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Yagami poked at the mechanical cabinet at the front of Charles, waiting for Kaito and the rest to join them at closing time. The game involved metal spheres and spinning wheels and was making a truly terrifying array of distorted midi screeches, but it was giving out tokens frequently enough for Yagami’s lizard brain to be entertained.

“Is this one new?” he asked, raising his voice to reach Higashi at the counter over the racket of spinning ball bearings. “Never seen it before.”

“Nah, I had it in the back,” said Higashi, writing down something in a notebook. “It was broken for ages, so I fixed it.”

“You can fix arcade machines now? That’s a pretty handy skill.” The machine blared at him and another handful of tokens clanged into the tray.

“Only the older ones.” He leaned against the counter, and lit a cigarette. “I have no idea how to fix the video game ones unless it’s the buttons sticking. But the old ones are fun to tinker with.”

Yagami imagined Higashi elbow deep into some old dusty cabinet, gently screwing in old switches and oiling joints. Cute. “You should come give my old pinball machine a touch-up. It always gets stuck after a few games.”

Higashi’s response was overridden by Kaito arriving, and for the rest of the evening Yagami forgot about the loud spinning wheel machine.

But he didn’t miss, the next time he stopped by Charles, that it had been moved to a different spot, another machine taking its place.

Interesting.

***

Higashi didn’t ask, but Kaito hinted with his usual subtlety that he could use some legal help. Hoshino was still buried in calls after the Ayabe trial, so Yagami brought Saori. She looked a bit overwhelmed by the noisiness of the arcade, but her and Higashi hit off quickly.

He had time to poke around the machines while they looked over a bunch of boring papers. He was glad he was chasing lost cats and cheating husbands. So much less paperwork.

The machine with the spinning wheel had been moved to the back. It was extremely noisy, so he imagined Higashi didn’t want to have it in his face all day.

He tried a few rounds, and got only a few tokens. Bad luck today. The ufo catchers were operational again after they’d been too involved in their many fights; he distinctly remembered smashing higashi’s face into one of them and smoke coming out of the motor, but they were all running smoothly now. Higashi must have fixed them, oiled the arms and placed the prizes. It was honestly admirable how much he was taking care of this place that only old men fighting a crippling pachinko addiction visited.

One of the ufo catchers had an especially good selection. Instead of ugly polyester knockoff Pokemon, it was those dice cats from the VR game, brand new official tags visible. Who knew how Higashi had scored those. Yagami did his very best, actually put effort in it, but no matter how much he jostled and moved the dolls, he could never get one into the slot. Annoyed, he moved to the next machine and won three misshapen Pikachus in a row with a single token. Go figure.

The discussion was still going, so Yagami checked the gatchas in the stairwell. He liked the ones Higashi had set up because the little sea creature figurines were actually kind of neat. Looked good on a shelf. He cranked out a couple, peeled the little pods like hard boiled eggs. One was a shark he didn’t have. The other was a double, a little clownfish. He slipped that one in Saori’s pocket as she gathered up her papers.

“I’ll take these to get notarized tomorrow. We shouldn’t have any trouble, Higashi-san.”

“Thank you, Shirosaki-sensei,” said Higashi, smiling pleasantly instead of scowling. “Bill everything to me, I’ve left my contact in the folder.”

“Do you need me to walk you back?” said Yagami.

Saori shook her head firmly. “It’s fine. I’ll take a taxi.”

Insisting would have been unthinkable, so he didn’t.

“Your firm sure has a wide range,” said Higashi when Saori had left.

“It’s not my firm anymore,” said Yagami mechanically. “Is she going to be alright?”

“Oh, she’s perfect. The kind of no-nonsense woman that puts terror in the heart of yakuza. And all men, actually.”

“It makes the fact she can act like a femme fatale even scarier.”

Higashi chuckled, which was something Yagami couldn’t remember ever seeing him do. “Yes, Hoshino-kun was very eager to share that video.”

“What was this all about, anyway? Are you guys in trouble?”

Higashi hesitated, and cast a quick glance around the arcade to make sure it was empty. “Yes and no. The family has been reduced to barebones, small enough that we have considered applying to be absorbed by a larger subsidiary.”

“But?”

“Between you and me - the Tojo clan is not doing so hot. It’s hard to get news from the high ranks as it is, but they’ve been especially scarce lately. There’s whispers of government intervention. A lot of the Majima family has been quietly turning civilian, and when the biggest family in the clan goes legit....”

“It’s time to go legit, too,” concluded Yagami, noticing the lapel of Higashi’s jacket was not bearing the badge.

“Family’s been managing some of these places since before I even joined. Getting them officially hired as managers or landlords is mostly just a question of paperwork. The businesses stay protected, and some yakuza goons get to do some honest work for once in their life. Should be fun.”

Yagami laughed, imagining people like Tashiro having to actually do customer service. “Fun” was definitely a word you could use. “And you? Trying to spruce up the old arcade? I saw you got your hands on some nice new prizes in the machines.”

“Ah, you noticed,” said Higashi, with a proud little smile that suited him really well. “I’m still trying to figure out where to put things I guess. Repairing some of the old cabinets, those you or the Mole broke. Keeps me busy.”

“And out of the office, huh,” said Yagami quietly.

Higashi nodded, not looking at him. It was hard to go in there these days. The gutted side room, the slowly emptying office. More ghosts than people by now.

“Well, keep up the good work,” he said awkwardly, and waved to leave.

He gave the fish gatcha another crank before leaving though. Another shark. Damn.

Bad luck today.

***

He accompanied Saori again two days later. She didn’t need a chaperone, but also did not complain.

Yagami was just curious to see what new improvements had been made in Charles, and left them to discuss the boring business stuff while he did the rounds of the machines. The loud spinning wheel was still in the back, but the machines around it had been changed. Even louder mechanical cabinets, one of which was pumping out a pop midi so utterly distorted Yagami couldn’t make out what 80s idol band it belonged to. The other made a grinding, threatening noise as it pushed money around.

Took tokens, spit out money, maybe a cheap looking wrist watch if you were lucky. Not entirely legal but also not exactly illegal, and the other two monstrosities pumped out tokens like a dream today.

Was Higashi arranging the machines like this on purpose?

Probably. He was smart, with an eye for business. But this was beyond just positioning them. He was certain the token distribution had been different in three separate occasions. He pulled out his phone and took a quick picture of the full metal dish. Typed out “7 games, 5 wins ???” and pocketed his phone again.

At the front now was an actual video game cabinet now, a brutally difficult old platformer with a catchy soundtrack that ate almost all of Yagami’s wins and by the time he pushed off with an angry sound after dying the second his little man in armor popped onto the third level, he turned to notice Saori had already left.

“Did she say goodbye,” he said, slightly embarrassed.

“Yes, but very quietly.”

“I’ll have to bring sweets next time to make up for it.”

“You better stop losing all your money to Ghouls ‘n’ Ghosts then.” Higashi’s actually laughed, and for a moment Yagami lost track of what he was going to say.

But saying this is the first time in a decade I see you laugh to somebody was kinda weird, so he said, “Who the hell designed that thing. It’s impossible.”

“That’s the point of arcade games, isn’t it?”

Yagami had to concede the point. “How did the boring paperwork go?”

“You’re looking at the completely legit, fully legal owner of Charles.”

“Congratulations,” he said, and offered up the handful of tokens he had left. “Can I buy you a drink with these?”

Higashi snorted. “I’m good.”

Yagami was already at the vending machine, noticing that the musty bottles that had been there since the nineties were gone, replaced with newer cans. “Tea? Coffee?”

“Coffee,” he said, lighting a cigarette.

Yagami put enough tokens in the machine for two cans, and handed one to Higashi. “You know that now you’ll have to stop smoking in here, right? The ventilation in this place is nowhere even close to code.”

Higashi sighed an all-suffering sigh. “I’ll stop when the customers stop too. Is that acceptable, sensei?”

Yagami cracked open his coffee and clicked the cans together in an awkward cheer. “It’s not me you have to answer to, it’s Saori-san. And I think she’s much worse than me.”

Higashi swallowed, and snuffed his cigarette in the full ashtray. “Heard you weren’t going back to law,” he said, failing to sound conversational.

“Kaito told you, huh.”

“He was a little mad that you were undervaluing yourself. But mostly happy. I don’t think he ever planned for you not being there for him. So, um.” He played with the tab of the can, nervously. “Thank you, I guess.”

“I honestly can’t imagine things without him either, so no need to thank me.” He leaned against the counter, and noticed Higashi didn’t back out of his presence for once. “Maybe it was selfish of me. But, eh. We’ll see.”

Higashi sipped his coffee, eyes unreadable behind his glasses. “How has he been holding up?”

“You know him. Larger than life and always ready to rumble. But I think Oyassan’s death really took a toll on him. Leaving the family was one thing, but he didn’t even get to say goodbye. Oyassan really was like a father to him, he has no other family.”

“Neither do you,” muttered Higashi.

“Ah, so he told you, huh.” He smiled tightly, rubbing his hands on his jeans. When he thought about that thing, he still felt blood on his hands, sharp smelling and cold. It was over as soon as it started, these days. “Well, I’ve got Genda-sensei. I’ve got you guys.”

Higashi glanced over his glasses. “Even me?”

“You fought half the police force of Kamurocho and got assaulted by a serial killer for me, dude. I think it’s pretty safe to say that you’re one of us and you’ve been for a while.”

Higashi’s eyes lowered again, pink on his cheeks and a hint of a smile on his lips. “You have...a way to get people on your side, I guess.”

“I’m happy to have you on my side, Higashi.” He reached out to clap him on the shoulder, hesitating just a second in case he was going to shake him off. But he didn’t, and accepted the gesture. Making big steps today. “And if you need us to help you renovate this old shithole let us know. I’m sure Sugiura and Hoshino would jump at the chance of hanging out together.”

“Oh, is that what’s happening now?” Higashi’s smile was almost devious.

“You should see them. Sugiura is always finding excuses to stop by Genda’s office just to see him.”

“Aww. Must be nice being young.”

Yagami’s phone buzzed in his pocket, Kaito’s name on the screen when he pulled it out. “Oh, good. Kaito-san’s done. I’ll go.” He smiled. “Keep the offer in mind, alright.”

Higashi didn’t say anything until Yagami was almost out the door. “Yagami.”

He stopped by the stained glass doors, barely seeing Higashi past the corner. “Yeah?”

“Are...you and Kaito....”

Yagami swallowed. “...No. Not yet? I don’t know.” He ran his hand in his hair, by the healed scar on his scalp, thinking of Kaito’s relentless care, his big hands on his hips as he stumbled home from the hospital with a cracked skull. His insistence he stay at his place. His broad back to him when he cooked for him, his hands so gentle when he changed his bandages. The times he caught him looking at him while he thought he was sleeping. Chastely sharing the futon with him, large and warm and solid and comforting and all he wanted when even thinking hurt. Knowing he was safe when every step was filled with vertigo.

Yagami knew what he wanted, had known for most of his life, but also knew that Kaito could only be what he wanted if he arrived at that conclusion himself, at his own pace. The space between them had melted and faded more than ever in the past couple of months, was merely atoms sometimes, but it was there still. “I’m sorry.”

Higashi shook his head with a sneer. “Nevermind. Forget I asked.”

“I’m sorry,” he said quietly again, and left.

He still had a token in his pocket. He used it in one of the gatcha machines.

An octopus, pink and purple. He didn’t have this one. He put it in his pocket, and rushed to meet up with Kaito.

***

Yagami went to Charles on his own. At this point he was genuinely curious to see what the newest improvement was going to be, and he’d run out of excuses to tag along.

And maybe, just maybe, he felt like seeing Higashi, too. He could admit as much.

Higashi was talking to a customer and waved absently when Yagami came down the stairs to crouch at his favorite gatcha to try his luck. One, two, three pods, all new fish, one of them a rare color scheme. Nice. He stuffed them in the inside pocket of his jacket, wandered the aisles slowly taking mental note of the changes. The main one was that the old rusty ashtrays were gone. And from the bits he could hear of Higashi’s conversation over the din of the cabinets, regular customers weren’t too happy about it.

“Health dep---really cracking down----yeah, Moroh-san----don’t like it either----”

Yagami smiled. Sugiura was going to be very proud.

The changes were subtler this time. Different dolls in the ufo catchers, no more sad armless Pikachu but some branded plushies in between the less ratty knockoffs. One machine was, Yagami could swear, positioned at a 30° degree tighter angle towards the Ghouls and Ghosts cabinet, that now sported a new set of buttons, shiny and clean. And then the new centerpiece, under enough light to wash out the leds inside, was a whack-a-mole machine that had to be as old as they were. It was clearly still under repair, two of the holes empty and showing the mechanical guts of the machine. Yagami pressed his fingers on the little plastic hardhat of the center mole, felt it give. He gave it a little twist to the side, felt the click of the lock and the figurine sprung out into his hand. He picked it out of its hole and looked at it. It had squinty eyes and a big buck tooth, its cartoon face was scratched and a little faded.

“You’re much cuter than the last mole I’ve handled, buddy,” he said with a grim smile, and slotted the little mole back into its hole. Wonder where you could buy replacement moles.

“You need something?” said Higashi, finally free of Moroh-san, who was sullenly putting tokens into a crane machine, no cigarette between his teeth.

“Whack-a-mole, huh?” said Yagami.

“Thought it was kinda ironic. I was thinking of getting a blackjack to hit them with instead of the hammer.”

Yagami laughed for the first time about something to do with the mole, and Higashi’s smug smile was entirely warranted.

He watched Higashi go back to the counter, and pull out a thick notebook bursting with notes and write something in it, and ambled over.

He placed his three gatcha wins on the counter. “In case you need to record what I got from the machine you rigged for me.” Said with a smile. “Thanks, by the way. I was trying to get this color for a while.”

“I know,” said Higashi, and opened the notebook and holy shit. The amount of notes and detailed spreadsheets compiled in small, meticulous handwriting was incredible. There were at least three colors of highlighter just in the couple of pages he caught a glimpse of. “You used to hit the furthest one because that was where I usually snuck the rare ones. You’ve been using the center one since after you got back.”

Yagami put his elbows on the counter. “You take note of everything?”

Higashi looked up, a moment of hesitation in his eyes before he realized Yagami was fully interested in this. “Yeah. I do.” He turned the notebook, offering his notes. “What works, what doesn’t, who uses what machine more. I’ve been experimenting with positioning to see if I can increase earnings. Or just get people to use that horrible pop music one in the back just because the money pusher is busy.”

“You moved that pink one so it’d face Ghouls ‘n’ Ghosts better, didn’t you?”

“About 30°, yes. It catches the eye.”

Yagami leafed through the notebook in complete awe. The notes were so detailed, so clear. There were machine tabulates, token weight calculations, dozens of little colored page markers for every machine. “Higashi, this is...incredible. How long have you been doing this?”

“Started last year. I guess I was bored in here and I started counting stuff, seeing what machines attracted what kind of people...I suppose I got a little into it.” He seemed slightly embarrassed. Yagami could not tolerate that he felt that way.

“It’s fantastic work. I wish my notes were like this.” He chuckled. “They’re such a mess. Kaito-san is always mad at me for it.”

“No need to butter me up, I’m not coming to reorganize your case folder.”

“Dang.”

Higashi laughed.

Yagami felt kind of elated, in a stupid, fullfilling way, like chasing a cat up a rooftop. He handed the notebook back. “Wanna show me some of your deductions?”

“You sure? It’s kinda...lame.”

“I have never been more sure. I’ve been keeping track of all your changes in the past few weeks. I want to know everything.”

Higashi’s smile was accompanied by a pink tinge on his cheeks. He took the notebook and walked out around the counter. “Alright, so, you know the crane machine with those dice cats...here’s what I’ve been doing…”

Yagami followed him, rapt and happy, drinking his every word, guessing some conclusions, suggesting changes. It was fun for once to unravel some mundane mysteries. He lived for this feeling.

“So there’s the Tornado,” said Higashi.

“The what?”

He pointed at the spinning machine. “That. You’ve been using it as a point of reference which is interesting.”

“It’s hard to miss.”

“I hate this fucking thing,” he said, almost affectionately slapping the cabinet. Yagami snorted. “It’s so loud. It was a nightmare to fix. But!”

“Can you rig how many tokens it gives?”

Higashi beamed. “Exactly. There’s only six outcomes, so tuning it to prefer one or the other is really easy.”

“How did you even figure that out?”

He shrugged, tracing a long finger across the smudged glass to point at the three bumpers that determined the outcome of the game. “Trial and error. I had to get pretty intimate with this things’s guts to fix it, and I guess figuring out the arcane workings of some weird machine was a fun challenge.”

Yagami looked at Higashi, that only three months ago was calling him a disease and was pointing a gun at him in this same room, getting animated and smiling openly, so close to him he could smell his spicy aftershave. Almost a different person yet so deeply Higashi, the one he knew and the one he'd fought side to side with.

“Yeah,” he grinned. “I think I get the appeal.”

Only when they were fighting off thugs, back to back, he’d felt this close to Higashi.

It was nice.

He wanted more of it.

“Did you pull out one of the moles?”

“Ah, yeah. I’d never seen the inside of a whack-a-mole machine,” he said, a little embarrassed.

“No, that’s good. While I wait for the new pieces I got online to arrive I’ve been testing how much the moles get stolen.” Higashi looked excited. It was actually kind of adorable.

“I’m sorry?”

“I took one out, and within a day somebody had pocketed another one. I’ve had another one disappear the next day, and I swear I keep an eye out. It’s like seeing the empty casing makes people realize how easy they are to take.”

“They are. I put it back, though.”

“So has another guy I caught. It’s still good data.”

“Are you sure you want to run an arcade? You’d make a good detective.”

“No thanks. I rather like not being shot at.”

“Hey, I don’t get shot all that much, okay?”

They were both quiet, tiptoeing over Matsugane’s silent absence, around the ugly scars on Sugiura and Kaito’s sides.

“Well. I’m trying to quit.”

Higashi snorted.

“Anyway,” he said, leaning against the whack-a-mole machine and crossing his arms. “When do you close? I have some decent whiskey I got from a client and a pinball table that’s yearning for your loving care.”

Higashi raised an eyebrow. “My, how could I possibly resist.”

“C’mon. It’s really pretty good whiskey.”

Higashi rolled his eyes.

“C’mooon.”

“Oh, fine. I still have an hour or so before I can lock up, think you can keep yourself entertained for that long?”

“Only if you give me your notes and I get to check every machine.”

“I don’t even know why I was embarrassed to show you,” he snorted, passing the well-loved notebook into his hands. “You’re definitely worse than I am.”

“Comes with the job description, baby!”

With an eye roll, Higashi went back to the counter to handle a couple of curious teens peering inside the room at the Ghouls and Ghosts machine.

Yagami grinned. He was sure he could pester Sugiura to find some cool retro machines the kids would go crazy for. Put some internet in here, a couple computers running those online games Yagami did not understand. A few coats of paint to hide the worst of the blood stains and they could make this place shine. Make it special. Make it worthy of its owner.

And while he waited, now that he knew the trick, Yagami was going to get himself one of those dice cats.

***

Higashi shuck his jacket, laying it over the backrest of Yagami’s couch, and rolled up his sleeves. He took a swig of the whiskey and handed the glass to Yagami before leaning over the pinball table, long fingers tracing the bottom edge for the latch. With a click, the top of the table opened, and as Higashi stepped back it lifted off the base, exposed wiring and components all over the board.

“Hmm. Yeah, there’s a couple of dinged up rails. Slows the balls down.”

Yagami nodded, even though he had no idea what that meant. He watched Higashi pull out a little velvet pouch from his pocket and take out a tiny screwdriver, start undoing a piece off the board.

“You should give it a clean up every once in a while. It’s filthy.”

“I didn’t even know pinball tables could get dirty,” admitted Yagami, sipping whiskey out of Higashi’s glass.

“Where did you even find this. Machines like these go for a couple hundred grand, easy.”

“Oh, we found it.”

Higashi looked up, eyebrow raised. One lock of hair had escaped its pomade prison and was stuck to his forehead, immediately softening his entire image. “So you stole it.”

“We didn’t steal it,” said Yagami, affecting outrage. “We were investigating an insurance fraud, and the guy had burned out his bar - this and a couple things weren’t burned just because he was an idiot. We figured...it would’ve been a shame to let the cops take it. It was just gonna rot in a warehouse forever.”

Higashi clicked his tongue. “For shame, detective. Engaging in petty theft with your partner.”

Yagami laughed, but the little inflection on the word partner hadn’t slipped past him. He swirled the whiskey in the glass, making the ice clink. “I feel I should say something about...you know. Kaito-san and me. But I don’t know what.”

Higashi was quiet for a while, eyes glued to the screw he was tightening. “How much do you remember of that day? After the fight?” he finally asked, his deep voice barely above a whisper.

“Nothing,” admitted Yagami. “I’m gonna be real, I barely remember the fight itself. Everything was so muddled. It felt like a fever dream.”

“Yeah.” He put the screwdriver down and gestured for his glass. It was almost empty, so Yagami poured him a fresh one. “You pretty much dropped the second it was safe.” He smiled, and his smile was so sad. “Dropped right in aniki’s arms. Like a movie.”

“Higashi…”

“I’m not mad. I’m not even jealous. The way he held onto you...I’ve never seen him so gentle." He shook his head. "He loves you. He loves you just as much as you love him.” He sighed. “You won. Hell, there was never any competition.”

“You’re right,” said Yagami. “There wasn’t. But not because I won, Higashi. Kaito-san’s heart is huge, but you're special to him. You've always been. He wouldn’t lose a hundred million yen and a pinkie just for anybody, you know?”

Higashi glanced up, met his eyes, and looked back into his glass, eyebrows knitting together. “I’ve been so angry. So jealous. It’s so stupid. I don’t even know why you still bother with me.”

“I enjoy spending time with you,” said Yagami, and it was the truth. “And I think you don’t hate me nearly as much as you wish you did.”

Higashi snorted. “When I saw you just...crumple like that…” He shook his head, and drained his glass. “I couldn’t even be jealous. I thought you were dead, and I’m still shocked by how much I was afraid of that.”

“Aww. You like me.”

“Shut up.” He bit his lip. “I guess when I just saw you as my Rival I thought you were some sort of invincible asshole, too cool for our family, too cool for the law school Oyaji paid for with the money we made with our skins. But you’re just a man, trying to make lousy hands win. Like we all are.”

“I never thought myself too cool for you guys,” he said quietly. “I was just different.”

“Yeah. And as much as I hate to admit it, I don’t mind it now. You’re pretty alright, Yagami.”

Yagami met his eyes, felt his heart skip a beat when Higashi lowered his gaze again towards the board. He knocked back his drink, put the glass on the desk, and cupped Higashi’s sharp jaw in his hands.

His rude mouth was so, so soft, and it felt so right to kiss it.

“Really?” gasped Higashi when they parted, his fingers already sinking in Yagami’s hair.

“Yeah,” breathed Yagami, and kissed him again, got a nip on the bottom lip for his trouble. “Why do we gotta be rivals, Higashi. I’m a genius.”

Higashi laughed into his mouth, pushing out from behind the pinball table, hands at Yagami’s waist, and it was the cutest sound. He pushed back, leading Higashi until the back of his knees hit the armrest of the couch and then he was sprawled over it, his indignant noises trailing off when Yagami shrugged off his leather jacket.

Higashi’s glasses were already smudged with prints of his nose, but he could still see the way he looked at him.

How long had Higashi been looking at him like this?

Did it matter?

He climbed over the couch, throwing a leg over Higashi’s waist, straddling him. The couch was too thin, they didn’t quite fit, which put a damper on all of his fantasies of finally getting Kaito to ravish him on it, but Higashi was slender enough he could manage with one leg extended to the floor.

He leaned over, lips soft on Higashi’s jawline, mussing up his hair against the worn leather. Higashi’s chest hitched against his, his hands steadying him when he shifted.

“Can I?” breathed Yagami, holding the corners of his glasses.

Higashi licked his lips, and nodded, tilting his head back to let the glasses slide off his ears. Yagami snapped them closed and put them on the coffee table where he wouldn’t risk breaking them, and when he looked back Higashi was looking at him like that again, only there was nothing between Yagami and those dark, hungry eyes.

Yagami smiled.

“What.”

“You have pretty eyes.”

“Oh, shut up.”

He leaned in. Kissed him right on the little mole he had under his eye, almost a perfect mirror of his own. “I’m not lying. They’re really pretty. Haven’t seen them in a long time.”

Higashi’s hands were hot on the small of Yagami’s back, pushing his t-shirt up to trace the line of his spine. Yagami kissed both his closed eyes, chuckled when his lashes tickled his lips. Kissed the bridge of his nose where his glasses rested, sucked on his soft, full lips. “You like that? When I tell you you’re pretty?”

“No,” grunted Higashi, but his nails scraping the notches of Yagami’s spine were telling a different story entirely. “It’s dumb.”

“Oh yeah?” Yagami nuzzled the side of his face, kissed his pierced ear, sucking on the lobe just enough to feel the metal studs in his mouth.

Higashi moaned.

“Oh, that was a nice sound,” purred Yagami. He pressed a kiss to his pulse, thundering against his lips. “Wanna make it again?”

“Make me.”

Yagami grinned against his skin. Oh, he did love a challenge. He sat back on Higashi’s hips, tugging at the open collar of his shirt. “Imagine if Kaito walked in now.”

A shiver of alarm under him.

“He does that sometimes. Gets a bit too drunk and comes over to shoot the shit...if he walked in now, he’d see us right away…”

“Yagami,” growled Higashi, palming Yagami’s ass through his jeans, roughly.

“Do you think we could seduce him?”

Higashi swallowed.

“You look so good.” He popped open a button of his shirt. “Good enough to eat. Bet he’d jump you like a starving man.” Another button. A glimpse of nipple, a droplet of sweat shining between his pecs.

“Would you just sit back and watch? That doesn’t sound like you.”

Higashi’s shirt slid open with a whisper of silk. Yagami brushed the back of his knuckles down Higashi’s abs, his navel, the fine hair trailing down. “Yeah, you’re right.” He shuffled a little, grinding his hips gently. “I think it’d be pretty hot if I sucked you off while Kaito-san fucks you.”

Higashi’s hips snapped under him.

“You like that idea?”

Higashi glared at him through his long lashes. Yagami ground his hips again, lower, Higashi’s hard cock pressed against him, making his stomach bottom out. He braced himself on his hips to slide even lower, chasing that heat, that pressure.

Higashi grabbed the front of his shirt, pulled him until their foreheads were touching, his eyes focused on his, dark and serious. “Just me tonight,” he growled, and kissed Yagami hard enough to bruise, sucking on his tongue, biting at his bottom lip. He tugged at the shirt when they broke off. “And take this off.”

Yagami obeyed, balling his shirt up and throwing it behind him, sitting still as Higashi ran his hands down his chest, thumbed his nipples, brushed his fingertips down his ribs with a touch just short of being ticklish.

Infuriating,” he grunted.

Yagami laughed. “So how long have you been wanting this.”

“Shut up.” He gripped what little meat there was on his hips hard, firmly, holding Yagami down to thrust against him. “You’re the worst.”

Yagami’s breath hitched, but he still managed to lean in, cupping Higashi’s face in his hands. “You know, I think I’m getting pretty good at deducing what you actually mean. I think you just said you like me.”

Higashi looked away, cheeks flushed red. “Tch…”

“Higashi,” he breathed. “Look at me.”

And he did, his angry facade slipping and his brow smoothing.

“There you go.” He kissed his lips. “You’re seriously so cute when you pout.” He kissed his adam’s apple. “But when you smile, man…” he kissed the hollow of his throat, just over the gold chain. “My knees go weak when you smile.” He kissed between his pecs, and under, feeling his heart beat fast against his tongue.

“Oh my god, stop it,” whined Higashi, but he didn’t sound nearly as angry now.

Yagami shuffled lower, trailing kisses down his stomach, undoing his belt, whispering how cute he was, how hot, how much he couldn’t wait to taste him, and Higashi burned crimson to the tips of his ears, arching under his touch, unraveling like a beautiful lock to pick.

Kneeling between his legs in a way that he was going to regret in the morning, Yagami mouthed at his erection through his slacks, breathing hot and wet on the fabric, not unzipping him until one of Higashi’s hands was gripping his hair, tugging impatiently, whining deep and needy.

“Yagami,” he rumbled when he took him in his hand, but whatever he was going to say, if anything, turned into a breathy sigh when he started wetly mouthing the head, sliding him into his mouth, swallowing around him.

He bit his knuckles as Yagami undid him with his mouth, muffling his little cries, and Yagami thought it was a real shame. He patted at Higashi’s elbow for his hand, and knitted their fingers together, palm to palm, and worked him into shouting his name when he came in his mouth.

He was gorgeous like this, shining with sweat and tousled and flushed, still holding onto his hand as he gasped for breath.

“Nice,” he croaked, resting his head against the couch backrest.

Higashi smiled at him, really smiled, warm and loose with pleasure, rolling his sweaty hair between his fingers, and Yagami’s heart skipped a beat. Ah damn. He really liked him, huh.

Letting go of his hand, Higashi pulled himself up on his elbows with a groan. “This couch is awful. Just so you know.”

“Oh, I’m aware.”

“So does it like...turn into a bed or something…?”

Yagami helpfully tucked him back into his pants. “Nah. Just a couch.” When Higashi said nothing, he looked up. “What?”

“I’m just. You seriously sleep on this?”

“...Yeah?”

“Oh my god.” He swung his legs around off the couch, zipping his pants up in a hurry. “I can’t believe this.”

“It’s not so bad…”

Higashi buttoned his shirt. “It’s pretty bad and I’m not getting naked on that thing.”

Yagami pouted.

“Well? Pack a change of clothes and let’s go.”

Yagami tilted his head. “Go where?”

“My place. We are fucking in a bed, and that’s final.”

Yagami laughed, rolling back to his feet and looking for his shirt. “Well, if you twist my arm like that, how can I refuse?”

He grabbed Higashi’s hand when they locked up the office, and he rolled his eyes but still twined their fingers together and gave Yagami’s hand a squeeze.

The cold air of Kamurocho hit like a punch on his still heated skin, and Higashi’s warm hand in his made the sudden clarity so much stronger.

“We should pay Kaito-san a visit tomorrow,” he said. “Together. Blow his mind a little.”

“And hopefully not just his mind.”

Higashi!

And laughing, they melted into the Kamurocho nightlife.

This was new, but a lot had changed in the past few months. Yagami had a very good feeling about this.