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Call The Bluff

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He should have known better.

Kiryu would continue to berate himself even hours after he left the cabaret club, because he should have known better. He should have known better than to challenge Majima at a game he wasn’t confident enough he could win. He could blame the alcohol, the dedication to play along with their little act, or the overpowering bravado that came with going up against the one man that would never back down from a fight of any kind for what he’d gotten himself into. In the end, it didn’t really matter, because there was no way he would back out after going all-in.

Kiryu-chan~!” Majima, or rather Goromi, trilled beside him while she batted her false eyelashes. “You’ll stay longer, won’t ya? Don’t leave a girl hangin’!”

How could he say no? It would have been easy, actually, but he would take almost any chance Majima gave him to help forget about his deeper worries for even just a moment. Although, he would never say that to the man’s face. It was less complicated to maintain their dynamic if he continued to play on his own annoyance.

“Yeah. I don’t see why not.”

“Hehehe! That’s great!” Goromi clapped her hands together theatrically. “Ah, yer gettin’ me all worked up! So, when was the last time you went on a date, huh, Kiryu-chan?” she pressed enthusiastically, shooing the waiter that had stood patiently before them.

He should’ve left. If he had to be honest, Goromi didn’t even have to make the question pointed for his heart to hurt a little.

“I didn’t exactly have time to date behind bars.” he answered tersely, thoughts of Yumi having floated to the surface of his mind. “It’s… been a while.”

“What? Don’t tell me there hasn’t been a single girl that’s caught yer eye since ya got out of the slammer!” Goromi gasped incredulously, pink-nailed hand shooting up to cover her mouth. “I don’t believe it! C’mon, what’s yer type, Kiryu-chan?”

He wasn’t sure he even had an answer for that.

“Well… I’ve never really thought about it. I don’t really have a type.”

Eh? Bullshit! Before you got locked up, every girl I saw you with was pretty and had brown hair!” Goromi snapped impatiently, her hands shooting back down to rest on her legs, fingers curled up into fists. “Or are you just tryin’ not to hurt my feelin’s? Is that it? Because yer just my type, Kiryu-chan!”

Kiryu sat up straight as Goromi leaned in closer, just far away enough that he could only smell a hint of booze on her breath.

“I love a man that can pound someone into the ground~❤”

Something about that sentence didn’t sound right. Regardless, he softened his face like he would around any woman he spoke to at a club, threading his fingers together in his lap.

“That suits you, Goromi. You seem like a strong woman; I don’t see you settling for a man that can’t handle himself.”

That earned him an effeminate giggle.

“Yer damn straight! I don’t want to waste my time on a man that can’t fight. But, you look like ya could take anyone on, Kiryu-chan~” Goromi chirped, finally leaning back to give Kiryu room to breathe. “Maybe even…! I’ll cut you a deal: if ya beat me in a fight, I’ll let ya go on a date with me! That is, if ya think you could earn the privilege.”

Her glossy, red-lipped smirk set off red flags in his head.

His gut and common sense told him absolutely not, but the fraction of him that refused to back down from anything Majima threw at him spoke so much louder. After all, the man had already pushed his buttons too far the last time he was subjected to this; this time around, he refused to fold just yet.

“Fine.” he spoke adamantly, his mind trying to piece together what exactly he had just agreed to. “But, if I win, I decide what the date will be.”

Knowing Majima, his idea of a date would just be another fight.

Goromi blinked in surprise, clearly not having expected the answer she received. However, the devilish glee returned to her face tenfold. It was almost frightening, really, how quickly she leaned forward into his face again. The smell of alcohol was much stronger with her mere inches from him.

“Huh…?! Deal!” she agreed quickly, no doubt sure that Kiryu would try to back out of it if she didn’t seal the deal. “Give me everything you've got, Kiryu-chan, or you’ll never have a chance with me~! Let’s go!”

“Wait, our time isn’t–!”

Goromi practically shot out of her seat, her perfect fake nails digging into Kiryu’s wrist as she dragged him up to stand. He had to give Majima credit, at least; he would never understand how a man could move so quickly in high heels. She had pulled them through the front entrance before he could voice much protest, him stumbling over his own feet as she rounded the corner to pull them into a slightly secluded street beside the building. Pleased with where Kiryu now stood, Goromi hastily put about ten paces between them before she turned to face him.

“Alright, Kiryu-chan!” Goromi announced loudly with an open sweep of her arms, the signature manic grin ever present on her face. “It’s time to earn a date with the girl of your dreams! Do ya think ya got what it takes?!”

The first move, for the most part, had a tendency to be predictable. Five times out of ten Majima would lunge at him shrieking, and that moment just happened to be one of those times. A swift dodge to the left gave him a mere shred of a second to react to the high heeled shoe that whistled past the tips of his hair as he ducked.

They hadn’t even been fighting for 30 seconds and he could already hear his heart thumping in his ears. The first rush of adrenaline was all it ever took to get him on full alert, but he discovered that it had become much more difficult to focus on which direction Majima was coming from when there was so much else there to grab his attention.

If it wasn’t the ugly hot pink snakeskin dress, it was the snakeskin panties that accompanied it, or the heels that sailed past his head once again, or even the tacky blonde wig that Majima somehow managed to keep on his head despite how quickly he darted around. However, once he moved past how much the outfit was to take in, it made him that much easier to take down. The flash of pink zipping past him was a dead giveaway, his hand shooting out instinctively to catch his assailant by the back of his too-tight dress.

He flung Majima to the ground roughly, taking one, two large steps towards a bicycle he intended to beat the hell out of his adversary with; after all, the key to any victory against the Mad Dog of Shimano was to end the fight as quickly as possible. But, when had things ever gone according to plan for him?

The last thing he expected was a hand clutched around his ankle, yanking him off balance and sending him toppling onto a trash can. Beggars couldn’t be choosers, he supposed; a trash can would have to do. A good kick to the face was all it took to get Majima to let go, followed by a pained yelp. Kiryu rose to his feet with his makeshift weapon in tow, raising it over his head and bringing it down onto his opponent a good three times before he’d beaten too many dents into the metal for it to be of much use. He discarded what was left of the can, bending down to get a tight grip in Majima’s wig and yanking his head up. He wound his foot back before he reintroduced his shoe to the man’s teeth, sending him crashing against the wall of the cabaret club they had exited not too long ago.

All he heard in retort was Majima choking on whatever fluid had caught in his throat, but all it did was make Kiryu’s blood pump faster through his veins. The man didn’t stay down for long; the pink blur pushed itself up off the ground, ramming a shoulder into his gut and sending him careening to the ground. Majima got four clean, vicious punches across Kiryu’s cheek before his fist was caught in the progress, his bones protesting loudly under the vice grip that clutched them.

There was the fire in the Dragon’s eyes. Speckled with blood, sure, but it was a fire nonetheless. It made Majima shiver with excitement, his ecstatic grin growing toothier by the second. In all seriousness, he knew his ass was as good as beat, but the fact that it was the Dragon of Dojima doing the beating made the pain he was due to endure so much sweeter.

Kiryu shoved his opponent off with little effort, cracking his knuckles across the man’s face the moment he had a clear shot. Majima crashed onto the street with a grisly thud, but the lights didn’t go out until the bottom of Kiryu’s shoe came down onto his face.

 


 

Majima woke with a groan of pain, his one eye squinting against the street light that shone nearby right down onto his damn face. The draft across his legs caught him by surprise at first, until he remembered just what had happened before he threw down with Kiryu the most recent time around.

Damn. Now I have to go get this dress cleaned.

When his eye finally fluttered all the way open, Kiryu was looking down at him with his typical stone-faced expression.

“I guess you owe me a date.”

Truthfully, Majima had definitely been more psyched to lose a fight against Kiryu before, but he would still say that he had never been more psyched to lose a fight against Kiryu until those very words had been uttered. In addition to words, the victor also offered his hand.

“I’m in love.” Majima (or Goromi; at this point the lines had blurred in his own head) sighed dreamily, taking a moment to lie on the ground in pain before she reached up to squeeze Kiryu’s hand. “Alright, big boy– ow–“ she winced, wrapping her arm over her tender side as she stood, but returned to her bloodied devious smile immediately. “You win. I can’t resist a man as strong as you, Kiryu-chan~ I’m yours!”

So suddenly, Kiryu couldn’t help but feel that he had possibly made a huge mistake.

Chapter Text

“You’re not wearing that.”

“Huh? Why not?”

Goromi put her hands on her hips indignantly, 99% of her legs on display. She wore the same dress as the previous night, and she had even gone to the extended effort of getting it all cleaned up for their evening out. Fortunately for Kiryu, however, he had convinced Goromi to meet him outside of a rather quiet building away from people that might get the wrong idea.

“What’s wrong with it? Ya liked it a whole lot last night, didn’t ya, Kiryu-chan? I wore it just for you!” she argued, the same pink nails as before digging into her waist. “Or… maybe ya just want me to take it off?”

The anger on her face slowly transformed into a sly grin.

“What? No–“

“I got yer number!” she claimed, pointing directly at him. “What are ya, some kinda pervert? Yer gonna have to try harder than that if ya want me to strip for ya, Kiryu-chan! ❤”

Kiryu pinched his nose, his patience grown thinner by the second.

“You know that’s not what I meant.” he sighed; if he was going to wrestle this date into his favor, he would have to talk Goromi into being as inconspicuous as possible. “Surely you have other dresses, don’t you, Goromi? I doubt you wear the same outfit every night.”

He could see the wheels turning in her head, but he wasn’t sure the wry smile he had brought out meant anything good.

“You’re so right, Kiryu-chan! Ya see, I just couldn’t decide which dress ya would like best when you came to the club last night! I got a couple others I’m sure ya would love, though.”

In truth, Majima did have more than one dress made to his specifications in preparation for Kiryu eventually crossing paths with him at the cabaret club. In the end, however, he had ultimately decided on the most revealing one. The others were more battle practical or fitted better over his physique, but there was just no fun in dressing up if he couldn’t ensure Kiryu’s full attention. After all, he had ultimately expected Kiryu to play along with Goromi, so he intended to look as eye-catching as possible just for the occasion. Oh, had the dividends made it worthwhile.

“Since yer bein’ so insistent, I’ll go change real quick. Now be a good boy and stay put!”

As Goromi spun around and hastened down the street before him, a knot of regret and anxiety began to form. He had endured public embarrassment before, but… Well, Majima had a special touch when it came to pushing as many of his buttons as possible.

 


 

Kiryu-chan!

A familiar high-pitched falsetto pulled him out of his thoughts, beckoning him to stop leaning against the brick wall where he waited with his arms crossed. With hesitance he turned to look…

What his eyes were met with didn’t cause him nearly as much dread as he expected.

It was still an eyesore snakeskin dress, but at least the one Goromi had chosen was a similar shade of yellow compared to Majima’s jacket. Instead of cups on the chest, however, the dress in question simply wrapped around. It was more flattering, anyway. The fishnet stockings hadn’t gone anywhere, but the dress Goromi wore at least went down to the tops of the bands. The majority of her tattoos remained hidden under a black leather jacket, with simple black heels to match. The accessory tucked away in blonde hair matched as well, now black instead of pink.

It wasn’t subtle by a long shot, but it was much quieter than the disaster Goromi had worn when they first met.

“If I had known ya liked this one so much, I would’ve worn it the first time, Kiryu-chan! You keep starin’ at me like that and I might start sweatin’!” she crooned, fanning herself with her hand; even her nails were black. “I’ll be honest; I like this one a lot better too. I just didn’t think ya would be so into the ‘bad girl’ look. Guess I was wrong!”

Kiryu couldn’t help but grimace a little. He just had to play along for the rest of their ‘date’, although he fully expected Majima to try and pick a fight the entire evening. Then again, he couldn’t be so sure… Majima took Goromi surprisingly seriously.

“It just suits you better, that’s all.”

She beamed wryly at the remark, striding forward with a click, click, click, until she could wrap her arms around Kiryu’s elbow.

“If ya really think so, then I can wear it more often. ❤” she purred in a low tone more suitable for Majima himself, although he had a feeling that it was probably intentional. “Ya better impress me tonight though, or yer never gonna get a second date! I’ll warn ya now, I’ve got a reputation as a heartbreaker!”

That garnered a sound of disbelief.

“Really?” Kiryu challenged. “How many hearts have you broken?”

He didn’t expect the forcefully hidden, pained expression that overtook Goromi’s face. Had he struck one of Majima’s nerves? Had Majima ever even been in a relationship before? Kiryu wasn’t sure he could believe that.

“That’s none of your damn business.”

Ah. It would probably be best to leave that topic alone, then.

“I see. In that case, we should probably get going.” he offered, gesturing with his head to the other end of the street. “Shall we?”

At the very least, that got Goromi to perk up.

“Lead the way, Kiryu-chan!” she chirped, only letting them wander half way down the street they had met on before she turned to Kiryu again. “So, where are we goin’? Ya gonna wine n’ dine me?”

Fortunately, Kiryu had planned out the night in advance to avoid any public humiliation.

“Are you familiar with the bar Serena?” he questioned rhetorically, well aware that Majima knew why Kiryu would choose that bar out of all the options he had. “It’s usually pretty quiet there, so we shouldn’t have to deal with any interruptions.”

Goromi glared at him through a squinted eye, clearly displeased that any fun she planned to have with them being together like this out in public had been squashed before she even had the chance. She simpered regardless, because that meant she really would have Kiryu all to herself. It didn’t matter that she couldn’t make a show of it in front of other people; she could press even more buttons when Kiryu didn’t have an excuse to fall back on. Still… Kiryu ought to have made it convincing.

“Eh? What, ya don’t have a night out on the town planned for us?” she protested with a grating whine. “Didn’t I tell ya before that I only spend my time on men that know how to have fun? What are we gonna do at some stuffy ol’ bar?”

Damn. Kiryu hadn’t thought he would find himself stuck between a rock and a hard place. He should’ve considered Goromi wouldn’t comply so easily.

“Well… How about this then,” he began, and he could tell he had earned Goromi’s attention by the way she leaned in closer. “If you’ll accompany me there, then we can have some real fun afterwards. Does that sound alright with you?”

He should’ve phrased that better. Goromi answered with a scandalized gasp, but the devilish grin that followed only made his skin prickle more when she pressed in close enough to breathe against the shell of his ear.

“I don’t usually have real fun on the first date,” she spoke low, letting her fingers trail up Kiryu’s bicep. “But maybe I’ll make an exception for you if you earn it, Kiryu-chan… ❤”

His skin crawled; that was literally the last thing he would ever want. Actually, that wasn’t a concept on the list of things he wanted at all. But, he knew commenting as much would just instigate a fight, and they had barely even made it away from their meeting spot.

“We’ll just have to see, then.”

“Ha! Don’t get cocky with me! I’m not sure ya could even handle me anyway–“

Goromi let out a yipe as an open palm smacked her on the ass, the assailant even having the audacity to grab hold. He sidled right up to her, although her face remained unseen while she hadn’t turned to look at him yet.

“What are you doin’ with this loser, babe?” the stranger in question piped up, sneering at Kiryu when his head turned. “You should come have some fun with me instead!”

The man’s expression turned to alarmed shock when Goromi’s head slowly spun to the side, fixing the deadbeat with an icy glare. Kiryu looked on with little reaction, although he was sure Goromi probably expected him to do something soon.

“You got a lot of nerve to lay a hand on me, asshole.” she growled, releasing Kiryu’s arm to fully face the punk. “I hope you only need one, because I’m gonna cut it clean off!”

“What the hell?!” the man shouted, practically ripping his own hand away. “You’re a man! Are you some kinda freak?!”

He didn’t have much time to say anything else before Kiryu stepped up to lay him out flat, one clean blow right between the eyes. He huffed through his nose, clearly unimpressed with the display he had just witnessed.

“You should know better than to touch a woman without her consent. Get lost.”

“The fuck– That ain’t a woman!” the man yelled back, struggling to stand back up. “What the fuck is wrong with you two?! I’ll beat the both of you into the ground for fuckin’ with me like that!!”

Kiryu’s hand shot out faster than lightning to stop the dagger that had come singing down towards the man’s face, catching Goromi by the wrist. She struggled against his grip, but he refused to let go.

“Damn it Kiryu-chan, let go! I’m gonna carve this shithead’s face up so bad, even his damn parents won’t recognize him!”

“That’s unnecessary.” Kiryu spoke sternly, allowing Goromi to pull her wrist free. “Please, let me handle this. It’s unbecoming of a man to stand aside while a woman is being disrespected.”

She grimaced at the suggestion, but she made no moves to go against his wishes.

“Fine, since you insistent on bein’ a gentleman.” she grunted, her eye darting from Kiryu to the man on his hand and knee. “Rearrange his face for me. If ya beat him real good, I’ll settle for yer lame-ass bar!”

That settled it, then. As the young punk finally got back to his feet, Kiryu had already decided to really show him some manners.

“As if!” he spat out, scrambling towards Kiryu with his fist reeled back. “I’m gonna put both of you lunatics in the dirt!”

As expected, he didn’t get much of a chance. All it took was a step to the side and the assailant was already whizzing past him, stumbling to stop himself and turn back around. By the time he turned to lock his sights back on Kiryu, his face had been formally introduced to a worn-out metal pole that had been lying around nearby. The man staggered back at first, but another good swing had him on the ground again.

Kiryu didn’t intend to waste much time on the fool. A sharp kick to the side sent him sailing into a brick wall, effectively knocking him out cold when the back of his head hit it with a gruesome crack.

He turned to Goromi, although she seemed to be evaluating his performance given the perplexed expression, tapping her chin with one long finger. He raised one eyebrow in response; it hadn’t exactly been a beatdown, but the sound the punk’s head made when it hit the bricks had made him give a once over to make sure he wasn’t a little more than unconscious.

“Mmmm… I dunno, Kiryu-chan. Can’t you kick him a little more while he’s down?”  she bargained with a critical eye, arms crossed over her chest. “He grabbed my ass. Make him bleed.”

Kiryu hesitated with the notion at first, but Goromi did have a point. Still… It wasn’t truly in him to kick a man that was already down unless there had been some irreversible damage done. But… Goromi wasn’t about to budge, that much he was sure of.

A rough kick to the ribs would do the trick, but he gave another half-hearted one for good measure.

“You’re too soft, Kiryu-chan!” Goromi sighed dramatically, stepping past him to wind her foot back and audibly crack a few bones. “But, I guess if a lady wants somethin’ done right, she’s gotta do it herself.”

She turned to him with a beaming smile.

“Now c’mon, let’s go!”

 


 

The walk to Serena was easy enough. They only received a few looks from a passerby or ten, but fortunately he managed to get Goromi to take the roads less travelled without much complaint. Reina had already been briefed in advance about just whom he would be bringing by that night, so any concern and laughter had already been gotten out of the way. They had just settled in with their drinks when Reina excused herself for a moment, disappearing into the back.

“So,” Goromi piped up, inspecting her nails for chips that weren’t there. “Ya gonna tell me what ‘real fun’ ya had in mind after you’ve got some drinks in ya, Kiryu-chan? ‘Cause I ain’t feelin’ this quiet bar scene.”

He looked pensive for a moment, but he eventually sighed in defeat, setting his mostly full glass down on the table infront of them.

“Well, the only fun you seem to have is when we fight. Is there something else you would rather do, Goromi?” he offered reluctantly, completely bare of ideas. “I don’t enjoy fighting women, you know. How about…”

Suddenly, just one thought came to him. A light in the darkness…!

“How about some karaoke?”

Goromi squinted at him at first, but eventually a smirk tugged at her lips.

“Y’know what? Sure.” she obliged, raising up out of her seat, just in time for Reina to return to the bar. “But I’ll warn ya now: I’m gonna wipe the floor with you!”

Kiryu offered up a smirk in return.

“Bring it on.”

 


 

They had belted out song after song, filling the room with so much intense energy that even Reina had joined in from behind the bar counter. Again and again they tried to one up each other, challenge after challenge, until finally their voices were so strained that they simply couldn’t sing anymore. They had their fill of drinks in between and two more before they parted ways from the bar, Kiryu bidding Reina goodnight while he dragged a drunken Goromi out of the building.

“Ya got such a good voice, Kiryu-chan~” she slurred, leaning heavy on his shoulder with her arm slung over him. “Makes me tingle all over! Why don’t ya serenade me some time, eh?”

With plenty of alcohol in him, Kiryu had practically forgotten that Goromi was just Majima in drag, offering her a stunted laugh.

“Maybe. Right now we need to get you home.”

Awww, what?” Goromi whined petulantly. “Yer no fun!”

Kiryu just smiled gently, though clearly amused with the belligerence. He was far too exhausted to do anything else for the night; he just wanted to get some rest.

“C’mon.”

They stumbled all the way to the Millennium Tower with plenty of protest, although Kiryu was too drunk to pay it much mind. Goromi was too hammered to do much harm anyway, bringing her fist down harmlessly on his chest now and again to punctuate just how much energy she had left in her.

“Well, we’re here.” Kiryu spoke up, letting Goromi take a moment to stand up straight without his support. “I guess I’ll see you later.”

She scoffed with offense, her hands on her hips with a pout on her face.

“What, ya just gonna leave without givin’ me a kiss goodnight? Some gentleman you are!” she spat, tapping her smeared red lips pointedly. “C’mon, Kiryu-chan– gimme a kiss!”

She closed her eye and put on an exaggerated kissing face. Kiryu gave his drunken mind no time to reason or buffer before he smiled wryly and leaned forward, pressing their lips together chastely.

 

Majima’s eye shot open. Kiryu pulled away.

 

Oh.

Oh shit.

He hadn’t even thought– What had he just done?

Goodnight–

Kiryu turned on his heel and stomped away quickly, disappearing around the corner before Majima could even process what had just happened. Mindlessly he reached up and brushed his fingers over his lips, feeling all the booze evaporate in his system at once.

He… He needed to go to sleep.

Chapter Text

“I’m just going to step outside for a minute.” Kiryu called back to Reina before he closed the back door to Serena behind him. He pulled a pack of cigarettes out of his pocket and placed one between his lips, stuffing the pack back into his jacket.

A lighter flicking to life in front of his face caught his attention with visible surprise.

“Yo.” Majima – of course it was Majima – greeted curtly, placing the lighter back into his own pocket with a soft pat. “Don’t worry; I didn’t come here to fight. I just wanna have a little chat.”

The feeling of dread that pitted in his stomach told him that he knew exactly what the topic was already. He was well and ready to admit that he had made a rather careless mistake in their drunken stupor the previous night, and he honestly would’ve preferred to fight over it as opposed to just talking about it. The heat of embarrassment had already crept up his neck and threatened to envelop his cheeks.

“I apologize. I… I may have gotten a little carried away last night.” he muttered, rubbing the back of his neck roughly.

That seemed to draw Majima into thought, his lips now pursed with a squint to match, a curled finger pressed to his bottom lip. He didn’t seem very upset about it, at least. Then again, it was hard to tell exactly just how far Majima was readily willing to go for the sake of screwing around.

“Save yer sorries, Kiryu-chan. That ain’t what I came here for.” he finally dismissed, waving one gloved hand as if to shoo the very thought away. “In fact, I actually got a proposition for ya.”

Kiryu already didn’t like where the conversation was headed.

“Since our little date went so well, I believe dear, sweet Goromi deserves another. Don’t ya think?” he suggested, although it sounded more like a demand. “After all, what kinda self-respectin’ man kisses a lady and never calls her back, eh?”

A protest had begun to form on Kiryu’s lips, but died when Majima plucked a cigarette from his jacket and lit himself up. There… There wasn’t a way for him to get around it, was there?

“Of course, ya don’t have to. I’ll just have to pummel ya for standin’ a gal up after makin’ a move on her. But you wouldn’t do that.”

For a moment, Majima’s tone and demeanor reminded him of a father threatening his daughter’s boyfriend. When Majima’s calculating gaze moved from his cigarette and slowly shifted to look Kiryu dead in the eyes, he realized exactly what the man was actually saying.

“Would ya, Kiryu-chan?”

It had nothing to do with Goromi. Kiryu, in his stupid, stupid drunken stupor, had stumbled directly into an open minefield. Majima’s fucked up emotions were the last thing he ever wanted to deal with, but so suddenly he was unsure how to proceed. The wheels turned uselessly in his head while the one-eyed man dissected him with nothing but his judging stare.

He had to play his cards carefully, or he’d wind up with a dagger between his ribs. After all, he recalled Majima had been dodgy and sharp on the topic of his love life before. Even after a display like that, Kiryu hadn’t expected the sudden turn of events.

Was… Did… Did Majima bat for the same team? Had he taken their ‘date’ seriously?

“Majima-san, I think there’s been a huge misunderstand–“

The smoke blown into his face was enough to make him stutter over his tongue, squinting through the searing burn in his eyes.

 “Lemme rephrase. If yer gonna kiss a girl, you gotta own up to it.” he punctuated with a jab to Kiryu’s chest. “You wanna break her heart in two? Be my guest. But if yer gonna do it, don’t be a god damn wuss about it.”

How did a simple game turn into such an enormous mess?

“If there’s one thing I hate more than a weakling, it’s a coward.”

Kiryu… didn’t know what to say. Not that he would get the chance; Majima hadn’t even finished his cigarette when he turned away and descended the stairs connected to the balcony. As he reached the final step, however, he stopped in his tracks. He said nothing for a moment, puffing on his cigarette until finally he seemed to find the words he was looking for.

“Don’t disappoint me, Kiryu-chan.”

As he watched Majima disappear into the night, his mind was void of any single reaction. Truthfully, he wasn’t even sure where to begin. Just what was Majima’s endgame with that confrontation? Was he supposed to ‘break up’ with Goromi? Was that even about Goromi? Did Majima actually have feelings for him? No, the question didn’t even sound right in his head... It all had to be some weird, intense commitment to their little roleplay. Right?

His lips began to twinge; his cigarette had already burned down to the filter.

This, he reasoned with himself, is why he had left dating behind all those years ago.

 


 

Maybe he overreacted.

The consideration didn’t occur to him until he had cleared a good distance away from Serena, but suddenly it was the only thought swirling in his head. It didn’t matter whether or not he had, obviously, because it would all go back to normal eventually. Kiryu would get annoyed with him, they would fight, and the cycle would repeat itself. There would be no time for complicated emotions because Kiryu would be too busy trying to bust his head against the pavement for whatever reason they could come up with.

It didn’t matter what Kiryu thought. It had never been about that, of course. All that mattered was getting him back into top form, good enough to be an even match in an all-out brawl once again. That was what he told himself time and time again, but recently his resolve had begun to bend in another direction. There was something else. An ugly little feeling that had caused him nothing but grief and a constant ache in the depths of his chest before he had earned his freedom once again all those years ago.

Although he had come to relish in pain over time, it was the one wound that could make him crumple to the floor without fail. It was astounding, really, how the only thing that could truly make him hurt was those he cared for. Saejima, Makoto…

Kiryu.

They were drunk. Very drunk. It was a joke gone too far; he shouldn’t have given a shit. He should’ve laughed it off. Deep down, however, it had ignited an ache that he thought he’d finally forgotten. The ache of wanting more than he was allowed. The concept that maybe, just maybe, he wanted more than to simply chase every shallow desire he could think of; that there was something in his life that could matter more than having fun and wreaking havoc.

The truth was, Majima couldn’t handle real pain. He could break all the bones in his body and be beaten to a bloody pulp; that was nothing. Attachment would bring him to his knees.

He would get stabbed for Kiryu. Fuck, he would even take a bullet. He would bleed out on that tacky gray suit and laugh while he died. It was a hellish obsession. He felt it in his blood, in his bones– Hell, it even went straight to his dick sometimes. It didn’t matter when, where, or why; he would die for Kiryu, because he had sworn to himself that the only person graced with the privilege to kill the Dragon of Dojima was himself. So… Well, why not let himself get attached in more ways than one? The fate of Kiryu had already placed a dagger in his hand, so he may as well put his bleeding heart in the other. Besides, he had reached the bottom of the rabbit hole some time ago.

... Yeah, he was overreacting. Man, Kiryu sure could get him worked up; to think, something as simple as a little drunk kiss could have him reeling so hard! He could only imagine what would happen when…

 

An impish grin cracked across his face.

 


 

He was fairly certain that Majima had tried to bully him into another date. At first the whole ordeal had immensely put him off, but… Well, after some thought – and arguing with himself – he realized that he actually had fun with Majima the previous night. He couldn’t explain to himself why he had actually kissed the man in his drunken stupor, but he would’ve much preferred Majima would just ask to spend a little time with him as opposed to following him around picking fights.

It was an unpleasantly roundabout way to do it, but perhaps he could convince Majima to drop the Goromi act during their newest shotgun date and just… hang out. Like two normal men would do. Of course, trying to get Majima to do anything for his sake was already asking too much, but he supposed there was no harm in hoping.

When he first heard the click of heels headed in his direction, he looked up expecting to see a blonde wig approaching him. Instead, he was greeted with the sight of simply Majima. In a dress. It was basically the same as the one he had worn on their last date, except it was black. His tattoos, however, were mostly exposed; he had forgone a jacket, although the shrieking hannya practically leaping out of the backless portion was hidden from his immediate view.

“… I don’t understand.”

A brow was raised in response. When he failed to elaborate, the dolled up man before him scrunched his nose in annoyance.

“What? You don’t like my hair?”

“I didn’t say that. I just wasn’t expecting it, I guess. It… It looks nice?”

That earned him a smirk, and so suddenly Kiryu wasn’t sure who he was talking to. Wait, no– They were both the same person. But, there was a clear distinction; Majima got too into his little characters.

“You really think so, Kiryu-chan?” Goromi, he had decided, tittered as she threaded her fingers through her undercut. “I knew you’d think it was sexy. Does it remind ya of someone?”

He didn’t like the way she batted her eyelashes knowingly at him.

“Are you messing with me?”

“Me?” she gasped with betrayal, hand fanned over her chest. “I can’t help it! You’re too fun to play with; you’ve only got yerself to blame.”

Kiryu fell back into his trademark scowl, but it only lasted for a moment before he got a better look at his companion for the night. Goromi sure did look… different. Even her makeup was styled differently, significantly more alluring as opposed to red-lipped and cute. Surely someone else must’ve been doing it, because he doubted Majima had the patience to learn.

“So?” Goromi spoke suddenly, pulling Kiryu out of his disconcerting thoughts. “Ya like the new look? I can feel you undressin’ me with yer eyes.”

The scowl fell right back into place. Before he could open his mouth, however, Goromi had closed the distance between them with a mischievous finger pressed to his chest.

“Anyway, I was thinkin’,” she began to deliberate, dragging her finger down to catch on where the first button fastened his shirt closed. “Since you don’t ever wanna go anywhere fun, we could just go to my place. Normally I’d have ya earn the right, but somethin’ about you is just so irresistible, Kiryu-chan… ❤”

The heat that shot through his gut must have been dread. Majima had really pulled out all the stops on making him uncomfortable, hadn’t he? It was highly likely that the man was just trying to cause an outburst in order for them to have a reason to fight, so he steeled himself with an audible exhale.

Not yet. You can win this.

“If that’s what you want. Just don’t get any funny ideas.” he warned sternly, gently pushing Goromi’s finger away from his person.

She shrugged it off, turning about-face to lead the way.

“I gotta teach you how to relax.”

 


 

The Millennium Tower was eerily quiet when they entered. Majima was likely to blame for that, of course, but Kiryu refrained from comment. They hadn’t shared a word since they approached the building, and it wasn’t until they reached Majima’s flat that he realized he had been holding his breath.

Suddenly he felt rather small. The flat was gigantic compared to his little hole in the wall at Serena, and the décor reflected its owner so well: elegant and fancy, yet over the top and gaudy. The traditional art and decorations clashed just right with the expensive-looking modern furniture taking up the floor space. It was so Majima. Despite the magazines and papers scattered here and there, however, it barely looked lived in.

“You want a drink or somethin’?”

When he turned to face Goromi, she already had a bottle in hand. It was some type of champagne, but he couldn’t read the label from where he stood.

“Sure.”

Something about the situation he had willingly walked into didn’t sit well with him. Majima had made it a running gag to play some sort of seductress card when he acted as Goromi, but now it was different. The fact that he had foregone the wig, and how forward he had become… He couldn’t help but assume that perhaps some ulterior motives were at play.

Still, he couldn’t come to any conclusions until they readily presented themselves. He would just have to endure for a little longer.

When his attention focused on his host again, Goromi was back in front of him, glass held out.

“Relax, would ya? I could hear you thinkin’ from across the damn room.” she chastised, walking past him after he accepted her offering to settle down on the noisy leather couch. “Now get over here.”

Kiryu hesitated for a moment, but eventually followed suit. The tension between them as he sat there silently was palpable. There was an attempt to break it with the ceremonious clinking of glasses, but Kiryu could hardly manage to get more than a sip down.

He couldn’t play their game for much longer. Goromi seemed to take notice, although she had every idea why he may have been so green around the gills.

“Alright,” she sighed, setting her glass down on the table. “Spill it. What’s the problem?”

Majima probably expected the night to end in a fight anyway.

“I… I don’t think I can keep doing this.” he finally spoke up. “I should have brought this up sooner. I apologize.”

Instead of being met with exaggerated rage, Kiryu glanced up to find a look of upset. He almost believed it, too, but he knew it was all just an act. Although, maybe Majima really would be upset that they wouldn’t go on little dates anymore. He honestly couldn’t tell.

“What?” Goromi spoke low, dropping to Majima’s normal register. “You kissed me and now you wanna break up? Are you for real?”

He was so relieved that he hadn’t done this to an actual woman.

“You think ya can just play with my heart like that?!”

Kiryu barely dodged the dagger that came flying towards him, stumbling away from the couch the blade sunk into. Goromi ripped it back out, standing up in a stance that implied she was ready to lunge at any moment.

“I’m gonna end you right here!” she shouted with her teeth bared. “You’re never gonna break another girl’s heart again! GRAH!!

He expected the second attack, but Majima’s speed was unparalleled; he managed to avoid another manic swipe, though there were no openings to get a punch in. It was easy to assume that Majima had already psyched himself up to go all-out in a fit of rage. After all, Kiryu struggled to keep up with which directions the dagger would come shooting out from. However, the anger seething beneath Majima’s grimace transformed into erratic joy when Kiryu finally managed to grab hold of his wrist as the blade came shrieking down towards him once again. With a hard kick to the gut, Majima was sent crashing onto the floor. While the man was busy coughing and gasping for air, Kiryu gathered his bearings for just a moment, scanning the room for anything to fight back with.

As Majima finally clawed his way into a sitting up position, he blinked just in time to be greeted by a table to the face. When his head bounced off of the panel flooring, he couldn’t help but bark out a laugh. The second his vision unblurred, he laughed even harder; Kiryu had set their glasses down on the floor before he picked up the table.

“Yer killin’ me, Kiryu-chan!” he wheezed, blood spraying from his mouth.

Kiryu squinted at him in confusion, though he didn’t have much time to think as Majima pushed himself off the floor and came running towards him again. Although his tanto had been flung across the room, that didn’t seem to discourage him at all. When a clenched fist caught him across the cheek with a crack, he returned the favor twofold. Majima’s head jerked to the side when Kiryu connected his knuckles to the man’s jaw, and the same table as before crashing into his upper torso had him tumbling across the floor once again. Conveniently enough, he had landed right next to his blade.

The next time Majima lunged at him, he managed to back himself against a wall. The dagger sunk into the plaster a hair’s breadth away from his face. That silenced him effectively, the only sounds resonating in the room being their heavy breaths and the ringing in his ears.

At first he met Majima’s intense stare with fiery eyes of his own, but his gaze fell down to watch the blood dribble from dark red lips that quirked up in a dangerous grin.

“Ya can’t walk out on a lady after you’ve got her blood pumpin’.” he rumbled, leaning in close enough to feel Kiryu’s breath on his skin. “I ain’t lettin’ you leave ‘til I’m satisfied.”

Kiryu’s stomach dropped to the floor.

Majima pressed their lips together in a way that couldn’t quite be described as gentle, but it wasn’t as rough as the man had been moments ago. Kiryu tensed up immediately, and Majima could practically feel it; he smiled slyly before he leaned harder in. An angry fist struck him across his cheekbone, but he looked back at the man with a knowing grin still glued on his face even as he spat blood onto the floor.

“I like it when ya play rough, Kiryu-chan.” he sneered. “Really revs my engine!”

“You’ve taken this too far, Majima-san!” Kiryu rose his voice with audible fluster, wiping the blood from his red-stained mouth. “I-I’m not like that!”

“The hell you ain’t!” Majima shouted back with annoyance laced in his tone. “You’ve been eyeballin’ me since our first date! Yer just too much of a wuss to admit it!”

The very instant after Kiryu picked up the battered table and threw it, he could feel the regret squeeze the air out of his lungs. Yes, Majima had gone too far, but was it really rational to start chunking things out of a lack of response? His sexuality was the one topic that could get under his skin in a matter of seconds; rationality didn’t factor into it.

Fortunately enough, it wasn’t difficult for a man so agile to duck out of the way of the coffee table. He frowned when it splintered into pieces against the wall, but it didn’t keep his attention. Kiryu was still avoiding the topic.

“Look, what’s wrong with likin’ dudes too, huh?”

“Well… Nothing, it’s just–“

“Exactly!” Majima interjected, gesturing emphatically with his hands. “Nothin’. Nothin’s wrong with it. We live in a real cruel world, Kiryu-chan, but yer strong enough to beat the hell outta anyone that’s got a problem with how you live in it.”

Kiryu finally seemed to be letting his defenses down, if the sag in his shoulders indicated as much. About damn time.

“Stop givin’ a rat’s ass about what anybody else thinks.”

That seemed to break him down good enough; Kiryu clenched his fists at his sides, forcing his conflicted glance off towards the floor.

“I… I don’t understand how you do it, Majima-san. Nothing humiliates you.”

All he answered the ridiculous statement with was a scoff. He had practically been made into a clown for an entire year; how could he possibly feel humiliation anymore?

“I let myself be humiliated for long enough.” he argued, painful memories resurfacing in the back of his mind. “In the end, I decided that everybody better fuckin’ laugh if I get made a fool of or I’ll beat the shit out of’em ‘til they do.”

He hated the vague hint of sympathy on Kiryu’s face.

“Y’know, you’ve already stopped caring.” he derailed with an accusatory finger pointed at the man in question, egged on by the confusion consuming Kiryu’s face. “That dude that grabbed my ass; he thought you were a fuckin’ weirdo for lettin’ a man in a dress hang off yer shoulder, but you didn’t give a shit.”

The confusion morphed into contemplation. Kiryu crossed his arms over his chest, his perplexed eyes glued to the floor.

“Besides, I think that kinda confidence is hot.”

It was nice to see a scowl back on Kiryu’s face as opposed to shame. The Dragon of Dojima didn’t have any reason to feel shame.

“I guess you’re right.” Kiryu admitted with a huff. “But, I’m still not sure about this. If… If I could really be interested in a man.”

Majima was in front of him in an instant, inviting himself to spread his open palms over Kiryu’s chest with a Cheshire smile.

“I can be whatever ya want me to be, Kiryu-chan. ❤”

His hands were swatted away, bringing a pout back to his lips.

“You aren’t helping. I need time to think.” Kiryu excused himself, brushing past a rather offended Majima. “I’ll see you tomorrow, Majima-san.”

The man was just about to protest until Kiryu was in front of him again, hesitant lips brushing against his own. For the second time he was struck silent, his legs unwilling to follow as Kiryu made his way back to the door from which they entered. He stopped with the door half open, turning his head slightly to the side.

“Goodnight.”

As the door closed, Majima cursed how smooth Kiryu could be.

Chapter Text

How long had he been staring up at the ceiling?

Kiryu had attempted to go to sleep hours ago, instead lying awake with a flush still warming his face and neck. The shy school girl’s kiss he had left Majima with lingered in the forefront of his mind. Linger wasn’t even a proper term, really; it was all he could think about. At first it was just the concept of kissing a man that lit his cheeks on fire, but then his thoughts zeroed in on Majima specifically. The momentary slide of lips, the blood from the man’s mouth having been split open to blame… It sent a tingle down his spine. He had intended for it to be nothing more than a peck, but in hindsight it didn’t feel as innocent.

He turned onto his side restlessly, stare moving from the ceiling to the wall in front of him.

His relationship with Majima had never been innocent, so honestly that didn’t bother him as much. Unfortunately, however, that made any possible feelings much more difficult to approach. There was always some sort of tension between them, and the fact that it had crossed the border into a sexual nature made his gut twist with discomfort. Why couldn’t Majima have just stayed obsessed with fighting him? That had made everything so much simpler. He was already used to everyone wanting to fight him anyway.

He rolled over again, eyes now fixated on the opposite wall.

Why did the possibility of being interested in a man trouble him so much? The fact that Majima already had a very clear thing for him made it a little easier to handle, but it still addled him with anxiety.

Maybe it was just best not to think about it for the time being. Avoidance had always been his strong suit when it came to struggling with his love life. It hadn’t worked out so far, but Majima wasn’t a nice woman that he was too nervous to approach. Majima was just… Majima.

Yeah, he could work with that.

 


 

Majima hadn’t even tried to sleep.

He hadn’t bounced off the walls so hard since the first night Kiryu gave him an in to instigate a fight whenever he wanted. His entire body was buzzing, thrumming with anticipation; he could hardly contain himself. Even his destroyed furniture hadn’t killed his mood, although it would certainly be a pain in the ass to deal with later. At the moment, however, he had better things to focus his attention on.

As Kiryu made his way down the steps leading up to Serena for the day, Majima quietly approached him from behind.

“Kiryu-chan!”

The man practically jumped out of his own skin, tripping over his feet to turn around quickly. The shocked expression immediately scrunched up into his typical scowl.

“How long have you been outside?”

“That ain’t important,” Majima waved off with a dismissive hand. “So, ya got all that thinkin’ done? What’s the verdict? C’mon, Kiryu-chan, don’t go breakin’ my heart–“

“That’s enough, Majima-san.” he interrupted, waiting until after the man visibly chewed at his cheek before he continued. “I’m not opposed to… experimenting. On one condition.”

Majima leaned forward to indicate he was listening, eye lit up like a Christmas tree.

“I would prefer to keep this private.”

His lips pursed in response, although there was no real contemplation hiding behind the look; he had basically already expected that. Although that did put a damper on his mood, it didn’t bother him too much. Kiryu would be all his behind closed doors… That alone was enough to keep his eager smile afloat.

“So this is gonna be an affair, huh?” he mused out loud. “I can get into that. Never thought I’d have one, but I guess there’s a first time for everything!”

“That’s not what an affair is.”

“Well, it’s my version of an affair. It’s a secret, ain’t it?”

Kiryu sighed audibly, but he wasn’t as irritated as he had prepared to be. If Majima was willing to cooperate with keeping whatever they decide to do between the two of them, then he was willing to deal with whatever the man would throw at him. In theory, anyway. There were certain things that would obviously take a lot more convincing in order for him to budge on, but he would cross that bridge when he got to it.

“Ya gotta make me a promise too, though.” Majima broke the silence, earning nothing but a raised eyebrow. “Do us both a favor and don’t think too hard about it. I’m all for foolin’ around, but ya gotta realize this ain’t nothin’ to have a crisis over.”

Talk about a tall order; how could he not have a crisis over it? The one time he had called Nishiki’s hair pretty when they were nothing but kids practically had him pedaling backwards physically. That would be nothing compared to whatever was to come. He was already sweating just thinking about it.

“I really got my work cut out for me, don’t I?”

Admittedly, Kiryu didn’t have much to say in response. It must’ve shown on his face, because Majima just sighed at the lack of an answer.

“Alright, I get it. Clearly I gotta hold yer hand through this.”

When Majima actually extended his arm forward and held his hand out, all Kiryu could do was blink at it. The other man rolled his eye dramatically, waving his hand around for emphasis.

“Majima-san, we’re both grown men. I’m not going to hold your hand.”

The patriarch either didn’t care or didn’t believe part of that sentence, his hand remaining stretched out with clear impatience. Kiryu’s frown deepened.

“I’m not doing that.”

Majima threw his brows up, his one eye half-lidded in an infuriating, expectant look. Kiryu scowled as much as his face would allow him to without starting to strain.

 

The hand was still hanging between them.

 

“My arm’s getting tired, Kiryu-chan.”

 

His face began to ache.

 

He took Majima’s hand with a huff, eyes averting to a more appealing stain on the ground. When the owner of the offending hand made a noise of satisfaction, he squeezed it until he could feel bones protesting.

“Hey now, take it easy! I promise yer gonna want that hand in workin’ order later.”

Kiryu’s lip curled in disgust as he tried to rip his hand away in reaction, but Majima held on tight. A devilish smile pulled his mouth into a thin line. Kiryu tried to jerk his hand away again, but there was no pulling out of a grip that firm. The moment he felt his blood begin to simmer, his captor pulled him forward suddenly, their shoulders bumping as Kiryu tried his damnedest to keep their noses from touching. He could feel Majima’s breath on his face when he spoke rather quietly.

“If yer gonna grab me like that, ya better make sure you’ve got both of’em.”

He telegraphed his attack on purpose; Kiryu dodged out of the way, Majima finally letting his hand go as the dagger nicked the side of his jacket. It was almost the perfect distraction, really: a fight between the two of them. If he’d known any better, he would’ve realized that a tussle had been planned in advance to soothe his annoyingly frayed nerves.

Throwing fists with Kiryu when he’d taken up an emotional defense was always a treat. He hit harder and with fiercer intent, Majima’s cheekbone cracking under thick knuckles once, then again when Kiryu managed to send him tumbling into a corner. He slashed up with his tanto to give himself breathing room, merely slicing a paper thin line across the tip of his assailant’s nose before he regretted leaving such a wide opening for his entire body. All his breath was effectively stomped out of him, a sharp kick to the ribs sending him sailing into the staircase they had just spoken in front of. He could already feel the bruises forming. Despite the pain, he cackled as he hobbled back to his feet. Kiryu approached him with caution.

Not enough caution, unfortunately. Majima feinted with a high kick, waiting for arms to fly up in defense before he spun his body around and caught Kiryu in the side with one silver-tipped shoe. Effectively knocked off balance and onto his side with an oof, Majima reeled his leg back and colored the man’s ribs to match his own. A choked yelp was what he received in response, lowering his guard enough to have a laugh before he felt his ankle being jerked out from under him.

Now they were both on the ground, but when his vision blinked back into focus, Kiryu was suddenly knelt over him with knees digging into the tender insides of his elbows. He made an attempt to propel himself up and push the weight off with no success.

“Alright, ya got me pinned, Kiryu-chan.” he panted with a grin despite his supposed loss. “Go on, then. Do yer worst!”

Majima threw his head to the side and clenched his eye shut theatrically. Even with the world black around him, he could practically feel Kiryu roll his eyes as he grunted indignantly. When he felt the first droplet of blood fall onto his bruised cheek, he opened his eye and peered back up.

Kiryu was gazing down at him with an almost observant glaze.

Another drop of blood landed on the bridge of his nose, rolling down onto the same blood-speckled cheek.  If it bothered the man bleeding on him, it certainly didn’t show; nothing showed, really. He couldn’t tell what was going through Kiryu’s head.

It felt like he stared at the blood running down for an eternity before Kiryu finally broke the silence.

“I guess I’ve got both now.”

He blinked stupidly at first, but a mad grin took over when he finally processed what had been said. His challenge had been met, and luckily for Kiryu he wasn’t flexible enough to bend so far in order to grapple with his legs. He felt a surge of pride in his chest, as well as something a little more pressing below the belt.

“Guess ya do.” he smiled with his teeth, face flushed red and mottled with purple. “Now get the hell off me if ya ain’t gonna do somethin’ about it, my arms are fallin’ asleep.”

“Oh, sorry.” he spoke monotone and shuffled to get up, offering his hand for Majima to pull himself into a standing position. They both winced at the pain in their sides.

Were they just going to pretend that didn’t happen? Kiryu was such a damn weirdo.

“Anyway, I have something I need to do. I’ll see you later, Majima-san.”

He guessed that was a no, then. Well, it wasn’t as if he didn’t also have plans that morning; most of them involved planning for later in the evening, but that was beside the point.

“Aw, yer no fun!” he protested, but his aching ribs told him to let it go. “Catch ya around then, Kiryu-chan. Don’t forget, I’m always watchin’!”

For once, Kiryu didn’t dread their next encounter.

 


 

He hadn’t even noticed the first rose petal.

Kiryu had wrapped up his personal business for the evening, ready to collapse and pass out the second he got back to Serena. Nothing could stop him from beelining to the one place he could rest. He didn’t even entertain the thugs here and there that tried to pick a fight, instead shouldering past them so that they staggered or fell on their asses. Some semblance of sleep was the only thought on his mind.

Then he saw the second petal.

At first he wrote it off as nothing of note, dismissing it and continuing on his way. When singular petals began to form a trail, however, he knew he was meant to follow. So much for getting any sleep.

As he traversed the path of petals, he began to wonder if it was actually meant for him to notice. Strange things happened in Kamurocho every day; who was he to assume that it was all directed at him? It could be meant for someone else’s significant other, or it could even be some strange trap. After it began to lean in the direction of the Millennium Tower, however, all of his doubts seemed to be solved simultaneously.

Once again the enormous building seemed to be unnervingly quiet as he stepped inside. The petals scattered across the floor led him directly to the elevator, the doors opening to reveal a small pile of them inside. He stepped awkwardly to the side of them, pressing the button that would take him to the floor Majima’s flat was on.

He wondered with escalating worry just what he would find when he got to the end of the trail.

When the elevator stopped and opened its doors for him, sure enough the trail continued onwards. As he steadily approached the door to Majima’s quarters, he couldn’t help but fret over what awaited him. Originally he had hoped to take their… whatever it was slowly, but he had begun to suspect that Majima had other ideas. The second he reached the entrance to the man’s apartment, he hesitated. Despite his reservations, he steeled himself and keyed in the code to open door.

The trail continued inside. Of course it did.

It led him through the main room, destroyed furniture still strewn across the floor along with speckles of dried blood. The petals actually led right through where the destruction was centralized. He felt a small pang of guilt, clearly intended. As he approached the door to the bedroom, his palms began to sweat from how tight they were clenched at his sides. What would he find when he opened it? Well… There was only one way to find out.

That would require opening the door. He had to open it. Regardless of how many times he repeated the notion in his head, he still hesitated where he stood. All he had to do was open the door…

As he finally let it creak open, he held his breath and braced himself for whatever awaited him.

He… wasn’t sure what he had expected.

Majima was fully clothed, lying on his side across the bed, shoes still on and his tanto clenched between his teeth. The trail of petals led all the way to him, scattered across the sheets haphazardly. The lamp in the corner bathed the room in frustratingly appropriate mood lighting.

The dagger was pulled gently from his mouth, the razor-sharp tip pressed feather-light to Majima’s bottom lip, right over where it had been split the previous night.

“I’ve been waiting for ya, Kiryu-chan.” he crooned, pink tongue peeking out to lay flat against the tip of the blade. “Took ya long eno– Fuck!

The tanto fell to the bed uselessly, Majima’s hands cupping his mouth in an instant.

Kiryu tried not to laugh, the upward twitch of his lips fortunately not enough to give him away. Any of the anxiety swirling in his gut had effectively dissipated. With silent gratitude he approached the bed, a sliver of concern in his voice as he spoke up.

“Are you alright?”

For a man that was in such dramatic pain, it sure didn’t seem to last. His hands dropped down to the bed as he crawled across the sheets, only stopping when he reached the edge. The grin that followed was automatic, and Kiryu couldn’t help but wonder if Majima was making an attempt to be seductive.

“Just fine, now that you’re here~” he purred, hands splayed in the space between his knees. “Might need a kiss to make it better, though.”

He stuck his tongue out, blood smeared over where he had accidentally pricked himself.

“… Majima-san, that’s disgusting.”

That didn’t seem to bother him any, though his tongue did slip back into his mouth. As Majima leaned in closer to make up for the rejection, Kiryu puffed up his chest in an attempt to appear in control of the situation.

“Haw? A little blood didn’t stop you from smoochin’ me last time.” he protested, his hands shooting out like snakes to grab Kiryu by the collar in order to pull himself closer. “Don’t get cold feet on me now, Kiryu-chan.”

Kiryu huffed indignantly in response, clearly trying not to be flustered.

As he grabbed Majima by the shoulders and closed the distance between them, the sly man couldn’t help but smile against Kiryu’s mouth; the bait had successfully been taken. Still, it wasn’t in his nature to play easy; he leaned his head back and away, earning an aggravated, confused stare.

He said nothing, hoping his coy smirk would be enough to get the message to get across. Strong fingers squeezed bruises onto his shoulders, but his face was set in stone.

 

Fiery eyes seared his skin for what must’ve been a full minute.

 

When his back hit the bed in a second flat, a shock zipped through his entire body. He honestly hadn’t expected it to be so easy to coax Kiryu out of his shell. Then again, he knew the temper that lived beneath the steely expression of the Dragon. Now that he had the chance, he wanted more than a little taste.

Despite how much his body begged for more attention, he pushed the sole of his shoe up against Kiryu’s abdomen to shove him away. At first it seemed to rile him up some more, but all Majima received in return was a stern scowl and a hand on his knee shoving his leg aside. Any sharp comments were silenced effectively by Kiryu pressing their lips together again with more force than intended. It only made him want to put up more of a fight, but the hand pinning his leg to the side practically drained any resistance out of his body. He hadn’t fooled around with anyone in so long…

He sucked in a breath through his nose, squirming free of the remaining grip on his shoulder to dig his gloved finger’s into Kiryu’s scalp. The moment he put a knee down on the bed to steady himself, Majima swung a leg around to hike up on his waist.

God, it had been so long.

Kiryu pulled his head away with a beet red face, pushing his gaze to the wall on the other side of the room; he couldn’t convince himself to go so far in just one night.  Majima groaned to push him onward, but Kiryu wouldn’t move. He let his body go limp with a frustrated sigh.

“Why’d ya come all the way here if ya couldn’t follow through, huh?” he grunted, letting his arms drop uselessly onto the mattress. “… Oh, I got an idea!”

Majima shot up and pushed Kiryu off to the side, paying no mind to the stumbling man as he beelined to his closet and snatched a few things out. When he felt the man’s confused stare on his back, he turned to squint with an accompanying scowl.

“No peeking.” he snapped, a grunt of satisfaction when Kiryu turned his head away. “This is gonna take a minute, so sit tight.”

He disappeared off into the bathroom, leaving Kiryu all his lonesome in the sizeable bedroom.

Hopefully Majima didn’t plan to be gone too long.

 


 

Kiryu’s eyes shot to the bathroom door when it finally swung open.

He had paced the room too many times to count when Majima finally emerged an entire hour later. What in the world could’ve taken that long was beyond him. Until he actually saw the man he had been waiting on.

It was the same getup as the night before. He swallowed audibly, still unsure how to feel about how eye-catching the look was. Dark and sharp; it worked very well for Majima. Worryingly well, as a matter of fact. So he really did do that makeup himself…

“Guess I shouldn’t be surprised that ya like it when I’m all dolled up.” he sneered, batting his fake lashes.

Even as Majima approached him, Kiryu stood still with a guarded expression. He didn’t dare move, not even when a thin, strong hand grabbed him by the lapel. His careful silence coaxed an impish smile out of glossy dark lips.

“Don’t tell me a little dress is all it takes to–“

A hand gently holding his cheek shut him up, his lone eye darting towards it, visibly bewildered. When he looked back to Kiryu, he found the same unreadable face as usual.

“Where did you learn to do this?” he asked, only clarifying when Majima’s face scrunched further in confusion. “The makeup.”

“Who gives a shit?” Majima scoffed. “Focus on me, damn it.”

He snatched Kiryu’s misplaced hand by the wrist and guided it right down to his ass.

“If my ass ain’t on the bed in the next 60 seconds, I’m kickin’ you out.”

Act now; think later. That was what Kiryu’s instincts decided. With little more than a grunt, he hoisted the man up and practically tossed him onto the mattress. Majima’s mouth opened to voice a coy complaint, but Kiryu looming over him in the blink of an eye had his lips pull into a thin smile.

“Ya treat all yer partners like this?”

The guarded frown on Kiryu’s face cracked, giving way to something just a little bit softer. It tightened something deep in Majima’s chest.

“No.” he answered more gently than he’d sounded in his head. “Just you.”

God damn it, he couldn’t take much more of the gooey sweet shit. Instead of a retort he shot his hands out to grab Kiryu by the hair and pull the stupid brick wall forward, sinking him further into the bed and closing the distance between them. He made sure to stamp Kiryu’s mouth bruisingly with dark lipstick, only letting up when he felt a cautious hand trail up his thigh, the paper thin barrier of his stockings doing absolutely nothing to prevent the shiver that surged through him.

Ironic, really, that the man got more brave when less clothes were involved.

“I don’t gotta wear a dress every time, do I?” he jeered, tilting his chin up invitingly. “Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind dressin’ up for ya, but it gets kinda drafty–“

The warm huff of breath against his neck made him stiffen up. When Kiryu nuzzled in, however, he melted right back down. He hadn’t been touched by another person in a way that wasn’t intended to hurt for years; that was how he excused his complacency, anyway. Why else would he let the man kiss his pulse without an elbow to the head or a sharp heel to the inside of a knee?

“… It helps.” Kiryu mumbled against his throat.

“That so?”

Majima’s grin was all teeth, putting his own hand over Kiryu’s to guide it up under the edge of his skirt. That seemed to scandalize quite a bit; Majima could feel the flush of embarrassment on the other man’s face pressed into the crevice above his collarbone.

“C’mon, Kiryu-chan,” he groaned, scratching at the man’s scalp. “How’re we supposed to get to the good part if ya can’t keep it together for two seconds?”

He could feel the huff of indignance against his skin.

“Ah. I think I get the picture now.”

Before Kiryu could even pull his head up to make a questioning face, their positions had been flipped with little more than a hard shove and an oof. He blinked in confusion at the calculating expression now hovering above him before settling back into a comfortable scowl.

“You like it when I take the lead, don’t’cha?” Majima challenged, continuing before Kiryu could protest. “Give a guy a break though, huh? Next time I see you, ya better jump on me before I even get a chance to blink. I deserve to get treated every once in a while for all the effort I go to for ya!”

He… Well, he wasn’t entirely wrong. Majima went to quite literally insane extremes to get the drop on him day in and day out. While he didn’t always appreciate the things the crazy man did to get his attention, he more often than not did find himself getting a thrill out of their encounters. Hell, sometimes he even secretly enjoyed the ridiculous shit Majima pulled. Even with the strange turn their relationship had taken, Majima still had to work to get Kiryu to budge on anything…

“… Fair enough.”

That clearly hadn’t been the expected answer. His response was met with a widened eye and raised brows.

“Wait, really?”

The familiar manic switch didn’t surprise him anymore, honestly.

Hell yeah!” he practically spat as he clapped, then grabbed Kiryu roughly by the lapels. “Ya better knock my fuckin’ socks off, Kiryu-chan! I want it to feel like it’s my damn birthday the second I lay my eye on ya!”

He didn’t get a chance to answer; Majima smashed their mouths together with more gusto than he’d shown all night. The moment he felt the sweep of something smooth and wet, the blush spread across his neck and cheeks practically turned his whole face red. Regardless, he parted his lips cautiously. As if it was a formal invitation, Majima dove right in.

It was no secret that Kiryu was basically a stranger to real intimacy. He’d been on dates, sure; he’d even slept with a small handful of women over the years. While some may have considered any of that intimate, he definitely did not. Nobody had ever put their tongue in his mouth before. Then again, a lot of the things Majima did breached his carefully constructed walls. While the taste of cigarettes wasn’t his favorite, he couldn’t find it in him to consider the experience unpleasant.

With a deep sigh, he finally reached up with his useless hands and brushed them through the man’s eccentric haircut. The buzz of the undercut felt nice under his fingertips, though his body was more focused on the weight pressing down on him and the intruder licking his teeth; he could feel Majima’s mouth trying to twitch into a smirk. Instead of a sharp comment, however, he rewarded Kiryu by tugging his shirt free from where it had been tucked into his pants, abandoning his grip on the suit jacket completely to unbutton the only thing separating him from one of the best views in the entire flat.

Kiryu silently thanked whatever gods would listen for Majima pulling away and letting him breathe. The moment to collect himself left as soon as it came; all of Majima’s weight was suddenly sat on his thighs. Rather than let his arms lay at his sides awkwardly again, he hesitantly rested his hands on top of the other man’s legs.

“Now ain’t this a sight for sore eyes?” the man sang, although his smile straightened out a bit at his own words. “Well, eye. You’ve got the body and the personality of a brick.”

“Hey–!”

“Aw, relax! It’s cute, Kiryu-chan; you’re a real charmin’ brick.” he insisted, feeling the rigid muscles flinch away from his palms across Kiryu’s stomach. “It’s what makes ya so fun! I could mess around with any meathead that knows how to fight, but you,” he paused, leaning forward until their noses were mere inches apart to make sure his point got across. “You play along. You make me work for it. And even when you beat my ass, ya make me want seconds.”

Kiryu tried to swallow the searing lump in his throat, but all he could focus on was the intense smolder in Majima’s eye.

“Ya feel me?”

He could feel Majima in many different ways. The one stealing most of his focus was the one jabbing him in the leg, but that probably wasn’t what the question was about.

“I guess...”

It took all of his inner strength to look Majima in the eye and not stare at how close the man’s mouth was to his own.

“Good.”

As Majima leaned forward to close the distance between them again, Kiryu met him in the middle. The motion was surprisingly gentle, really; to be honest, he could just say that about the man himself. Despite how fierce and violent they both could be, Kiryu had always been obnoxiously gentle in some regard. He was like that, once. Sometimes it seemed like just yesterday he was able to be soft without immediately feeling the need to exhibit dominance afterwards.

Just as the urge to punch Kiryu in the face rushed through him, strong, soothing hands threading through his hair brought him back down. He exhaled the tense energy through his nose while his eye squeezed shut, the fist he hadn’t realized was clenched spreading flat back on Kiryu’s abdomen.

When the touched wandered down and disappeared over Kiryu’s belt, he took full advantage of the man trying to open his mouth to object. While he didn’t seem to earn much approval for shoving his tongue down Kiryu’s throat with no warning, the grip tightening in his hair definitely didn’t tell him to stop. If anything, the scrape of nails against his scalp only spurred him onwards.

Before he could even undo the buckle, a swift hand caught him by the wrist. After practically slurping his own tongue back into his mouth, he sat up to fix Kiryu with an impatient glare.

“What?” he grunted, pointedly ignoring the hands that had retreated back to the tops of his thighs. “Ya don’t want a blowjob?”

Kiryu wouldn’t even look him in the eye.

“Why the hell are you even here, then?”

With an exasperated sigh, Kiryu propped himself up on one elbow, his other hand dragging down his face. At least they were both frustrated with how indecisive he was being.

“It’s… I’m not ready to return the favor, is all. It doesn’t seem right.”

Of course. Always the giver, never the taker; what else should he have expected? Without even a childish huff, he shoved Kiryu back against the mattress, answered only with a surprised yelp.

“Then don’t. If ya don’t plan on this bein’ a one night stand, I’ll collect later.”

While he received no verbal objection, he couldn’t ignore the unsure anxiety settled deep in Kiryu’s features. He was pushy, yes, but there were some things that just couldn’t be pushed.

Well… Things that would put more weight on his heavy conscious, anyway.

“Y’know what, I changed my mind,” he dismissed, sitting up straight to sweep a stray strand of hair out of his eye. “It took me an hour to put all this shit on my face, and I don’t want you fuckin’ it up more than ya already have.”

He tried not to smile when Kiryu’s signature scowl returned, sly hands making themselves at home on the tops of the man’s knees. Leaning his weight back, he sneered for just a moment.

“But, since I’m so gracious, I’ll let ya make it up to me.”

Once again, Kiryu clearly didn’t get the picture; his expression straightened as he tapped his red-smeared lips twice, just like the first time he’d taunted the man in his drunken stupor. His poker face was something to be rivaled, honestly, considering the slurry of emotions threatening to burst out of his gut.

The calculating way Kiryu sat up to meet him made him more curious than concerned. Strong hands slid from his thighs to his ass, and so suddenly he suspected the subject of his undivided attention may have been up to something. At the very least, he was glad he wound up in a dress in the end; even the thought of getting so far in tight leather pants hurt. Although… as Kiryu leaned in to kiss him, he mused that getting felt up in his regular outfit would feel much more natural.

He was lost in his little fantasy just long enough for the grip of hands to curve around his hips until thumbs pressed at the base of his very prominent erection. The sudden attention had him suck in a breath, thinly concealing his petty rage.

“Fuckin’ tease,” he snarled.

Admittedly the only reason he didn’t bite was because he would rather turn red in the face than discourage Kiryu’s newfound bravery.

“You should learn to be patient.” Kiryu suggested, answered with a bitter scoff.

“Waitin’ ten years ain’t patient enough for you? I might as well be a damn saint at this point!” he argued, offended at the accusation. “I got all the patience I need.”

He could spit fire, but that was for a different time at a different place.

“Just shut up and touch me.”

Kiryu seemed to have a silent revelation: yes, he could do that. Sure, he might not be able to do anything too bold, but he could definitely touch. Majima at least did him the service of distracting him with a lip lock, enough so that when the heel of his palm grazed over the man’s groin his face only flushed a mild shade of red. Fortunately, a hand pressing his own down a little harder was the only anchorage he needed to reassure himself that he was fine. It could’ve been a sweet gesture, really, if only the subject matter had been a little different.

Instead of barking out a command or making a remark, Majima just exhaled loudly through his nose. Relief couldn’t even begin to describe how he felt.

An idle hand settled back over his hip, a tense thumb rubbing a small repetitive line across the snakeskin material. He only got antsy under the touch when the hand moved up, tracing a path up his side. Absentmindedly he thanked the gods that he hadn’t shucked the dress yet, otherwise he would’ve full-body cringed at such a gentle brush over the slight curve of his waist; he knew life was a cruel bitch the day he discovered he was ticklish. If Kiryu noticed, he didn’t say anything, which Majima considered an ultimately wise decision.

He couldn’t remember the last time he had ever enjoyed heavy petting. Normally it had driven him absolutely insane, his sex life just as erratic and fast-paced as the rest of his life. It could’ve just been that it was Kiryu doing the petting, but as the hand he held hostage kneaded at him more and more enthusiastically, he suddenly found himself unable to care that they likely weren’t going to go much farther. The fact that Kiryu was finally, really manhandling him at all was… Well, it was about fuckin’ time. He hadn’t even noticed he had been rambling on about it between heavy breaths until he could practically see the steam coming out of Kiryu’s ears.

The shock that zipped up his spine and straight back down into his abdomen forced a noise out of him that he’d never heard before. All it had taken was a light brush of fingertips over his skin as Kiryu slid his hand under the skirt to get a little closer. With a heated smirk, his abandoned hand reached between them and gave Kiryu a good squeeze. The sharp inhale sounded just like he imagined it would.

He didn’t expect a squeeze in return. Kiryu never thought a moan could sound goofy and maddening at the same time, but he supposed he did catch Majima by surprise. That was just like him, really; the way it swung up in pitch at the end would’ve sounded ridiculous coming out of anyone else.

“Fuck, man– Don’t just stop!”

It was less the words that drew his attention back in as opposed to the way Majima spat them out, impatient and flustered and impossibly angry about it. Understandably so; he hadn’t fooled around with anyone since Kiryu had gotten hauled off to prison. Again, it was almost sweet, but… Was Majima even capable of being sweet?

Rather than dwell on it, he graced the man with attention instead of thought. He was thanked audibly when he returned to stroking through questionably cut panties, although it was more of a sound than words.

So suddenly Kiryu’s busy hand was seized again, instead by the wrist to hold it still. Before he could even voice a question, Majima was up on his knees, hovering over Kiryu’s lap. Anything he could’ve asked was answered swiftly when the man leaned further forward to smash their mouths together and push Kiryu back onto an elbow for support, rutting into the hand that he’d stolen. Honestly, Kiryu wasn’t even shocked enough to get any redder about it. Not that he could, anyway; he’d been dizzy from all the blood rushing to his head for the past ten minutes.

Majima let up to pant open-mouthed against Kiryu’s lips, pressing their foreheads together with a little too much force. If it weren’t for the pressure against his head, he probably would’ve passed out.

For one moment, everything stopped. Majima’s breath hitched, his body no longer moving besides the visible shaking; his head was too fuzzy to really register what happened, but the feeling of damp material against his fingers didn’t require much thought to come to a conclusion.

He hadn’t even realized he was holding his breath until Majima collapsed on top of him and knocked all the air out of his lungs. A minute passed where he tried to speak, but he simply had no idea what to say.

“… That was… sudden.”

The laugh that creeped out of the heavy mess trapping him against the bed sounded quieter than he expected. It was almost soft, but nothing about Majima was soft.

“Ya always got some weird shit to say, Kiryu-chan.”

He opened his mouth to argue, but there wasn’t much to argue about. Truthfully, he couldn’t bring himself to get irritated about it. While he was still pent up and tense, he felt oddly peaceful.

As he picked up on the steady rise and fall of Majima’s breath, he realized it wasn’t just him. He was asleep, breathing so gently that Kiryu was almost convinced he was dead. It just didn’t seem natural. But, Kiryu reasoned that perhaps he’d needed it; after all, it was hard to find peace in the life of a yakuza.

He didn’t bother crawling out from under Majima’s dead weight. There was plenty of harm in staying for the night, but he couldn’t convince himself to care.

An hour after he closed his eyes, the warmth of another body lulled him to sleep.

Chapter Text

The world was dark.

It was peaceful, almost. Not a thought swam in Majima’s head for once, everything consumed by the soothing absence of anything. He would’ve kept himself in the dark, truthfully, if he hadn’t felt a delicate touch on his cheek.

When his lone eye peeked through a heavy lid, he was blinded by bright light. He squinted against the unyielding assault on his vision, sluggishly getting used to the brightness until it no longer hurt. The first thing he saw was what he plucked off his cheek, holding it just far enough to get a good look.

Tsubaki. He turned the flower in his hand, unsure what to make of it. When he lowered it, his surroundings registered all at once: trees, as far as he could see. Tsubaki trees, no less, though he supposed that made sense. He didn’t register the water he laid in until he sat up, rivulets of it running cool down his naked back.  For a mere moment he wondered where his jacket had gone, but he dismissed the thought quickly. There were more important questions to be asking. Before he could think to actually ask any of them, he noticed a silhouette before him. He barely had time to be confused before the realization hit him like a truck.

Makoto.

The round, brown haircut was all it took for him to know for sure it was her. The outfit threw him for a loop though: a featureless white kimono with a blood red obi. A million more questions flooded his mind, but all of them vanished in an instant when he saw her head turn a hair’s breadth towards him.

“… Makoto?”

He felt the urge to reach out, but… No. He couldn’t do that. He shouldn’t have said anything to begin with. All of the effort he’d gone to in order to protect her from the devastating wake of the yakuza was threatened just by uttering her name.

As her head began to turn further, he felt the dread pit in his gut. He wanted to hide, let her think she’d heard a ghost, but his legs refused to stand for him. When he could finally see the edges of her face he paled immediately.

The chilling, furious glower of the hannya met his frozen stare.

Almost as sudden, the white glow surrounding them began to dim, fading to black while the trees around them remained illuminated. As he rose an arm to begin scooting backwards, his eye caught on the deep red running from his palm to his elbow. Looking down in alarm, he saw that the water lapping gently at him had turned to what he swore could have been blood. When his eye shot back up Makoto had moved towards him, her hair beginning to grow longer and wilder with each step.

Panic rose in his system with each inch she gained on him. He couldn’t bring himself to move away. The fury radiating from her grew more intense and suffocating until he felt he could barely breathe. Despite how threatened with death he felt, his body refused to budge. With hardly a thought, he numbly accepted his fate; death at the hands of one of those he had betrayed seemed fitting. A mere few feet away from him, however, she stopped.

A lone tsubaki flower had landed soundlessly in her tousled flood of hair, right on top of her head.

Though the tense silence threatened to strangle him, he slowly rose to his feet. Cautiously he stood still for three long seconds before he put one foot forward. Then the other. Then again. Then again and again until he was before her, cautiously silent.

He could feel the rage she held twisting into his chest like a dagger. Instead of fear, however, he felt overwhelmed with sorrow; in his weakness he hadn’t been able to save her from the obsession of revenge. Even as he had torn his way through Dojima’s men, his blade had been stilled by hesitance. Just like with Saejima, he hadn’t been able to bloody his hands for the one person he wanted to protect.

Morosely he picked the flower from Makoto’s hair, holding it gently between his fingertips. If he had blinked he would have missed the slight dip of her head. The hannya gazed past him, her expression now painted with grief.

It hurt worse than any torture he had ever experienced.

Without thinking he reached up with his empty hand, bloodied fingers brushing red across the very edge of the mask. When he felt nothing but his own guilt stab into him, he lifted it from her face until he could see her vulnerable eyes.

All of the enmity had drained from her, leaving nothing but the hollow shell of depressed apathy. He could still see the pain of everything she had lost hanging over her like a dark cloud. He couldn’t stand it.

She looked on at his chest while he removed the mask from her head, only earning a surprised widening of the eyes that so quickly met his when he pulled it over his face. As he secured the hannya mask in place, he felt the weight of her rage and grievances violently tug at his chest along with his own. Her expression held the intent of upset protest, but she said nothing.

He could take it. He could take anything.

With the flower in his hand, he turned away from her. As he began to walk towards the red-speckled black horizon with new resolution, he swore he saw another silhouette in the distance. Before he had any time to look closer, the silence was broken by a foreign word on Makoto’s lips that shot through him like a bullet.

“Majima-san!”

 


 

He woke with a start, shooting up and gasping as if his name had actually pierced his lungs. The only thing that prevented him from entirely vaulting out of the bed was an immovable hand pressed flat against his chest.

“Majima-san, you’re awake now.” a low voice likely tried to soothe, but to no avail. “It was just a dream.”

After a few heaving breaths, the words sunk in.

Just a dream.

Except it wasn’t just a dream. The water was the sweat gluing the dress he fell asleep in to his back, the flowers seared into his skin… the pain in his chest still tugging at his heart. He reached up with a naked hand to brush over his face where the mask had been, finding nothing but the leather patch covering his mangled eye.

He sighed heavily, face twisted into a grimace. When he remembered just who he had shared his bed with for the night, he whipped his head to the right with a pointed squint.

“What’re you still doin’ here?”

Kiryu must’ve been caught off guard by the question, seemingly unable to answer right away. After a moment of meticulous thought he seemed to find the words that eluded him, returning his steadying hand to his person.

“You passed out. I didn’t want to wake you up.”

Majima didn’t react right away. At first he mulled over how absolutely stupid the excuse was, but then he considered exactly who he had asked. When it came to Kiryu, there was no such thing as a stupid answer; everything out of his mouth was something he truly meant, for the most part. It seemed impossible, really, for any man to be so forthcoming and honest. As a matter of fact, it almost always sounded too good to be true.

But that was just how Kiryu was. Too honest.

Too good to be true.

“Oh? It seems ya got some brains in there with that brawn after all, Kiryu-chan.” Majima grouched, determined to cling to his shitty mood for as long as humanly possible. “I won’t kick ya out right away for that. Now move; I gotta get outta this shit.”

Kiryu looked on as Majima crawled out of the massive bed tactlessly while the screaming hannya bid him good morning. He disappeared into the attached bathroom grumbling, the sound of the door shutting behind him followed by the sound of shoes getting kicked off against the wall. He wasted no time peeling what little clothes he wore off, expression twisting in disgust as he removed cold, slimy panties. The naked man that frowned at him in the mirror looked about as jazzed as he felt. With the heat of the moment gone, Majima was left alone to… think. The man in the mirror frowned harder.

Painfully ironic, really, that he had become the one getting lost in his own feelings. After everything he’d been through, his ability to navigate his softer side was completely broken. He was almost jealous, really, that Kiryu could still be so… so…

Tender.

He didn’t have time to dwell, though; Kiryu was still in the bedroom waiting on him like an idiot. A big, sexy idiot. His grimace followed him into the shower, but he was smiling on the inside when the only thoughts that began to fill his head were daydreams of how the other night could’ve gone. If Kiryu had been less of a pussy, more in touch with what he wanted to do so badly, ready to go as far as Majima could possibly think of… Face red from the steam and blood rushing to his cheeks, he pressed his forehead against the cold shower wall and continued to entertain his fantasies.

 


 

He wasn’t quite sure what to do with himself. Majima had disappeared into the bathroom, leaving Kiryu with little to do but sit quietly with his thoughts. He had already looked over the bedroom three different times before Majima had started to have a fit in his sleep, although he couldn’t force himself to pretend he was too terribly interested in the decor. Every other moment the man beside him had stolen his attention again with tossing and turning in sweat-soaked sheets. It was rather depressing, honestly, but that was just because he experienced quite the opposite; rather than be plagued with nightmares, he simply couldn’t sleep at night. While Majima slept comfortably until light began to creep through beneath the bedroom door, Kiryu had bore a hole into the ceiling with restless eyes, unresolved arousal and conflicting emotions keeping him awake.

One of those issues had the courtesy of leaving him be by the sun’s rising, but the other continued to consume his mind. He’d never had a knack for deciphering his own feelings, and that definitely wasn’t about to change overnight. Fortunately that train of thought immediately came to a crashing halt when the door of the bathroom opened again out of the corner of his eye, his head turning to meet it.

“Alright, get out.” Majima barked, covered with little more than a plush towel wrapped around his thin waist. “Believe it or not, I’ve actually got shit to do every now and again. Don’t forget what you promised me, though, Kiryu-chan; I aim to collect.”

“Oh.” Kiryu responded, somewhat off-put by the curt demand. “Alright,” he continued carefully, shuffling his legs over the bedside to stand up and re-button his shirt. “I won’t forget, Majima-san. A promise is a promise.”

That seemed to please the patriarch, his frown twitching into a satisfied smirk.

“That’s what I like to hear.”

Chapter Text

How was one supposed to surprise the master of surprises? Kiryu had stayed out of Majima’s radar for the past two days trying to figure out how he would pull off anything worthwhile, but not one idea had come to him at all. The man always seemed to know when he was nearby, and even when Kiryu could get the drop on him, what then? Was he really supposed to just throw himself at Majima in public? Unless there was some way to guarantee he’d stay in an isolated space for an extended amount of time… But, how could he possibly manage that? It wasn’t as if he could just ask Majima to–

Reina startled at Kiryu’s fist coming down on the bar counter.

“That’s it, Reina!”

“W-what’s it, Kiryu-chan?” she responded hesitantly.

“Nishida!” he barked back, Reina’s face twitching at his volume. “There’s no way I can sneak up on Majima-san on my own, but if I ask Nishida to keep him somewhere for a little while, or at least make sure he shows up… He owes me for putting me through all of Majima-san’s ridiculous antics anyway.”

“Well, I’m not certain what you’re talking about, but I’m sure it will work.” she encouraged despite her clear confusion. “Just please be careful? That man seems… troubled.”

Troubled didn’t even begin to describe Majima, but that was a conversation for another day.

“I’ve got to go, Reina.” he dismissed, scooting off the barstool and beelining for the door. “Thanks for your help!”

As he pulled the door shut behind him, Reina’s brows furrowed with concern.

“But, I didn’t…”

 


 

Two days.

Two days. He hadn’t seen Kiryu in two days, and it was about to kill him. Was it just because of what was supposed to happen the next time they crossed paths? Was Kiryu trying to hide? Was he chickening out?

Before he could make himself any angrier, his phone going off in his pocket did the job for him. The joint connecting the halves of his cellphone creaked from how roughly he flipped it open.

“The hell do you want, Nishida?” he snarled. “This better be good, ‘cus I really ain’t in the mood–“

“T-trouble, boss!” Nishida managed to spit out, audibly unnerved by the immediate sour attitude of his patriarch. “Someone’s broken into your flat! I tried to stop him, but… Urk…”

Great. Fucking perfect.

“Damn it, Nishida!” he snapped, what little patience he still had effectively evaporated. “I’m gonna make you wish he’d shot you dead after I get through dealin’ with this shit!”

It wasn’t like he had much he actually cared about at his abode in the Millennium Tower. He considered that while he broke into a sprint down the sidewalk towards the building that loomed over the city, but it was still his damn property. Any fuckwit that thought they could beat on his subordinates and just waltz into the place as they pleased had a nice shiny boot waiting to go straight up their ass.

As he barreled his way into the tower and through the elevator doors, he failed to notice precisely how empty it was. Even as he shot through the doors again as they barely opened enough for him to squeeze through, the lack of personnel eluded him. As he smashed in the code to his flat, however, he did notice a distinct lack of Nishida. The little pansy must’ve run off… He had a severe beating waiting for him once Majima dragged him out of whatever corner he’d crawled into to hide in.

As he ripped his door open, however, strong hands gripping him by the lapels and slamming him against the wall inside the room tore all of his attention away from petty rage. Blinded with fury, he swiped his blade out of its hiding place and made to stab it into the neck of the figure that had audibly kicked the door shut. Before he could inflict his fatal blow, his eye finally registered who he was glowering at.

Nishida, you little…

“Kiryu-chan?!” he blurted out, clearly caught completely off-guard. “What the hell– Are you insane?! I coulda killed–“

He was effectively silenced by rough lips smashing into his own. Anger was what he wanted to feel, honestly, but Kiryu had gotten the drop on him just like he’d requested. It hadn’t brought out that birthday feeling yet, but he could feel his hope growing. Among other things, of course, but he could blame that much on the tongue that invaded his personal space without asking. He could feel the stars dancing around his head when he finally knocked skulls with Kiryu so he could breathe.

“Gimme some air, Kiryu-chan!” he gasped, oxygen deprivation making his head spin even more.

 Kiryu blinked the pain away, slightly dazed but undeterred. Majima had a whole three seconds before the man was on him again with his head tilted for a better angle. A heavy sigh through his crooked nose was all Majima needed to get his head back in the game, decidedly draping his sinewy arms over Kiryu’s broad shoulders instead of chasing the urge to shove him off. When was the next time Kiryu would be the one pushing boundaries? After all, he did ask for it.

It was time to enjoy his birthday present.

Lips parted in a very clear request for entry; the only way Majima could make himself any clearer was to beg. He just might have if Kiryu wasn’t so quick to respond, and it was almost precious just how obvious it was that he had no idea what he was doing. Not that he really needed to if the course of action was to suck on each other’s tongues, but the man’s devotion to following through earned nothing but Majima’s complete adoration. A long leg hiked up around Kiryu’s upper thigh, closing the remaining distance between them and making Majima’s climbing excitement known.

But, somewhere in the back of his head, something was pestering him. A nagging thought of…

Insecurity.

Why? The realization alone pissed him off, because he wasn’t supposed to be feeling bad, damn it; this was what he wanted! And Kiryu agreed to it! Yet there he was, the man literally down his throat, but it didn’t feel like Kiryu was there for him. Well, he was, but that wasn’t the point. Even if Kiryu acted like he had all the confidence in the world about his actions, Majima could still sniff out the nervousness and indecisiveness about them even fooling around. Unless he was in a fuckin’ dress and dolled up, of course, because then Kiryu could just pretend he was some pretty lady and push the thought somewhere that it wouldn’t get in the way. But it was getting in the way.

He hadn’t realized Kiryu had stopped to shoot him a vaguely concerned glance until after the cloud of anger parted slightly enough for him to open his eye.

“Is something wrong, Majima-san?” he spoke up. “… Should I have told Nishida to say something else? Sorry, I figured since–“

“It ain’t about damn Nishida,” he snapped, trying so hard not to let his emotions explode. “Why’d you stop?”

“You seem troubled.”

He sneered at the accusation despite how true it was. If Kiryu couldn’t figure it out, then what the hell was the point in bringing it up? Shouldn’t it be obvious?

“I ain’t.”

Not convincing enough.

“… Yes, you are.”

“Alright, fine!” Majima finally shouted.

Kiryu’s face scrunched with the desire to express something more negative, but his frown remained steadily neutral.

“You wanna know why I’m pissed off? Every time we do fuckin’ anything, I wind up havin’ to put on a fuckin’ dress and make-up so you don’t gotta think about the fact that you wanna fuck a man! I’m a guy! You’re a guy! I’m a man that likes to have sex with other men! You think I do this shit for anyone else?! Nobody ever fuckin’ needed me to! I don’t wanna have to spend hours wastin’ my fuckin’ time just to get you to look at me, damn it!

 

 

He wanted regret to hit him, but it never did. He was angry. He was angry, and he had every damn right to be, and he wasn’t about to stop just because he didn’t want them to stop.

“… I’m sorry, Majima-san.”

“I don’t want yer fuckin’–“

“Listen to me.” Kiryu interrupted with a hand raised, continuing before Majima could go off on a tangent again. “I don’t like it when you dress up because I want you to be a woman. You just… look good. I like it because you do it well and it suits you. No offense, Majima-san, but you don’t normally dress the way you do because it looks good. If all of that bothered you so much, why didn’t you just say so?”

“Bullshit!” Majima spat back. “Every time we start gettin’ somewhere good you chicken out and can’t even look at me! Every damn time!”

“Majima-san, you’re different!”

The testosterone in the room had reached critical mass, but Kiryu was prepared to shout down Majima in a heartbeat. He was different.

“You aren’t a girl I go to bed with and say goodbye to in the morning! It has nothing to do with you being a man! I… I don’t know how to be in a relationship, Majima-san. I’ve never actually been intimate with someone before. Not really. I know you told me not to think too hard about it, and I’m sorry I couldn’t hold up my end of that bargain, but you make me think, Majima-san. Every night since we made our agreement, I’ve thought about everything. It’s… It’s… why…”

Majima was silent.

“It’s why I don’t think I can keep this up. Not like this. I can’t keep things casual, Majima-san… I’m sorry.”

The air was still tense, but the atmosphere had changed. Instead of rage and upset, the room felt… Well, he didn’t know what it felt like. Kiryu had never been good at reading the room. He had to force himself not to shift uncomfortably.

“You got feelings for me, Kiryu-chan?”

“… I’m starting to think so.”

The face he received in response was pensive. The continued silence ate at his nerves and the pit in his stomach, but at least Majima wasn’t screaming anymore. That was good… At least, he thought it was good. He wasn’t sure.

“Alright.”

Kiryu blinked stupidly, dumbfounded by the one-word answer. Just… Just alright? What was that even supposed to mean?

“Clearly I’ve been goin’ about this all wrong,” Majima sighed. “Get offa me and go sit down. We’ve obviously got an elephant in the room here and I’m too sober to talk about feelings. I’ll grab us some real booze.”

Kiryu’s grip relented, though somewhat hesitantly, but after a beat he did shuffle off towards the sofa. Just once he looked over his shoulder to make sure Majima didn’t plan on making a quick escape. Maybe again after he sat down. When the exasperated man finally flopped down beside him, he slammed two glasses and a full bottle of whiskey down onto the (new) coffee table. He poured the both of them up, took an honestly cringeworthy swig of the bottle, then slammed it back down on the table.

“Before I get ahead of myself, ya oughta know that yer walkin’ into a real minefield here. Regardless of how either of us feel, I ain’t exactly boyfriend material.”

As if that hadn’t already been glaringly obvious. Kiryu swirled his glass in his hand, only taking a drink to refrain from making such a smart remark.

“I think we’re both too old to be using the word boyfriend, Majima-san.”

“Yeah, probably. Made me feel like a little girl just sayin’ it.” the man grumbled, throwing his drink back to pour himself another. “Well, whatever ya wanna call it, I ain’t it.”

He interrupted himself with a half-hearted cackle.

“Would ya listen to me? Wasn’t I the one tellin’ you not to have a crisis? Ha!”

The frown on Kiryu’s face began to mirror his own. Majima appreciated those stoic looks, but all that frowning was gonna iron those lines into his face.

“Isn’t that my decision to make?”

“Nope.”

“Well, in that regard, I don’t suppose I am either.”

A sudden burst of laughter caught Kiryu off-guard, finally forcing him to peel his eyes away from his drink. Was Majima in tears?

“Are you fuckin’ kidding me? You’re like the textbook definition of boyfriend, Kiryu-chan!” he cried, wiping the streaks from his face. “That’s the best joke I’ve heard all week! Seriously, after that stunt you pulled when that punk grabbed my ass? Or when you gently caressed my face? Or how about every time ya gave me googoo eyes, huh? Made me feel like I was actually worth somethin’. I can see why the ladies swoon whenever they see ya, Kiryu-chan. Shit, why do you think I swoon whenever I see ya? You ain’t the problem here.”

So suddenly the humorous atmosphere of the room faded away.

“That’s just a fact. No two ways about it.”

While Kiryu couldn’t quite argue with the information presented, he still felt the need to protest in some way. Sure, Majima was… troubled, as Reina put it, but that was simply the life of a yakuza. Out of all the problems the yakuza had caused him, Majima was still an experience he regarded somewhat positively. Even if their dynamic was problematic, the patriarch was always there for him in the end. Perhaps friend wasn’t the right term, but Majima wasn’t the kind of problem he wanted nothing to do with.

“… Well, I haven’t minded you being my problem so far.”

The problem in question opened his mouth to speak, but…

No words came out. How was he supposed to argue with that? He couldn’t, really; telling Kiryu what he should think never worked, but that was a good quality to have. Stubbornness.

“We live a troubled life, Majima-san. I don’t think it’s reasonable to try and live without problems.”

For the longest of moments, that was all that remained said. The two of them sat in a contemplative silence while they drank as they saw fit. Kiryu much less so than his aggressive shadow, but the two of them stopped completely half way down the bottle.

“… Ya wanna stay the night?”

They faced each other at the same time, Majima trying his damn hardest not to waver under the nonjudgmental stare of his friend. There was a mere flicker of thought before the words came out.

“Sure.”

Chapter Text

Majima and Kiryu wound up in a stupored embrace, tangled in surprisingly comfortable sheets once more. The one-eyed devil had spat a belligerent argument over the tender action, of course, but Kiryu found him much easier to quiet in an intoxicated state. Less hostility towards gentle approaches were favorable in such sensitive moments. He held the spring-loaded creature with such care that one might think the patriarch would shatter like glass under even the slightest of heavier touches. It was infuriating, but with both of their heads spinning it was all they could truly wish for at the night’s end.

“… I think…” Kiryu hesitated somewhat, attempting to get his thoughts straighter than his vision. “No. I… I… Damn it,”

Majima hated that the man couldn’t just say it, but at the same time he’d never felt such greater relief. The statement that danced around Kiryu’s tongue terrified him enough to simply imagine, let alone hear.

“Shut up,” he grumbled. “I get the… I get the point. I, uh… I damn it, too.”

Yes, he did damn it. He damned it as far into hell as he possibly could, how fiercely he damned it. It was what he both did and didn’t deserve, but he couldn’t decide which point of view pained him more. He didn’t deserve what he had and had not yet received, but he greatly deserved the varying amounts of suffering it brought upon him. All of the scenarios that swam through his head suffocated him; how their tumultuous relationship would unfold, the way Majima knew he’d be brought to his knees if he didn’t get Kiryu there first, Kiryu’s fate at the end of it all… A divine punishment it was, and he’d accept nothing less. The perfect torture. Years shaved off his life was suddenly nothing compared to right there and then.

Fuck, he was so drunk.

“What was it you… That you said to me?” Kiryu slurred carefully, sliding his hand on impulse across Majima’s bare side. “I can hear you think.”

That earned an indignant huff.

“Wanna shut me up?” Majima sneered, grabbing Kiryu’s wandering hand and dragging it down his naked leg; they’d shed everything down to their skivvies before crawling into bed for the night. “I’ll show ya my off– hehehe–

Oh, Kiryu found that snicker so alluringly devious when he dug past the other things it made him feel.

“My off switch.”

He blushed. Forwardness was always something that painted his face red, but Majima suddenly falling still puzzled him. It brought silence at first, until tense air was replaced with soft snoring, ushering the peace of sleep into Kiryu’s ears. What a peculiar off switch.

Although Kiryu had then been left alone with another night of lying awake, his soul didn’t ache. No worry consumed him, despite the stress that awaited him with the morning ahead. He felt… eased. So suddenly the guilt of letting go for a few hours failed to grab hold of him. All he could focus on was the man asleep in his arms, also detached from the ghosts that haunted the life of a yakuza. If only for a time… but, that didn’t matter.

Perhaps this was what partnership meant. He couldn’t stand Majima and his ridiculous violent outbursts every single day, but it was only around Majima that he truly felt content now. No obsessions of the future or recollections of the past… Either the alcohol had gotten to him, or he was hopelessly in love. Only one of those possibilities had him think twice. However, even after the third time reconsidering his affections, his conclusion remained the same. Even when they argued, even when they beat the hell out of each other…

Love hurt, but what didn’t?

 


 

Again he laid in blissful silence, swallowed by shadows that even Kamurocho’s lights couldn’t pierce. Nothing but the sound of water lapping at his body...

He shot up with alarm, head whipping around for any sign of wild hair and a round face. But, nothing. There was nothing. The only light that blanketed him was the glow of the tsubaki trees in the darkness. The stream below him was no longer tinted like blood, and a quick brush over his face revealed only his eyepatch. The hannya mask was gone.

Why... Why was he back? Where was Makoto?

With a grunt he wobbled to his feet, treading through the gentle waters before him warily. He had turned away from her before, but she called his name... He had to find her. At the very least, he had to make sure she was alright.

Suddenly, he stopped. His hackles stood on end, the telltale sign he was being watched. With dread in his stomach he turned against his better judgment to look, but the figure that met him only garnered confusion.

It was him. Well, the hannya mask sat ominously on his face, but it was definitely him. While he expected the dread in his stomach to fade, it only increased tenfold; the atmosphere of his doppelgänger was just as suffocating as Makoto’s had been. The double stared right through him, but Majima wasn’t frightened by himself. He’d been alone in his own head for long enough. It was time to take a stand.

“Scram, asshole. I only got room in my head for one Majima Goro.”

He received no response. That only made him angry, of course.

“I said beat it! Do I really gotta kick my own ass to get the point across?!”

Although there was still no response, the anger he felt seemed to feed it; his legs felt weaker under the sudden weight in the air. However, the water that once had no flow beneath him suddenly pushed in the direction of his silent little demon. Curiosity might as well have killed him at that point; he swung his head around and was met with another man in a mask.

He recognized it: the face of a lion.

Was he stuck in the middle of some kind of fucked up theatrical performance? The dry amusement left him just as soon as it came, the malevolent spirit taking steps back at the sudden appearance of the lion man. Majima didn’t really get it, but he had more important things to worry about.

“Great! Thanks, big guy. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m kinda busy– “

A solid hand caught him in the center of his chest as he tried to flee, earning an exasperated grunt.

“Look pal, I don’t got time for this. I gotta find Makoto– “

“She isn’t here.”

Kiryu. Of course it was Kiryu, his big, stupid knight in shining armor. The lion mask really fit him, after all.

“Haw?”

“The demon is there.” the lion man spoke with a pointed finger, the other Majima tensing; ready for a fight, if that truly was another him. “And she is not. Pay attention.”

“Obviously, you moron.” he huffed. “I still got one eye. I don’t have time for this bozo, and you better get the hell outta my way!”

The ever-stoic lion was unfazed by his shouting. He should’ve figured. While he could waste more time starting (and losing) a fight, he mused that it could possibly benefit him to listen. So, begrudgingly, he would do just that.

“Alright, fine. Whadda ya want from me? Do I gotta fight myself or something?”

The Kiryu look-alike said nothing. Instead, he merely shook his head; at least the real Kiryu would just say what was on his mind. Majima turned his attention to his other self and gave him a good once-over.

Dark, menacing, and not a damn thing to say about it. Just like the original, minus the silent treatment. It honestly reminded him of the Hannya-Man schtick he pulled on Kiryu before, but the deadly silence seemed completely genuine. What was he supposed to do? Dealing with his emotions was the farthest thing from his capabilities at that point in time, and he couldn’t seem to force himself awake...

It hit him like a sack of bricks.

“Move it.”

Majima gave the obtuse guardian of his mind a good shove, refusing to let up until the Kiryu double and his own were face to face. The Hannya-Man seemed threatened, but he stood his ground anyway. True to character, which Majima wordlessly appreciated.

“I can’t fix this crazy psycho. What the hell do you think you’re here for, huh?” he stated matter-of-factly. “To stand around and look pretty? You’re supposed to be Kiryu-chan, right? Act like it, damn it!”

Kiryu was dense as a brick, but he always knew how to bring Majima back down when he’d reached the top of his limits. That was just what Kiryu did best.

“Those masks are just metaphorical bullshit, and I don’t got time to stand around and deal with you two. Kiss and make up so I can get back to the real Kiryu-chan, eh?”

He’d only dealt with lucid dreams a few times, but he would gladly break out the big guns with one so emotionally loaded. Not that it worked quite the way he wanted, as it was. The lion-masked Kiryu hesitated before he gently cupped the cheek of the hannya-masked Majima. The motion could’ve made him gag, but the results bore nothing but... strange fruit.

The second Kiryu removed his mask first, a pained expression plastered on his face. It clearly hurt him to confront the Hannya-Man so, but he obeyed the real Majima regardless. The second Majima bristled at the contact, clearly refusing to be complacent; once again, Majima felt a strange surge of pride, but it faded quickly.

“Take your damn mask off, Goro.”

Both Majima felt severely uncomfortable with the wording of the demand, but his other piece cooperated without much fuss. He removed it so cautiously Majima nearly screamed, but…

The face beneath crushed the breath from his lungs. The pure sorrow and confusion the second Majima seemed to be consumed with ought to have brought any seasoned tough guy to his knees, trails of tears included. That... That was how he truly felt on the inside, as much as he hated to admit it. Hurt, angry, and not knowing what to do about it but stew it all together in his brow... The truth stung, but there it was in front of him.

“... Come on, Kiryu-chan...” he pleaded weakly, only filled with the desire to wake up.

Please…

Tears burned his lonely eye when the two met by the lips, streaks down their cheeks as well.

 


 

Majima didn’t jump awake, but Kiryu could easily tell he’d awoken by the skip in his breath. He said nothing, but he didn’t have to. Majima wasn’t expecting the other man to be awake anyhow, the clock telling him that at least three hours had passed.

“Another shitty dream…” he grumbled, too half-drunk and reluctant to move around much.

The room spun around him just the same, pissing him off enough to sigh heftily yet stay stock still. Forgetting himself, he squeezed Kiryu’s hand with his own, but even if he cared to remember the tough guy act he would neglect it. Not that the impression would last, but for the remainder of the night he was tired of acting strong. The sting in his eye was all too reminiscent of his dream.

“Another shitty fuckin’ dream…”

Kiryu clutched his distressed lover close, and that was all either of them needed to feel to know what they needed to. Majima remained silent, digging his nails into Kiryu’s skin to stay so. The pain translated to something very different for the both of them. Even with both of their walls still up partially, they could communicate something so desperately needed to each other.

They were all-in. No two ways about it.