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Crimson Threads

Chapter Text

Everything was dark and the room was silent. The last thing Atsushi heard was the door locking. He couldn't quite tell how long ago that was now. There was a clock in the room, it didn’t matter. He couldn’t see anyway; not with this blindfold on. He had tried counting the seconds as they passed, but he eventually lost count after the third or fourth minute. After all, the discomfort of the position he had been put in was rather… distracting.

The sound of his own heartbeat and measured breathing was joined by the squeaky noise of the wet, silicone ball gag against his teeth as he tried to make himself comfortable. Atsushi forced himself to relax his jaw as he tilted his head back and felt his hair falling away from his face. At least he could swallow a little easier like this.

Atsushi heard static sparking from the receiver in his ear, followed by Issay’s comforting voice saying, “Acchan? Can you hear me?”

“Unh.” That was all Atsushi could manage with the ball gag in the way. It couldn’t be helped.

Issay hummed, satisfied. “I wasn’t sure if this was going to work, but it seems alright.”

Atsushi grunted again.

“I’m out in the garden now,” Issay said. “And I can see you.”

Atsushi could practically hear the smile in his voice.

“I wish you could see yourself right now, Atsushi,” Issay chuckled, sounding particularly pleased. “I should probably snap a photo and show it to you later.”

Atsushi shook his head. It was embarrassing enough as it is.

“So beautiful,” Issay muttered and sighed wistfully. “How nice of you to show up at my door like this,” he said, “wearing nothing but a trench coat over your corset, and garters, and stockings.”

Reminded of his state, Atsushi huffed and jerked his arms, which were bound to the armrests of the chair he sat in with silk wraps.

“Careful, Acchan,” Issay’s concerned voice warned through the receiver. “I don’t want you falling over and hurting yourself.”

Atsushi whined, shaking his head furiously in frustration. Then, a mild vibration started and stopped suddenly in his small, black briefs, against his scrotum. He groaned, this time trying to move his legs, which have been bound to keep them bent and spread apart to put his nether regions on full display. Obviously, he could not move either.

Issay chuckled low. “I assume the vibrator works as well?”

Atsushi tossed his head back and groaned as the vibrator was turned on and off at random. Unable to predict when the stimulation came, each jolt felt more intense than it normally would be. Atsushi could feel himself growing harder from the vibrations. With the briefs keeping his genitals stuffed with the vibrator, Atsushi getting an erection only meant that he was not going to get any relief from this.

“Don’t they all call you a tiger, Atsushi?” Issay asked teasingly. “So, Atsushi, tell me; are you now a tiger? Or a kitten?”

Atsushi whined and turned his head to the side, suddenly self-conscious at the thought of anyone else seeing him like this.

He could hear Issay huff and chuckle quietly as he said, “A kitten, aren’t you?” Atsushi didn’t respond but neither did Issay wait for one as he added, “My precious kitten.”

Atsushi could feel a rush of affection in his veins, making his body tingle and his cheeks warm. As he revelled in Issay’s soothing murmurs, Atsushi eventually left the vibrator buzzing noisily and incessantly. The constant stimulation shook him from his tranquil contentment, turning him irate again. Attempting to shake the vibrator loose, Atsushi tried to thrust his hips but only succeeded in making the chair jerk.

“Be careful, Acchan,” Issay repeated. He now sounded slightly breathless. It seemed like he, too, was affected by Atsushi’s increasingly indecent appearance. “Don’t get too eager now.”

Atsushi made a noise, a weak, incoherent imitation of Issay’s name before he whined, long and loud.

Issay increased the vibrator’s intensity and chuckled, “How badly do you want me, Atsushi?”

Atsushi whined again, tossing his head back as he tried to thrash around.

Issay chuckled again then paused. He was silent for a while before he asked, “Did you hear that?”

“Ngh?”

“There was a- Who are-!” Issay’s voice got cut off, leaving Atsushi alone in the darkness.

Atsushi found himself holding his breath as he nervously waited for Issay’s voice to come back. He waited a while and then tried to call out to Issay with an incoherent grunt.

There was no response. This was weird. Whatever libido he had has dissipated. Worry replaced it, gnawing at Sakurai’s chest as he continued to wait for Issay to say something. Did Issay’s transceiver malfunction? Or did something happen to him?

The last few words Issay blurted were stuck in Atsushi’s head. The more he thought about it, the more convinced he was that something untoward had happened to Issay. He furrowed his brow. What should he do? Rather, what could he do when he was bound up like this?

Just then, the doorknob rattled loudly. Atsushi was faced away from it and even though he couldn’t see, his first instinct was to try and turn around to confront whoever was coming in. Unfortunately for him, he was bound too securely to move. Atsushi’s helplessness in this state vexed him greatly. As much as he wanted to do something, he found himself completely incapable of anything.

The door suddenly opened noisily and someone barged in. They didn’t act like how Issay would if he entered the room again and this didn’t sound like Issay’s footsteps. Anger and panic welled up in Atsushi’s chest, and as he felt his blindfold being removed, he squinted his eyes against the glare, swung his arm with all his strength, and sat up.

Atsushi looked around, eyes narrowed against the bright sunlight as he tried to orientate himself. The sound of the doorknob rattling assaulted his ears again and he snapped his head to his bedroom door, only to find Chibi, his short-fur calico cat, stretching up to paw at the doorknob. He breathed in deep and sighed. It was a dream.

Relieved as Atsushi was that nothing bad had happened, he couldn't help but feel disappointed that he was never with Issay after all. How long has it been since the last time they met?

Stretching his arms out, Atsushi groped around under the sheets in search for his phone. When his hand finally hit something hard, he grabbed it and brought it to him. He turned on the screen. Ten in the morning. No messages or calls came in while he was asleep.

Atsushi swiped through his contacts list and stopped at Issay's number. He paused. Should he call? He stared at the number for a while, thumb hovering above the phone symbol. If Issay has yet to contact him, it must mean that he's still busy, right?

Atsushi groaned and tossed his phone aside. Throwing himself back down onto the bed, he curled and heaved a sigh as he stared at the ring on his fourth finger. Grey fur came into sight as Momo, his other cat, approached him and rubbed his head against Atsushi's face with a meow. Atsushi smiled and took Momo into his arms. Kneading his fur as he gazed forlornly at Momo, Atsushi sighed and asked, "What should I do?"

Chapter Text

"A what?!"

"An heir."

Throwing his hands in the air, Issay exclaimed, "Where the fuck did that come from?!"

"It was part of the fine print," Mizunaga muttered, throwing down a thick folder, supposedly Issay's father's will, onto the ancient desk that Issay sat behind.

"And you didn't see it."

"Look at how thick this damned thing is!" Mizunaga gestured at the folder. "I sure as hell am not reading that."

Issay dropped into the swivel chair and leaned back. Running his hands through his short, messy hair, he covered his eyes with a hand, exhaled a heavy sigh, leaned back, and muttered, "An heir. By when?"

"By forty," Otsuka repeated thinly, clearly stressed by this turn of events. He was sitting in a chair on the opposite side of the desk, holding his chin his hand with a furrow between his eyebrows.

"You tell me this… when I'm 4 years into this stupid thing and less than a year left to the deadline," Issay seethed.

"Look, we just found out about this as well, alright?" Otsuka retorted. "If you wanna blame someone, blame the lawyers for taking their time to read through Senior's will."

Issay clenched the armrests tightly, digging his fingers into the leather as he gritted his teeth and let out a low growl of frustration. Breathing deeply, he exhaled and said, "Tell me again."

Mizunaga put a finger to the document and read, "An heir by the age of forty or you’ll be given… ‘time off managing duties’."

" Time off managing duties ," Issay muttered angrily. "What’s the point of me working so hard over the past four years just to get forced off. This. Damned. Seat again," he slammed a fist on the armrest of his chair with each emphasis, “by my own father. And whoever takes over would just unravel everything I’ve done.”

"Yes," Otsuka muttered. “I’ve got a few guesses of who would get picked and… you know why they’re popular.”

Issay scoffed, "And here I was hoping that I could turn this all around into a proper conglomerate.”

“You’re about… thirty per cent there?” Otsuka estimated, his face contorted in a wince.

Issay narrowed his eyes and clicked his tongue. “ I know ,” he grumbled. “It’s not as if it’s impossible to play around with politics and negotiate a split.”

“Best case scenario, that is,” Otsuka chuckled, obviously sceptical.

Issay waved a hand, dismissing the topic with an eye roll. He did know it was almost impossible, but then again, they thought that what he was doing was impossible, to begin with, didn’t they?

Mizunaga cleared his throat noisily, catching the attention of Mori and Issay as he said, “Back to our latest problem…”

Sighing heavily, Issay muttered bitterly, “I had hoped that no other child has to come into this… lifestyle.” He stood up and paced around the lushly furnished home office. In all honesty, it was still more his father’s style than his own, but Issay saw no point in redecorating something that left a good impression on visitors. He rarely came to the main building anyway.

Striding to the wine cabinet, he mumbled, "I need a fucking drink- Wait." A thought suddenly struck him. "I'll just adopt some random kid."

"Nope," Mizunaga immediately shot down the idea. He now had the folder in his hands, flipping through the section in the will that pertained to this headache of a dilemma. "Says right here that the child needs to be 'a firstborn male of Fujisaki flesh and blood'," he said, pointing to a subsection of the ‘inheritance’ clause.

"Fuck the old man and his obsession with blood relations," Issay cursed as he stood up. Racking his brain for ideas, he stood in front of the wine cabinet and picked a bottle out. He picked up the corkscrew in hand and he angrily twisted it into the top of the bottle as he grumbled to himself, "Now I can't even go out and find a random woman to fuck because it has to be a boy. If the first one doesn't birth a boy, how many women would I have to fuck?!”

Issay paused and yanked the cork out of the bottle with a loud pop. “I am NOT doing anything that disgusting," he declared, turning around and pointing the corkscrew at his two friends-cum-aides.

“I know you’re angry, but whatever you do,” Mizunaga muttered, “just don’t stab us with that thing.”

Issay huffed and put the bottle down on the mahogany desk before going to look for wine glasses with the corkscrew still in his hand. “If there’s anyone who deserves to be stabbed, it’s my old man for coming up with all these stupid clauses,” he fumed. “I’d stuff this thing right up his nose and go straight for his brain,” he continued, taking out one wine glass from a cabinet.

Turning to the two other men, he asked, “Want some?”

They shook their heads mutely.

Closing the cabinet, Issay grumbled, “Too bad he’s dead and gone and nothing would happen even if I dug his rotting corpse out and did it.”

“I understand that you’re upset but you’re better off trying to think of a solution than wasting your energy with that anyway,” Otsuka sighed.

With an angry frown stuck on his face, Issay poured the wine into the glass before bringing the cork at the end of the corkscrew to his nose to breathe in the delicate scent. “Smells good,” he muttered to himself, expression lightening a tiny bit.

Just then, loud banging sounded on the closed door to the office before a subordinate, Nakano, probably, charged in. Panting and heaving, he shut the door behind him, gave a hasty bow and said quickly, “I sincerely apologise for the interruption, oyabun, but-”

“How many times do I have to tell you to stop addressing me by that?” Issay cut in with a growl.

Keeping his head down, the man shrunk back and muttered, “I-I apologise… Sir.”

“What is this about?” Otsuka questioned, sounding impatient.

“T-There’s been an intruder.”

“And?” MIzunaga shot. “This is what you're being paid for. Can’t you handle it?”

“Um… We're trying but… He’s… The men are…”

“Failing?" Issay asked, unsurprised for some reason.

“Y-Yes… Sir.”

Holding the wineglass in his hand, Issay swirled and sipped, leaning back to rest against the front of the desk as Otsuka groaned and got up.

“We're not even fit enough to be fucking around with skirmishes like these anymore," Otsuka grumbled.

"Speak for yourself," Issay smiled wryly.

Otsuka ignored him. Turning to Nakano, he said, "Considering how I’m not hearing any gunshots, I assume no firearms are involved."

"No, Sir. No knives, swords, nothing sharp either," Nakano reported.

"You're telling me that many of you can't handle a pair of fists?" Mizunaga scoffed.

"You can't handle mine, can you?" Issay taunted as he sipped his wine.

Mizunaga clicked his tongue and rolled his eyes, clearly reminded of… a number of incidents.

As Issay chuckled, Nakano added, "But he does have a baton."

This particular piece of information caught Issay's attention. "A baton?"

Otsuka, on the other hand, was unfazed as he asked, "Did this man say where he's from or what he wants?"

"Some of our men recognised him as a boss from another organisation. From Tokyo, I believe," Nakano answered with a gulp. "And all he said was that he wanted to see oyab- um, Fujisaki."

Issay broke into a smile. "Well, well, well. This is unexpected."

As if on cue, a loud bang rattled the heavy double doors to the office. Issay's smile grew wider and he put his glass down. Seeing his expression, both Otsuka and Mizunaga sighed knowingly and sat down in their respective armchairs. Nakano, however, was utterly confused by their unconcerned behaviour.

The doors burst open for the second time tonight and as one of Issay's subordinates stumbled into the office, bloody and battered, he heard a cold, derisive remark of "weak". Issay could barely contain his elation now as Atsushi, dressed in a white shirt and black pants under a black trench coat, walked in through the doors, dark eyes fixed on the crumpled figure on the ground with that retractable titanium baton of his in his hand.

Oblivious to his surroundings, Atsushi ran a hand through his shoulder-length hair as he stalked over to the beat-up man and crouched over him. Grabbing his collar, he lifting Issay’s subordinate and growled, “How do you expect yourself to keep your boss safe when you’re this weak ? When can’t even handle me when I’m here on a friendly visit?”

Seeing Atsushi distracted, Nakano attempted to disarm Atsushi by grappling and wrestling him to the floor, but Atsushi simply flicked his baton up between Nakano’s legs, giving him a good hard smack without exerting any effort.

Otsuka, Mizunaga, and Issay all winced involuntarily as Nakano crumpled to the floor with a loud groan, “That’s low!”

“Throwing god knows how many men at one person isn’t exactly playing fair either, is it?” Atsushi retorted. He then grumbled, "Fancy tiring me out before I even see him."

Pulling Nakano up by his collar this time around, Atsushi asked with a big sigh, "For the umpteenth time, where is he?"

Nakano extended a finger and, without much hesitance, pointed towards Issay. Following Nakano's direction, Atsushi finally laid eyes on Issay who silently watched the exchange with a silly smile hidden behind his hand.

Stunned that he did not notice Issay's presence, Atsushi froze for a moment before rising to his feet in a quick recovery, running into Issay's open arms in wordless joy and pressed his lips against Issay’s. The impact from Atsushi's momentum made Issay grunt and step back into the desk but with Atsushi holding him tight, he need not worry about falling backwards even if he did stumble.

Atsushi gave him a long, hard kiss before breaking off to bury his face in the crook of Issay's neck, unabashedly enjoying his warmth as he muttered, "I missed you."

"And I, you," Issay whispered, planting a kiss on the side of Atsushi's head as he ran his hands through Atsushi's hair. "Why didn't you say that you were coming by? I could've told them that I was expecting someone and saved you all this trouble."

"Mm…" Atsushi rubbed his forehead against Issay's shoulder and turned, looking up at Issay as he mumbled, "Surprise…?"

"You definitely did take them by surprise, alright," Issay chuckled, giving Atsushi another soft kiss on the lips.

"Honestly," Atsushi straightened up, his expression changing, "you should come home with me right now."

"Hm?"

"How do you expect me to believe that you're safe when they can't even deal with one person?" Atsushi scoffed.

"That one person being you?" Issay chuckled.

"How are they supposed to keep you safe if someone carried out a full-fledged invasion?"

"I have you," Issay cooed, smiling as he held Atsushi with his arms around his waist.

"But I'm not always here," Atsushi stressed. Pressing his forehead against Issay's, he gazed into his eyes and implored, "Come home with me, please ."

"You know I can't," Issay replied sadly. "You know this is the best we can do in these circumstances."

Eyes downcast, Atsushi's shoulders slumped as Issay caressed the side of his face and said softly, "Don't make such an expression now, Acchan. We're together now, aren't we?"

Atsushi sighed forlornly as he clutched Issay’s hand quietly.

“We’ll leave you two to your own little world,” Mizunaga interrupted, reminding Issay that he was still there with Otsuka and the gradually recovering subordinates. Walking out of the office with the folder in hand, he muttered spitefully, “We need to assess the damage and clean up after him anyway.”

“We’ll talk about it again tomorrow,” Otsuka said, nodding as he began ushering Nakano and the other man out of the office.

“It?” Atsushi asked Issay.

“A new problem has cropped up,” Issay sighed, massaging his temple. “But forget that,” he said as he waved his hand in the air as if to dismiss the thought of it. Smiling, he said, “It’s all about you now.”

Atsushi smiled back at him as Issay poured Atsushi a glass of wine and handed it to him. Holding his own glass in his hand, Issay tilted it towards Atsushi’s and clinked them together before downing the wine. Atsushi held Issay’s eye contact as he drank his wine in one shot too. He wordlessly handed his empty glass to Issay, who simply placed it on the desk next to his own empty glass.

As Issay began ushering Atsushi out of the room, Atsushi looked back at the bottle and asked, “Not taking that with us?”

“I’ve got others in my quarters,” Issay smiled.

Linking arms with Atsushi, Issay walked around the expansive main building, an old Japanese residence, with him. With Atsushi's sudden visit, the household was, as expected, busy with the clean-up as they strolled along, carefree.

Issay gave Atsushi a tour of the place by first retracing Atsushi's entry route back to the front of the building. As they walked, Issay peppered his introduction with tidbits of memories he made in each corner. They took their time but eventually, they came to the entryway which was… a mess, to say the least.

Everywhere Issay looked, there were signs of a rather large scuffle; furniture out of place, broken pottery, dented partition walls. Seeing it spiked concern through Issay. Putting a hand over Atsushi's, he asked, "I know you said you were fine, but are you hurt? Did anyone hit you?"

"Hm?" Atsushi looked over at Issay, expression and tone light, as he gave the question a thought and said, "Maybe? I'm not sure. I don't feel any pain though."

Issay furrowed his brow, concerned by Atsushi's answer. "I'll have a look later," he said, brushing the worry aside as best he could. If Atsushi was well enough to laugh and stroll with him though, he should be alright. "Come to think of it, did you really come all the way here without anything else? No change of clothes, nothing…?"

"I… did have a bag…" Atsushi looked around, scanning the floor for the said bag. "I put it down somewhere around here when I got my baton out."

"Hm. I guess we'll see if it shows up at my quarters," Issay muttered.

Atsushi nodded and they continued through to the other side of the building. As they walked, he commented, "I honestly didn't expect your… place to be this huge. I thought I was going to get lost when I came in."

"If even you are saying that, I'm sure you can guess how often I lose my way around here," Issay chuckled. "And you know what's even better?"

"What?"

"There are annexes in the compound."

"… What?" Atsushi repeated.

"As big as this place is, it’s only the first one-third of the entire estate," Issay informed. "I don't even sleep here."

"Then… where are your… quarters?" Atsushi asked, trying to grasp the actual scale of the Fujisaki residence.

"In one of the standalone buildings behind this place," Issay answered. He could not help but grin at Atsushi's surprise and fascination. "This is a world away from the usual hotel suites we meet up in, isn't it?"

Nodding slowly, Atsushi muttered, "I could've really gotten lost in here."

"And yet you found me," Issay smiled softly. "Some internal compass of yours must've pointed you in the right direction."

"Hm, who knows," Atsushi smiled back, nuzzling Issay as he led them through one of the rooms and out to the edging of the house by the side garden.

"What do you need so many gardens for?" Atsushi asked as he took in the contrastingly peaceful night scene. "There's a garden here, one I went around when I was looking for you… There are even more, aren't there?" he asked when he noticed Issay chuckling.

"Yes," Issay nodded. "What can I say?" He shrugged. "The whole place is excessive but that's how my ancestors liked it."

"And the rooms," Atsushi muttered, turning to look past Issay and back into the house where some of the sliding doors were left open. "There's just… so many and so big ."

"Well, they’re nice to sit and relax in if I’m ever on my own. Or train, spar; I don't really want to lose what I learnt from the police academy," Issay smirked. "It's also useful when we've got meetings or parties involving the rest of the organisation," he went on. "With all the different departments and divisions, that's necessary."

"Necessary?" Atsushi echoed.

"Watch your step," Issay cautioned gently, guiding Atsushi down the rugged stone steps into the garden with a momentary squeeze on Atsushi's hand. As they navigated the stepping stones and continued through the garden, Issay explained, "Business… sort of expanded. We have more members now since operations have begun to bleed into the white, and grey areas of the law, so, yes, necessary for the number of people involved."

Atsushi was silent for a while as he looked around, seemingly admiring the meticulously maintained garden before he said, "There's a lot of money involved, isn't there?"

"Hm?"

"I've always asked you to come back with me but… this is…" Atsushi's voice grew smaller as he muttered, "What I have is as good as nothing compared to this -"

Issay laughed, clasping a hand over Atsushi's as he said, "You don't really think I want this, do you?"

"But my apartment," Atsushi grimaced and gestured around him, "compared to all of this?"

"May I remind you that I ran away from this, love," Issay said, still holding Atsushi's hand in his. "I chose to scurry around without a home and everything I owned in a small bag for 5 years instead of coming back to this."

Atsushi sighed heavily at Issay's mention of those agonising few years.

Issay barked a laugh. "We could live in a tent in the middle of nowhere and I'd still be happier there than I am living here," he said. Turning to face Atsushi, Issay squeezed his hand and said, “It doesn’t matter where I am, as long as we’re happy. But… we can still enjoy each other’s company while we still can."

Atsushi's eyes snapped to Issay. "While… we still can?" he repeated.

"Hm?" Issay turned to Atsushi, giving him a wane smile as he led them down a wide dirt path behind the main house. "Mind your footing, love. We never got around to paving these parts," he said quietly, hoping that Atsushi did not notice him evading the question.

As the conversation faded away, Issay could feel Atsushi's curious gaze on him. He was probably still hung up on those words he said. Issay silently cursed himself for letting them slip. He had not wanted to speak of his latest problem, at least for tonight, but it has proven that even if he was not actively thinking about it, it still lingered in the back of his mind.

The path was not as well lit as the garden was, but it nice and quiet back here, a world away from the lively main building. While Issay could pretend that they were somewhere else, he could always spot the border walls of the estate out of the corner of his eye, reminding him where they were and what obligations tied him to this place.

“Issay?”

“Hm?”

“… What did you mean by ‘while we still can’?”

Issay breathed in deep and exhaled. He knew Atsushi would be unsettled by that phrase. “Don’t think about it now,” he dismissed. “We’ll be discussing it tomorrow anyway.”

An uncomfortable silence descended upon them. Issay could feel Atsushi tensing up next to him, no longer enjoying their stroll. He furrowed his brow and tensed his jaw. He had wanted to prevent this from happening but now that he had gone and said that.

Issay released Atsushi's arm from his own, startling Atsushi for a moment before he snaked the same arm under Atsushi's coat and around his waist. Atsushi looked at him, eyes shining with worry in the dark as Issay paused in his tracks, held Atsushi, and said, "I promise you that I'm not giving up on us. So, don't give up on me, alright?"

Atsushi nodded quietly and sighed, closing his eyes as Issay caressed his cheek. "I don't like this feeling I’m getting from you," he whispered, clasping his hand over Issay's.

"We'll be alright, I promise," Issay said as a soft smile appeared on his face. "It won't be easy, but we'll be alright."

Opening his eyes to gaze at Issay, Atsushi smiled back and said, "I'll hold you to your word."

Issay's smile grew wider and he pulled Atsushi closer, letting Atsushi rest his head on his shoulder as he ran his fingers through the hairs on the nape of Atsushi's neck. "But there is one thing I must ask you.

"… Yes?"

"Pray tell, love, what on earth are you wearing under your shirt?"

"Hn!?" Atsushi tensed as Issay slowly dragged a finger down the seam between what felt like brocade fabric under his shirt on the side of his body. "N… Nothing," Atsushi said under his breath.

"It doesn't feel like nothing," Issay retorted with a smirk as his hand slid to Atsushi's back again and traced the obvious bumps of strings that resembled lacing. "Atsushi?'

"Uhn?" Atsushi looked slightly alarmed, eyes wide at Issay's proper utterance of his name.

Issay smiled as his hand continued to move, shifting lower, down to Atsushi's upper thigh, where Issay felt the telltale strap of a garter belt under Atsushi's pants. Almost grinning now, he asked, "Not gonna show me?"

"When we get to your room-"

"Now?"

" Now ?!" Atsushi hissed as his grip on Issay tightened and his eyes darted around. "But we're-"

"I'm the only one who spends time around here," Issay said, holding Atsushi as he rubbed circles on his back. "It's just us. And you have your trench coat."

Issay could see the gears in Atsushi's head working as he thought about it quietly. "How much further until your building?" he asked.

"Look," Issay turned and pointed to a two storey structure down the road, "you can see it from here."

Atsushi looked over and swallowed. "If someone suddenly appears…"

"I'll handle it," Issay reassured as he twirled Atsushi's hair between his fingers. "You can think it through. We'll keep walking if you don't want to."

Atsushi's hand crept over Issay's, their fingers interlocking as Atsushi stared at the building in the distance. After a quiet moment, he exhaled and brought Issay's hand to his lips. With a soft kiss, he slid his eyes to meet Issay's and muttered, "Say it."

"Sure?"

Atsushi nodded. "I trust you."

Issay smiled, chuckling low as he pulled Atsushi into his embrace again. With an arm around Atsushi's waist and a hand on the back of his neck, Issay whispered low into his ear, "Atsushi. Strip for me."

With a small nod, Atsushi shrugged his coat off, freeing his arms while Issay held it around his shoulders, creating what felt like a flimsy barrier for him. Eyes downcast, Atsushi removed his baton, now retracted, from his belt and clipped it to Issay’s before proceeding to focus on the buttons on his shirt.

Issay noticed Atsushi’s uncharacteristic fumbling as his fingers fussed with the small white discs. The furrow between Atsushi's brows deepened as he fought to force his fingers to cooperate.

"Atsushi, it's alright," Issay said softly. "Just take your time."

Atsushi's eyes darted up at Issay, his distress and frustration clear as day. Issay returned it with a firm gaze and a reassuring nod, lightly squeezing Atsushi's shoulder with a hand as he held the coat up. Exhaling, Atsushi let his shoulders slump. He took a moment to breathe in deep before turning his attention back to the buttons again.

Things went smoothly this time. As Atsushi's fingers moved down, the pale skin of his chest peaked out between the plackets of his shirt. By the fourth button though, bare skin was once again covered, but this time, by a gorgeous silken deep red brocade adorned by black threads enhancing the floral weavings. Upon reaching the last button of his shirt, Atsushi held it open and paused, letting Issay see the slight curve of his waist, accentuated by the corset that Issay suspected Atsushi wore all this while.

Atsushi then took his shirt off and, holding it, began to unbuckle his belt and pants. Dragging the zip down, he then released his pants from his grip, letting the weight of the belt pull it down to the ground to reveal lacy black thigh-high stockings held up by garter belts attached to black briefs which shone like satin in the dim light. Atsushi's legs shifted awkwardly as Issay took his time, taking in the coiling patterns which matched that of the corset's.

Pleased by what he saw, Issay hummed in amusement and smiled. "To think you beat all my men to a pulp while wearing this," he remarked. "Perhaps I should train them in outfits like these."

Atsushi huffed, scrunching his face up in displeasure with a dark glare at Issay’s words.

“Oh, don’t get jealous, my dear Atsushi,” Issay chuckled. “You know I’m just joking.”

Still upset, Atsushi’s eyes darted away and he slowly squatted down. Issay crouched down with him, keeping the coat around Atsushi as he gathered up his pants and carefully withdrew his booted feet from them. When he moved to stand up again, Issay mirrored him without a word, simply watching quietly as Atsushi folded his clothes up. Once done, he held them in his right hand and slipped his left arm back into his coat. With one hand free now, Issay took Atsushi’s clothes from him, letting him put his right arm into the corresponding coat sleeve and wear his coat properly again.

The moment Issay stepped away, Atsushi began closing his coat around himself. Seeing it, Issay held up a hand and asked, “Atsushi, did I say you could do that?”

Atsushi froze mid-action, eyes darting between Issay’s stony expression and the hand that he held up. Swallowing, he reluctantly let go of the lapels of his coat and straightened his posture, standing still before Issay as he waited for the next instruction.

Issay let a smile creep onto his face as he admired Atsushi’s choice of underwear. Tonight had been a night of surprises. It started out terribly but with Atsushi’s unannounced arrival, things have only gotten better and better. He could not quite guess what compelled Atsushi to dress like this, or whatever motivated him to initiate these… games between them, but whatever it is, Issay very much enjoyed what he saw before him now. He had to admit Atsushi had quite impeccable taste. But he should withhold his compliments for later.

Extending an open palm to Atsushi, Issay beckoned him over with a curt, “Atsushi, come.”

With a pinched expression on his face, Atsushi walked over, taking careful steps to prevent his coat from fluttering about too much. Issay watched him quietly, amused by Atsushi's embarrassment as he approached and put his icy fingers into Issay's hand.

"Cold?" Issay asked, holding Atsushi's hand in his. As he pulled Atsushi to him, he asked, "Or is it shame?"

Atsushi blinked and looked down.

Chuckling, Issay slid a hand under Atsushi's coat and smoothed his palm over his firm rear before giving him a good hard squeeze. Surprised by the sudden aggressiveness, Atsushi's breath hitched and an unexpected squeak escaped his throat. Issay continued massaging Atsushi's rear, laughing at Atsushi's reaction as he urged, "Control yourself, Atsushi."

Atsushi shook his head and huffed indignantly despite pressing closer to Issay, who kissed Atsushi's now-warm fingers before removing his hand from Atsushi's person. Issay continued to hold Atsushi's hand in his as he silently led Atsushi forward, towards the solitary building before them.

Issay took long strides, making Atsushi do the same to keep up with his brisk speed. His wide steps made the coat to open up more but Issay guessed that Atsushi would rather they get indoors sooner rather than later.

As they walked, Issay kept turning back to keep an eye on whether anyone was coming towards them and, at the same time, to admire Atsushi’s lithe, scantily clad physique pacing after him in the moonlight. Atsushi's intense gaze eventually caught Issay's eye and he deliberately raked his eyes over Atsushi's salacious form, lingering at his exposed upper thighs, his crotch, and his chest before meeting Atsushi's eyes again.

There was now a hint of bashfulness in Atsushi's eyes and he seemed to squirm uncomfortably as his free hand tried to pull his coat closer to his body. The moment he noticed it, Issay hissed sharply in warning, and Atsushi immediately let go again to reveal the growing bulge at his groin.

"Well, well, Atsushi," Issay teased. "Isn't someone getting excited now?"

Atsushi furrowed his brow in distress as he looked at Issay with a desperate desire.

"I'm sure you can wait a little longer, can't you, Atsushi?" Issay hummed and turned off the main path to tread down the short track that led up to the house. Rubbing his thumb over Atsushi’s fingers, he added, “All that’s left to do is to unlock the door.”

When Issay turned to face the door, he noticed a black duffel bag by the entrance. “Hm? Is this yours?” he asked Atsushi.

Atsushi nodded.

“I guess they took the initiative to bring it over,” Issay mused, picking up the bag and slinging the sash on his shoulder. “But if they took the initiative to snoop around, I’ll fucking kill them.”

Issay heard Atsushi’s soft chuckle amidst the beeping noises that sounded as he keyed in his number code for the door. The lock emitted a longer beep after which the internal latch slid open, letting Issay press the knob down and pull the door open.

Atsushi started towards the house but Issay stood in his way with a hand held up, stopping him in his tracks. Freezing, Atsushi looked at him and cocked his head to the side in confusion.

With a smirk, Issay extended the hand that held the clothes to Atsushi and said, “Atsushi, give me your coat.”

Atsushi’s eyes grew wider but Issay simply nodded, affirming what he said. Jaw tensing, Atsushi’s hands slowly went to the lapels of his coat, gripping them tightly as he pulled them apart and let the coat slide off his shoulders. He reluctantly took his arms out of the sleeves, keeping the coat around his body for as long as possible before he eventually handed it over to Issay.

With his legs closed and his arms around himself, Atsushi looked as if he was trying to shrink into himself as he stood in front Issay in the steadily cooling night. Undoubtedly even more self-conscious now than before, Atsushi’s downcast eyes always came back to meet Issay’s even as they darted around anxiously. Issay gestured at Atsushi, twirling a finger before him to ask Atsushi to turn around for him.

Atsushi blinked at him then stepped away. Feet apart he made a slow turn, making sure that Issay could see his form properly as he moved until he faced Issay again and reverted back to holding himself in his arms. Issay remained impassive for a while, watching Atsushi fidget with his jittery nerves before he finally smiled and stepped aside, welcoming Atsushi in.

Issay could see Atsushi breathing a sigh of relief as he entered and waited in the darkened entryway while Issay shut the door and put Atsushi’s bag and clothes down. Gesturing to the step that separated the entryway from the rest of the house, Issay had Atsushi sit on it as he knelt down before Atsushi and unzipped his ankle boots.

"Atsushi, it's been a while since you've dressed up so nicely for me," Issay commented, slipping one boot off Atsushi's foot and then the other. As he placed them neatly by the entrance, he asked, "What drove you to this?”

Atsushi blinked slowly at Issay as he mutely watched the older man move. Issay returned it with a knowing smile, tracing his fingers over Atsushi's stockinged legs before standing up, picking up Atsushi's things and then offering his arm to Atsushi. Taking his arm, Atsushi got to his feet and let Issay lead him through the house.

Issay turned some of the lights on to reveal that this place was laid out in an open concept. Past the short entryway, they immediately entered the living room, which extended to the left and had full-length windows hidden behind thick, blackout curtains.

It was a bit of a mess in there, with a crumpled blanket of sorts draped over one end of the black couch and a couple of pillows strewn around the area. Issay took one glance at the stacks of papers and neglected mug and wine glass, and grimaced at himself. He didn't want Atsushi to see the mess of his daily habits but then again, he was not expecting him.

To their right was a kitchen; clean except for a plate and a fork and spoon on the drying rack. It was evident that Issay didn't use the space much.

Going through the centre that divided these two spaces, Issay led them straight through a threshold which hid a narrow staircase on the left that led up to the second floor. Ascending it was a steep climb but this only involved one flight of stairs. At the same time, manoeuvring around with baggage and a companion in this space was challenging, but not impossible. Issay somehow made it work. All there was at the top of the stairs was a closed door which Issay pushed open to bring them into the barely-used bedroom which took up the entire second floor with the master bathroom.

“As you can see,” Issay muttered, setting Atsushi’s bag on the floor and laying his clothes on one of the chairs set by a coffee table, “I don’t even sleep up here.”

Atsushi hummed softly as Issay let go of his arm, turned on the room’s warm yellow lights, and went towards the full-length windows on the far side of the room. Opening these windows would give them access to the balcony which overlooked the Fujisaki premises, but they could come out later if Atsushi wanted to. For now, Issay would rather have the curtains drawn.

Turning around, Issay found Atsushi sprawled out on the bed, enjoying the wide space of the king-sized mattress and the cool sheets on his skin. Issay smiled at the sight, chuckling as he walked back to Atsushi, he said, “You’re just like your cats, aren’t you?”

Atsushi rolled to his side, sat up, and beamed as he reached towards Issay.

Walking into Atsushi’s embrace, Issay held him in his arms as Atsushi pulled him down onto the bed and rolled over, pinning Issay under him. Atsushi propped himself up on his elbows and casually undid the buttons on Issay's shirt while making suggestive eyes at him. Wrapping an arm around Atsushi, Issay held him firmly and brought them both towards the middle of the bed. As they moved, Issay could feel Atsushi making use of the friction between him and the bed to shove his open shirt off his body.

Issay leaned back into the soft pillows behind him as Atsushi rested his chin on his stomach and nuzzled against his skin. Atsushi then looked up at him, a small smile on his face as he let out a soft sigh of contentment.

Unclipping Atsushi's baton from his belt, Issay set it aside and smiled back at Atsushi, muttering, "Wouldn't it be perfect if we could stay like this forever?"

Atsushi furrowed his brows and pouted, mirth in his eyes as he shook his head.

"No?" Issay chuckled. "Is this not enough for you?" he asked, caressing Atsushi's cheek with his fingers.

Planting his hands down on either side of Issay, Atsushi sat up and straddled Issay's hips. He paused and gave Issay a pointed look.

"Hm? You want more, Atsushi?" Issay asked, teasing.

Atsushi took hold of Issay's hands and placed them on the curved waist of his corset. He squeezed them and then released, putting his hands back on the bed by Issay's sides as he leaned forward and pressed their groins together.

Issay hummed low, moving his hands down the sides of Atsushi's body as Atsushi continued rocking his hips languidly. While he rubbed his hands over Atsushi's upper thighs and slid his hands under Atsushi's skimpy briefs, he could feel his desire growing too as Atsushi rubbed his growing erection against him. Smoothing his palms over Atsushi's soft supple rear, Issay squeezed and massaged with his hands, making Atsushi arch his back and let out a shuddering sigh.

"Liking that, Atsushi?" Issay smiled as he removed his hands.

Atsushi rocked his hips harder, eager for more as he dropped to Issay’s pants and fumbled slightly with unbuckling Issay’s belt. The moment Issay heard Atsushi unzip his fly, he held Atsushi tight by his waist and rolled over, flipping their positions and laying Atsushi on the bed. Issay kissed his neck and bit him, growling softly, " My kitten ."

A strangled sigh escaped Atsushi’s lips as he fought to stay silent. Issay huffed quiet chuckles against the crook of Atsushi’s neck as he slowly sat up and drew back. Running his hands down Atsushi’s stockinged legs, Issay went on to kiss his calves and shins, eventually feeling the urge to rip the delicate material with his teeth when he paused, took a second look at the intricate patterns, and muttered, “You probably don’t want me ripping this up, do you?”

Atsushi scrunched up his face and appeared to think about it for a moment. Meeting Issay’s eyes, he shook his head.

“Right,” Issay mumbled, putting Atsushi’s leg down on the bed as he looked hard at the stockings and garters. “So how do I get them off?”

Atsushi grinned in silent laughter as he reached forward and took Issay’s hands in his. Putting them on his hips, Atsushi slipped Issay’s fingers under the sides of his briefs and eased himself out of them. Issay heard Atsushi’s breathing quicken as the briefs slipped off. Seeing Atsushi’s eager erection emerge from under the black fabric aroused Issay as well, but he could bear to toy with Atsushi for just a little longer.

Along with the briefs and the stockings, the garters that held those two pieces of clothing together came off as well. While Issay busied himself with putting the whole set aside, he suddenly felt a pressure on his crotch. Turning back to Atsushi, he found Atsushi pressing the ball of his foot against his erection, toes wiggling in through the opening of his unzipped fly as he looked at Issay with a cheeky smile on his face.

“Getting greedy, aren’t you, Atsushi?” Issay remarked.

As soon as he said that, Atsushi hooked his arms under his own legs. Pulling them to his body, he pressed his knees to his chest as he spread his legs open, putting his nether regions on display for Issay.

"Mmh. That's cheating, Atsushi," Issay hummed, shifting closer to caress Atsushi's bare legs. Dropping lower, he brought his lips to the soft skin of Atsushi's under thighs, nipping gently as he said, "A shame to say that I'm not stocked with anything around here. No condoms, no lube."

Atsushi's brows twitched upwards and his half-lidded eyes slid towards his bag on the floor. Following his line of sight, Issay hummed low and flopped onto his belly. Pulling himself towards the edge of the bed, he reached down towards the bag and unzipped it. Clothes were the first thing that greeted him. Issay stuck a hand in and rummaged around the sides, eventually hitting something hard. Closing his fist around it, Issay drew it out of the bag and glanced at the bottle before showing it to Atsushi.

"Is that it?" Issay asked, craning his neck in Atsushi's direction.

Atsushi now lay on his side, relaxed as he shook his head. Smiling, he nodded towards the bag again, urging Issay to look through once more.

Putting his hand back into the bag, Issay wriggled his fingers between the clothes this time and sure enough, something mildly sharp scratched his fingers lightly. He clasped the thin, telltale packaging of a condom between his fingers and pulled. What Issay did not expect was to be pulling out a whole strip of condoms which was attached to the one he got hold of. He stared at the long strip and turned to Atsushi.

“Atsushi, I think you’re overestimating my ability.”

Atsushi laughed and held up his index finger. One.

Shrugging, Issay dragged the strip of condoms with him as he shimmied out of his pants and underwear and went back to Atsushi’s side. “You sure that’s enough to satisfy you, Atsushi?” he asked, a smile tugging at his lips as he detached a condom.

Shrugging back with a relaxed smile, Atsushi hooked his arms under his legs again and resumed his position, fully expecting Issay to come onto him but instead, Issay simply handed him the bottle of lube and said, "Finger yourself, Atsushi."

Atsushi's face fell at Issay's words but he complied regardless, reluctantly lifting an open palm to Issay and having him dispense a liberal amount of cold slippery gel into his hand. Making eye contact with Issay, Atsushi smeared some of it over his hole, teasing himself as he watched Issay observe him quietly. Eager to get it over and done with, Atsushi slid a finger into himself, mindful to lubricate the way in as he added one more, and then another.

Issay watched Atsushi's expression tense as he pushed his fingers in and when he started thrusting, Atsushi let out a loud sigh, or possibly a moan. As Atsushi's fingers moved, Issay noticed Atsushi struggling to stay focused on him, his eyes rolling up to stare blankly at the ceiling as he got off Issay watching him fuck himself.

Atsushi's breathing grew louder, more laboured as he thrust harder and faster in a bid to get himself to climax. Just as his back arched and his fingers dug into his thigh, Issay put a hand on Atsushi's knee, signalling him to stop his masturbation.

Atsushi gritted his teeth and tossed his head back onto the bed, tears at the brink of falling as he let out a strangled cry of frustration and forced himself to stop. Giving Issay a pathetic look, Atsushi's chest rose and fell with each heavy breath he took while he whined softly in waiting as he watched Issay dispense lube onto his condom-covered erection and stroke himself.

Issay smiled and hissed softly, gently shushing Atsushi as he positioned himself between Atsushi's legs and eased his hand away. Atsushi didn't need any coaxing to wrap his legs around Issay to pull him closer. Relishing the skin contact as he rubbed his legs against Issay's waist, Atsushi sighed and lifted his hips in anticipation of Issay, who leaned forward and eased himself in.

Jaw tensing, Atsushi whined as he wrapped his arms around Issay and pulled him closer. Issay nuzzled against Atsushi, moving his hips while trailing kisses along Atsushi's jaw and neck. He could feel the tensing and releasing of Atsushi's muscles in his neck as he fought to remain as quiet as possible, as he always did whenever they were together at hotels. The walls were far too thin there, but here…

"Atsushi," Issay whispered in his ear, running his fingers through Atsushi's hair as he spoke. "You can let your voice out. There's no need to be quiet," he cooed. "No one will hear us here."

Almost immediately, Atsushi cried out for Issay. After his outburst, his voice then diminished into a whimper as he continued moaning and sighing with each thrust.

Issay buried his face in Atsushi's hair, holding him close as he pushed harder into Atsushi. Shifting to balance his weight on one arm, Issay brought a hand down to Atsushi's hip, tracing lines as he dragged his fingers over Atsushi's skin to his abdomen. Issay slowed his thrusting for a moment and watched Atsushi's expression as his fingers gradually curled around his erection.

Smothering the remaining lube on his hand all over Atsushi, Issay curled his middle finger to his thumb, forming a ring he stroked Atsushi with while, at the same time, using his index finger to stimulate Atsushi's frenulum each time he stroked up. As Issay began to speed up again, he stroked Atsushi in tandem to his thrusts, making Atsushi cry for him with renewed vigour.

"Acchan…" Issay muttered, breathing in deep as he nuzzled in the crook of Atsushi's neck.

Atsushi responded to him by tightening his embrace, digging his nails into Issay's back as he filled Issay's ear with lustful murmurings while nibbling on his ear.

Issay smiled, feeling the satin-like fabric of the corset against his stomach as he pressed closer to Atsushi. He could feel the heat between them building, going to his head as his own pleasure began to surge inside of him. The moment Issay felt Atsushi’s erection throb and ejaculate into his hand, Atsushi’s moans filled his ears, accompanying the wave of sensations that rushed through him as he came in Atsushi in a gratifying burst of euphoria.

Still holding Atsushi, Issay lowered himself onto the bed and lay with him, idly kissing Atsushi's skin as the fingers of his clean hand worked at the corset’s knot on the small of Atsushi’s back. It was slow going. Whoever helped him into this had tied it rather tightly. The thought of someone else having seen Atsushi like this made Issay’s heart prick with jealousy. But it was likely just Hisashi anyway.

Atsushi moved languidly, nuzzling against Issay as he waited to be untied. "Should I turn around?" he asked.

"Hm… No," Issay mumbled, tugging a loose end. "I think I got it." The string came out a long way but suddenly stopped. Issay cursed.

"Did it become a dead knot?" Atsushi asked, chuckling. He did not sound worried. That’s good.

Issay hummed low and frowned. "You know what," he removed himself from Atsushi, "this'll be easier if I had both hands."

Atsushi hummed in agreement.

"I'll go clean up a little and run the bath and then I'll come back," Issay said as he let Atsushi go, rolled off the bed, and took large strides towards the bathroom.

"I'll be right here," Atsushi beamed.

Chapter Text

Atsushi didn't know when he dozed off, but when he woke, he found himself free of the restrictive corset and soaking in a spacious bath in Issay's arms. He grunted and shifted. How did he sleep through getting moved and cleaned?

Noticing Atsushi stirring, Issay chuckled and whispered, "Finally awake?"

"Mmh." Atsushi sat up and rubbed his eyes.

"Why're you so tired?" Issay asked, caressing Atsushi's back as he stretched. "Haven't been sleeping well?"

Atsushi didn't answer. Breathing deeply, he exhaled and slumped back down against Issay again. "Does it seem like that?" he asked.

“It’s written all over your face,” Issay’s low voice murmured in Atsushi’s ear.

“And yet you did all that to me,” Atsushi hummed. He felt Issay’s arms curl around his waist, pulling him closer.

Issay sighed softly and said teasingly, “Isn’t that what you came for? You were all dressed up for it too.”

“Noo,” Atsushi denied, whining as he dropped his head back to look at Issay. Tracing his fingers along Issay’s jaw, he said, “I came because I missed you.”

Issay chuckled and smiled. “So much so that you can’t sleep?”

“You’re always keeping me up anyway,” Atsushi chuckled, turning back to the front as he felt Issay’s breath against his skin.

“Shall I stop?”

“Never,” Atsushi grinned, interlocking his fingers with Issay’s at his waist. “Better you keeping me up like this than by infiltrating my dreams.”

Atsushi felt Issay freeze for a moment before letting out a measured breath and muttering, “Dreams are bothering you?”

“It’s not that big a deal,” Atsushi smiled. Feeling Issay’s fingertips idly trace the scars on his chest, he put his hand over Issay’s, holding it in his grasp to place a light kiss on his fingers. Trying to quell Issay’s discomfort, Atsushi reiterated, “I know how you feel about those things but it’s nothing, really.”

Issay hugged him, resting his head on Atsushi's shoulder as he sighed heavily. "I wouldn't be so sure, considering…"

"Considering what?"

"Tomorrow," Issay cut off as he let go of Atsushi who turned and looked at him with questions in his eyes. Getting up, Issay gave him a small smile and said, "We can talk about that tomorrow. I don't want to think about it anymore tonight."

"But-"

"C'mon, we've sat in there long enough. My fingers have all pruned up," Issay beckoned, extending a hand to Atsushi as he stepped out of the bathtub.

Unsatisfying as it was, Atsushi could tell that Issay's words were final and there was nothing more he could say on that. Atsushi took hold of Issay's offered hand, feeling his firm grip on his hand as he stood up and got out of the bath.

Issay took a couple of towels off a nearby rack and handed one to Atsushi. Taking it, Atsushi dried himself off and scanned the bathroom for clothes but found none. He felt his brows furrow instinctively. Odd. It wasn’t like Issay to propose nudity.

“Acchan,” Issay called.

Turning his attention to Issay, Atsushi found him standing by a door with his towel around his waist, beckoning him over. As Atsushi walked over, the furrow on his face deepened and he looked to his right. There was another door there too; the first one he noticed. There were two doors to this bathroom?

Atsushi heard Issay huff and saw him smile. He probably noticed the confusion on his face. Once Atsushi was close enough, Issay put a hand on the small of his back, opening the door as he ushered Atsushi through into what he immediately recognised as a walk-in wardrobe.

Issay probably didn’t mean to, but all these luxuries made Atsushi feel small. He knew that Issay understood how Atsushi would raise suspicion if he had a place like this back home, and he knew that Issay said that all this meant nothing to him, but it still made him feel inadequate. Noticing Issay turning to look at him, Atsushi hastily stuffed his irksome chagrin away, making sure that Issay would not catch onto it.

Issay smiled at him and turned to the front as he led Atsushi to a rack where robes were hung. Atsushi breathed a subtle sigh of relief. It seemed like had successfully concealed his worries. Good. After all, he didn’t go through all the trouble to find his way here to make Issay feel bad.

“Take your pick,” Issay said, gesturing at the rack before them as they came to a stop.

“My pick of…?”

“You liked going through my wardrobe, didn’t you?” Issay asked with a smile. “To look for something to wear?”

Still puzzled, Atsushi scanned the clothes before him until he spotted something familiar and started chuckling. “I see the yukata is still there, but where’s that red velvet coat of yours?” he asked.

“Who knows?” Issay grinned as he shrugged.

“It feels as if I’m doing this every time I visit your place for the first time,” Atsushi remarked, approaching the rack and browsing Issay’s selection. “I wonder if there’ll be a third- Oh! Black velvet!”

“Acchan, don’t be silly, it’s summer,” Issay reminded. Picking out something, he took it out and showed it to Atsushi. “Wouldn’t you rather this instead?”

Atsushi was already wearing the coat, swishing the material around when he paused and reached towards what Issay held out. “Ah, it’s silk,” he breathed, smoothing his hand over the red yukata.

“Though I must say, the material’s a little heavy,” Issay noted.

Atsushi thought about it for a moment, glancing at Issay and then back at the rack. “What about the one I used to wear?” he asked, meeting Issay’s eyes.

“It's right there,” Issay answered, gesturing. He smiled at Atsushi and sighed, “Attached to it, aren’t you?”

“Of course,” Atsushi smiled. “It’s one of the first things you gave me.”

Removing the dark grey, cotton yukata from its hangar, Issay put it around Atsushi’s shoulders and muttered, “And you always wear it when you stay over.”

Atsushi nodded in agreement as he watched Issay fasten the robe for him. “This feels a little bit like a reenactment,” he commented. “Visiting and staying for the first time, going through your clothes and picking this out.”

“You only dug into my wardrobe the second time you stayed, remember?” Issay corrected with a chuckle.

“That first doesn’t count,” Atsushi grimaced, chagrined at being reminded of how he left Issay.

“You making a move on me doesn’t count?” Issay asked, smirking as he put on the red yukata.

Atsushi stuck out his lower lip and cast his eyes to the ceiling, pretending to think as he shrugged, “Did I ever?”

Tightening his belt with a tug, Issay scoffed and laughed, “Whatever you say, love.”

Atsushi grinned at Issay as he came to his side and slid an arm around his waist. Giving Atsushi a peck on his cheek, Issay steered him out of the wardrobe and back into the main bedroom. This time, Atsushi took a proper look at the room, noticing how pristine it looked in contrast to the messy bed. It looked almost like a showroom.

Instead of going back to the bed, Issay turned to the stairs then paused. Letting go of Atsushi, Issay left his side and went towards the curtains and drew them to reveal a balcony. Curious, Atsushi went over and asked, “What’s outside?”

“Hm?” Issay turned and looked over his shoulder. “Do you want to go out there?”

“Can we?”

“Sure,” Issay replied. Unlatching the balcony window, he pushed one part of it aside, folding it to create an opening for them. With an open palm, Issay invited, “Please step through.”

As he did, Atsushi took hold of Issay’s hand, intending to pull him through as well, but Issay let go, gesturing at Atsushi to wait a moment as he darted back into the room. Left alone outside, Atsushi turned and leaned on the railing of the balcony.

It was a clear night. The waning moon hung in the middle of the darkened sky, surrounded by a few stars. To the left, he could see the main complex that they had come from, large and brightly lit. Other than that though, there wasn’t much else to see outside. The area was largely flat, and this two-storey building that Issay lived in was probably the tallest building in the property, save for another two-storey building on the far right that looked more like a storehouse than anything else.

Aside from these, there was one other building to the front; a flat, long-ish on the far side of the property that ran along the wall which marked the boundary of Issay’s estate. That was probably some sort of living space for members who needed a place to stay for a while. Maybe. Who knew? Atsushi sure didn’t. Neither did he care enough to ask.

There was nothing else past the boundary wall. Just a seemingly endless tree line that had a small, faraway spot of light brightening up the sky above it. Atsushi knew without a doubt that this came from the nearest city to this place. It was almost an hour’s drive to get from there to here. Adding that to the amount of time Atsushi spent in the bullet train, he couldn’t quite believe how long he travelled for with that… outfit under his clothes. He could only smile wryly at himself as he subconsciously rubbed his sore sides.

The click of a lighter shook Atsushi from his thoughts. The familiar smell of cigarette smoke hit his nose as he turned to see Issay come towards him with a stick in his mouth and an open pack pointed in Atsushi’s direction. Atsushi shook his head. Instead, he plucked Issay’s cigarette out from his lips and sucked on it with a smirk as Issay chuckled at him. Curling an arm around Atsushi’s waist, Issay joined him at the railing, looking out over the property as they shared a cigarette.

“Feeling sore?” Issay asked, squeezing Atsushi’s side lightly before caressing him.

“After wearing that corset for so long… a little,” Atsushi confessed sheepishly.

Issay chuckled as he nuzzled Atsushi and remarked, “I’ll never understand what possessed you to dress like that and come all the way here out of the blue.”

“Don’t want me here?” Atsushi asked.

“You know you’re not supposed to be here,” Issay muttered, holding Atsushi close to him as he stared into the distance. “Now the whole organisation knows I have a lover from a rival family.”

Scandalous ,” Atsushi hissed before bursting into giggles.

“It’s all gone so well for the past four years and now the cat’s out of the bag,” Issay sighed as he let Atsushi nudge him with his shaking. “How did you find your way here, Acchan?”

“I just… asked for directions?” Atsushi shrugged, wiping the tears from his eyes as he stole another puff from Issay’s cigarette. “Your lackeys’ tongues wag very easily, Issay.”

“You probably scared them shitless,” Issay said, giving Atsushi a kiss on his head. “But that calls for repercussions on their end,” he grumbled with a sigh. “I’ll deal with that tomorrow. At least you’re not hurt.”

“Not even a bruise?” Atsushi asked, genuinely surprised.

“Luckily, none,” Issay confirmed. “And I checked everywhere ,” he whispered into Atsushi’s ear.

"How thorough of you," Atsushi smiled, leaning into Issay as he took another puff from the cigarette. "Though I was hoping there'd at least be a tiny one so you'd spoil me a little more."

"Don't I spoil you enough, love?" Issay chuckled. "Or were you hoping to watch someone get in trouble for it?"

Atsushi hummed, a discrete smile on his face as he shifted and stretched his back a bit. Issay simply huffed and grinned at Atsushi's silence, turning to look out at the scenery before them. As the cigarette burned down closer to the butt, Issay stubbed it out on one of the bars of the railing. Watching the ashes fall, Issay looked at the pack, as if considering another when Atsushi noticed the lights of the main house winking out one by one. It caught Issay's attention as well and he smiled.

Issay put an arm around Atsushi and covered his eyes, saying, "Wait."

Confused, Atsushi turned in Issay's direction with a soft, "Uhn?"

"Wait, you'll love this, I promise," Issay said. "There isn't much about this place that I like, but this… this is nice."

And so Atsushi waited. In the darkness, he felt oddly aware of the warmth of Issay's hand over his eyes and the way Issay embraced him; the placement of his arms, the confining yet comforting sensation of his presence. Atsushi could not help but love how this all feels so familiar.

Leaning against Issay with a sigh, Atsushi asked, "So what am I waiting for?"

"You'll see."

"… Fireflies?"

"No," Issay chuckled.

"Meteor shower?" Atsushi guessed again. "Though I don't recall the weather forecast saying anything about that."

"If only it were that much of a coincidence," Issay hummed. Atsushi could hear the smile in his voice.

"Hm… Stars?"

"Like nothing you've ever seen," Issay sighed. "I used to stay up late and sneak out of my room for this.”

“So… what am I waiting for?” Atsushi asked.

“This,” Issay answered as he tilted Atsushi’s head back and removed his hand.

As the brisk night air hit his face, Atsushi gazed awestruck upon the breathtaking view of innumerable stars dotting the sky. He never expected that such a sight would be visible so close to the city. There were far more visible than he would’ve ever imagined. Issay was right; it was nothing like anything he had ever seen.

“When most of the lights have gone off and your eyes have adjusted, this is what you’ll find,” Issay said. “Well, I took care of the ‘eyes adjusting’ part so you’re probably getting a better view than I am right now.”

“Issay…”

“Hm?”

“It’s beautiful ,” Atsushi breathed.

His eyes were fixed on the sky, eagerly trying to take in every detail until he felt Issay’s fingers tracing his jaw. He turned to Issay who was leaning against the railing and, unlike Atsushi, faced indoors. Instead of stargazing like he had Atsushi doing, Issay was gazing at him.

As Atsushi met his eyes, Issay’s smile grew wider and he mumbled, “Isn’t it?”

Suddenly self-conscious, Atsushi asked, “Aren’t you supposed to be admiring the sky too?”

“That,” Issay gestured upwards, “I’ve seen a million times. This,” he caressed Atsushi’s cheek, “far less.”

Atsushi blinked in surprise and turned his attention back to the sky, feeling too embarrassed to look at Issay and now far too aware of Issay watching him. After a moment's struggle with finding words to say, he finally muttered, "Don't be ridiculous."

"Ah, but I don't always get to be ridiculous, do I?" Issay chuckled. Dropping his head back, he finally cast his eyes to the sky but soon, his gaze was back on Atsushi as he said, "Yeah, I definitely prefer this view."

Atsushi laughed, nudging Issay away with his shoulder as he looked away again in a bid to hide his face. He felt Issay's arms around his waist, holding him closer as Issay moved and came between Atsushi and the railing.

Right as Issay shifted, Atsushi felt something fly past and heard it hit the wall behind them. He turned, squinting in the dark to see what it was. The moment Atsushi caught sight of something lodged in the wall, he felt his blood run cold and his brain going into overdrive.

Atsushi's and Issay's grip on each other tightened at the same moment. Atsushi heard Issay curse and mutter "not again" as another projectile flew past, this time tearing the fabric of Issay's sleeve. Atsushi pulled Issay back towards the room, but Issay was literally one step ahead of Atsushi.

With one long stride, Issay stretched an arm out, reaching for the door and sliding it open while keeping his other arm around Atsushi. The moment the gap was wide enough, he roughly shoved Atsushi into the room and followed after. Spinning around, Atsushi heard something hit the glass but instead of shattering, all it did was leave a scratch. The glass was bulletproof. But Issay was not. While Issay was closing the door, Atsushi heard him grunt and jerk away from the opening with a curse before slamming it shut, locking it and drawing the curtains.

Dashing to him, Atsushi grabbed Issay by his shoulders as he looked Issay up and down. He looked fine but… drops of scarlet fell onto the pale marble tiles on the floor from Issay's fingers.

Issay followed Atsushi's line of sight and pursed his lips, sighing heavily. He winced as he slowly removed his right arm from his sleeve, revealing a bleeding perforation in his upper arm. Atsushi immediately saw red. Rage rushing to his head, his face contorted with fury as he marched to the bed and grabbed his baton.

"Acchan, where are you going with that?" Issay called.

Atsushi stopped at the door and looked over his shoulder. "I'll make them pay," he snarled, grip tightening on the baton.

"Won't a pistol be better for that?" Issay asked.

"Pistol?" Atsushi echoed, frown in confusion. "Do you have one?"

"No, but you do," Issay replied flatly. He now had his right arm inside his yukata, forearm hanging in the loose fabric at his belt like a makeshift sling as he walked to Atsushi's bag.

"… What?" Atsushi blurted. "That's not possible, all my firearms are kept in our store-"

Covering his left hand with the fabric of his sleeve, Issay reached into the side pocket of Atsushi's bag and pulled out an unfamiliar handgun.

Speechless, Atsushi's eyes grew wide with shock as Issay tossed the gun onto the bed. "That's not mine," he muttered weakly. "Issay, that's not mine! I don't know where that came from-"

"I know," Issay interrupted, his voice low as he stared at the gun. "It looks nothing like what you have anyway."

"How did it get in there?"

"Remember how your bag went missing and then showed up at my doorstep?"

"Someone…"

"Planted it there," Issay finished. "Someone's trying to frame you but whoever it is, they clearly don't know enough about us," he added, running his left hand through his hair with a sigh. He sounded tired. "I didn't expect that they'd…"

Atsushi's mind reeled. He could barely grasp what was going on. At a loss, he looked to Issay and asked softly, "What do I do?"

"Don't go outside, that's one," Issay muttered. "If you do, they might leave the weapon where you'd find it then blame it on you, or they'd see you leaving and say you're running away after shooting me with this," he predicted, gesturing at the pistol on the bed.

"So… I can't do anything?" Atsushi mumbled helplessly. How was he so useless here despite everything that he was?

"Well… you can stay with me?" Issay suggested with a weak attempt at a laugh. "Get the bullet out and fix my wound, I suppose."

As much as Atsushi hated not getting his revenge, he knew Issay was right. There was more going on here than he was aware of. Whatever it was, he would make Issay tell him, but for now, the wound needed dressing.

Reluctantly giving in to Issay's suggestions, Atsushi clipped his baton to his side and asked, "What will you do?"

Issay gave him a wane smile. "Get us a drink. God knows we need it," he said, walking over to Atsushi. "But before that, I need to make a call."

Chapter Text

What are you calling me for? ” Mizunaga’s voice slurred over the receiver. “ Aren’t you supposed to be enjoying your intimate time together?

“I’ve been shot,” Issay said flatly with a sigh. He was now seated on the sofa in the living room, still wearing his bloodied robes, while Atsushi sat on the adjacent coffee table with a first aid kit open by his side.

You don’t really have to tell me every time you get a cumshot-

“By a gun, Mizunaga,” Issay cut in, resisting the urge to roll his eyes as he watched Atsushi pour boiling hot water into a white ceramic bowl. “I’ve been shot by a gun.”

Were you doing something stupid?

“What?”

Like Russian roulette or-

“How old do you think I am? I’ve never even done that before! That’s all you!" Issay snapped. "I'm being serious here,” he sighed. “Someone shot at us."

" Aren't you supposed to be fine though? " Mizunaga asked. " With all that bulletproofing you did. "

"No, I got hit," Issay replied. He wanted to turn and look at Atsushi again but this time, Atsushi put his hand to Issay's jaw, forcing him to look away. Issay was about to protest when Atsushi clicked the prongs of the tweezers together. Immediately, he understood Atsushi’s intention.

" How'd you get hit? " Mizunaga asked, sounding surprised yet somewhat sceptical.

"We were on the balcony," Issay started.

"Try not to move," Atsushi said softly as he held Issay's elbow firmly.

With a nod, Issay turned his attention back to the call. "We were on the balcony after lights out when-!" Issay's breath hitched and hissed as a burst of pain flared up in his right arm. It was so much that he could barely think, let alone hold a conversation. After what felt like an eternity, the pain faded a slight bit and he cursed. Issay waited a while longer, and as he finally regained some clarity in his head, he finished his sentence, "when the gunfire started."

Issay heard something small drop into the water as his arm throbbed with a burning sensation. Another burst of pain made him hiss again as Atsushi carefully cleaned his wound, whispering soft murmurs of apology. Issay stole a glance at his arm. It was bloody again.

" What's wrong with you? " Mizunaga asked.

Issay looked over at the bowl of water, now turned red by the bullet and tweezers sitting in it. Catching Atsushi's eye as he dabbed his arm, Issay mouthed a silent 'thank you' to him before responding to Mizunaga, "Atsushi just got the bullet out of my arm for me."

" ... So you really did get shot. "

"Haven't you been listening at all?" Issay huffed as Atsushi pressed a cloth to his arm and held it there. His arm simply felt dull and numb now. "Someone was outside my house trying to get one or both of us."

" An internal job. "

"Now you get it," Issay muttered in exasperation. "Whoever it was, they tampered with Atsushi's bag too,” he added.

" His bag? But he didn't have a bag with him when he came into the office, " Mizunaga recalled.

"He put it down at the front entrance when the whole skirmish started."

" There was no bag when I went to the front though, " Mizunaga informed.

"Was that before or after we got there?"

" Before, likely, " Mizunaga mused. " Otsuka and I left the office before you two, right? Then we went straight to the front entrance to assess the damage and put people to work. "

"So it was taken away even before our relationship turned into common knowledge," Issay concluded. "Whoever took it already knew."

" Wait, what did you mean when you said 'tampered with'? "

"There was a gun in his bag."

" … and? "

"It's not his."

" How'd you know for sure? "

"He doesn't bring arms when it's going to be just us two. Besides, he's got an aversion to the presence of guns around him and me," Issay explained. "You know what happened-… No, wait, do you?"

" What?

“About… maybe ten years ago now, that incident.”

The one that lost you your oh-so-righteous job? "

Issay resisted the urge to roll his eyes. "Yes."

" More or less, I suppose. But how's that supposed to mean that the gun isn't his? You won't be alone this time, being here, in the estate, with us and all your men, instead of your usual hotel suites. "

"You've seen how much chaos he can wreak with just one stick. He doesn't need a gun," Issay said, exasperated. "Look, I know what his arms look like and this isn't one of his."

" Well, he could've procured a new one- "

A terrible thought suddenly occurred to Issay. "Mizunaga."

" Yeah? "

"Why are you insisting that it's Acchan's?"

" Well, I'm just thinking about how he's always pestering you about going back to Tokyo with him and… Don't you think this might convince you to? "

Issay's mood darkened. "Are you perhaps suggesting," he glanced at Atsushi, who was now wrapping his arm up in a bandage, "that Acchan orchestrated this? That he'd order someone to shoot us?"

Atsushi looked up at Issay, alarmed and aghast at what he just said. Shaking his head, Atsushi was about to protest when Issay put his finger to Atsushi's lips, wincing when he moved his injured arm as he gently shushed Atsushi to quell his distress.

" Well, I mean- "

"It sounds like you're turning him into your scapegoat if a bullet finds its mark," Issay said quietly, a warning in his voice.

" My scapegoat?! You think I'm behind this?! "

"Are you?"

" Of course not! " Mizunaga protested. “ Don’t be absurd!

“Then how absurd do you think it is to me when you’re hinting that my long-time lover wants to risk maiming, or perhaps even killing me just to get me to leave with him?” Issay asked chidingly. As Atsushi held Issay’s hand to his cheek, Issay looked at him and gave him a reassuring nod.

Mizunaga fell silent.

“Do us all a favour and find out who’s behind this,” Issay said. “It would be easy if I could dust the pistol for prints and then match it in a database but…”

You know as well as I do that there are a few who’d do this, ” Mizunaga said in a sombre tone.

“I know,” Issay nodded, now holding Atsushi as the younger man leaned in to rest against his shoulder. "What can I say? I'm such a hot commodity that everyone comes for me," he sighed. Making eye contact with Atsushi, he muttered, "Can't get enough of me, can they?"

" More like they've had enough of you, " Mizunaga retorted.

Issay chuckled and Atsushi separated from him, giving Issay a peck on his cheek as he took the bloody bowl of water with him to the kitchen on the other end of the room.

" Anyway, we'll send someone to go look around your place. See they find anything, " Mizunaga sighed.

"Not paying me a visit?" Issay teased

" Don’t think I’ll be of much use when I’ve been drinking. I don’t trust myself to go digging around in the dark at this juncture, " Mizunaga muttered. “ I’d more likely miss things or something like that. And besides, I’m supposed to come by tomorrow, aren’t I?

“Argh, right,” Issay grimaced.

“… You forgot?

“Can you blame me?” Issay asked. “I almost died just a moment ago.” He noticed Atsushi throwing a sharp look at him as he wiped the bowl dry. Issay gave him a wane smile in return and said, “I’ll be here anyway. We’ve no intention of leaving the house anytime soon.”

Good. We’ve got enough to deal with without you being taken out of commission and the whole power struggle thing.

“Hasn’t there always been a power struggle?” Issay scoffed.

Ah, eum… Anyway, do you think this has anything to do with the clause?

Issay hummed and pondered, “Who else knows about it?”

Aside from you, me, and Otsuka? The lawyer, I suppose, ” Mizunaga answered. “ Do you think… the lawyer…

“Huh, maybe,” Issay mumbled, deep in thought as he considered the possibilities.

Argh, whatever, we can talk about it tomorrow, ” Mizunaga grumbled. “ Let me unwind properly.

“Sorry for telling you that someone tried to kill your boss then.”

Apology accepted, ” Mizunaga laughed. “ I’ll see you tomorrow.

“Right. Tomorrow.” Issay hung up the call. Tossing his phone onto the coffee table with a noisy clatter, he lay back down on the couch and let out a heavy sigh.

"Tomorrow?" Atsushi echoed. The water was running again.

"Mhmm," Issay hummed half-heartedly. He was not looking forward to it.

"Do I have to leave before that?"

"No," Issay replied immediately. "I want you around for that discussion."

"Shouldn't it be confidential?" Atsushi asked quietly, shutting the tap and cutting off the water flow.

"I've said it before, haven't I? Anything that concerns me, concerns you too," Issay reminded. "Besides, it isn't something I want you hearing about from a third party," he added.

"Won't you just tell me what it's about now?"

"It can wait. There's enough to be troubled about tonight-"

"The suspense isn't helping, Issay!" Atsushi snapped, slamming his fists on the kitchen counter.

Issay sat up, startled by Atsushi's sudden outburst. He stared for a moment, trying to catch Atsushi's eye, but Atsushi was staring at the sink, shoulders rising and falling as he breathed heavily. Not getting any other response from Atsushi, Issay got to his feet and quickly strode over to him who remained frozen in place. It seems like the shock of what had happened has finally faded away.

The moment Issay put a hand on Atsushi's arm, Atsushi jerked away, frantically whispering, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to. I didn't mean to yell-"

"Shh…" Issay breathed, putting his arms around Atsushi and holding him tightly despite Atsushi's body protesting against it. "I'm right here, love," he whispered over Atsushi's mutterings. "Breathe, love, just breathe."

As Issay held onto Atsushi, he felt an ache grow as his shoulder gradually turned wet with Atsushi's ragged breathing. It took a while, but Atsushi eventually stopped resisting and let himself put his arms around Issay. Atsushi’s nails dug into Issay’s back as he held on with some sort of unspoken desperation. All Issay could do was hold Atsushi, rubbing his back as he gently hushed the younger man.

Atsushi’s breathing gradually turned calm but his grasp remained as tight as ever. Issay had his fingers in Atsushi’s hair, massaging the nape of his neck as he kissed the side of Atsushi’s head and held him. Atsushi leaned closer in response, burying his face in Issay’s neck with a soft sniff and another “I’m sorry”.

“Don’t be,” Issay said softly.

“I shouldn’t have come here.”

“Don’t say that,” Issay sibilated, brows furrowing as he felt a stab in his chest. “Don’t say that, please .”

“This wouldn’t have happened if I weren’t here.”

“Whether or not you were here, it would’ve happened sooner or later anyway.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Atsushi asked, looking up at Issay with a perplexed frown. “Why would it happen anyway?”

Issay winced and looked away, reluctant to answer. Despite what he said, this was one thing he didn’t want Atsushi to know about. 

“Issay?” Atsushi stared at him. Dark eyes glistening, he pleaded, “Tell me.”

“What can I say,” Issay sighed shakily as his shoulders slumped. “I’m not very popular.”

“… What's that supposed to mean?”

“It… hasn’t stopped,” Issay mumbled with a sigh. “The… attempts at my… life.”

"Then what's the point of all this?!" Atsushi questioned, vexed as he pulled away. "What's the point of staying apart when you being here was supposed to stop it?!"

"I have to stick around to make them trust me more, don't I?" Issay coaxed as he reached for Atsushi. "And it has gotten better," he stressed, "it doesn't happen as often as-"

"But it's still happening, isn't it?" Atsushi seethed. "Why won't you just come home?" he asked, his face crumbling from his intense emotions. "No one would dare come for you in our territory once we put the word out."

"And you must understand, Acchan, I cannot let myself put you in harm's way for me," Issay said softly, holding Atsushi firmly by his shoulders.

"But it's safer-"

"I won't risk starting a bigger conflict for my own sake," Issay insisted.

"Issay!"

"Yes?" Issay responded immediately, his voice low.

Atsushi stared at Issay, eyes wide and lips trembling as if he wanted to say something. Issay held eye contact with him, waiting in anticipation of Atsushi’s words but instead, he looked away and slowly dropped to the floor.

Clutching his head in his hands, Atsushi whimpered, "What do I do?"

"Stay with me," Issay said as he crouched down, joining Atsushi. "Just stay with me," he whispered, enveloping Atsushi in his embrace.

"I'm sorry," Atsushi breathed, putting a hand on Issay's injured arm as he buried his face in the crook of Issay's neck. "I'm sorry I can't do anything."

"Just stay with me for tonight, at least. That's all I ask," Issay said softly. "And if you want to leave, don't go without a word."

Atsushi glanced up at him.

"I know you're thinking of it," Issay said, caressing his cheek.

Atsushi fell silent as Issay held him, fingers idly tracing lines on his skin. Listening to his quiet breathing, Issay considered his situation. He had always wondered if this was all worth it. Maybe Atsushi had a point. Maybe he should disclaim all of this and move back. Though that didn't work very well the last time, did it? There were still people coming after him 'to ensure' their positions.

Atsushi breathed in deeply and sighed.

"Hm?" Issay snapped back to reality and found Atsushi finally making eye contact with him. He looked terribly exhausted all of a sudden.

"You said something about needing a drink earlier," Atsushi muttered.

"That, I did," Issay smiled. He could definitely use one now.

Atsushi moved to stand and Issay got up with him, taking the initiative to reach past Atsushi to the fridge behind him. He put a hand around the back of Atsushi’s head, pulling him closer and away from the door as it swung open to reveal numerous bottles of alcohol.

“Take your pick,” Issay offered as Atsushi turned and eyed the selection.

“Strong,” Atsushi muttered, reaching into the fridge and retrieving a bottle of vodka.

“Strong indeed,” Issay chuckled, a weak attempt to lighten the air as he closed the fridge. Opening a cabinet nearby he took out drinking glasses while Atsushi went ahead to place the bottle on the coffee table.

Turning to look at Issay, Atsushi gave him a once over and quietly asked, “ Aren’t you going to change out of… that?”

Issay looked down at his clothes. The red from his blood was hidden in the red fabric but it had started to rust and now, it was showing up quite noticeably. He sighed heavily. Issay looked towards the stairs. He sighed again.

Running a hand through his hair with his left hand, Issay scratched the back of his neck and furrowed his brow at the stairs. Pursing his lips he mumbled, "I don't really… want to…"

Atsushi came over. Taking the glasses from Issay, he put them on the coffee table then came back and jerked his head in the direction of the stairs, beckoning Issay.

"Must I?" Issay whined.

"I'll make you," Atsushi said, taking Issay's hand and pulling him in the direction of the stairs. "I don't like seeing you like this," he muttered to himself.

Letting himself get dragged, Issay hummed playfully, “Hmm? Like what?”

“Like…” Atsushi choked on his words as he turned and looked Issay up and down with a furrow in his brow while ascending the stairs. Looking to the front again, his jaw tensed and he huffed without finishing his sentence.

Stepping onto the landing, Issay came up behind Atsushi, closing the distance between them and putting his left arm around Atsushi’s waist. “Is it the blood?” he asked, holding Atsushi close as they walked to the wardrobe.

Refusing to look at Issay nor answer him, Atsushi stared at the floor and huffed.

“Does it make you uncomfortable?” Issay asked gently.

“Only when it’s yours,” Atsushi muttered bitterly, going back to the same rack and looking through the other yukata.

Undoing his sash, Issay let the ruined fabric fall to the floor as Atsushi removed a grey yukata from its hangar and put it around Issay’s shoulders in one fluid motion. Issay put his arms through the sleeves while Atsushi fussed with knotting the sash around his waist.

When Atsushi was done, Issay held Atsushi's face in his hands, making Atsushi look at him. There was a slight pout on Atsushi's face, discontentment and a furrow in his brow. Issay gave him a wane smile in return, gently pressing his thumb on the crease between Atsushi's brows as he caressed his cheek.

Atsushi closed his eyes and sighed without a word. The furrow on in his brow returned as he put his hands over Issay's and held them tight, weaving their fingers together.

Leaning forward, Issay rested his forehead against Atsushi's, closing the space between them as he said, "I love you."

Atsushi opened his eyes and looked at Issay in surprise. Judging by the look on his face, it was clear that he did not expect that declaration.

Issay smiled as he chuckled, "Is it that surprising that I love you?"

"I…" Atsushi looked away, embarrassed.

Issay moved in and brushed his lips against Atsushi's. He hovered for a moment, taking his time before Atsushi parted his lips and pressed in.

Kissing him slow, Issay focused his energies on the sensation of Atsushi's lips on his. From the way he puckered his lips to the way he lingered, sucking lightly as he exhibited his reluctance every time they parted briefly. Atsushi opened a little wider. Their tongues met and pushed in opposite directions as they tasted the other.  Again, another brief parting and a shuddering breath from Atsushi. His hands were now at Issay's collar, clutching the fabric of his yukata in his palms as he let out a soft sigh and opened his eyes. Time seemed to stop when their eyes met. Issay gazed into Atsushi's dark eyes, a smile tugging on his lips again when he felt Atsushi's hands on the sides of his face.

As if seeing Issay for the first time, Atsushi's eyes darted around, taking in Issay's features wherever his fingers traced and lingered. He met Issay's gaze again, pausing for a moment before holding him tightly and kissing him once more, lightly on the lips and then deeply, exuding desire.

It felt warm and stuffy, kissing and holding each other in the wardrobe like this. Issay felt as if he would end up perspiring from the heat when Atsushi paused, forehead still against Issay's as he panted and breathed, "I love you."

Atsushi couldn't see it, but Issay beamed as he gave Atsushi one last kiss on the lips before nuzzling against the side of Atsushi's face. Breathing in the now-fading scent of soap on Atsushi's skin, Issay pressed his lips to Atsushi's cheek, whispering, "Let's go back downstairs before we end up working up a sweat in here."

Atsushi huffed, letting out a soft, bashful chuckle as he nodded and kissed Issay on his neck with a low hum. "Let's."

Chapter Text

Atsushi opened his eyes to the peaceful sight of Issay asleep by him, his exposed chest rising and falling to soft breathing. Carefully, he turned and shifted, trying not to wake Issay as he looked for water to quench his parched throat. He didn't know what time it was, but they ended up drinking three bottles of clear liquor. Whether it was all vodka or not, he wasn't quite sure but that's all they spent the rest of the night doing; drinking in silence, maybe sharing a few kisses here and there. Or was there more? Considering how his sash was still fastened around his waist, it was unlikely. Then again, if there was, what did it matter?

Atsushi looked at the coffee table and immediately spotted the bottle of lube and sealed condoms by the empty drinking glasses. No open wrappers anywhere. No water either. It looks like he didn't forget about anything that might have happened then. Good. He would've hated it if he couldn't recall having sex with his lover.

Turning back to face Issay, Atsushi winced as he swallowed. By the gods, he really needed that water. Issay was still asleep, muttering something softly before sighing and shifting slightly. Atsushi smiled as he watched the older man. Extending a finger towards Issay, Atsushi brushed a stray lock of hair away, cocking his head to the side as he admired Issay's sleeping form for a while.

Eyes wandering, Atsushi looked to Issay's shoulder and his right upper arm. How was his wound? He reached towards Issay's collar, slowly shifting the fabric away as he lay down to peek under the yukata. It wasn't all that clear a view so he couldn't say for certain, but it looked like the wound didn't bleed through the gauze. Yet. It looked as if there was a dark red patch against the white, but it could just be a shadow in this darkness. Issay's blackout curtains worked too well.

Letting the fabric drop back down, Atsushi carefully smoothed the yukata as he gazed at Issay. It was hard but he had to resist the urge to start caressing Issay all over, lest he wakes the man. Considering what happened last night, it was likely that Issay rarely had any chance to catch a break. The least Atsushi could do was give him that.

Atsushi slowly sat up, groaning softly as his stiff body protested with aches. How Issay could get used to sleeping on the couch, Atsushi could never understand. Maybe he never slept for long. It might be bearable if that was the case.

Sitting at the edge of the sofa, Atsushi turned and looked at Issay again. Satisfied that he was still sleeping soundly, Atsushi reached for a pack of cigarettes on the coffee table, intending to step away for a smoke when his stomach suddenly growled. He froze. It sounded exceptionally loud. It might be due to the general silence in the house. Still, it was unlikely that Issay would wake-

"You hungry?" Issay's voice croaked softly.

Atsushi awkwardly looked over his shoulder. Seeing Issay's barely concealed smile, Atsushi couldn't quite meet his eyes. "Um… no."

Atsushi's stomach growled again. He grimaced.

"No?" Issay asked, grinning now.

"Um…"

Issay snaked his right arm around Atsushi's waist, pulling him back towards him. "What do you want to eat?" Issay asked softly, grunting as he sat up.

Without a moment's hesitation, Atsushi turned to Issay and said, "You."

"I'm afraid I may not be enough to satisfy you, love," Issay chuckled. "Knowing your appetite," he added, his voice low as he nuzzled the skin at the crook of Atsushi's neck.

Relishing Issay's affections, Atsushi leaned back into his embrace, curling up against Issay with a contented hum and a soft smile on his face. Atsushi was about to return his affections when the main door suddenly shook and rumbled. Startled, Atsushi immediately spun around, hugging Issay to his chest as he pinned Issay against the backrest of the couch and covered him with his own body as much as possible.

Issay stared up at him, wide-eyed as heavy fists thudded against the door again. "What are you doing?" Issay breathed.

Atsushi stiffened. Was Issay angry with him? "I… I just… thought of keeping you safe," he stuttered, reluctantly distancing himself from Issay.

"Don't I want to keep you safe too?" Issay said softly despite the noisy banging. Putting his arms around Atsushi, he asked, "What am I going to do if an Intruder really barged in and shot you?"

"What am I going to do if they got you instead?" Atsushi questioned. "Besides, they'd know better than to harm me," he muttered bitterly. "Unless they want to start a war."

"The suspects I have in mind would have no qualms about that, Acchan," Issay explained. "I just-"

The banging on the door turned up a notch, cutting Issay off. He sat up and glared in the direction of the entrance, clearly annoyed. Another bout of banging sounded and Issay sighed. It didn't seem like whoever was at the door was going to give up. Issay moved to get off the couch and Atsushi shifted aside, letting him do so before standing up and following Issay to the door.

Atsushi stood in the corridor while Issay went up to the door. Unlocking it, he opened it a notch while standing behind it, pausing to see if anything happened before he peeked out and said, "Oh, it's just you."

As Issay opened the door wider, Atsushi came up behind him, squinting against the bright sunlight while warily peering over Issay's shoulder. Eyes adjusting to the light, Atsushi finally saw Mizunaga scowling at them from outside.

"Did you have to bang the door like that?" Issay huffed. "I have a doorbell right there."

"I did press it," Mizunaga growled.

"Really? We heard nothing," Issay said, looking over his shoulder as Atsushi shrugged in agreement.

"I called your phone, no answer," Mizunaga went on.

"… My phone…" Issay scratched the back of his head. "Acchan, do you remember where I put my phone?"

"Hm?" Atsushi stepped closer, putting his arms around Issay as he rested his head on his shoulder. "Last I remembered, you tossed it onto the coffee table," he hummed. Letting his hands wander, Atsushi added, "But it didn't ring."

" What ?" Mizunaga muttered flatly.

"Might be on silent mode, hm?" Issay mused, putting a hand on Atsushi's head as he nuzzled Atsushi.

"Do you have to do that now?"

"By the way, where's Otsuka?" Issay asked, ignoring Mizunaga's previous question as Atsushi slipped his hands under his clothes.

"On the way. He overslept- Can you stop groping him?!" Mizunaga snapped at Atsushi.

Meeting Mizumaga's eyes and staring straight back at him, Atsushi kissed Issay's neck and said, "I'm hungry."

"He's hungry," Issay repeated, louder as he kept a straight face even as Atsushi caressed his inner thigh and lightly scratched his chest. Caressing Atsushi's cheek with a finger, Issay asked, "What do you want to eat?"

"You," Atsushi breathed, rubbing his fingers over a nipple as he spoke.

Issay wrinkled his nose. "I won't be able to fill your stomach, Acchan."

"Then…" Atsushi discretely moved his other hand under Issay's clothes, bringing it closer to Issay's groin as he said, "Dim sum… maybe."

"Dim sum?" Issay echoed with a chuckle and a subtle lurch when Atsushi gently closed his hand over Issay's crotch. "Really? Unusual request coming from you," he added breathily.

"The steamed buns… the dumplings… the fried rolls…" Atsushi listed languidly, kneading Issay in time to his words. "A bit of a craving, if you will."

"Stop doing that and let me in!" Mizunaga hissed. It was obvious that he was getting increasingly upset.

"No food, no entry," Atsushi said in a sing-song tone. Meeting Mizunaga's eyes again, he held his stare and licked Issay, dragging his tongue from the crook of his neck up to his jaw.

Mizunaga clicked his tongue and looked away. "Listen, I'll get one of the kids to buy it, alright? Just let me in already. This heat is killing me," he complained with a frown.

"Are you asking… to watch?" Atsushi asked, parting his lips as he bit down on Issay's neck.

Weaving his fingers through Atsushi's hair, Issay let out a shaky breath and made eye contact with Atsushi out of the corner of his eye. "Acchan…"

"Argh! Fine, fine! I can't stand you two," Mizunaga snapped as he spun on his heel and stormed off briskly. "I'll wait for Otsuka at the main building and when he's here, I don't care what you're doing, we're coming in."

Shifting his foot, Issay chuckled as he watched Mizunaga's retreating back until the door closed and they were back in their own world. "Aren't you audacious today, love," he remarked before gasping and clutching Atsushi's hand on his chest.

Atsushi grinned as he tightened his embrace and traced his fingers over Issay's growing erection. He bit down on Issay's neck again, this time sucking hard as Issay's knees buckled and he let out a soft moan.

"Oh, my love," Issay breathed. "Here?" he questioned, sounding somewhat unwilling.

"Inside?" Atsushi asked, whispering into his ear as he sucked on his earlobe.

"Please," Issay sighed as he gripped Atsushi's hand tighter.

Removing his hand from Issay's crotch, Atsushi bent lower and caught Issay's legs by the back of his knees. Adjusting his hold, Atsushi lifted Issay with a soft grunt and a tender gaze as he brought them back to the living room's sofa. Atsushi had always known that the slender man in his arms didn't weigh all that much, but how light he was this time troubled Atsushi. Had Issay really been living well here?

Atsushi quickly shoved his concerns away as he sat Issay down on the couch. He could worry about it later. For now, his focus was on pleasuring Issay.

Bending over, Atsushi came closer to Issay, putting his hands on the backrest of the couch as Issay cupped Atsushi's cheek with a hand and snaked an arm around his neck. Atsushi smiled when he felt Issay pulling him closer into a kiss. Sucking on Issay's lips, Atsushi heard a low hum of satisfaction from the older man. He pressed closer. Moving a hand from the couch to Issay's shoulder, Atsushi slid his hand down Issay's front, pausing at his waist to tug the sash free.

Atsushi kept his eye on Issay and sank down, trailing kisses and leaving marks all over Issay's torso as he pushed the yukata aside. He eventually settled on his knees between Issay's. Casting a glance up at Issay, Atsushi buried his face in Issay's inner thigh, gently nipping at the tender skin as Issay started laughing from the teasing.

"What are you doing?" Issay chuckled as Atsushi kept up with the light bites.

Wiggling his eyebrows at Issay, Atsushi made his way towards Issay's groin. "Well," Atsushi smirked. "I'm eating," he said in a matter-of-fact tone.

Atsushi moved in and closed his mouth over Issay's balls, curling his tongue and sucking as he heard Issay's quickened breathing and moans echoing in the empty house. Atsushi felt Issay's fingers in his hair, tightening his grip and scratching Atsushi's scalp as he worked.

When Atsushi lifted Issay's legs and shifted lower, Issay sighed, "Acchan, love… don't-!"

The muscles in Issay's legs tensed under Atsushi's palms as he pressed his tongue to Issay's entrance, licking and prodding in as rapturous moans filled his ears. The noises affected Atsushi too with his groin growing warm and more sensitive to his instinctive, subtle hip jerks that pressed his erection against the lower skirting of the sofa.

Suddenly flooded with desire, Atsushi put his arms around Issay's hips and tugged hard, shifting Issay closer to the edge of the sofa and to him. Straightening up, Atsushi dragged his tongue up from the base of Issay's erection to the tip, lapping at his head as Atsushi looked up at Issay's flushed and shy expression.

Atsushi flashed Issay a smile as he parted his lips and slid his mouth over Issay's erection. He bobbed his head up and down, humming with satisfaction as he took his time and sucked languidly. Judging by the way Issay stroked Atsushi's hair, he seemed to have become calmer. Atsushi pushed all the way in, making Issay's tip hit the back of his throat before drawing away. Issay's breath hitched and his grip tightened. Atsushi smiled to himself. Still not entirely calm after all.

Atsushi pushed Issay's erection all the way in again, this time tightening his throat and creating suction as he hummed and slowly drew his head back. Issay let out a soft exclamation and Atsushi felt a throb from Issay's erection just before warmth flooded into his mouth. Pursing his lips, Atsushi swallowed as he continued to draw Issay out until his penis exited his mouth with a wet sound.

Issay sighed and slumped back into the couch, watching Atsushi with half-lidded eyes as his hands roamed Issay’s groin area. As he massaged Issay, Atsushi cast his eyes up, pausing a moment to admire his handiwork on Issay’s torso before proceeding to make eye contact with Issay.

Rising up, Atsushi smiled and said, “Thank you for the meal.”

“Hm?” Issay smiled and put a hand on Atsushi’s cheek as he came closer. “I doubt you’re already satisfied,” he remarked softly.

Atsushi grinned and buried his face in Issay’s neck. “You’re right,” he growled playfully as he bared his teeth and grazed Issay’s collarbone lightly. “I’m still hungry.”

“That I know,” Issay chuckled, massaging the nape of Atsushi’s neck as Atsushi moved lower to tease his nipples.

As he sucked on one side, Atsushi used his fingers to pinch the other, evoking a harsh sigh and a hip jerk from Issay. Atsushi paused for a moment, reaching back towards the coffee table for the bottle of lube to dispense a liberal amount on his fingers. Tossing the bottle aside, Atsushi brought the lubricant-coated fingers down towards Issay’s entrance and coiled his other arm around Issay. He held him tight and pressed his lips to Issasy’s body again, kissing Issay as his index finger traced the rim of Issay’s hole.

Teasing with his fingers, Atsushi again took his time, waiting until Issay smacked him in frustration to ease them in. Chuckling, Atsushi leaned his weight against Issay, hugging him as he thrust his fingers into Issay to loosen him up.

Once it was enough, Atsushi gave Issay a peck on his neck and parted from him, turning around to get a condom. By now, Atsushi’s yukata had shifted and opened slightly in the middle, giving him easy access to his much-neglected erection. Atsushi slid the condom on and rubbed both hands on Issay’s under thighs, running them up and down the smooth skin as he positioned himself between Issay’s legs.

"C'mere," Issay mumbled, extending a hand towards Atsushi as he wrapped his legs around Atsushi's waist.

Smiling as he took the offered hand, Atsushi leaned forward into Issay's embrace, pressing his face into Issay's chest. Atsushi felt the low rumble of Issay's groan in his chest as he eased himself into Issay, who arched his back and pressed closer.

Interlocking fingers, Atsushi’s grip on Issay’s right leg grew firm as he began moving. He kept his face buried in Issay’s chest, moaning with each thrust. He could feel and hear Issay reacting too; his scratching on Atsushi’s back, the gyrating of his hips, his soft moans interspersed between the sounds of his shallow breathing. All of it aroused him. All of it added to his desire for more, more, more. Before he knew it, Atsushi was thrusting faster and Issay let out a short exclamation, unintentionally letting Atsushi know that he had found his sweet spot.

Atsushi grew excited with Issay’s soft cries of pleasure. The pressure that built in his crotch spurred him on, making him thrust harder until Issay tensed and his insides squeezed Atsushi. It was the final push that Atsushi needed to release that pressure and let that flood of euphoria wash over him.

Panting, Atsushi slowly removed himself from Issay as he rested his head on Issay’s chest. He felt so good that his eyelids felt heavy. He could just… fall asleep right here… in Issay’s arms again…

Loud banging on the door startled Atsushi again and he shot awake. Crouched over Issay protectively, he heard the door knocks, no, not knocks, banging again. Atsushi scowled.

“I suppose Mizunaga’s back with food,” Issay muttered with a sigh as his limbs dropped away from Atsushi.

Atsushi met his eyes and Issay gave him a small smile which lingered on his face as his hand caressed Atsushi’s cheek. Enjoying the gentle touch, Atsushi smiled back, closing his eyes as he tilted his head into Issay’s hand.

The banging started up again and the scowl returned to Atsushi’s face. He snapped his head towards the door, teeth bared in annoyance.

Issay let out an audible sigh and started to sit up. “I suppose I should go and open the door,” he mumbled in resignation.

“No,” Atsushi said, looking at Issay's ravished form with the messy hair and clothes, and his own ejaculation still on his body. “You go upstairs and start the bath. I’ll let them in.”

“It’s alright, I'll-”

“No,” Atsushi insisted so firmly that Issay blinked at him in surprise. Atsushi pursed his lips and looked away, feeling shy as he explained, “I don’t want… anyone else to see you like this.”

Realisation dawned on Issay and a smile broke out on his face as he started laughing. 

“Don’t laugh!” Atsushi piped. “This is… mine,” he added softly, feeling sheepish.

Issay nodded at Atsushi and hummed as he pulled Atsushi closer to pat him on the back of his head. “Yes, yes,” he cooed in good humour. “We’ll keep it yours.”

“Don’t laugh,” Atsushi repeated, whining softly.

Issay gave him a peck on his cheek and let Atsushi go. He held Atsushi's hands, toying with his fingers as he continued smiling and said, “I’ll head upstairs and wait for you while you deal with them, alright?”

Atsushi nodded and shifted, letting Issay stand up and go up to the bathroom without any more complaints.

Watching Issay leave, Atsushi removed the condom and adjusted his yukata to make sure he looked barely presentable before walking to the entryway. Just as he was about to reach for the door, the banging started again. Irritated, he yanked it open mid-bang and glared at Mizunaga who stood outside with his fist still raised.

“Where’s Issay?” Mizunaga immediately asked. Behind him stood Otsuka, who waved in greeting. In his hands were paper bags with boxes of food. Atsushi could already smell the delicious aromas coming from them.

“Bathroom,” Atsushi answered curtly. He desperately hoped his stomach wouldn’t start growling in response to the tempting smells. That would be embarrassing.

Letting go of the door, Atsushi briskly strode back into the house. “Come inside and close the door behind you. I’m going up to join him,” he said, leaving them without a second thought to spend more time with Issay. After all, he came all the way here to make the most of it.

Chapter Text

"How's it looking?" Issay asked as the bandage fell away from his arm. He was looking in the opposite direction from his wound. Atsushi made him. It left Issay terribly curious about how bad it was that Atsushi didn't want him to look at it.

"Good, I think," Atsushi muttered flatly. He was being hard to read again. "I mean, it's still a wound," he went on as he tore some kind of packaging open and touched something cool to Issay's arm, "but it's not bleeding as much-"

Issay hissed, cutting Atsushi off as what he assumed to be an alcohol swab brushed over his arm.

"Sorry," Atsushi mumbled. He pressed firmly on Issay's arm and began wrapping it up. "Bear with me."

Issay nodded with a hum, waiting patiently for Atsushi to finish dressing his wound.

"Done. Do you think we should get a doctor to look at it?" Atsushi asked quietly, smoothing his hand over Issay's upper arm.

"Thanks. It's just a flesh wound. Shouldn't be worth the trouble to go get it checked," Issay replied as he clasped Atsushi's hand with his.

"If you say so."

Issay turned to look at Atsushi and saw his troubled expression. "Ah, you," he sighed chidingly as he cupped Atsushi's face in his palm. Caressing Atsushi's cheek, Issay whispered, "Don't make such a face, love."

"I can't help it," Atsushi muttered, forcing a smile onto his face as he met Issay's eyes.

Issay smiled back and pressed his lips to Atsushi's, giving him a long kiss before resting his forehead against Atsushi's and gazing at him. Atsushi was quiet as he shifted to sit closer to Issay. With one hand resting on Issay's hip and the other holding his hand, Atsushi gazed back at Issay while they enjoyed each other's company in silence.

That is until the silence was broken by footsteps coming up the stairs.

Issay closed his eyes and sighed, slightly upset at having their time intruded upon but it couldn't be helped. He had obligations.

Picking up the black button-down that he laid on the bed earlier, Issay handed one side to Atsushi and said, "Help me with it?"

Atsushi nodded mutely, taking the shirt from Issay without a word and putting Issay's injured arm through a sleeve first. Standing up, Atsushi was working on Issay's buttons when a whistle came from the door.

"What a mess," Otsuka remarked as he came in.

"It's just this half of the room. Besides, what did you expect after last night?" Issay said, looking up. "How's your morning?"

"Uneventful," Otsuka replied. Spotting the corset and stockings, he raised his eyebrows and said, "Huh, kinky, aren'tcha? Who wore that?"

"You're never going to know," Issay shrugged as he put a hand over Atsushi's, stopping him from fastening the top three buttons.

Atsushi frowned and whispered, “But the marks-”

“Leave it,” Issay cut in. “It’d be weirder if I buttoned all the way up anyway,” he said with a smile. As Atsushi reluctantly moved on to fold his sleeves, Issay asked Otsuka, "Where's Mizunaga?"

"Downstairs, warming up the food again because you two took an hour in the bath," Otsuka teased.

"Hey, it's not easy to bathe with a wound, you know?" Issay retorted with a laugh. "Did Mizunaga fill you in on what happened?"

"Yeah, I was drinking with him actually," Otsuka said as he paced around the room, looking around. "A little miffed you didn't think to call me."

"I thought that you might be busy with your wife. 'sides, Mizunaga would call you immediately after I hung up even if you weren't there," Issay said.

"Hm, true," Otsuka nodded. He stopped at the corner of the bed where Atsushi's bag lay at the foot of. "So this is the planted gun?"

"Yup," Issay nodded.

"I'm surprised you haven't bagged it," Otsuka commented. "What kinda police training did you get?"

"I don't have zip lock bags around here," Issay chuckled with a shrug. "Can't do much about that."

"Tadah~!" Otsuka whipped out a bunch from his back pocket. "Aren't I useful?" he grinned as he turned on inside out, put his hand in and picked up the gun to bag it.

"Might as well get the bullets out on the balcony while you're at it, eh?" Issay chuckled.

"I probably can't pry them out if they're stuck in the wall though," Otsuka said as he sealed the bag. "Oh?" He paused when he looked at Atsushi. "Where's your ring, Sakurai?"

"Huh?" Atsushi froze for a moment, surprised at being addressed.

"Your ring," Otsuka repeated and pointed at Atsushi's hand. "That thing that was a… key? Was it? You always wore it before."

"Ah," Atsushi looked down at his hand, "it, uh… shattered. A couple of months ago."

"How'd that happen?" Otsuka asked, his eyebrows raised in surprise as he turned towards the balcony.

"I suppose… it absorbed too much impact from the…" Atsushi mimed waving his baton around, "hitting… I guess."

Sliding the balcony door open and stepping out, Otsuka laughed, “So violent.” He stood outside, peering around at the walls and clicking his tongue before asking, “ Aren’t you going to replace it?”

“That’s on me,” Issay piped up as he tucked his shirt into his pants. “I haven’t found anything good enough yet,” he sighed, exchanging a glance with Atsushi. He then muttered, “Then again, I’ve barely had the time to shop.”

“We have time,” Atsushi smiled 

“We’ll find something soon enough,” Issay nodded. Twisting around towards the balcony, he called, “How’s it going with the bullets?”

“I’ve got a couple of shells from the floor, but there are probably four or five still stuck in the walls,” Otsuka replied. “I can’t get them out with my fingers.”

“I’ll deal with it later then,” Issay said, scrunching his face up as the troublesome work flashed through his mind. “We should really eat first.”

“Glad you mentioned that,” Otsuka nodded as he sealed the bag with two bullets and came back into the room. He shut the door behind him, pointed to the stairs, and said, “Let’s go.”

Watching Otsuka stride past them with his long, slender legs, Issay gave Atsushi a little bow and gestured, "After you."

The corner of Atsushi's eyes crinkled as he chuckled in amusement and looked down at his collared shirt, seemingly bashful as he smoothed a hand over the fabric. He didn't move from his spot until after Issay did, and even then, Atsushi stayed close, making sure to match his pace as they left the room and descended the stairs.

Entering the first floor, they turned to the right, to the kitchen where Mizunaga was just done setting the food on the island. Otsuka got there first and handed out the chopsticks to Atsushi and Issay.

"Took you two long enough," Mizunaga griped, taking a drink from his bottle of green tea as he swallowed whatever he was eating.

"Couldn't wait until we came down, huh?" Issay remarked as he picked up a fried spring roll and offered one end to Atsushi.

"I thought I'd starve by the time you got here," Mizunaga scoffed. "So I took some initiative."

"I thought the food's supposed to be for us," Issay hummed before eating the other half of the spring roll.

"You really think you can finish this spread?" Mizunaga asked.

"We could always have supper," Atsushi muttered.

"That we could," Issay nodded with a smile as he fed Atsushi gyoza.

"Oh, come on, I paid for it," Mizunaga huffed.

"With my money," Issay said with a pointed look.

Mizunaga glared at him. "Fine," he slammed his chopsticks down, "I won't eat then."

"I didn't say you couldn't eat," Issay said before tearing a steamed pork bun in half and stuffing one piece into his mouth.

"Then what is it?"

"You could've just waited for us," Otsuka finally spoke up after eating in silence throughout. "Right?" he jerked his head at Issay.

Halfway through feeding Atsushi the other half, Issay quickly chewed and swallowed before answering, "Exactly."

“Tch,” Mizunaga clicked his tongue and side-eyed Issay and Atsushi as he picked up his chopsticks again. “Why does it feel like you two are picking on me?” he muttered as he stabbed into a turnip cake and glared at the couple.

"Because you picked on Acchan last night," Issay said nonchalantly.

"I did not," Mizunaga scoffed.

"Shall I remind you what you were accusing him of?" Issay asked.

"I didn't-! I was just- laying out the possibilities," Mizunaga sputtered.

"You made him feel worse than he already did," Issay said in a low voice. 

"You're smiling a lot, aren't you?" Otsuka tossed his comment at Atsushi.

"I've almost never seen him angry," Atsushi replied, clearly smitten as he added, "much less for me."

"He cares a lot, and most see it as a bad trait as the head of a criminal organisation," Otsuka sighed, putting a lump of sticky rice into his mouth.

"I can understand why," Atsushi muttered, poking around at the food until Issay fed him again.

"You're spoiling him," Mizunaga growled.

"Can you blame me? I rarely get the chance to," Issay said, smiling as Atsushi beamed at him and ate the offered shrimp ball. "And it's pretty much both of your faults I'm stuck down here and kept away from him so you will deal with it ."

"Not as if I'd come and intrude on your time if there wasn't a need to," Mizunaga muttered, disgruntled. "We need to talk about it, Issay."

"At least wait until we're done eating," Issay grumbled before biting into a vegetable dumpling. "I'm losing my appetite just thinking about it."

"Though, we might as well get it over and done with," said Otsuka.

"… Should I go?" Atsushi asked, sounding hesitant.

"I did say that I want you listening in on this, didn't I?" Issay reminded.

Hearing that, both Otsuka and Atsushi surprised Issay by asking together, "You sure about that?"

"I mean, it's not exactly pleasant," Otsuka clarified when Issay shot him a sharp look.

"You said it yourself. Might as well get it over and done with, right?" Issay repeated as he offered Atsushi a custard bun.

"So what are you going to do about the heir?" Mizunaga asked bluntly.

Atsushi paused mid-bite, staring wide-eyed at Issay when he heard the word 'heir'.

Focusing his attention on coaxing Atsushi to eat, Issay answered flatly, "Nothing."

"Nothing?" Mizunaga echoed.

"Yes, nothing."

Finally finding his voice, Atsushi murmured, "Heir?"

"Mhm," Issay hummed. "Eat first," he coaxed.

"What heir?" Atsushi asked, ignoring the bun. "Why…?"

“It’s part of the will that was left behind by his father, our previous head,” Otsuka explained. “Though if you ask me, it’s more like a set of terms and conditions to make our lives difficult,” he muttered.

“The… will?” Atsushi mumbled blankly. 

Issay sighed and put the bun and his chopsticks down. “Remember I was telling you about this huge, who-knows-how-many-hundred-page document?”

“Some months ago, yes,” Atsushi nodded.

“That’s the will.”

“And in it, we found a clause that says that this man here,” Mizunaga pointed at Issay, “needs to produce an heir by the age of forty, or he’d be put off duty to ‘give him time to focus his energies’ on fulfilling that.”

Atsushi furrowed his brow in confusion and mumbled, “… What? Then who’s going to run the show?”

“The second in line to this… seat,” Mizunaga answered. “His younger brother.”

Step brother,” Issay snapped. 

Step younger brother,” Mizunaga repeated, pursing his lips.

Atsushi stared past Mizunaga, into the distance with a faraway look in his eyes. Watching him, Issay could see Atsushi trying to wrap his head around this situation.

“So… that means… you’ll be free?” Atsushi asked, looking at Issay.

Technically , yes,” Issay answered carefully.

“Technically?” Atsushi echoed.

“He would be free of us, yes, but,” Otsuka held up a finger at his pause, “according to the will, Issay will be completely on his own again while we,” he gestured at Mizunaga and himself, “will be subject to the beck and call of the one in charge while Issay isn’t around.”

“Plus,” Mizunaga added, “the will stated that the moment the heir is born, Issay will immediately have his position reinstated, which makes it safe to say that…”

Eyes darting between the men, Atsushi concluded ominously, “Preventive measures will be taken.”

Pulling out a barstool from the side of the kitchen island, Issay heaved a heavy sigh and sat down, crossing his legs. "You know, if there was a way to irrevocably relinquish all of this, I would," he muttered as he stared blankly at one of the kitchen cabinets with his elbow on a knee and his chin in his hand.

"I know," Otsuka sighed. "We all know."

"You've always known about this… heir thing?" Atsushi asked, his voice quiet.

"No. We just found out yesterday," Mizunaga replied. "We were talking about it just before you showed up."

" Yesterday ?" Atsushi questioned. "How could you only find out about this yesterday ? When we're less than ten months to his fortieth?"

“Look, I don’t know why this is only coming to our attention now, I don’t know why no one has ever mentioned this before, I don’t know why the lawyers didn’t seem to have a clue about it but that’s not the main question right now,” Mizunaga said. “The question we need to address now is ‘what are we going to do about this’.”

“Nothing,” Issay shrugged nonchalantly with his chin still propped up in his palm and his eyes still on the cabinet door. “We’re not going to do anything.”

“So you’ll just waste all the effort you’ve put in for the past four years?” Mizunaga asked, eyes flashing. “All this time you’ve endured living apart from Sakurai, you’re just going to let it turn into… nothing?”

“I have never intended to bring another child into this… industry of ours,” Issay muttered as the look in his eyes hardened. “Whether or not a person becomes entangled in this world should be a matter of choice.”

“What if the child was raised without knowledge of our dealings?” Otsuka asked. “What if… by the time the child is old enough to take over, we no longer deal in… whatever it is you consider distasteful?”

“And what if I die before that?” Issay retorted. “What if the child gets forced into this before time? Even better. What if the people who are after me go after the child? Even if your conscience can accept that you’ve doomed a child to this fate, I cannot. I. Will. Not,” he declared, huffing angrily.

The room fell silent and Issay stood up. He turned and looked across the house, towards the living room and away from the three other men. “And all of that,” he continued, “is only worth considering if there is a child, to begin with.”

“There’s still time before the deadline-”

“For what?” Issay interrupted Mizunaga. Looking over his shoulder, Issay made eye contact with him and asked in a low voice, “Still time for what, Mizunaga?”

“To… conceive a child,” he replied slowly, warily.

Issay turned and folded his arms, closing his eyes as he furrowed his brow. “And what if the child,” he tapped his finger on his concealed bandage as he paused for a moment, “is not a male? Hm?”

“Conceive another,” Mizunaga said simply. “Whatever it takes-”

“Whatever it takes,” Issay echoed. “Whatever it takes. Whatever it takes ,” he growled as anger welled up in him. “I understand that you get things done no matter what it takes, Mizunaga, but we’re talking about lives here-”

“You want to talk about lives when our businesses all play around with lives? Ruins lives? Sells lives?” Mizunaga scoffed.

“You know every one of those businesses are what I want to cut off,” Issay spat as he stalked towards Mizunaga and grabbed him by his collar. “What do you not understand about my plans?!”

“Your plans mean nothing if you don’t produce an heir of your own flesh and blood to secure your position, Issay,” Mizunaga replied with an unfaltering glare.

“What do you expect me to do!?” Issay exploded, pushing Mizunaga away and releasing his collar at the same time. “What do you expect me to do, Mizunaga? Breed ? Impregnate as many women as possible until I get a male child before the deadline? What’ll happen to the rest of the women and children if the first one isn’t a male?” he ranted. “I am not doing this, Mizunaga. I’m not putting anyone through this. Least of all Atsushi.”

At the mention of his name, Atsushi glanced up at Issay and then looked down at the floor again. Seated on a barstool with downcast eyes, he had been quiet throughout the entire conversation. Until now.

"I think… you should do it," Atsushi mumbled softly.

Issay froze. " What ?"

"It's clear who's got a better head for this world," Mizunaga remarked with a scoff.

"You should do it," Atsushi repeated more firmly, turning away from Issay as he spoke.

"Why would you ever say that?" Issay asked. What has gotten into Atsushi? He felt betrayed that Atsushi was not on his side in this. In fact, it was baffling that Atsushi would give him the go-ahead.

"It's a better option in the long run," Atsushi muttered. "You'd finally solidify your position and it'd be safe for you to-"

"And what of you?" Issay interrupted. "Do you expect me to put you aside?"

Issay noticed Atsushi's jaw tense as he clenched his fists and swallowed. Sucking in a breath, he looked up at Issay with tears in his eyes and muttered, "Yes."

Feeling a stab in his chest, Issay turned away and immediately responded, "I won't do it."

"Issay, please ," Atsushi pleaded. "Please, think about it. Things will-"

"I have thought about it," Issay cut in. "I have thought about it and my decision is final. I won't do it."

"Things will only get worse for you again," Atsushi finished his sentence. "Getting this over and done with would help your position-"

"Haven't you heard anything I've said just now?" Issay asked. "I've already told you how I feel about this."

"But-"

"Do you really think I'd even be capable of getting it up for anyone else? I have zero, zero desire for anyone except you, Atsushi," Issay went on. "It wouldn't even be possible for me to sleep with a woman."

"Then I'll help," Atsushi said, his voice cracking. "I'll help you with whatever it takes-"

" Whatever it takes ," Issay spat. He was growing to hate that particular phrase. "I don't care about 'whatever it takes'," he growled. "I refuse to do anything that puts you in any sort of compromising position."

"But-"

"My decision is final, Atsushi."

"But Issay-"

"Quiet."

"Issay, please just-"

"Atsushi."

Atsushi froze, staring up with his large eyes as Issay came closer and stood in front of him.

"Not. Another. Word," Issay said, his eyes hard and a warning in his voice.

Breathing heavily through his nose, Atsushi held Issay's black look and stubbornly decided to continue, "If you would consider-"

The moment Issay raised his right hand, Atsushi's eyes widened before he squeezed them shut and braced himself.

"Issay!" Otsuka suddenly shouted.

Issay turned and saw Mizunaga and Otsuka, both on their toes, frozen mid-action with their hands splayed in his direction as if they wanted to stop him. He blinked and looked down at Atsushi, seated in front of him on the barstool, waiting for something to happen.

"Issay, don't do it," Otsuka warned. " Don't cross that line ."

That line? Issay blinked and looked at his hand, raised and ready to strike… Atsushi. He furrowed his brow and felt his chest heave from heavy breaths. What was he going to do right then? He slapped his right and to his face, covering his eyes as he took a step back from Atsushi.

Issay removed his hand, stared at it, and then at the relief that Mizunaga and Otsuka exhibited when they exchanged a glance. He stared at his hand again. What was he about to do just now? He knew the answer and it terrified him. Issay’s eyes darted to Atsushi whose eyes were now open and watching him quietly with nothing but concern.

Letting out a harsh exhale, Issay sucked in a breath and felt his chest tighten up. What was he thinking of doing? He was… Issay shook his head, his face scrunching up in anguish as he backed further away from Atsushi and turned. How could he let himself… Issay shook his head again, as if the motion could help him shake these questions away.

With his back to Atsushi, Mizunaga, and Otsuka, Issay looked up at the rest of the darkened premises and muttered softly, “I’m not doing it.”

If anyone said anything to him, Issay did not hear it. “I’m not doing it,” he repeated to himself again, and many more times over as his feet moved, carrying him to the stairs and up into his room.

Chapter Text

Atsushi sat on the barstool in a daze. legs outstretched and shoulders slumped, his eyes traced the grooves of the mosaic tiles on the kitchen floor. His mind was still reeling from everything that just happened. From that bombshell of an ‘heir clause’ to Issay’s fury. The idea of Issay fathering a child honestly upset him less than what Issay suddenly turned into.

In his mind’s eye, Atsushi could still see the cold, bitter rage he met with. He had seen Issay angry before, but his anger on those occasions was hot and fiery, explosive. It was nothing like this. This was not the Issay he knew. Atsushi sighed. And everything was going so nicely just a mere hour ago. How quickly things changed between them scared him.

At the same time, Atsushi could not help but feel like it truly was a mistake for him to show up unannounced last night. His skirmish, Issay getting shot, and the timing of the discovery of this clause in the will? It has been one blow after another ever since he arrived and that probably left a number on Issay too, all the highs and the lows. Atsushi probably added to it just now, when he insisted on convincing Issay to change his mind…

Atsushi stood up, resolute. He should apologise. If it wasn’t for everything that he had done, if it wasn’t for his presence here, if it wasn’t for him… Issay wouldn’t be having such a hard time. Issay wouldn’t have turned on him like that.

“Where are you going?”

The sudden question snapped Atsushi out of his thoughts. Otsuka and Mizunaga were right there with him, seated on barstools around the empty kitchen island with glasses of sake in their hands. After Issay went upstairs, they cleared up and put the food away. No one was in the mood to eat anymore following that.

“You’re not leaving, are you?” Mizunaga asked.

“… Leaving?” Atsushi muttered.

“Like, going back to Tokyo or something?”

“No,” Atsushi replied quietly, shaking his head as he looked towards the stairs. “I’m… going to look for him.”

“You sure?” Mizunaga asked, a slight furrow appearing on his brow.

“Why not?” Atsushi asked, cocking his head at Mizunaga.

“Well…”

“I’m not fragile,” Atsushi stated flatly. “I’ll let him hit me if that’s what he wants.”

“No, don’t,” Otsuka blurted.

“Don’t?” Atsushi asked.

“Don’t let him do that,” Otsuka clarified. “If not for your own sake, then for his. Don’t let him,” he added.

Atsushi frowned. It didn’t quite make sense to him.

“Issay would never… He wouldn’t be able to live with himself if he did that.”

Atsushi’s eyes shifted to the stairs again. Deep down, he knew Otsuka was right. But he had no idea what state Issay was in right now. Or whether he was still the same Issay that he had known all these years. Whatever it was, Atsushi knew he would oblige Issay regardless of the outcome.

Humming a noncommittal noise, Atsushi walked off without another word. It didn’t feel like anyone had anything else to say anyway. Entering the stairwell, Atsushi peered up, pausing to listen for any hint of what things were like upstairs. The door to the room was still open. It didn't sound like anything was happening. He could smell cigarette smoke though.

Atsushi began climbing the steps, particularly aware of the grain of the parquet under his bare feet as he drew closer to the top. Once there, he looked in and saw that the part of the room that was visible from the landing, the part that was connected to the balcony, closet, and bathroom, was still in the same state as before. Atsushi thought that maybe Issay would vent his anger; break or throw a few things, or something, but there was no sign of that. Granted, that was out of character for the typically collected man.

Proceeding, Atsushi stepped into the room and paused, turning to look right, where the bed was. The moment Atsushi saw Issay sitting on the other side of the bed, with his back to him and his shirt off, his heart skipped a beat and a strange mix of emotions bubbled up in his chest. He was happy to see Issay, perhaps even excited, but at the same time, he could feel the undertow of nervousness. The uncertainty of how Issay would react to him left Atsushi apprehensive and that undertow dragged his heart lower as Atsushi’s eyes wandered and took in the rest of Issay’s environment.

On the bed was the bandage unravelled, cast aside, leaving Issay's wound exposed. Atsushi saw traces of blood on the bandage and the white sheets of the bed. His eyes lingered on the red streaks, trying to make sense of it when he caught sight of how Issay's arm looked bloodier than he remembered. Alarm gripped Atsushi and he immediately started moving. Why…?

As Atsushi approached, Issay remained still, shoulders hunched with his head in his left hand as he gave a single order: "Get. Out!"

Atsushi had no intention of obeying that. He continued his advance, feet padding softly against the dark parquet floor as he went around the bed.

"What part of 'get out' did you not understand?!" Issay growled. He still hasn't looked up. Atsushi guessed that Issay probably didn't know that it was him who was here.

Ignoring Issay’s demands, Atsushi went closer, only stopping when he knew that he stood where Issay could see his feet. Issay remained still. He appeared almost frozen except for the white smoke of his cigarette wafting away between the bloodied fingers of his left hand which propped up his head.

Atsushi stood there for a while. It looked like Issay was not going to do or say anything. Slowly, he stepped closer while Issay remained silent and motionless. Atsushi frowned, concerned. Crouching down, Atsushi got onto his knees and bent over to see if he could look at Issay in the eye. And he did. His brow instinctively furrowed the moment he caught sight of Issay’s wet, dull eyes gradually focusing on Atsushi.

Atsushi found his gaze locked to Issay’s as he settled on the floor, sitting between Issay’s legs. There, he waited again to see if Issay would do anything but all Issay did was stare at him, unblinking, without an expression on his face. It hurt Atsushi to see Issay like this, so unlike his usual self. He couldn’t even tell what Issay was thinking right now as he looked at Atsushi.

The ashes from Issay’s cigarette fell and for a moment, Atsushi’s attention was drawn to the cigarette, now half burnt away, and Issay’s blood-stained fingers again. He felt his heart sink as he connected the dots between the bandages, the stray traces of blood, and Issay’s fingers. If what Atsushi just thought of really was what happened… Atsushi swallowed and forced himself to look somewhere else other than the fingers, only to spot red lines and more blood on Issay’s chest in the shadows.

Atsushi naturally let out a soft gasp as an ache bloomed in his chest. Mouth agape, he could not find his words as his vision blurred and his eyes grew hot. He forced himself to avert his eyes again and this time, he spotted Issay’s right hand, the one that Issay threatened to hit him with, resting limply on his right knee.

Exhaling a shaky breath, Atsushi kept his eyes on Issay's hand as he leaned his right. Eventually, the back of his head came into contact with Issay's thigh and the moment he felt it, Atsushi put his right arm up on Issay's leg and turned, rubbing his face against the fabric of the pants as his left hand reached for Issay's right.

Atsushi could feel Issay watching him as Atsushi gently took hold of Issay's hand and brought it to him. Resting his head on Issay's thigh, Atsushi gazed up at Issay, meeting his eyes as he put Issay’s hand on his cheek. Atsushi closed his eyes, sighing softly from the mild contentment that the touch brought him. It was, however, far from enough to alleviate the pain in his chest.

While Atsushi’s was caressing the hand, Issay's fingers twitched. Not expecting the motion, Atsushi's eyes sprang open and he looked up at Issay again. What he saw filled him with relief; that tenderness which Atsushi knew so well had returned to Issay's eyes.

Issay's fingers twitched again and began to move in small trembling jerks across Atsushi's skin, caressing him back as a fresh tear rolled from Issay's eyes. The sight left Atsushi with fresh a jumble of mixed emotions. Trapped between a creased brow and a smile, Atsushi felt responsible for the hurt that Issay was going through. None of this would have happened if he didn't come here. He was never supposed to come to these premises. Ever. And yet he did. He could now see why he should have stuck to that.

Clutching Issay's hand tighter, Atsushi sucked in a shaky breath and whispered, "I'm-"

"I'm sorry." Issay got the words out before Atsushi. “I don’t deserve you,” he breathed.

“No,” Atsushi blurted as he felt a stab in his heart. Why was Issay saying this? Shaking his head, Atsushi rose up. “No, I-”

“I shouldn’t have hit you,” Issay cut in breathily as another tear streaked down his cheek.

“But you didn’t!” Atsushi intoned.

“I would have,” Issay sighed, his eyes forlorn. “If it weren’t for them, I would have…”

“You never meant to,” Atsushi said gently, shaking his head as Issay held his cheek.

“I did,” Issay lamented as his face crumpled from the despair that finally rose to the surface. “I did, Atsushi,” he repeated, shaking his head as he spoke. “I cannot lie and say that I didn’t. I don’t deserve you,” Issay choked.

“I know you,” Atsushi insisted as he held Issay’s hand tighter. He refused to let Issay go. “I know you and I know you’d never mean to-”

“Atsushi,” Issay breathed. Looking at Atsushi with tears in his eyes, he muttered, “I don’t even know myself anymore.”

“That wasn’t you,” Atsushi demurred, keeping his tone soft. “You wouldn’t have done such a thing.”

“And yet…” Issay looked away and tried to remove his hand but Atsushi held on. Feeling the resistance, he gave Atsushi a pained look and said, “Atsushi, please . I’m becoming him.”

"You won't. You're nothing like him-"

 "I'm not so sure anymore, Atsushi," Issay muttered darkly. "I can no longer say with full confidence that I'd never hurt you-"

"I trust you," Atsushi interrupted. He didn’t want to hear the end of that sentence. "I've said it last night and I'll say it again, Issay. I trust you."

"Don't…" Issay hissed as he dropped his head, shoulders shaking. "I don't deserve you," he wept softly.

Atsushi carefully removed the smouldering cigarette from Issay's fingers without resistance and stubbed it out in the ashtray on the bed. With that hazard out of the way, he gently put his arms around Issay, making sure not to accidentally graze any of his wounds as he held Issay.

"I trust you," Atsushi said again, quietly as he let Issay rest on him. "You're nothing like him."

Atsushi repeated those words, going on until Issay went quiet and still again, barely moving except for the intermittent jerking of his shoulders. Atsushi simply held him, patting his back in silence as he waited patiently for… whatever came after this. It hurt to see Issay like this, such a far cry from his usual self.

Atsushi hated it. How much had Issay been holding in? Perhaps what happened earlier was the final straw that made him snap. That would explain the state of Issay's living room last night when Atsushi first stepped in. It would also explain his suspicions that Issay had lost weight since the last time they met.

"Atsushi, promise me something," Issay muttered softly, suddenly shifting to press his forehead to Atsushi's chest as he put his left arm around Atsushi.

"… Depends on what it is," Atsushi said, wary of the possibilities.

"If… something like that ever happens again… don't just sit there," Issay said. "At least… hit me back or something."

"I don't want to hit you," Atsushi objected, upset that such a thing was being asked of him.

"I don't care what you do to me, just don't let me hurt you," Issay said breathlessly, his hold tightening with the intensity of his plea.

"That… I can do," Atsushi muttered softly. He would find a way around it. He had to. Otherwise, Otsuka's words would keep haunting him. He wouldn’t be able to live with himself .

"Thank you," Issay sighed, leaning more of his weight on Atsushi as tension gradually left his body.

Atsushi buried his face in Issay's hair, nuzzling him as he rubbed circles on Issay's back. It was a relief that Issay calmed down enough for his breathing to slow but Issay's physical state still worried him.

Despite his fear of the answer, Atsushi found himself asking warily, "Issay, what did you do to yourself?"

Issay turned his head to the side, breathed in deep, exhaled, and looked up at Atsushi with a forced, wane smile on his face. "Mere penance for my misdeed, my love."

Atsushi immediately scrunched up his face as he found himself on the verge of tears again. "Why?" he sibilated, swallowing the lump that formed in his throat. He held Issay's face in his hands as he whined softly in a struggle to keep his emotions in check. "Why would you…"

"It's nothing, love," Issay said as his lips twitched into a wider smile. "Just a flesh wound."

"You're not even moving your arm!"

"Sure I can. Look," Issay chuckled, bending his right arm and lifting an open palm to Atsushi. The only problem was Issay was trembling so much that there was no way that he was not forcing himself, perhaps too much.

"Stop it, please," Atsushi begged, desperately trying to find a way to hold Issay's arm without causing him more pain. He crouched down, making Issay rest his arm on his knee as he said, "Let me call a doctor, have someone look at it-"

"I'm fine," Issay insisted with a frown as he looked away.

"Please," Atsushi pleaded again, vision blurry again as he gently cupped Issay's cheek. "Let me take care of you."

There was a long, tense moment of silence but finally, Issay broke it when he sighed with a passing wince as he hunched his shoulders again, resigned. Pursing his lips, he nodded, wordlessly agreeing to Atsushi’s plea, albeit reluctantly.

Letting out an inaudible sigh of relief, Atsushi stood up and hugged Issay, running his fingers through his hair as he whispered, "I'll go downstairs and tell them to make the call then I'll come right back."

"Hm."

"I won't take long," Atsushi promised. "So don't… do…" He paused and glanced at Issay's right arm.

"I know, I know," Issay sighed.

Atsushi gave him a kiss on the side of his head. Stepping away, he said, "I'll be back soon."

"Wait."

Atsushi froze.

"A cigarette, please," Issay requested. "It's a bit hard for me to… like this," he confessed as Atsushi promptly took out a stick from the pack on the bed and put it between Issay's still-bloodied fingers.

Issay brought it to his lips, sucking as Atsushi lit the cigarette for him. Atsushi could feel Issay's eyes on him, undoubtedly taking in the terse expression that he got when Atsushi saw the blood again.

Just as Atsushi moved to leave, Issay bit on the cigarette, freeing his hand to clap it on the back of Atsushi's neck and pull him back in again. Pressing their heads together Issay look into Atsushi's eyes and said, "Don't worry. My hands are occupied."

Atsushi's frown deepened and Issay huffed, flashing a fleeting smile before removing his cigarette and giving Atsushi a quick peck on his cheek. "Go," he said, nudging Atsushi away. "I'll be right here."

Hesitant, Atsushi watched as a vacant stare took its place on Issay's face while he sank back into his own thoughts. Looking at the unmoving figure, Atsushi decided to make haste and turned away, striding quickly towards the stairs and going down two steps at a time. It'd probably be better that he returns before the cigarette burns out.

Stepping through the threshold and into the first floor, Otsuka and Mizunaga immediately got up from the barstools to face him. They looked at him, concerned as they scanned his appearance.

Eager to hurry back upstairs, Atsushi blurted, "Call a doctor."

"Whose blood is on your shirt?" Mizunaga asked as his eyes fixed on Atsushi's supposedly white shirt.

Confused, Atsushi looked down and grimaced as he saw what Mizunaga spotted. There were specks and light streaks of red on his shirt. Blood probably smudged onto him when he was holding Issay.

"It's not mine," Atsushi muttered. He wasn't sure how he should explain this. "Do you know a doctor you can call?"

"Did he do something to you?" Otsuka asked.

"No. No, he didn't," Atsushi sighed. "The doctor isn't for me, alright?"

"What happened to him?" Mizunaga asked.

Atsushi pressed his fingers to his temples. This was exasperating. Why won't they just do as he asked? "Can someone just call a doctor first?" he growled, leaving the stairwell to go to the kitchen island.

Finally, Otsuka whipped out his phone and started fiddling with it. "I'll get to it."

" Thank you ," Atsushi huffed as he took his phone and shoved it into his pocket. 

"What's the doctor for?" Mizunaga asked.

"His arm," Atsushi replied. Perhaps a vague answer would be enough. "I wanted Issay to get it looked at this morning and he finally agreed to it just now."

"Huh." Mizunaga sounded unconvinced.

"Don't want him catching an infection, do we?" Atsushi muttered as he went back to the stairs.

"Is he coming down?" Mizunaga asked.

"I'll ask him," Atsushi said.

"Ten minutes," Otsuka announced as he put down the call. "He'll be here in ten."

“I’ll tell him,” Atsushi nodded, disappearing up the stairs without a backward glance.

Climbing up, Atsushi checked his phone for missed calls or messages; none. It looks like Imai has yet to feed the cats for him. Maybe he needed a reminder.

“Busy?” Issay’s voice came from across the room.

“No, I was just checking…” Atsushi looked up and found Issay looking up at him while lying on the bed without a cigarette in his fingers.

The moment Atsushi’s eyes grew large in alarm, Issay gave him a tired smile and muttered, “Relax. I just finished it.”

Regardless of whether or not it was true, Atsushi was still worried. He put his phone on the bed and hurried over. At the very least, Issay seemed to have regained his sense of humour. It felt like he was almost completely back to normal now.

Issay sat up with a wince and a grunt, moving carefully with particular attention paid to his arm. Noticing Issay’s difficulty, Atsushi took the long strip of bandage from the bed and wound around Issay’s forearm and his neck to create a makeshift sling.

“This should suffice until the doctor arrives,” Atsushi said, knotting the fabric behind Issay’s neck.

“In ten minutes?” Issay asked.

Atsushi paused. “You know?”

“I heard your ruckus,” Issay shrugged, hissing as he accidentally moved his right arm and brushed the sling against the scratches on his chest.

Atsushi furrowed his brow and sighed. “We should get you cleaned up before he arrives,” he said as he unbuttoned his shirt.

“Another hour-long bath together?” Issay teased, lips twitching into a suggestive smile as he watched Atsushi strip.

“I don’t mind one if it doesn’t hurt you,” Atsushi smiled while he quickly folded his soiled white shirt.

Issay probably thought of the water hitting his wounds as he winced and mumbled, “Maybe later…”

“After you’ve been tended to,” Atsushi nodded, giving Issay a peck on his cheek before taking two strides over to his bag and crouching down.

Noticing his lingerie nearby, Atsushi took the opportunity to shove them into his bag and pack them away. Once they were put aside, Atsushi pulled out a black cotton tee and put it on. If he got blood on him again, it wouldn’t show up now.

“Are you… leaving?” Issay asked quietly when he saw Atsushi packing.

“Huh?” Atsushi turned and faced the dejected look in Issay’s eyes. “No! No… I’m just… not keen on the idea of outsiders seeing that,” he muttered, feeling self-conscious all of a sudden.

"Otsuka saw it though," Issay reminded as he stood up and stretched his back, groaning softly.

Atsushi zipped his bag shut and went back to Issay, ready to support him if he needed it. "I didn't expect him to come up," he said, pouting slightly at the memory of his chagrin at the unexpected entrance. "It's not meant for others," he added to himself as he shuffled across the room with Issay.

"Only for me?" Issay asked, putting his left arm around Atsushi's waist as they walked.

"… Who else would it be for?"

"Hm," Issay hummed. "What about… your Hisashi?"

"Uhn?" Atsushi made a confused noise, flustered. "W-why would you think-"

"He called the other day to complain about your… shopping habits," Issay replied, smirking as they went into the bathroom.

Eyes wide, Atsushi remained silent as Issay spoke. He never expected that Imai would contact Issay for something like this.

"His wife was getting upset with all the deliveries and photos," Issay chuckled.

"Ph-photos?"

"Mhmm," Issay hummed as he paused by the towel cabinet.

“What photos-” Atsushi caught himself when saw that Issay was reaching for a drawer. He tapped Issay's hand away, stopping him. "What are you looking for?" he asked.

"Towel. Second drawer, rightmost stack," Issay stated.

Atsushi followed his instructions and retrieved a black face towel from the drawer.

"Wet it, will you, please?" Issay asked, shuffling to sit on the edge of the tub as Atsushi went to the taps.

Atsushi nodded. "Hot? Warm? Cold?"

"Cold's fine, love."

Atsushi beamed, glad to finally hear his pet name coming from Issay again. It was a good sign. 

Wringing the excess water out of the towel, Atsushi went back to Issay. He stopped in front of the man, folding the towel in half and brushing Issay's long fringe away from his face. Issay looked up at Atsushi, a weariness present in his face despite the passive expression that he held. Atsushi could tell that he was still upset, but at least it was not weighing on him as much as before. Or did he just mask it better now? Whichever it was, Atsushi was sure that Issay wouldn't talk about it now.

Atsushi gave Issay a smile as his fingers traced his cheekbones and jaw, before settling to hold Issay's face. Pressing the damp towel to Issay's forehead, Atsushi heard him exhale a soft sigh as he wiped Issay's brow and then his cheeks and his eyes.

When Atsushi shifted the towel away, Issay was looking at him with a smile in his eyes as he remarked, "How gentle."

Atsushi huffed and dropped the towel back over Issay's eyes, slightly miffed. Issay smiled wider in response, shoulders shaking as he chuckled with a grin. Suddenly tempted, Atsushi leaned forward, touching noses as he gave Issay a light kiss on the lips.

Issay had a soft smile on his face as Atsushi straightened up and removed the towel, moving on to wipe the rest of his torso. With Issay watching him, Atsushi knew that he had the man's attention, so he said, "About those photos…"

"Was that a bribe?" Issay teased.

"A… bribe?" Atsushi blinked, confused.

"You want them deleted, don't you?"

"I didn't take them," Atsushi huffed.

"So you were dressing in front of Hisashi?"

"I needed an opinion."

"You could've asked me."

"It was meant to be a surprise," Atsushi whined.

"It still was," Issay chuckled. "I don't recall seeing last night's outfit in the photos."

Atsushi looked up at him, wide-eyed as he asked, "Just… how many are there?"

Issay simply beamed at him and slid his now-clean index finger from Atsushi's forehead down his nose bridge, lightly tapping the tip of Atsushi’s nose once as he answered, "Enough."

"Show me."

"You'll try to delete them," Issay declined with a shake of his head.

“But I-"

“Doctor’s here.” Otsuka’s voice echoed from the stairwell. “Should I tell him to come up?”

Atsushi gave Issay an inquiring look and Issay answered, “I’ll be right down.”

Otsuka hummed and said, “Alright then…” The next thing they heard was his footsteps descending the stairs.

“C’mon,” Issay beckoned with a jerk of his head as he stood up.

“You really intend to go down?” Atsushi asked. He still had his reservations about Issay’s condition.

“Yes,” Issay replied. “I need to address some other things with them too. C’mon,” he beckoned again.

Nodding, Atsushi reluctantly put the towel down on the rim of the tub and followed Issay out. He really hoped that nothing bad would happen again.

They went down the stairs in companionable silence, with Issay leading Atsushi by his hand as they entered the first floor once more. All the papers and cups and… other things have already been cleared off the coffee table in the living room. Now, medical supplies sat on it with a stone-faced, grey-haired, world-weary doctor standing by it. He took one look at Issay and immediately started filling up a syringe with what Atsushi assumed to be anaesthesia.

"Better late than never," the doctor muttered to himself as he handed Issay a small plastic cup with a couple of pills in it. "Antibiotics."

Leaving Issay's side, Atsushi darted past Otsuka and Mizunaga, who were both silent, into the kitchen to get a glass of water. As he filled it up, he heard Issay say, "I don't intend on being sedated."

"No need for that," the doctor sighed, nudging his spectacles up the bridge of his nose. "We'll just numb this area," he said as he pushed the needle into Issay's arm.

Issay snapped his head away from the sight and exchanged a glance with Atsushi before turning to his aides. "You two."

"Yes?" Mizunaga responded stiffly. He was clearly unnerved by Issay's physical state.

Issay downed the pills as Atsushi sat down next to him and exchanged it for the glass of water in his hand. Once he was done, Atsushi took the empty glass from him and went back to the kitchen, head bowed as he rinsed the cup.

"I've been thinking," Issay began. "Won't our problems be solved once I get rid of my opponents?"

"Weren't you against that?" Otsuka asked quietly.

"Given a choice, yes," Issay nodded. With a grave expression, he continued, "But in these circumstances, it's the only option I'm willing to take."

Mizunaga heaved a sigh. "You really won't consider-"

"How would that stop the attempts when my present position never did?" Issay asked in a measured tone.

"Point taken," Mizunaga muttered reluctantly.

Atsushi looked up as he filled the cup again. Mizunaga didn't look too satisfied with the decision. Turning to Issay, Atsushi took in his stoic form, admiring the way he commanded authority, while the doctor worked on his arm with an expression bordering on boredom. How much has this man seen in his life to be so indifferent?

"How are we going to identify exactly who to target then?" Otsuka asked.

"How friendly are we with the police here in Nagoya?" Issay asked back.

"Not… very," Otsuka answered, lips pressed thin.

"I suppose we can't put the gun and bullets through forensics here then," Issay sighed, running his left hand through his hair.

“Here?” Atsushi asked, perking up when he heard that distinction in Issay’s words. “That means…”

Issay’s eyes shifted to him. There was a spark of something in his eyes that made Atsushi’s stomach churn in a good way. “There is,” Issay said softly, the ghost of a smile on his lips, “somewhere else.”

“… Tokyo?” Atsushi whispered in disbelief.

Issay nodded.

“Do you want me to ask…?” Atsushi muttered.

“I’ll ask them myself,” Issay replied.

Atsushi turned his attention back to the filled glass in his hand in an attempt to hide his face from the rest of them. He didn’t want them to see the stupid grin he had on now. After years of rejecting Atsushi's invitations home, Issay was actually proposing this on his own accord. He could hardly believe it.

“It might be a good idea for me to get out of here for a while too,” Issay went on. “Stay somewhere a little further out of reach.”

“So we’re going to Tokyo,” Otsuka concluded.

“No,” Issay immediately responded. “ I’ll go to Tokyo with Atsushi. I need you both here for day-to-day operations and to investigate on the ground. See who’s on our side, what are the numbers, if there are any rumours going around.”

“But that means that if anything happens to you, we won’t be able to reach you either,” Mizunaga pointed out.

“I have Atsushi. I have allies. I have friends in the department,” Issay listed. “If this really is an internal threat, I’d be safer there than here.”

Finally managing to school his expression, Atsushi left the sink and began walking back to them with the glass of water. Inside though, his head was going into overdrive. Issay was really going to come home with him.

Mizunaga stared hard at Atsushi. “You better keep him in your line of sight at all times,” he said with a low warning.

“Not to worry,” Atsushi reassured with a smirk. “I watch him more than you do.”

Mizunaga scoffed and folded his arms, peeved.

“Hm, I’m not sure about this,” Otsuka muttered to himself. With his face scrunched up, he looked like he was thinking hard about it. “But… it’s worth a shot,” he eventually conceded. “After what happened last night, it obviously isn’t safe for him here, now.”

“Really? We're sending him away from us?” Mizunaga remarked, frustration evident in his voice.

“Have you seen the state of his balcony?” Otsuka said.

“You’ll have a chance when you’re plucking the rest of the bullets out of the wall,” Issay said with a wave of his hand as Atsushi sat down next to him. “I’m obviously in no condition to do that myself now.”

“How are we supposed to do that?” Mizunaga asked.

“Break the wall if you need to,” Issay replied as the doctor began wrapping up his arm. “I want every single one of them taken out for examination.”

Mizunaga made a grumbling noise but did not argue against it.

“So when do you intend to leave?” Otsuka asked.

“What time’s the last train to Tokyo?” Issay asked Atsushi.

“Probably ten at night,” Atsushi recalled. He had a fuzzy memory of the timetable but he should probably double-check it later.

“That’s more than enough time then,” Issay judged. “Tonight it is.”

Chapter Text

Issay stood outside the convenience store, waiting for Atsushi, who had gone in to buy snacks and drinks for their three-hour-long ride. He looked at his wristwatch; it was five minutes past ten at night now. They had another seven minutes until the train was scheduled to leave. They had more than enough time.

They spent much of their evening in a rush, packing and preparing to leave. The last time Issay rushed this much was probably about ten years ago now, on the day he was expelled from the Force. Hectic as it was today, it was for a much more pleasant reason than that last time.

Atsushi came out of the store with their purchases in a couple of plastic bags clasped in his hand and his Boston bag slung across his body. Issay smiled and pulled his cabin luggage with him to meet Atsushi halfway. Issay would have preferred using a smaller bag for himself, but with his body the way it was, he would’ve had to have Atsushi carry it for him and he wasn’t willing to add to Atsushi’s burden. At least he still found it easy to handle wheeling the small luggage around.

Walking side by side, they headed towards an escalator and descended it, going down to the platform where the train waited. The station was almost deserted at this time of the night, which was perfectly fine for the two of them. It was pleasant and it added to the chance of them getting some privacy despite being in a public space.

The train was quiet, almost empty when Issay boarded with Atsushi. Issay looked at his watch again; two more minutes to departure. Good. They quickly found the seats that they booked and settled in, right at the back of this particular car, with Issay taking the window seat and Atsushi taking the aisle seat.

Issay peered out the window on his right. It was pitch black. Of course. What was he expecting? To his left, Atsushi took out their drinks and handed a can of highball to Issay. Taking it, Issay intended to snap the drink holder open with his right hand but sucked in a breath when he tugged it against the sling and felt a dull ache. He cursed in his head. The painkillers might be wearing off. But he put the rest of them into the luggage. This is troublesome. Issay sighed as he watched Atsushi pull down the drink holder for him. He only had himself to blame for his present predicament.

Issay gave Atsushi a nod in thanks and caught Atsushi’s smile out of the corner of his eye as he put the can into the holder. Atsushi looked at it for a moment and reached over. He was about to open it when Issay put a hand on his forearm, “Later.”

Atsushi nodded and leaned back into his seat. “Food?” he asked.

“You’ll feed me?” Issay asked, tilting his head back to crane his neck at Atsushi.

“Of course,” Atsushi beamed. "We didn't get to finish that dim sum after all," he muttered, clearly still sore about their unfinished lunch.

Issay reached over and kneaded the back of Atsushi's neck. "I'll make it up to you," he promised with a smile as the train began to leave the station. No one else has joined them here.

Atsushi leaned in, nuzzling Issay as he whispered, "I'll hold you to it."

Issay chuckled as Atsushi rummaged the plastic bag and took out a bento box.

"They didn't have much left in the store, considering the time, but they did have this," Atsushi said, pulling the food tray out and setting the food before him. "What do you want?"

"Inarizushi," Issay answered immediately. He had been eyeing it since the moment he saw it. "I'm starving," he muttered as Atsushi brought it to him in his chopsticks.

"You're telling me," Atsushi muttered as he picked up a ball of rice and ate it. "Do you want the other…?"

Issay shook his head and swallowed. "You can have the other one," he said, tentatively biting and letting the chicken kara-age that Atsushi offered drop into his mouth with a hum. Convenience store food wasn't the best, but it sure was satisfying.

Feeling the greasiness coat the inside of his mouth, Issay stretched his left hand out towards the drink can before him and popped it open. The moment Atsushi heard the hiss of the carbonation, he looked up and furrowed his brow at Issay.

With a corner his lips tugged into a smile, Issay looked at Atsushi out of the corner of his eye as he drank deeply. Putting the can back in the holder, Issay chuckled, "I'm not completely useless."

"I said I'd do it," Atsushi muttered, moulding a bite-sized ball of rice with a pickle in it.

"You're already doing a lot, love," Issay cooed as he ate the offered ball of rice.

"I could do more," Atsushi said, biting into a piece of kara-age too. 

"Then that'd be too much," Issay said, reaching over and popping Atsushi's can open for him as well.

Offended by Issay's actions, Atsushi clicked his tongue, eyes flashing as he said in exasperation, "I could do that myself!"

"Mhmm," Issay nodded as he ate another mouthful of rice from Atsushi.

"Why won't you just let me take care of everything?" Atsushi whined. "I'm your lover, aren't I?"

"Yes, but you're not my mother," Issay smiled, tousling Atsushi's hair with his left hand before picking up the can and taking another drink from it. "Things I can manage myself, I'll do them, but if I need your help, I'm accepting it, aren't I?" he asked. Eyes darting down to the half-empty bento box, Issay added, "Like eating."

“But I can do more,” Atsushi sighed in resignation as he picked up a slice of omelette. “Egg?”

“Yes, please, love,” Issay nodded, biting down and chewing on the sweet, savoury egg. "Well," he swallowed, freeing up space in his mouth before he continued chewing, "I'll definitely need help with bathing, for one." With the rest of the egg in his stomach now, Issay added, "If you will, of course."

"Would I ever say no to that?" Atsushi asked, looking at Issay with a raised eyebrow and a smile on his lips.

"Maybe," Issay chuckled, leaning back into his seat as he looked up at the ceiling. "Maybe one day, when I'm old and unresponsive, or when you've had enough of me."

"That's not possible," Atsushi said softly as he wiped the corner of Issay's mouth with his thumb. Issay turned to look at him in response and Atsushi sucked his thumb pad. "Egg," he muttered with a bashful smile.

Issay smiled as he brushed across Atsushi's cheek with the back of his fingers. Hand cupped at Atsushi's jaw, Issay curled his fingers, caressing Atsushi gently as he breathed, "You're too good for me."

"That's just absurd," Atsushi huffed, frowning as he scraped the rice in the bento box together. "It's not as if I'm the most law-abiding person around," he muttered, feeding Issay more egg and rice.

"You're still the sweetest lover I've ever had," Issay grinned as Atsushi turned away and finished the rest of the rice himself.

With his back to Issay, Atsushi muttered, "Quit it." 

"I'm just stating the facts, love," Issay hummed before taking another long drink from his can.

"You want more?" Atsushi asked, peeking over his shoulder.

"Nope, I'm full for now."

Nodding, Atsushi closed the empty box and put it back into the plastic bag before putting it away. He then adjusted his position, facing front again as he settled in and put the food tray away.

"Come to think of it," Issay said, "you haven't said anything about your cats this past day."

"Hm?" Atsushi perked up. "Well, they're all fine, getting along well-… Imai hasn't called me."

"Is… he supposed to?" Issay asked as Atsushi hastily got his phone out of his pocket.

"I told him to feed the cats while I'm gone and he always calls when he does," Atsushi explained, dialling quickly. "He can't, for the life of him, remember who eats what."

"It's not that hard," Issay scoffed.

"That's what I always tell him!" Atsushi huffed as he put the phone on loudspeaker and waited. They were still the only ones in the cabin so it shouldn't matter.

"What?" Hisashi's gruff answer came through the speaker.

"Did you feed my cats?!"

"…"

"Imai!" Atsushi yelled. "Answer me!"

"I… uh…"

"You forgot?!" Atsushi fumed. "You were supposed to feed them by evening! Latest !"

"Well- There was stuff and the girls and-"

"I should've just asked Yuta to do it instead!"

"I didn't mean to forget-"

"They better be fed by the time I get home or-"

"What do you mean by the time you get home?" Hisashi interrupted. "I thought you said you'd be gone for a week!?"

"Well, shit happened and we're coming back now!"

"Did you two break up or something? Is that why you're pissed at me?"

"No!" Atsushi raged. "I'm pissed because. You. Fucking. Forgot. To. Feed. My. Cats! You starved my babies! Yuta would never do this to them!"

“Okay, fine, I’ll go over and feed them right after this event ends-”

“You better get that done before we get home,” Atsushi seethed.

“We?” Hisashi echoed. “You’re not alone?”

“That’s right. He’s coming home with me.”

“He’s going to stay at your place?”

“You got a problem with that?” Atsushi challenged.

“No… No, just… didn’t expect that…”

“Whatever,” Atsushi dismissed. “You have two hours until I get home-”

“Two hours?!” Hisashi exclaimed. “The show isn’t even supposed to end before midnight!”

“You deal with that,” Atsushi shot. “You forgot about feeding them earlier today, you’ll deal with it.”

"Weren't you supposed to remind me too?!"

"If you had any idea what happened, you'd understand."

“But-”

Atsushi hung up the call and whined, “I can’t believe he forgot!”

"At least we'll be home soon," Issay comforted, slipping his left hand over Atsushi's right and interlocking fingers with him. "We'll take care of that first thing, alright?" he promised as he brought Atsushi's hand to his lips and pressed a kiss to his fingers. "Don't worry."

A low grumble sounded in Atsushi's chest as he leaned into Issay and buried his face in his shoulder. Issay intended to put his arm around Atsushi, but the armrest between the seats was in the way.

"Wait," Issay muttered, making Atsushi sit up for a moment to let him push the armrest away before adjusting their positions and settling into each other. The way Atsushi fit so perfectly into his embrace always pleased Issay. With Atsushi nuzzling crook of his neck, Issay had his arm around Atsushi's shoulders as he buried his face in Atsushi's hair and let out a sigh. His heart only ever felt this full when they could be like this; close as can be without any distance between them.

“Does it still hurt?” Atsushi asked quietly.

“Hm?”

“Your… body… arm.”

“I thought the painkillers were wearing off but…,” Issay rolled his right shoulder, “it seems like I’m still quite numb,” he chuckled.

“Let me know if you need them,” Atsushi said as he rubbed his cheek against Issay’s collarbone, taking care to not aggravate the skin on his chest. “I’ll get it for you.”

“I don’t think I’ll need it for a while yet,” Issay smiled. “Besides I shouldn’t take too many.”

“Why not?”

“I’d become too numb to do anything later.”

“Do what?”

Issay’s eyes darted down as he gave Atsushi a pointed look. “… Seriously? You’re asking me what?”

Atsushi stared back, expression blank as he answered, “Did you really think I’d do anything to you when you’re in this state?”

“Wouldn’t you?” Issay asked.

“Of course I wouldn’t!”

“I’m holding you to it then,” Issay chuckled. “But what if you can’t contain yourself, hm?”

“I can!” Atsushi insisted indignantly as he sat up.

“What if?” Issay pressed, leaning in closer to Atsushi.

“I’ll… do whatever you ask of me for a week,” Atsushi declared.

“You’re already doing that, love,” Issay chuckled, giving Atsushi a peck on his forehead.

“I’ll… let you pick what I wear for a week?”

“Now, that,” Issay smiled, “sounds tempting.”

“Is it?” Atsushi questioned, feigning innocence.

“You’ve got quite the variety, haven’t you?” Issay cooed, tracing Atsushi’s jaw with a finger.

Without saying a word, Atsushi huffed and looked away as he rested against Issay again.

“What if I pick something… compromising for you to wear out?” Issay purred.

“I trust you,” Atsushi said softly, breathing in Issay’s scent as he pressed his face into his jacket. “I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; I trust you,” he repeated, voice low and tender as he hugged Issay a little tighter.

Issay hugged him back, holding Atsushi as he hummed and sighed. As happy as Atsushi’s constant affirmations made him, Issay could not help but feel an incessant disquiet in the depths of his mind; a worry that Atsushi’s trust was sorely misplaced. Issay instinctively hugged Atsushi tighter. The thought of losing Atsushi because of this, or for any reason, was…

Out of nowhere, Atsushi muttered, "Icchama."

Almost immediately, Issay's worries were swept away by Atsushi’s sudden, unexpected utterance and his shoulders began to shake with a quiet uncontrollable chuckle. Softly, he asked, "What was that?"

"I'm calling you," Atsushi muttered. "I won't use it if you don't like it."

"It's not that," Issay chuckled, rubbing Atsushi's shoulder as he gave him a kiss on the head. "I'm just… surprised," he laughed. "Adorable."

"Mm… Icchama," Atsushi called again.

"Yes?" Issay managed between chuckles. This was far too amusing.

"About those photos…"

"Ah, you," Issay grinned, caressing Atsushi's cheek with his fingers. "Acting cute to try and get your way, huh?"

"Noo," Atsushi intoned in denial. "I'm just… curious…"

"Does it bother you that much, love?"

"I don't like taking photos," Atsushi muttered.

"And yet you did," Issay smiled. He was honestly glad for them.

"Only a couple! … For comparison," Atsushi emphasised. "But you make it sound like there's a lot."

"There's definitely more than a couple," Issay laughed.

Atsushi looked alarmed.

"I'll show you if you promise not to delete anything," Issay offered. Atsushi nodded and Issay shifted, raising his left hip a little as he told Atsushi, "You'll have to get it out from the front pocket here."

Nodding again, Atsushi kept his right arm around Issay as he brought his left hand down, sliding by Issay's thigh before entering his pocket and taking out his phone. Atsushi turned on the screen and it asked for a four-digit passcode. Atsushi looked to Issay, inquiring.

"Your birthday," Issay answered.

Atsushi looked down at the screen again and keyed in the date. "Anyone could've guessed that," he mumbled.

"But no one else back there knows enough about you to get it right," Issay chuckled as he twirled a lock of Atsushi's hair between his fingers.

Atsushi didn't respond as he navigated to the gallery in Issay's phone. Issay felt Atsushi tense when he opened it. The pictures were of Atsushi in a variety of lingerie, from sheer materials to lace to silk to fishnets, and poses, with him standing in front of the mirror, inspecting himself, twisting his body around to look at his behind, sticking a foot out, seated, and so on.

"I'm going to kill Imai," Atsushi muttered low.

"Ah, my supplier?"

"He said he deleted these."

"I made sure he did after he sent them," Issay nodded.

Atsushi's eyes snapped towards Issay. "I told him to delete them right after that time," he said through gritted teeth.

"Hm, if I recall," Issay pondered, "I believe he was sending them over and asking me for an opinion or something."

"So that's why he was so occupied with his phone," Atsushi hissed. "I thought it was because he wasn't interested."

Issay simply chuckled as he watched Atsushi continue scrolling through the more than two hundred photos on his phone until he arrived at the end, which were the only handful that Atsushi really did take on his own. "You still have these outfits?" he asked.

"Not all. I exchanged some of them but was saving them up," Atsushi whined softly, sounding upset. "I wanted to surprise you."

"I may have seen these but nothing beats having you wear them for me in the flesh, love," Issay whispered, nuzzling Atsushi's hair. "They were enough to tide me through the days without you but you don't know how much I wanted to touch you," he breathed, words growing harsh towards the end as he tightened his embrace.

"You can touch me all you want, however you want," Atsushi expressed as he looked up at Issay and locked the phone's screen. Slipping the phone back into Issay's pocket, Atsushi added, "I'll even dress up for you later if you wish."

"What happened to not doing anything to me while I'm in this state?" Issay teased.

Atsushi paused, stared at Issay for a moment, and then dropped back onto his shoulder with a “hmph”.

“What is it?” Issay asked as he poked Atsushi’s cheek with a finger and laughed at his reaction.

“Nothing,” Atsushi answered petulantly. “I’m doing nothing.”

“Whatever you say, love,” Issay chuckled.

Exhaling, Issay let his mind drift as he held Atsushi in the comfortable silence that stretched out between them. It suddenly occurred to Issay that not one person had entered their part of the train throughout their ride so far. It was odd, but perhaps it was a last train thing. It suited them perfectly fine anyway. It simply meant that they could lie together like this-

The moment they heard the sound of the automatic sliding door that divided the train cars slide open, both Atsushi and Issay untangled themselves from each other, quickly and smoothly. Atsushi Issay peered over the top of the seats in front of them to see who came in. It was a frazzled-looking salaryman. His attention was fixed on the seat numbers which were pasted just above the windows. As he came by, eyes darting around, he spared barely a glance at the two of them but for stumbling through the sliding door by Atsushi’s side and leaving the car.

Watching the man’s oversized grey blazer disappear out of the corner of his eye, Issay surreptitiously slid his hand over Atsushi’s and clasped it tight. He noticed Atsushi glance down at their hands, turning his hand over to hold Issay’s as a shy smile tugged at his lips. Issay could tell that he was trying not to grin though.

Chuckling quietly to himself, Issay brought Atsushi’s hand to his lips once more, planting a light kiss on it before settling back on the armrest. He leaned back, tilting his head into the headrest as he let out a contented sigh. He could feel drowsiness beginning to creep in. This wasn’t the most comfortable position to fall asleep in, but having Atsushi by his side always made things better. Holding him in his arms would be ideal, of course, but for now, this was enough.

Chapter Text

Atsushi had his hand on the small of Issay's back as they exited the gantries and headed to the pickup point. They had both fallen asleep during the latter half of the journey, holding hands until they had to alight. Atsushi smiled to himself. Nothing had changed between them and he was glad for that.

"What is it?" Issay's quiet question came from Atsushi's left. He had noticed his smile.

"Nothing," Atsushi beamed at him before casting his gaze away.

"Can't be 'nothing' that makes you smile like that," Issay teased.

"We're almost home, for one," Atsushi replied. "And you love me," he added as an uncontrollable urge to grin took over.

"Bold of you to assume so," Issay chuckled as he glanced over at Atsushi.

"Don't you?" Atsushi asked, feigning innocence before slipping on his indifferent face as they stopped at the pickup point.

The area was empty, save for a nondescript black car which rolled forward and stopped in front of them. The door on the driver's side opened and a young man in a scruffy shirt and jacket came out, bowing quickly with a quiet greeting of "Sir" before he briskly came around the car and picked up Issay's luggage.

"In the front seat," Atsushi ordered as he moved to open the door for Issay.

Issay went in and Atsushi shut the door before going around the back to enter by the other side. When Atsushi entered, Issay was busy with his phone, typing something with an amused expression. He could ask about it later.

Atsushi shut the door and let the sling of his bag slip off his shoulder. Once their driver, Takuya, probably, strapped the luggage and himself in, Atsushi tapped his shoulder and said, "Take us home."

"Yes, sir."

The car began to move and Atsushi lay down, putting his head in the lap of Issay's crossed legs. He looked up at Issay, who was still looking at his screen, and asked, "Who are you texting?"

"Hm?" Issay's eyes darted to Atsushi's. "It's Mizunaga."

"Did something happen?"

"No, thankfully," Issay answered with a chuckle. "I was just letting him know we're here."

"Mhmm."

"And I mentioned how it was odd that our train car was completely empty throughout the ride," Issay added. "I should've guessed that he booked out all the other seats."

"… What?" Atsushi uttered in disbelief. That must've cost a hideous sum of money.

"I probably shouldn't have given him one of those corporate cards," Issay laughed quietly to himself. "He's terribly frivolous with money. But on the other hand, if I'm going to lose my position, I'd be encouraging him to spend all their money too."

"Why not just give it to me?" Atsushi mumbled, chagrined at the money gone to waste.

Issay paused and looked up from his phone, then down at Atsushi. "That's a good idea."

"Huh?" Atsushi stared at Issay as he started typing furiously. "I'm just joking!" he said, putting a hand over Issay's phone in an attempt to stop whatever he was doing.

"It's alright if you don't want to use it," Issay said. "You could hold on to it for me, like a backup stash in case anything happens."

"Mm." That made sense. As things stood they should start making contingency plans, shouldn't they? Atsushi looked up again and saw Issay scrolling through something on his phone.

"Do you have properties listed for rent?" Issay asked.

"There's an agency we own," Atsushi answered. "There should be a few of mine listed with it."

"Any available now?"

"Now? What for? Aren't you staying at my place?"

"To house a full train car of people," Issay smiled.

"Ah," Atsushi nodded, understanding Issay's train of thought. "If you're going for the priciest… there's one in the Shibuya area."

"Perfect," Issay said. "Can we do this on the… internet?" he asked, handing Atsushi his phone.

"I… don't know, actually," Atsushi mumbled as he returned the phone to Issay. "I don't even know whether we have a website. I think it's easier if we just head to the office tomorrow."

"Tomorrow," Issay nodded, accepting his phone back and shutting it off.

"Is it really alright to turn it off?" Atsushi asked, unsure.

"I don't quite fancy having my time away from them disturbed," Issay said, moving the fingers on his right hand to stroke Atsushi under his chin.

"Doesn't it hurt?" Atsushi asked, worry evident in his eyes despite his soft smile.

"It's still bearable," Issay answered quietly, fingers wandering onto Atsushi's chin and lips.

Atsushi's smile widened and he puckered his lips, holding eye contact with Issay as he kissed the tip of the middle finger before parting his lips and letting the tip of Issay's finger enter. Issay felt Atsushi's tongue brush against his finger as Atsushi sucked on his finger while making eyes at him.

Issay chuckled and stroked Atsushi's chin with his thumb, asking in a low voice, "What are you doing?”

Atsushi tensed his cheeks as he smiled and sucked harder, pulling Issay’s entire finger in, moving his tongue around his finger until Issay turned his finger around and lightly dragged it along the roof of Atsushi’s mouth. The ticklish sensation surprised Atsushi, eliciting a soft, almost inaudible gasp out of him and making him open his mouth wider.

Issay withdrew his finger and for a split second, Atsushi was almost upset until Issay bent over and pressed their lips together, kissing him deeply with tongue and all. Atsushi whined softly as Issay weaved his fingers into Atsushi's hair and gripped tight. Releasing, Issay brought Atsushi up into a sitting position and paused their kiss.

Atsushi opened his eyes and found Issay gazing at him, mirth in his eyes as he whispered, "Maybe… just maybe, I'll fall in love with you."

Atsushi giggled, crinkling his eyes as he held Issay's face in his hands. Foreheads pressed together, Atsushi nuzzled Issay and asked, "Are you not in love yet?"

Issay smiled and gave him a kiss, a light one this time before saying, "So deeply, my love. But falling a little deeper wouldn't hurt, would it?"

Laughing, Atsushi hugged Issay tighter and kissed him again. Out of nowhere, the car braked to a halt, causing the two men to bump their heads together. Atsushi almost fell off the seats too, but Issay's left arm, which firmly held him against Issay, prevented that.

Immediately, Atsushi's good humour dissipated. He sat up and glared at the driver through the rearview mirror. "What was that for?" he snapped.

"S-Sorry, Mr Sakurai, sir. I, uh, almost ran a red l-light," the driver answered nervously, avoiding Atsushi's eyes as he did.

Atsushi was about to respond when he felt Issay's arm snake around his waist to draw him closer. "It doesn't matter, love," Issay spoke into his ear softly. "It’s nothing serious, is it? Safer he did that than speed ahead," he cooed.

Atsushi huffed, reluctantly letting the driver off as he let Issay pull him into his lap again. Lying down, Atsushi turned onto his side and buried his face in Issay’s stomach, seeking comfort in his warmth as he breathed in Issay’s familiar, alcohol-tinged scent.

Everything felt nice and peaceful like this, in the enclosed space of the car with the low hum of the engine running as they travelled at a steady pace. Issay playing with his hair added to Atsushi’s contentment as he focused on the gentle strokes of his fingers and calm breathing. But all too soon, Atsushi felt the car come to a stop and heard the door by the driver’s seat open and close.

“Time to go up and check on your cats, love,” Issay said as he stroked Atsushi’s cheek.

Atsushi sighed, giving Issay a peck on his lips as he got up reluctantly. He was worried about his cats, but… Oh, well. There was always later.

The door on Issay's side opened. Issay raised his eyebrows in surprise at the driver who stood behind the door, averting his eyes and looking tense as he waited for something to happen. Issay cast Atsushi a smirk and did a subtle shrug before he shifted, sticking his leg out and leaving the car.

Atsushi grabbed his bag by its handles and exited the car too. Walking around the back of the car, Atsushi watched Issay pull led up the extendable trolley handle of his luggage before rolling his right shoulder with a wince that disappeared in a split second. Issay might need the painkillers soon.

Arriving at Issay's side, Atsushi addressed the driver, "You may leave."

"Do you need a car tomorrow-"

"I'll let them know again," Atsushi interrupted. "You may leave," he repeated again, waving his hand in dismissal as he led Issay into the lift lobby while the man bowed.

"Don't you have designated drivers?" Issay asked, amused.

"We figured out that starting a chauffeur service got us better driving than if we got subordinates to drive us," Atsushi replied. "Though, we still only use those who are our subordinates. The only difference is that they've been trained now."

"Sounds like you've hired laymen for your operations too," Issay noted, entering the elevator when it arrived.

"It's easier to mask our operations like this," Atsushi nodded.

"So you do offer the services out," Issay deduced.

"Of course," Atsushi grinned. "It's a way for us to get information from targets too."

"At the very least, you'd know where they're going…"

"And if we're lucky, we'd get to eavesdrop on a conversation or two," Atsushi nodded. He was quite proud of this idea that he came up with.

"But why would you need so much information?" Issay asked, hand on his luggage as the elevator arrived at their floor.

"Knowledge is power," Atsushi hummed, putting an arm around Issay as they left the elevator. "And it brings in money."

"You sell it then."

"Of course," Atsushi nodded. "Sometimes we take requests too."

"Requests?" Issay echoed, shooting Atsushi an inquiring look.

"From your ex-colleagues," Atsushi winked.

"Ah," Issay smiled. "Glad to hear you've got such a good relationship here."

"It's all thanks to you," Atsushi beamed, tilting his head to the side and bumping against Issay.

"Me?" Issay asked, eyes wide with surprise.

"Things improved after we gave them that tip-off to save you from those wretches," Atsushi recalled fondly.

“Those… wretches?” Issay repeated, pausing in his steps as he stared at Atsushi in confusion. “Who…?”

Atsushi stared back, just as perplexed. Did… Issay not know? Did no one ever tell him?

“Are you talking about the time when I got abducted?” Issay asked with a furrow deep in his brow.

“Um…” Atsushi was at a loss for words. What was he supposed to say now? How was he supposed to explain that whole incident?

“How did you know where I was?” Issay asked. It looked as if he genuinely took the incident at surface level.

“He… that guy called,” Atsushi replied. “He called and told me to come for you.”

“… You were involved with him?”

“What?” Atsushi blinked, surprised at Issay’s question.

“We were already… together, weren’t we? Back then,” Issay muttered, eyes downcast as he searched his memory. He looked at Atsushi, apprehension in his eyes as he asked, “Where you… with-”

“No!” Atsushi cut in, horrified at the thought of it. “No! He just wanted our turf, Issay,” he explained quickly. “We refused to give in so he… took you,” Atsushi mumbled, wincing slightly as he got reminded of how his injudicious decision to stay with Issay dragged the man he loved into their turf war.

"Oh… Oh, right. You've always been… doing all… this," Issay nodded slowly to himself as he started walking down the corridor again. "I always thought it had something to do with my old man," he muttered. "I thought, maybe he ran out of patience with me opposing him or something."

"No, it was… because of me," Atsushi mumbled, eyes downcast. Things had never been good for Issay whenever he was involved, have they?

"Hey." Issay's hand closed around Atsushi's forearm, pulling him forward and making him walk by Issay's side. "I know where you're going with that sentence," he said, kicking his luggage forward as he kept his left arm around Atsushi's waist. "Don't dwell on it, love," Issay said as he rubbed Atsushi's side. "It's past now."

"But if I didn't choose to be with you-"

"Then I'd probably still be on the run now, or perhaps, dead," Issay said, chuckling in an attempt to lighten the mood. "Whether or not we met on that fateful night, my father's patience would've eventually run out and things would still turn out the same."

Atsushi sighed. Considering what he learnt over the past few years, he knew Issay was right. 

"Except, without you," Issay went on, "there'll be less reason for me to keep fighting to stay alive."

"Don't say that," Atsushi hissed as he frowned at Issay. He hated that statement.

"It's all~ for you," Issay said in a sing-song voice.

Suddenly, a voice Atsushi knew too well snapped from behind them, "Do you two have to be this mushy out in public?"

Before Atsushi could respond, Imai briskly sped past him, going straight to Atsushi's apartment before them.

"Oh, no! You're not getting there before me, you dick!" Atsushi yelled as he left Issay's side and chased after Imai. He could hear Issay laughing as Imai swung the door open and darted in. Entering the house too, Atsushi snarled, "Imai!" 

Imai's voice came from the kitchen, "I still got here before you!" 

"This doesn't count!" Atsushi argued while his three cats bounded to them and started yelling at them. "Yes, yes, daddy's home," he cooed, picking up his cats as they clambered over him and kept yelling. "My poor babies…" Atsushi felt so torn now. He wanted to get at Imai but he wanted to cuddle his cats so badly.

The moment Imai started clicking the ring of the canned food, the cats perked up and immediately surrounded Imai instead, continuing their yelling as they pestered him to hurry with the food. Standing between the kitchen and the entrance, Atsushi heard the main door close and lock. He turned his attention away from his cats for a moment and saw Issay removing his shoes while Imai's wife, Ayame, shifted his luggage aside.

"Let me take that," Atsushi said, rushing forward. There were so many things that needed his attention right now that everything felt so terribly hectic.

"It's alright, love," Issay declined, taking hold of his own luggage by its side handle. Nudging Atsushi, he said, "I'll deal with this, you handle your cats."

"But-"

"I'm not an invalid," Issay chuckled as he gave Atsushi a quick peck on the cheek. "Feed your cats. We'll head inside," he urged, nudging Atsushi towards the kitchen again with his good shoulder before proceeding into the living room with Ayame.

As they passed, Atsushi overheard her commenting, "You're nothing like what I imagined."

Issay chuckled and gave her a wry smile in response before saying something, but his tone was a little too hushed for Atsushi to hear. Atsushi wrinkled his nose, annoyed that his curiosity could not be satisfied. No matter; he could ask later.

Going back into the kitchen, his cats were already eating, which explained the lack of meows. Atsushi stared at the trash for a moment, scrutinising the three empty cans of food before turning his attention back to his cats. His mood darkened. "You didn't mix Chibi's food."

"How am I supposed to know about that?" Imai deflected.

"I was right there ," Atsushi growled. "She's not going to finish it now, just look," he gestured angrily at Chibi, the calico.

Sure enough, she turned away halfway through and looked up at Atsushi. She blinked and let out a curt meow.

“Why would she just leave half there?” Imai asked, staring incredulously at the neat separation in Chibi’s food bowl.

“I told you,” Atsushi stressed as he took out a can of chicken flavoured cat food from the overhead cabinet. “Chibi eats a mix of salmon and chicken, and you only gave her salmon,” he grumbled and pulled the can open by its tab. “You’ll have double portions today, I guess,” Atsushi sighed, crouching down and scratching Chibi’s head as he put the whole can into her bowl. “Look at what you’ve done, Imai. You ruined her diet.”

“You could’ve just left it as it is,” Imai shrugged.

“You monster,” Atsushi accused, offended. “You’ve already starved by cats for more than a day and you’d actually want my Chibi to eat half a day’s portion after such torture?!”

“Oh, come on ,” Imai groaned, throwing his hands into the air as he turned to leave the kitchen. “Stop being so dramatic!”

“Dramatic?!” Atsushi exclaimed. “How would you like it if I didn’t feed Oyaku for a day and a half and only fed him one hot dog the next time I do?”

“Hey!” Ayame appeared at the entrance of the kitchen, eyes flashing. “No one’s starving my Oyaku!”

“And you call me dramatic,” Atsushi glared at Imai.

"What's going on?" Issay asked, the lower half of his body hidden as he leaned to the side to peer into the kitchen. He had his jacket off now and his arm sling was no longer on his shoulder.

"Where's your…?" Atsushi gestured vaguely, referring to the sling.

"Ah, I took it off," Issay replied, shifting his feet to stand straight within Atsushi's field of view.

"Doesn't hurt to move anymore?" Atsushi asked as he approached. The edges of the scratches on his chest were now visible off the top of Issay's tank top.

Issay made a face that was something between a smile and a grimace. "It still does," he confessed. "But it's getting uncomfortable. Stiff."

Seeing the scratches on Issay, Imai blurted, "What the hell did you do to him, Acchan?"

Atsushi felt a wave of objection well up but it was immediately quashed when Issay spoke up. "It wasn't him," he answered. "Shit happened and I even got shot. This?" Issay pointed at his own chest. "The least of my problems."

The straight stare that Issay had on told Atsushi that he was masking his emotions, keeping a calm facade before Imai and his wife. It didn't look like Issay wanted to say much about his current situation, and Atsushi didn't know how much about it Issay was willing to divulge.

"Is that why you're here?" Imai asked as he folded his arms, putting his guard up. "Seeking refuge?"

Issay barked a laugh. "Refuge? If I really needed refuge I wouldn't come here."

Atsushi snapped his head towards Issay, hurt that he didn't seem to believe that being here was safe enough.

Issay noticed the look in Atsushi's eyes and gave him a smile. Taking hold of Atsushi's hand and caressing the back, he added, "Putting him in danger is out of the question."

"Remind me why I can't stand it when both of you are in the same room," Imai grumbled, rolling his eyes as he sidestepped them and went to his wife.

"What can't you stand about them?" Ayame intoned, disagreeing.

"Doesn't it feel like you're getting suffocated by their-"

"No?" Ayame cut in, folding her arms as Imai put his around her and steered her away from the kitchen.

"They so cheesy-"

"Would it kill you to be a little more romantic?"

Imai scoffed. "If I ever do that, you'd better ask me who I am and what the fuck I did to the real Imai."

Ayame scoffed in turn and Atsushi laughed, "I'm sorry he's like this."

" Excuse me?" Imai glared over his shoulder.

"He's just shy," Ayame grinned as she waved a hand, ignoring Imai and brushing it off.

Noticing that they were headed for the main door, Atsushi asked, "Not staying for drinks?"

"It's date night!" Imai hissed.

"I'm sorry you had to come here for this on your night out," Atsushi said, but only to Ayame.

"Glad you're sorry," Imai scoffed.

"I'm not talking to you," Atsushi retorted.

"It's not your fault," Ayame said as she turned and gave her husband a look . "It's his fault for promising something and then forgetting about it."

"Indeed," Atsushi nodded, glad that she was on his side.

"Besides, I finally got to meet the person you were trying all those kinky clothes for," Ayame smirked.

Hearing her words, Atsushi choked on his own saliva and started hacking and coughing. Covering his mouth with a hand, he turned away from her in embarrassment, only to see Issay's amused smile and raised eyebrow directed at him.

"And here I thought you were trying to tempt my husband," Ayame laughed.

Issay laughed too but Atsushi could hear Imai clearing his throat as Atsushi's own coughing began to subside. Atsushi's eyes darted to Imai. What was that for?

"Well, I'm sure that was never his intention, hm? Acchan?" Issay asked, his tone light despite the ominous hint that Atsushi felt so strongly.

"Of course not," Atsushi returned, looking Issay straight in the eye as he spoke.

"Mhmm," Issay hummed as Atsushi came to stand beside him. "Indeed," he muttered.

"Well, bye," Imai said, now done with putting his shoes back on. "See you tomorrow, I suppose," he bade as he turned to unlock the door.

"Tamori's?" Atsushi asked. He supposed Issay would be headed there to meet with Yoshida too. That is, assuming they were meeting tomorrow.

"Office, Tamori's, wherever," Imai droned.

"Didn't you always move around with him?" Issay asked Atsushi.

"I did, but he works on a house husband's schedule now," Atsushi replied.

"Oh, right," Issay nodded in understanding. "Daughter, right?"

"Yeah," Imai responded as he held the door open for Ayame to step out. "She's at her grandparents' so don't worry about her being left alone," he added quickly. "I'm picking her up tomorrow anyway."

"I'm done," Ayame piped up as she put a hand on Imai's forearm and nodded at him. "We'll be off then," she said, looking at Atsushi and Issay over her shoulder. "I'll see you again sometime," she waved before adding with a grin, "whenever we're fated to."

Next to him, Issay nodded as Atsushi stepped forward and bade, "See you around."

Letting go of the door, Imai wiggled his fingers, a vague wave as he acknowledged them with one more glance before walking off with Ayame leading the way. The door slowly swung shut and Atsushi locked the door, closing the latch with a click. Now, they were alone again.

Almost immediately, Issay’s hand closed around Atsushi’s wrist, holding firmly as he tugged Atsushi back into his embrace. Atsushi felt Issay’s body quiver slightly as Issay bent his right arm at the elbow to hug Atsushi with.

Concerned, Atsushi asked, “Painkillers?”

“Maybe… or not,” Issay muttered, eyelashes fluttering as his eyes darted around, taking in Atsushi’s features up close. “Remember I had alcohol? Probably not a good idea to take them so soon.”

Atsushi cursed himself inwardly. “I should’ve thought of that before buying it,” he groaned.

“Didn’t think of it myself, did I?” Issay chuckled as he nuzzled Atsushi. “I was just thinking…”

“Hm?”

“About how silly it is,” Issay whispered, “to think that you’d need to even try to tempt anyone,” he finished as he sucked on Atsushi’s earlobe.

Not expecting Issay’s sudden advance, Atsushi’s breath hitched and he instinctively tilted his head to the side, letting Issay move on to kiss his neck. He felt Issay’s warm breath on his skin as he moved, his grip on him tightening as Issay’s left hand came between them to unbutton Atsushi’s shirt.

Issay moved to the front, teeth lightly grazing over Atsushi’s Adam's apple as he spun and pinned Atsushi against the wall. Leaning back, Atsushi let out a sigh while Issay shifted his mouth lower to suck the skin on his collarbone. A sharp inhale sounded from Atsushi’s throat as Issay pressed his body closer, sandwiching Atsushi between him and the wall.

The main door suddenly unlocked and swung open again. Both Atsushi and Issay froze, staring in surprise at Imai, who had a similar look of shock for a brief moment before reverting to his usual unamused glare.

“I leave for barely five minutes and already you’re at it,” Imai chided.

“Why’d you come back?” Atsushi asked, his voice still airy as he fought to regain composure.

“I left my wallet in your kitchen,” Imai grumbled, rolling his eyes as he slipped his shoes off and went straight in.

Issay raised his eyebrows and took a deep breath, running his hand through his hair as he separated himself from Atsushi. “I guess I’ll go unpack first,” he muttered, pressing his lips thin as he let out a deep sigh.

Atsushi couldn’t help but feel a heavy weight sinking in his chest as he watched Issay walk away from him. He was, of course, disappointed, but it also felt lonely to have Issay leave him like that. Well, that was a mood ruined, alright.

Imai came back out and stuffed his feet into his shoes. “Right, I’m off,” he said. “You can get back to whatever it was you were doing.”

“You ruined it,” Atsushi hissed.

“Not my fault you couldn’t wait to move inside and chose to do it in the entryway,” Imai shrugged as he pushed the door open and stepped out. “Knowing you, you’ll get back into it sooner or later anyway.”

“Tch.” Atsushi scowled. “Just go already.”

“Don’t miss me,” Imai smirked, doing that weird finger wave again before disappearing down the corridor.

Atsushi huffed and shut the door, turning the lock with a certain ferocity to vent his frustration. He turned and looked towards the living room. He could hear thumps and zippers as Issay supposedly dealt with his baggage.

Atsushi sighed. They were definitely not getting back into anything any time soon. Then again, there was that little wager they made earlier on the train… He’d better best start doing his laundry then.

Chapter Text

Issay sat on the sofa, head tilted back against the top of the back pillows as he stroked the calico cat, Chibi, curled up in his lap. The other cats tended to interact with him according to their whims, but Chibi had always been drawn to him no matter what. Issay could never understand why. Perhaps it had something to do with her being Atsushi’s oldest cat. But regardless of the reason, it was nice. He appreciated it.

Eyes closed, Issay could feel fatigue setting in. He already took a nap on the train earlier, but he was still this close to being overcome by sleep. It was strange. Issay rarely found himself this tired or falling asleep so much, but it could be part of the healing process. Rest was necessary, right?

Issay let out a sigh. Even so, he found it difficult to accept rest. There was still so much to do, to think about. Not to mention the unpacking. He was only seated here doing nothing with Chibi because his wound started flaring up with pain and hindering him. It seemed like that was too much movement for his arm to bear, but stroking the cat was alright.

Soft footsteps approached and Issay felt Atsushi place his hands on his shoulders, massaging him with firm kneading as he came in close and asked, "Feeling better?"

"Much better," Issay answered. As Atsushi folded his arms to hug him from behind, Issay hummed softly, enjoying the closeness. "Done with your chores?"

"More or less," Atsushi replied, nuzzling the side of Issay's face as he spoke. "All that's left is a bath."

"A bath," Issay echoed. "Right, that." He didn't feel particularly inclined to move from his seat right here on the couch now though. He honestly wouldn't mind skipping that bath and going straight to sleep.

"Yes, that," Atsushi chuckled. "Shall we?"

"But I don't really want to move, love."

"I'll move for you," Atsushi offered, moving his hands as he rested his chin on Issay's shoulder.

"Or you could just… leave me here," Issay chuckled, feeling Atsushi's hands sliding down his sides to reach lower. "Just let me sleep here. On the couch. With Chibi."

"Not with me?" Atsushi asked, his voice low and sultry as his fingers crept under the tank top.

"Wasn't it just earlier when you said… What was it, love?" Issay prompted. "That you wouldn't do anything to me when I'm in this state?"

"You started it," Atsushi muttered. "Kissing me like that and then stopping so suddenly."

"You can thank your work partner for that," Issay chuckled, raising his left arm to run his fingers through Atsushi's hair.

"I was so ready to do anything for you," Atsushi breathed. "And then you walked away…"

"You'd do anything?"

"Anything."

"You're going to lose our little wager, love," Issay warned.

"It's not a loss to me," Atsushi purred. "After all, I'd do anything for you."

"So you've been saying," Issay smiled, opening his eyes with a sigh. There was no holding back with Atsushi after all. Not that it was something to complain about, of course.

Turning his head to the side, Issay looked at Atsushi and asked, "So tell me, love, what do you have in mind?"

"I want to ride you," Atsushi breathed. Perhaps he was imagining things but Issay thought he saw Atsushi's cheeks turn flushed as he uttered those words.

"You want to what?" Issay asked with a playful grin on his face. "I'm not sure I heard you right."

Atsushi turned away, repeating softly, "I want to ride you."

"Come again?"

"Issa—y," Atsushi whined, stomping his foot as his embrace tightened.

"Yes, yes, yes. I got it, love," Issay laughed, patting Atsushi on his head as he nuzzled him. "I'm not too sure Chibi here's too keen on relinquishing her seat though," he pointed out.

Atsushi looked down at the ball of fur in Issay's lap. "Chibi," he called. The cat looked up at him and blinked. "Move," Atsushi ordered.

Chibi meowed back and put her head back down on Issay's lap.

Atsushi's frown deepened and he nudged Issay. "Move your legs."

"Hm?" Issay glanced at Atsushi and then back at Chibi. "Like what? This?" He shifted his legs, raising one leg and then the other as he made things a little more bumpy for Chibi.

Atsushi probably hoped that Chibi would hop off Issay's lap when things got uncomfortable, but instead, she sat up and put her front paws on Issay's chest. Reaching up, she rubbed her face against Issay's and purred softly, completely disregarding Atsushi.

"Chibi, move," Atsushi repeated. He sounded annoyed. Not that Issay could blame him.

Chibi, of course, continued to ignore Atsushi, merely giving him a petulant meow before curling up in Issay's lap again.

Atsushi removed himself from Issay with a huff. Had he given up? Issay craned his neck around and found Atsushi looking frustrated with his hands on his hips. Atsushi then turned on his heel and walked away. Issay raised his eyebrows. Did he really give up? He turned his attention back to Chibi and gently scratched her head. Maybe his cats truly were Atsushi's one weakness.

After a moment, Issay caught the sound of a bottle cap being unscrewed. The next thing he knew, Atsushi's hand reached forward from behind him, dry green flakes in Atsushi's palm as he held it in front of Chibi's face.

Almost immediately, Chibi opened her eyes wide and perked up. She edged towards Atsushi's palm but Atsushi pulled away. She moved forward again and the cycle repeated, with Atsushi leading her up and over Issay's shoulder to somewhere else in the apartment.

Issay laughed to himself as he heard the claps of Atsushi dusting his hands off before closing that bottle and putting it down on a table. It barely took a minute for Atsushi to come around the sofa and sat himself down on Issay's lap to face him with a wide smile and a triumphant, “Mine.”

“Fancy you fighting with your own cat over me,” Issay chuckled as Atsushi put his arms around Issay’s shoulders. 

“You’re mine,” Atsushi asserted, arching his back as he came in close.

“Even using… what was that? Catnip? To bribe your cat?”

“Whatever is necessary,” Atsushi hummed as he began gyrating his hips.

Feeling Atsushi press against his crotch, Issay let out a sigh and put his left arm around Atsushi’s waist. “Even if it means making your cat a drug addict?” he asked with another chuckle.

“I will get what I want,” Atsushi breathed, brushing his lips over Issay’s as he hovered. “And Chibi will be fine,” he added. “It’s a treat for her; like you are to me.”

Issay could feel the pressure in his groin as Atsushi uttered those words to him. His hold on Atsushi tightened and he instinctively shifted on the couch, encouraging more ‘accidental’ dry humping. Atsushi clearly took pleasure in it with his breath hitching and breathing growing shallow from the meagre stimulation.

"Not going to strip?" Issay asked, casually fidgeting with the button on Atsushi's pants with his right hand. "Are we staying clothed tonight?"

"You were… halfway…" Atsushi muttered. His breath hitched and he whimpered as Issay pressed his knuckle to Atsushi's zipped fly, applying pressure to his bulging erection.

"Was I?" Issay smiled, sitting up to plant kisses on Atsushi's still-exposed chest.

With a sigh, Atsushi wrapped his arms around Issay, hugging his head to his chest as he whispered, "More."

Issay chuckled, huffing warm breaths against Atsushi's skin as he resumed undoing the shirt buttons. Taking his time, Issay took the opportunity to graze the cold fingertips of his right hand along Atsushi's warm skin with each button, teasing him with each light brush. Reaching the last one, Issay shifted his left arm, moving it from the outside of the shirt to slide underneath.

Feeling Issay's skin against him, Atsushi took a moment to straighten his posture. He held Issay's face in his hands and tilted his head up, making Issay look at him in the eye. Atsushi gazed down at him, gently brushing his long fringe out of his face as he caressed his cheeks in silence.

The sudden lull in activity felt odd. Issay inquired softly, "Yes, my love?"

Atsushi's smile grew wider and he dipped down, pressing his lips to Issay's as he initiated a kiss. It didn't last long though. Sucking on Issay's lower lip gently, Atsushi pulled away all too soon. As Issay opened his eyes, Atsushi began unbuttoning his pants and pulling down his zipper.

“Wait,” Issay interrupted, making Atsushi freeze and stare at him wide-eyed. “Lube? Condoms?”

Atsushi’s eyes grew wider for a fleeting moment before quickly shifting into a grimace and a groan.

“You forgot, didn’t you?” Issay smirked.

“Can’t we just… forgo those?” Atsushi appealed. He was clearly reluctant to leave and retrieve them.

“It’s more for your sake than mine, Acchan,” Issay pointed out.

He watched as Atsushi frowned and pursed his lips. Atsushi didn’t suppress the emotions that played out on his face as his internal debate about whether he should get the lube and condoms or not went on in his head. Issay could practically see the moment when Atsushi caved.

With both haste and hesitation, Atsushi got off Issay and stood up. “No one takes my seat,” he declared as he pointed at Issay’s crotch.

Issay laughed and nodded. “I’ll be right here.”

Atsushi ran off, bare feet thumping on the marble floor as he disappeared into one of the rooms and left Issay alone. Taking in a deep breath, Issay sighed and looked down at his own bulge in his pants. He was rather distressed how easily Atsushi swept him away in his current and how easily he got a rise out of him. It didn’t feel like it was all that good a thing that Atsushi held such power over him.

“I got it!” Atsushi announced as he ran back to stand in front of Issay.

Issay took a look at him, blinked, and raised an eyebrow as a smile spread across his face. “Already showing me what you have, love?” he asked, amused.

Atsushi still had his unbuttoned shirt on but his pants have disappeared. It has instead been replaced by fishnet stockings held up by a fishnet garter over a lace and satin panty which held his barely concealed erection.

"Like it?" Atsushi asked, coming forward within Issay's reach. He put the lube and condom down next to Issay and took hold of his hands, inviting Issay to touch him as he placed them on his hips.

"Of course," Issay chuckled. "Is there anything about you I don't like?" he returned, tracing the lace-trimmed sides with his fingertip. As Issay followed the curves of Atsushi's body, he carefully slid his palms along the smooth satin that covered his firm buttocks. He still had to think about his arm, after all. "Not worried about running out of variety?" Issay asked, groping Atsushi as the younger man stepped closer. “There’s still a whole week to think about.”

"Don't you worry," Atsushi smiled, lifting a leg as he presented his stockinged foot to Issay. "I've more than enough for a week."

Humming, Issay squinted his eyes in a smile as he held Atsushi's heel in his left hand and gradually slid it along the underside of his calf. As he moved, he gave Atsushi deliberate kisses through the stocking, from his ankle and up his leg, all while he locked eyes with Atsushi. Leaning forward, Atsushi planted his foot against the top of the cushion behind Issay, propping it up for his convenience and Issay’s ease.

“So, how long… have you been… wearing these?” Issay asked between kisses, still smiling with his right hand cupping Atsushi’s bottom and nudging him closer. “I’m pretty sure you didn’t leave my place with them on.”

“Only just,” Atsushi answered softly, anticipating. He watched Issay close in on his thigh and as he continued his advance, nipping at the soft skin of Atsushi’s inner thigh and sucking to leave marks, Atsushi added breathlessly, “I thought I’d… change… since I had to go into the room…”

Issay hummed as he watched Atsushi react to his kisses moving closer and closer to his crotch. His eyelids gradually dropped, eyes turning narrow as his breathing grew shallow and his leg muscles tensed when Issay arrived at his front. Issay nuzzled Atsushi's erection, feeling the hardness and warmth by his face. Then, he paused as if he was about to put his mouth over the heat. But instead, Issay pulled Atsushi nearer and shifted higher, gently biting the skin of his lower abdomen as Atsushi gasped softly and whined, "Issay…"

"Hm?" Issay looked up at Atsushi, lips never leaving Atsushi's body as he slid his fingers through the holes of the fishnet and dug his fingers into Atsushi’s thigh, eliciting another gasp from him.

Lowering Atsushi's leg, Issay then coaxed him closer, inviting him to sit again and Atsushi did. He bent his legs and sank down to settle on Issay's legs once again, shifting his weight from left to right as Issay continued to pepper his body with kisses and caress his thigh with his left hand.

Issay felt Atsushi put an arm around him while his other hand fidgeted at his crotch, eager to get going. Smirking, Issay pushed the fabric aside and nuzzled Atsushi's shoulder, shifting higher and then biting down on his neck. As expected, it made Atsushi cry out and pause in his endeavour into his pants, losing composure as he leaned his weight into Issay and buried his face in Issay's shoulder.

Left arm holding Atsushi, Issay had his right hand between their bodies again as he continued his biting and sucking on Atsushi's neck. He opened his palm and pressed it against Atsushi's erection to a sharp breath of surprise by the younger man. Maintaining pressure as best he could, Issay slid his palm down, under Atsushi to close around his scrotum. As he slowly closed his fist, Atsushi moaned out loud, a sound Issay had been waiting to hear, and instinctively jerked his hips against Issay’s hand in his desire for constant stimulation.

“So eager to cum for me, love?” Issay asked, whispering the question into Atsushi’s ear as Atsushi shook his head and made a vague noise. He seemed to be trying to resist humping against Issay’s palm and wrist.

As Issay curled his fingers, Atsushi leaned back, as if reluctantly peeling away as he let out a soft cry and breathed, “I want…”

“What do you want, love?” Issay asked, resuming his loving kissing of Atsushi’s body. “Tell me,” he urged as he stuck out his tongue and dragged it across Atsushi’s chest.

Letting out another moan, Atsushi breathed heavily and repeated, “I want… Ah!”

Atsushi lost his words when Issay licked his nipple, lapping a few times before sucking and then repeating the teasing on the other side. Atsushi’s grip on Issay grew tighter throughout even as he leaned more weight back, against Issay’s good arm while his noises grew a little more frequent and his hips jerked a little more.

When Issay finally reverted to mere kissing, Atsushi took a moment to catch his breath. Looking down at Issay and meeting his gaze, Atsushi said breathily, “Fill me.”

"Gladly," Issay grinned.

Issay was about to take his hand away from Atsushi's crotch to remove his pants when Atsushi sat up and stopped him. "Let me," Atsushi said, thrusting his hips against Issay again as he cupped Issay's face with a hand and kissed him on the lips.

As his pants slid lower in seconds. With the pressure against his crotch reduced, Issay felt relief in his lower half while Atsushi proceeded to put his hands on Issay’s hips. Slipping his hands beneath Issay’s underwear, Atsushi eased his bottoms just a little lower, around mid-thigh to free Issay’s erection. Issay almost laughed at the way Atsushi’s face seemed to brighten at the sight. Peeling his eyes away from Issay’s groin, Atsushi leaned forward with a lustful gleam in his eye as he aligned their hips together.

“Not going to take these off?” Issay asked, rubbing his hands over the fishnets as Atsushi dispensed lube onto his fingers.

“No need,” Atsushi smiled, bringing his face a mere inch away from Issay’s as he rocked his body forward.

Issay didn’t need to look to know that Atsushi was pushing the satin of his underwear aside to stick his fingers in. The way his eyes lost focus as he sighed was telling enough. Dropping his head, Atsushi’s forehead came into contact with Issay’s. Atsushi sighed as he nuzzled Issay, touching noses and moving until he found Issay’s lips to occupy with a kiss. Issay parted his lips and felt Atsushi’s tongue entering his mouth, pushing in to meet his own. Issay pushed back and Atsushi gladly received him, distracting Issay with the deep kisses.

Eventually, they paused to catch their breaths. It was then when Atsushi took the opportunity to rip the condom open and put it on Issay without a moment's hesitation. He barely even waited before dispensing more lube and smearing it all over Issay's erection while stroking him in his palm.

This time, Issay laughed. "No matter how many times we do this, you're always so eager," he remarked as Atsushi rose up onto his knees and lowered himself until he got Issay's tip pressing against him.

"I have to make up for the years we spent without each other," Atsushi purred before his jaw went slack with Issay's entry. Sinking down, he sighed, "You're so big…"

"No, I'm not," Issay chuckled, putting his hands on Atsushi's hips and rubbing his thumbs over his bones. "It's you who's tight tonight, love."

Atsushi exhaled a breathy laugh as he started moving his hips, bouncing up and down with a relaxed smile. Issay watched, enraptured by the way his erection plunged into Atsushi while Atsushi's own erection remained tucked inside his panty, outline visible through the smooth fabric. It seemed to strain against the satin, as if eager to be freed but Atsushi looked unbothered, paying it no heed as he bounced and gyrated his hips.

As Atsushi moved, Issay felt a stirring in his groin and understood why Atsushi chose to keep his shirt on. Shifting and flapping with his movements, the way it intermittently hid and exposed Atsushi's erect nipples and the marks Issay had left on him added to Atsushi's eroticism. As if he needed any more of it.

Out of nowhere, Atsushi dug his fingers into Issay’s sides and let out a loud rapturous moan; he found his sweet spot on his own. Atsushi began reaching for Issay and wrapping his arms around him as he moaned louder and moved with added vigour.  In their closeness, heat rapidly built between their bodies. It felt as if it was an extension of the growing pleasure that roiled in Issay’s core, coming out to meld together with Atsushi’s as the younger man seemed to melt into him in a mess of sweat and euphoric noises.

With Atsushi’s head on his shoulder, Issay buried his face in Atsushi’s hair, breathing in his scent and giving him kisses. He could hear his restrained whines coming in between unsuppressed moans, and feel Atsushi’s hot breath against his skin, his embrace tightening as Issay felt the pressure in his groin release.

A shuddering rush of pleasure washed over Issay as he came. Pressing a hard kiss to the side of Atsushi’s head, Issay held him as tightly as he could without instigating the pain in his right arm. Atsushi too began to slow his movements. Issay started to notice a warm wetness on his crotch; Atsushi had ejaculated in his underwear.

Shifting, Atsushi raised only his hips to let Issay slide out of his rear while he hid his face in Issay’s chest with a heavy sigh. “I am disgusting.”

“I’ll kill whoever says that about you,” Issay returned, rubbing circles on Atsushi’s back in comfort. “We can always wash off anyway.”

“It’s not about that,” Atsushi intoned in distress. “I can’t even control myself for one night -”

“I did encourage it, didn’t I?” Issay chuckled as he stroked Atsushi’s hair. “I’m equally at fault, my love,” he added, giving Atsushi another kiss.

“But-”

“Besides,” Issay cut in, “as you said, we do have lost years to make up for,” he smiled to himself as he rubbed his cheek against Atsushi’s hair. “And despite all that movement, my arm didn’t hurt at all,” Issay went on cheerily. “You’re a natural painkiller. Doesn’t matter whether I’ve had a drink or not, unlike the pills.”

Atsushi made a whining noise, rubbing his face against Issay’s tank top as he hugged him tighter.

Issay laughed and gave him another kiss, whispering, “My lovely kitten.”

“It feels so embarrassing every time you say that,” Atsushi muttered, peeking up at Issay with one eye.

“I won’t use it again if you don’t like it,” Issay said.

Atsushi stared and went silent for a moment. Then he blinked, hid his face again and muttered, “Don’t… stop…”

“Kitten.”

Atsushi made a noise and squeezed Issay tighter, making him laugh as he hugged Atsushi back and rocked him from side to side. Remaining like this, they held each other as they gradually settled. Issay found himself basking in the afterglow of their sexual high for a bit, simply appreciating the allowance to truly relax here in Atsushi's apartment. Atsushi was right; it did feel safer here.

"Issay?" Atsushi voiced softly.

"Hm?"

"You spoke to Ayame just now, didn't you?"

"Mhmm."

"What did you talk about?" Atsushi asked.

"You, mostly," Issay smiled. "She mentioned how you kept placing orders and sending them to their house."

"That's only because there's always someone at home to receive packages over there," Atsushi defended.

"Mhmm," Issay hummed. "And I spoke about Hisashi's complaints."

"… And?"

"She didn't like how you kept trying these things," Issay rubbed his hand over the fishnet stockings, hooking his fingers in the holes as he moved up Atsushi's thigh, "in front of her husband."

"And?"

"I told her there was nothing that prevented her from wearing them too," Issay chuckled. "Then she spoke about the pictures Hisashi took."

"And?"

"I apologised for that and said they were for me," Issay replied. "And added that surely she understood how difficult it is for me with distance keeping us apart," he went on.

"It is difficult," Atsushi muttered, nuzzling against Issay's neck. "For both you and me."

"Very much so," Issay agreed, kneading the back of Atsushi's neck.

"And what did she say about her impression of you?" Atsushi asked. "She did say you weren't what she expected, right?"

"Ah, yes, that," Issay nodded. "She thought that I'd be more… perverted, I suppose."

" What ?" Atsushi lifted his head, scowling.

"Well… considering the pictures, and all that," Issay shrugged. "I don't blame her."

" Rude ," Atsushi hissed, an offended look on his face. "I've got better taste than that."

"Though, I did ask if she really thought you'd put in so much effort and go through all that trouble just to please a mere pervert," Issay smiled. "And she said concurred that it's a no."

“Good,” Atsushi huffed.

“She did say that everything about us was quite far removed from what she had in mind.”

“What did she have in mind?”

“Who knows,” Issay shrugged again with a laugh. “I didn’t ask.”

Atsushi made a low, disgruntled noise as he rested his head on Issay’s shoulder again.

“You’d have better luck getting the real answer if you ask Hisashi anyway,” Issay pointed out. “At the very least, I’ve cleaned up the image Ayame has of me.”

“Hm…”

“And speaking of cleaning up,” Issay grunted as he sat up. “It’s about time we cleaned up too.”

Despite his sluggish, reluctant body language, Atsushi hummed and nodded. “Shall we?”

Chapter Text

Issay sat on the sofa of the reception area, quietly reading a random novel he took from Atsushi's bookshelf at home. It was mid-afternoon now and they were already done with their little home renting ploy. Now he was at the main office of Atsushi's money lending outfit, waiting for Atsushi to catch up on updates from the past couple of days while he read about one man's struggle with his self. He had read it a couple of times before, with borrowed copies from the library but it didn't hurt to read it again. Though he should probably make a stopover at the library for some time.

Issay flipped a page and the glass door swung open, ringing the little bell that hung at the top. It was peaceful like this, being left alone to do whatever he pleased without being hounded for decisions or the threat of getting killed. He pursed his lips and shook his head, flipping another page as he crossed his legs. What on earth has his life come to?

"I'd… like to get a loan," a woman's quiet voice inquired at the reception desk.

"Have a seat. We'll call you when someone's available to see you," came the gruff reply from one of Atsushi's men.

This one was probably in his early twenties. Well, on second thought, his answer wasn't all that rude. Could be worse. Yoshida's definitely said worse. Issay chuckled to himself as he recalled how often Yoshida used to get in trouble for complaints with his answers. Yet on the flip side, he got the most praises when he was in a good mood. He just seemed to have the best and worst of luck with people.

The sofa cushion next to Issay sank in as the woman sat down to wait. Issay flipped another page. He supposed Yoshida would've had fewer issues with those complaints now, being a detective and all. We, he could always ask about it later on when they met-

"Issay?" The woman suddenly spoke up.

Issay frowned. And here he was, just appreciating the solitude a mere moment before this person had to recognise him. Issay refused to look up from his book, adamantly fixing his eyes on the rows of characters on the page before him as he continued frowning. He couldn't, for the life of him, think of any woman who might know him visiting Atsushi's office in search of money. His ex-colleagues certainly wouldn't do this.

"Issay? It's you, isn't it?" the woman insisted. "I'd know your face anywhere!"

Issay pressed his lips thin. Her voice did sound annoyingly familiar but it didn't give Issay the impression that she was someone he was interested in seeing again. But curiosity nagged at him, urging him to find out who the heck was acting so familiar with him and he eventually gave in, half reluctantly looking to his right out of the corner of his eye.

Immediately, Issay felt his mood sour as he maintained a stony glare at the woman. What do you know? It was his ex-fiance. He couldn't even recall her name anymore.

"I knew it was you!" she exclaimed with some sort of inexplicable glee. "It’s nice to see you again, but I wouldn't have thought that I'd find you, one of the wolves ," she emphasised in a hushed tone, "in a place like this."

Immensely irritated, Issay turned his attention back to his book as he muttered, "One, I'm no longer with the force. Two, my business is none of yours."

“No longer with the force? I thought you loved your job,” she disputed, surprised at the information.

“Weren’t you the one complaining about my ‘pittance of a pay’?” Issay retorted, rolling his eyes as he mimicked her griping.

“But if you’re no longer in law enforcement, then what are you doing now?” she asked. “I don’t recall you having any other particular skill-”

“I run the family business, alright?” Issay snapped. Why wouldn’t she stop talking?

For a brief moment, Issay thought that he finally got her to shut up but it turned out that it was merely a pause.

“You never said anything about a family business,” she muttered.

“Shows how little you knew about your fiance,” Issay scoffed.

“Things would’ve been different if I knew-”

“I never wanted it,” Issay hissed.

“Why not?”

“I would’ve wanted it even less had I known that you would be interested in it.”

“Do you have to be so hostile?” she countered. “We’re both in the same boat-”

Same boat ?” Issay seethed, snapping his book shut with a glare. “What do you think I’m here for?!”

“You’re here because you need funds for your family business, don’t you?”

“You and your fucking assumptions!” Issay shot. “I don’t need anything in particular for anything at all.”

“What are you doing here, then?” she asked again.

“None. Of. Your. Damned. Business.” Issay stood up with a huff. “All I want is to read my damned book in silence ,” he sibilated as he shot his ex-fiance a sharp look, “while waiting for my lover to finish up work before we head off for dinner and drinks, but you. You had to show up out of nowhere and bother me with an endless string of intrusive questions,” he ranted as he went behind the reception desk.

“You can’t go behind there!” she hissed, suddenly afraid.

“Yeah?” Issay challenged. “I dare you to tell any one of these people here I can’t go anywhere,” he said, pointing his index finger at the lackeys who were just trying to mind their own business.

Storming off straight towards Atsushi’s office right behind the reception desk, Issay felt kind of bad for dragging them into this but he had a point to prove. Plus, he would say that he was rather desperate to get away from her and find his own peace and quiet again.

Issay gave the closed office door a couple of knocks before turning the knob and going in. Atsushi looked up from his papers and Murata, the one who runs things while Atsushi was away, turned and looked at him too. 

"What's up?" Murata asked.

"I just need a bit of… respite," Issay muttered, closing the door behind him.

"Who's bothering you?" Atsushi asked, his tone dropping low. It was clear he wasn't too happy about this.

"I'll tell you later," Issay said as he dropped onto the black couch in the office. Opening his book and resuming, he added quietly, "You can ignore me. I'll just be here, reading."

"Five minutes," Atsushi announced and Issay nodded in response, eyes on the characters in his book while Atsushi and Murata continued their conversation.

Although Atsushi did specify five minutes, it felt more like something closer to three minutes passed before Murata stood up and excused himself, exiting the room. Issay barely got to the end of the page when Atsushi sat down on his right and leaned against him. Issay automatically put his left arm around Atsushi and let him get comfortable.

"Not feeling awkward in your g-string anymore, are you?" Issay remarked, patting Atsushi's thigh as he tried to reach the end of the page, or at least, the paragraph.

"It honestly didn't take long to get used to it," Atsushi said despite shifting and crossing his legs awkwardly.

"Maybe we should've gone with the ropes instead," Issay mused as he caressed Atsushi's thigh. "Or just made you wear those tight leather pants of yours. You had latex too, didn't you?"

"But I don't think I can stand wearing latex for a whole day," Atsushi muttered.

"What I'm hearing is that leather's alright."

"People do wear leather out after all," Atsushi commented.

Issay hummed and smiled as he traced Atsushi's jaw with his fingers. Holding his chin, Issay tilted Atsushi's head in his direction and gave him a kiss on the lips before saying, "I'll take that into consideration."

Atsushi beamed back at him as Issay turned his attention back to the book. While Issay read, Atsushi watched him quietly, waiting for his concentration to break before asking, “So? Who was bothering you?”

“Do you see a woman sitting out there in the reception area?” Issay asked quietly.

Atsushi sat up and twisted around. Poking his finger through the aluminium blinds, he bent one, peered out and said, "The one with the long brown hair in the white dress and navy blue cardigan?"

"I… didn't actually see what she was wearing," Issay mumbled. Closing the book and putting it aside, he looked out of the small hole Atsushi made. "Uh… yup, that one."

"She was bothering you?" Atsushi asked, letting the blind bounce back into shape as he removed his finger.

Issay gave him an affirmative grunt.

Atsushi leaned into Issay again and as Issay put his arms around him, Atsushi asked with a chuckle, "What was she doing? Hitting on you at a money lender's?"

"Remember I once mentioned that I was supposed to get married?"

Atsushi's body tensed. "… That's her?"

"Does it make you anxious?" Issay chuckled as he hugged Atsushi. He didn't expect Atsushi to react like this.

"You did propose to her…"

"I… don't… really know if you could consider that a proposal," Issay muttered.

"What do you mean?" Atsushi asked.

"She sort of… brought it up one day and justified that it's about time that we went ahead with it since we had been going out for a couple of years at the time…"

Atsushi sat up and gave Issay a long look. "And you agreed with it? Just like that?"

"I honestly didn't think much of it," Issay shrugged. "Sort of… going through the motions, in a way."

"And then she called it off."

"Mhmm. Apparently, she had what she called a 'better choice', so she broke off and married that one instead," Issay recalled. "Thank god for that," he added under his breath. "I don't know what I was thinking, going along like that."

"She left you," Atsushi muttered as if reminding himself.

"Left me, married her plan B, moved to Osaka. Or so I was told."

"What's she doing here, then?"

"Who knows?" Issay shrugged. "I didn't care enough to ask. I only heard her tell your receptionist she wanted to borrow."

"Hm." Atsushi dropped his weight against Issay without another word.

His response struck Issay as odd. "What is it?" he asked, holding Atsushi again.

"Nothing."

Issay leaned forward to look at Atsushi. "Are you sulking?"

"No."

Craning his neck a little more, Issay caught Atsushi's eye but Atsushi blinked and looked away, shifting in Issay's embrace as he maintained his miffed expression.

"You are sulking," Issay smiled.

"No, I'm not," Atsushi denied. "I'm just… thinking."

"About?"

Atsushi took in a deep breath and let out a heavy sigh. His voice grew smaller and smaller as he spoke. "You almost married someone you only knew for a couple of years yet… you've never even… proposed…"

"Ah-ah-ah," Issay tutted, hugging Atsushi tighter. "Are you really getting jealous over a proposal I was relieved to get out of?"

“You’ve never even proposed to me before,” Atsushi mumbled petulantly.

“Because we won’t be lawfully wedded anyway, love,” Issay said as he felt his heart sink a little at that personal reminder. “Not here, in this country, anyway.”

“It’s the thought that counts,” Atsushi argued.

“Then, shall I propose to you right now?” Issay whispered into Atsushi’s ear.

“That doesn’t count,” Atsushi huffed.

“Hm, but I would need a ring to pull it off too, wouldn’t I?” Issay considered as he nuzzled Atsushi.

“I had one.”

“You put that on yourself,” Issay chuckled

Atsushi clicked his tongue and folded his arms with a huff.

“Oh, c’mon, love,” Issay cooed, resting his chin on Atsushi’s shoulder. “You know we can’t change what has already happened, right?”

“I know, but…”

“What is it?” Issay probed gently.

“It’s stupid,” Atsushi muttered, reluctant to elaborate.

“Tell me.”

“I… I don’t like how… I’m just a ‘lover’ while she’s a ‘fiance’-”

Ex- fiance,” Issay corrected.

“Still a higher rank than ‘lover’,” Atsushi pouted.

“Oh, my Acchan,” Issay said, cuddling Atsushi with his left arm around him as he held Atsushi’s hand in his own. “Acchan, Acchan, Acchan, my Acchan.”

“Whaat?” Atsushi whined.

“Don’t you know how much more you mean to me compared to a woman whose name I can’t even remember?” Issay professed. “She’s never even worn a ring for me,” he added.

"I told you it's stupid," Atsushi grumbled.

"How could you stand going through with your ridiculous remedy for the heir clause if an ex already hurts you this much, hm?"

"… Do you think she would-"

"No."

"She's here to borrow money, isn't she? If she'd do it for the money-"

"Out of the question."

"But-"

"Atsushi." Issay had his hand on Atsushi's neck, holding his jaw in a firm yet delicate grip as he said in a low voice, "The decision has been made. This topic is no longer up for discussion. Do you understand?"

"Yes," Atsushi breathed.

"Good," Issay said, giving Atsushi a peck on his cheek as he caressed Atsushi's side. "I'm glad you do."

"Issay?"

"Hm?"

"When you put your hand on my throat, were you… threatening to choke me?" Atsushi asked quietly, wariness in his voice.

His question gave Issay pause and he froze mid-stroke, mind going blank as he thought about what Atsushi just said. Was that what he meant to do when he held Atsushi? Why did he hold Atsushi like that in the first place? Issay couldn't quite fathom why, but he had to give Atsushi an answer, didn't he?

“I… I don’t know.” That was all Issay could muster. He began to remove himself from Atsushi, shifting away as he muttered, “You shouldn’t sit this close to me-”

Atsushi clasped Issay’s forearm in his hand and closed the gap between them again with a stubborn “No”.

“Acchan, please ."

“Don’t distance yourself from me.”

“Two days in a row! Two days in a row I’ve come this close-”

“And it’s all because of that topic,” Atsushi cut in. "It's what's causing this, isn't it?"

"Atsushi, you really shouldn't be staying so close to me," Issay insisted. "I never realise it until it's too late. I'm not safe for you to be around-"

“So, we’ll just never talk about it again,” he said as firmly as he held Issay to him. "It's never too late-"

"I don't want to wait until it is, Acchan!" Issay groaned, trying pulling away from Atsushi as the younger man held firm.

"It won't be," Atsushi said adamantly. "I won't let it happen."

"You can't guarantee that, love," Issay croaked.

"Once we fix this, once this is over, things will go back to how they were before," Atsushi assured. "We'll go back to how we've always been."

"I don't know about that, love," Issay sighed, in doubt even as he let Atsushi interlock their fingers and hug him. "I don't know anymore."

"All you need to know is I'm staying with you," Atsushi promised. "Regardless of whether you propose to me or not," he added.

"I'm not sure proposing to you is a good idea right now," Issay muttered with a self-deprecating undertone.

"You don't want me?" Atsushi blurted.

"Of course I want you! Of course , I do," Issay protested, tightening his grip on Atsushi's hand. "I just… don't think I'm any good for you. Not with the way I've been," he mumbled. Could he be more disappointed in himself?

"It's not up to you to decide what's good for me. I'll make that decision," Atsushi retorted, sounding both harsh and sad at the same time. "I'm staying by you and that's that."

"Acchan…"

"You'll hurt me more if you cast me away," Atsushi added, his voice barely a whisper.

Issay took a deep breath and sighed heavily. He could never beat Atsushi when it comes to this. Giving in, Issay hugged Atsushi back and kneaded the back of his neck as Atsushi nuzzled against the crook of his neck. Despite everything, he had to admit it felt… good to hold Atsushi like this.

"Fine, I surrender," Issay muttered, closing his eyes as he let himself indulge in Atsushi’s affections. Even if he did not feel like he deserved it.

“I want to go home,” Atsushi said softly. “I want to love you.”

“We still have much to do before we can go home. Errands that are a means to an end,” Issay reminded as he ran his hand through Atsushi’s hair. “Plus you’ve still got a prospective borrower sitting out there. I think.”

Atsushi clicked his tongue and sat up. A frown on his brow, he stuck his finger between the blinds again and peered out with squinted eyes. “Shit, she’s still there.”

“Someone has to see her, right?”

“I could make Murata deal with her but…” Atsushi exchanged an odd glance with Issay and looked towards his office chair behind his desk. “Sit there,” he said.

“What?” Issay uttered. What was he planning?

“My chair. Sit in my chair,” Atsushi said with a mild sense of urgency. Or was it excitement? He took Issay by the hand and sat him down. “Cigarette?” he asked, taking out Issay’s pack that he kept in the pocket of his jacket.

“I… don’t… mind, but indoors?” Issay questioned as he hesitantly accepted the cigarette. Putting it to his lips, he let Atsushi light it for him as he watched Atsushi’s eyes sparkle.

“I don’t mind either,” Atsushi grinned. Putting the rest of the cigarettes back into his pocket, Atsushi removed his jacket and hung it up on coat stand in the corner. As he walked back to Issay, he began undoing the first four buttons of his shirt, exposing the marks that Issay left on him last night.

“What are you doing?” Issay asked, now fully suspicious.

“Relax,” Atsushi smiled. “Let me sit.” Barely waiting for a moment, he sat down in Issay’s lap, legs hanging over the armrest to Issay’s right.

“What are you doing?” Issay asked again as he sucked on the cigarette he held between the fingers of his right hand.

“I’m sending,” Atsushi wriggled as he made himself comfortable and put Issay’s arm around himself, “a clear message.”

“What message?” Issay smiled. He was starting to get a sense of what Atsushi was up to.

Reaching for the phone on his desk, Atsushi picked it up, pressed a button and said, “Send her in.” He then put down the phone, put his arms around Issay’s neck and made Issay bend closer to him. Gazing into Issay’s eyes, Atsushi parted his lips and kissed Issay slowly, letting Issay taste and feel his every move as the door opened.

Only when the door closed did Atsushi break the kiss and answer issay’s question. “You’re mine.”

Issay smiled and slowly brought the cigarette to his lips again. He felt well enough to not use the sling today, but he still had to be careful with movement. Biting the cigarette, Issay put his right hand on Atsushi’s right leg, straying dangerously close to Atsushi’s crotch as he slid down onto Atsushi’s inner thigh to grab his leg and shift him closer.

Lounging in Issay’s arms, Atsushi turned his attention to the woman who had joined them and asked, “So? How much?”

Issay could feel his ex staring at him as he kept his eyes fixed on Atsushi, gazing lovingly at the commanding demeanour that he so easily put on, that persona that so many called ‘The Tiger’.

"Thirty million," she answered. There was a certain lack of emotion in her voice.

"Hm." Atsushi turned and caressed Issay's face as he asked, "What do you think?"

Issay took the cigarette out of his mouth as Atsushi's fingers touched his lips. Kissing them, he asked, "Collateral?"

“I have a house.”

“In your name?” Atsushi questioned, rolling his eyes to stare at her with blatant scepticism.

“… Yes.”

Issay almost laughed at her answer. Even an idiot could sense the hesitancy in her voice.

“Show me proof then,” Atsushi retorted with a cool stare.

Issay looked up too, smoking his cigarette as he watched her pull out a document from her purse and put it in Atsushi’s open palm.

Atsushi scanned it, then stretched out his arm again. “ID.”

She gave it to him.

Issay couldn’t be bothered to look at the details with Atsushi. He simply enjoyed his cigarette, exhaling the smoke in rings as he watched Atsushi flip the ID card back and front, checking it against the homeownership document.

“Co-owner, huh,” Atsushi muttered. “But that only means fifty percent of the property belongs to you. Besides… your husband’s name looks familiar.”

“Does it?” she asked.

Atsushi for his phone on his desk and started texting while Issay twirled his hair in his fingers. There wasn’t much he could do with Atsushi sitting on him busy with something else. Curling his left arm in, Issay tucked Atsushi closer to him as he glanced up and made eye contact with the woman in the room.

"Is this what your 'family business' refers to?" she asked Issay.

Before Issay could say anything, Atsushi piped up in monotone, "Did I say you can talk to my husband?"

"Husband?" she echoed. "Did they buy you over? Or did you sell yourself to them?"

Issay barked a laugh.

"You come here, asking me for a favour, and yet you dare to undermine my husband's integrity?" Atsushi growled, sitting up and glaring at her with unbridled hostility. 

“Well, did you know your husband -”

“I know everything ,” Atsushi interrupted. His phone buzzed and he glanced at the screen as it lit up. “And I also know that the particular property you’ve presented to me,” he stared hard at her, “has already been promised to my business partner.”

Her eyes grew large in surprise. “What!? But he told me-"

Atsushi’s phone buzzed again. “For a certain gambling debt under the name of your property’s co-owner,” he elaborated, tossing the documents onto the table as he lay back down against Issay. “Offer me something else.”

Looking torn between wanting to make a call and holding her ground, she sat in the chair on the other side of the desk and flustered. Issay simply looked on as Atsushi curled up with him and put his arms around his neck, pulling Issay towards him again.

“Yes?” Issay whispered softly.

“She’s a rude one,” Atsushi whispered back, touching noses with Issay.

“I have nothing to say against that,” Issay chuckled, puckering up as he gave Atsushi a peck on his lips before taking another drag. “Cigarette?” he offered.

Atsushi took Issay’s hand and brought it to him, sucking on the stick between his fingers before kissing Issay as he exhaled the smoke. Issay chuckled and carefully hugged Atsushi tighter, mindful of the cigarette and his wound as he indulged the man.

Pausing, Issay nuzzled the side of Atsushi’s face and whispered, “Bold of you to give yourself an immediate upgrade to spousal status.”

“Is that bad?” Atsushi whined softly as he let a hint of sadness into his voice.

“How am I supposed to propose to you now, hm?” Issay asked. “When you’ve already declared us married?”

“I still want to hear the words from you,” Atsushi muttered.

“And you will, my love. In time you will,” Issay promised with a smile.

“Issay,” his ex suddenly called him. It was an immediate mood dampener.

Displeasure on his face, Issay turned to the side and raised an eyebrow in inquiry.

“Is your family business anything like this?” she asked. “Can I borrow from you instead?”

“No,” Issay answered flatly.

“Why not?!”

“Why should I?” Issay retorted.”You have nothing to guarantee payment with.”

“Well,” her tone softened, “based on our past-”

“What about her ?” Atsushi suddenly interrupted, calculating look in his eye as he considered her.

“Her?” Issay echoed. He didn’t quite catch what he meant.

“Blood, organs, you know,” Atsushi muttered as he looked her up and down. “That is, provided she’s healthy and all.”

“Hm, true,” Issay agreed, smirking as he understood where Atsushi was going with this. “Kidneys, a few tens pints of blood and inches of skin should cut it.”

“And if health is a problem, there’s always… the whole package,” Atsushi went on.

“Assuming there’s a buyer.”

“I know a few.”

“Really now?” Issay looked down at Atsushi, eyebrows raised in surprise.

“Don’t look at me like that. I’m sure your men have contacts too,” Atsushi deflected.

“Huh, that’s for sure,” Issay mumbled. That was one side of the business he had been wanting to cut away though. Making use of it was never part of his intentions. Besides, those operations were mostly dominated by his step-brother, and he had no plans of butting into that.

“So?” Atsushi prompted Issay’s ex who looked terribly pale now. “If you’re still interested in lending with these conditions…” He spread his palms open in an invitation.

“I will… discuss this with my husband,” she muttered quietly as she hastily stood up.

“Suit yourself,” Atsushi smirked. “Oh, and one more thing?”

She froze and stared at him with large, alarmed eyes.

“We do provide a service for you to… disappear, if you wish to,” Atsushi smiled. “Just putting it out there. In case you ever need it.”

“I’ll take that into consideration,” she said quickly. With a hasty bow and something that sounded vaguely like a ‘thank you’, she finally left the room without a backward glance.

Issay watched her exit with amusement. “Not so nice to see me again after all, huh?”

“I suppose she finally understood what she was trying to tango with,” Atsushi snickered to himself. “But what kind of man sabotages his wife like this?!” he exclaimed, bursting into unrestrained laughter.

“An irresponsible one, of course,” Issay smiled. “Quite the choice she’s made, huh?”

“A wonderful choice,” Atsushi gushed as he hugged Issay again. “Couldn’t be better for me.”

“And me,” Issay agreed, nuzzling Atsushi again as he closed Atsushi’s shirt.

“Not going to enjoy me?” Atsushi asked with a grin as if drunk on his mirth.

“Now?” Issay asked back.

“I want her to hear us make sweet, sweet love,” Atsushi effused, arching his back and rubbing his foot against his shin.

“I doubt she’s still sticking around after everything we side, love. Pretty sure she’s already gone,” issay chuckled, closing the last two buttons on Atsushi’s shirt. “Besides, we’ll always have tonight,” he added.

“Hm, fine, I’ll wait,” Atsushi nodded, giving up quickly. “There’s no point to make a mess here if she’s not around. It’s not even all that comfortable here anyway.”

“Indeed,” Issay chuckled, sucking on the last of his cigarette as Atsushi stood up and retrieved his jacket. “It’s about time for dinner too.”

Atsushi glanced at his watch and cursed. “Shit. And I wanted to go shopping too,” he whined.

“Shopping?”

“Rings,” Atsushi specified, pointing at the light band of skin around his fourth finger with a pout.

“We’ll have other opportunities, I’m sure of it,” Issay smiled as he stood up with a grunt. Smoothing a hand over his shirt, Issay went back to the couch to retrieve the book before meeting Atsushi at the door.

"Anything else I might've forgotten?" Atsushi muttered, patting his clothes as he checked his pockets.

"Phone? Keys?" 

"Yes. Yes."

"Cigarettes? And lighter?"

"Yes, and yes."

"Then I don't think… Ah, wallet?"

"Yes," Atsushi nodded. "Oh! The ziplock bags," he suddenly recalled. Darting back, Atsushi grabbed a black cloth bag from the foot of the desk and handed it to Issay. "I think we're ready to go."

Issay nodded and put his hand on the small of Atsushi's back, ushering him out as he opened the door. "Thought of what you'd like for dinner?"

"I haven't really had time to think," Atsushi said as they exited the room.

"Fair enough," Issay hummed, crossing the reception with him.

"Oh! Thai," Atsushi blurted. "That'd be nice. It's been a while."

"Know a place?" Issay asked, opening the door and stepping outside with Atsushi.

"I'll ask Imai," Atsushi replied, trusting Issay to guide him to the car as he started tapping on his phone.

Out of the corner of his eye, Issay noticed the familiar silhouette of his ex standing on the pavement, phone to her ear as she spoke rapidly. They unexpectedly made eye contact for a moment and he felt a hard stare from her as he opened the car door for Atsushi and closed it behind him. Issay turned, half to enter by the other side of the car and half to get a proper look at what she was up to, but all she did was remain in her spot, casting glances at him nonstop until he was inside. Even then, she made no effort to conceal the fact that she was watching their car leave.

To his side, Atsushi seemed oblivious to it all. Issay sighed and put his arm around the younger man. Perhaps he was overthinking it.

Chapter Text

Atsushi made his way through the people in Tamori's Bar. It wasn't too difficult since people generally knew to make way for him and avert their eyes but tonight, he could feel curious glances following him from behind. Well, the glances were likely thanks to Issay, who he pulled along by the hand through the establishment. After all, Issay wasn't any one of his usual companions. Plus, it probably struck others as odd that Issay waved and greeted a few veteran officers he knew from his active days. Those who joined the force or Atsushi's world in the last decade wouldn't know Issay.

They would usually park themselves in any one of the booths in the bar, but today, they needed a little more privacy than usual. What they had on them, what they would be discussing were both rather… sensitive topics.

“Where did Hisashi say they were?” Issay asked as he dipped his head in another quick nod to an ex-colleague.

“In the backroom,” Atsushi replied, keeping his eyes out for anyone who might be a little more than curious as they moved.

“I didn’t know they had a backroom available for use here.”

“Well, in special circumstances…” Atsushi exchanged a look with Issay who simply nodded and shrugged in agreement. “I even told Imai to make sure there would be no surveillance on us either.”

“Better to take that precaution,” Issay approved.

Going into a corridor of rooms, Atsushi went in and out between the indoor alleys which divided each private space. He didn’t check if anyone was following them, but if there was, then he would make sure to lose them before they arrived at their designated room.

Perhaps he was thinking too much, but Atsushi had been feeling uneasy since Issay told him that his ex-fiance was in his office. Surely it was too much of a coincidence for her to drop by on this one occasion when Issay made an open decision to come to Tokyo and stay with Atsushi? All the previous occasions when they met have always been disguised as business affairs.

Could she have been sent by someone? Was she supposed to achieve something? Is that why she got so upset at getting nothing out of it? Should he mention this to Otsuka and Mizunaga? Did they even know of her existence? … Or was he just unsettled by the materialisation of someone who Issay once dated?

Spotting Yuta, Atsushi shook his head once, as if the motion would shake the thoughts away. No. He had other things to focus on now.

"What's wrong?" Issay suddenly asked.

"Hm?"

"Your grip tightened."

"No, I just… got carried away, thinking about things," Atsushi said with a huff. He never meant for his thoughts to translate like this.

"It's been a while," Yuta greeted, giving Issay a nod as they approached. 

Issay nodded back.

Turning, Yuta led them through another corridor before slipping through curtains and then a final door into their room. Inside, Imai, Hide and Yoshida were already there, drinking.

"Didn't realise there was so much space in the back of the bar," Issay muttered to himself.

All attention came to Atsushi and Issay when they entered. As the door shut behind them, Issay started greeting the others, exchanging pleasantries while settling into their seats at the round table.

"So? How've you been?" Yoshida asked Issay while Atsushi poured Issay and himself a drink.

"Fine, as usual," Issay answered.

Atsushi raised an eyebrow at him. Really?

"Well, on the whole, you know," Issay corrected himself as he cleared his throat. "Technically…"

"Something happened, didn't it?" Imai asked, cutting straight to the point. "Acchan refused to go into detail."

"Is that why we're all here?" Yoshida asked. "I didn't quite expect this. Honestly, if you told me ten years ago I'd be on speaking terms with you lot…" he shook his head and chuckled.

"I didn't expect so many people to be here either," Issay said as he gave Atsushi a pointed look.

Atsushi averted his eyes and drank from his glass. "I thought it'd be better if we had everyone on the same page," he mumbled.

"You're probably right anyway," Issay said with a nod and a shrug. "By the way, where's Toll? He's the only one who isn't here."

"Probably somewhere out at sea lounging on one of his gambling ships with his wife," Imai answered. "It's like he's semi-retired or something."

"In any case, we'll update him later," Hide said.

"So? What happened?" Imai asked again.

"Well," Issay stood up and dumped the ziplock bags out of his cloth bag and onto the centre of the table. "A mess, basically."

"Where'd you get those from?" Yoshida asked, staring wide-eyed at the gun and bullets in their separate bags.

"You brought a gun to his estate?" Imai assumed.

" I did not !" Atsushi hissed. "If you haven't noticed, nothing was taken out of our stores."

"I can vouch for that," Hide said, raising his hand. "We just did a quick check last night. Nothing's missing."

"Someone put it in Acchan's bag," Issay said.

"And how did that happen?" Imai asked.

“I’m… unfortunately… inclined to believe that it’s an inside job,” Issay sighed as he folded his arms and covered his mouth with a hand, chagrined.

As if on cue, a chorus of confused noises sounded.

“An inside job?” Yoshida repeated.

“Yes,” Issay sighed. They have barely begun their discussion and he already sounded exhausted.

“Don’t you have control over your own men?” Imai questioned.

“It’s… complicated,” Issay replied.

“What do you mean?” Yuta asked.

“How complicated can it get?” Imai scoffed, throwing a hand in the air.

“Politics,” Issay answered. “In short, it’s internal politics.”

“What, like a… split into factions or something?” Hide asked.

“Long story short… I have a half, no, stepbrother, who’s been involved in the business since… I don’t know, as long as I can remember. He’s always been the one who’s really interested in taking over, plus he’s older than I am by a couple of years,” Issay explained.

“Wait… didn’t that will thing say something like,” Imai paused, squinting his eyes as he tried to remember, “first-born son to inherit, or something?”

“Yeeaah…” Issay grimaced. “That’s the thing, he isn’t the first-born son,” he revealed. “My life would be a million times easier if he was, honestly.”

“So that means… you’re not blood-related,” Yuta surmised, rubbing his chin with a hand as he considered the situation.

“Exactly,” Issay nodded. “He’s from the first marriage of my father’s second wife. Thus, him being older and all that,” he went on, waving a hand around as he gestured vaguely.

“And what does this have to do with Acchan?” Imai asked.

"My guess is whoever did this, among other things, assumed he'd be an easy scapegoat," Issay muttered. "But that's just a guess."

"A scapegoat?" Yoshida repeated. "For what?"

"My death, or something," Issay replied to alarmed stares. "It's not like I haven't always been targeted," he added quickly with a shrug.

"Wait, wait," Yuta piped up. "So, what you're saying is, despite the past five-ish years, despite everything you've done, you're still getting death threats?"

"Attempts," Issay corrected. "Assassination attempts. Threats don't mean anything at this point," he added with indifference.

"Again, what's this got to do with Acchan?" Imai asked again. "Why would… whoever's behind whatever want to use him as a scapegoat?"

"Well, to start… our relationship," Issay exchanged a glance with Atsushi, "is not common knowledge in the organisation."

"And who the hell thought that was a good idea?" Imai growled.

"I did," Atsushi said, finally speaking albeit in a small voice. "I told him to do that."

Imai's face scrunched up in fury as he yelled, "Why the hell would you-"

"Think about it!" Atsushi cut in, voice raised. "Think about what position he was in," he implored as he softened his tone. "Going back after his stint as a cop, going back after years of turning his back on them. And to add his connection to a rival family to that?"

"You should have never gotten back with him and you know it," Imai fumed, pointing fingers at them both. "Nothing ever goes well for anyone when you're together."

"Hey, this isn't the time for that," Hide interrupted quickly, standing up and poised to come between Imai and whoever he successfully provoked.

"Don't you dare pin it all on him," Issay retorted, visibly upset at Imai's words as he ignored Hide. "Let me remind you that you were the one who picked me up and planted me in his house five years ago or have you forgotten, Hisashi?" he asked with a dangerously low voice. "After all that effort I put in to keep him safe from the mess that is my birthright, you waltz right in and put me right in front of him," Issay went on. "Don't forget, Hisashi. You are implicit in this ."

Atsushi staring at his glass, he let out a heavy sigh. But before he could say anything, Issay reached over and grabbed his hand. Giving it a squeeze, Issay said, "None of this is your fault. If there's anyone to be blamed, it should be me."

The air felt heavy as silence blanketed the room. Atsushi refused to look up. He didn't want to know the looks that the rest had on their faces. He wouldn't be surprised if Imai and Issay were having a stare down despite Issay's thumb gently caressing the back of his hand.

Atsushi heard someone picked up their glass, take a long, loud drink, put it down, their clear their throat. "So, back to our… topic on hand," Yoshida rasped. "The gun was planted in Sakurai's bag, and what about the bullets."

"We were shot at," Issay answered flatly.

"Again?!" Imai exclaimed.

" As you can see ," Issay stressed, "he is unharmed."

“And yourself?” Yoshida asked.

“I’m… fine, thanks for asking,” Issay muttered, as if surprised by the inquiry. Pausing, he then quickly added, “One round in my arm but I’m fine.”

“What’s it with you two and guns?” Imai muttered, taking a drink from his glass.

"There's a reason why we avoid them," Issay replied. "Among other obvious reasons."

"But. Why were you getting shot at?" Yuta asked. He now had a furrow between his eyebrows, an unusual sight for someone like him.

"We haven't ascertained the motive," Issay sighed. "But that will come with figuring out who is behind this."

"I suppose these two bags are for me, then?" Yoshida asked.

"Yeah," Issay nodded. "From what I've been told, we aren't exactly on good terms with the police in Nagoya but," he waved his hand dismissively, "it doesn't matter. We've got better resources here anyway."

Yoshida barked a laugh and smirked, "You don't say. What are you looking for?"

"I need your help in asking forensics to look at these," Issay said. "I'm not optimistic but I'm hoping that fingerprints are still on the gun."

"Even if they are there, we have to hope that they match up with someone's prints in the database," Yoshida reminded.

"Mm, yes," Issay grimaced. "Having a set of the prints might come in handy in future though."

"And the bullets?" Yoshida asked.

"Ballistic markings," Issay stated. "Even if we don't have guns to match with, I want to know if it all came from one weapon, or if not, how many possible assailants there were."

"How's any of that supposed to help us figure out anything?" Imai questioned.

"I don't know yet," Issay sighed, running a hand through his hair. "But I'm hoping that if I gather enough pieces of this puzzle I'd eventually be able to piece something together."

"Say, could we get a recount of what happened when Acchan went over to look for you?" Yuta asked. "Maybe there's something we can pick up from there."

"Hm…" Issay hummed, frowning. "I don't think there's anything…" 

"No harm telling them what happened," Atsushi muttered. "Maybe they'll see something we missed out."

“If you say so,” Issay said. “Where do we start?”

“When I stepped off the train, I suppose,” Atsushi mused.

“Ah, well, you didn’t say much about that part either,” Issay nodded to himself.

“Well, I didn’t have your address, right?”

“You didn’t?” Issay blurted, giving Atsushi a look of surprise. “Then- How did you find your way there?!”

“I simply got into a taxi, had the driver drop me off at the shadiest place he knew, and went in to ask for you,” Atsushi answered with a matter-of-fact tone. “Simple.”

“Just like that?”

Atsushi nodded.

“You got my address just like that?”

“Yes,” Atsushi nodded again. “I just went in, got everyone’s attention, asked, and some square-looking guy told me.”

“Square-looking…?” Hide mumbled to himself, face scrunched up in confusion.

“Some loyal men you’ve got there,” Imai scoffed.

“I did say things weren’t great there,” Issay muttered. “Did you get the name of the guy who answered you?”

“Mm, that one required me to get the baton out,” Atsushi recalled. “But it only took a couple of steps towards him before he gave me his name. Something like… Manabe Ryo?”

Issay took out his phone and turned it on. “I’ve got no idea who that is, but I’ll get the guys to check him up,” he said. “He gave up that information far too easily.”

“See, that’s one possible lead,” Yuta grinned triumphantly.

“Uh-huh,” Issay nodded, eyes fixed on his phone as it buzzed incessantly. “Huh… I knew they’d bombard me with calls and messages.”

“Do you need to respond now?” Atsushi asked.

“Hm… looks like nothing urgent,” Issay observed. “They’ve waited for almost twenty-four hours, they can wait a while more,” he decided. Once he had the name typed out, Issay prompted, “Alright, so, after that?”

"Uneventful hour-long taxi ride," Atsushi continued. He started stripping in the taxi before thinking better of it but no one needed to know that. "Then I got dropped off at your doorstep, of sorts, asked for you, got told to leave even though the taxi was already gone."

"See, that's proper," Yuta remarked.

"The threats came out. I put my bag down, whacked a few men…"

"You put your bag down where?" Yoshida asked.

"At the entrance, in the house. The entrance was rather grand, mind you," Atsushi replied.

"So it was left unattended," Imai muttered.

"For a while, yes," Atsushi nodded. "Stupid thing to do, but it was in the way."

"I guess you didn't see who took it," Hide surmised.

"No, I was… preoccupied, to say the least," Atsushi said.

"… Right. So what happened after the 'whacking'?" Yoshida pressed.

"I found him," Atsushi jerked his head in Issay's direction, "shortly after, in an office." 

"I was with Otsuka and Mizunaga discussing something," Issay continued for him. "Acchan came in, we had a glass of wine, and I began to show him around the estate." 

"When we passed the entrance again, my bag was no longer there," Atsushi said.

"You don't know who took it," Imai muttered.

"No," Atsushi said, shaking his head. 

"Are there security cameras installed in that area?" Yoshida asked.

"No," Issay huffed with a wry smile. "Too many shady dealings, characters around for anyone to want to store evidence and take the risk of it leaking out."

"Which means, no way to find out who took it then," Yoshida sighed.

"If we were able to find that out, it would be a hell of a lot easier to start weeding out the weasels," Issay grumbled.

"Well, that bit certainly points to this whole affair being an inside job," Yuta remarked, pressing his lips thin.

"Yes," Issay agreed.

"So when did the gun and the bullets come in?" Hide asked.

"That came later," Issay answered. "Continuing on, so after bypassing the entrance, I took Acchan around through to the back and then started walking… back to… my house, sort of," he said, dropping his voice low and losing his words as he appeared to recall the evening's events.

"Nothing happened?" Yoshida asked.

"No," Atsushi immediately replied, perhaps a little too quickly.

"The bag was already at my doorstep when we arrived back," Issay said, forcefully pushing the progress of their recount.

"You didn't see anyone on the way?" Yoshida asked again.

"No one," Atsushi and Issay said in unison. They exchanged a glance. There was no need for those other details.

Yoshida frowned and scratched his chin. "And you didn't check the bag before you brought it in? Probably takes a couple of minutes at most-"

"You could say we were being a bit complacent since we're supposed to be safe in home turf," Issay cut in.

Yoshida raised his eyebrows and shrugged, "Fair enough."

" Anyway ," Issay continued. "We went in and… settled in… before washing up-"

"Getting kind of vague, aren't you?" Yoshida pointed out.

"Well, if it's the two of us I don't think the details are particularly necessary," Issay said, giving Yoshida a pointed look as he leaned forward.

"But-"

"They're not necessary," Imai interrupted as he took a drink from his glass while giving Yoshida a pointed look of his own.

"Are you sure-"

"No, they're not," Yuta jumped in with a hard look of his own.

"But-"

"Really, we can do without those details," Hide cut Yoshida off.

"O… kay…" Yoshida mumbled, leaning back into his chair as he gave everyone around the table suspicious looks.

"Moving on…" Atsushi sighed, somewhat relieved that the others caught on.

"We were relaxing out on the second-floor balcony, you know, enjoying the night and all, when those bullets," Issay gestured at the ziplock bag, "began flying at us."

"You didn't see who or how many people shot at you?" Yuta asked.

"No, it was after lights out, so was too dark to see anything," Issay said with a sigh.

"It made for a beautiful night sky thought," Atsushi sighed wistfully at the memory of the breathtaking sight.

"Pros and cons," Issay remarked, pursing his lips as he patted Atsushi's hand. "In any case, my balcony windows were bulletproof, so we took cover and while doing so, I got hit," he pointed to his right bicep. "And that's all that happened that night. The rest of it was… uneventful."

"No one tried to assail the house?" Hide asked.

"No one at all," Atsushi huffed. "And I was so ready to get back at them for this," he muttered with a snarl.

"I'm surprised you didn't rush out to do that," Imai commented.

"I told him not to," Issay replied. "There might've been an ambush or a trap to pin the assault on him if he went out alone. I couldn't let that happen."

Yoshida clicked his tongue and sighed. "Hm… I don't think there's anything to glean from this…" he muttered, folding his arms.

"Well, there's no other way to look at it," Yuta said as he puckered his lips to the side and folded his arms as well.

"This is definitely an inside job," Hide nodded, repeating the deduction again before taking a long drink from his glass.

"You're not even safe at home, in your own turf," Imai added, shaking his head as he drank as well.

"I mean," Issay shrugged and sighed. "I've always known that but I didn't think that they don't even have the decency to treat a guest right," he grumbled as he drank.

"Your guest's relationship with you is probably to blame," Imai remarked.

"Meh, not that I can do anything about it," Issay muttered, pouring himself another drink. "Except for eliminating the threat, whoever it is," he added.

"Maybe we'll gather more clues with these," Yoshida said, jerking his head in the direction of the zip lock bags. "Do you need that bag of yours, Issay?" he asked. "I mean, I don't have anything to carry those in, and… walking around with them in plain sight isn't exactly a good idea."

"Take it," Issay said, tossing the cloth bag, now bunched up, to Yoshida. "How long do you think it'll take for us to get the results?" he asked.

"It'll be a couple of days, at least, or a week, at most," Yoshida replied.

"I guess I'll stick around until we hear back from you then," Issay decided with a nod. Turning to Atsushi, he asked, "Would you mind letting me stay-"

"As long as you're not a pain in the ass," Atsushi cut in with a grin.

Hide choked and started coughing violently while a loud sigh came from Imai as he groaned, "Give me a fucking break."

"Did I say something wrong?" Atsushi beamed.

"Nope," Imai answered curtly.

"No…" Hide managed as Yuta patted his back. "Not at all…"

Yoshida stood up, lips pressed together and eyes a little larger than usual as he sighed heavily. Turning, he combed his hair back with a hand and shook his head, muttering, "I think I'll get us another drink."

 

--

 

"Issay?" Atsushi called softly as he entered the bedroom.

There was no answer. The reason was apparent. Lying in the middle of the bed, on his back, was Issay, asleep and dressed in a black tank top and briefs. The three cats, Chibi, Nyan, and Momo were also on the bed, curled up and idle.

Atsushi smiled as he approached, walking with soft footsteps so as to not disturb the peaceful sight before him. The cats did stir though. Their senses were too sensitive for him to fool them after all. 

Sitting down on the bed, Atsushi carefully shifted closer to the sleeping Issay and folded his legs to the side. He reached out, gently brushing Issay’s hair out of his face as he smiled again and sighed softly, “Fancy you going to sleep after asking me to dress up for you.”

“Whoever said I’m asleep?” Issay huffed as he opened his eyes and scanned Atsushi up and down.

The intensity of his gaze stirred Atsushi’s insides and made him feel all the more self-conscious of the attire that Issay picked out tonight. His shoulders felt all too broad in this sheer night slip that Issay found and Atsushi wasn’t even aware of the existence of this thong that Issay pulled from his wardrobe, but here it was. 

Issay’s lips twitched into a smile. Exhaling, he sat up and rolled over, planting his face in Atsushi’s lap as he thrashed and gushed, “My beautiful kitten!!!”

Startled by the violent movement, the cats got up and leapt off the bed while Atsushi sputtered in embarrassment, “What on earth are you saying!”

“A compliment to my love,” Issay responded, his face still buried in Atsushi’s legs.

“Can even you breathe like this?” Atsushi questioned while brushing Issay’s hair.

“Sure I can,” Issay replied, nuzzling Atsushi’s legs. “Just let me enjoy the soft, soft skin of your bare thighs a little longer.”

“Issay!” Atsushi chided.

“Yes, my love?”

Atsushi suddenly felt stuck. What was he supposed to say?

“What is it?” Issay asked. When he turned to look up at Atsushi though, realisation struck him and he smiled, “Ah, feeling shy, are we, love?”

“I’m… not… Why did you pick this out if you just wanted my legs?” Atsushi muttered. “You could’ve gone with a single shirt and you would still get all the legs-”

“Shall we go with that tomorrow then?” Issay chuckled.

Atsushi paused. That was not his intention but… “If… you want…”

“I’ll take it into consideration,” Issay smiled. He took hold of Atsushi’s hand and kissed his fingers as he met Atsushi’s eyes. “I just love admiring every inch of you,” he professed. “You’re such a luxury.”

Atsushi felt his cheeks grow warm from Issay’s declarations and looked away.

“Are you uncomfortable, love?” Issay asked, concern creeping into his voice as he caressed Atsushi’s hand.

“Huh?” Atsushi uttered. “What? No, no. Not particularly.”

“Do you want to move?” Issay asked.

“Move?” Atsushi echoed. “Where?”

Issay tapped on his chest. 

Atsushi froze and stared at Issay. Was he mistaken?

Issay nodded and tapped his chest again.

“For real?” Atsushi muttered.

Issay nodded and sat up. Shifting away, he tapped his chest again and said, “C’mon.”

Atsushi hesitantly got up and moved. Hovering over Issay, he asked, “Are you sure?”

Issay put his hands on Atsushi’s thighs and pulled him down, forcefully making him sit. “Yes, I am sure,” he stressed as he rubbed his face on Atsushi's inner thighs. Kissing them, he added, "Smother me with your thighs, my love."

"Issay!" Atsushi hissed, covering his face with a hand. "You're embarrassing!"

"There's no one else here to say that," Issay pointed out. "Besides, it's clearly turning you on,” he added, a smile tugging at his lips as he pressed his face to Atsushi’s crotch.

“Stop it-!” Atsushi sucked in a breath as Issay gently held Atsushi’s erection between his teeth. But only for a brief moment.

“You’ve wrapped yourself up so nicely for me,” Issay hummed. Gazing at Atsushi with unadulterated adoration in his eyes, he tugged the string on one side of Atsushi’s bottoms, letting it come loose. “Yet all I’m going to do is unwrap you like the little gift that you are,” he smiled as he tugged on the other side and undid the other knot.

Atsushi could only watch with breathless anticipation as Issay tossed the flimsy piece of fabric that kept his genitals in just a mere moment ago. Holding eye contact, Issay parted his lips and pressed his tongue to the base of Atsushi’s erection, giving him a lick as Atsushi instinctively lifted his weight off Issay and gave him the space to move.

Issay moved under Atsushi as his hands rubbed circles on his thighs, grabbing him between caresses as his tongue moved. Atsushi whimpered as Issay began nipping at the delicate skin of his nether regions. He could feel Issay’s tongue against his scrotum and the careful way Issay mouthed at him before dragging his tongue lower to his perineum, and then to his ass.

Atsushi could not resist letting out a whine as Issay's tongue teased his hole, licking around the edges. His bottom grew wet from Issay's saliva as his tongue lapped at Atsushi and him Atsushi open. Atsushi felt his legs grow weak from the stimulation. He gripped the sheets by the sides in his hands, arching his back as he let out a moan of pleasure. He could feel huffs of Issay's warm breath on his skin, perhaps a laugh in response.

Issay's hands smoothed over Atsushi's skin, moving from his thighs to his rear to give him a good hard squeeze. The sensation distracted Atsushi and the next thing he knew was Issay taking his erection into his mouth. A weak warble escaped Atsushi’s lips in surprise. He looked down, chagrined by the strange noise he made but below him, Issay was smirking, undoubtedly enjoying himself as he sucked Atsushi off.

Embarrassed as he was, Atsushi found himself unable to look away. He was entranced by the hypnotic sight of Issay working at his erection, alternating between kissing and licking his length, and bobbing his head to and fro.

Without thinking, Atsushi began moving his hips and upon sensing his movement, Issay smiled. He opened his mouth wider as Atsushi braced himself and began moving faster. Atsushi closed his eyes and dropped his head back, breathing loudly as he thrust harder. He felt Issay’s hands on him, holding him as he moved until he felt his pleasure peak. In a hurry, Atsushi pulled out of Issay’s mouth only to ejaculate onto his face.

Atsushi sucked in a breath and made a distressed noise at the mess that he had made. Issay laughed, licking his lips and keeping an eye closed as Atsushi scrambled away. Clutching the thin fabric of his slip with his eyes to the bed, Atsushi heard Issay’s feet hit the floor as he continued chuckling to himself.

“I’m glad you enjoyed yourself,” Issay commented to the sound of tissues being pulled.

Atsushi looked over his shoulder at Issay as he wiped his face while grinning. He couldn’t help but notice the bulge in Issay’s underwear.

Catching where Atsushi’s eyes were at, Issay chuckled and waved his hand dismissively as he said, “Don’t mind me.”

Scrunching up his face, Atsushi rolled onto his back and bent his legs. He pulled them to his chest and pouted, “You can’t loosen me up then not use me.”

“Didn’t you say something about not being a pain in the ass?” Issay teased.

“It was a joke,” Atsushi demurred. “And you’re too gentle to be a pain,” he added softly.

Issay’s smile grew wider as he shook his head and muttered, “Love, you make it so hard to say no.”

Atsushi quietly watched Issay open his drawer. He patiently waited as Issay took out a condom and a bottle of lube before coming back to where Atsushi lay. With Issay standing in front of him, between his legs though, anticipation began warming his crotch again. The sight of Issay pushing his underwear down, wearing the condom, and stroking himself with the lube got Atsushi even more excited. And by the time Issay finally pressed his tip against Atsushi’s entrance, Atsushi was breathing shallow breaths and letting out a moan as Issay entered him with ease.

Issay started slow, moving his hips with a gentle rhythm as his hands slid under Atsushi’s outfit and crept up his body, fingers following every dip and curve as they travelled. Atsushi arched his back and sighed blissfully, relishing the sensation of Issay’s loving touches as he felt Issay steadily building momentum.

As the thrusts grew in force, Atsushi felt jolts of pleasure shuddering through his body while Issay added to the pleasure by flicking and rolling his nipples between his fingers. The moment Issay started hitting his prostate though, was when Atsushi finally felt his inhibitions fall away. He felt he moans and cries escape his lips without restraint as Issay buried his face in his chest. His insides felt like candle wax; warm, melting, and dripping everywhere while still being held in Issay’s embrace.

The overwhelming emotions rushed up and poured out of Atsushi as he clutched Issay tightly, willing their bodies to merge into one when he climaxed again for the second time that night. He whimpered as he buried his face in Issay hair to breathe in his scent, hugging him and refusing to let go even after he realised that Issay had pulled out of him. Atsushi could hear Issay taking in deep breaths, and he breathed with Issay in tandem, letting his heartbeat slow until he calmed down. 

As he idly played with Issay’s hair, Atsushi felt Issay weighing heavier on him, pinning him down on the bed as Issay nuzzled his chest and muttered, “My love…”

“Hm?” Atsushi hummed softly.

“Have I been a pain in the ass?”

Atsushi burst out in a fit of giggles and lightly smacked Issay’s back.

“I’ll take that as a no,” Issay responded with a smile in his voice.

“Of course not,” Atsushi affirmed as he smiled to himself.

Issay may not have been a pain in the ass, but Atsushi did hope that his greed for a double dose of fornication wouldn’t come back and bite him tomorrow. Now that would be a true pain in the ass.

Chapter Text

Issay had his eyes on Atsushi who was sprawled out on one of the chairs in the consultation room while Issay himself sat on the examination table and waited. Atsushi had been particularly lethargic since this morning and Issay decided to pick out a normal outfit him, with the exception of a pair of heeled boots. Atsushi looked upset at Issay's decision but he probably needed a break after last night.

Issay smiled to himself as the nurse unwrapped the bandage on his arm. He didn't want to look at it, but judging by the itch he felt, he assumed his wound got better. Waiting patiently for the wound to be redressed, he continued watching Atsushi dream in his sleep. It was a little concerning. The way his brows tended to furrow seemed more like fear or worry rather than anger. What did Atsushi see?

When the nurse cleaned the area around his wound, Issay felt the sting and winced. As if on cue, Atsushi sucked in a breath and sat up. He was still as he took a moment to gather his bearings. Once that passed, Atsushi turned and looked at Issay, blinking once, then twice before scrunching up his face and stifling a yawn.

Issay chuckled as he watched Atsushi shuffle to him. Despite the lightness of his mood, Issay sensed the nurse's tension at Atsushi's approach. Issay couldn't blame her. Atsushi's reputation preceded him after all.

Ignoring her, Atsushi settled down next to Issay, sitting on the examination table before leaning to the side and making himself comfortable with his head in Issay’s lap. Issay smiled as Atsushi reached for his left arm and put it around himself. Hugging Issay’s forearm to his chest, Atsushi sighed and relaxed, presumably going back to sleep.

Issay gazed at Atsushi fondly, quietly watching his lover in slumber as the nurse continued to fuss at his arm. Now all he needed for this moment to be perfect was a book and a glass of wine.

"He's a dangerous man, isn't he?" The nurse suddenly spoke in a hushed tone.

"Him?" Issay raised his eyebrows at her and then looked back down at Atsushi. "He's a harmless kit."

"But-"

"To me," Issay added quickly. After all, there was no way to know if the girl's worry was because of her personal experiences.

"He didn't do this to you?" she asked.

Issay chuckled. "You've no idea how devastated he would be if he truly was the cause of it," he sighed, shaking his head.

"… I find that hard to believe," she muttered.

Atsushi's shoulder jerked and he made a noise. The nurse immediately stiffened, taking her hands off of Issay while Issay stretched out the fingers of his left hand and Atsushi's grip tightened on Issay's forearm.

Stroking Atsushi's jaw, Issay made soft shushing sounds as he whispered, "I'm right here."

Issay felt Atsushi's grip gradually grow lax, eventually reverting to the original sensation before he curled up closer to Issay. Smiling, he remarked with a chuckle, "Isn't he adorable?"

"He's scary," the nurse muttered in a small voice.

Issay huffed, a lopsided, thin-lipped smile on his face as he shook his head. There was no changing her mind. But what did it matter? It simply meant that one less person sought Atsushi's attention.

There was pressure on Issay's arm as the nurse fastened the fresh bandage. "How does it feel? Is it too tight?" she asked.

Issay turned his attention to his right arm. Bending and flexing it carefully he tested the fastness of the wrap. Pain was, thankfully, not a significant factor any more.

"Seems alright," Issay answered.

"Great. Please come back in two days for the stitches to be removed," the nurse nodded and then stood there, as if waiting for something to happen.

Issay stared at her. What was she waiting for? "Is… there… something else you need?" he asked, furrowing his brow.

"You can leave now," she replied.

Issay blinked once and then gestured at the sleeping Atsushi. "I'm not going to wake him up," he stated.

"I thought you said that he isn't dangerous," the nurse retorted with a smirk.

"I'm choosing not to wake him because as others have said, I indulge him too much," Issay returned, dropping his voice low before turning his tone sickly sweet as he let his annoyance surface. How dare she try and act smart with him about Atsushi?

Issay was about to say more when Atsushi stirred. “Icchama?”

“Yes?” Issay responded, immediately softening his tone.

“Are we done?”

“Yes, we are, love.”

“Good, let’s get out of here,” Atsushi said, immediately sitting up with a groan.

“Don’t want a longer nap?”

“There are other places where I can do that,” Atsushi replied, standing up and stretching his back. “I don’t quite like this place anyway,” he added quietly.

“Hm? Why not?” Issay asked as he got to his feet and put his jacket back on over his tank top.

“I almost died here.”

Issay felt his heart drop when Atsushi uttered those words so carelessly as he sauntered out of the consultation room. Hurrying out after Atsushi, Issay asked, "What's that supposed to mean?"

Atsushi stopped and looked over his shoulder. He nonchalantly pointed to the fading scar on his chest now hidden under his clothes. "The last time I was here."

"Why didn't you say so earlier?" Issay asked, distressed at the revelation.

Atsushi smiled and shrugged before looking to the front. He exited the glass doors of the clinic and out into the bustling street.

Issay strode forward with larger strides. He caught up to Atsushi easily enough. “You didn’t have to take me there,” Issay sighed, linking arms with Atsushi to obvious stares as they walked down the city’s shopping belt.

“But they’re the best at what they do,” Atsushi reasoned. He seemed to be regaining his energy as he let Issay lead him through the streets. “And they don’t ask questions.”

“Any old clinic could’ve changed my bandage for me,” Issay justified. No matter how good they were, he didn’t like that Atsushi put himself through that discomfort for him. “It didn’t have to be them.”

“You know how people can be blabbermouths,” Atsushi argued. He was definitely more awake now. “One look at your wound and they’d know what it is. Who’s to say they wouldn’t call the cops to report suspicious individuals right after we leave?”

“It’s actually illegal if they do that,” Issay informed, taking a right as he steered them into the jewellers’ district. “There’s a kind of medical confidentiality thing that covers that.”

“Huh,” Atsushi huffed and wrinkled his nose in distaste. “Even if there was something like that, I still don’t trust people,” he grumbled petulantly. "They could simply report us as suspicious from a civilian's standpoint."

"You know we don't actually take action unless there is clear evidence, right?" Issay chuckled, following Atsushi as he pulled towards a display window.

"Won't we still get put on a watchlist?" Atsushi asked. "Hm, nothing interesting," he mumbled, shifting to the next window with Issay.

"I don't know how things are like now, but no one really looks at it, y'know," Issay smiled as he watched Atsushi scrutinise the rings.

"I know I'm probably in one," Atsushi muttered, moving on to the next shop. "But if you're not, I don't see why we need to give anyone a reason to start keeping an eye on you."

"Don't you think walking around like this with you is suspect enough?" Issay teased.

"On the contrary, no," Atsushi grinned. He turned to Issay and nuzzled his shoulder as an oncoming passer-by appeared. "All anyone will remember is that they saw two men being romantically affectionate in public; an unusual and likely uncomfortable sight for any regular person," he elaborated as he looked at Issay with his large, amorous eyes.

Issay beamed back at him. Holding Atsushi's chin in his hand, he leaned in and gave Atsushi a peck on the lips before laughing as he watched the passing man jerk in alarm when Issay made eye contact with him. Atsushi burst out laughing too and Issay adjusted to put his arm around Atsushi, joining their bodies by their sides as they continued on their walk.

"You may be right," Issay said with a smile on his face. "But I doubt any of the shop attendants around here will be too willing to serve us if we continue putting on any more displays."

Atsushi scowled and made a low rumbling noise in his throat while peering into another display case. "Fuck them," he muttered.

Issay's shoulders shook as he chuckled again. "Unfortunate that we're a little too… unconventional , hm?"

Atsushi clicked his tongue and rolled his eyes. "I'd bet 'unconventional' is too nice a word for them to use."

"Likely, hm?" Issay hummed.

Out of nowhere, Issay's phone started vibrating. Both of them stopped walking and looked down at his jacket pocket where it sat, surprised by the sudden movement.

"Who's calling me?" Issay muttered, frowning in annoyance

"Maybe it's Mizunaga? Or Otsuka," Atsushi guessed as he reached into Issay's pocket for him.

"They would've already given up if I haven't picked up by now but it's not stopping," Issay said.

When Atsushi pulled the phone out, he raised his eyebrows. "Oh."

"Who is it?" Issay asked.

"Yoshida," Atsushi answered, letting Issay see the screen.

"Huh," Issay took the device from Atsushi, "maybe he got the results already."

"Didn't he say that it would take at least two days?" Atsushi recalled as Issay picked up the call.

Issay looked at Atsushi and shrugged. Holding the phone to his ear, he said, "Hello?"

"Hey, Fujisaki."

"What's up? Didn't expect you to get back to me so quickly with the results."

"Ah, I'm not calling because of that."

"Hm?" Issay naturally cocked his head to one side. "What's this about then?"

"Uh… I'll just go straight to the point. Tsuchiya wants to speak with you."

"Huh… You make it sound like he's not looking to catch-up," Issay deduced.

"… Maybe it is a catch-up?"

"You don't sound convinced about that."

"Because I'm honestly not," Yoshida sighed. He sounded stressed.

"Did he say what he wanted to talk about?" Issay asked.

"Nope. It'll be only you and him."

"Private chat, huh."

"No Acchan either," Yoshida added quickly.

"And what makes him think that I wouldn't tell him about what went on?" Issay asked, raising a sceptical eyebrow.

"I'd think it's less about the content and more about how you wouldn't say certain things in front of certain people."

"Did he say something about Acchan?" Issay asked, his voice dropping low. Atsushi gave Issay a curious glance at the mention of his name.

"No," Yoshida intoned. "On the contrary, he quite likes the guy."

Issay did a double-take. “Wait, what?”

“Yeah, you heard me. They get along quite nicely.”

“… How did that happen?”

“Acchan’s with you, isn’t he? Just ask him.”

Immediately, Issay turned to his left. “Acchan, you’re friendly with Tsuchiya?”

“Hm? Which Tsuchiya- Oh!” Atsushi’s expression morphed quickly from confusion to recognition. “You’re talking about the commissioner?”

“Commissioner?” Issay echoed. “Tsuchiya’s not-”

“Yeah, he is,” Yoshida’s voice interrupted. “He’s commissioner-general.”

“Since when?!”

“Maybe… 6 or 7 years now?” Yoshida answered while Atsushi said, “Probably since some years back.”

“And no one told me about this?”

“You never asked.” “You never asked.”

“And none of you thought it was important enough to at least mention it to me?”

“The topic never came up between us,” Atsushi muttered, defending himself.

“I… guess I assumed it was common knowledge by now, y’know?”

Issay exhaled a heavy sigh. “Did it ever occur to you that I’ve been out of the loop?”

“Well-”

“Nevermind, forget it,” Issay cut in, dropping the subject. “You said something about talking?”

“Ah, right, right. Yeah.”

“When?” Issay asked.

“Now.”

“Now!?”

“‘Now’ what?” Atsushi asked.

Issay held up a hand to Atsushi, signing at him to wait.

“Yes, now. At HQ.”

“I refuse,” Issay immediately replied. “Propose somewhere else.”

Yoshida sighed. Issay could hear muffled talking as he waited for Yoshida to answer. Was he with Tsuchiya? Why wouldn’t Tsuchiya contact Issay himself?

Eventually, Yoshida’s voice returned. “He said he needed privacy and his office is the only place he can guarantee it.”

“How will I know it's not an ambush?”

“Right,” Yoshida muttered. The muffled talking came back for a brief moment before Yoshida said, "What about coming over after hours? There shouldn't be anyone else around."

"How's that supposed to help?" Issay asked.

"You trusted me enough with the evidence, trust me on this, won't you?"

Issay sighed heavily. That was something he was prepared to do but this… This was too sudden. He could feel Atsushi looking at him with concern from the side. He needed to make a decision. He should probably follow his gut.

Issay took a deep breath and said, "Fine. What time?"

“Great." The relief in Yoshida's voice was audible. "Um… Come after dinner? Like, nine or something. There should be fewer people around by then.”

“What's this going to be about?” Issay asked, frowning. 

“I don’t know,” Yoshida sighed again. “I’m just the middleman here.”

Issay didn't like the sound of that. Clicking his tongue, he muttered, "Tsk. Fine." He was starting to regret having agreed to this. 

 

--

 

Issay walked through the familiar corridors of the police headquarters alone. Nothing had changed around here. The darkness and silence reminded him of the times when he used to work late into the night. He could almost imagine himself living that life now… if not for the apprehension the roiled in his stomach.

Issay had left Atsushi outside with Yoshida, by the corner of the stairs where Atsushi once waited for him before going on their date. He chuckled softly to himself. It felt like it was an eternity ago when that happened. If only things were still as simple as they used to be.

Despite how long it's been since Issay last walked these halls, his legs were still able to lead him to where he needed to be by instinct. Before long, Issay found himself in his old office, passing the empty desks in the deserted premises as he fixed eyes on the closed door of the commissioner general's office.

Issay never had much of a reason to go in there in the past and the last time he did was also the last time he was here in this building. Stopping in front of the door, he knocked twice and waited.

“Come in,” said the muffled voice.

Issay steeled himself and opened the door. Behind it, he found Tsuchiya seated behind his desk, alone, thankfully, with a glass of liquor. As their eyes met, Issay smiled and said, “Congratulations on the promotion.”

The relief must’ve shown on his face for Tsuchiya said, “You know, I'm a little offended that you don't trust me.”

“Can you blame me?” Issay asked as he sat down facing Tsuchiya. “We're on opposite ends of the table now,” he shrugged before adding, “and that’s without mentioning how I've constantly been kept on edge during these past few years.”

Tsuchiya’s face broke out in a smile as he shook his head and chuckled, “That’s true.”

“So?” Issay asked. He wanted to get this over with quickly. “What's this about?”

“Well,” Tsuchiya began. “I heard… that Yoshida submitted a couple of things to forensics today.”

Issay raised his eyebrows, feigning surprise despite the immediate apprehension that assailed him. Although, he wasn’t entirely taken aback by this. By all rights, the commissioner should know everything that went on in his force.

“I asked him about it,” Tsuchiya continued, picking up his glass and idly swirling its contents around, "but he wouldn't say much. That is, until I made the assumption that it came from you.”

At this, Issay gave him an inquisitive hum. “Hm? How did you come to that conclusion?”

“There was chatter going around about how you were back and at Tamori's last night.”

“And?”

“It seemed to coincide so I made a… guess, of sorts,” Tsuchiya said with a sheepish smile.

Issay huffed a laugh.

“It did the trick anyway. But Yoshida still wasn't being particularly talkative, loyal one, that guy, so I asked to speak with you. After all, it's been a while since we caught up,” Tsuchiya squinted his eyes as he smiled.

“Curious about my life these days, huh?” Issay returned.

“I heard it hasn't been perfect,” Tsuchiya revealed. “And that you haven't been in the best of positions since our ex-bosses had you leave.”

Issay dropped the smile from his face as his expression turned stony. “Did Yoshida tell you that?”

“That your life hasn’t been great? Yes,” Tsuchiya nodded. “But the rest? I got it all from hearsay. There are a ton of rumours about you floating around, you know?”

Issay huffed and slid his eyes to the side.

“Also, the name ‘Fujisaki’ has been coming up quite frequently in recent times,” Tsuchiya informed. “It’s getting notorious.”

“Is it really?” Issay deadpanned.

“Yes, it is,” Tsuchiya nodded again, his smile still plastered on his face. “You’re running the family business now, aren’t you, Fujisaki?”

“Am I?” Issay retorted, unwilling to cooperate.

“Fujisaki, don’t be like this,” Tsuchiya sighed. “We still have your file here and I’ve read it. You know that I know what you said to the previous commissioner all those years back.”

Issay clicked his tongue and cursed. He never would’ve thought that it would come back to bite him more than once. First, the acting-commissioner general before Tsuchiya kicked him out on account of that, and now, Tsuchiya was going to use it against him?

“I know what your ‘family business’ entails-”

“And I’ve been working against that,” Issay cut in angrily. “If you’ve read my file, then you know my stance regarding it.”

“Which is why I want to help you,” Tsuchiya stressed.

That gave Issay pause. “… What?” Did he hear that wrongly?

“I want to offer you a way out,” said Tsuchiya, looking into Issay’s eyes as he spoke.

Issay could neither see deceit nor jesting in Tsuchiya’s eyes. “What exactly do you mean by that?” he asked, speaking slowly and warily.

“Witness protection.”

Issay stared at Tsuchiya in disbelief. "You can't be serious."

"You give us information and evidence to take the Fujisakis' operations down, we keep you safe and help you disappear."

Issay sucked in a breath and leaned back in his chair. Folding his arms, he covered the lower half of his face with a hand as he frowned and pondered. Tsuchiya's proposal could technically work. Issay could pick and choose what he wanted to present and get the force to cut off whatever businesses he doesn't fancy, possibly even take his half-brother down. There might be a few implications on his own side of the business but Tsuchiya could save him a ton of trouble. Except… Atsushi…

As if reading his mind, Tsuchiya added, "You would have to leave Atsushi behind."

"I can't do that," Issay immediately replied. He looked up at Tsuchiya. "I can't  leave him."

"Isn't his safety your priority?" Tsuchiya asked, softening his tone.

The look in Issay's eyes hardened at his question. "What would you know about that?"

"Atsushi's spoken about it before when we were drinking, on different occasions," Tsuchiya answered. "It's something he worries about too. How can he keep you safe if you're always shielding him instead?" he added, probably quoting Atsushi.

"That man…" Issay sighed as he grasped at his hair.

"And you and I both know that he'd be safer if both of you cut your ties with each other," Tsuchiya said.

Issay did know that. But would Atsushi accept that? He probably would not. Issay didn't want this either. "There has to be a better way…" Issay muttered to himself. They were working on it, weren't they?

"Anyway," Tsuchiya exhaled as he shifted in his chair, "I'm merely offering you an option. Ultimately, I can't force you to say yes to this."

"I need to this about this," Issay mumbled.

"You know it would be different if Atsushi was in a different position. If he wasn't involved in the work that he is," Tsuchiya added, sounding resigned. Was there perhaps a little hint of regret that Issay heard there too? Maybe he was mistaken.

"All the if’s in the world don’t change a thing,” Issay remarked wearily.

“Speaking as a friend,” Tsuchiya noted as he sat up and leaned forward, “all I can say is, I’m sorry that this is the best I can offer you.”

Chapter Text

Atsushi’s mind wandered as he waved the hairdryer by his head. He could not stop thinking about the way Issay has been since he returned from his talk with Tsuchiya. He had a strange look on his face when he came back out; happy, probably to see Atsushi, yet strained for some reason. Issay also refused to say what happened, which simply added to Atsushi’s worry.

Atsushi did wonder if he was simply overthinking it, but the fact that Issay didn’t place any clothes in the bathroom for him by the time Atsushi was done with his shower confirmed for him that Issay was indeed troubled by whatever went on in that building. It wasn’t just his imagination that Issay had been acting distant since he came back out.

Wrapping the bath towel around his waist, Atsushi ruffled his hair as he walked out of the bathroom and into the living room. The telltale smell of cigarettes was in the air when Atsushi entered. Issay was there, seated with his back to Atsushi on the sofa, shirtless. He seemed to be lost in thought, barely reacting when Atsushi passed to go straight to his bedroom.

Atsushi cast a backward glance at Issay, taking in the glass of whiskey on the coffee table, Momo and Nyan curled up next to him while Issay stroked Chibi, who sat in his lap, in a daze. Well, at least his cats are keeping Issay company. But it looks like it was up to Atsushi to dress himself tonight.

Closing the door behind him, Atsushi tugged his towel off and tossed it onto the bed. He opened his wardrobe and pulled out his yukata; crimson adorned with white flowers. He laid it out on the bed and then opened the lowermost drawer. Staring at the mess of black leather belts in it, Atsushi paused and wrinkled his nose in disdain. He really needed to set aside some time to straighten out this drawer.

It took a bit of work to take out what he wanted from the entanglement but he finally did. Atsushi had no idea how the different pieces always ended up entwined together like that all the time. He suspected it was likely the work of his cats but he hasn't gotten any evidence of that yet. Maybe he should find a way to lock his wardrobe.

Putting the belts next to his yukata, Atsushi then moved on to retrieve a jockstrap from his lingerie drawer. He put his feet through, pulled up and stood in front of the full-length mirror by his wardrobe, turning left and right as he adjusted the fabric and elastic bands to make sure they accentuated, instead of obstructed, the curve of his rear.

Once satisfied, Atsushi began putting on the harness, first fastening the collar around his neck which was attached to the bulldog harness by a metal ring at the notch of his collarbone. With his arms through the loops and the strap across his chest tightened, Atsushi continued, following a middle strap down his torso to fasten the belt around his hips and then the two around each thigh.

Atsushi straightened up and looked into the mirror again. He adjusted his hair, brushing his fringe as it curled just right to frame his eyes and cheekbones while tucking his longer, shoulder-length locks behind an ear before scanning himself up and down. Atsushi stared at his chosen outfit and wondered if Issay would like it. Asking him wouldn’t help. Issay would only ever say yes. But even if he wouldn’t say it, Atsushi knew that Issay had his preferences. Him becoming more spontaneous than usual was a telltale sign.

But what if Issay didn’t like it? What if Issay actually meant for Atsushi literally wear nothing? Would Issay get upset with him? Would he… punish Atsushi for disobeying? The mere thought of it made Atsushi's lower half ache with desire. He couldn’t stop his mind from wandering towards all the ways Issay could ‘discipline’ him.

Atsushi scrunched up his face and dropped himself onto the bed to bury his face in the sheets. This was embarrassing. What would Issay think of Atsushi getting all aroused over him when he’s just one door from him? Would Issay be disgusted by him? Or would he tease him? Or coddle him?

Whining to himself, Atsushi reached for his yukata and pulled it to him as he forced himself to sit up and put it on. In all honesty, he felt a little reluctant to go back out to Issay despite his excitement. Considering how Issay has been since they got home and Atsushi wasn't even sure if he could get Issay's attention when he was in such a state. It didn't help that he refused to talk about whatever it was he was so preoccupied with, but one thing was clear; something definitely happened in the police headquarters that got Issay like this.

Atsushi found a sour look on his face as he adjusted the collar of his yukata in the mirror. It was killing him that he didn't know what went on behind those doors. No one knew except for Issay and Tsuchiya. If Issay wouldn't tell him, Tsuchiya might. But should he ask Tsuchiya? The frown on Atsushi's brow deepened. It would mean that Atsushi had to go behind Issay's back to find out. He doubted Issay would like that very much. Perhaps there was a good reason why Issay didn't want Atsushi to know, but…

Atsushi sighed as he turned to leave the bedroom. He hoped Issay would tell him soon. Before he felt compelled to take things into his own hands.

Going into the living room, Atsushi found Issay in the same spot, now staring out the window with a fresh cigarette between his lips and his glass empty. Atsushi paused by a cabinet, retrieving a glass for himself before approaching Issay. Picking up the bottle of whiskey from the coffee table, Atsushi filled Issay's glass and then his own. When he put the bottle back down, Issay was looking at him.

"You're dressed," Issay mumbled.

Atsushi's insides clenched when he heard those oddly neutral-sounding words. He couldn't quite tell what Issay thought of it, but regardless, he responded with a quiet "yes" as he handed Issay his glass.

Issay accepted it without a word and stretched out his left arm, inviting Atsushi to join him. Instead of sitting, Atsushi pointedly glanced down at Nyan, curled up in the very spot Atsushi would've sat in. Issay mouthed an 'oh' before biting his cigarette between his teeth. He was about to try and move the cat when Atsushi stopped him. Sitting down on the floor, Atsushi leaned against Issay's legs and laid his head on Issay's lap, sharing him with Chibi.

Atsushi could feel Issay running his fingers through his hair as they drank in silence, neither moving or speaking except for the usual cigarette sharing. It baffled Atsushi that Issay appeared to have failed to notice the o-ring that he deliberately left uncovered at his collar. Issay barely even spared it a glance. It was troubling, yet so immensely disappointing.

Atsushi gulped down a mouthful of whiskey. He knew he was being ridiculous but he could not stop himself from drinking faster than usual while feeling utterly crushed as he sat by Issay’s feet.

Sitting up, Atsushi was pouring another glass for himself when Issay asked, "Aren't you going a little faster than usual?"

"No," Atsushi denied petulantly as he put the bottle down.

He heard Issay sit up. "Hey-"

Atsushi immediately downed his full glass and slammed the empty cup down on the table. Moving out of Issay's reach, he stood up, mumbling, "I'm going to bed."

"Acchan," Issay called.

"If you're not going to say anything then I don't see any point in my staying up," Atsushi snapped, refusing to look at Issay as he stormed back into the bedroom and shut the door behind him.

Almost immediately, Atsushi crumpled to the floor. What was he doing, shutting Issay off like that? Why was he making things difficult for Issay? He buried his face in his hands and lay on his side on the floor. His head hurt, his chest hurt, everything hurts but he didn't know why. He didn't know what happened between Issay and Tsuchiya. He didn't know why Issay wouldn't talk about it. He didn't know what was going on in Issay's mind. He didn't know why Issay hasn't come in after him. I n the span of a few hours, Atsushi went from knowing everything to suddenly not understanding anything about Issay at all. He hated it. He hated it so much it made him feel weak.

But it was starting to get uncomfortable here on the floor. Summoning his strength, Atsushi dragged himself towards the bed and slowly climbed on. He didn't bother to move once he got up. Lying at the edge of the bed, Atsushi reached up, grabbed a pillow, and hugged it tightly as he curled up again. Being on the bed meant that the hard parquet flooring no longer pressed against his bones nor made the belts dig into his skin, but that was all the improvement Atsushi got. He didn't feel any better. He was still miserable about being alone in the room.

Atsushi sighed, letting out a shuddering breath as he pressed his face into the pillow. He wanted to do something, but there wasn't much he could do except to wait until Issay became more willing to speak. The only problem was that there was no telling how long it could take. Issay might suddenly decide to talk in the next moment, or it might even take days or weeks… or perhaps even never. And Atsushi knew he couldn't live in the same space with someone who kept things from him. Atsushi knew because that had happened with Imai before.

A sudden, dull ache constricted Atsushi's chest when he thought about what his relationship with Issay would turn into in such a circumstance. Atsushi scrunched up his face and let out another shaky breath, wailing for Issay into the soft pillow as he wallowed in sorrow. He could feel the pillow turning damp as unwanted tears spilt from his eyes. It was frustrating that they came out. He felt stupid but his chest hurt so much that he couldn't stop the tears from flowing. Neither could stop breathing in heaving sobs that tired him out so.

All of this was stupid. What was a grown man like him crying so pathetically for? But maybe that was exactly what he needed; a good hard cry. When was the last time he did something like this? … Probably never, actually. But it seemed to do him good. The tension did feel as if it was letting up as it went on. Atsushi simply needed to make sure that Issay wouldn't find out-

"Acchan?"

Fuck. Atsushi felt another ball of emotion well up in his throat at the sound of Issay's voice. He won't be able to calm down soon at this rate.

"Acchan?" Issay's hurried footsteps approached and Atsushi clutched the pillow tighter. Could he have worse timing than this?

The moment Issay put a hand on his shoulder, Atsushi shrugged him off. He probably looked terrible right now and he didn't want Issay to see him like this. Issay tried to get Atsushi to turn around once more, but Atsushi curled up tighter, stubbornly refusing to yield.

"Love, please," Issay sighed, sounding both fatigued yet sad as he stroked Atsushi's hair.

Atsushi felt bad for rejecting Issay like this but just as he was about to release the pillow and exchange it for Issay, the sensation of his touch disappeared. Shortly after, Atsushi heard the door open and Issay's footsteps grow distant.

Face still covered by the pillow, Atsushi's eyes grew large in disbelief. Issay left? Issay really left? Atsushi squeezed the pillow even tighter than before and sobbed into it with renewed despair. He couldn’t believe that Issay had so easily given up on him. He had never done anything like that before. What changed? What made him-

Quick footsteps accompanied by Momo’s husky meow came into the room.

“I know you don’t really want to do this for me but do this for your dad, alright?” Issay’s hushed plea went past Atsushi as Momo let out an “eh”.

Atsushi felt movement on the mattress before hearing more fussing from the other side of the.

“C’mon, c’mon, please.”   “Mreh.” “Please. Do this for your dad.”   “Mmmm.”

A weird voice suddenly came from Issay. “Don’t cry-nya.”

Hearing it left Atsushi feeling so perplexed that he no longer knew how he should feel. Stiffly turning his head, Atsushi peeked out with an eye and saw Momo held in place with Issay’s hands under his front legs. He couldn’t see Issay though. He was being blocked by Momo.

“Are you angry-nya?” Issay asked in that same strangled voice as he made Momo’s paw flop.

Atsushi spaced out as he looked at Momo’s disgruntled face. Was he angry? He wasn’t sure. Or perhaps, just a little. But…

“Icchama is sorry-nya,” Issay said, bobbing Momo up and down this time.

As funny as Momo looked, hearing Issay say that he was sorry made Atsushi scrunch up his face again as another surge of emotion welled up.

Issay couldn't see him, but he probably heard the strain in Atsushi's throat as he tried to keep himself together. In response, Issay waved both of Momo’s arms around and repeated more frantically, “Don’t cry-nya!”

Atsushi sucked in a breath in an attempt to slow his breathing. It probably sounded like a sob though.

"Don't cry-nya… You're breaking Icchama's heart-nya," Issay added as he let Momo slump down. His normal voice almost came through.

That didn't help at all. A soft whine escaped Atsushi's throat as he wiped his eyes with the pillow cover.

"Do you hate Icchama-nya?" Issay asked, his voice dropping to a whisper. Atsushi could see his movements with Momo were losing their energy. "You can always kick Icchama out if you want-nya."

Atsushi shook his head violently. He didn't want Issay out . He wanted Issay with him.

"Icchama won't come in until you let him-nya," Issay muttered. He had completely given up on doing the voice.

Probably sensing an opportunity, Momo started twisting in Issay's hands and got out with ease. Issay looked surprised, letting out a soft "hey" as he reached and tried to catch Momo again. Momo was too quick though and he zipped away from Issay's reach to dart out of the room through the door left ajar.

With the two of them now alone, Issay looked distressed. He glanced at Atsushi but didn't seem to expect that Atsushi would still be looking at him with his one uncovered eye. Issay's eyes quickly darted away as he mumbled softly, "I'll… get someone else."

Issay started to leave but Atsushi reached out and caught his wrist. Issay stopped in his tracks. He wasn't pulling away, but he didn't say anything either. Hoping to get a response, Atsushi gave his arm a tug and waited. Issay turned his head slightly, looking down at Atsushi's hand on his wrist without much of an expression.

Atsushi turned into his pillow again, upset. Was Issay starting to ignore him again? He tugged Issay's arm again, harder this time as he whined brokenly, "Stay…"

Atsushi found himself letting out a gasp from the pain that came back to constrict his chest again as Issay wristed his wrist free in response. Before Atsushi could do anything, he felt the bed move. That was quickly followed by the sensation of Issay's arms around him, enveloping him and pulling Atsushi upright into his embrace.

Atsushi gladly relinquished his pillow, immediately trading it for Issay the moment he was within reach. He went from the damp darkness of the pillow to Issay's warm, alcohol and cigarette scented skin, holding on to Issay's slender frame as tears flowed from relief. Atsushi whined softly as Issay held Atsushi's head to his chest with a hand, stroking Atsushi's hair as he cooed soft words of comfort into his ear.

Issay held Atsushi in his arms and gently rocked him like one would a child. Atsushi clung to him, letting himself drown in Issay as he relished the caressing and whispering and the feeling of being with Issay again after that torturous bout.

It felt as if they spent a significant amount of time like this, with Issay giving Atsushi kisses on his head and showering affection on him while Atsushi stayed curled up in Issay's embrace, hiding his face in Issay's chest. Atsushi had no complaint about it. He was perfectly happy like this.

Eventually, Issay sensed that Atsushi had calmed down and he quietly asked, "Don't you hate me?"

Atsushi immediately shook his head. How could he?

"But I keep making you cry…," Issay muttered sadly, burying his face in Atsushi's hair as he hugged him tighter.

Atsushi shook his head again, taking the opportunity to nuzzle against Issay. It wasn't having Issay around that hurt him. It was the opposite.

"My love, my love, my love," Issay mumbled into Atsushi's hair. "Are you still my love?"

Atsushi let out an affirmative hum, which probably sounded more like a whine, as he unlatched his arms for a brief moment before squeezing Issay tight again. Forcing a voice out, he managed, “Always.”

Issay let out a short huff, possibly a chuckle as Atsushi felt another kiss on the side of his head. “Won’t my love grace me with the sight of his beautiful face?” he coaxed softly.

Atsushi shook his head. “I look hideous,” he mumbled. All that crying would not have contributed any good to his present state.

“Impossible,” Issay disagreed, nuzzling Atsushi again. “It is impossible for my love to be anything but beautiful.”

Shrugging his shoulders, Atsushi pressed closer to Issay as his face grew warm from his words. Issay’s praises never failed to have an effect on him.

“Let me look at you, love,” Issay coaxed again as he ran his fingers through Atsushi’s hair. “My love…”

Atsushi cautiously turned his head, shifting ever so slightly until he faced Issay as he asked. The moment Atsushi had half his face in the light though, Issay immediately bent over, coming in close to rain kisses on his face in a sudden shower of affection and expressions of “my love”. Issay’s lavishing was so overwhelming that Atsushi could barely resist the urge to smile as his spirits soared from the pampering.

When Atsushi eventually started giggling, Issay paused and gazed at Atsushi. Issay traced his fingers along Atsushi’s cheekbones and jaw, quietly looking into his eyes for a long moment. He then brushed his thumbs under Atsushi’s eyes, wiping away the traces of tears on Atsushi’s face as he breathed, “I’m sorry.”

Atsushi immediately took Issay’s hands into his own, holding them in a firm grip as he kissed Issay’s fingers and pressed them against his face, covering his eyes. “Just stay with me,” he pleaded weakly. The mere thought of being without Issay hurt so much that Atsushi was once again finding difficulty in holding himself together.

“That’s all I’ve ever wanted,” Issay said in response, gently easing his hands out of Atsushi’s grip. He then cupped Atsushi’s cheek and added, “That, and to see you happy.”

“It’s easy for me to be happy if you’re around,” Atsushi stressed.

“Isn’t that something you say to your cats?” Issay teased as a small, but tired smile finally appeared on his face. Well, that was better than no smile.

“It’s a different kind of happy,” Atsushi stressed. “They cannot appreciate it when I dress up for them,” he added pointedly.

“Of course not,” Issay beamed. “Don’t think I didn’t notice your choice of outfit for tonight,” he continued, sliding his left hand down Atsushi’s body as he deliberately focused on the silken fabric of the yukata. “And also,” Issay’s hand came back up, “this little ring over here,” he added, hooking two fingers in the o-ring at the base of Atsushi’s neck before giving it a light tug.

Atsushi unwittingly let out a noise when he jerked up from the tug. He sucked in a quick breath and eyes darted to meet Issay’s. "I thought you didn't care," Atsushi muttered, recalling the neglect he felt.

"I'm sorry I made you feel that way," Issay whispered as the look in his eyes softened.

Tugging on the ring again, he pulled Atsushi up, closer to him before letting go to hold Atsushi's chin in his hand and kiss him. Atsushi gladly received it, pressing his tongue against Issay's to taste the mix of smoky cigarettes and the sweet, lingering aftertaste of alcohol. He felt his body relax as their kiss went on, sinking slowly into Isaay's warm embrace as he nestled in his lap.

Warming up, Issay’s hand left Atsushi’s chin, sliding down his neck and slipping under his yukata to ease the fabric loose. Issay carelessly dragged his fingers along the leather across Atsushi’s chest as he pushed Atsushi’s clothes off his shoulder. Having accomplished that, Issay broke the kiss and let his eyes wander, probably to admire the contrast of the rich red and stark black against Atsushi’s pale skin.

“Where did this come from?” Issay asked as he held the leather straps in his fingers.

“Left-most cupboard, lowest drawer,” Atsushi answered breathlessly.

“I assume there’s more?” Issay asked, fingers creeping lower to tease Atsushi’s nipple right below the strap across his chest.

“Yes,” Atsushi gasped softly as he watched Issay smile. Whether it was because of his reaction or his answer, Atsushi did not know, but it was a good kind of smile that added to the tingling arousal that Issay raised with his teasing.

“I love how honest you are,” Issay cooed as he clasped his fingers together, pinching Atsushi and making him cry out from the pleasure.

Letting go, Issay switched back to gentle caresses, soothing away the pain that came after as he watched Atsushi with his tender gaze. His hand soon continued on its way, following the middle strap down Atsushi’s torso and towards the belt of the yukata, which Issay undid with ease.

The yukata fell away, exposing Atsushi as Issay caressed his sides and hummed, "At least you had the decency to put on some sort of underwear."

Atsushi made a noise as he turned in Issay's arms, burying his face in the crook of Issay's neck while lifting a leg in accordance with the soft prodding and nudging on his rear. Issay moved his palm in a circular motion on Atsushi's butt cheek, getting Atsushi excited every time his fingertips brushed by Atsushi's perineum and entrance.

Issay's hand circled, his fingers prodding and squeezing as he moved but after a while, Atsushi realised that's all he was doing. Just… groping. Finding it odd, Atsushi looked up at Issay, who looked as if he had been watching Atsushi patiently.

Atsushi was about to ask what was the matter when Issay skipped straight to the answer, saying, "There's no lube."

Groaning, Atsushi rolled to his side and out of Issay's warm embrace to scramble off to his dresser. The moment he reached it, Atsushi yanked the drawer open and grabbed the lube plus a handful of condoms before hurrying back into a laughing Issay's lap and depositing the items by his side. Atsushi put Issay’s arms back where they were; around him and on his ass before curling up against Issay again and waiting for him to continue.

Issay chuckled and looked down at Atsushi, now a little more dishevelled than before after his darting around. “I wonder, is it you who takes after your cats, or is it the other way around?” he remarked with obvious amusement, brushing Atsushi’s hair out of his expectant face.

“Does it matter?” Atsushi asked, handing the lube to Issay.

“Of course not,” Issay chuckled as he dispensed the gel onto his fingers. Bringing his hand down low, he pressed his cool fingers to Atsushi’s entrance and as he slowly pushed them in, he said huskily, “All that matters is your pleasure.”

Atsushi sighed, lifting his leg higher as he felt Issay’s fingers enter him and begin thrusting. Issay worked Atsushi into his high, moving with a steady rhythm as he curled them and thrust deeper and deeper until… “Ah!” Atsushi’s voice rang out the moment Issay’s fingers prodded his prostate. His breathing sped up and he felt Issay’s warm breath in his ear, chuckling as he moved his fingers again, making Atsushi moan long and loud.

As Issay continued stroking his prostate, Atsushi kept moaning and moved his hips, trying to get more out of it until Issay tutted at him. “Patience, love,” Issay said gently as he pressed a little harder and made Atsushi moan a little louder.

Atsushi felt as if he was melting as his strength slowly drained out of his body. In the haze that settled over his mind, Atsushi was losing the ability to think. All Atsushi could focus on was the waves of pleasure that kept coming as he clung to Issay, his anchor. He was vaguely aware of Issay pausing his infernal stroking, removing his fingers for a moment to move the jockstrap a little lower, letting Atsushi’s penis stand erect in all its glory.

Atsushi looked up at Issay, curious as Issay said one single word; “Watch.”

So Atsushi did, staring at his own erection in a daze as Issay’s fingers entered him again. But something felt different this time around. Maybe it was the extra finger. Maybe it was the harder thrusting. Maybe it was the curling of Issay’s fingers. Or maybe it was all of that coupled with the strange eroticism of staring at his own erection as cum started leaking from the stimulation.  Whatever it was, Atsushi felt as if he was floating away while melting into Issay’s protective embrace. It was a confusing combination that left his mind in a daze as he watched himself cumming onto his leather-bound self; the visual representation of his mind and body being overwhelmed and overflowing with pleasure.

Relaxing, a tension Atsushi failed to notice earlier began to leave his body as a strange calm came over his senses. He felt himself sink into Issay, quietly curling up against the older man as Issay removed his fingers and began cleaning up.

After a moment, Atsushi clasped his hand around Issay’s wrist, stopping him. As he slowly moved to get up, he mumbled, “Not yet… Your turn.”

Issay made Atsushi lie back down in his arms. “No,” he declined.

“But-”

“I’m not exactly… in the mood for it,” Issay muttered with a weak smile. “I’m sorry.” 

Atsushi looked down, dejected. He felt his chest start to ache again.

“It’s not that I don’t want you, love,” Issay said quickly as he hugged Atsushi tightly. “I just… can’t get myself into the right mind for it. It isn’t you-”

“Will you tell me why?” Atsushi asked quietly. 

“Uh?”

“Will you tell me why you don’t feel like it?” Atsushi asked, feeling the pain again now that his high had subsided. “Will you tell me why you’ve been so distant? Why you’re so reluctant to confide in me?” he asked, hanging his head as he felt tears welling up in his eyes again.

“I will,” Issay immediately promised as he rubbed Atsushi’s back. “Just… be patient with me. Please,” he pleaded softly. “Give me time to gather my thoughts. It’s all been… There’s too much to think about.”

Atsushi nodded slowly, leaning into Issay as he muttered, “As long as you promise to.”

“You have my word,” breathed Issay. He placed his hand on Atsushi’s cheek, persuading him to look up at him with gentle touches. When he eventually did, Issay held Atsushi’s face in his hands, looked into his eyes, and said, “Don’t ever doubt that I love you. Promise me that you’ll never forget that.”

Atsushi squinted his eyes as his cheeks tensed up from emotion. Swallowing it down, he nodded and whispered, “I promise.”

“I love you,” Issay repeated tenderly, pressing his head against Atsushi’s. “Always remember; I love you.”

Atsushi nodded again. “I love you too,” he sighed shakily, giving Issay a contented smile before closing his eyes and kissing him.

Chapter Text

"So, you finally decided to check in."

"I stopped getting missed calls and unread messages," Issay chuckled, stirring the coffee in his mug as he spoke on speaker. "I had to check in, y'know. In case everything's gone belly up and I don't have to worry anymore," he joked before sucking on his cigarette.

"You'd like that, wouldn't you?" Otsuka muttered, a smile in his voice. "So? What happened?" he asked.

"Nothing much," Issay intoned as if speaking to a lover. "I'm just calling to see if there are any updates with that lead and your digging."

"As if I'd buy that. You could drop a message for that. Must be something if you're calling."

"Give me the updates first," Issay said, cutting to the chase and taking another breath through the cigarette. He took the teaspoon out of his mug and put it down in the kitchen sink.

"Right. So, that man Sakurai met in the bar?"

"Uh… Manabe Ryo, was it?"

"Uh, I think… Yeah, that's him."

"Who's he?"

"A nobody."

"Hn?" Issay frowned and cocked his head. That answer gave him pause. "Why would a nobody know where I live?"

"Well, I meant 'a nobody', as in, he's got as good as no standing in the group," Otsuka clarified. "He's just some random small fry who has been to the main house a couple of times for the annual meets."

"And yet he's got something against me."

"Well, he basically thinks the group would do better under your brother-"

"Stepbrother ," Issay corrected. He didn't like being too closely related to that man.

"Yeah, yeah, stepbrother," Otsuka muttered.

"Wait, that Ryo kid actually told you that?"

"Nah, we found him drunk boasting that he sent an assailant your way and made you leave town because of that," Otsuka elaborated.

Issay barked a laugh and tapped his cigarette in the sink, dropping the ashes into the drainage hole with a sizzle. He took a sip of his coffee. "Well, it sure looks like that, doesn't it?"

"Yeah, not that you'd care," Otsuka huffed. 

"Did you get anything out of him?" Issay asked as he held the cigarette between his teeth and took out another mug from the overhead cabinet.

"Well, that Ryo doesn't really know much about whatever your brother- stepbrother  might be planning," Otsuka went on, correcting himself halfway. "But we did get the names of those who shared his sentiments and the people he reported to, so we'll be working our way up from there."

"Good. At least it sounds like you're getting somewhere," Issay commented, putting a tea bag into the new mug. "Did you take care of him?"

"Yeah. One full pinky," Otsuka replied.

"I would've taken his whole damn hand," Issay muttered, sucking on his cigarette as he poured out piping hot water.

"I figured it might be hard to make him work as our double agent if it was too obvious that he was disciplined for something this severe," Otsuka explained.

"Wouldn't the tip of his finger be more inconspicuous in that case?"

"That's a little too light, don't you think?"

Issay chuckled, "Whatever you say."

"What about your end? Any leads?" Otsuka asked.

“I’m still waiting for the results,” Issay said with a sigh, white smoke clouding his view. “It’d probably take a couple of days more before I hear from them, though they did call me up yesterday,” he added, bobbing the tea bag as he spoke.

“They called you? Whatever for?”

“They proposed a witness protection program.”

“… Are you considering it?”

“As a last resort,” Issay admitted quietly. He took the tea bag out and put it on a saucer. “You can’t expect any option that requires me to separate myself from Atsushi to be a first choice.”

“I mean, yeah, sure, but… If you take it, what’s going to happen to us? To me? Mizunaga? The rest of us-”

“If I do take it, I intend to target only his half of the operations.”

“It won’t be that clean a cut, Issay,” Otsuka warned. “There will be casualties from both sides whether or not you like it.”

“I know ,” Issay groaned. “But haven’t we been preparing to go legitimate? In case we ever find ourselves in a situation where the group is at stake of being wiped out?”

“Was this your plan all along?” Otsuka questioned. “To turn your back on us again and abandon us?”

“Do you really think I’d do that?” Issay asked back, offended. 

“It’s an easy way out, isn’t it?” Otsuka challenged. “You never wanted any part of this after all.”

“Didn’t I already say that it’s the last resort?” Issay reminded. “An absolute last to the point where I’d never take it except as a drastic measure?”

“You know, Issay. The fact that this is even being considered as an option to you doesn’t inspire much confidence in me. Much less anyone else,” Otsuka muttered grimly.

“You know me, Otsuka,” Issay stressed. “You know I’d take care of my people before anything else.”

“You’d take care of Sakurai before anything else,” Otsuka corrected. “And don’t you deny it. You know it’s true. You’d betray us all in a heartbeat if he asked you to.”

Issay fell silent. He couldn’t dispute that. Anyone who had ever seen them together would be able to see what Otsuka said. “He would never do that,” Issay muttered quietly, taking a long breath through the cigarette.

“I know that, you know that, Mizunaga knows that, but no one else does,” Otsuka said,  “That’s what worries the members; we’re not your biggest priority.”

“Are you telling me,” Issay sighed, “that everything I’ve done for the past few years was all for nought?”

“Well, you have prepared us for that last resort scenario,” Otsuka admitted reluctantly. “With a majority of your businesses legitimate, we’d more likely be able to tide through whatever comes than not…”

“I really don’t want things to come down to that either, Otsuka,” Issay reiterated, rubbing his eyes with a palm as he held his cigarette aside. “Picking that path means leaving… I can’t do that, Otsuka.”

“Does he know about this?”

“Yes, I told him.”

“And his reaction?”

“He… he said it’s a good offer,” Issay muttered forlornly, taking one last breath through his cigarette. He knew Atsushi was bound to say something like that, but nonetheless, it still hurt to hear it.

“Well, he’s got a little more logic in his head that you do,” Otsuka chuckled.

“Weren’t you the one who was just accusing me of abandoning you all?”

“I wanted to see how easily you were going to say yes to that.” Issay could practically see the smile in Otsuka’s voice. “I’m glad you didn’t.”

“Have a little more faith in your childhood friend, won’t you?” Issay huffed, stubbing the cigarette butt out in the ashtray nearby before taking another sip from his quickly cooling coffee.

“Anyway, how’s your arm?”

“A lot better now, thanks for asking,” Issay muttered, still feeling miffed about being tested like that. Opening the freezer, he scooped out a few cubes of ice and put them into the mug of tea.

"And Sakurai?" Otsuka asked. "He's with you, right?"

"Yeah, we're at home," Issay answered, picking up both mugs by their handles in one hand.

"I don't hear him though."

"I'm in the kitchen," Issay said. "Or rather, leaving the kitchen. He's… around," he added as he went around the living room while navigating the cats which kept butting into his legs. "Playing with his cats or something. You wanna speak to him?" Issay asked, carefully pushing the door to the bedroom open.

"Yeah, sure. Why not?"

"Right, give me a moment. I'll get him on," Issay muttered as he put the mugs down on the dresser.

Turning around, Issay saw Atsushi on the bed and smiled. Atsushi sat up straight on the bed, blindfolded with a ball gag in his mouth, and naked except for the red ropes that crisscrossed his torso and looped around his penis, fitted as a cock ring would. The ropes also restrained his arms together at his back while binding his calves to his thighs and keeping his legs folded, splayed to the side. Issay sighed. He simply had to admire his handiwork.

Going closer, Issay touched Atsushi on his shoulder, alerting him to his presence. Surprised, Atsushi sucked in a breath and turned his head sharply in Issay’s direction. Issay lifted one side of the thick band that covered Atsushi’s eyes and ears to remove an earplug.

“Otsuka’s on the phone. He wants to speak to you,” Issay whispered into Atsushi’s ear. “I’ll remove your gag.”

The tension left Atsushi’s shoulders and he nodded once.

Putting the phone down, Issay maintained contact with Atsushi, pressing against Atsushi from behind as he carefully unbuckled the gag. As the saliva-covered ball came off, Atsushi stretched his jaw, moving it around to work out the ache that settled in while he was wearing the gag.

Issay picked up the phone and asked, “Otsuka? Still there?”

“Yeah.”

“Acchan’s here,” Issay said, holding the phone by Atsushi’s ear for him.

“Hey, Sakurai. It’s been a while.”

“It’s only been a couple of days, Otsuka,” Atsushi chuckled, maintaining a sense of normalcy despite his present state.

“Yeah, but you know how it feels like forever when Issay doesn’t take calls or messages,” Otsuka huffed.

“Not sure I’ve ever experienced that,” Atsushi smiled.

“You lucky man,” Otsuka commented. “Is he treating you well?”

“Of course,” Atsushi replied, sounding surprised at his question.

“He hasn’t… you know… done anything untoward-”

“Oh! No,” Atsushi quickly answered as he shook his head. “No, no. He hasn’t since… then.”

“A hundred percent?”

“Definitely. He’s back to his usual self,” Atsushi affirmed. “I couldn’t ask for better. Besides, don’t you think Imai would’ve done something by now if Issay did?”

“That is true” Otsuka chuckled. “Good then. That’s all I wanted to know. I’ll let you go back to your cats.”

“I’ll hand you back to Issay then.”

“Yes, please. Thank you.”

“Bye.”

“Bye.”

Issay moved the phone away and put the earplug back into Atsushi’s ear before replacing his blindfold. Instead of putting the gag back on, he decided that it could wait. He put an arm around Atsushi’s waist, hugging him from behind as he continued his conversation with Otsuka.

“Satisfied that I’m not mistreating him?” Issay asked.

“I had to know that he’s fine,” Otsuka defended.

“Yeah, I get it,” Issay sighed heavily as he rested his chin on Atsushi’s shoulder. “If there’s nothing else, I’m putting down the phone.”

"Just one more thing… So, about that clause," Otsuka began.

Immediately, Issay's mood dropped. "What?" he asked curtly.

"You know that an artificial insemination is an option, right?”

“Why are you bringing that up?”

“We could always find a lady and try-"

"No."

"I mean, you don't even have to be involved. Since we've got your… stuff."

Issay frowned. “My what ?”

“Your, uh, sperm,” Otsuka muttered, as if embarrassed. “Uhm, Mizunaga picked up a used condom on the afternoon of the day you left."

"From where?" Issay asked, incredulous. He couldn't believe Mizunaga went as far as to do this.

"Your living room."

"The day I left? …" Issay pondered for a moment. Something didn't feel right. On that day… he wasn't the one who used… "Otsuka, please tell me you haven't tried that insemination thing without telling me."

"No, no. At least, I don't think Mizunaga's given them the go-ahead-"

"Otsuka, that's not mine."

"What's not yours?"

"The sperm. It's not mine. It’s Acchan’s."

"…… You're pulling a bluff, aren't you?"

"No, I'm not, Otsuka. You can do a DNA test and check," Issay insisted. The silence that he heard on the phone was worrying. "You went ahead, didn't you?" Issay muttered, his stomach sinking.

"Uhm… I'd better… check with Mizunaga," Otsuka mumbled. "But too early to say if anything will come out of it yet, so-"

"For fuck's sake, I can't believe you all," Issay seethed through gritted teeth. "How could you do this?"

"Insurance policy, not my idea," Otsuka muttered quickly, chastised. "It didn't feel right but…"

"Get. It. Fixed," Issay growled. "I don't want to hear that you've accidentally made a child for Acchan in the next few months."

"Yes. Yeah, definitely not."

"Any other surprises you have for me?"

"No."

"Good. Now fix it and show me proof that it's done," Issay ordered.

"Yes. We will," Otsuka promised. "And… I'm sorry."

Issay didn't expect to hear an apology from him. He didn't quite know how to react. "Just… don't do that," he mumbled, dropping the aggressive tone as he idly stroked Atsushi's stomach.

"Mm, yeah. Anyway, I'll update you," Otsuka muttered. "Bye."

"You'd better. Bye," Issay warned before putting down the phone.

Shutting it off and tossing it aside, Issay removed himself from Atsushi and got off the bed, going back to the mug of coffee and tea still on the dresser. He ran a hand through his hair and sighed heavily. To think that his own closest aides would do something like that behind his back. Now they’ve added something else for him to worry about in addition to everything else that has been going on.

By now the coffee was merely warm while the mug of tea had condensation all over its sides. Issay pressed his lips thin. He had intended for the temperature difference to be a little more drastic, but at this point, he couldn't be bothered with making a fresh cup of coffee again. And besides, he didn't really want to waste a good cuppa either.

Issay took a sip of coffee then picked up the cold mug of tea. Leaving the coffee on the dresser, he returned to Atsushi's side and stood in front of him. He paused and considered the ball gag. Should he put it back on?

He wiped the condensation off the mug then pressed it to Atsushi's neck. Unable to tell if it was hot or cold, Atsushi yelped and darted away. He wouldn't need the gag, Issay decided as he smiled. Hearing Atsushi's noises was more satisfying.

Issay put a hand on Atsushi's cheek and Atsushi’s first reaction was to dart away but upon realising that it was just Issay's hand, he stopped short and relaxed. Leaning closer, Atsushi nuzzled the hand as Issay slid his fingers under the blindfold band and removed the earplugs from both sides this time. Confused, Atsushi frowned and sat up straight again to wait for Issay to say something.

“Tell me, Atsushi,” Issay began. “Did that touch feel hot or cold?”

With parted lips, Atsushi seemed to take a moment before mumbling, “I don’t know.”

“Well, then let’s try that again, shall we?” Issay teased.

Instead of saying no, Atsushi’s body visibly tensed up in anticipation of whatever was about to happen. Issay stood in front of Atsushi, wiped the condensation off the mug again, and this time, pressed the cold surface to one of Atsushi’s nipples before removing it a mere moment later.

Atsushi let out a soft gasp and jerked back in response to the mug. That was enough. Issay didn’t want to leave it there too long. That would make it obvious that this was a cold touch.

“Hot, or cold?” Issay asked again.

Atsushi breathed in and answered, "Cold."

"Good," Issay nodded.

Walking to the dresser, Issay made it a point to be as noisy as possible when switching mugs; putting the tea down with a thump and scraping the coffee mug against the wooden top as he picked it up. He then approached Atsushi and held his chin in his hand. Tilting his head up as if Atsushi could look at him, Issay asked, "Now, what about this?"

Issay pressed the warm mug against Atsushi's cheek hard. Atsushi got startled and instinctively tried to pull away again. It barely took him a second to calm down and relax though. Issay supposed that this time, his surprise was from the slightly rougher handling rather than the temperature.

"It's… warm," Atsushi mumbled. Issay could tell that he wasn't expecting this from his tone.

"Mmhm," Issay hummed, removing the mug and sipping his coffee. "Which do you prefer?" he asked. "Coffee or tea?"

"No 'me'?" Atsushi asked and smiled a little wider.

"Cheeky, huh," Issay smiled and huffed as he patted Atsushi's cheek before turning to the dresser to put the mug down.

Hearing the distant noise, Atsushi asked, "Where are you going?"

"Don't you worry," Issay assured as he picked up the ball gag. He put a hand around Atsushi's jaw and Atsushi obediently opened his mouth, letting Issay put the gag back on for him. Securing it on, Issay then gave Atsushi a peck on his forehead and said, "Patience."

Atsushi fell silent and Issay left the room. Heading to the kitchen again, he took out yet another mug and filled it with ice. Just as he was about to leave, Issay paused and, on second thought, decided to bring a plastic straw back with him too. Atsushi might get thirsty.

Within moments, Issay was in the room again, holding an ice cube in his right hand as he approached Atsushi once more. Issay put his left hand on Atsushi’s shoulder once more, slowly dragging it across the red ropes and Atsushi’s skin until he reached the other shoulder. With his left arm now around Atsushi, Issay then pressed the ice cube to the nape of Atsushi’s neck.

Atsushi made a distressed whine and arched his back, attempting to get away from the sudden shock of cold. But with Issay holding him and the ropes restraining him, Atsushi was stuck with enduring the icy sensation that Issay slowly slid down to the middle of his back while letting water from the melting ice cube rolled all the way down.

“Atsushi…” Issay whispered beside the younger man’s ear as another whine sounded. He pressed his still-cold left hand onto Atsushi’s stomach and Atsushi gasped. Sliding his hand down Atsushi’s abdomen, Issay stopped just as his fingers barely touched Atsushi’s erection and asked, “Do you want more?”

Grunting his desire, Atsushi tried to push himself up onto his knees but the way Issay bound him made it impossible to do so. He whined as Issay’s fingers tickled the base of his cock, right above where the rope went around twice.

Smiling, Issay took out another ice cube from the mug which he put nearby. He held it in his left palm as he adjusted his position, shifting to position himself behind Atsushi before rubbing the ice cube on Atsushi’s nipples.

Atsushi gasped from the cold and, possibly sensing Issay behind him, leaned back into Issay. His erection twitched in Issay’s hand as Issay slowly slid up Atsushi’s length. The teasing and infuriatingly slow motion made Atsushi squirm as his whines pitched.

Issay chuckled, enjoying the frustration that Atsushi exhibited. Approaching the head of Atsushi’s penis, Issay pressed a fingertip into his frenulum. He rubbed and massaged it with that same, slow pace as Atsushi moaned and bucked in his arms. Only when the ice cube had melted to half its size did Issay switch to gently thumbing Atsushi’s tip.

The sheets under them were getting damp from the melted ice but that was the point; Issay wanted Atsushi to feel like he was wet from the teasing. Issay made a ring with his index finger and thumb. Curling his wrist he stroked Atsushi's length once, twice then reverted to teasing Atsushi's head with his fingers.

Atsushi moaned and then whined, keening for more as Issay smeared the last of this ice over Atsushi's firm quads. Just as Issay was about to take out another ice cube, the doorbell rang.

Both Atsushi and Issay froze. Who the hell was that?

The doorbell rang twice more, souring Issay's mood. Issay clicked his tongue, annoyed. Whoever was out there doesn't sound like they would leave if he chose to ignore them.

Removing his hand from Atsushi's cock, Issay patted Atsushi's thigh and said, "I'll go see who it is."

Atsushi immediately started shaking his head profusely and whimpered.

"It'll be fine. I'm not leaving the house," Issay assured despite his confusion over Atsushi's reaction. Wasn't he fine with it just a while ago?

When Issay separated himself from Atsushi, the younger man grew even more frantic, fighting against his gag for the first time ever. This had never happened before, not even in Atsushi's most distressed moments. This was something else. Issay quickly removed the gag, lest Atsushi hurt himself trying to fight his way out of it.

Once it was off, Atsushi pleaded, "Ignore it. Please!"

"Do you know who's at the door?" Issay asked, perplexed by the desperation in Atsushi's voice.

"No, but… I don't… I'm getting a bad feeling-"

Issay smothered the panicky Atsushi against his chest as he held him. Rubbing circles on Atsushi's back, Issay tried to ignore the ringing doorbell while calming his lover down.

When Atsushi's breathing had slowed enough, Issay said, "I'll just have a look at who's out there, alright?"

Atsushi began shaking his head again. “Don’t-”

“Will you feel better if I remove your blindfold and untie you?”

“Don’t open the door…” Atsushi mumbled, seemingly ignoring Issay’s offer. “Please…”

“I promise I won’t,” Issay assured. “I won’t unless it’s someone you know and trust.”

Atsushi went quiet and took a moment to consider Issay’s words before nodding once. Issay slowly let him go. With the doorbell still ringing in the background, Issay stared at Atsushi, worriedly listening to his forced deep breaths as he hunched over with his head hung low. Atsushi’s reaction seemed oddly disproportionate to the situation. There had to be a reason for it, but Issay supposed he could try and figure that out later; after that annoying doorbell was silenced.

Issay hugged Atsushi once more and gave him a light kiss on the lips. “Behave yourself until I come back, Atsushi,” he said firmly. Issay hoped that using that tone would give Atsushi more reason to stay calm while he answered the door.

Once he got a nod of affirmation from Atsushi, Issay turned and walked briskly out of the bedroom and to the main door. There, he looked through the peephole and found Imai Hisashi outside. Issay huffed and pressed his lips thin.

Issay unlocked the door and muttered, "You're really one with great timing, huh?"

"Well, you sure took your time," Hisashi retorted with his usual disgruntled scowl. "Am I interrupting something?" he asked, giving Issay's crotch a pointed glance.

"Yes," Issay answered flatly.

 "Where's Acchan?"

"Inside."

"I need to talk to him."

"Can't you call instead?"

"It's important."

"Acchan's tied up."

"With?"

"Rope."

That made Hisashi pause and blink. "Uh…" He looked down and scratched the back of his head. "This is kinda urgent though."

"You could-" The sound of something dropping onto the floor caught Issay by surprise. Alarmed, he turned his head sharply towards the source of the noise. He couldn't tell if he was imagining it, but it felt as if he heard Atsushi's voice. He had to go back.

"Wait in the living room. Lock the door behind you," Issay said to Hisashi quickly as he ran back into the house without sparing their uninvited visitor a backward glance.

Darting into the bedroom, Issay found Atsushi wide-eyed and staring in his direction, breathing shallow breaths with half his blindfold off. The mug which once held ice was on the floor, in a small puddle of water and ice, and thankfully in one piece. Atsushi's mouth was agape as if trying to say something but before he could, Issay rushed over to his side, pressing Atsushi's face into his shirt as he hugged him.

"It's alright," Issay reassured Atsushi softly as he took off the blindfold. "It's only Hisashi."

"I'm sorry," Atsushi breathed shakily. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to make a mess-"

"It's okay. It's okay, love," Issay whispered, stroking Atsushi's hair as he rubbed his back. "Nothing bad's going to happen."

Atsushi emitted a soft whine as he pressed closer. As bothered as Issay was by Atsushi's continued distress, there wasn't much he could do aside from holding Atsushi and trying to soothe him with quiet words until Atsushi calmed down again. And even then, it still didn't feel like a good time to address it with Hisashi outside claiming urgent business.

Considering the circumstances, Issay said, "Hisashi's waiting to speak with you, so we're going to have to wrap this up."

As expected, Atsushi let out a protesting noise.

"We can always continue later," Issay said, nuzzling Atsushi's hair. "After Hisashi's gone."

"But I'm hard now," Atsushi whined.

"I can solve that for you," Issay chuckled, pulling Atsushi closer to the edge of the bed as he knelt down.

Atsushi squinted, eyes adjusting to the brightness as he watched Issay sink to his knees. Slender fingers tucked stray locks of hair behind an ear before curling around Atsushi's erection. With a few deft tugs, the rope around his penis came loose, falling away as Issay held it in his hands and dipped his head forward, taking Atsushi into his mouth.

Issay cast his eyes up at Atsushi to look at his expression, torn between chagrin and pleasure as he bobbed his head. Licking and sucking, Issay smiled as Atsushi let out a soft murmur of his name. Atsushi was probably conscious of Hisashi's presence in the house as he kept his voice low, holding his voice back even as Issay sucked harder and made him cum.

Atsushi whimpered as Issay drew away. Opening his mouth, Issay made it a point to show Atsushi his cum in his mouth and give him a wink before closing his mouth and swallowing.

"Issay…" Atsushi mumbled as Issay stood up and turned to the dresser.

"Hm?" Issay picked up his mug of coffee and drank deeply. This would have to do for now.

"Hold me?"

"That I will, my love," Issay smiled as he dropped the straw into the tea. He took out a tub of shea butter cream and brought it and the tea to Atsushi. Offering the beverage to him, Issay said, "Drink first."

With the straw between his lips, Atsushi took several loud gulps, drinking until only a third of the tea was left.

"Thirsty, aren't you?" Issay remarked, ruffling Atsushi's hair with one hand while putting the mug aside on the bed's side table.

Atsushi merely hummed, leaning forward to plant his face in Issay's abdomen again as Issay kept to his word and held him. Issay was not idling though. With Atsushi in his arms, Issay's fingers worked to loosen the knots that he had made.

The ropes fell away and Atsushi started trying to move, sighing and grunting from what was likely the ache in his stiff joints. Now that Atsushi’s arms were free, Issay opened the tub of cream and smeared some on Atsushi’s back. Firmly but gently, Issay massaged the cream into Atsushi’s skin, working on his back muscles first before moving to his shoulders. Atsushi groaned softly as Issay worked, eventually feeling good enough to sit up properly and let Issay massage the cream into his forearms where the ropes were gathered previously.

Once he was done with Atsushi’s arms, Issay continued to apply more cream over Atsushi’s torso, careful with the areas where the ropes left their mark while doing so. Atsushi simply watched quietly, holding the tub of cream as he let Issay take care of him. When Issay was done, he took Atsushi’s red yukata off the hangar and put it around Atsushi, giving him something to wear while he continued with Atsushi’s legs.

The ties here were a bit more complicated, requiring Issay to take a bit more time to get them off. It was making him reconsider the use of this series of knots the next time around. Eventually, the ropes came off and Issay made Atsushi lie down. Considering the awkward position, Issay suspected that Atsushi’s joints were bound to be a lot stiffer in his hips and knees. It would be easier to help him stretch out with him on his back.

His suspicion was proven true the moment Issay held Atsushi’s right leg in his hands and carefully pulled it straight. Atsushi winced and gasped from the movement. There wasn’t much Issay could do to alleviate the pain though. Holding Atsushi’s calf in one hand, Issay gently rolled his ankle with the other, helping Atsushi move as much as possible. He helped Atsushi bend his knee and straighten it a couple of times before propping his knee up and massaging it with the cream.

Issay continued like this, working out the kinks for Atsushi until he stopped wincing and showing visible signs of pain. Closing the tub of cream, Issay helped Atsushi sit up and offered him the tea again which was gratefully accepted and drunk.

As Issay fastened Atsushi’s yukata close, he asked, “How’re you feeling?”

“Better,” came the quiet reply.

“Good,” Issay smiled up at Atsushi. Standing up, he extended a hand to the younger man and asked, “Can you stand?”

“I’m not sure,” Atsushi grimaced even as he took Issay’s hand.

“Come, I’ll hold you.”

Feet touching the floor, Atsushi slowly got up, grunting softly as he put his weight on his sore joints for the first time. He looked down and then back up at Issay. He seemed worried. Issay nodded at him and put Atsushi’s arm around his shoulders while he put his own around Atsushi’s waist. Atsushi seemed a bit more confident now.

Issay carefully navigated them around the fallen mug and the puddle of water, moving slowly until Atsushi’s body warmed up to walking. Or so he intended until Atsushi stopped when they were barely halfway to the door.

Sinking down, Atsushi whined, "I don't want to go out." 

Issay grunted as he tightened his hold and tried to soften Atsushi's drop to the floor. Once Atsushi was settled, Issay joined him on the ground. Putting his arms around him, Issay folded his legs around Atsushi too, enclosing Atsushi with himself as he reminded softly, "Hisashi's out there waiting for you."

"But I don't want…"

Issay disguised his sigh as a hum as he hugged Atsushi tighter and held him close. Caressing the younger man in his arms, he said, "Take your time. Take your time and I'll bring you out when you're sure you're ready."

This was going to take longer than expected.

Chapter Text

Atsushi sat curled up in a corner of the couch, hugging Issay's jacket and smoking his cigarettes as he waited for Imai to speak. He could feel Imai staring at his tired eyes, the marks left behind by the ropes on his forearms and shins. It shouldn't be new to Imai, but nonetheless, he stared.

"Been playing too hard, huh," Imai remarked flatly.

"Shut up," Atsushi retorted, exhaling a breath of white smoke as he shifted uncomfortably. "Wouldn't be like this if you didn't insist on interrupting."

Imai scoffed and crossed his legs. Leaning forward, he took a sip of coffee from the mug that Issay offered to him. Atsushi frowned at it. Was that the one Issay drank out of earlier?

Atsushi sat up and glanced around, looking for Issay. Where was he? He disappeared right after carrying Atsushi out of the room and putting him here with his jacket and cigarettes.

The bedroom door opened and Issay walked out, arms full with the supposedly damp bedsheets. As if feeling Atsushi's gaze, Issay looked over in his direction and met his eyes. He jerked his head in inquiry. What's the matter?

Atsushi gave him a small smile in return and shook his head. Nothing .

Issay glared at the back of Imai's head. Lifting a leg, he kicked the side of the sofa where Imai sat and warned, "Don't be mean to him."

"I didn't do anything!" Imai protested, sitting up and shooting Issay a look which Issay matched with an intense, unblinking ferocity.

"I'm not joking," Issay growled. "Choose your words wisely."

Imai clicked his tongue and turned around, yielding. "I know, I know."

“Good.”

Issay’s eyes met Atsushi’s again and he beamed at Issay. That seemed to lighten Issay up a bit and he gave Atsushi a quick wink before continuing on his way.

“Christ, was that really necessary?” Imai muttered to himself.

“Of course it’s necessary. You spoiled our fun,” Atsushi huffed before sucking on his cigarette.

“Not as if you don’t have your ‘fun’ on other occasions,” Imai retorted, sipping his coffee.

“Why’d you come here anyway?” Atsushi asked. “You could’ve simply called or asked to meet later.”

“This one’s a bit urgent,” Imai answered, grimacing slightly as he put the mug down. “And I figured it’s better if we spoke about it in person.”

“So? What is it?” Atsushi pushed.

“You remember that crazy Chinese guy from about a decade back?” Imai asked.

“What? The one who hates baseball?” Issay suddenly piped up as he came out of the kitchen.

“He hates baseball?” Imai asked with an incredulous eyebrow raised.

“I was trying to talk to him about the Hanshin Tigers when he lost his temper,” Issay shrugged, passing the couch and going back into the room with a towel in his hand.

“Huh, don’t let Yuta hear that,” Atsushi said with a dry laugh. “He’d probably lose his shit.”

“It might be a good idea to let him,” Imai muttered ominously. “He called us, or rather, one of our old phones.”

“What?” Atsushi frowned, confused.

“Do you remember calling him?” Imai reminded. “Using one of our throwaways?”

“Yes, but… didn't we dispose of a bunch of those some years back?”

“Apparently this wasn't one of them,” Imai sighed. “Anii’s using it now.”

"So, that guy called Anii?"

"Yeah. And Anii thought it was a nuisance call," Imai said, chuckling slightly as he scratched his nose. "He was going to toss the phone overboard and into the sea when his wife finally took it from him and asked who it was."

Based on how Imai put it, the call undoubtedly put Toll in a bad mood. He put the phone on speaker and growled, "Some nerve you have calling this number."

"How nice of you to remember me," Kissaki's honeyed voice said through the phone. "I thought you would've forgotten about me by now-"

"Would you like to give me your location? I'll show you how we remember you," Toll threatened.

"It's so nostalgic, speaking to you on this number again," Kissaki went on, disregarding Toll's words. "And you've gone and gotten yourself a lady in the time I've been gone? How-"

"Cut to the chase before I lose my patience and toss this phone into the water," Toll hissed.

Immediately dropping all pretences, Kissaki said, "I have information that your Tiger and his little boyfriend want."

"Then spit it."

"Oh, surely you don't think that I'd give it to you just like that, do you?" Kissaki chuckled mockingly.

"I already said. Get. To. The. Point."

"If he wants this information, agree to meet me. Alone."

Without a moment's hesitation, Toll said, "No. I'm not letting you anywhere near him."

"Ah, but that's not for you to decide, is it?" Kissaki pointed out silkily. "Even if you decide to keep this offer from him, don't you think it's only a matter of time before I contact him directly? After all, I did find your number, didn't I?"

"So, that was this morning," Imai recounted before he drank his coffee and pursed his lips. “And now, the question is-”

“I’m going,” Atsushi cut in, stubbing the smoking cigarette butt in the ashtray.

“No, you’re not,” Imai shot back. “None of us knows what he’s up to.”

“But he has information,” Atsushi argued.

“We don’t even know whether it’s worth the risk,” Imai countered.

“The only way to find out is to meet him, isn’t it?”

“No. Nothing is worth that risk, Acchan,” Imai insisted. “You can keep dreaming if you think anyone is going to let you go through with this. None of us has forgotten what happened the last time.”

“So, what did that guy want?” Issay asked, stepping out of the bedroom with a wet towel and the empty mugs in his hands.

Before Atsushi could get a word out, Imai answered, “He wants to meet Acchan alone.”

“Forget it,” Issay immediately dismissed. “Out of the question.”

Atsushi’s face fell. “But-”

“No ‘but’s, Acchan. No,” Issay said sternly.

“Glad you agree,” Imai muttered.

“Issay…” Atsushi whined, eyes following his lover as he watched him go into the kitchen.

“Don’t whine at him,” Imai grumbled. “Even if he agreed to it, no one else will let you go.”

“I must have lost my mind if I ever said yes!” Issay yelled from the kitchen. Atsushi could hear the sound of water hitting the sink. “And I don’t believe he’s got anything to offer that we can’t get ourselves!”

“But…” Atsushi mumbled to himself, “it must be quite something if he had to mind to call us…”

“Why wouldn’t he settle for talking to any other one of us then? Why specifically you?” Imai questioned. “Don’t you think he’s weirdly obsessed with you?”

“He’s right,” Issay agreed, his voice coming closer as he came up behind Atsushi. “Given the way it is, all the more you shouldn’t go,” he said, softening his tone and putting his damp hands around Atsushi’s jaw to tilt his head up. Looking into Atsushi’s eyes, Issay whispered, “I cannot risk losing you again.”

“None of us can,” Imai interrupted, snapping Atsushi out of the spell that was Issay’s tender gaze.

“If you’re not here to ask me what I’m going to do,” Atsushi felt Issay’s hands slip away, “then why did you come?”

“First thing is to tell you about it in person,” Imai began. “If we told this to you over the phone, you’d likely cut the call and rush headfirst into the lion’s den without a second thought.”

“You know a tiger’s more powerful than a lion,” Atsushi smirked.

“But a lion is never alone. It goes into battle with a pride that will be poised for ambush ,” Imai stressed. “No matter how strong a tiger is, there is no way it can win a concerted group attack on its own.”

Scowling, Atsushi buried his mouth and nose in Issay’s jacket and dropped back against the sofa with a huff. “Fine,’ he sulked.

“The next thing is to tell you what we’re going to do,” Imai continued.

“Which is?”

“To try and find out what Kissaki’s up to this time,” Imai answered. “And at the same time see if we can get what information he’s dangling at you without you having to meet him.”

“I assume you’ve all decided to exclude me from this,” Atsushi surmised.

“Of course,” Imai responded with a matter-of-fact tone.

“Good,” Issay interjected, sitting himself down by Atsushi’s side.

"You've got men who can go snooping around, anyway," Imai added with a wave of his hand as Atsushi clambered into Issay's lap. "You don't need to do any actual legwork."

"Where's Anii now?" Atsushi asked, resting his head on Issay's shoulder.

"On his way back. I assume he'd arrive tomorrow," Imai replied as he stood up. "We'll meet again then."

"Including or excluding me?" Atsushi asked.

"Including," Imai clarified. "And… Issay too," he said with a vague gesture in Issay's direction. "Not that it's essential for him to be around but it's probably a good idea to make sure neither of you is ever alone."

"True," Issay muttered. "After all, I did get snatched mere moments after I left the bar alone back then."

"And here I thought things were already bad," Imai sighed as he trudged away. "Troublesome…"

"Where are you going?" Atsushi called after him.

"I'm gonna meet Honma and get started on things," Imai answered, walking in the direction of the main door.

"C'mon, let me up," Issay said, tapping the side of Atsushi's thigh.

"Hm?" Atsushi cocked his head to one side, confused.

"I need to lock the door after him, don't I?" Issay asked.

"But he's got the keys," Atsushi said.

Issay blinked. "Then… why did he have to press the doorbell?"

"Because I didn't want to walk into something I don't want to see!" Imai replied as his shoes scuffed against the floor.

Issay's eyes grew wide with realisation. "You already knew you were interrupting-"

"No, I thought I might ," Imai corrected. "And I was right!"

"You knew!" Issay insisted.

"Fine! But it doesn't mean that I want to see it!" Imai retorted, unlocking the door. "I'll see myself out," he informed. "You two can continue with whatever shenanigans you were up to."

"Damn right we will!" Issay responded with indignation.

"See you tomorrow!" Imai called.

"What time?" Atsushi asked.

"I'll tell you again," Imai replied. "At the old apartment!" he added, his voice growing softer. Just before the door clicked shut, he yelled once more, "Bye!"

"Bye!"   "See you!"

As Imai locked the door, Issay let out a sigh and closed his eyes, dropping his head back against the sofa. With an arm around Issay's neck, Atsushi ran his fingers through Issay's hair, combing it back as he watched him in silence. Issay seemed to enjoy it, a soft smile gracing his lips as it went on.

Eventually, Issay opened his eyes again and looked at Atsushi. His hand slid up Atsushi's back to stroke the nape of his neck. Atsushi smiled and leaned closer. Touching noses with Issay, Atsushi closed his eyes, nuzzling Issay until he initiated a slow kiss with him.

The moment Atsushi tasted Issay, he began smiling uncontrollably. As they parted in pause, he whispered, "You brushed your teeth."

"Any reason not to?" Issay chuckled, cupping Atsushi's cheek as his fingers tickled Atsushi's ear.

"You could've tasted me all day ," Atsushi teased before bursting out laughing when Issay playfully nipped his nose.

"You'd like that, wouldn't you?" Issay remarked, nuzzling Atsushi in his neck. Breathing in deeply, he held let out a contented hum as he held Atsushi against him and enjoyed his presence. It was a quiet moment, relishing the privacy that had been returned to them, but it was one that felt too short when Issay eventually asked, "So… Can you tell me why that doorbell scared you so badly?"

Furrowing his brow, Atsushi recalled his earlier loss of composure. He shifted uncomfortably, turning away from Issay as he muttered, "I guess you could say that I finally understand what you have against dreams."

Atsushi felt Issay's hand rubbing slow circles on his back as he planted a kiss on Atsushi's cheek. "I know it's not nice," Issay said softly.

"I keep… seeing, no, hearing the same things," Atsushi went on. "I can't move, I can't see anything. All I hear is you, talking to me. And then suddenly, you disappear."

"You should've told me about this," Issay lamented with a sigh, kissing Atsushi's cheek again. "I wouldn't have tied you up and blindfolded you then."

"But I… liked… that……" Atsushi mumbled, somewhat embarrassed at having to say it.

"Well, that's a bit of a predicament, isn't it?" Issay chuckled, stroking Atsushi's hair as he gazed at him. "But even so, I don't want to subject you to such stress."

"You can't say that it's normal for the doorbell to ring while we're right in the middle of it," Atsushi pointed out.

"And unfortunately, we can't seem to predict anything these days," Issay reminded.

Atsushi sighed and bent lower to rest his forehead against Issay's. "It'd be nice if we could be left alone."

"Ever thought of going away? Disappearing for a period of time?" Issay asked.

"Like what you did?" Atsushi teased.

"Good lord, no," Issay laughed. "Don't you think that five years is a little too long of a time for that?"

"It was," Atsushi smiled sadly.

Issay gave him a light peck on the lips, making him smile again before saying, "No, I was thinking of something along the lines of a vacation."

“Do people like us get vacations?”

“Toll’s been away, hasn’t he?” Issay mentioned.

“Ah, that’s like… an extended honeymoon for him and his wife.”

“We could call it that.”

Atsushi froze. “A… honeymoon?”

“If you want,” Issay beamed.

Atsushi felt as though his mind was blank. He didn’t know how to respond.

“You don’t like that?” Issay asked, his smile fading with Atsushi’s prolonged silence.

“No! I mean, I like it but… I didn’t expect you to- Is this a proposal?” Atsushi asked as realisation suddenly struck him.

“Well, I don’t have a ring yet, my love,” Issay shrugged.

“So, I guess we won’t be ‘disappearing’ any time soon then,” Atsushi surmised.

“Not until all our current predicaments are solved, unfortunately,” Issay sighed. “I don’t want us to get ambushed while we’re relaxing like we did back at my place.”

Atsushi let out a sad hum in agreement. Leaning to his side, he lay against Issay and asked, “You do have somewhere in mind though, don't you?”

"I've been thinking about the beach lately," Issay mused. "It's been a while since I've been to one."

"The beach?" Atsushi laughed.

"It's nice in the water though, isn't it?" Issay smiled. "At least, that's how I remember it."

"And the warm sand," Atsushi added.

"And getting to see you frolic around in tiny swimming trunks."

"You already see me in all manners of underwear, Issay."

"In public, though. Legally."

"Ooh, huh. So you like that."

"Did I say that?" Issay asked, feigning innocence.

"Don't you like to make me do stuff like that?"

"Do I?" Issay chuckled. "I like you ."

Atsushi clicked his tongue and rolled his eyes in mock annoyance.

"Don't you want to play around in the water with me though?" Issay asked, tracing lines on Atsushi's back.

"We can do that in the bath."

"In public ," Issay emphasised.

"You definitely have a thing for it."

"All I want is to enjoy a beach resort with you," Issay sighed wistfully. "Is that too much to ask for?"

"I wish it wasn't," Atsushi smiled back.

Holding Issay's face in his hands, Atsushi gazed at him with the same unspoken melancholy that Issay expressed. Atsushi found himself drawn to Issay as a familiar magnetism pulled them closer together and into an even deeper kiss. Taking his time, Atsushi sucked on Issay's lips, tasting his lover more as he rose up onto his knees.

Parting, Atsushi whispered, "I want you."

"I already am yours, love," Issay said as his eyes squinted with affection. "Have always been and will always be."

"I want to be inside you."

"I'd like that too," Issay chuckled.

Hearing that made Atsushi grow hard and he started pushing Issay's little boxer shorts down. Issay seemed to smile wider, holding Atsushi a little tighter as he let Atsushi strip him and pull his white tee off once his underwear was gone.

"I suppose you have a thing for coming onto me on couches," Issay teased, nibbling the top of Atsushi's ear while Atsushi kissed his neck.

"Anywhere you'd rather be?" Atsushi asked softly.

"Nowhere in particular," Issay hummed. "Maybe except for a beach resort."

"The ultimate dream, hm?" Atsushi chuckled, leaning to the side as he lay Issay down on the couch.

"One that won't count unless you're with me," Issay added, his slender fingers tucking Atsushi's hair behind his ear.

"But I'll get tanned," Atsushi whined.

"Then we'll be tanned together," Issay said, sighing as Atsushi kissed his chest. "We'll do everything together… As long as we're together…"

"Together," Atsushi whispered against Issay's skin. He caressed Issay's thigh, lifting and trailing kisses on it as he added, "Together we'll conquer the world."

His statement had Issay bursting out in laughter. “My, my,” Issay remarked. “Someone’s feeling ambitious today.”

Holding up the index and middle fingers on one hand, Atsushi made a show of sucking and licking them, coating them in his saliva. “Well,” he began, rubbing his fingertips around Issay’s entrance. “Haven’t I conquered yours?” Atsushi asked, smiling as he slid his fingers in.

Issay chuckled and sighed, his brow furrowing as his eyes squeezed shut. “Oh… yes, my love…” he breathed, his expression relaxing with Atsushi’s measured movements.

Enjoying Issay’s reply and his reaction to his advances, Atsushi hummed with satisfaction as he took his time to loosen Issay up. He leaned forward and nuzzled Issay, breathing in his scent and enjoying his warmth. He could feel Issay tilt his head towards his direction to bury his face in his hair and murmur sweet nothings to Atsushi.

Getting to hear the effect that he had on Issay only made Atsushi harder and more eager for him. But he needed patience. Patience would make things all the more rewarding for the both of them. Or so he thought.

“Acchan,” Issay muttered. “What are you waiting for?”

Atsushi playfully nipped at the crook of Issay’s shoulder as he drew his fingers out. Issay yelped before more lighthearted chucking again while Atsushi shifted his yukata loose. Now that his clothes out of the way, Atsushi spat into his hand, letting himself drool all over while he stroked his own erection. Once ready, he gently eased into Issay as the older man arched his back and let out a soft moan.

With Issay’s arms around him, Atsushi began thrusting his hips while watching Issay’s expression slacken as he let himself go. Issay tensed his body and moaned a little louder each time Atsushi thrust in with a tad more force. Wanting to get more out of Issay, Atsushi pushed deeper. In response, Issay’s noises went up in pitch and his nails began digging into Atsushi’s back, all while clutching Atsushi tighter and pulling him closer.

Atsushi dropped himself lower, pressing his body against Issay’s as he continued moving his hips with a steady rhythm. Issay seemed to appreciate the proximity as he pressed his face into Atsushi’s hair again and purred all of his nicknames for Atsushi in an endless rambling stream of mutterings.

As much as he relished it, Atsushi wanted to look at Issay in the eye when they climaxed. Gently nudging his way free of Issay’s loving headlock, Atsushi rose up above Issay only to sink back down and stick their foreheads together.

As Atsushi gazed into Issay’s half-lidded eyes, he noticed that the look in them was softer than usual yet the yearning was more intense. All at once, Atsushi felt a surge of joy that he was likely the only person to have ever seen this look in Issay’s eyes. It was his and only his to take pleasure in. Just like their love-making.

Atsushi felt himself moving faster, movements instinctively growing more fervent as the thought of it all fueled his own desire. He felt Issay’s lips tremble against his own as he reacted to the increased intensity. Many a time, Issay squinted his eyes in response to the pleasure, but he never closed them entirely. Perhaps he wanted to see Atsushi just as badly as Atsushi wanted to see him.

Approaching his limit, Issay suddenly gasped out loud and let out a shaky moan as his arms clamped down on Atsushi again. Likewise, Atsushi felt his lower half tightening; he, too, was almost at his limit. Another cry from Issay tipped Atsushi over the edge as he crashed his lips into Issay’s, kissing him in a fever of lust as he came inside Issay.

Issay received him without resistance, moaning and kissing Atsushi back with equal desire until Atsushi calmed down and went back to merely gazing into his eyes. Panting, Issay gently brushed Atsushi’s aside, combing it with his fingers despite gravity working against him. It made Atsushi smile.

Upon seeing it, Issay smiled as well, his fingers ghosting over Atsushi’s slightly bruised lips as he caressed his face. Atsushi kissed his fingers and dropped to his side with a grunt. He lay by Issay, hugging him and quietly enjoying their closeness as he mumbled to himself, “Together.”

Chapter Text

"It's nice to see you in your three-piece suit again," Atsushi commented as Issay got dressed.

"It's only been a few days, love," Issay chuckled.

They went to the doctor's earlier today. What was left on his arm was now an ugly scab, but that's alright. As long as it was no longer an open wound, there would be close to no risk of complications.

It was a bit of a hassle to go to the hospital then come back before going out again, but Issay had enough of wearing tees and tank tops. Besides, they had time to kill between the appointment and the meeting, and that was after they had been out browsing for rings again.

They had even gone as far as to try rings for size but Atsushi didn't fancy any of them in the end. Perhaps a custom order was what they needed. Oh well, at least Issay managed to get his size. That was all he needed to make arrangements.

Issay noticed Atsushi watching him through the mirror, smiling to himself as he sat quietly on the bed. Fastening the buttons on his vest, Issay asked, "What are you thinking of?"

"It feels like… things are going back to normal soon," Atsushi replied.

"Soon, huh," Issay hummed. "Do you really want things back to that normal though?" he asked, turning around to face Atsushi. "Back to meeting every month or so, for a few days or so."

"Can't we do better than that?" Atsushi asked, putting his arms around Issay when he came close. "Can we stay like this? Without the constant threat of death, of course."

"I hope so," Issay said, tracing Atsushi's jaw and cheekbones with his fingers.

It would be nice to live together permanently. But the sentiments of his group… Well, come to think of it, his self-restraint with Atsushi throughout these past few years didn't seem to improve his position despite everything.

"You know what?” Issay said suddenly, coming to a decision.

“What?”

“I'll strongarm them into letting us be if they won’t," Issay declared.

“Oh?” Atsushi cocked his head to one side. He seemed intrigued by Issay’s resolve.

“I’ve been trying to be subtle all this time and this is the kind of situation we're in as a result of that,” Issay scoffed, thinking aloud.

The more he looked back on things, the more foolish he felt about how hard he tried to compromise for the group. It wasn’t Otsuka or Mizunaga’s fault, of course, but what’s the point if there was still a significant enough portion of the group who didn’t like having him in charge?

“Is that really a good idea, though?” Atsushi questioned, unsure. “Won’t that cause an even greater divide?”

“All the better to sieve out the loyal ones,” Issay said as his thumbs followed the curve of Atsushi’s cheeks. “Those who aren’t with me don’t deserve to stick around when I clean up the businesses.”

“It’ll be brutal,” Atsushi pointed out.

“That’s what they wanted from me,” Issay nodded, “so that’s exactly what they’ll get.”

There was a pensive expression on Atsushi’s face as he looked up at Issay in silence. “You’re a little different now,” he eventually remarked.

“Am I?” Issay frowned. “In a good or a bad way?”

“Hm… Good, I think,” Atsushi muttered, his eyes squinting slightly as he thought about it. “It’s not that you’ve changed but… you’ve made a decision,” he elaborated.

“I have,” Issay smiled. “I’ve decided to put you first.”

Atsushi beamed at him upon hearing it. “Are you saying that I wasn’t your priority?” he joked.

“You are,” Issay answered quickly. “You most definitely are, but I’ve been trying to juggle both you and the group, and given that it’s not working… I choose-”

“Meee,” Atsushi grinned, obviously ecstatic.

“Yes, you,” Issay concurred, dipping his head to give Atsushi a peck on the lips and nuzzle him. “Now, come,” he said, leading Atsushi by the hand. “We need to go to your meeting.”

"Yes, we do," Atsushi nodded as he followed Issay out of the room and eventually the house.

They took their time making their way down from the apartment to the lobby downstairs. Hisashi was already there with their driver for the day, waiting for them. Nodding to each other in greeting, barely a word was exchanged as everyone got into the car and set off towards their meeting place.

Casting a sideways glance at Atsushi, seated next to him in the back, Issay could only smile to himself as he thought about what Atsushi's reaction would be like when he gets the rings on hand. For someone who kept bringing up the notion of a proposal, Atsushi’s unexpected surprise at Issay’s mention of a honeymoon yesterday was adorable. Had he never thought of having one before?

"What are you smiling about?" Atsushi suddenly asked. It looks like Issay's supposed subtlety got noticed.

"You," Issay answered simply as he met Atsushi's eyes.

"Did I do something funny?" Atsushi asked, tilting to the side and dropping down over the seats to lean against Issay.

"Does it have to be something funny for me to smile?" Issay asked back as he put his arm around Atsushi.

"If not that, then what?" Atsushi queried, blinking his large eyes at Issay.

"You're enough to make me smile," Issay muttered as he pressed against the giggling Atsushi.

"Goddamnit, must you two be so mushy all the time?" Hisashi snapped from the passenger seat in front.

"Isn't this why we're in the back seat?" Issay snarked as he hugged Atsushi. "You should've expected it."

"You didn't have to come and fetch us anyway," Atsushi added.

Hisashi glared at them through the rearview mirror before heaving a heavy sigh, "I'm making Yuta do this next time."

"Bear with it a little, won't you?" Issay chuckled.

"It's not as if this was my idea to begin with," Hisashi muttered to himself. "I don't even want to be here," he complained. "I only came because Anii said to tag along."

"Now, now, Hisashi," Issay tutted. "Whining isn't going to get you anywhere, is it?"

"Whining gets him places though, doesn't it?" Hisashi gestured at Atsushi.

"I'm not sure you actually want to go to those places, Hisashi," Issay grinned as he watched Hisashi shake his head and shudder at the thought of it.

As the car rolled to a stop, Hisashi opened the door and stepped out while muttering, “I can’t stand the two of you.”

Before Issay could ask where he was going, Atsushi nudged him and sat up, saying, “C’mon, we’re here.”

Issay peered at the old, neglected apartment block outside the window. It looked oddly familiar. 

“If we’re not at one of Hide’s or Yuta’s establishments, this is where we normally meet,” Atsushi explained as he opened the car door. “We’d just pick a random unit to use.”

Issay frowned hard and then blinked. It finally struck him.

Noticing Issay’s reaction, Atsushi stopped mid-motion and asked, “What is it?”

“I know this place,” Issay mumbled.

“You do?” Atsushi asked, surprised. “You’ve been here?”

“I lived here,” Issay replied, stepping out of the car with his eyes still fixed on the dilapidated building. “For a couple of weeks. In one of the apartments on the fifth floor.”

“What?” Atsushi blurted incredulously as he stood next to Issay. “Why on earth would you live here ? It’s terrible.”

“It was cheap, and I was on the run,” Issay recalled as Atsushi snaked his arm around his waist, guiding him along after Imai. “I simply needed a place to hole up in until I lost my tail. But…”

“But?”

“But then I bumped into you in the washroom,” Issay muttered as the events replayed themselves in his head.

Atsushi seemed to freeze for a moment, eyes growing wide with realisation as he mumbled, "You were here all along."

"Anii tried to tell you but you refused to talk to anyone at the time," Hisashi reminded, holding the elevator door as they entered. "Threw bottles at us whenever we went to your place and all that."

"Did I?" Atsushi asked. He looked genuinely surprised.

"You can ask the others if you want," Hisashi said. He was about to pick the floor when he paused and asked, "Hey, where did Anii put his table?"

"Thirteen thirteen… I think," Atsushi replied.

"Sounds about right," Hisashi muttered, pressing the button for the thirteenth floor.

"But there wasn't any glass when you dropped me off at Acchan's apartment back then," Issay recalled.

"See?" Atsushi intoned. "It doesn't sound right that I would throw glass around like that with my cats around."

"You were very drunk, Acchan," Hisashi insisted.

Atsushi frowned and pouted at the same time in obvious disbelief as they exited the elevator. "I wouldn't do that," he insisted.

Just then, the doors of another elevator opened and Hidehiko stepped out. Looking at the three of them, he remarked without much emotion, "Oh, what a coincidence." 

"Hey, Hide," Hisashi addressed as they began making their way towards the apartment together. "You remember the time when Acchan was tossing bottles at us when we tried to visit him at his apartment?"

"Huh?" The look on Hidehiko's face clearly showed that he drew a blank. "When was that?"

"About a week before we handed Issay over."

Hidehiko frowned hard and stuck his lower lip out. "No…? I don't remember anything like that."

"What?" Hisashi huffed.

"I told you I wouldn't do something like that," Atsushi reiterated.

"But you did!" Hisashi exclaimed.

"What are you yelling about?" Yutaka asked, suddenly popping his head out from a door further down along the corridor.

Hisashi immediately asked, "Has Acchan ever thrown glass bottles at us in his home?"

"Uh…" Yutaka frowned and made a face. "If he did, I probably wasn't there," he answered, holding the door open for them to enter.

"I can't have been the only one who went over back then!" Hisashi huffed, exasperated.

"Went where?" Toll asked. He was inside the shabby apartment, seated at a poker table with a glass of clear liquor in his hand. The well-maintained condition of the table contrasted its surroundings so much that it looked completely out of place.

The moment he saw Issay, he stood up and came over, extending a hand which Issay took and shook with firmly. Clapping Issay on his shoulder, Toll said, "How've you been? Brings back memories being here, eh?"

"Terrible, thanks for asking," Issay answered as he gave Toll a stiff smile and a pointed look.

Continuing, Toll added, "You sure left that unit in quite a state-"

"I'm not too sure what you're talking about," Issay interrupted, widening his eyes with another pointed look. "Let's just put that behind us, shall we? After all, what's past is past," he subtly urged. He could feel Atsushi looking at them curiously.

"What's Anii talking about?" Atsushi asked softly.

"No, it's nothing," Issay deflected. "It's just that I used to be his tenant, so… you know," he shrugged.

Atsushi didn't seem convinced but Toll nodded and beamed at Issay, chuckling low with him before clapping his shoulder once more and then asking the others, "Went where, again?"

"Acchan's place," Hisashi answered. "Has Acchan ever thrown bottles at you when you visited?"

"Nope," Toll answered. He looked a hundred percent sure.

Hisashi frowned. "Not even when you were going to try and talk to him about Issay's whereabouts?" he asked.

"When was that?" Toll asked back, confusion evident on his face.

"About a decade back, after you made that deal with the Fujisaki side," Hisashi elaborated. Issay could see that he was getting frustrated.

"I don't really remember now…" Toll muttered, pushing his usual long hair back with a hand. "We made a lot of deals during that period of time, Imai."

"I can't seriously be the only one who had bottles thrown at me," Hisashi huffed, throwing a hand up in the air as he took a seat at the table.

"I mean," Hidehiko scratched his chin as he, too, sat down, "I can see him possibly doing it-"

"I'd never do that where my cats are!" Atsushi stressed, bringing an extra chair over for Issay.

"Yeah, that's what I was thinking," Hidehiko agreed.

"Gah, whatever," Hisashi grumbled, drinking from the cup at his end of the table with a disgruntled expression. "The point is, you refused to listen when we were trying to tell you Issay was here."

Issay noticed Toll staring hard at Hisashi as he began to put his cup down on the felt. Right before it touched the surface, Toll said sternly, "You'd better stop what you're doing and put your damn cup in the fucking cup holder or I swear to all things holy I will-"

A string of curses suddenly came from the other side of the table, cutting Toll off. Looking over to see what the commotion was, they found Hidehiko holding half a glass of rum. The other half was… well, on the felt.

Toll groaned and swore, "Oh, for the love of…"

Atsushi tossed Hidehiko a cloth he grabbed from the kitchen. "Wipe! Dab it!"

"I suppose you don't mind me putting my glass on the felt now," Hisashi chuckled.

Toll held up his index finger. "Don't! Even!"

Clicking his tongue chidingly, Atsushi smacked Hisashi who proceeded to jerk in surprise and… spill more drink.

"Shit!" Atsushi blurted before running off to get another tablecloth.

Issay didn't quite know what to do in all of this. Everyone was occupied with something; Hisashi with salvaging his drink, Atsushi with helping Hisashi, Hidehiko with continued dabbing on his mess with tissues while Yutaka washed the original cloth he had.

By this time, Toll had a thousand-yard stare in his eyes and a resigned look on his face as he sat in his chair. "I just cleaned it, used the waterproofing spray, and before it could even dry…" he sighed and looked at Issay. "Why do I even bother?"

"I guess, sometimes…" Issay went around the table to join Toll. "You can do your best and things still don't work out. It's just the way the universe works."

"There's a lesson to be learnt here," Toll said.

Issay raised his eyebrows in surprise. "Is there?"

"Never ever do any cleaning if you're expecting all four of them."

"Well, I guess that's one way of looking at it," Issay laughed, trying to lighten Toll’s mood as he watched the hectic scene before them. "So? How's the wife?" he asked, changing the topic. "Heard you got married."

"Yes," Toll immediately smiled. It was clear he was fond of his lady. "It's been almost a year now."

"Already?" Issay raised his eyebrows, surprised. That sure sounded like quite the honeymoon. "Congratulations on the almost-first anniversary then."

"Thanks," Toll beamed.

"Where's she now?" Issay asked. "Did she disembark with you?"

"No, no," Toll waved his hand. "She remained on board, prefers it there. Too many people in Tokyo for her liking anyway," he explained before putting a hand to his chest and saying, "A woman after my own heart."

"What are you talking about?" Atsushi asked softly as he approached and squatted down next to Issay, placing hands on Issay's thigh.

"Spouses," Toll answered.

"Oh? Do you have a spouse to talk about?" Atsushi asked, addressing Issay.

"Hm?" Issay looked down at Atsushi. With two fingers, he stroked the underside of Atsushi's chin and raised his eyebrows at him.

Catching the look in Issay's eye, Atsushi turned flustered. He stood up quickly, turning and walking away as he muttered, "Who's your spouse…"

Issay chuckled and shook his head as he said to Toll, "Oh, dear. It looks like I got rejected."

"I suppose I'll drink with you to recover from it then," Toll laughed.

"You know, he sure is shy for someone who kept asking for a proposal over the past few days," Issay remarked.

"Maybe he didn't expect you to take it seriously," Toll mused.

"Can't be," Issay said. "He was genuinely upset when my ex-fiance showed up at his office the other day."

"I didn't know you had an ex-fiance," Toll blinked, surprised.

"That was another life," Issay chuckled, waving his hand dismissively. "That was before I met Atsushi again that fateful day."

"And she's an ex because…?"

"I was a plan B. She had someone else all along," Issay answered then grinned. "Thank fucking god."

Toll burst out laughing. "Why did you even propose to her then?!"

"Ah, well, see. She proposed."

"Talking about her again?" Atsushi sneered as he dragged a chair around the table.

"Well, Toll asked," Issay said, stretching his arm out to put around Atsushi when he sat down with a pout on his face.

"I don't want to hear another word about her," Atsushi huffed.

"I told you he gets upset," Issay chuckled.

"Then why are you sitting here?" Toll asked Atsushi.

"To make you change the topic," Atsushi retorted petulantly.

"But… why would she turn up at Acchan's office?" Toll pondered, frowning as he scratched his cheek.

"She said she wanted to loan but didn't in the end. Granted, we did scare her off of it, I think," Issay shrugged.

"That can't be all…" Toll muttered.

"I don't know. It's all rather weird," Issay confessed. "Considering…"

"Considering?"

"It's been more than a decade since I last saw her."

Immediately, Toll leaned forward to look at Atsushi. "Acchan, did she leave any information behind in your office?"

"I don't know," Atsushi answered curtly, clearly miffed that the conversation went on anyway.

"Acchan," Toll sighed, exasperated. "Don't you think something's off about this?"

"… Yes."

"Do you want to find out and fix her or not?" Toll asked.

"… Yes."

"Information," Toll demanded.

"Her husband is Arakawa Yusuke," Atsushi immediately began. "He has a loan with us. Their house has been registered as collateral. She tried to use the same address when she came in to talk."

"Right… Don't you have her name?" Toll asked.

"Reception might have it," Atsushi replied.

"Didn't you ask for it?" 

"She went straight for Issay the moment she came in," Atsushi explained. "No time for introductions."

"Shouldn't you know her name though?" Toll asked Issay now.

"Me?" Issay pointed to himself, surprised. "I can't even remember her face."

Toll stared at him, appalled. "Issay. We're talking about the person who you almost married."

"Yes," Issay laughed. "Can you believe that? It's ridiculous, isn't it?"

"If that’s how you're going to treat Acchan-"

"Hey, hey. Now hold it right there," Issay interrupted, tightening his hold around Atsushi's shoulders. "Acchan's different."

"He'd better be," Toll warned. "If you do him wrong-"

"Anii," Atsushi cut in. "You know he won't," he said without a shred of doubt in his voice.

Heartened by his response, Issay turned and smiled at Atsushi. While Atsushi himself still looked somewhat peeved, he managed to smile back at Issay before looking down and resting his head on Issay's shoulder.

"So, you really don't have any more information on her?" Toll asked again.

"Reception," Atsushi repeated. "Reception should have taken down her name and contact details."

"Well, then," Toll nodded and looked to Yutaka, who was coming out of the kitchen. "Yuta, you've got a new bird to catch," he announced.

"Oh?" Yuta seemed to perk up as he approached. "Who and what for?"

"It's a…" Toll paused, trying to recall the name. "Wife of an Arataka-"

"Arakawa," Atsushi immediately corrected.

"Arakawa… Yu… suke?" Toll guessed.

Atsushi gave him an affirmative nod.

"Wife of Arakawa Yusuke," Toll repeated, with surety this time. "You'll find information on the husband in Acchan's office."

"Okay. So what did she do?" Yutaka asked, sitting down.

"She pissed me off," Atsushi answered curtly.

" And ," Toll stressed. "The Arakawa has a loan with us so it'll motivate him to keep up with payments, hm?"

Yutaka barked a laugh. "If you say so, Anii," he grinned. "So? What d'you want to do with her?" he asked Atsushi.

"Eat her up," Atsushi growled. "Completely. Entirely. Until not even bones are left."

Hearing this, a devilish smirk appeared on Yutaka's face. With a twinkle in his eye, he said, "With pleasure."

"Surely that's… going overboard?" Hidehiko piped up as he sat at the table too. "For a loan-"

"She's Issay's ex-fiance," Atsushi reiterated flatly.

"Oh, now I see why," Hidehiko muttered. "God bless that woman, then."

"Oh, c'mon, I don't treat my women badly," Yutaka chuckled.

"This one's not your woman," Hidehiko stated.

Yutaka simply smiled and wiggled his eyebrows at Hidehiko who, in turn, rolled his eyes and sighed with resignation.

“You’re really okay with this, though?” Hisashi asked Issay, taking his seat. Issay noticed that none of them had a drink in hand this time around.

“With what?”

“Letting Yuta go after your ex.”

“I don’t care,” Issay shrugged. “Yutaka can do whatever he wants. As long as it’s to Acchan’s liking,” he added as he ran his fingers through Atsushi’s hair.

Hisashi let out a disapproving sigh and shook his head. “You’re sp-”

“Spoiling him,” Issay finished. “Yes, but if I don’t, who will?"

Chapter Text

Atsushi sat on the floor in the living room, brushing Nyan in his lap while Issay continued his calls with the guys back in Nagoya. There hasn't been much going on around here for Issay and him since the last meeting. They pretty much remained at home the whole time, but at least they still had the remainder Atsushi's week of dress-up to entertain themselves with.

The day before, Issay had him strutting around in the buff. Yesterday, Atsushi was completely wrapped up in some form of latex suit which he regretted buying. And today, he wore tan stockings and a black waistcoat along with a thong which had a tuft of fluff attached on the back. So, they had all of this keeping them entertained plus working via calls like Issay did now.

Turning Nyan to the side, Atsushi continued the brushing. It was rather upsetting that they haven't been able to gather much information since the meeting a couple of days ago. What they did find out, though, was upsetting.

From their links in law enforcement, they found out that Kissaki had been released a few years ago to act as a double agent for the police. He was, in other words, in the same grey area as they were with the law. As to exactly what information he held, they have yet to find out, but Atsushi trusted it was only a matter of time before they did. He had to. He desperately wanted to settle this on his own, but…

Atsushi shook his head as if the motion could toss the idea out of his head. Issay didn't want him to go, and so he shan't. No matter how tempted he was, he won't go. Atsushi kept repeating those words in his head, drilling them in to convince himself that he should just sit and wait. But how he would love to be useful to Issay… He sighed to himself as he cleared the excess fur stuck to the brush.

Coupling that with how they have found nothing malicious behind the coincidence of Issay's ex-fiance's re-emergence, it was needless to say that Atsushi was more than frustrated about their present situation. At the very least, everyone agreed that there must be something that led to their meeting. Six collective gut instincts cannot be wrong. And so, she stays in Yuta's paws while they investigated her husband.

"Acchan," Issay called, coming in from the kitchen. "Did you manage to find those bunny ears?"

"No," Atsushi answered, shaking his head without looking up. "I found cat ears though."

"Cat?"

"Cat," Atsushi nodded.

"Cat?" Issay asked again, sitting down on the sofa behind Atsushi.

"And bear," Atsushi replied as Issay's hand landed on his head and ruffled his hair.

"Bear?" Issay chuckled.

"Yeah, I found these… round ears in the back of my drawer-" Atsushi paused mid-sentence and looked over his shoulder. "Which do you prefer?"

"Whatever pleases you, love," Issay smiled at him, eyes crinkling. "You know, I'm kind of tempted to take everything out of your cupboards and take a good look at it all."

"It'll probably take a couple of days to do that," Atsushi warned. "There's… a lot."

"How much did you spend on all of that?" Issay chuckled, leaning back into the couch as Atsushi stood up.

"I don't know," Atsushi grinned, settling into Issay's lap. "But a good number were prank gifts, like the bear ears," he went on as he put his arms around Issay.

"Shall I 'prank' you with more?" Issay teased.

"We'll first have to see what I don't have, won't we?" Atsushi chuckled, tracing Issay's jaw with his fingers. "Done with work?" he asked.

"Mhmm," Issay hummed, twirling a lock of Atsushi's hair in his fingers as he gazed quietly at him.

"Any updates?" Atsushi asked, dropping his voice lower as he slid his arm around Issay's neck.

Noticing Atsushi's little gestures, Issay smiled and rested his chin on Atsushi's chest as he looked up at him and spoke. "Things seem… odd back there," he began. "Mizunaga apparently said that he wasn't sure if it's a good or bad thing that I'm not there."

"Why?" Atsushi probed, burying his fingers in Issay's hair.

"Wanna coax it out of me?" Issay asked, slyly raising an eyebrow with a lopsided smile.

"I don't mind," Atsushi chuckled as he dipped his head lower to meet Issay's lips.

Atsushi could feel Issay smiling with a hum. Kissing Issay slowly, Atsushi, too, sighed contentedly. He enjoyed this; passing the time with Issay without a care in the world. But of course, there was too much to care about.

"Tell me," Atsushi breathed as he paused their kiss.

"Ah, is that all?" Issay chuckled.

"Tell me before we both forget about it," Atsushi insisted.

"I was hoping for a little more."

"I'll let you have more after you've told me what's going on," Atsushi bargained.

Issay gazed at him with an unreadable look in his eyes. For a moment, Atsushi thought that Issay would refuse, but eventually, he spoke. "Well, it's gotten quiet back there. Per Otsuka's words, it's apparently too quiet."

"In what sense?" Atsushi asked, idly fidgeting with Issay's hair as he listened.

"Operations are going smoothly, and investigations have come to a standstill," Issay sighed before giving Atsushi a kiss in his palm. Holding Atsushi's hand to his lips, he continued, "On the other hand, Mizunaga is trying to play the double agent, getting closer to the opposition and all. I'm honestly not comfortable with this but… even that is going too smoothly."

"How so?"

"Maybe I'm overthinking it," Issay muttered. "Then again, he always looks like he's against me after all. We're always on the verge of arguing."

"He does disagree a lot," Atsushi nodded, tickling the back of Issay’s jaw with his fingertips.

"If that's the impression that everyone has, then it makes sense but they've let Mizunaga in too easily, letting him in on their discussions and all that," Issay went on. "Yet at the same time… they haven't shared anything particularly useful."

"You're sure he isn't already a double agent? Or that won't turn?" Atsushi asked, concerned. Issay was right to feel suspicious about Mizunaga's easy infiltration but what if that was because he was already one of them?

"He won't," Issay replied with conviction. "He's too impeccable at doing what has to be done. Even if it's against everything he stood for."

Atsushi hummed softly as he hugged Issay's head to his chest. He remembered how Mizunaga was the one who was put in charge of hunting for Issay all those years ago, how tirelessly he went about with it. Atsushi couldn't imagine how Issay could trust a person like that but if this was how Issay felt, there wasn't much else he could say.

“I'd hate to admit it, but all in all, I think we’ve hit some sort of dead-end back there,” Issay sighed. “Or maybe they’ve caught wind of what we’re up to.”

“It does feel a little like the calm before the storm,” Atsushi remarked, expressing his discomfort. “I hope I’m wrong,” he added softly.

“I hope so too, my love,” Issay concurred, stroking Atsushi’s cheek with the back of his hand. “But… I can’t deny this nagging feeling-”

Atsushi kissed Issay, cutting him off. He knew what Issay was referring to. He remembered the last time he brought up something like that. Granted, he only spoke of it back then because he was caught having nightmares. At least this time, there was none of that and Issay was talking about it of his own accord. Maybe it wasn’t going to be all that bad then.

“Is this how I get more?” Issay chuckled when Atsushi paused.

“You did ask for it,” Atsushi flirted.

“How about some more?” Issay asked.

“Like?”

“You’re not fully dressed yet, are you?” Issay prompted, rubbing his hands over the smooth stockings on Atsushi’s legs. “I’ve been waiting to see you in your pin heels for years now, love.”

“You still haven’t told me which you preferred,” Atsushi smiled coyly as he put his hands on his head, miming ears while he slid off Issay’s lap.

“Whichever you like, love,” Issay said.

“You know what I'd pick.”

“Of course I do,” Issay grinned. Cupping Atsuhsi’s face in his hands, he came close and purred, “My kitten.”

Getting coddled like that made Atsushi’s heart feel so full that he could barely contain himself and he let out an ecstatic “myaow”. Issay laughed and came closer. Touching noses with Atsushi, Issay smiled as let their lips lightly brushed together.

Chuckling to himself, Issay whispered, “Go finish dressing up before I get carried away.”

Atsushi puckered his lips in response, giving Issay a quick peck before he pulled away and strode off into the bedroom.

Inside, Atsushi knelt to the ground and reached under the bed, pushing Momo aside to pull out a shoebox he kept underneath. Opening it revealed a pair of shiny, black leather stilettos which he only wore at home on certain specific occasions. Although he did promise Issay to wear these for him all those years ago, today would be the first time when he actually would. The significance of this was making him feel particularly nervous as he put them on. Or was it excitement he felt?

Whichever it was, Atsushi could feel his heartbeat in his throat as he stood up and picked up the headband with the cat ears off the dresser. Putting it on his head, he peered into the mirror and primped, making sure everything looked just right before going back outside where Issay was on his feet, pacing around with yet another cigarette between his fingers.

The sound of Atsushi's stilettos against the parquet attracted Issay's attention and he stopped in his tracks. The moment he set eyes on Atsushi, Issay broke into a smile, one so dazzling that Atsushi wanted to hide from it in embarrassment.

Just as Atsushi averted his eyes and took a step back, Issay stretched a hand out in Atsushi's direction, stubbing his cigarette out with his other hand while whispering, "No, no, no, don't shy away from me, my love. Come to me."

Hesitantly stepping out of the room, Atsushi made his way across the apartment to the centre of the living room, to Issay waiting with outstretched arms. Standing this close to Issay while in heels felt odd. Without the added height, Issay was already a little shorter than Atsushi. Now, he only came up to his shoulder. Though with the way Issay held Atsushi and showered him with praises, the older man clearly didn't mind. 

Caressing Atsushi's body, Issay requested, "Strut for me, my love." His hands sliding down Atsushi's sides to rest at his hips. "Let me watch you move."

Nodding with a shy smile, Atsushi turned around and walked away. It felt silly, walking around his own apartment like this. But when he came back to stop in front of Issay, now seated on the couch, Atsushi closed his eyes and imagined his mirror in front of him. Running his hands over his body, he touched himself as if he was alone in his room, feeling the way his body curved, his posture altered by standing in heels. 

A pair of hands joined Atsushi's, following his hands and holding them as the warmth of Issay's embrace enveloped Atsushi from behind. Together, they caressed Atsushi's silhouette while Issay planted soft kisses on Atsushi's shoulders.

To Issay's quiet murmurings of "my love", Atsushi whispered Issay's name in return. An ache of desire grew in the pit of his stomach and Atsushi's grip on himself also grew tighter, interlocking fingers with Issay at the same time. The more his yearning intensified, the more unbearable it became for Atsushi. Eventually, it got to a point where he could hardly hold all his emotions in and he pleaded breathlessly, "Issay, love me?"

“Need you ask?” Issay chuckled in Atsushi’s ear, his low voice inducing pleasurable shivers run down his spine.

Issay firmed his embrace, swaying with him as Atsushi let out a sigh and leaned his weight onto the older man. The way Issay adjusted to this seemed effortless, almost waltzing with Atsushi in the living room as he shifted around to come face to face with Atsushi.

When their eyes met, Atsushi was ensnared by Issay’s gaze. The intensity Issay exuded and the tenderness of his smile manifested in the way he held Atsushi as they moved together to a beat only known to them. Atsushi barely needed to do anything, simply going with Issay’s flow until Issay sat down and pulled Atsushi down with him.

Facing Issay while sitting in his lap, Atsushi held the man's face in his hands and kissed him, slowly savouring it as Issay petted him, particularly the fluff on his rear. Atsushi couldn't help but smile in amusement. Sensing the movement, Issay, too, smiled and squeezed Atsushi's buttcheek. Atsushi chuckled and shifted closer in response, pressing his crotch against Issay to grind.

Issay hummed, clearly enjoying the sensation while he continued kissing Atsushi without as much of a break. As Atsushi moved his hips, Issay's hands kept moving; touching and scratching Atsushi all over before he finally slid his hands under Atsushi's thong and held his rear.

Kneading, Issay broke their kiss for a moment to ask, "Mind if I rip your stockings?"

"Do whatever you want," Atsushi grinned as he touched noses with Issay.

"Don't mind if I do, then," Issay smiled back. He dug his nails into Atsushi's supple flesh and scratched hard.

Atsushi gasped but it wasn't an unpleasant sensation. It was just rougher than Issay's usually treatment. Atsushi closed his fingers in Issay's hair while Issay broke through the thin material and grabbed Atsushi's bare ass. Atsushi held Issay to his chest and moaned as Issay dragged his hand down Atsushi's thigh, determined to rip everything to shreds.

Jerking his hips, Atsushi ground harder, pressing his erection against Issay's as he felt the pleasure rising to his head. He dropped his head back and Issay held him tight, tilting to the side to lay down. The moment Atsushi felt his head come into contact with the cushions, he felt Issay's lips on the side of his neck, giving him what must be yet another love bite to add to the other fading ones he had accumulated over the past week.

Letting out a whine, Atsushi rubbed Issay's legs against his own. Issay paused for a moment and stretched an arm past Atsushi's head, reaching for the extra box of condoms and a bottle of lube which found permanent spots on the side table in the living room.

In this lull, Atsushi hugged Issay, burying his face in Issay's chest while the older man worked to get a condom out of the box. He made himself comfortable there, enjoying that familiar, cigarette-tinged scent of Issay's as he waited. After a while, Atsushi felt a kiss on the top of his head followed by his fluffy ears getting fondled.

"Kitten," Issay muttered softly.

"Icchama," Atsushi whispered in return.

"Do you want me to ride you, my love?" Issay asked, pushing himself up.

"Hn?" Surprised by the sudden suggestion, Atsushi could only watch as Issay removed the thong and rolled the ruined stockings down for.

"I guess I'm not really asking, am I?" Issay chuckled as he smoothed his hand over Atsushi's abdomen.

Atsushi, of course, had no qualms about it. He was entranced by the sight of Issay stripping himself down and crouching between his legs to suck his dick. This definitely wasn't the first time Atsushi was getting a blowjob from Issay, but he was already feeling heady from the earlier stimulation. It was such a treat to watch Issay doing this in front of him, in broad daylight, that it was no wonder that Atsushi was already painfully aroused.

Issay clearly knew what kind of effect he had on Atsushi. The tensing of Issay's mouth and the warm breaths on Atsushi's crotch gave away Issay's amusement as he sucked. Lavishing Atsushi’s cock with long licks from base to tip, Issay diligently covered every inch of his erection before taking Atsushi into his mouth again and continued bobbing his head. But only long enough to barely satisfy Atsushi.

Rising up, Issay made eye contact with Atsushi when he removed the erection from his mouth. He let a string of his saliva drip, making a bit more of a mess than usual but that combined with his now-messy hair and intense, hungry gaze made yearning churn in Atsushi’s stomach.

Now on his knees, Issay made a show of slathering lubricant all over his fingers before inserting them one- by- one- into himself and thrusting those three fingers of his. While he did that, Atsushi reached for the condom and opened it.

Issay didn’t take long with loosening himself up. Once Atsushi had the condom on properly, Issay removed his fingers and took hold of Atsushi’s erection with that same hand. Guiding Atsushi into him, Issay looked Atsushi in the eye once more and made an orgasmic expression as Atsushi entered and he sank down. Issay closed his eyes and let out a soft moan, settling on Atsushi for a brief moment before he started moving again.

Atsushi put his hands on Issay's hips, holding the slender man as he rose and sank at a steady pace. Issay gazed upon Atsushi with half-lidded eyes and a tense expression on his face. He looked as if he was trying to keep things together but when he sank once more, his brow furrowed and he scrunched up his face, letting out a soft gasp and a moan.

That noise roused up an impulse in Atsushi to envelope Issay protectively. Yet at the same time, it made him want to ravish him so badly. Atsushi's hold on Issay tightened and he lifted his own hips, giving himself room to thrust into Issay at his own volition.

Surprised by Atsushi's sudden move, Issay let out a yelp and clutched Atsushi's hands in his own. Completely surrendering himself to Atsushi on his knees, Issay's breathing grew heavy and his moans sounded more frequently. As Atsushi sped up, Issay leaned to the side and grabbed the sofa cushion as if desperate for something to hug.

Seeing this, Atsushi slid his hands up Issay's sides and sat up, guiding his lover towards him. Issay latched onto him without complaint. He pressed a kiss to Atsushi’s forehead, holding him close while Atsushi rocked forward and switched their positions. Atsushi lay Issay down and, still wrapped in Issay’s arms, he resumed thrusting, making Issay moan a soft, “My love…”

Atsushi moved his hips, adjusting until he found that same particular angle which affected Issay so, and within mere moments, Issay became incoherent. Atsushi worked Issay up again, bringing him back to that same high that had Issay dying to be held.

Fingers dug into Atsushi’s back and toes dragged along his legs, undoubtedly shredding his stockings further. In Atsushi’s arms, Issay’s body grew tense as his moans pitched rapturously before fading away. The hard breathing that followed in the silence was all Atsushi could hear when he came with a grunt and his head buried in the crook of Issay’s neck.

Atsushi sank down, resting on Issay as he immersed himself the resulting contentment from their lovemaking. Hearing Issay’s deep breathing and feeling the idle caresses on his skin only added to the fullness in Atsushi’s heart.

“My love…” Issay muttered, shifting slightly as he adjusted his embrace and nuzzled against Atsushi’s hair. “My kitten,” he added with a chuckle.

Atsushi felt his headband being moved side to side and then pushed slightly back. Issay was fixing it. When the movement stopped, Atsushi peeked up at Issay with a smile in his eyes. Issay instantly smiled back.

“My precious, precious kitten,” Issay gushed quietly, combing Atsushi’s fringe to the side with his fingers.

Feeling his cheeks warm from Issay’s words, Atsushi could only giggle softly in response, glad that Issay was the only one who could make him feel like this.

Issay held Atsushi's face in his hands, gazing at him quietly before eventually letting out a soft sigh. "Atsushi, my love," he addressed.

"Yes?" Atsushi smiled.

"Promise me one thing and one thing only," Issay said, his tone turning stern.

"Anything," Atsushi breathed as he closed a hand over Issay's.

"Promise me that you won't go to Kissaki."

Atsushi felt his heart drop.

"Promise me," Issay implored.

"But…" Atsushi felt lost. What if the forensics resulted in dead ends? What if this turned out to be the only lead they had? 

"Promise me," Issay repeated, brushing his thumbs over Atsushi's cheeks.

Atsushi looked away. "What if I won't?" he asked softly.

Issay's face instantly scrunched up in chagrin. "Atsushi, please . Please , just drop that idea."

"But if he's our only lead-"

"Even if he's our only lead, I don't want you to go anywhere near him," Issay stressed with a shake of his head.

"Issay…"

"Atsushi, I've been getting that same feeling I got all those years ago," Issay spilt, closing his eyes and squeezing them tight. "I don't know if it's because of Kissaki or something else but you know what happened the last time I felt like this," he went on. "I cannot take going through something like that again. I can't risk losing you again," he whispered with a hard look.

"Are you afraid of him?" Atsushi questioned, furrowing his brow.

Issay shook his head and looked away. "You don't understand," he mumbled. "I'm not afraid of him."

"Then, what is it?"

"I'm afraid of seeing you getting hurt because of me," Issay sighed and paused. He looked like he wanted to say something else but something was in the way.

"What else?" Atsushi probed, softening his tone. 

"I… am afraid…" Issay paused again. It took him a while to muster himself together, but even then he had to close his eyes as he finished, "that he may somehow be connected to my stepbrother."

Atsushi barked a laugh. "And so what?" he scoffed. "I'm not afraid of either of them. Neither KIssaki nor that man. I don't care what they might do to me-"

" I care!" Issay interrupted as he held Atsushi tighter. " I am afraid of what he will do to you," he added, his voice shaking.

" Nothing scares me, Issay," Atsushi hissed, determined to reassure Issay.

"You don't know him, Atsushi. You don't know what he will do," Issay muttered ominously, shaking his head.

"And you don't even know if Kissaki really is working with him," Atsushi retorted gently. "Isn't all your worry for nought if he isn't?"

"Atsushi, please… I can't explain it but…," Issay heaved a sigh and met Atsushi's eyes. He looked exhausted, pained. "Promise me you won't go, please. Take this as me begging you. I can't, I cannot stand to let anything happen to you again."

Atsushi grimaced. How could he say no to Issay when this was what it had come to? "I… But…" 

" Please , my love. I beg you."

With Issay saying these words and looking at him like this, Atsushi could only mumble reluctantly, "I promise."

"And if you break it?"

Atsushi's eyes widened in surprise. Must Issay force him to commit like this?

"Acchan?" Issay pushed.

Atsushi looked into Issay's worried eyes, searching for some sign that Issay would suddenly decide to let Atsushi off, but all he found was stubborn resolve. Left without a choice, Atsushi shoved aside the urge to run away and took a deep breath and before muttering, "If I break it… feel free to cut me out of your life."

Chapter Text

"You two look well," Yoshida commented.

"So do you," Issay returned, sitting down next to Atsushi, who had moved into the corner.

A couple of days had passed since Issay elicited that promise from Atsushi. Everything seemed fine but Issay couldn’t tell if he did the right thing. He suddenly felt such dread at the thought of losing Atsushi at that moment that he demanded Atsushi’s compliance on impulse, forced one out of him.

It was obvious that Atsushi was not comfortable with it. Furthermore, his proposed consequence for breaking that promise felt… extreme. It felt as if Atsushi tried to think of something that would hurt him most to lose, but ended up waging something that would Issay too. That couldn’t be what Atsushi intended, could it?

It certainly didn’t seem like it with the way Atsushi’s demeanour barely changed. The only difference Issay noticed from Atsushi was his stronger attachment to Issay, which he displayed by clinging to Issay when they slept and woke, and with the constant need for some form of contact with him. Now, too, it manifested in Atsushi putting an arm on Issay’s leg and sitting with him on this side of the booth seats with their legs touching. 

"Had your dinner yet?" Yoshida asked. If he was perturbed by their proximity, he didn’t show it. Then again, Yoshida never did. Perhaps he had grown accustomed to it after all these years.

"A quick one, yes," Atsushi replied quietly. "I'm dying for a drink though," he added.

Issay instantly raised his arm, calling for a waiter. When one approached, he turned to Atsushi and asked, "The usual?" 

Atsushi nodded.

"Two highballs, please," Issay said before turning his attention back to Yoshida. "Had your dinner?"

"Nope, but I've got a rice bowl on the way," he replied.

"I suppose you've got the results from forensics?" Atsushi asked, getting straight to the point of their meeting.

"Yes," Yoshida sighed. "But let me have my dinner first- Oh, speak of the devil," he said, gleefully rubbing his hands as the waiter set a bowl of freshly grilled beef slices on rice down in front of him.

"Shucks, that looks good," Issay muttered.

"I'm tucking in," Yoshida announced. Stuffing a scoop of rice and a couple of slices of beef into his mouth, he let out a hum of satisfaction while he chewed. "This is the place I've always told you about, the one with the best grilled food for an izakaya," he said after swallowing. "I swear to god, I can't believe you still haven't been here for dinner after so many years."

"Oh, come on. You know I'd get lost on my own even if I even tried," Issay grumbled. "I was waiting for you to take me someday."

"Still suck with directions?" Yoshida chuckled.

"It's not a curable affliction, Yoshida," Issay rolled his eyes.

"I guess I'll be the one who will bring you back here next time then," Atsushi smiled, rubbing Issay's thigh.

"Are you asking me out on a date?" Issay asked coyly.

"Who said anything about a date?" Atsushi shrugged.

Issay exchanged a befuddled look with a sniggering Yoshida. “I guess I’ve been dumped,” he muttered.

“Now, who said anything about that ?!” Atsushi said quickly, snapping his head towards Issay as his grip tightened.

One look at Atsushi’s stung expression and Issay started laughing. “Now, now, Acchan,” he chuckled, putting Atsushi’s head onto his shoulder. “I’m just joking here.”

“Don’t joke about such things,” Atsushi whined softly as Issay patted his head.

“You two sure are one-of-a-kind,” Yoshida remarked, barking a laugh. He put his chopsticks down and a happy sigh. “Damn, that was good.”

“That was quick,” Issay commented.

“Can you blame me?” Yoshida shrugged. “It’s already ten and I haven’t eaten since noon.”

“Work’s still that demanding, huh,” Issay empathised. The waiter returned and set both Atsushi’s highballs down.

“Of course,” Yoshida smirked and took a drink from his own mug of beer. “How can I rest when crime doesn’t sleep?” Immediately after he said this, he froze and warily shifted his eyes to look at Atsushi and Issay.

“You got that right,” Atsushi concurred without batting an eyelid. He clinked his mug against Issay’s and muttered ‘cheers’ before drinking deeply.

Issay returned the gesture and drank as well. “I wish I could help you there,” he teased with a tilt of his head as he reached over and knocked his mug against Yoshida’s. “Too bad I’m no longer with the force.”

Seeing that they weren’t affected by what he said, Yoshida began to loosen back up a bit and drank again. “Damn right,” he muttered. “Don’t I wish you were, though.”

“If only,” Issay concurred with a mirthless laugh and another sip of alcohol.

“So, what about the results?” Atsushi spoke up, changing the subject.

“Ah, right. I am done with dinner, aren’t I?” Yoshida said to himself. “Well,” he rested his elbows on the table and clapped his hands together, “it’s a mixed bag.”

“Meaning?” Issay asked.

“Meaning there’s good news and bad news,” Yoshida elaborated.

“I knew it,” Atsushi muttered.

“Which do you want to hear first?” Yoshida asked.

“Bad news,” Issay answered. “Tell us,” he added, beckoning with a hand.

“The gun you found in Atsushi’s bag had no clear prints,” Yoshida sighed.

Issay felt his brow begin to crease and his jaw tensing. He was banking on the gun to be their strongest lead, but he should have expected this.

“But there were some partial prints,” Yoshida added. “We’ve kept them on record just in case they happen to vaguely match with anyone’s. It’s obviously an illegal weapon so… whoever those prints belong to…”

“There’ll be a warrant out for their arrest,” Issay nodded in understanding. “At least some good came out of that.”

“Those… don’t match ours, do they?” Atsushi asked warily.

“Nope, not one bit,” Yoshida replied.

Atsushi nodded quietly in response with obvious relief on his face. “I thought if we accidentally left any fingerprints while handling it…”

“Rest assured, they’re nowhere near yours,” Yoshida smiled.

“But how did you get my fingerprints?” Atsushi asked suddenly, narrowing his eyes.

Still smiling, Yoshida simply shrugged and said, “Now, for the good news."

Atsushi clicked his tongue and folded his arms, sulking at being ignored.

"What is it?" Issay asked, patting Atsushi's thigh under the table.

"Good news is… It was a good thing you made Sakurai stay indoors with you," Yoshida said. "Based on the markings on them, the bullets came from five different guns. At least."

"Hm." Issay exchanged a glance with Atsushi. He could see the concern in his eyes. "I suppose that's a number I can look out for in our records."

"Any other information you can share?" Atsushi asked.

"Hm, well…" Yoshida scratched his head. "The gun from your bag is a relatively new model…"

"Maybe a new purchase then," Issay mumbled to himself. "Anything else?" he asked, speaking louder.

Yoshida shook his head regretfully.

"It's not as much as I was hoping for but there should be something we can glean from all that," Issay sighed, unable to hide his disappointment.

"Something's better than nothing," Atsushi said softly as he twirled Issay's hair in his fingers.

"Yes," Issay agreed, making eye contact with an equally disappointed Atsushi. Issay paused and took a long look at him, eyes darting around, taking in Atsushi's visage as he muttered, "Don't do anything stupid, you hear me?" 

"I promised," Atsushi mumbled, looking away.

Holding Atsushi's hand which now rested on his shoulder, Issay brought it to his lips and kissed his palm with a soft, "I know."

Atsushi didn't meet his eyes as his expression grew a tad bit more forlorn at the gesture; not the effect Issay had intended. Heart aching, Issay put their interlocked hands on his lap and sighed. Perhaps he really did make a mistake by forcing Atsushi to give his word.

"Hey, you two going anywhere after this?" Yoshida piped up.

Issay exchanged a glance with Atsushi. "… No?"

Atsushi shook his head. "Nothing else planned for me."

"I suppose we'll be headed home…?" Issay asked, looking at Atsushi.

Atsushi nodded.

"Drink with me for a bit before you go then," Yoshida said as he raised an arm and waved for the waiter.

Orders were placed and more drinks arrived, one round after another to fuel them. There was much to talk about. "A proper catch-up," was what Yoshida called this. All their previous meetings were marred by talk of conspiracies and schemes that Issay was fending off. Even now, the shadow of his worries hovered over them but for once, it was not the focus of attention. The hours flew past as they chatted and before they knew it, it was closing time. Their move to leave their table was slow and reluctant. It was a nice respite; sitting around and drinking as if nothing was the matter, but it had, like all things, come to an end.

“We should do this more while you’re in Tokyo, Issay,” Yoshida said, clapping Issay on his shoulder as they stood outside the izakaya.

“You know I’d be more than happy to,” Issay smiled, linking arms with Atsushi. “As long as this other half of mine is willing to come along, hm?” he added while patting Atsushi’s hand.

“Hm?” Atsushi gave him a blank look. He appeared to have been lost in thought.

“Will you go on another date with me and Yoshida?” Issay asked, brushing his thumb over Atsushi’s hand.

“I don’t want a threesome,” Atsushi muttered petulantly.

“Hey, don’t say it like that!” Yoshida blurted.

“As if I’d even let you touch a hair on him,” Issay huffed.

Chuckling to himself, Atsushi said, “Jokes aside, I definitely wouldn’t mind meeting again. It’s a nice break from the usual.”

"As long as there's nothing else involved," Yoshida added uneasily. "Well, you're heading back now, aren't you? I'll stick around and wait for your ride to arrive-"

"I was actually…" Issay interrupted, "thinking of taking a walk before going home."

"Oh," Atsushi muttered, surprised. Looking at his phone in his hand, he quietly asked, "… Alone?"

"No," Issay held Atsushi's hand tighter. "Together. It's nice and quiet out now," he clarified with a smile.

As he put his phone away, the relief on Atsushi's face was evident.

"I don't mean to burst your bubble but… Isn't that a bit of a risk?" Yoshida asked. "Considering the situation?"

"I'm not on my own. And neither is he," Issay replied. "That should be enough."

"What if it isn't?"

"Then you'll, once again, have the privilege of being the last one to see me before I disappear," Issay grinned as Atsushi smacked his arm.

"No, no, enough of that. Please ," Yoshida groaned with a hand to his forehead. "So nice of you to make me feel better about leaving the two of you, huh?" he remarked.

"I'm not alone this time," Issay repeated. "We'll be fine, Yoshida. You can go home."

"… Right," Yoshida mumbled, eyes darting between Issay and Atsushi. He was obviously still unconvinced but he began stepping away, turning slowly as he said, "Drop me a message when you get home."

"I'd advise you not to lose sleep over it," Issay chuckled. "We'll be a while yet."

"You got me on speed dial?" Yoshida asked.

"You and a few others," Issay nodded.

"Let me know-"

"Yes, yes, I will ," Issay promised, slightly exasperated. "Don't be such a mother hen. We'll be alright."

Yoshida took a deep breath and sighed. "Fine, fine, I'll… see you soon," he said, resigned as he ran a hand through his hair and turned to leave. "Stay-"

"Out of trouble," Issay finished. "Yes, yes. Bye-bye, now," he waved, watching Yoshida walk away.

Atsushi too, waved, saying a light-hearted "Bye~" to Yoshida's retreating figure. Once Yoshida was out of sight, they began to walk off in the opposite direction led by Issay’s wandering feet.

There was no one around at this time of the night. The shops were all closed, with the exception of convenience stores, and even the roads were relatively quiet with only the occasional car going past them. Though, Issay can’t deny that he found himself tensing up each time one went by. If any vehicle stopped right by them…

“Where are we going?” Atsushi asked, derailing Issay’s disturbing train of thought.

“I was thinking of taking a stroll by the river,” Issay replied.

“Ah.” Atsushi pointed ahead. “We need to make a right turn there.”

“Got it,” Issay nodded. As usual, he had no idea where he was supposed to go. He still needed to rely on Atsushi for directions after all.

“I thought you wanted to take this walk on your own just now,” Atsushi said softly.

“Hm?” Issay looked at him, curious. “Why would you think so?”

“It felt so… sudden,” Atsushi muttered. “You never mentioned anything about doing this either.”

“Ah, I just suddenly felt like it,” Issay said lamely. “Are you tired? Shall we go home instead?” he asked, stopping in his tracks.

“No, no, it’s not that,” Atsushi denied as he nudged Issay forward with him. “I thought that you wanted to go without me. Maybe you needed time on your own or-”

“Don’t be silly,” Issay chuckled and clasped Atsushi’s hand in his. Meeting Atsushi’s eyes, he said softly, “I’d be utterly lost without you.”

"I'm just your wayfinder after all," Atsushi mumbled.

"In more ways than one, my love," Issay added. "I can't do without you."

Atsushi hummed and turned quiet, leaving an oddly uncomfortable silence until they neared the river bank. "Here," he nudged, steering Issay towards the pavement along the river.

With some of the neon billboards gone now, it wasn't as scenic as Issay remembered it to be. But as expected at this time of the night, it was quiet. It was exactly what Issay hoped for. They had the whole place to themselves. They could settle down on a bench together in peace. They could watch the undulating reflections on the water and hold each other without getting rude stares and hearing strange remarks.

Issay curled his arm around Atsushi's waist as the younger man sighed and relaxed against him. He turned his head and pressed a kiss to Atsushi's cheek, bringing a smile to Atsushi's lips as he asked, "Why are we here?"

"Do you remember that spring?" Issay returned. "When we met in the park? Under the cherry blossoms."

"Mm. You make it sound so romantic," Atsushi remarked with amusement as he moved to hold Issay's hand, "when you were scared stiff, weren't you?"

"Was I?"

" Kuchisake onna ," Atsushi whispered in a singsong voice.

"… That was not what I-"

"Am I beautiful?" Atsushi asked, giggling.

"Tch, you," Issay jokingly scoffed with a chuckle. “Of course you are, my love.”

“Even when I look like this?” Atsushi asked.

“Like what? What’s wrong with how you look?”

“I definitely put on weight, for one-”

“Where?” Issay intoned, incredulous. What on earth was Atsushi talking about?

“Well,” Atsushi sat up and started patting his stomach.

“Don’t be ridiculous, Acchan,” said Issay. If there was any sort of difference, he couldn’t see it. “Who on earth gave you that idea?”

“Imai said-”

Issay clicked his tongue, peeved. “The next time we meet, I’m giving him a piece of my mind,” he growled.

Atsushi furrowed his brows and put his hands on his cheeks. “But…” 

“You look perfectly fine, Atsushi,” Issay huffed, taking Atsushi’s hands into his own as he pulled the man back into his embrace.

“And even my hair,” Atsushi went on. “You can’t say you weren’t affected by that. I saw the expression on your face.”

“Because the only image I had of you in my head for five years was how you looked back then, love,” Issay explained, nuzzling his hair. “I do admit I was surprised but I still love you all the same. It doesn’t change a thing.”

Snuggling closer, Atsushi let out a soft hum.

“You’re still the same person I fell for all those years ago in the second-floor stairwell of the school.”

Atsushi snapped his head up to look at Issay with large, baffled eyes. “Ever since…?”

“Yes,” Issay nodded with a smile. “From the very first time we met. If I wasn’t sure of what it was back then, I’m certain now,” he added, tracing Atsushi’s jaw with a finger.

“If I had known…” Atsushi whispered, shaking his head as the furrow in his brow deepened. “If I had known, Issay, I-”

“I did tell you,” Issay reminded gently, recalling all the times he sprinkled professions in their conversations. “You always brushed it off.”

“I thought you were teasing me,” Atsushi croaked.

“And here I thought you weren’t interested,” Issay chuckled, hugging Atsushi tighter.

“No! I… I was…”

“Scared?” Issay asked gently.

“What if I thought wrong?” Atsushi muttered.

Issay couldn’t help but grin as he said, “Well, you weren’t.”

“I’ve been so blind,” Atsushi breathed with his head hung low. “There’s so much that I would’ve done differently if I had known. I wouldn’t have… Things would’ve been so different now.”

“Who’s to say for sure?” Issay comforted as he rubbed circles on Atsushi’s back. “Maybe things wouldn’t work out that early on and we wouldn’t be-”

“Don’t say that,” Atsushi interrupted suddenly. Putting a hand on Issay’s knee, he gripped tightly and added in a small voice, “Please don’t say such things.”

“Chin up, love,” Issay said gently, tilting Atsushi's head up to look at him. "I'm here with you now, aren't I?"

"Yes," Atsushi responded softly.

"All this means is that I have always been yours, love," Issay went on as he gazed into Atsushi's glistening, emotional eyes. "And no matter what happens, I will always be yours, hm?"

Issay couldn't tell if he was imagining it but conflict suddenly appeared in Atsushi's eyes. Before he could ask about it, Atsushi leaned in and pressed their lips together, kissing Issay deeply as his grip on Issay's hands grew tight.

Issay held Atsushi's face in his hands, caressing him gently as he returned the kiss. When Atsushi paused, Issay whispered quietly, "Do you know how much you mean to me?"

"Let's go home," Atsushi replied. "Let's go home and you can show me."

Huffing as he smiled, Issay beamed, "With pleasure."

Chapter Text

Atsushi woke up feeling warm. Lying skin to skin with Issay, it was no wonder he felt that way. It was warm, but it was oh-so-pleasant to wake up with his company in bed.

Cracking his eyes open, Atsushi squinted against the sunlight streaming in through an opening in the curtains. Issay was sound asleep by Atsushi’s side with half his body draped on top of his own. Moving slowly, carefully, Atsushi buried his face in Issay’s hair, letting out a soft contented sigh. There was nothing better than this.

A series of rapid taps sounded on the closed bedroom door. Atsushi snapped his head in the direction of the noise as the doorknob shook noisily and twisted open. His three cats bounded into the room, their loud meows reaching his ears with their approach.

They leapt up onto the bed with their usual effortless grace and Atsushi sighed to himself. He began untangling himself from Issay, muttering, "Alright, alright, just… give me a moment."

The moment Atsushi moved, Issay began stirring. "Wha…?" he slurred, lifting his head.

Atsushi ran his fingers through Issay's hair. "Go back to sleep," he whispered. "I'll feed the cats then come back and join you."

"Mmh," Issay hummed, dropping his head back down onto the bed with a thump.

Issay's breathing slowed once more while Atsushi pulled a robe around himself and carefully stepped around his cats, leaving the bedroom. With tails held high, a cacophony of meows followed Atsushi through the house, into the kitchen, and remained around Atsushi as he took out the canned food to prepare the cats' meals.

Working quietly, Atsushi thought back about the past uneventful week. After they received the results from Yoshida, Issay conveyed the information to his aides back in Nagoya the very next day. Progress, however, was slow-moving and it didn't help that much was not properly documented back there. Especially when it came to money. While both Issay and Atsushi understood the rationale for this, it was nothing short of frustrating when it was their investigation that it hindered.

Atsushi brought the food bowls to his cats' dining corner and sat down on the floor behind them, watching them eat. He almost dozed off while waiting for them to finish but the sound of the doorbell ringing woke him up. Scrambling to the door, Atsushi peered through the peephole to see who it was. Imai.

Quietly releasing the door latches, Atsushi opened the door a crack and asked, "You have it?"

Imai pursed his lips and held out a scrunched up ball of plastic bag. With a quick swipe, Atsushi took it from him and hastily unravelled the crumpled plastic. He opened it up and looked in. There was a ziplock bag of pills in it, as agreed.

"Thanks," Atsushi muttered, moving away with the intention of letting the door close.

But before Atsushi could go too far, Imai grabbed his arm and asked, "What’s it for?"

Atsushi fixed his eyes on Imai's hand gripped tightly around his wrist. He hasn't yet come up with an excuse.

"Don't you tell me it's for ' play '," Imai warned. "It wouldn't be so hard for you to answer me if it was."

"… I'll tell you later," Atsushi muttered as he tugged once in an attempt to free himself.

"We had an agreement," Imai hissed, his hold unyielding. "You tell me what you want those for or I'm taking them back and telling Anii you asked for it."

"I will tell you later," Atsushi stressed quietly as he met Imai's eyes, imploring to be let go. "I swear on it."

"You're only going to tell me after you do that stupid thing you're planning, aren't you?" Imai surmised harshly.

"What 'stupid thing'?" Atsushi muttered, immediately casting his eyes towards the floor.

"For someone in this business, you're the worst liar I've ever known, you know that, Acchan?"

Refusing to look at Imai, Atsushi mumbled, "Just let me go. Issay's going to wonder-"

"You won't even tell him ?" Imai blurted, incredulous.

"I'll tell you, alright?" Atsushi huffed, casting a glare in Imai’s direction.

"You'd better," Imai said, finally letting Atsushi go with a throw. "Keep me updated."

"Yeah," Atsushi muttered reluctantly, pulling his arm close to his body. He shifted his foot to let the door close.

Speaking through the shrinking gap, Imai added, "If I don't hear anything from either of you by the end of today-"

"You will ," Atsushi promised as the door clicked shut. "I'll tell you later," he added softly to himself.

Locking the door as quietly as he could, Atsushi took quick strides back into the kitchen. He then opened an overhead cupboard and chucked the pills into a corner behind boxes and bottles of teas, coffees and sauces. That should keep it out of Issay's sight.

Atsushi let out a long sigh as he turned his attention back to his cats, which were lounging around here and there now that they have had their meal. Watching Nyan lay across the kitchen counter made him feel a twinge of envy. If only he could be as carefree.

Picking up the empty food bowls, Atsushi gave them a quick wash and left them out to dry. Once done, he hurried back to the bedroom expecting to find Issay asleep but instead, he lay awake, staring up at the ceiling with the sheets covering his lower half. 

"Can't sleep?" Atsushi asked as he closed the bedroom door.

"I heard the doorbell," Issay stated. "Got a little… worried."

"There's nothing to worry about," Atsushi assured as he stripped and hung his robe back up. How easily that came out. So much for 'worst liar'.

"Who was it?" Issay asked flatly, extending an arm towards Atsushi.

"It's just Imai," Atsushi answered as he climbed into bed and back into Issay's arms. "He dropped by to see how we were and brought more cat food with him."

"Hm, out of the blue?" Issay asked, looking into Atsushi's eyes as his thumb caressed Atsushi's cheek. "I guess I missed my chance to tell him off."

"It doesn't matter," Atsushi chuckled, giving Issay a peck on his lips. "He only dropped by because hasn't heard from us in the past few days," Atsushi replied with a shrug. "Plus, he wanted me to return a maid costume he mistakenly passed me with the last batch of lingerie."

"Maid costume?" Issay raised an eyebrow, interested. "I didn't see anything like that in your wardrobe."

"It's still all bundled up in its original packaging and tucked away in some corner," Atsushi said, nuzzling in the crook of Issay's neck.

"If I had known…"

"Want me to wear it?" Atsushi asked, keeping his tone light.

"Tell Hisashi I'll buy him a new one if he wants it back."

That was easy. Atsushi hummed as he shifted to straddle Issay. As he lay atop Issay, he said, "Let me ride you first."

"Whatever pleases you, my love," Issay smiled, letting his hand slide down Atsushi's arms while Atsushi sat up and kicked the sheets away.

Reaching over to the bedside table, Atsushi grabbed the lubricant and dispensed a liberal amount into his palm. He then held both their dicks in his hand, smearing the lubricant around as he stroked until they were hard. Issay watched quietly with the exception of that one low hum along with his wider smile when Atsushi teased his tip with a thumb.

Once they were both erect, Atsushi stroked them a little longer, enjoying the sensation of his dick rubbing against Issay’s before eventually releasing his hold and leaning back. Issay kept that smile on his face as Atsushi began teasing his hole, spreading the lubricant around and then pushing his fingers in, one after another. It was quick enough that Issay could tell Atsushi was eager to get himself loose.

Upon noticing Atsushi’s haste, Issay reached for the condom on the bedside table and tore the wrapper open, commenting gently, “Take your time, love. What’s the rush?” 

Atsushi could only manage a grunt as he shook his head, denying Issay’s observation.

Issay put on the condom and reached forward. Holding Atsushi’s hips, he guided him back towards him and said, “We have all the time in the world, love.”

No, we don’t. Atsushi shook his head again when he sank down, moaning softly as Issay filled him up. For some inexplicable reason, Atsushi found his mind wandering, thinking about what he planned to do later and his consequences. Brow furrowing, he gritted his teeth and shook his head again. This wasn’t what he wanted to think about now. He wanted to enjoy this time with his lover. Lest it be their… last.

A soft whine escaped Atsushi’s lips as the agony of that prospect assaulted him. Dropping his head back, he clasped his hands over Issay’s at his hips, holding them tightly as he bounced up and down while desperately averting Issay’s eyes. Atsushi could feel Issay’s gaze on him though, undoubtedly seeing his every facial expression.

“Acchan?” Issay called softly, his hand cupping Atsushi’s cheek. “Love?”

Atsushi could not resist Issay’s call at the mention of his pet name. Gradually, Atsushi shifted his eyes to meet Issay’s. He expected to feel better upon making eye contact with Issay, but instead, Atsushi felt a surge of emotion rising up, bringing him to the brink of tears as the thought that this might be their last time together assailed him again.

Seeing Atsushi's glistening eyes, Issay naturally frowned and asked, "Love? What's wrong?"

The moment Issay said those words, Atsushi felt his face began to contort, scrunching up as fat tears rolled down his cheeks. Issay, of course, grew worried and sat up. Atsushi resisted weakly as Issay put his arms around him and pulled him closer to hug him. While Atsushi heaved loud, noisy sobs, Issay put Atsushi's head on his shoulder, cooing tenderly in his ear and rubbing his back. 

“What is it, love? Hm?” Issay asked, rocking side to side. “Won’t you tell me?”

Atsushi shook his head and sobbed. He wrapped his arms around Issay, digging his fingers into his back as he hugged him tightly.

“Did Hisashi say something mean again?"

Atsushi shook his head, sniffling hard as another whine welled up and escaped his lips. Could he really bear to follow through with his plan?

“What is it then?” Issay asked, kneading the back of Atsushi’s neck.

“I…” Can’t say . Atsushi gasped as his words faltered. He tightened his embrace as the tears continued falling. Issay might never hold him like this again.

“Oh, love,” Issay sighed. “Don’t cry,” he said softly, gazing tenderly at Atsushi. Chuckling, he tried to lighten the mood by adding, “You’re killing my boner, love.”

“I’m- sorry-,” Atsushi sobbed.

“I’m just joking, love,” Issay smiled, stroking Atsushi’s cheek as he wiped his tears.

“I love you,” Atsushi blurted. Might as well say it now before he never gets another chance for it.

“I love you too,” Issay responded, his smile growing a tad wider. Giving Atsushi a kiss on his forehead, he went on, “I’ll always love you. Forever, until the end of time. So won’t you smile for me, my love?”

Atsushi forced one out through the fresh flood of tears that Issay’s words evoked. It was a pathetic one, he was sure of it, but nonetheless, it was enough for Issay.

“My beautiful, beautiful lover,” Issay gushed in whispers, beaming as he kissed Atsushi’s lips. “What would I ever do without you?”

Looking at Issay through blurry eyes, Atsushi sniffled again and mumbled, “Take over."

“Hm?”

Atsushi buried his face in Issay’s shoulder, hiding as he clarified, “Fuck me.”

“Ah. Right,” Issay chuckled, this time a little sheepishly. "Whatever pleases you, my love," he repeated again. This time, he rocked forward and gently laid Atsushi down on the bed.

Kissing Atsushi softly, Issay ran a hand down along Atsushi's body, caressing the dips and curves of his frame as he began thrusting. Atsushi let out another whine and sniffle, clutching Issay as tightly as he could as tears welled up in his eyes again. Feeling Issay hitting his prostate would normally overwhelm him with pleasure, but this time, all it did was exacerbate his emotions.

Squeezing his eyes shut, Atsushi screamed for Issay and the man reciprocated with his usual gentle shushes. Issay kissed his tear-stained cheeks and brushed the tears away. He sounded almost sad as he breathed, "Oh, my love… What am I to do with you?"

Issay's thrusting was a lot slower than usual, but nonetheless, he brought Atsushi to his climax. Instead of his usual high, Atsushi felt more emotions than he ever thought he was capable of well up and explode within him, turning him into a bigger, more tragic mess of sobs and tears.

Atsushi didn't know how long he remained like that, crying like a miserable excuse of a man, but he knew that he did wear himself out terribly, falling asleep at some point in time. When he woke again, he found himself seated on the bathroom stool, leaning against Issay as he washed him. Grunting, Atsushi began to sit up but Issay's arm nudged him back into place.

"Just a moment more, love," Issay said. "We're almost done."

"I can do it myself," Atsushi mumbled, resisting while feeling thoroughly embarrassed as Issay's hand rubbed the soap suds off his nether regions.

"It's not as if I've never done this before," Issay retorted, ignoring Atsushi's attempts to break free. "In fact, I can't even count the number of times I have."

"I don't want to trouble-"

"Don't be ridiculous," Issay chastised. "We're done anyway," he said, finally letting him go.

Atsushi stood up quickly but paused. What was he to do now? He glanced at the bathtub. The bath had already been drawn.

"You can step out if you don't want to soak," Issay sighed as he entered the tub. He didn't look too happy. Sinking down into the water, he muttered, "I won't be long anyway."

Atsushi stood awkwardly in the bathroom and gave Issay a long look. "Do you want me to stay?" he asked quietly, unsure.

"Do whatever you want," Issay muttered curtly. Immediately, he seemed to regret his tone, grimacing as he covered his face with a hand and sighed heavily, "I'm sorry, love. I just… I don't feel too good right now."

Atsushi went back to Issay's side without hesitation, startling him when he stepped into the bath. Issay looked confused as Atsushi came forward and dropped his head onto Issay's shoulder, lying down. Issay didn't immediately close his arms around Atsushi. In fact, it took him a while before he relaxed and finally did.

Atsushi thought of pointing out Issay's uncharacteristic hesitance, but he held his tongue, choosing instead to wait quietly for Issay to loosen up enough to trace lines on his skin again. Atsushi closed his puffy eyes and sighed. Still weary from his earlier outburst, he still had to keep his plan in mind and execute it. But he could take a moment more to enjoy Issay's affections, right? Especially if…

"What's gotten into you?" Issay asked, his voice soft as he dragged his fingers long Atsushi's neck. "You've never cried so hard in front of me before."

Unable to answer, Atsushi remained silent. How could he ever tell Issay the truth?

“I’ve been wondering if I did something wrong,” Issay went on.

Hearing this, Atsushi wanted so badly to assure Issay that he had no blame, but…

“As much as it leaves a bad taste in my mouth, maybe I should’ve taken your suggestion from the very beginning,” Issay muttered. “Pick up a random woman from somewhere, or even pay off the ex. Anyone would do, right? Acchan?”

At the mention of his name, Atsushi looked up and met Issay’s tired gaze. Lips parted, Atsushi felt the urge to say something, but nothing came out.

“What you proposed is what you wanted, isn’t it?” Issay asked quietly.

Atsushi shook his head mutely. 

Issay sighed and looked away.

“I… I was scared,” Atsushi blurted, catching Issay’s attention once more. He swallowed and continued, “at the thought of losing you.”

Issay’s gaze immediately softened. “Acchan…”

“It terrifies me,” Atsushi added as his vision blurred once more. This wasn’t the entire truth, but neither was it a lie.

"Enough," Issay whispered as gently as he wiped Atsushi's eyes. "Put those thoughts out of your head. I'm right here, aren't I?"

"But-"

Issay cut Atsushi off with a kiss and hugged him tighter, coiling their legs together in the bath. "I'm right here," he repeated when he broke their kiss and looked into Atsushi's eyes. "I'm not going anywhere. You won't lose me," he added. "I'll always be with you, one way or another." Holding Atsushi's hand, Issay planted a kiss on his fourth finger as he held Atsushi's gaze and whispered, "All this I promise you."

"You…" Atsushi stared at Issay, wide-eyed. "Why does it sound like a…"

"Doesn't count if I don't have anything to put on your finger, does it?" Issay smiled, rubbing his index finger and thumb around the base of Atsushi's fourth finger. "But I mean it. You'll just have to take my word for it for now."

Not wanting to show Issay his chagrin, Atsushi buried his face in the crook of Issay's neck. Of all times, why now? Why did Issay have to do this now ?

Issay weaved his fingers into Atsushi's hair, scratching lightly as he gave Atsushi a kiss on his head. “There’s no one else I’d rather be with than you, my love.”

Torn between conflicting emotions, Atsushi once again chose silence. He nuzzled up against Issay, staying there with him until their fingers pruned and it was time to leave the bath. Together, they returned to the bedroom and as Issay dressed, Atsushi opened his wardrobe and crouched down. Reaching in, he dug into the pile of clothes he left lying at the bottom of his wardrobe in search of the maid costume. 

In truth, the costume didn’t belong to Imai. Atsushi just procured it a mere couple of days ago through one unfortunate runner who had to hide it among the groceries he was tasked to buy for them. Well, it wasn’t the worst thing that anyone had to buy for him in his stead.

Feeling crumpled plastic wrapping at his fingertips, Atsushi couldn't really say what it was but he grabbed and pulled. Sure enough, it was the costume, still bundled up and brand new in its packaging. As he took it out and stood up, Issay came over. He was still undressed, wearing nothing but a robe loosely fastened at his waist. Or perhaps that was all he intended to wear. Whatever it was, it didn’t matter. All that mattered to Atsushi was the way Issay took pleasure in watching him put it on.

With Issay seated on the bed, Atsushi took his time dressing up. Twisting his hips and swishing the short skirt from side to side, it almost felt as if he was stalling the inevitable. But if this was one of the last things he could do for Issay, he wanted to make him as happy as possible.

Atsushi balanced on one leg and placed a foot on Issay’s knee, letting Issay caress his leg while helping Atsushi pick out stockings to go with the dress. He chose the ones that came up to Atsushi’s thighs. Atsushi put them on, deliberately rolling them up his legs one at a time before handing Issay his garter belts. Smiling, Issay leaned forward and slid his hands under Atsushi’s skirt, taking the opportunity to grope him before snapping the garters on and fastening them to the stockings.

Once that was done, Atsushi removed his leg and stepped back. He twirled for Issay one more time and then sank down to his knees. Kneeling before Issay, he put his hands on Issay’s leg and said, “What would master like? Coffee, tea, or me?”

Issay burst out laughing, his mood a vast contrast to the nerves that Atsushi felt roiling in his stomach. Forcing a smile onto his face, Atsushi struggled to match Issay's mood as he took Issay by the hand and led him out into the living room.

"What will it be, master?" Atsushi asked again, swishing the short skirt side to side as he sat Issay down at the dining table.

"May I eat you? Or should it be 'drink'?" Issay asked coyly, pulling Atsushi closer.

"Whatever you wish, master," Atsushi smiled, lifting the hem of his skirt. With all the nerves that had built up in him, Atsushi would honestly rather not waste any more time but playing along with Issay would be easier than forcing his plan forward.

"I'm just joking," Issay chuckled, patting Atsushi's hand and pressing the skirt down. 

Atsushi almost let out a sigh of relief.

"Maybe later," Issay winked, letting Atsushi go and leaning back against the chair. "The usual coffee would be lovely for now," he smiled, finally giving Atsushi an answer he wanted.

Atsushi beamed as he gave Issay a quick curtsy and turned to sashay into the kitchen. Once inside, Atsushi opened up that same overhead cabinet and took out the canister which contained Issay’s preferred blend of ground coffee. As he put the water to boil, his eyes fixed on the bit of crumpled plastic bag sticking out from the back of the cabinet. He was going to have to make use of that soon.

With an ease he acquired over this past couple of weeks, Atsushi took out a teacup, put two ice cubes in it, placed the coffee dripper over the cup, and fit a piece of paper filter in it. Atsushi recalled his confusion when Issay first asked him to add those ice cubes. He did say that coffee aficionados would be appalled by this, but he preferred his coffee at a drinkable temperature instead of piping hot. Issay might curse this preference of his after today.

Atsushi normally enjoyed watching the rising of the ground coffee and the foam forming as he poured the hot water over it in the filter, but today, it was a joyless task. He paused as he waited for the water to drain out before pouring the second round of water. Despite urgency making his stomach feel sick, Atsushi forced patience on himself. He didn’t want to ruin the beverage for Issay.

Once the water drained out, Atsushi continued with the next and final round of water. More foam formed and rose up. When it was about to reach the edge of the filter, Atsushi stopped and put the kettle away, feeling his heart sink together with the draining of the coffee grounds.

When the final drop had fallen, Atsushi robotically tossed the filter with the used grounds and took the dripper off the cup, rinsing it in the sink. He then closed the coffee canister and put it back into the overhead cabinet, exchanging it for the crumpled plastic bag. Holding the ball in his shaking hands, Atsushi opened it up and looked at the pills it held. He bit the inside of his lower lip. How many was he supposed to use?

Was one enough? But what if it wasn’t strong enough? Would two be better? Or would that be too many? Atsushi didn’t want to risk overdosing Issay. Maybe one was a better option after all. If it didn’t work…

Atsushi took one pill between his fingers and held it over the coffee. He felt weak, as if he was losing strength in his limbs. He was committed to doing this, wasn’t he? Atsushi could hear his own heart racing in his ears, the beating drowning out his thoughts as he squeezed his eyes shut and released.

It was done.

With his eyes still shut, Atsushi hastily crumpled the plastic bag up once more and tossed it into the back of the cabinet again. It was done. If it didn’t work, if Issay remained conscious, so be it. At this point, Atsushi was pretty sure that as much as he wanted to do this, a small part of him didn’t want it to happen.

Issay remained perfectly unaware of Atsushi’s scheming, frozen in his usual relaxed posture reading one of the books from the shelves when Atsushi returned to his side. Issay heard his approach and looked up with a soft smile and a look so tender he almost destroyed Atsushi on the inside. But Atsushi made no move to stop him from picking up the cup of coffee, bringing it to his lips, and drinking it all down in one go.

As Issay handed the cup back to Atsushi, his hand swayed awkwardly for a moment before stabilising. Issay furrowed his brow and shook his head. “Odd,” he muttered, turning his attention back to the book.

Watching Issay blink numerous times and frown harder, Atsushi asked uselessly, “Are you alright?”

“Mmh, it’s… odd,” Issay repeated, putting the book down. He pressed on his temples and shook his head again. “This… I can’t quite…”

Issay suddenly began leaning dangerously to the side and Atsushi rushed forward to catch him. While Atsushi did manage to do so, Issay immediately tried to stand only to have his legs failing him at the very next moment. Atsushi was already regretting his actions as he caught Issay a second time. Seeing Issay so unusually helpless hurt Atsushi but knowing that it was he who caused this broke his heart. 

As Atsushi carried Issay in his arms, Issay slurred, “I don’t… understand… I don’t understand what-”

“I’m sorry,” Atsushi blurted, his cheeks tensing as he rushed Issay back into the bedroom.

Even as the drug took effect, Issay’s eyes were large. There was still enough clarity in him to understand what Atsushi said. “What did…?”

“I’m sorry, but I really need to do this,” Atsushi said quickly as he lay Issay back down on his bed.

Issay grimaced as he tried to fight the effects. “Atsushi…” he mumbled, shaking his head slowly. He tried to grab hold of Atsushi’s wrist but it was a weak attempt. “Atsushi… what… Why?” Issay asked, hurt evident in his closing eyes.

“I’m sorry,” Atsushi whimpered, feeling tears fall again. “I’m really sorry but you wouldn’t let me otherwise,” he said breathlessly, interlocking their fingers while stroking Issay’s hair.

Issay shook his head. He must feel betrayed. “I…” 

“I’m sorry,” Atsushi repeated uselessly. “I love you. Believe me ,” he implored.

Issay was losing the fight. His movements grew sluggish and his breathing falsely calm as he muttered, “I… shouldn’t have…” He could not finish his sentence.

Atsushi could feel his emotions spiralling out of control as he watched Issay lose consciousness. It wasn’t as if Issay was dead, but Atsushi found himself crying uncontrollably. The pain in his chest was too much to bear. He was in an even worse state than this morning and it was justified.

As much regret as Atsushi felt, there was no going back now. He had done it. By his own hand, he had truly ended their relationship. He would never again get to see the tenderness in Issay’s dark eyes. He would never again feel Issay’s hand in his. He would never again hear all of Issay’s mushy words in his ear. He would never again feel the warmth of Issay’s embrace nor his passionate kisses. Atsushi could only settle for this final, unresponsive kiss but it was better than nothing.

Issay shouldn’t have ever trusted him. And now, he never ever would again

.

Chapter Text

It was silent when Issay slowly regained consciousness. The first thing he noticed was that he wasn't in their bed. He was seated upright and his neck ached terribly from the awkward angle his head lolled into.

The next thing Issay noticed was that he was in a vehicle. The shaking from running over a bump gave that away. Judging from the constant rapid flashing of lights, the vehicle must be travelling at quite a speed too.

The third thing he noticed was that he was wearing his two-piece suit. Last Issay remembered, he was still wearing a simple robe. Who dressed him? Was it Atsushi? Speaking of Atsushi, where was he? Was he driving? Where were they going?

"Ah, you're finally awake," a familiar voice deadpanned from Issay's side.

Issay sat up, turning swiftly to come face to face with Hisashi. He looked upset. Swallowing, Issay began, "Where's-"

"Acchan?" Hisashi finished.

Issay nodded.

Hisashi let out a heavy sigh. "He went to meet Kissaki."

Issay immediately felt fury filling him up. "You knew and you let him?!" he burst out.

"I did not ," Hisashi denied, raising his voice as well. "Acchan only called to tell me when he was five minutes from wherever they planned to meet."

"Why didn't you go and get him then?!"

"He wouldn't tell me where it was," Hisashi growled. "He only said that he had a tracker on him and the paired device was at his apartment, which is where I found you unconscious an hour ago," he went on, explaining.

"We'd better on the way to where Acchan is or I swear-"

"We are," Hisashi cut in, frustration evident as he waved a hand around. "Just be glad I decided to bring you along."

With his initial burst of anger fading away, Issay felt his mood shifting gears into agony. Groaning his vexation, he covered his face in his hands. Now it all made sense. It was no wonder Atsushi kept crying this afternoon. Issay was utterly disappointed in himself. He should have connected the dots earlier. He should have realised something was off. He should have spoken to Atsushi about this whole Kissaki thing and retracted his impulsive demand.

"I knew it. I knew I shouldn't have," he croaked, anguished. "This is all my fault."

"What do you mean?" Hisashi asked, alarmed.

"I made him promise not to do this. Forced him to give me his word," Issay moaned remorsefully.

"Huh. That's it?" Hisashi remarked flatly. "I thought you meant you told him to go or something along those lines."

"Why would I do that?!"

"Exactly what I wondered," Hisashi said. "It didn't make sense. But that said," he turned and looked at Issay, "whatever you did, it's not your fault. Besides, for all we know, nothing might've happened."

"Quite sure you're wrong about that," Issay muttered ominously. “Last I remembered it was about two in the afternoon and now it’s already dark out. What time is it?”

“Five past seven,” Hisashi answered with a sigh. Running a hand through his hair,  he added, “Now that you mention it, last I heard from him was almost two hours ago.”

Issay felt his heart seize up as he let out a distressed wheeze. “ Two hours? ” he hissed. “He didn’t come back to you in two hours and you speculate that nothing happened?!”

“Look, I’m just trying to stay optimistic here, alright?” Hisashi retorted, throwing a hand in the air. “It’s not as if there’s anything else I can do here.”

Issay smacked his fist against the car door and cursed. Hisashi was right and he hated it. He hated this helpless situation that they had been put in. At least this would be short-lived. They could do something once they figure out what happened with Atsushi, for better or for worse.

Shifting forward, Hisashi tapped the driver on his shoulder and asked, "Are we there yet?"

"We just entered the district," the driver answered. "Almost there."

Peering out of the window, Issay muttered to himself, "Why does it always have to be a warehouse?"

"We all got cargo stored somewhere," Hisashi answered.

"You got anything here?" Issay asked nonchalantly. He didn't really want to know but thinking about something else was a good distraction.

"I said 'somewhere', not 'here'."

"Hm," Issay grunted. "By the way," he suddenly recalled, "do you have a maid costume-"

"I am not into the kind of nonsense that you and Acchan are always-”

“Huh, so I guess that really was his, then,” Issay mumbled.

“What? A maid costume?”

“It did fit him perfectly after all,” Issay acknowledged, nodding to himself as he recalled the way the skirt ended right at Atsushi’s crotch. He cleared his throat and crossed his legs. It’s a pity he never got to play with that skirt a little more.

“I really don’t need you putting those images in my head now,” Hisashi muttered irritably.

“I didn’t ask you to think about it,” Issay shrugged. At least he knew what it really looked like.

The vehicle jerked and they came to a stop. Hisashi moved forward again and asked, “We’re here?”

“Well…” The driver handed a palm-sized device to Hisashi. “The exact spot is through there,” he said, pointing to the unpainted steel vertical rod door in the wall in front of them.

“Wait here,” Hisashi ordered. His eyes were fixed on the door as he exited the car.

Issay followed suit, moving to the front of the vehicle to meet up with Hisashi and approach the door. He peeked over at the screen of the device. True enough there was a flashing blue dot on it and they were getting closer.

“Got any weapons on you?” Hisashi asked, his voice low as he stopped in front of the door.

“Do I?” Issay asked back.

“I’ve got no idea, that’s why I’m asking you,” Hisashi intoned.

“You didn’t dress me?”

“You were dressed like this when I got to Acchan’s apartment.”

“So, Acchan dressed me.”

“I guess?” Hisashi shrugged. “Shouldn’t you have been dressed anyway? Wait. No, forget I said that,” he quickly corrected himself.

Issay stared at him, confused with Hisashi’s sudden turnabout when it finally hit him. Smirking, he remarked, “I suppose it suddenly occurred to you that we might’ve been-”

“Nevermind that!” Hisashi growled, flicking his hand. “Are you armed or not?”

Issay was still snickering as he patted himself down, checking his pockets for anything Atsushi might have left on him. He had his phone, keys… and a thick oblong thing in his jacket pocket. Sticking a hand in, he grabbed the solid, weighty thing and took it out. It was instantly recognisable by its colour.

"With a Swiss army knife, I guess," Issay concluded.

"Useful, but not here," Hisashi dismissed.

"I have my hands," Issay shrugged, putting the Swiss army knife away.

"You wanna use them in a gunfight?" Hisashi shot back, reaching behind and passing a handgun to Issay.

"How sure are you that there are guns involved?" Issay questioned.

"Just in case," Hisashi huffed, reaching behind again and taking another handgun out.

"Exactly how many of these do you have on you?" Issay asked, raising an eyebrow.

“Just these two,” Hisashi replied. Glancing at Issay, he asked, “Do you need more?”

“Nope,” Issay answered quickly. “Not a fan.”

Hisashi grunted half-heartedly as he turned his attention back to the tracking device. He confirmed the location of the spot one more time before slipping the device into the inner pocket of his jacket and putting a hand on the door’s vertical bar. He made eye contact with Issay.

Ready? Hisashi mouthed in silence.

Issay nodded.

One , Hisashi counted, two… 

At three, Hisashi gave the door a hard kick on the bar, surprising Issay who expected him to push as a normal person would. The door swung in with a loud bang and both men stood by the sides of the door on the outside of the building, pausing to listen for movement. There was no other sound aside from the metal door slowly and squeakily swinging back towards them. Before it slammed shut, they slid through the gap and entered the building.

An acrid stench hit Issay’s nose the moment he stepped into the dimly lit space. He wanted to retch so badly that he immediately held his breath and switched to breathing through his mouth. It was still unpleasant but bearable for now. Judging from the look on Hisashi’s face, he obviously shared Issay’s sentiment regarding the air.

For a place where there was supposed to be a meeting going on, it was uncomfortably still. Issay could see the roof of the warehouse above them, so there was no other floor aside from here and Atsushi should be right in the vicinity but…

The silence and lack of movement made worry bubble in Issay’s stomach. Everything about this felt wrong. He expected a guard or two at least to be securing the area or patrolling, but no one was around. The dread weighing on him only grew heavier. Were they too late?

Issay glanced over at Hisashi. He had never seen him so alert before. Hisashi’s eyes were darting around warily as he constantly scanned the wide space before them while slowly approaching the supposed spot. He exchanged a glance with Issay; he knew something wasn’t right too.

Drawing closer, Issay could see a tiny red light shining in a wet puddle on the floor. The sour stench grew stronger the closer they got and it finally hit Issay that the smell came from that puddle, that puddle that was vomit.

Issay felt his heart drop and his throat growing tight. “Is that the tracker?” he croaked, working hard to keep his tone level.

“He did say he swallowed it,” Hisashi answered, his voice barely a whisper as he stared at the red light which came from a small, pill-like thing. “He…”

“He’s not here,” Issay finished, staring fixedly at the tracker.

Hisashi lowered his gun and took out the tracking device from his pocket. He looked at the screen for a long moment before he started smacking the thing with his palm. “Maybe it’s faulty,” he muttered, hitting it over and over again.

Issay knew it was futile. He knew Hisashi was aware of that as well but Issay couldn’t speak. They were too late. They really were too late. 

An obnoxiously cheery jingle started, startling them both out of their stupor. Both men automatically lifted their weapons again, holding the guns at the ready as they turned towards the source of the noise.

The jingle sounded again and this time, Issay caught sight of a dim light in the gloom. It looked like a mobile phone. Needless to say, Hisashi saw the same thing he did and together, they made their cautious approach towards it.

As his eyes adjusted to the darkness, Issay caught sight of the vague shape of someone lying on the cement floor. He jolted in response, pausing for a moment as his heart raced. Was it Atsushi? Issay wasn’t sure which answer he preferred. He would love to find Atsushi but this figure was too still. He could be unconscious, or worse, dead.

Issay was almost scared to find out the answer but upon closer inspection, the frame didn't look like Atsushi’s. This person was smaller in size. And that face with large glassy eyes staring into space had none of Atsushi’s lovely features. “I know this person,” Issay realised aloud.

Hisashi trained his gun on the motionless body and hissed, “Kissaki.” He, too, knew the face of their previous adversary all too well.

“He’s dead,” Issay muttered, kicking one of the outstretched legs to no response.

“Acchan was supposed to be meeting him,” Hisashi recalled. “If he’s dead…”

“It can only mean one thing,” Issay said quietly. He didn’t want to come to this conclusion but there was no other way to look at it. “Something’s gone awry.”

“Acchan couldn’t have killed him,” Hisashi surmised, now frowning.

“You don’t think so?”

“Single gunshot wound to the head,” Hisashi pointed out. “Acchan didn’t bring a gun with him. I know that for a fact.”

“Then… who?”

Out of nowhere, the instantly recognisable chorus of some trendy boy band song started playing, creating hollow echoes as the two men leapt to attention and again pointed their guns in the direction of the music. It came from the phone lying on the floor next to Kissaki. On its screen read “Incoming call”.

Issay looked at Hisashi who jerked his head towards the phone, urging Issay to investigate. Apprehensive, Issay pursed his lips and crouched slowly, cautiously. Extending a finger, he pressed the answer button, expecting to hear a voice but instead, the call was put down in less than a second. He frowned. Weird.

The screen then reverted to the main screen which now shows two unread messages. Issay guessed that those were what caused the earlier two jingles that they heard. He looked up at Hisashi and said, “Two unread messages.”

“Well, get them read,” Hisashi said. “Maybe we’ll find out what happened.”

Issay grunted, reluctantly picking up the phone. Navigating it, he clicked to open what appeared to be two pictures. He could feel the restlessness in his fingers as he waited for it to download, but when it finally did, what he saw stopped his heart cold.

No doubt noticing Issay’s reaction, Hisashi asked, “What is it?” 

It was Atsushi. But Issay couldn’t answer him. The sight of Atsushi’s battered body stripped bare and strung up in a compromising position made Issay feel everything from rage to despair but he couldn’t react. All he could do was feel the image burning into his mind.

Issay heard the shuffle of Hisashi’s approach and stared blankly as Hisashi took the phone from him. They were too late. He was too late. Atsushi was gone.

“This…” Hisashi, too, was stunned silent the moment he realised what he was looking at. A palpable tension could be felt in the air as Hisashi added quietly, “You know, he’s been through worse.”

Issay’s mind was racing through the possibilities. He knew Atsushi had experienced worse, Atsushi told Issay himself, but this time was different. He was around. Atsushi was supposed to be in his care. ‘This time’ should never have happened.

“What’s this?” Hisashi’s question snapped Issay out of that tortuous train of thought.

Looking over at the screen, Issay felt as if he got hit by a truck. As if Atsushi getting taken was not enough of a blow, his worst fear has become a reality.

“That’s my family crest.”

Chapter Text

"I wasn't sure if you were going to show up," came a chuckle as Atsushi approached the centre where an unfortunately familiar face stood.

"It was I who called you, wasn't it, Kissaki?" Atsushi retorted. There was little about this business he liked, but he had to do this.

"Well, isn't someone looking a little fatigued?" Kissaki taunted. "Ten years sure has taken its toll on you, hm?"

"I could say the same for you," Atsushi returned, stopping a good three metres away from the man. He wasn't inclined to stand any closer to the man.

Even from this distance, Atsushi could see that same smug expression that he remembered from a decade ago on the Chinese man. More lines have appeared on his face over the years though, and he looked pale. All in all, a worse state than Atsushi remembered.

"And who do I have to thank for that?" Kissaki sneered, emanating hostility in the blink of an eye. But just as quickly, all of that disappeared and he turned genial again, saying, "But let's put all of that behind us, shall we? It has been a decade, after all." Turning on his heel, Kissaki paced around in his spot and asked, "I assume you came unarmed? As agreed?"

Atsushi opened his trench coat, revealing his plain white shirt and black slacks; nothing out of the ordinary. He made a show of flipping open the sides and turning around. His usual baton wasn't found there. He stashed it on the inside of his pants this time, keeping it out of sight.

"And yourself?" Atsushi asked, gesturing to Kissaki after letting go of his coat lapels.

Kissaki followed suit, doing the same with his blazer to show his lack of visible arms. Atsushi was sure that Kissaki had something sort of defence on him. He was also sure that Kissaki thought the same of himself, but for some reason, he wasn't expressing any scepticism. Kissaki was being oddly tolerant, much unlike how Atsushi remembered him.

"And you came alone? As agreed?" Kissaki asked as he stopped to face Atsushi again.

Atsushi did, but he didn't want to make it all that clear to Kissaki. What if the other man didn't keep his word? "I could ask you the same," he responded flatly.

"Don't you hear how quiet this place is?" Kissaki asked, putting a finger next to his ear as he paused to let the silence make his point. "I'm as alone as a leper," he smirked.

"I suppose I should keep my distance then," Atsushi remarked, taking one step back.

"But as you said, you were the one who contacted me, weren't you?" Kissaki reminded with a growing smile. "I must confess that I'm surprised," he went on, "that you're actually here without your willowy boyfriend."

"Why would you say that?"

"My sources say you are inseparable, as good as joined at the hip."

"I'm afraid your sources are wrong then," Atsushi shrugged. Like hell he would let Kissaki know he was right. "We do spend time apart."

"So it seems," Kissaki hummed, folding his arms over his chest. "Wouldn't he love to be here?"

"Enough with the small talk and cut to the chase," Atsushi growled. This man and his probing never failed to annoy him. "He has nothing to do with our business here."

"Oh, but he does," Kissaki corrected, cocking his head to one side with a gleam in his eye.

"You said you have information I would want-"

"And in return, I want information on his business," Kissaki cut in, smiling. "You didn't actually think that I'd be sharing anything with you for free, hm?"

“Of course not,” Atsushi scoffed, rolling his eyes as he folded his arms too. As if he would be that naive. “But I wouldn’t tell you anything if what you have is nothing new to me,” he shrugged.

“Hm.” Kissaki narrowed his eyes. “And I don’t feel inclined to share anything with you if you don’t have anything I need,” he said, pressing his lips thin.

“I guess we’ll both hold our tongues then,” Atsushi concluded, stepping away in a show of departure. In all honesty, he was aching to leave and go back to Issay. This was getting all too uncomfortable for him.

“Wait,” Kissaki blurted, stopping Atsushi in his tracks.

Crap. There went his hopes of going home now. Feigning disinterest, Atsushi turned and raised an inquiring eyebrow at Kissaki.

“How about,” Kissaki began, “we answer each other’s questions? I’ll start by answering one of yours, but you’ll have to answer one of mine in return.”

Atsushi hummed to himself as he turned to face Kissaki once more. This could work. He could play around with this. But he had to be careful.

Furrowing his brow, Atsushi commented, "You sound very interested in Issay's business. Interested enough to contact us directly, to make good your word, and to make such a suggestion. It's very unlike how I remember you to be."

"I have my reasons," Kissaki snapped, obviously frustrated. "Now, do we have a deal or not?"

"Provided you don't give me useless answers," Atsushi muttered.

"I could say the same," Kissaki grumbled.

"Let's give this a go, shall we?" Atsushi intoned, putting his hands into the pockets of his coat. "Who ordered for Issay and I to get shot at the Fujisaki residence?" he asked, careful to be as specific as possible. He didn't want to give Kissaki any chance to skirt a proper answer with a vague non-answer.

"Huh, so you were the supposed scapegoat," Kissaki remarked to himself.

"Answer the question," Atsushi urged, feeling slightly ticked off. It looks like he had unwittingly given Kissaki extra information by being exact.

"The older Fujisaki brother," Kissaki answered curtly. Before Atsushi could get a word in, the answer was swiftly followed with, "Does the Fujisaki family deal internationally?" 

"You already got information from my question," Atsushi returned.

"It wasn't information that I asked for, was it?" Kissaki smirked.

"It was information, nonetheless," Atsushi insisted.

"But did I ask for it?" Kissaki retorted. "We agreed only to answer each other's questions, didn't we?"

Atsushi scowled.

"So, answer mine, Tiger . Does the Fujisaki family deal internationally?"

Glaring, Atsushi hissed, "Yes."

"Good kitty," Kissaki taunted, beaming at him. "Now, your question, if you will."

"Were you referring to Issay's stepbrother?" Atsushi asked through gritted teeth. He needed to know for sure.

"Yes," Kissaki answered.

Issay was right after all. But even as Atsushi felt his insides chill at Kissaki's answer, he noticed that Kissak's expression darkened a tad at that moment. Interesting.

"Now tell me," Kissaki said, schooling his face. "Does the Fujisaki family deal with any of the triads from Hong Kong?"

"I thought, you of all people would know the answer to that question," Atsushi said with an eyebrow raised in intrigue.

"Just answer me," Kissaki growled.

"I. Don't. Know," Atsushi smiled, watching Kissaki's frustration grow. "And that's the truth," he added.

"You have got to be kidding me."

"Ah, I think there was this one time when Issay spoke of the Chinese triads on the phone," Atsushi recalled suddenly. It was some time back during one of their brief stays in a hotel suite.

"And?" Kissaki asked, taking a hopeful step forward.

"He wasn’t too happy about it," Atsushi shrugged. "It didn't sound like any deal was struck."

Kissaki hummed to himself as he rubbed his chin, considering the information.

“And now, I’ve answered two questions of yours,” Atsushi grinned smugly. Kissaki’s eyes grew large in realisation and Atsushi chuckled. At least he got the upper hand this time. “The next thing I want to know is this; does Issay’s ex have anything to do with his older brother?”

Kissaki was silent for a while, giving Atsushi a long stare before answering, “Yes.”

"Was she deliberately sent to my office?" 

" One question-"

"I answered two of yours in a row," Atsushi interrupted. "You will answer two of mine. I'm not giving you anything else otherwise."

Kissaki glowered at Atsushi with obvious dissatisfaction. Atsushi simply stared back, refusing to back down. If Kissaki wouldn't give him an answer, he could leave. There wasn't much, but he did get information.

"Fine," Kissaki finally conceded after a long, tense moment. "What was your question again?"

"Was Issay's ex deliberately sent to my office?" Atsushi repeated.

"From what I heard, yes," Kissaki sighed. "Why are you even interested in this?"

"Well, if you really want to know…"

"No," Kissaki said quickly, stopping Atsushi from replying. "I'd rather not know. I'd very much rather you-"

A loud bang sounded and Atsushi jolted awake. When did he fall asleep? Even with his eyes open, it was dark. He felt pressure around his eyes. A blindfold?

A cold draft passed over his skin and Atsushi shivered involuntarily. He tried to move but instead, he felt something restraining his movement. It took a while for him to realise that the chill and the restriction was a result of his body having been stripped and strung up.

His arms were folded behind his back, hand to opposite elbow and bound tightly. He was probably being suspended by something attached to the ropes on his torso. His right leg had been tied calf to thigh and raised up by another rope against the back of his knee while his left leg was left dangling, barely touching the floor. Having been unconscious when this was being done to him, Atsushi didn't even have the chance to try and support himself on his toes before letting his restraints dig into his skin. There was really no point in leaving one leg unbound like this.

"I see you are awake," a man’s quiet voice said.

Atsushi lifted his head and felt his neck muscles ache. Someone else was here? Was that what caused the bang which pulled him out of that dream? Or was this a dream? He couldn't tell now.

"Enjoying your accommodations?" the man asked.

“I’ve had better,” Atsushi muttered. He recognised this voice. He first heard it what felt like moments ago, just before he witnessed Kissaki falling to the ground from a hole in his head and then got jumped.

“I’m sorry to hear that,” the man returned. Although he didn’t sound truly sorry, he didn’t sound like he was joking either. It was an oddly soulless combination. “Any way I can make things better for you?” he asked.

“Untying me would be a good start,” Atsushi replied, matching the man’s tone.

"I'm afraid I can't do that," the man replied, a hint of a smile in his voice. "What I can do, on the other hand, is get someone to provide you with sexual stimulation. You're a fan of that, aren't you?"

"No thank you," Atsushi huffed. Is that all? "I can easily get that at home."

"Ah, yes, from that half brother of mine, yes?"

Oh.

"I've always wondered why that lily-livered half brother of mine is so enamoured with you," the voice continued. Atsushi could sense him coming closer.

"Funny you would call him that when you're the one who won't even show me your face," Atsushi retorted, jerking instinctively when he felt a hand touch his side. He knew it was futile, though. It's not as if he could move anywhere.

The hand continued moving along Atsushi's body, sliding up his torso, towards his neck as Issay's stepbrother said, "I just thought I'd spare you the discomfort of knowing that you have an audience."

Before Atsushi could respond, fingers prodded near his eyes and lifted one small corner of the blindfold. Light flooded in and blinded him for a moment until his one eye adjusted to the brightness. He only managed to catch the vague outline of two cameras set up in front of him along with one more in the corner of his eye before he lost his privilege of sight once more. He sighed. This again.

"What would you like to star in?" came the question. "A gang rape? A torture marathon? Or perhaps, a snuff film?"

"Has it ever occurred to you that none of this is new to me?" Atsushi muttered flatly.

"Of course." Annoyingly, a hand started patting his head. "Wouldn't it be wonderful to come back into the industry with a bang?" stepbrother chucked. "And this time, Issay gets a chance to watch it all every little detail in high definition. Aren't I such a great half brother?"

"Why would Issay want to watch anything when he can get the real thing anytime he wants?" Atsushi questioned. Although, he wasn't sure if Issay really cared now. Not after what he had done.

"He can't get 'the real thing' if he doesn't have it, can he?"

"Be an even greater half brother and return it then," Atsushi retorted with a shrug, or rather, an attempted one.

"Ah, but you see," the hand on Atsushi's head dug into his hair and grabbed tight, pulling his head back, "I'm only a half brother, aren't I?"

The next thing Atsushi heard was the distinctive sound of duct tape getting pulled out and feeling said tape slap over his mouth. Hating what he knew was coming, he could feel himself getting sick already. As if being forced to expunge the tracker from his stomach didn't make him sick enough. Thinking back, he should have swallowed that thing earlier in the day, let it travel a little deeper into his digestive tract before meeting Kissaki. Oh well, too late to think of that now.

"Since you didn't tell me what you'd prefer, let's start with the first option, shall we?" Issay's stepbrother said as his voice drew away. "We have more than enough eager participants here anyway."

A pair of hands grabbed Atsushi's hips roughly. Atsushi instinctively used his free, dangling leg to kick out. Unable to see which direction he should kick in, Atsushi only managed to get that leg caught by someone's hand.

“Why on earth would you want to use his mouth?” Issay’s stepbrother suddenly questioned, his voice even further away than Atsushi remembered.

All motion stopped while muffled voices answered to the man, but whatever was said was quickly rebuffed with, “This man will not hesitate to bite your dick off. He is far more dangerous than Issay is so if all of you intend to live long lives, do not speak a word or take the blindfold off. If you do, and on the off chance that he does find a way out of here alive, your days will be numbered.”

With that, Atsushi heard a door shut and the manhandling resumed, albeit with a little more hesitation now. He ignored the pain of ropes threatening to break his skin, growling as he fought and struggled and resisted until he was forced still by the hands that grabbed hold his suspended body. There were too many for him to guess how many people he might be surrounded by.

Whatever the number, it didn’t matter once Atsushi felt that familiar but now-unwanted pressure against his ass. A flash of pain made him grunt and thrash, but it was useless; the first person was already using him. The thrusting was rough and quick; a terrible combination considering that no lubricant was being used and his assaulters had their turns with him one after another. He could tell that there were condoms being used, but the meagre amount of lube from it was next to useless.

Atsushi could feel the pain in his behind steadily escalate into an incessant burning sensation that hurt so much that he could barely keep a coherent thought. It’s been a long time since he was last stuck in such a situation. He was not really counting on this happening again but now that he was here, he just had to grit his teeth and wait it out. They can’t keep going forever after all.

While that was true, the whole ordeal felt like an eternity of dicks inside of him, rubbing between his calves and thighs and whatever crevice they could use to fuck. To add to that, they did not hold back with grabbing and lashing him with what felt like belts while coming all over his body.

By the time it was over, Atsushi could barely register that he heard them leave. His mind was completely frazzled and his body felt destroyed. Sure, he had been here before, but he was getting too old for this. That, he was sure of. If this was only the beginning, he didn’t know if he could hold out against whatever came next.

A string of curses reached his ear. “Fine?! How is this ‘fine’?!” a familiar voice muttered in a hushed tone as it approached. “He’s going to be fucking livid.”

Atsushi felt his hopes rise at hearing someone he might know, but suddenly, his body had cold water poured over it. Surprised, he tensed up and let out a grunt. As the dousing continued over and over again, he started breathing rapidly and his body began shivering uncontrollably from the chill. With the added sting of water over his possibly numerous wounds, this was honestly even more uncomfortable than the earlier treatment. He could barely even breathe right and it was just about impossible for him to stop his body from shaking so hard.

“Sorry, just… bear with me for a bit.” Well, that was something Atsushi didn’t expect to hear from this voice. Following the apology, fingers began pressing against Atsushi’s cheek, scratching his skin lightly to dig under the duct tape and rip it off in one, hard pull. 

“Argh!” Atsushi made his displeasure known.

“Fuck!” the voice swore again. “Sorry.”

“Mizunaga?”

“Yep,” he sighed and lifted Atsushi’s blindfold. “Hello,” Mizunaga greeted with a rather dismal face and tone as Atsushi’s vision gradually focused.

“Must be my lucky day,” Atsushi muttered flatly. “Mizunaga apologised to me twice.”

“If this is what you call lucky…” Mizunaga sighed again and shook his head. "I'm amazed you've kept your sense of humour."

“So?” Atsushi said, accusing. “Did you turn?”

“Fuck if I did,” Mizunaga huffed. “They don’t even trust me enough to let me keep my phone,” he added, pressing a thumb between his eyes.

Atsushi felt his heart sink. Well, there went the possibility of calling for help. “And yet you were sent here?” he questioned.

“No, I snuck in here,” Mizunaga replied as he threw a wary glance behind Atsushi. He was probably looking at the door. “I’d be screwed if they found me here, but I owe it to Issay to check on you.”

“He probably doesn’t care,” Atsushi mumbled.

“Huh? Why wouldn’t he?” Mizunaga asked, confused.

“I… broke a promise with him and the consequence…” Atsushi paused as his throat grew tight. Just the thought of it was unbearable. He wanted to curse himself. Taking a deep breath, Atsushi continued quickly, “The consequence was for us to cut our ties."

Mizunaga folded his arms and scoffed, “Tch, he wouldn’t.”

“He would,” Atsushi insisted. “He’s a man of his word.”

“He wouldn’t,” Mizunaga repeated confidently. “You’ve got no idea how stubborn he can get with whatever he calls ‘his’. No one can tell him someone doesn’t belong to him until he decides it.”

“He probably already made his decision then,” Atsushi said gloomily. He could see Mizunaga starting to argue again and he quickly added, “He would be here otherwise, wouldn’t he?”

“He doesn’t know where we are,” Mizunaga groaned, exasperated. “Damn it, can’t you have a little more faith in him?”

“Don’t give me hope where there’s none, Mizunaga,” Atsushi sighed.

“Maybe I was wrong about you keeping your humour. Did they hit your head too hard? Have you already lost your mind?” Mizunaga asked. “Why can’t you understand how important you are to Issay?”

“Even if I mean that much to him, there’s no way he would still want me after this.”

“What did they hit your head with? Why are you being so fucking daft?!”

“I’m just being realistic.”

“I’ll tell you what you’re being,” Mizunaga seethed, pointing a finger at Atsushi. “You’re being a depressing, obstinate, fool, that’s what.”

Atsushi stared blankly. He didn’t even have the energy in him to get upset at being insulted.

It seemed like Mizunaga realised that and he pulled back, running a hand through his hair as he said, “Look, I’m sorry that I can’t do more to get you out but you’re not helping by being like this.”

“Can’t you cut my restraints or untie me?” Atsushi asked quietly.

“I don’t have anything sharp on me,” Mizunaga sighed. "And it's not as easy to replace as a blindfold or a piece of tape if someone walked in on us now."

Atsushi pressed his lips thin, disappointed. Suddenly, he remembered something. “Then… do you think you can access a radio?”

“A radio?”

“To send out a message on our emergency channel.”

Mizunaga raised his eyebrows in surprise. “You have one?” 

“Toll has one. On his ship.”

“Oh. That makes sense.”

“So? Do you think there’s a radio you can use?” Atsushi asked again. “You just need to tell him where Tiger is.”

Mizunaga was silent for a moment before asking softly, “Is that why you have that nickname?”

Atsushi blinked at him. “No, I just really like cats. Especially Bengals.”

“Like a Bengal Tiger?”

“Nevermind,” Atsushi mumbled, half rolling his eyes. “Can you do it or not?”

“I’ll try. I think I know where to find one,” Mizunaga promised, replacing the blindfold over Atsushi’s eyes. “Sorry, but I need you to pretend I was never here.”

“You poured all that water over me though,” Atsushi pointed out as Mizunaga put duct tape over his mouth again. He was still shivering from that. Maybe he would catch hypothermia and then they’ll treat him a little nicer.

“Let’s just pretend those guys did that, alright?”

Atsushi, again, tried to shrug but only managed an awkward jerk. Within moments, he heard a door open and close once more, leaving him alone. 

Atsushi’s mind started running through the events of the past… perhaps, few hours. It could have even been a day or so now since he got kidnapped like this. However long it has been, he must be more exhausted than he thought. At some point, he fell asleep. He only knew because he woke up and found himself lying down with a bright, white light shining in his face. Did he die of hypothermia? Atsushi tried to move. Nope, his legs and arms were still pinned down.

“Slept well?” the quiet voice of Issay’s stepbrother asked.

Atsushi's eyes darted around, searching for the face which the voice belonged to. Surprisingly, the only face he saw was that of a rather plain-looking bespectacled man who looked nothing like Issay. His face was so indistinctive that Atsushi was absolutely sure that he could've passed this man on the street without suspecting anything had he not known he was Issay's stepbrother.

"Cheeky of you to try and plot with our little mole here," the man remarked, gesturing behind him where an unconscious Mizunaga lay. "I knew he was not to be trusted."

Fuck. Was he dead?

"Nevermind that. He won't be bothering anyone of us anymore," Issay's stepbrother shrugged nonchalantly. " You , on the other hand…"

Heart in his throat, Atsushi met his eyes. He was starting to feel sick again but his stomach was as empty as it could be.

"I've thought about what you've said," Issay's stepbrother began with a faraway look him his eyes. "About how none of this is 'new', about being a great half brother… And I've decided that I'll take your words into consideration and act on them," he smiled. Nothing about that smile felt right.

"Hm, and?" Atsushi croaked. It hurt to speak but felt the need to be a little more than a mute doll.

"I will be a great half brother and return you," came the answer. The smile seemed to grow wider.

Atsushi found himself unable to feel any sort of joy at that statement. It was his way out, but when it came from someone who smiled like that, there had to be a catch. "How nice of you," Atsushi mumbled.

"Isn't it?" Issay's stepbrother beamed. "And I did a lot of brainstorming on what would be 'new' to you."

"Actual snuff?"

"Oh, that'd just be tasteless."

"Hm. Really now?"

"I thought of something even better."

"Surprise me," Atsushi responded as a plastic face mask was placed over his mouth and nose. He frowned. What was this? An airway mask?

"I'm a hundred- no, a thousand per cent sure you've never experienced this before," Issay's stepbrother said smugly. "Physical castration."

Atsushi's eyes grew wide as gas fed into the mask. He held his breath and thrashed, pulling at his restraints while refusing to breathe anything in. This man cannot be serious. He had to get out. He had to.

"Judging by your reaction, I suppose I have surprised you," he said, blatantly proud of himself as he turned to walk away. "I just can't wait for Issay to find you. What a reunion it'll be ."

Atsushi glared after the retreating figure, mentally vowing his revenge on that man if, by any chance, he managed to get out of this. He continued fighting against the restraints and the efforts of these assistants around him who tried to keep him down.

As a result of his struggling, Atsushi felt his already battered body start straining for air all too soon and his body forced him to take in a desperate gasp of air, or rather, anaesthesia. Almost immediately, he felt the gas take hold of him and in mere despairful moments, his vision went black.

It seemed like barely any time had passed between that and Atsushi's next waking but he knew it had been a while. It was telling. His head was foggy, his body felt heavy, and there was a new, unfamiliar ache in his lower half.

If Atsushi thought he was tired earlier, he felt utterly drained now. What was the point of resisting? Everything he had tried was to no avail. All his efforts were for nought. Mizunaga was probably now dead because of him too.

"Where is he?!"

Issay.

Atsushi exhaled and let his head roll to the side. He instantly felt his chest swell with relief and joy at the sound of his voice but Issay's disappointment when he finds him… incomplete… was not something Atsushi could face now.

"He's here! Issay!" Otsuka. It appears that Issay was with his group then. "He's alive."

Hurried footsteps ran towards Atsushi and stopped abruptly. The next thing he knew, Atsushi heard an infuriated roar fill his ears, "WHAT DID YOU DO TO HIM?!"

Atsushi began to feel consciousness slipping out of his grasp again as Otsuka cursed quietly and said, "I better get you out of here first. He's going to go ballistic again."

Atsushi wanted to ask what Otsuka meant but all he could manage was a weak sigh before falling asleep gathered up in someone's arms. At the very least, he knew it was now over.