Brave marin revient de guerre, tout doux
Tout mal chaussé, tout mal vêtu
Pauvre marin, d'où reviens-tu, tout doux
Madame, je reviens de guerre, tout doux
Qu'on apporte ici du vin blanc
Que le marin boit en passant, tout doux
Brave marin se mit à boire, tout doux
Se mit à boire et à chanter
Et la belle hôtesse à pleurer, tout doux
Qu'avez-vous donc, la belle hôtesse, tout doux
Regrettez-vous votre vin blanc
Que le marin boit en passant, tout doux
C'est pas mon vin que je regrette, tout doux
Mais c'est la mort de mon mari
Monsieur vous ressemblez à lui, tout doux
Dites-moi donc, la belle hôtesse, tout doux
Vous aviez de lui trois enfants
Vous en avez six à présent, tout doux
On m'a écrit de ses nouvelles, tout doux
Qu'il était mort et enterré
Et je me suis remariée, tout doux
Brave marin vida son verre, tout doux
Sans remercier, tout en pleurant
Il regagna son bâtiment, tout doux
He’d’ve left, papers or no papers. Near a decade dragged what seemed like halfway around the world, always fearing the musketball to the throat or the bayonet between the ribs that would consign him to a nameless grave far, far from the one he loves… No, this close to home, he was always going to leave, and damn them if they gave chase.
But the papers of discharge came in good time. He was going home with the blessing of the Directory or whoever the hell was in charge these days and the congratulations of his fellow soldiers.
Well, most of them.
“You’re really leaving, then.”
He spares a glance for the private leaning against a tent pole, nodding as he folds his one extra set of clothes with particular care. Perhaps it would’ve made more sense to wear his newer set, maybe they would’ve cleaned up nicer than the uniform he wears, its crisp white washed a soft dove grey over years of use. But there’s some symbolism in coming home wearing the clothes he’d set off in, even if Ren never actually saw him in them.
The soldier watching him puffs out a loud breath, yanking Abe’s attention back to him. “Just sayin’, you could wait to see her ‘til the war’s over.”
He barks out a short laugh. “Look around you. You think this is the kind of war that ends?” He knows he’s being harsh. Also knows there’s a reason Tajima’s bedroll lays, like it always does, next to his. Knows how much unspoken comfort he’d taken in that proximity. Better to cut things off cleanly, not that he ever let there be much to begin with.
“No,” he tucks a few other odds and ends into his pack, the few personal effects he’d retained, “the only way any of us are getting out of here without kicking up a fuss is in a pine box.”
“Thanks for the pep talk, sir ,” Tajima grouses, scuffing his boot in the dirt. “I just…can’t imagine you not here.” He looks up, pulling something like his normal cheeky smile. “You’re like a institution, like--”
Abe starts rolling up his bedroll. “The new corporal will lead in my place just fine.” He bites down on the part of him that still bristles at giving up his command to another. Not that he’s attached to power itself, not exactly, but he knows his men, knows their equipment, knows how to lead them in battle to devastating effect. Could any usurper truly use these men as well as him?
Like Tajima himself. Abe risks another look at the figure silhouetted against the doorway’s light. Tiny for a grenadier, almost too small for regular infantry; most recruitment officers would never have given him the time of day. But small doesn’t mean weak, and it certainly doesn’t mean incapable. He’s fast, switching between arms while others are still struggling to light their fuses, quick to spot opportunities and rally the others around him. Not that Abe always appreciates his unpredictable initiative, but he’s long learned the value of not bringing certain dogs to heel.
He sighs, adjusting a buckle on his pack. “It’ll be alright. None of you’ll even notice I’m gone.”
“I will.” Tajima’s eyes bore into him, but he refuses to look up. “Not gonna be the same. Not to me.”
Abe hisses in a sharp breath, then damns himself for showing emotion. Whatever was, whatever might have been, it’s in the past now and of no consequence. Even if what he moves towards now is also past. It’s not the past of Abe the soldier, though, but of Abe the man.
He shoulders his pack, feeling its excellent balance with familiar pride, and takes a step toward the tent flaps.
Tajima stands upright now, arms crossed over his chest and brown eyes fixed in a serious cast that belies the easy smile curving his lips. “You never told us her name, this wife of yours who’s worth giving up all this,” he raises his arms to gesture around the grimy, patched tent and the bustling campsite outside, “luxury.”
Abe summons a chuckle. “No, I didn’t.” He shifts his shoulders one last time, then makes for the entrance. Some part of him fears Tajma will bar his exit. Some part of him longs for it. But instead, he slows of his own accord, level with the shorter man.
“His name is Ren.”
A hand shoots out, grabbing his upper arm. Abe stops, looking over at Tajima, half-braced for the blow or shouted abuse, the sign he’s been mistaken all these years. But Tajima just stares at him, chest heaving as though he’d been running for miles, fingers digging into Abe’s bicep through the wool of his coat.
Finally, Tajima releases him, clapping him once on the shoulder before pushing away into the tent. “Go on, enjoy your freedom.” Sounding a bit more like himself, he ends, “Give ‘im a smooch for me!”
“I will.” Abe starts walking, not the steady tromp of a soldier’s march but the easy gait of a civilian. Wetness pricks at the corners of his eyes, though he could not say which pain the tears were for. “I will.”
The village is as it ever was, minus a few small changes. This barn torn down, that fence finally mended, new timbers in the bridge marking the edge of the village proper. But Gunma remains the same sleepy hamlet it has always been, people going about their midday business as they always have with no care for the turmoil far beyond the town borders. Abe smiles, taking guilty comfort in the knowledge that that will soon be him.
A few folks mark his passage, stopping and staring at him as though he were a cheerful ghost. He supposes he looks the part, ragged uniform coated in road dust from several day’s travel. Part of him had wanted to hurry, skip sleep and get home faster, but part of him savoured the journey and the chance to put forced marches behind him. And besides, he’d hope to have energy when he got here.
His cheeks flush at the thought. Who knows if they’d get around to such things tonight, surely Ren would have years of news to catch him up on, and the way he talks, it would take long into the early hours to finish. Once, it had irritated him, but now, the thought of his staccato stuttering brings a smile to Abe’s face and makes him pick up his feet faster.
Ahead of him looms the one named crossroad of the village, and the familiar tiled roof and brightly-painted façade of the Mihashi family’s tavern. Almost running, Abe crosses the street, dodging two children playing on the steps and an older girl watching on, and throws open the door.
Inside, the smell of old smoke and spilled cheap wine assaults him, familiar, foul, heavenly. The light is low this early in the day, the only patrons appearing to be a pair of old men playing dice in the corner who might as well not have moved since the last time he was here. And, behind the counter…
His heart catches in his throat.
There, hair still an unruly fluffy tangle, form just barely filled in even well into adulthood, stands Ren, his Ren, drying off a glass and placing it on a shelf he can only just reach. Abe smiles gently, wondering if he would still be able to lean his cheek on the top of Ren’s head, or if he’s gained a few more inches in the intervening years.
Ren turns, reaching for another glass, starting to call a rote greeting. Then fumbles it, staring, mouth flapping open and closed in that familiar way.
Abe takes a step into the tavern, then another, exhaling softly. “I’m--”
“Why are you here?”
Abe’s brows twitch, slight confusion flattening his smile slightly. “I came home. From the war. I’ve returned from the war.” He spies a basin and cloth near the door, making for it. Maybe he’s dirtier than he thought, maybe Ren hadn’t actually recognised him. God knows, the years and battles have changed him. Not his Ren, though, no, still gorgeous and bright-eyed as he’d always been, barely a line on his smooth cheeks and brow. Abe scrubs at his face, feeling that prior joy stir up again.
Someone approaches behind him. Abe stills, wishes he’d dropped his pack already, remembering too well the feel of Ren’s arms encircling him from behind, his chin on his shoulder or pressed against its back, always a little too pointy but that was his Ren.
A hand slaps into his shoulder, swatting away the tender memory. “Some wine for the Republic’s finest! Innkeep, are you blind? Get the man a drink. A drink!”
One of the old men, the other beckoning them over. Abe’s smile fixes in place, mind scrambling. Where was Ren? Still behind the counter, still staring at him like some horrific spectre is being towed steadily to the table.
He clasps their hands and answers their questions automatically, trying to rationalise it. Ren always did get tangled up in his own thoughts. Perhaps he should’ve sent word ahead, not made this a huge surprise. Or, knowing Ren, he’s afraid Abe’s still angry over some past imagined fault. Whatever the case, all he can do is act normally until Ren’s ready to approach like some shy rabbit.
He’s waited some eight years, he can wait another minute. Hour. However long it takes.
“Abe, you say? Isn’t there a family that name down south of here?”
The man who’d remained seated snickers into his glass. “Soldier, you’ve taken a wrong turn! Hope your sense of direction was better in the field.”
“I think I’m where I should be. Family isn’t always home,” he answers, starting to rise as he hears the clink of a glass on the bar.
The first man grasps his shoulder again. “Let me! You’ve been marching a long time, let these old bones do their part now.”
He’s never much cared for dice, so all there is to do is talk, and talk Abe does, stories flowing out of him like the wine that always seems to fill his cup. Unused to being the centre of attention, he at least keeps the focus of his stories on his men. Plenty enough there to tell, and tell again as his garrulous hosts haul in what seems like every passerby to hear once more about the time Mizutani nearly blew up the platoon’s entire store of gunpowder or the triumphs in the north. And always, always, slipping through his tales like a silver-scaled fish through water, Tajima. Abe’s eyes keep slipping to Mihashi whenever he speaks of him; he has the feeling the two of them would’ve gotten along. Not that that’s saying much, everyone likes Tajima, and Tajima likes everybody. Still, Abe can’t help imagining how the boisterous grenadier might coax Ren out of hiding behind the bar.
Where he’s been for…how long now? Abe stares down at his cup, blinking slightly out of sync. And how many cups of wine? He shoves himself to his feet, almost upsetting the bench and the people on it.
“A song! Sing us your marching song!”
“Or a love song!”
“He’s going to sing! Shh!”
Abe reels, looking at their expectant faces. Perhaps if he can get them singing, they’ll finally occupy themselves with something else, and he can try and corner Ren.
He has no illusions about his voice, it’s certainly loud enough but no more than serviceable. Still, the patrons enjoy it well enough, joining in on the call-and-response of the old tune, near drowning him out as he finishes the verse. It’s fun, a shadow of some of the more pleasant moments with his men, but it’s certainly not a performance that will bring tears to anyone’s eyes.
So when he looks up and sees Mihashi openly weeping, he rips away from the crowd, wine sloshing in his glass and adding to the patina on the floor. Just as he’d hoped, someone else takes up the song; their sound will cover whatever words he has to say.
Mihashi’s eyes are lowered, but Abe can feel his attention as he careens over, crashing into the bar. He lingers for a moment, drinking in the sight of him up close now and with lanterns showing his face.
“What’s with the tears? You regretting giving wine to a coarse soldier like me?” He cringes internally, nothing like anything he wants to say, but that giddiness is mixing with the wine in his belly and wrenching words out of him faster than he can think better of them.
Ren shakes his head, snuffling and wiping his face on the corner of his apron. “I don’t…regret…that.”
Abe swallows, ready to say something else ill-advised when Ren finally looks up, gaze piercing, pleading.
“It’s… What I regret, it’s the death of someone once dear to me.”
He grips the edge of the bar with both hands, unsure whether he dropped his glass or set it down. He feels like a dropped glass, like he’s tumbling towards inevitable shatter and never knew he’d slipped over the edge. “The death.”
Ren nods, though he looks as ill as Abe feels. “Someone…someone I said goodbye to, a long time ago.”
The shards of him are scattered, but they fall into easily-read shapes. “Those children out front, they’re yours.” It’s his turn to studiously avoid eye-contact.
Peripherally, he can see Ren inhale with something like pride. “Those…they are.” And then deflate again. “When I heard…when they brought the news, I… Th-that person…” He reaches out, fingers resting on his side of the bar between where Abe’s hands now fan out, supporting his weight. “I got married, and…”
“That girl watching them. She must be eight, at least.” He smiles bitterly, fingers curling on the polished wood.
“The eldest, yeah.”
Another split second of pride, only to be torn down as Abe bites out, “You must not have waited long after that message. Or at all.”
“I’m sorry,” Ren chokes out.
He wants to scream. Sweep the bottles and dishes off the bar, overturn the tables, take a swing at anyone he can get his hands on. Demand Ren produce this woman who so easily wiped away the taste of his lips.
But when he looks in Ren’s pleading, sorrowful eyes, all of it dies inside him. Not softens, not dissipates, but dies, rotten and ugly. He came here to do many things, but not to ruin the man he loves. Not to destroy the lives of children blameless for nothing except their own existence, not to hurt a woman whose only crime was loving someone so deserving of love.
Abe swallows heavily. He wants to speak, absolve Ren, promise him nothing has to change and they can still sneak around as they always did, all is forgiven. At least thank him for the damn wine.
But none of it will come out around that dead thing in his throat.
He looks at Ren one last time. And this time, he knows it is the last time. Then he turns and leaves.
This time, he does not stop to rest. At first, he’s simply walking until the wine clears from his head and his steps steady again. But then he just keeps going. No blisters from boots nearly moulded to his feet, but his whole body shakes with exhaustion by the time he sights the tail end of the train. Summoning some last reserve, he hastens his steps, passing the slower baggage train, the artillery, until finally he catches up to the infantry, already starting to make camp.
He knows the way to his section in his sleep. He might as well be walking in it, though he shakes himself awake as he hears an unfamiliar voice shouting.
Or…not completely unfamiliar, he’d met the man a few times, been the one to recommend him as his replacement. Corporal Hanai, apparently finding command sitting less easy than he might have hoped. And piping up in a clearly insubordinate reply, Tajima’s familiar tenor.
He registers them dully and turns his steps in their direction, exhaustion turning the words to a vague muddle against the background din of an army putting itself to bed. Registers as well the curious glances from other squads he passes, card games halted and cups dripping back into the barrel they’d been filled from. But he doesn’t halt, and no one stops him, as none have stopped him on his implacable march.
The small crowd gathered around the arguing pair parts at his approach, barely contained amusement on familiar faces fading to restrained alarm. Abe keeps his eyes fixed on some middle distance in front of him. He’d like to greet his comrades, but his throat is dry and that sad, dead thing still weighs heavy in him. Save his last shreds of energy for what he needs to say, reconnecting can come after.
He steps between the two figures, summoning his remaining strength and standing straight in proper salute.
“Corp… Abe?” Hanai’s eyes dart behind him, as if this might be part of some section hazing no one’s told him about yet.
“Reporting for duty, sir.” Abe stares him dead in the eye, willing the man to just get it.
Hanai is not that type of man. “You were discharged.”
Abe nods crisply. “I would like to re-enlist.”
Hanai rubs under his cap, dislodging a curl. “I mean, sure. I-- I don’t know if you’ll have your old…because I’m…”
“I don’t give a shit. Stick me on the front lines. Put me on latrine duty, I couldn’t fucking care less.” He straightens his spine again, aware his gaze is menacing, unwilling to do anything about it for this man’s comfort.
Finally, Hanai seems to understand him, nodding once. “We’ll see to it. In the meantime, get some rest. You look like hell.” He glances beyond Abe, more confident now the problem has a clear solution. “Sakaeguchi, requisition another bedroll for the cor-- For the private, and--”
Abe tunes him out, turning towards the grubby tent that has been his home. And finding himself face-to-face with Tajima.
“You came back!” Emotion wars on the smaller man’s face, broad welcoming smile tempered by cautious curiousity in his eyes and a slight crease between his brows. “Missed us that m--”
Abe grabs the lapels of his coat, hauling him close, and kisses him.
Conversation dies immediately around them, Hanai’s instructions fading into a strangled question. Abe lets it fall away, pours his entire consciousness into this point of contact so long denied. Tajima barely seems surprised, kisses him back furiously, one hand coming up to splay on Abe’s chest, steadying him.
He’s not here to put on a show, though. Abe ends the kiss as abruptly as he’d started it, launching towards the tent and clamping a hand on Tajima’s forearm, dragging him with him. Someone makes a crack about not needing that extra bedroll after all. Surprisingly, it’s not Tajima.
Abe marches them to Tajima’s normal spot, swaying to a stop over the neatly-laid-out bedroll. He opens his mouth to speak, then just stares at the conspicuously empty space beside it.
Tajima steps up beside him, unerringly following his line of sight. “I didn’t want someone else sleeping there. Didn’t feel right, wakin’ up and seeing…not you.” He shrugs, seeming the closest to shy Abe’s ever seen him, then grimaces. “Guess that’s parta why Hanai had his undies in a twist…”
“Corporal Hanai,” Abe corrects automatically, dropping his backpack, then seats himself on the blanket to strip off his boots. Pausing with the second boot still in hand, he looks up, fixing Tajima with a steady stare. “You understand why I’m back.”
Tajima’s already enthusiastically taken the hint and has stripped to his shirt and halfway out of his trousers, but he stills, meeting Abe’s gaze unwaveringly. “Think I got a pretty good idea.” He seats himself on Abe’s pack to yank off his own boots. “Also think you’re being stupid.
Abe huffs out a joyless laugh, shrugging out of layers. “Maybe I am.” He folds back the blanket; it’ll barely cover the both of them, but it’ll have to do.
Before he can make a move to settle himself, Tajima dives onto the scanty bed with an exaggerated sigh. He worms around to look up at Abe, arms thrown wide and smile bright in invitation.
A shard of ice shoots through him. He hadn’t gotten to see Ren’s smile again.
Abe shudders in a breath and collapses down, burying his face against Tajima’s chest.
“Guess I better give you something to stick around for.”
They lie in silence for a long stretch, Tajima’s palm pressed solidly between his shoulder blades and his chest rising and falling under Abe’s cheek with such regularity he might’ve already been asleep. But when Abe finally lifts himself on surprisingly steady arms, Tajima’s eyes find his with no trace of weariness. He can feel him under him, every inch of springy muscle ready to move or to relax again at Abe’s insistence.
Even he’s not entirely sure which he wants. A decision made on that long march, but not one he’d spoken aloud to himself in order to grasp the true shape of it. Some part of him feels like he doesn’t deserve it, however plainly offered it might be. Even this comfort of a body against his own, warmth and breath shared, even this feels too good, too simple to be part of his life again. His life without Ren.
He shifts higher, lowering his face to Tajima’s. Brushing their noses together lightly, feeling the way Tajima yearns upward for his lips. Letting them slip together easily, Tajima releasing a near-silent breath that is sweet music to his ears. Abe shifts his weight, long-unused habits coming back to him quickly, pressing his thigh between Tajima’s until that almost-silence breaks into a heavier gasp. Abe draws back, watching his face as he skims a hand down to grab Tajima’s hip. Tajima ruffles a hand up the back of his head, curling his fingers in his hair and his leg around Abe’s hip, holding him close as he kisses him.
Tajima’s kisses are quick, pointed, hungry, conscious of the men drinking and gaming outside who might allow them some small privacy but will eventually wish to sleep. And perhaps, when he draws back to stare into his eyes in the shadowing gloom, a little afraid Abe will come to his senses before he’s had his fill.
Abe cups his jaw, brushing a thumb over his skin. He’d like to offer reassurances but he can’t say they wouldn’t be lies. He’d like them to be truth, like this to be everything he’d thought he was coming home to on that long walk through the countryside. That’s too much to ask right now, and perhaps too much to ever ask for men like them. But for now, Tajima feels perfect underneath him, and the heat of his skin is soothing fire, and perhaps that can be enough.
Abe tucks his face into the curve of Tajima’s neck, lips smearing over skin then pressing in a sucking kiss. Cloth bunches between them, in the way and gentle cushion all at once. He’s momentarily surprised Tajima hadn’t stripped down entirely, but he recalls that faint guarded light in his eyes. Perhaps even Tajima, so free in both his undress and his affections, has need of armour from time to time. Abe’s own hunger is mounting, though, and after a last kiss to Tajima’s jaw, he pushes himself up and grabs the hem of Tajima’s shirt. Sun-shy skin revealed against the paler hue of the linens, beautiful softness in the dim light that begs to be touched, kissed, adored.
“Oh, fuck, yes…” Tajima pushes him enthusiastically the second Abe moves lower, and though his desire is clear, he responds just as warmly to Abe’s lips at his navel, trailing above his hips. He reminds himself again that time is short, but he has spent far too long suppressing his feelings not to give them proper expression here, ranging up to take a nipple between his lips and suck it flushed and wet. Tajima finds his hand and squeezes it impatiently against his crotch, and Abe will not deny him, feeling the shape of him through the coarse fabric, the heat and the faint dampness where the head of his dick presses against the front. Abe drags his tongue over Tajima’s nipple one last time, sparing him a glance before shifting purposefully down the bedroll.
Tajima props himself up on his elbows, watching him with an eager, crooked smile. Abe slips his hand into his underwear, wrapping his fingers around his length, giving it a measured stroke before guiding it into the open air. Abe settles between his thighs, nuzzling the thatch of hair around the base, drinking in the thick scent of him, smirking when Tajima’s dick twitches against his cheek. He opens his lips against the base, dragging down towards his balls with his thumb pressed teasing below the head.
“C’mon, would you--” Tajima squirms his hips, fingers carding through Abe’s hair and tugging him up, over. Abe snickers, then grabs his hips, pressing them down hard. Tajima pulls a face, then wraps both legs around his back, hauling him close in a way that impedes more than it helps.
Still, Abe’s made him wait long enough. More than long enough. Humming a soft noise, he takes Tajima into his mouth.
Tajima gasps hoarsely, and Abe cringes, all too aware of how much they can hear from outside. Still, the sound sends prickling arousal coursing over his skin, pooling low between his own legs, burning away his exhaustion with a more pressing need. He laps and swallows, bitter and salt mixing on his tongue, heady and rich and further stoking the fire within him. Tajima is modest in size but still more than enough to fill his mouth deliciously, bounce the back of his throat as he takes him deeper. He lingers like that, breath already coming hard through his nose, tongue working against Tajima’s flushed skin as he swallows.
Inhaling heavily, he blinks his eyes open, looking up. Tajima stares at him, an uncharacteristic flush upon his cheeks, some unreadable awe soft in his eyes. It’s too much, too rich, Abe has to look away, focus on sliding his lips up to the head of Tajima’s dick. Easier to think Tajima is simply salving his weary body in the convenient embrace of another.
“I know you’re hurtin’, and you probably don’t wanna hear it right now, but…” Tajima’s hand reaches down the blankets already in disarray, but falls short of touching him. “I just think…we could’ve been happy all this time.”
Brow working furiously, Abe tries his best to ignore it, ignore the way this man always seems to see right through everyone’s defences and destroy them with one casually-aimed missile. Pulling off his dick with a low grumble, he grabs Tajima’s hand, squashing it against his cheek.
“You’re right, I’ve been an idiot twice over.”
Tajima breathes out a soft laugh. “That’s not like you.” He slides his hand to the back of Abe’s head, scooching down and drawing him up so their faces are close. “Hey,” he starts in the same gentle tone, “not like I’m not enjoying you slurpin’ me down like a thirsty horse, but I also want you to nail me into this bed before those guys get too antsy.”
Abe pulls a face. “Couldn’t let the moment linger for one minute, could you?”
“Nope!” Tajima grins, seeming more like his familiar self, and closes his thighs around Abe’s. “Also I’m not saying we gotta stop when--”
“That’s enough.” Abruptly, Abe sits up, grabbing Tajima’s hips and hauling him with him so the smaller man is near upside-down. He manhandles his legs so they’re either side of his head, enjoying the startled look on the smaller man’s face. He smiles to himself; no one would ever know how to handle the private quite like him. “Keep yourself still.”
Always quick to catch on, Tajima locks his ankles between Abe’s shoulder blades, jamming his elbows out to keep himself steady. Arms hooked around his thighs, Abe hauls him closer, meeting his eyes briefly before pressing his lips plush to the underside of his dick. His tongue slips out, fitting around the shaft as he makes his way up then resting, spitty and soft, against the head. He can feel the thrum of Tajima’s pulse here, the burning life of him. Abe parts his lips around the head, sliding partway down, letting his tongue guide the retreat, then work against sensitive skin before he dips down again.
Tajima moves in close concert with him, thrusting up as Abe takes him in. He can feel his muscles working against his arms, even better when he disentangles one arm to grope at Tajima’s ass. Tajima grunts a needy noise, pressing back into his touch, loose fabric shifting under his fingers. Abe flicks him another glance, pressing his thumb down the cleft to where the fabric splits.
Tajima’s eyes are fixed on him. “Give me…c’mon…”
Eyebrow quirking, Abe just rubs him with his thumb, teasing brushes of skin-on-skin and then back towards the waistband. And all the while, his lips spit-slick and warm, sliding up Tajima’s shaft. Abruptly, he lets his cock fall from his lips and shifts his grip on his hips, lifting him higher, pressing his thumbs under Tajima’s thighs to spread him. Tajima bites back a curse, bracing himself in this new position with as much ease as if it had been his idea. And leaving Abe with him perfectly spread before him.
He tongues just behind the balls, gentle at first then pressing enough to make Tajima flinch and groan, grab at Abe’s knees with aimless need. Slipping lower, he opens his mouth wider, touching the thickness of his tongue to Tajima’s hole. His skin is hot here, making Abe’s dick twitch with anticipation of the feverish heat deeper in, and he breathes out a harsh pant before licking again. Pulling back, a line of heavy kisses until his nose nudges Tajima’s balls again. He has half a mind to try and get his hands on him, but when he opens his eyes, he sees Tajima already stroking his dick. Abe exhales again, nosing his way back down.
Heavier with the tongue, teasing just short of pushing inside, one hand pressed just under Tajima’s tailbone with the thumb pointed to where Abe does his work. He drops his hand to palm his own cock for a brief second before supporting him again. Tajima flexes, muttering something Abe only half-hears, his heel digging into Abe’s back as he tries to encourage him deeper. Abe laves his hole once more, then finds the opening, giving steady pressure now, unsurprised to find Tajima yielding. How many nights, he wonders, had Tajima spent opening himself up with Abe’s name on his lips.
Heat rises in his cheeks, equal parts embarrassment, guilt, and pure arousal. Abe kisses Tajima’s inner thigh, nipping it, then presses his face against the linen briefly. His hand steals down again, and he has a moment to regret this ridiculous position that prevents him from easing the pressure between his legs. Still, that will come soon enough.
He draws another line of heavy kisses, up until Tajima’s knuckles brush his cheek and nose, the pace of his strokes carefully restrained. Then down, down, leaving the thin and fevered skin wet, down to tongue his hole again. Pushing in fully now, stretching Tajima open. He tenses, heel jammed against Abe’s spine again, and this time Abe rewards him by pushing deeper, impaling him fully before drawing back out. Then inside again, easier now, leaving the ring slick and ready. He shifts his hand, sliding the pad of his thumb lower and lower until it can follow the dip of his tongue, stretching Tajima still further.
He draws back, slicking two fingers into his mouth and then bringing them to Tajima’s hole, following with lips. He works them in easily, kissing and licking around them and trying to push the wetness deeper. Abe nuzzles back up under his balls, doing his best to resist curling his fingers. But the temptation is too great, sliding the pads of his fingers until he feels the little nub, lips a soft cushion on the other side. Tajima strangles out an unholy noise, legs spasming inward and body squeezing around Abe’s fingers.
Abe relents, smirking to himself as he inches his fingers partway out, pushing them back in straight. He lets Tajima’s hips drop again, burying his face next to his cock, noticing hazily Tajima’s hand is no longer there. Inhaling heavily, he lifts his head, parting his lips around Tajima’s dick again.
Only to be halted by fingers clenched in his hair. Tajima, staring up at him with something akin to desperation. “I wanna come on your cock.”
He blinks, lids heavy, and draws back, licking his lips. “You’ll hold out for me.”
Tajima huffs out a frustrated noise, brows working even as he pushes back on Abe’s fingers. But when Abe takes him in his mouth again, he doesn’t refuse.
Bitterness smears on his tongue, and he can feel how close Tajima is, feel the urge to push him further, feel how the need for it sings through Tajima’s every muscle. But he keeps his mouth gentle, slow, sliding on the shaft and avoiding more sensitive parts. And all the while slicking his fingers into him, curling them to brush teasingly over his prostate just enough to make him gasp and twitch but not quite enough to drive him over.
Abe pulls his hand free long enough to spit onto his fingers, working the liquid around them before bringing three to push inside. Slight resistance at the entrance, and he flexes his fingertips, rubbing and pressing until Tajima relaxes enough for him. He takes his time, working just past the first knuckle, pulling out, and thrusting in again. Tajima squeezes and releases around him, seeming to urge him deeper, and Abe is only too happy to comply. Deeper, molding his fingers to the shape of him inside, filling the space then sliding back out almost to the tips.
Tajima pants steadily, one hand gripping the leg of Abe’s underwear, clenching every time his fingers stroke in. He supposes he should give him what he wants soon. Abe sucks him deep once more, swirling his tongue as he thrusts his fingers inside, then pulls back with a wet sound. Dragging his fingers out, he takes hold of Tajima’s hips, urging them down. Tajima’s breath catches, eyes flashing wide. Abe drops him to the bedroll, then turns him on his front. Surveying for a moment, he loosens his pants, pulling them down around his thighs, then sits back to admire him. Tajima looks gorgeous like that, shirt riding up his back and ass round and perked, ready for his touch, hair ruffled and one freckled cheek showing, the edge of a brow and lash indicating his attention fixed on Abe.
He sways back to his knees, finally slipping his own cock free of his pants. He spits in his palm, curling his hand around the shaft. Then leans forward, bracing himself half-lying on top of Tajima so every stroke on his dick connects with his ass. Abe drops his head down, exhaling roughly, guiding his dick to thrust against the cleft of Tajima’s ass before spitting in his palm again and slicking up his dick.
“Fuck me, c’mon, fuck me…” Tajima pushes back against him, reaching for a handful of fabric to yank him down. Abe slides his cock against his cleft once more, then adjusts it to press under Tajima’s ass, between his thighs. Then props his cheeks open with two fingers, now leaning his full weight on Tajima’s back, and brings his cock to his hole.
In, in, heat blossoming around him, and Tajima gasping and spitting out fragments of words under him. Abe grabs his ass and wraps the other arm around Tajima’s chest. He can only get about halfway in, will probably need more spit, but for the moment this is enough, thrusting shallowly and rubbing his cheek against Tajima’s back. Sweat soaks the fabric, and he can only imagine how this tent will smell, but there’s no pretence of what they’re doing and god knows a tent full of a dozen hard-marching bodies doesn’t smell fresh at the best of times. But Tajima’s…his scent is intoxicating, reaching deep into some animal part of him that feels almost as good as the muscle squeezing around his cock. Abe groans, deep and long, sliding out almost all the way before thrusting back in.
Tajima wedges a hand underneath them, curling fingers around his hand. His other grabs at Abe’s side, splaying over his ribs, tugging fabric up. Abe grabs it, guiding it underneath; Tajima’s fingertips rake fire over his skin, urging him on. He pulls out again, spitting into his palm and spreading it as best he can. Then in again, working steadily, Tajima pushing back into every thrust, knees pressing into Abe’s inner thighs. Sinking deeper and deeper, his breath punching out of him, Tajima pressing him on with a stream of words that mean nothing, so Abe pays them no particular mind. Just reach for the loosened collar of his shirt, tug it down enough to smear a kiss on bare skin, both of them saying what they need in their own way.
He pauses for a moment, nudging one knee between Tajima’s then the other. Tajima spreads out beneath him with a curt inhale, releasing Abe’s side to brace an elbow on the bedroll. Abe blinks heavy eyes open, mouth remembering silky bitterness, and gropes at his hip, jamming his hand under as he keeps his rhythm steady. Tajima hums enthusiastically, shoving his ass higher, giving just enough space for Abe to fumble and fondle his way to his dick.
“Yeah, c’mon, c’mon…” Tajima hooks one leg back around Abe’s, hips rocking erratically into his touch. Abe fucks him fast and hard, cupping his palm to let Tajima rut into it, precum smearing on his fingers. He can feel his own arousal rising towards its peak, drawn along by the sounds Tajima makes and the tremble in his legs. Abe groans against his back, curling his hand around Tajima’s dick. Gasping out half a syllable, Tajima jams his ass back against Abe, and thick stickiness spills out of Abe’s fist.
Slowing his rhythm slightly, Abe watches the sliver of pink cheek he can see without lifting his head too high, wishing he’d watched Tajima through this. But there’ll be other times for that, hopefully. Other times to feel him clench around him face-to-face, kiss him, perhaps tell him those things that feel too much to say just yet. Abe smiles to himself, turning his face to place a soft kiss on Tajima’s back, letting his pace increase once more. He gives his dick one last soft squeeze, then takes hold of his hip, shifting his weight and feeling Tajima adjust under him.
Without a word, Tajima plants a foot on Abe’s thigh, shoving him back. Abe lets himself be pushed, coming up on his knees and giving the smaller man a perplexed look. Which Tajima has the opportunity to appreciate as he rolls over on his back, kicking the rest of the way out of his pants and then beaming up at Abe.
He pulls a face, squeezing one eye shut. “…Guess I coulda done that sooner, that woulda--”
Abe propels him back down with a hand on his shoulder and kisses him. Tajima’s arms wind around his shoulders and up to cup the back of his neck, full of an energy he almost envies. There’s a softer tone to his kisses, a sweetness that was hidden earlier, though whether it’s simply afterglow or some other change, Abe couldn’t say.
He breaks off the kiss, tucking his face into the corner of Tajima’s neck and grumbling out, “How do you always know exactly what I need?”
Tajima gives a startled twitch, though when Abe lugs himself back up enough to look at him, he’s grinning. “Guess I did somethin’ good!”
Abe cracks a tired smile and kisses his chin. Then his lips. “You do a lot of good. For me.”
Tajima huffs out a contented noise, ruffling his hand up through Abe’s hair. “Damn right. Now, how ‘bout you do a little fillin’ me with--”
Abe slaps a hand over his mouth. He has a point, though. Hand still clamped in place with Tajima muffling out untold lewdness, Abe spits in his other palm to lubricate again, stroking himself back to full hardness. Tajima curls his legs around him, leaving space for Abe to aim himself and then squeezing him as he slides home. Abe exhales slowly, letting his weight rest on Tajima, pressing their cheeks together. Then he starts moving again.
Tajima is slick and hot around him, holding him just tight enough and still letting him move freely. Abe curls a hand under Tajima’s head, humming a low note into a heavy kiss on his jaw. Tajima turns, nosing for his mouth, inhaling softly as their lips meet. The muffled slap of their bodies seems loud, not loud enough to drown out the rush of blood in his ears. And below him, Tajima, arms around him, lips on him, affection surrounding him and swallowing him up. And Abe surrenders himself willingly, wholly, pounding into him with every fibre of his being singing the same song.
He scrapes teeth down Tajima’s jaw, nipping his neck, his chest. Tajima grunts, legs squeezing him tighter until Abe barely has room to move. Just buried deep inside him, silky heat surrounding him, and Tajima’s breathless encouragement urging him on. Abe gasps, digging fingers into his ass, rolling his hips in quick, jerky movements. Then holds on a strangled curse, pleasure welling deep inside him to burst out, out, spilling into Tajima as his hips twitch. Tajima, holding him close with everything he has, adding his tenor burr to Abe’s soft rumble.
He lies bonelessly on top of the other man for a long moment. The light is all but gone, and though men still laugh and chatter outside, there’s promise of rest in their tones. If not for them, Abe would fall asleep just like this, sweat slowly drying on their skin and in their hair, Tajima’s chest all the warmth and pillow he needs. And maybe someday, if they’re both very lucky, maybe someday that will be their lot.
Abe inhales deeply, then rolls to the side with a grumble, tucking his dick back in his pants and trying to render his clothing respectable. He gropes to the side, finding a thigh. “You should get dressed.”
Tajima’s turn to grumble. “Why? Not like they don’t know what we were up to. I’m hot!”
“Just…” Abe pats around on his other side, finding crumpled linen, and drops it on Tajima. “I’m exhausted. I’m sleeping. You don’t have to.”
Halfway through shimmying into his underwear, Tajima glances over. “You think I’m missin’ out on cuddles after that?” He executes some ridiculous maneuver to fully pull on his pants that Abe’s practically too tired to even watch, then grabs Abe’s arm, tugging him closer as he rolls on his side. “Been like a week without you snoring in my ear, been hard to sleep.”
Abe wraps his arm around his chest, kissing the back of his neck before nuzzling against his shoulder. “I don’t snore.”
Tajima kicks and hauls the rough blanket up from somewhere near their feet, settling it haphazardly over them despite his prior protests of being hot. “Not when you’re on your side.”
Eyes already fallen shut, Abe settles in, gathering Tajima close. His heart still aches, this new joy will not erase that, but… It feels a little less harsh, less choking. Less hopeless.
Maybe there isn’t a home for him to come back to, but maybe there’s a home for him right here.
He sinks into sleep with Tajima’s quiet laughter caught in his chest.