He'd never had a term for it before. It had been a point of ridicule for many years, people using it against him, saying he was strange, that he should want it - that he wasn't a man if he didn't.
But Kiryu had never been interested in women the same way others had been. He didn't look at them like they were prizes to be won, he never got yelled at for staring up their skirts, or touching places he shouldn't have. He thought it was rude, thought it was wrong. If he voiced that opinion he was called a prude, or accused of being queer.
He had come to accept the term, albeit loosely, never using it for himself, but always thinking, queer. Was that it? Is that what he was? Were the feelings he felt when he kissed Yumi wrong, then? Was he not attracted to women?
But his feelings for Yumi never abated; he still felt a dull ache whenever he would think of her. As much as he loved his two best childhood friends, he had never felt quite the same way about Nishiki. It was a very different feeling of loss and grief for each of them. He knew that they were feelings of a different kind of love; something separate from familial love.
It wasn't until he met Hinata that he began to understand what it all meant. She was beautiful, intelligent, a bit of a pain, but he enjoyed her company regardless. She had said things that he had only thought of in passing many times over the years. She wasn't interested in any kind of sexual relationship, but she told him she wouldn't mind if it were with him. She said she was willing to, but Kiryu knew it was only out of obligation, to try and please him, thank him for all that he'd done for her.
He had felt that way plenty of times, sometimes wondering if he should just get it over with. Rina had offered, despite liking girls, and he felt comfortable with her... But it never felt right, they could never go through with it. She had been understanding, despite the teasing about his sexuality. She joked that it would be easier if he liked men, but as Kiryu lay beside her, his arm wrapped protectively around her shoulders, he had to wonder if it really would be. He didn't think any other potential hookup would have been as patient as Rina.
In fact, he knew they wouldn't have been. He'd been laughed at the first time he'd ended up in a hotel with a handsome young host. He'd been dreading the inevitable for so long, every step leading up to that moment caused his brain to short circuit. Admitting it was his first time, that he was terrified, that he didn't know if he wanted to; nothing seemed to come out, pressure building until he ended up grasping the confused host's hand, face burning hot. He felt stupid, immature. How ridiculous that a man in his thirties was scared of intimacy. The night had ended with apologies of leading him on, excuses about his sexuality, lies he had become accustomed to.
To Kiryu, having the expectation of going further after long periods of dating weighed on him. He hated the idea of having to behave how the girls expected him to. The dates themselves were fun, to him, they weren't simply a precursor to one steamy night that he had to earn. Holding hands, sitting close and having quiet conversation... It wasn't just enough, it was all he wanted.
Time and time again, he found himself rejecting them, accused of making excuses, broken up with, never hearing from them again. It didn't hurt any less as time went on.
He had all but given up on dating; he was happy with his kids, and the nights where he missed a warm body next to him became fewer and far between. The hole in his heart that had never quite been filled after Yumi's death felt a little smaller whenever he looked at Haruka. He had a purpose, and a family that loved him.
And yet, despite all he had built for himself, he couldn't help but feel that ache in his chest when he thought of having someone by his side. Someone that would stay by him even after finding out about his aversions. He still craved romantic love.
One late Sunday afternoon, when the sun was low and the sound of the waves crashing over the beach could be heard on the front porch steps, he found himself in the company of someone rather unusual.
The pad of bare feet could be heard behind him, followed by the flick of a lighter and the hiss of lit tobacco.
"Oi, no smoking near the house."
He earned an annoyed grunt in response, but as Majima sat down heavily beside him, Kiryu saw him stub out the cigarette in the sand.
Majima leaned his face into his hand, scratching at his beard. The ugly green and yellow shirt that he'd stolen from the back of Kiryu's wardrobe hung off of him, short sleeves down to the middle of his bicep. He wore it unbuttoned, his torso exposed, bunching up where he was bent at the waist. He had gotten a bit sunburned from his time in Okinawa, but over the last few days it had started to fade, leaving him instead with an uneven tan.
The Mad Dog was subdued. It was unusual, to say the least; Kiryu didn't think he'd ever seen Majima truly relaxed. Whenever they saw each other, it was normally due to some tragedy, with Kiryu having to ask another favor of him. He would sneer and scowl, they'd fight, and then his body would end up beaten, bloody and bruised on the ground in front of Kiryu. But the Majima in front of Kiryu now was content, his eyelid drooping as he stared out at the sunset. Subdued looked good on him.
Kiryu sat back and studied him, watching Majima drum his fingers in even rhythm on his knee. His hair had gone frizzy with the salty sea air, losing its usual shine. His eye was turned down at his feet in the sand, the usual crinkles around it had softened, as well as the near-permanent crease in his brow. His whole appearance was disheveled, and so very different than Kiryu was accustomed to.
Looking at Majima as he was now, Kiryu felt a familiar feeling creep up on him. One that usually spelled disaster for his friendships. He clenched his jaw and looked away, feeling ashamed.
He had too many reasons to believe that Majima could never be what Kiryu needed. No one wanted to be tied down to a partner that couldn't even show affection, much less Majima, who commonly bragged about the harem he'd curated around the globe.
"Why d'ya keep doin' that?" Majima's voice cuts through the silence, startling Kiryu.
He blinked a couple times, trying to regain his composure, and grabbed his knee for support. "Doing what?"
"Starin' at me."
Kiryu's breath caught in his throat. He clenched his fist, digging his nails into his kneecap. "I don't mean to. Sorry."
Kiryu shifted himself on the step, pulling his leg out from underneath him. He hoped the action was subtle enough that Majima wouldn't notice the extra distance put between them.
Majima fished his cigarette out of the sand and held it between his thumb and forefinger. He straightened the crooked end, then started tearing off the paper, tobacco spilling out over his hands. He looked vacant, like he was thinking something over. "Yer just about the densest man on the planet, Kiryu-chan. Y'know that?" He threw the remains of the cigarette away, peppering the ground with bits of paper and tobacco.
Kiryu's stomach churned, the curry they'd had for dinner suddenly not sitting too well. "What?"
Majima huffed, clasping his hands together in his lap and staring down at them for a long while. "Dunno how ya get by with a rock for a brain..." He looked up, his expression relaxed, but suddenly very tired. "Look, Kiryu-chan, I'm here, and we've got less than a day left. Are ya gonna spill it or not?"
The inevitable had been thrust upon him at last. Now Kiryu had a decision to make. Could he lie? He'd never been a good liar, and he didn't consider Majima stupid enough to fall for any bluff he could come up with; so should he go along with it? Or was he about to lose another close friend?
Words failed him as he stared at Majima, wordlessly opening and closing his mouth to no avail. Instead, he leaned in towards Majima and kissed him. It was strange, but far from unpleasant. Up close, Kiryu could smell the sunscreen that he had insisted on putting on Majima's nose that morning. He hesitantly reached for Majima's hand resting on the ground next to them and held it, threading their fingers together with little resistance.
He had expected Majima to be rough, to force him down as soon as he got the okay, but he stayed, deepening the kiss only after feeling it out first. His lips moved slowly, almost delicately against Kiryu's as he brought a hand up to hold the edge of his jaw.
Kiryu followed suit, shifting closer and sliding his hand around to the back of Majima's neck. He rested his forehead against Majima's, squeezing his hand affectionately.
It was promising. He hadn't thought of Majima as the type to kiss so softly. Maybe it was because of Okinawa, with its laid-back atmosphere. Or the warm glow of the sunset that they had lost all interest in. Maybe it was the sound of the ocean crashing against the beach, or the salty breeze that tousled their hair, or the warmth of their skin as they pressed up against each other.
Majima had Kiryu sprawled out beneath him, flushed and sweaty, their hands still entwined but pressed hard to the floor as Majima loomed over him. He was still intimidating, even with the garish shirt in place of his usual jacket. Kiryu's heart raced, every other emotion taken over by pure fear.
Majima kissed him again, their noses knocking together as he dove forward, a hungry expression on his face. Everything felt different this time around, and Kiryu was reminded of how he always felt on dates; like everyone only expected niceties before getting to the main event.
A finger trailed down his stomach, dangerously near the waistband of his pants.
It seemed that they'd finally gotten there.
He wedged his hand in between their chests, shoving Majima off of him with more force than he'd meant. He sat up, using the confusion to pull his hand out from under Majima's.
He waited for the inevitable. For the conversation he'd had a hundred times. What happened? Did I do something wrong? Don't you like me? Can't you just go along with it? No matter how it was worded, the end result was still the same.
"The hell? What's your problem!?"
A little harsher than usual, but that was to be expected.
"I'm not... good with this sort of thing." Not good didn't quite cover it, but Kiryu couldn't think of a better way to put it. He had a feeling that telling Majima he was a virgin would be a bad idea, and he really wasn't in the mood to be laughed at today.
Majima pushed the hair off his sweaty forehead. "Ya think I care about that? I've been tryin' to get through that thick skull of yours for years. I wouldn't care what you were like, Kiryu-chan." His voice was breathy, coming out hot against Kiryu's face.
Kiryu paused, unsure how to continue. He stared at Majima's kiss-swollen lips, slightly parted. He turned his head to the side, unable to stand the intensity of Majima's stare. "I don't want to."
It came out all wrong; sounding so much worse than what he had meant. He looked up to see the familiar face of rejection, made so much worse by the one that displayed it. It was a look Kiryu had never seen on Majima before; crestfallen, vulnerable, yet somehow blank. Like all the energy had been knocked from his body in one swift blow.
He sat up, lifting his hips, dragging his leg across Kiryu's stomach as he got off of him. Kiryu was used to outrage, hurt, confusion; but never resignation. Never like this. He struggled with his words, falling short of a proper answer to his behavior. He couldn't begin to imagine what he could say to Majima that would explain the complex feelings he had.
On one hand, he truly did love and care about Majima. He considered him a true friend, one of the only he had, and thoughts of being in a relationship with him had crossed his mind more often than he'd openly admit. There was really only one problem, and it was that he didn't like sex.
Kiryu reached for Majima's hand again, but he pulled it away. "Ya ain't like me," Majima spoke to the ground, "Are ya, Kiryu-chan? Never have been like me. Ya got this whole..." he gestures vaguely around, struggling with his words, "This. This place, yer kids, a dog. I'm some yahoo with a knife."
Kiryu slowly shook his head, forming silent words with his mouth that refused to be said. He tried again to hold Majima's hand, but when he moved away again, Kiryu settled for running his fingers through Majima's hair instead. He tensed up a bit, but seemed to allow it.
"Majima no niisan..." Kiryu finally managed to say, voice startlingly loud. "It's not because I don't care about you." He dropped his voice low, suddenly aware that one of the kids may be listening. "Because I do. And I don't think I could ever make you see how good the Okinawa sun makes you look, or how much the kids enjoy having you around." He looked down at his calloused fingers and swallowed hard. He felt his face prickling with heat, and he was sure his cheeks must be bright red by now. "But I can't, Majima-san. I... haven't."
After hearing the last word, Majima's face scrunched up with mirth, like it was the funniest thing he'd ever heard. "Y-You don't say, huh, Kiryu-chan?" He snickered, and Kiryu's heart sunk all over again. "Is that what yer so scared of?"
His hand dropped onto Majima's shoulder, gripping it tightly. He squirmed slightly under the pressure. "It's not like I haven't tried." It comes out dripping with resentment, his jaw clenched around his words as if he'd never intended to let them slip out.
Majima clapped Kiryu on the back, lending him a sideways smile. "Eh, we've all had our days, don't you be worryin' about that too much."
Kiryu had the strong urge to punch him.
"I'm not interested in sex." It was the first time he'd said it out loud. He felt both relieved and ridiculous at finally saying what it was that had plagued him for his whole life, but the incredulous expression on Majima's face forced it more towards ridiculous. He had always dreaded the inevitable, when he would finally have someone he couldn't stand the thought of losing, only to tell them the complete truth and watch them walk away and never look back. No one in their right mind would keep him around after learning his childish aversion.
"Never?" Majima questioned, turning to look at Kiryu.
"Never." Kiryu confirmed. "Not with you, and not with anyone else. Ever." He found it difficult to look into Majima's eye, and so his gaze instead wandered around, glancing over his arms, slim but toned, his legs, gangly, spread open with his bare feet pressed together. He wondered if he'd ever see Majima back here in Okinawa, where the worries brought by Kamurocho melted off of him and made him a different man.
"We should work on yer kissin' then."
Kiryu's gaze snapped up to look at Majima once again. He was wearing a soft smile, the corners of his mouth turned upwards with genuine fondness. There was a certain element of understanding held within it, as if Majima had already suspected as much.
"What?" Kiryu asked dumbly. He wasn't sure what to make of everything, much less try and form a proper response.
"Yer kissin'." Majima repeated, his face splitting into a grin. "I mean, ya kiss like an oversized fish. If we're an item, we really gotta work on that. I'll give pointers, a'course."
Kiryu blinked, slowly processing Majima's words. An item? Pointers? "Oi, I do not! You nearly choked me with how far you stuck your tongue down my throat!"
Majima let out one of his signature cackles, piercing the peaceful night air.
Kiryu couldn't help but smile back, especially now that the tension had drained out of him. He felt happier than he had in years.
"So then you're really fine with..." Kiryu paused and pressed his fingertips together before gesturing broadly in front of them. "...the way things are going to be?" He tried to remember if he'd ever gotten this far with any one of his past flings, to have some idea of whether or not this could work. He didn't think he'd ever had anyone stick around after laughing in his face... Not that he would've usually wanted them to after that.
"Ya think I'd turn all'a this down just 'cause yer not down to get down with me? Kiryu-chan, this is heaven... And the eye candy ain't so bad either." He nudged Kiryu in the ribs and made a face that he suspected was Majima's version of a wink. His smile settled, becoming real again. "I haven't felt more like myself in a long time, Kiryu-chan. Ya bring out the best in me." His voice had dropped low, turning unusually smooth. It reminded Kiryu of his favourite scotch.
Now when Kiryu reached for his hand, he let him take it. Majima moved closer, leaning up against Kiryu, pulling their joined hands into his lap. Kiryu let out a sigh of relief, closing his eyes and smiling gently to himself.
The sun had set, and the stars shone brightly above them. Kiryu held a warmth in his heart that he didn't think was possible. He was content, more than ever, and if he hadn't been afraid to wake up from the perfect dream, he'd have pinched himself to make sure.
"You're sure?" Kiryu asked, his voice wavering ever so slightly.
"You'd be surprised to know I ain't all that different from you, Kiryu-chan." Majima murmured, his hand tightening around Kiryu's. "Some scars don't show on the surface."
Kiryu briefly wondered if he should press it, but instead decided to snake an arm around Majima's hips, impossibly warm against the crook of his elbow. He pressed a kiss to Majima's temple.
Just like Okinawa itself, they'd take things slow. One of the benefits of knowing each other for half their lives was that they knew when things were best left alone... at least for the moment.
In the pale light of the stars, with the sound of the waves and chirping of crickets enveloping them, two lonely ex-yakuza find themselves dozing off in the comfort of each others' arms; the uncertainty of the future ahead of them was something to deal with another day.