All That We Are


Chapter Eleven


Note: This is the SFW version of this chapter. To read the NSFW version (smut), click here.


When Fushimi stepped into the grand hall of the hotel that Munakata had selected, he expected to enter a scene like countless others he'd been forced to endure. His presence had been required – by the Captain, more or less – at any number of formal conferences, political affairs, and even diplomatic parties, and they were all basically the same.

However, his expectations were immediately dashed in this case.

The event in question was a "commemorative event" that had apparently been agreed upon by the leaders of each clan involved – which basically meant that Munakata, Anna, and Weismann had sat down for a chat and decided collectively to waste everyone's time. Given the nature of Scepter 4's operations and the mounting workload left in the wake of the Slate's destruction, it had been put off quite a few times – but now, months after the event in question, they were apparently supposed to celebrate "new beginnings".

Not so new anymore, are they?

Either way, the hall had been decorated with varying shades of the three "colors" involved: tablecloths, lighting, and the moving wallpaper were all shades of red, blue, and silver. It created something of an interesting contrast. Fushimi was thankful that no one had decided to paint the ceiling or re-tile the floor, both of which were tolerable shades of off-white and brown. Aside from that, there was a somewhat stiff but mostly comfortable aura in the room, a far cry from the tense and sometimes calculating atmosphere he was used to.

Then again, considering who all had been invited – Scepter 4's Special Operations squad, Homra's inner circle, and the four members of the silver clan – it was probably to be expected. Just glancing around at the elegantly lit room, he could already see a lot of inter-clan mingling and enthusiastic conversations. It was a bit hard to tell everyone apart though, due to the formal dress code and the fact that the participants skewed disproportionately male. There wasn't a lot of variance in suits without getting ridiculous.

That was another difference, actually: rather than being in uniform, Munakata had instructed them all to go ahead and expense the rental of formal suits and ties. "For the sake of unity," he'd explained without batting an eye at some of the dismayed looks being exchanged by his employees.

Unity... It made sense, considering they were the only clan with a uniform, but it was still an odd thing to think about. Fushimi shifted in the fitted jacket, reaching up to adjust his tie as he moved away from the entrance and took in the room’s inhabitants carefully. He'd opted to leave his knife holsters in the hotel room he'd booked – for his own reasons in this case rather than on Munakata's instructions – so other than a single pair on the underside of his shoes, he was unarmed.

It was impossible not to be uncomfortably aware of their absence. There was probably not going to be any need for them, but he'd gotten so used to their presence that not having them was almost like walking around without pants. He felt exposed and vulnerable.

Well, I can manage for now. He had a plan for tonight, after all. Since the event had been announced, he'd been toying with the idea, and it had gradually taken shape in his mind. Misaki was going to be there – was probably already here by this point, since Fushimi had come intentionally late – and this was an opportunity that wasn't likely to come up again.

It had been a few weeks since their messy conversation in Misaki's family home, and during that period, they had spoken several times on the phone but met in person only twice. The first time had been… awkward. Misaki had been teaching skateboarding to two young kids in a park – and apparently working at a sporting goods store, in addition to entering skateboarding competitions. The encounter had been somewhat strange; new, in a sense. As if they were continuing in unexplored territory. Just being able to see Misaki and talk with him had caused that odd tingle of excitement in Fushimi’s body – there was an element of physical attraction that amplified things beyond the comfortable feeling of simply chatting over the phone. Besides that, the obvious contentment and enthusiasm in Misaki’s face and posture had the odd effect of both relaxing him and stirring up a pit of anxiety in his stomach.

He’d accepted the reality that he actually did want to see Misaki happy, but even so, it was hard to discard the instinctive insecurity that arose in response. Despite everything, it was still necessary to remind himself that Misaki didn’t have to need him for anything; that it was possible – probable, even – for Misaki to simply want him. He still struggled with himself a little over that.

Can’t be helped, huh?

What did actually help was that Misaki was the type to wear his heart on his sleeve, and his eyes had told a story that his words and actions couldn’t. Fushimi could see his own tentative desires mirrored back at him whenever their gazes crossed, and the feelings it stirred within him were a mix of gratified, pleased and bewildered. At the time, he wasn’t sure what to do with it.

Not that he could’ve done anything with it, really. Even if they’d wanted to take things beyond ‘painfully casual’, there wasn’t exactly an opening. Misaki had a pair of kids in tow, and Fushimi was technically still on shift. Those few stolen, public moments were all they’d had.

At the time, it had felt like more than enough.

Before they’d parted ways, Misaki had suggested going out together to a bar – which had led to their second meeting, and ‘more than enough’ had pretty much gone out the window with that.

“So here you are, Fushimi-kun.” The unmistakable, even timbre of Munakata’s voice cut into his thoughts clearly, despite the surrounding buzz of conversation and the overlaying soft tones of background music playing in the hall. The man himself approached from the side, clad in a perfectly fitted suit, with two slim flutes of some carbonated drink in his hands and what looked like a relaxed smile on his face. His eyes, as usual, were calculating. “Given that the others arrived some time ago, I was beginning to grow concerned. Was there some significant matter that delayed you?”

Fushimi clicked his tongue. “Nothing important.” He’d long since suspected that Munakata already knew far too much about what was developing between himself and Misaki, and he wasn’t keen on giving away any further details. Besides that, what he had planned was embarrassing. No one outside of the two of them needed to know. “I’ve got it under control already.”

“Is that so?” The hint of amusement in Munakata’s gaze made it clear he’d been seen through to some degree. “I will defer to your judgement, in that case.”

He made a non-committal sound in response, letting his gaze wonder surreptitiously around the room. A small group of what appeared to be mixed red and blue clansmen stood near the banquet tables, which were piled with appetizers of varying types. They were chatting and laughing with casual ease – a direct result of the collaboration of months ago that had endured despite the more recent disputes over clan territory.

Those were mostly just Misaki yelling at me, anyway. It had quieted a lot since their conversation.

Near the larger group, Akiyama and Benzai stood talking with a pair of Homra clansmen – one of whom Fushimi recognized from his time there, and the second a waiflike young man with pale hair who he had seen a few times since. Benzai was unusually animated as he spoke with that second clansman, who appeared to be conversing with him in earnest while the other two observed with somewhat bemused fondness. It was an odd parallel to watch.

Well, not my concern. Fushimi let his eyes wander without pausing. Not that there was anything to be concerned about when it came to those two. As usual, they were sickeningly content.

Still, he found the corners of his mouth tugging upward slightly as he moved on.

Munakata hummed lightly, momentarily distracting him from his search. His boss apparently had been following his gaze, and was looking in that direction now, a faint smile on his lips. “Most fortuitous that our clans have achieved some manner of harmony,” he commented, shifting his gaze sideways to meet Fushimi’s. “Wouldn’t you agree?”

Again, there was that sense of being seen through. Fushimi let out a short sigh. He was resigned to it by now, but… He’s still annoying when he gets like this. “Things are quieter, at least.” Hunting for a distraction, his eyes caught on the two flutes in his boss’s hands again. “Isn’t someone waiting on you?”

“Indeed. Most perceptive of you.” Munakata’s answering smile was unconcerned, as always. “In point of fact, I was engaged in a stimulating conversation with Kusanagi-kun.” He tilted his head obliquely in to the side as if to indicate the location of the man in question. “When the champagne was set out, I had thought that this presented a unique opportunity to reverse expectations and serve a drink to a bartender.” His smile widened. “Once the notion occurred to me, of course it became impossible to let the chance pass.”

Most people wouldn’t care one way or another about a ‘chance’ like that. Fushimi glanced in the direction that had been indicated to him. As expected, Kusanagi was standing there in a suit and tie that he appeared to wear with casual ease, watching an excitable Neko chatter happily with Anna, who appeared to be saying very little but listened with a smile on her face all the same. Anna’s dress was her usual style, but someone had apparently cajoled Neko into a more formal blouse and skirt. Not that she was likely to keep it tidy all evening.

Whatever. Not my problem.

It was kind of surprising not to see Awashima with Kusanagi, though. He would’ve assumed they’d take advantage of the opportunity to chat casually without the underlying possibility that an emergency with one clan or the other would arise.

The thought had barely occurred to him when his eyes caught on the familiar blonde hair not far from where Kusanagi was standing. Awashima had taken the opportunity to stand out in a silver evening gown, so it would’ve been difficult to miss her in the sea of black suits. She was also smiling, leaning forward as she spoke animatedly with –

Ah. Fushimi blinked, momentarily startled, and then allowed himself the edge of rueful smile. Somehow it felt like he shouldn’t have been surprised that Munakata would find a way to invite a former Jungle clansman to this event.

It had been a while since he’d last seen Hirasaka Douhan, but having worked with her for several months, he wasn’t about to forget her face. Given that she was also wearing a dark-colored suit, however, she might’ve blended in with the rest of the crowd if not for her conversation partner.

Somehow, now that he saw them together, it seemed natural that they’d hit it off. Fushimi had a momentary flashback to an order of anko-flavored sushi set on a plate at the same table where he’d been eating, and resisted the urge to grimace. They have that much in common, anyway.

Maybe it was just the direction his thoughts were bound to go that night, but as he watched the casual way one of Awashima’s hands brushed Hirasaka’s wrist and how their bodies angled together… “Wonder if she’d confirm it with this one,” Fushimi mused out loud, keeping his voice low enough that it wasn’t likely to be heard over the music and conversation around them.

It was a vain effort, of course. “I’m afraid I don’t quite follow.”

He shut his eyes, allowing himself a small, amused huff. “Never mind.”

Munakata made another of those low hums, but let obligingly let the matter drop. “My, my. It appears that the red clan is succeeding quite admirably in their efforts to ensure that the silver clan feels welcome at this affair.” When Fushimi turned to raise an eyebrow at him for that, he smiled beatifically. “I wonder if it might not be prudent to provide some representation on behalf of Scepter 4 in this case,” he added, and tipped his head meaningfully.

Fushimi turned automatically in that direction, and felt his breath catch sharply in his throat. There, at last, was Misaki, talking with Kamamoto and all three male members of the silver clan. Like every other man at this event, he was dressed in a full black suit, fitted well – probably due to Kusanagi’s assistance – and accentuating his narrow hips and defined shoulders. It wasn’t often that Misaki wore clothing that fit – that flattered – quite so well as this, and the sight was enough to ignite that familiar fire of longing within him again.

At least this time he had a sense it would probably be answered.

Misaki was grinning openly in response to something in the conversation, animated and enthusiastic as always. It set off a little flutter in Fushimi’s stomach. He couldn’t help but think of their last meeting, barely a week ago, and the combination of the memory and the sight in front of him had his breath coming short.

It had started off normal enough: a visit to a so-called “trendy bar” on a recommendation from Kusanagi. They’d talked for a long time about all kinds of small things, without any particular aim or agenda. Fushimi wasn’t a casual drinker by any stretch, but he could handle one or two without getting more than pleasantly buzzed, and Misaki seemed to keep to that same pace without any trouble. The evening was comfortable, the two of them spending time together without intruders or interruptions.

That alone would have been enough for him, if he’d been able to silence those internal urges. Tiny, innocuous things like the way Misaki’s fingers curled around his glass or the motions of his throat as he tipped it back and swallowed would bring up that itch to touch. It was difficult to suppress those thoughts once they were brought to the front of his mind. Fushimi could never quite get the remembered taste of Misaki’s lips and the impression of Misaki’s body under his hands out of his head with any real success.

Seriously… it’s so annoying sometimes.

At the time he hadn’t been sure if they were at that point or not, so he’d kept those feelings to himself. But every so often he’d catch Misaki’s gaze lingering on him, that same heat and longing that he felt reflected right back at him. Their eyes would meet and his body shivered.

Even now, he still felt that shiver run through him as the memory came back.

At the end of the evening, just before parting ways, Misaki had tugged him back into the shadows of an alleyway and kissed him, slow and lustful and maybe just a bit nervous, and all of that earlier doubt had vanished when they’d pulled back with an obvious mutual reluctance.

“Saruhiko,” Misaki had mumbled huskily as they caught their breath, eyes lidded and face flushed, and it felt like a dam had broken within him.

If they hadn’t been in such an awkward, public place…

That’s not important. Fushimi swallowed, making an effort to push those heated thoughts back and regain his focus. The point was that Misaki had made the first move – made his intentions perfectly clear – and tonight he intended to respond.

More than respond, if things went according to plan.

“Regardless, it would certainly be impolite if I were to continue to keep Kusanagi-kun waiting.” Munakata’s even-toned voice cut into those thoughts. He smiled placidly when Fushimi glanced back at him. “Please do enjoy your evening, Fushimi-kun – however you choose to spend it.”

For a brief moment as he turned to walk off, Fushimi narrowed his eyes at his boss’s back. That’s still really annoying.

Well, it wasn’t like he could do much about it, though – it was part of the path he’d chosen, in the end.

When he turned back, the small group of people around Misaki was starting to break off and move toward the banquet tables. Kamamoto hung back, motioning, but Misaki waved him off carelessly. He stood for a moment as his friend left him behind, glancing around to the sides as if looking for someone.

There wasn’t likely to be another chance as good as this one. Setting aside the underlying reservations and lingering traces of uncertainty, Fushimi stepped forward to meet up with him.

Misaki saw him coming before he quite made it, of course. His eyes brightened, a grin forming again on his face as he turned to move toward Fushimi as well. “Saruhiko! Where the hell have you been all night?”

The expression was disarming – something seemed to flip over in his stomach – but Fushimi resisted the urge to hunch his shoulders defensively, keeping his intentions firm at the front of his mind. “I wasn’t aware that there was a scheduled time for me to be here.”

“Yeah, you know what I mean.” Misaki raised an eyebrow, setting his hands on his hips as they faced each other. Up close, the suit was even more fetching on him – the slim contours of his body accentuated by the straight lines of the black jacket and full-length pants. It almost overshadowed the sharp attraction that was plain in his eyes as their gazes locked. Almost. “Figures you’d show up fashionably late.”

It was automatic for him to tip his head forward, lowering his lids and looking at Misaki through his lashes, but it worked to his advantage – he could see the shift from comfortable to aware in Misaki’s expression. “I’ll take that as a compliment.” Fushimi had to brace himself mentally as he focused on keeping his tone smooth and unaffected for the rest. “Speaking of which, that clothing suits you. I noticed your finer points from across the room.”

The combination of the look and the compliment had the affect he’d wanted – Misaki’s cheeks took on a noticeable influx of color. “O-oh, yeah. Thanks.” He reached up to rub at the back of his neck, gaze taking on a tentative, almost hopeful edge. “Wait – what – ‘finer points’?”

It was slightly easier when he was actually faced with that flustered reaction. “Mm.” Fushimi allowed his gaze to drift down along the defined outline of Misaki’s chest and torso, forcing himself to retrace back up at the same pace before responding. “Well, I guess it’s harder to see from your angle.”

The muscles in Misaki’s throat worked noticeably as he swallowed. “R-right, sure.” He cleared his throat, eyes flaring up with determination as he made an obvious effort to draw himself up. “You too. I mean… th-that suit… on you… also looks great.” His eyes flickered down almost as if drawn there, and the flush on his face intensified as he jerked them back up again, undisguised want in that burning gaze. “Not that… I mean, you always look good, though.”

Even though he’d been counting on that response, Fushimi still felt the rush of prickling gratification rising up along his neck at the obvious sincerity in it. He drew in a breath, firmly keeping himself on target. “I agree about the clothing.” The words came out in the low drawl with no trace of his internal anxiety. “I also know of a place where both of our suits would look even better.”

Misaki was giving him an intense look now, eyes burning with mingled desire and curiosity. “Yeah? Where’s that?”

Fushimi allowed the edges of his mouth to curl up in a slow smirk, satisfaction and a faint hint of relief forming within him at the clean success. “I happened to book a room in this hotel,” he murmured, leaning forward and lowering the pitch in his voice as his mouth neared the curved shell of Misaki’s ear, “and it has a floor that would probably suit them.”

It took only a second for the meaning to sink in, Misaki’s breath catching audibly even as Fushimi pulled back. When their gazes met again, the fire in his eyes seemed to have tripled in volume and the mirror to Fushimi’s smirk spread across his face, quick and fierce. “Heh.” His lids lowered just enough to make that expression all the more dangerous. “Prove it.”

It only made the rush of desire in Fushimi’s body increase, but at that point he didn’t exactly mind. “If you say so.”




The conversation from the ballroom had him worked up enough that Yata barely felt a split second of surprise when Saruhiko pinned him to the door of his hotel room from behind, pressing his body firmly against the line of Yata’s back with a hand braced at his hip. Hot breath teased his neck barely an instant before Saruhiko’s lips were brushing the sensitive skin, sending a warm shiver all the way through him.

Damn… we’re not even inside yet… It was hard to give a fuck about that flimsy protest when his body was screaming at him with urges, though. Yata ground back against Saruhiko, tilting his head to allow for more of that delicious sensation and reaching back to awkwardly pull their lower bodies into closer contact. The hallway was empty anyway, so it couldn’t hurt, right? Fuck, just for a minute… just…

He was on the verge of turning around – for better leverage and to try and catch that clever mouth with his own if he could – when Saruhiko shifted against him, and the sound of the door lock clicking open snapped through the mood sharply. That was about all the warning he got before it swung inward, and he nearly lost his balance as they stumbled forward into the room, the momentum carrying them into the wall with a series of thuds while the door slammed shut behind them.

“Ow!” The word was torn out of him more from instinct than pain; Yata found himself with his back against the wall, glaring up at Saruhiko in the dim lighting. “Goddamnit, you fuck – ”

The words cut off seconds before Saruhiko was shutting his eyes and leaning in to insistently cover Yata’s lips with his own, the surprise that came with the sudden action stalling Yata’s voice out in his throat before it could even be muffled. With his body and brain still tied up in the heat of the moment, he was quick to give up on the insult, surging up urgently into the kiss and reaching out to hook his arms around Saruhiko’s slender waist, fingers catching in the thick material of the suit jacket.

Fuck, he looked good in that thing. Tall and slender, pale skin accented by the contrast with his hair and clothing. And then he’d given that smoldering look, the thing he did with his eyes…

A small, unconscious noise escaped Yata’s throat as the kiss grew more frantic between them, the damp glide of Saruhiko’s tongue along the inside of his lips resulting in a hot jolt of pleasure shooting up through his body. He tightened his hold without thinking, thrusting his hips forward blindly to get some much-needed friction.

Saruhiko obliged him, humming against his lips in response as he wedged a knee between Yata’s legs and rocked forward so that they ground together. The contact had them both gasping into the kiss, mouths opening clumsily to each other. Years of tension seemed to unwind within Yata, making his movements jerkier and more desperate as the sensation built rapidly. The combination of Saruhiko’s body under his hands, Saruhiko’s scent filling his nostrils, and the remembered sight of Saruhiko staring at him with open desire was just about driving him crazy.

It felt good, more than he could’ve imagined on his own, but through the haze of want clouding his brain, Yata was increasingly aware that if this continued, it was going to end fast. And really fucking embarrassingly too; up against the goddamn wall in less than five minutes without taking a single article of clothing off.

Stronger than his body’s drive for release, he wanted more from this. Much more.

He broke the kiss, managed to mumbled, “Shit,” before Saruhiko chased his lips again, and had to wrench his head to the side, forcing his hips still. “St… ugh… stop, I’m – “ A low moan escaped him as he felt the heat of Saruhiko moving against him again. “Fuck. If you don’t… I’ll… I’m gonna…”

At once, he felt Saruhiko’s hips still. Slowly, reluctantly, some distance was created between them, and Yata breathed out heavily in mingled relief and disappointment even as he felt the weight of Saruhiko’s head fall onto his shoulder.

“Me too,” was the mumbled response, followed by a long, shaky sigh. “I got carried away.”

No kidding. Yata swallowed, feeling a little twinge at the admission. “Y-yeah.” He leaned his head back against the wall, breathing hard as he struggled to bring himself down a notch or two. That was intense.

It was a few seconds before Saruhiko lifted his face again, flushed and with his glasses askew. He reached up to straighten them, eyes seeming to glitter in the dim light. “There’s a lot more,” he murmured, and the corners of his mouth tipped up slightly. His lips were noticeably red and puffy from the earlier assault, and his lashes veiled his gaze again. “Can you handle it, Misaki?”

The combination of that open challenge, the lewd sight in front of him, and the soft, seductive mumble of Saruhiko’s voice stirred a fire to life in Yata’s belly. He grinned back, feeling brash and bold, and abruptly surged up from the wall, rolling them so that he was pinning Saruhiko instead, bracing his hands on the wall beside those slender hips. “Hell yeah! I can take whatever you dish out, Saru.”

He was so focused on the way that hint of a smile curled up into a lazy smirk on Saruhiko’s lips that he missed the deft fingers pulling his tie from under his jacket until he felt the tug at his collar urging him in closer. “I’ll be looking forward to watching you prove it,” Saruhiko drawled, low and sultry, his eyes dark with undisguised desire as he leaned in to brush his lips over Yata’s again, darting his tongue out to trace between them teasingly.

That was more temptation than he was prepared to resist, especially in his current state. Yata parted his lips and pressed back aggressively into the open-mouthed kiss, fingers curling against the wall as he fought to keep himself from bringing their bodies into contact and creating the exact same problem all over again. He could feel Saruhiko’s warmth and the little movements as he squirmed, and it was feeding strongly into his own desire. His tie was still being gripped firmly as their mouths worked together, and just that little hint of restriction – of being held in place – was enough of a turn-on to pull another unwilling moan from the back of his throat. His arms and legs trembled with mingled arousal and restraint.

Saruhiko broke the kiss that time, pulling back slowly and then tipping his head and leaning in to mumble directly into Yata’s ear. “You know… we’re both still wearing too much if we want to get on with this any time soon.”

The combination of the warm breath on his ear with that pointed observation pulled a surprised huff of a laugh from him even as the sensation sent a little shiver through his body. He can go from dangerously sexy to impatient as fuck that quick, huh? “Yeah.” His own voice came out suspiciously husky; Yata cleared his throat, suddenly self-conscious again. “Right, sure.”

His tie was released, and Yata stepped back, letting the fresh air around them cool his head as he reached up automatically to pull it loose around his neck. He hastily shucked his jacket, dropping it carelessly to the floor before reaching for his belt and trying not to think about how big a deal this was. Getting naked. In a hotel room. So he could have sex with Saruhiko.

Shit. It was a big goddamn deal.

His fingers were trembling as he fumbled with the belt and the fastener for his pants. Yata kept himself focused on the immediate task of undressing to mask his sudden anxiety, feeling more heat rising up his neck and along his jaw.

Hell. Just… keep it together, will you? He’d been waiting years for this – the last thing he wanted to do was get nervous and fuck it up.

As he got his pants down over his hips and let them drop to his ankles, Yata glanced up to check Saruhiko’s progress and felt a prickle run along his skin as he caught those dexterous fingers loosening his own tie, pants already on the floor and jacket discarded. The light dress shirt draped over his thin frame almost artfully, and his boxers were short enough to expose a lengthy portion of his slender thighs. Above all of that, Saruhiko was studying him through a veil of lashes again, unquestionably lustful, and Yata had to swallow hard, throat gone suddenly dry.

I get to do this… get to… with him…

It was almost too much to believe.

His fingers were starting to tremble again with the urge to reach out and touch – he wasn’t sure where to start, but it’d probably work itself out, right? – when another little smirk curved on Saruhiko’s lips. “You forgot something,” he drawled, reaching out to catch his fingers around the loop of Yata’s tie and tug it up over his head.

Something about being undressed was unexpectedly intimate. Yata felt the fire in his belly flare to life again as Saruhiko dropped the tie and started on the buttons of his shirt. He resisted the urge to ball his hands into fists, nerves and excitement creating a chaotic blend within him; by the time the shirt was undone, he was fired up enough to grab hold of Saruhiko’s collar and aggressively pull him in, capturing his lips in a rough, clumsy kiss.

There was a moment of stiff surprise, and then Saruhiko softened against him, practically melting into the contact. Yata ran his tongue along the line of those thin lips and was granted immediate access, which he took full advantage of. The hot, hungry way their mouths moved together only heightened his excitement to a fever pitch.

Still, first things first. Gotta take care of this. Yata pulled back reluctantly after a few seconds, loosening his grip on Saruhiko’s shirt and focusing on the buttons instead. His fingers felt tense and shaky, but he was able to pop the first without any problems.

Saruhiko caught on quickly to what he was doing and reached up to pull his own tie off over his head like he’d done with Yata’s earlier. As he was lowering his arms, the loosened collar of his shirt drooped a bit, and Yata’s eyes caught on the corner of a small white gauze pad in a familiar spot.

His skin prickled, not quite unpleasantly – but not really in a good way, either. Yata paused, hesitated for just a second, and then set his jaw and returned to hastily undoing the buttons on Saruhiko’s shirt.

Guess I’ll ask later. He didn’t really feel like killing the mood when things were going so well.

The pause hadn’t gone unnoticed, though. “I thought about what you said,” Saruhiko murmured, reaching up to pull the fabric of his shirt aside as Yata finished with the buttons. The burn spot had been bandaged up neatly, not even the puckered edges of it visible. “About taking proper care of it.” His voice was low and had a husky undertone; when their gazes met, he hesitated for just a second. “I thought this might keep me from aggravating it. Among… other things.”

‘Other things’, right. He didn’t want me to see it, huh? It was a little surprising how clearly that insight came to him. Yata swallowed, unsure exactly what kind of emotions were stirring within him as he reached up to tentatively brush a finger over the gauze. “’Bout time,” he responded roughly.

Saruhiko tipped his head in response, looking at Yata through his eyelashes again. “Does it bother you?” There was a serious undertone in the question. “That we might not match ever again, I mean.”

It wasn’t about the burn scar now, Yata was pretty sure. He offered a small, rueful smile in return. “Nah. I told you before, I don’t care about that.”

Light fingers brushed his cheek, seconds before Saruhiko leaned in to rest his forehead against Yata’s. He closed his eyes, exhaling slowly before speaking again. “You won’t be disappointed if we’re not?”

He’s worried about that? Somehow, it sent a little surge of affection through him, emotion overlaying his body’s urges. Yata reached up to clasp Saruhiko’s fingers in his own, staring back with full seriousness as those devastating eyes slid open again. “No way in hell,” he answered fervently, feeling the certainty all through his blood and bones. “You’re the one I want, not some stupid marks. Believe me, Saruhiko. I’m in this for good, no matter what happens.”

He could see the shift in Saruhiko’s eyes at that, the tiny change that showed the more vulnerable side he was still getting used to. It made Yata’s heart ache a little. Despite everything, he couldn’t help but feel anxiety growing at the pit of his stomach, that tiny sense of dread he couldn’t quite kick. “And – and you are too, right? I mean, if it turns out we are…”

“Misaki.” The name came out almost like a sigh as Saruhiko leaned in to roughly claim Yata’s lips. The kiss was simple and closed-mouthed, but somehow it felt like all of his passion had been poured into it. There was a desperation that tugged at Yata’s soul. “I don’t care either,” Saruhiko mumbled as they broke apart, barely allowing an inch of space between them. “You’re… too important to me. I can’t…”

He seemed to be struggling for words, so Yata spared him the trouble, surging in with matching urgency to respond to that kiss. It felt like a relief to hear the words – to allow himself to believe them. He hadn’t realized how much that fear still nagged at him, being left behind and discarded. Maybe he wouldn’t ever be totally free of it, but in moments like this he felt like he could really trust that things wouldn’t be like before.

His feelings were answered. That was enough.

Well, maybe not enough, at least not in that moment. But as the kiss extended, their mouths moving slower and more hungrily, the rest of it started to piece itself together. They fumbled across the room to the bed, their remaining pieces of clothing tugged off and discarded as they grappled together in clumsy attempts to find out how their bodies would fit against each other.

When they finally joined, it was like the world around them shattered into inconsistent, unimportant pieces. Yata found it difficult to focus on anything but Saruhiko’s face, flushed with arousal, and the sound of their heavy breathing and soft moans that seemed to dominate the air between them. He was acutely aware of the warm touch of Saruhiko’s skin in all the places where they were connected, and the combined stimulating from sight, sound, and sensation was overwhelming. Almost unconsciously, they clasped hands, his right and Saruhiko’s left, as they fell into a rhythm and got lost in each other.

When it was over and they laid together, chests heaving out of sync as the rush faded and the world settled around them, Yata’s first move was to reach out and tug Saruhiko into a fierce and clumsy kiss.

The contact was electric even now, after everything. And Saruhiko returned it immediately, closed-mouthed and tired but with obvious feeling.

Yata had a grin already building on his face when they pulled back, his heart feeling full to bursting. “Hey,” he said, keeping his voice soft, and drank in the blissed out and slightly dazed look in Saruhiko’s eyes shamelessly. “You know. I should tell you something…” He cleared his throat, feeling a little awkward and anxious about it, but determined to follow through with that split second decision. If he didn’t say it now when the mood was this sappy, he might never work up the nerve. “I kinda, uh. Kinda love you.”

The moment the words were out he felt the prickle of alarm building all along his skin, panic starting to seep in through the cracks in his confidence as Saruhiko blinked at him, visibly shocked. Yata opened his mouth to try and play it off, crack a joke or brush the statement aside, but then with an abrupt, shaky sigh, Saruhiko leaned in so his forehead fell heavily against Yata’s shoulder.

“Me too,” he mumbled, almost too quiet to be heard.

Despite the volume, the response felt like it burned itself into Yata’s soul; he let out small, quiet laugh that was more wondering than anything and shut his eyes, the smile on his face growing so wide it hurt.

This was definitely enough.