Shin’s words sank in. Azusa sighed and pulled him closer, his lips seeking the sensitive skin at the base of his throat.

“I couldn’t imagine it any other way.”