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after midnight

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Kojiro’s doorbell rings just after midnight. He grins to himself and sets aside the book he’s reading—a memoir by one of his favorite culinary travel bloggers—and gets out of bed with a stretch that makes his back pop.

He isn’t surprised to find Kaoru waiting on the welcome mat. His friend is little more than a dark silhouette against the star-spattered sky, pink locks loose and flowing about his powerful shoulders, glasses glinting enigmatically in the sparse light from the entryway. He smells freshly bathed, floral notes clinging to his still-damp hair. He doesn’t speak as Kojiro silently steps aside to let him enter the apartment.

No point in feigning shock, or that Kojiro hasn’t been looking forward to this moment since Kaoru stopped at Sia la Luce for lunch today. 

It’s their routine, now. Kaoru comes to the restaurant; Kojiro feeds him. Those visits are usually a prelude to Kaoru showing up on his doorstep—except that last part hasn’t happened since the night Adam put Kaoru in the hospital. An act for which Kojiro still owes his former friend some serious retribution.

Until today, Kaoru wasn't ready to return to their old no-strings arrangement. Kojiro respected his choice and eased off, leaving Kaoru to initiate when and if he ever wanted. He might be an incorrigible flirt, but that didn’t mean Kojiro was the type to actually pressure anyone, least of all Kaoru. So he let Kaoru pretend he only came to Sia la Luce for the food, and not because he craved the company of a friend. He left Kaoru’s need for companionship unacknowledged, permitted Kaoru the luxury of saving face.

Kaoru won’t, maybe can’t, admit to needing his friend or to being comforted by his presence, and Kojiro will argue with him about a great many things, but not this. Never this. 

Instead, without being asked, Kojiro prepared one of Kaoru’s favorite dishes: spaghetti carbonara, extra bacon. He watched Kaoru twirl pasta around the tines of his fork, watched him take that first bite and swallow with a pleased little hum.

The happy noise, and Kaoru’s clear enjoyment of the meal, set off a sharp flare of satisfaction in Kojiro’s gut, as it always did.

He loves cooking—he made it his profession, after all—but Kojiro especially loves doing it for the people he cares about. And when those people need comfort? Well, he’s been known to show up bearing gifts of three-course meals. Call him a mother hen, and yeah, sometimes he tended to hover, but he was raised to view food as a love language, and he isn’t shy about displaying his affection.

Kaoru hides his vulnerability behind two different masks—the refined calligrapher and the cool, prickly skater—even more reticent now of showing his emotions than he was when they were kids, but Kojiro wears his own loud and proud on his sleeve. It’s been their way since they met in childhood, unlikely to change anytime soon.

Kojiro knows Kaoru, and that’s why he expected this visit. There was a moment earlier when Kaoru set his fork down on his empty plate, drained the last of his pinot grigio, and met Kojiro’s gaze with an all-too-familiar gleam in his eye. One that Kojiro instantly recognized.

It meant at some point tonight Kaoru would appear on his doorstep, and Kojiro, besotted fool that he is, would welcome him inside.

Now, Kaoru stands here, stiff-backed, his zori set neatly alongside the shoes Kojiro discarded when he got home from the restaurant a few hours ago. He’s draped in his usual navy blue yukata, a yellow and gray obi cinched at his waist. The heavy fall of his hair is drying in a cascade of soft, loose waves. He doesn’t wear it down often. Kojiro knows this display is for him, even if Kaoru will never admit as much. Already, he itches to bury his fingers in that silky mass, to wrap the length around his fist and tug until Kaoru’s neck is a pretty arch, bared for Kojiro to explore with teeth and tongue. 

Kojiro’s mouth goes dry at the thought. He shuts the door and clicks the deadbolt in place.

“If you’re looking for another meal, I can warm something up for you,” he says, just for the glare Kaoru shoots him over his shoulder.

“You know why I’m here. I’m not looking for a midnight snack.”

Kojiro grins, shoving his hands into the pockets of his pajama bottoms. “Really? Could’ve fooled me.”

“Idiot.” Kaoru tosses his head. “Just shut up and kiss me before I decide this is a bad idea.”

Kojiro’s grin only broadens. He closes the distance between them in a few long strides, forcing Kaoru to tip his chin up to keep their gazes locked. “I wonder, did you check with Carla before you came over? If you did, I’m sure she told you this is the best idea you’ve had in weeks.”

A hot, furious blush darkens Kaoru’s face. He opens his mouth, a snarky retort at the ready, no doubt, but before he can speak, Kojiro crowds into his space, capturing his lips for the kiss he demanded.

Kaoru bites him for his trouble, sharp and stinging. Reflex makes Kojiro flinch away, but without missing a beat, he laughs and dives right back in.

This time, Kaoru softens, opens to accept him as Kojiro deepens this kiss. Kaoru has his tongue piercing in—a rarity these days—and the feel of the hard metal ball makes Kojiro’s dick start to stir.

Fuck, he loves how all of Kaoru’s piercings are a secret now, hidden underneath the layers of his traditional attire. No ring in his lower lip, no hoops in his ears. But Kojiro has seen every beautiful inch of him. He knows what lies beneath. Stainless steel bars at Kaoru’s nipples, a curved barbell at the tip of his cock, another, more delicate version threaded through his navel with a cluster of silver and pink sakura charms dangling below. 

Kojiro is the only person who gets to see them, and he’s just enough of a possessive bastard to want it to stay that way.

“Are you sure you’re ready for this?” Kojiro asks when they part for air. Images play through his mind—Kaoru crumpled and bleeding in the dirt, then later, in the hospital, covered in bruises and bandages. It hasn’t been that long, all things considered, since Kaoru ignored the advice of his doctors and discharged himself from the hospital. “I don’t want to hurt you.”

“I’m fine,” Kaoru says, soft. “You’ve never hurt me.”

Kojiro hears the “not like he did,” even if it’s left unspoken. He doesn’t press. There’s no room for Adam here. Not right now.

Kojiro kisses Kaoru again, backs him down the hall between sharp, teasing bites and slick glides of tongue. The apartment isn’t huge, just large enough to accommodate the fully functional kitchen Kojiro couldn’t live without, which means it’s a short trip from the front door to his bedroom.

Once there, he strips Kaoru’s clothing with quick, deft motions. They’ve done this so many times the actions are basically muscle memory at this point. Good thing, too, since he can’t seem to take his mouth from Kaoru’s for more than the span of a breath.

He finds lube in the drawer of the bedside table. Slicks two thick fingers and slides one inside as Kaoru clutches at his shoulders and shuffles his feet apart on the rug. They’re still standing, consumed with each other and the kisses that bleed one into the next.

Kaoru hisses and bears down when Kojiro adds a second finger. He lets Kojiro fuck him with them for maybe a minute before he whacks at his shoulder. “That’s enough. I’m ready.”

Kojiro knows better than to argue or ask if he’s sure again. He pulls his hand away, lets Kaoru turn to grab a foil packet from the bed stand.

A few seconds later, it’s Kojiro’s turn to hiss when Kaoru shoves down his pajama bottoms and grabs his dick. Kaoru rubs his thumb over the tip, spreading slick precome and prompting a jerk of Kojiro’s hips. Then he rolls a condom over the shaft with his cheeks flushed a brilliant red and his gaze concentrated on his task. 

Kojiro smothers a smile in Kaoru’s hair, mouth pressed to the crown of his head, completely enamored and unbearably fond at witnessing this hint of shyness after everything they’ve done together.

Kaoru strokes him, coating lube over the latex, and trails slippery fingers along the groove bisecting Kojiro’s abs. He peers up at Kojiro through dark lashes, his lower lip caught between his teeth. He doesn't say anything, but words are unnecessary anyway. Kojiro knows what he needs.

“Come here,” he says, and hoists Kaoru into his arms.

Kaoru sighs and presses a gentle kiss to the dip between Kojiro’s clavicles. Here, in this room—and only here—he sometimes allows himself to be tender. Kojiro shivers in response and pulls him even closer.

This position is a long-time favorite. For all Kaoru’s opposition to him getting too big and bulky, he certainly has no complaints about Kojiro’s brute strength when it also translates to stamina. Namely, to Kojiro being able to hold him aloft and fuck him into oblivion without tiring.

But Kojiro isn’t about to be rushed, though he knows fast and hard is what Kaoru prefers. It’s been weeks since Kaoru came to him, their usual pattern thrown off-kilter by the reappearance of a certain someone. Kojiro fully intends to savor this opportunity, uncertain of when he’ll get another. Their encounters happen entirely at Kaoru’s whim, and thus far, Kojiro has been more than happy to accept Kaoru’s pace and whatever liberties Kaoru will allow him. He’s waited this many years already; he can wait however long it takes until Kaoru is finally ready to admit to his feelings. However much they squabble, Kojiro isn’t going anywhere. Not now, not ever.

He reaches beneath Kaoru to line them up, brushing the tip of his cock against the tight furl of the place he most wants to be. Snug, clinging heat envelops him as the head slips inside. Kojiro groans and pauses there, relishing the sensation. He ignores the flutter of Kaoru’s muscles around him, the way they try to pull him in deeper.

“Kojiro.” Kaoru’s fingertips dig hard into his shoulder blades. The sting brings a grin to Kojiro’s face as he drags Kaoru down another inch, slow, and then even slower when Kaoru squirms in his grasp, attempting to shimmy farther down his shaft. “Come on already. Do it. Put it in all the way.”

“Patience is a virtue, Kaoru.” And Kojiro has it in spades—at least when he has Kaoru naked and desperate in his arms. Skating is where he craves speed and competition, not in bed. Here, he only wants to please his partner. Kojiro gets off on… well, getting people off. And it’s particularly gratifying when the person he’s pleasing is the one currently glaring daggers at him like they’re in the middle of fighting instead of fucking.

But, then, with Kaoru, the two are much the same.

Kojiro chuckles at the thought, cups Kaoru’s ass in his palms and slides him a bit lower, just as excruciatingly slowly as he’s done everything else.

Kaoru’s eyes narrow, gleaming gold and catlike in the dim lighting of the room. “Hurry up.”

“What’s the rush? You know I like to take my time, sweetheart.” Complaints won’t win Kaoru any mercy. He’s trapped, held aloft as he is with Kojiro’s inner elbows hooked under his knees. And Kojiro has no intention of setting him on his feet unless he asks.

Kaoru all but growls. “Don’t call me that, you big dope!”

“In this room I’ll call you whatever I like.” Kojiro presses his face to the heated stretch of Kaoru’s neck, slick sweat against his cheek. Inhales the sweet, musky scent of his lover, concentrated there in that vulnerable spot, but still subtle and delicate as the sakura he named himself for. “Sweet Cherry baby. Lovely Kaoru.”

My Kaoru, he wants to add, but if Kaoru bristles at the familiarity of a pet name, he’ll balk at anything more intimate, anything that implies there might be an actual relationship between them, and not just this—moments secreted away in the dark, when no one else can see Kaoru coming or going, or know who he visits when he has a particular itch that needs scratching.

Kaoru jerks away as far as he can go, and Kojiro lifts his head. 

“Cut it out. Don’t be a fool.” Kaoru’s eyes are focused on something across the room. His words are as fierce as the flush working down his throat, shades of pink blooming beneath the fairness, painting his clavicles, the tops of his pecs, sweeping toward his dusky nipples like ink bleeding into fabric. 

Familiar stainless steel bars adorn the tiny buds. Kojiro’s seen them a hundred times, maybe more, but the sight is compelling, arousing all the same. He’ll have them in his mouth tonight. He’ll hear Kaoru cry out from the sensitivity while clutching at his head to keep him close. He’ll put his lips to every place that makes Kaoru moan.

After a beat of silence, Kaoru huffs. “Just… Just give me what I came here for.”

And because Kojiro can still see the faint stain of healing bruises on the line of his jaw, because he knows how much Kaoru is hurting now, in the wake of what Adam did—and more than anything, because Kojiro wants him and always has, loves him and always has—he finally does what Kaoru asks.

He lowers Kaoru until he bottoms out, slow but unrelenting, the action wrenching groans out of them both.

“You feel so perfect,” Kojiro tells him. And he does, tight heat gripping Kojiro’s cock, those strong arms around his neck, the ends of that pretty pink hair brushing his chest. The taste of him still lingers on Kojiro’s lips. All around him the scent of Kaoru.

Kaoru, Kaoru, Kaoru.

The name sings in his veins, beats in time with his pulse, pounds through his heart like blood.

“Make me feel it,” Kaoru says. “I… I want your marks on me now.”

Well, how can Kojiro refuse?

He shifts his hold until he can grip the undersides of Kaoru’s thighs, and then he sets a pace that makes Kaoru keen. Not fast, no, but steady and hard, long strokes that let Kaoru feel every last inch of his cock, every rough snap of his hips.

Kojiro fucks him like that until they’re both dripping sweat, skin sliding slickly together, the room filled with the smell of their sex and the slap of their bodies meeting. Heat unfurls in Kojiro’s pelvis, spreads down his thighs. Tension climbs along his spine. He works toward his orgasm with single-minded purpose. If he comes, he can focus entirely on Kaoru, and he wants to give Kaoru his undivided attention. Kaoru deserves nothing less.

Kojiro,” Kaoru gasps, breath hitching after a particularly brutal thrust. 

“Kaoru.” Kojiro raises him up to the tip, slams him back down on his cock. Kaoru’s thighs are trembling, still draped over his arms. “Yeah, that’s right. Squeeze me. Make me come. Then I’ll take care of you just right, pretty Cherry. I’ll treat you so good.”

“You’d better.” Kaoru leans up to kiss him, his tongue insistent, his teeth delivering bites that leave Kojiro’s lower lip puffy and stinging.

Kojiro turns to sit on the edge of the bed, pajama bottoms around his ankles, hands on the crests of Kaoru’s hip bones as he encourages Kaoru to grind in his lap.

Kaoru keeps kissing him, panting into his mouth, sharing air and heat and the taste of each other. 

All at once, it’s too much. Kojiro comes with Kaoru’s fingers clenched tight in his hair, voice muffled beneath the crush of lips, but it’s a strangled version of Kaoru’s name that wrenches from his throat.

When it’s over, he pulls out, takes a second to discard the condom in the bin beside his bed, kicks away the pajamas, and then bears Kaoru down onto the mattress.

Kojiro starts at Kaoru’s neck, lavishing tender kisses. Works his way down to those sweet little nipples and lavishes attention upon them, too, sucking gently, tonguing the balls on the end of each barbell as Kaoru cries out and arches into his mouth.

He runs the tip of his nose down Kaoru’s sternum, peppers bites across the taut stretch of his belly, nuzzles the piercing at his navel. 

“Have I ever told you how beautiful you are?” he asks, peering at Kaoru across the length of his body. He takes the tip of Kaoru’s cock into his mouth, sucks briefly at the precome that’s accumulated around the metal piercing the slit. Pops off with a wet, vulgar noise. Kaoru shakes, the muscles of his abdomen tensing visibly. “Every part of you.” Kojiro licks a path along the underside, licks the little sensitive spot beneath the head, where the foreskin connects. “You’re pretty even here.”

Kaoru groans and covers his face with his hand, fanning his fingers over his eyes. Kojiro can see his blush in the gaps between them. “Don’t. You really… you say the most ridiculous things, you big oaf.” The words are delivered in a breathless tone, thick with desire, which undermines the anger they may have possessed in any other circumstances. “You don’t need to use your lines on me. I’m already here.”

“You think I’d use a line on you?” Kojiro snorts. He palms Kaoru’s dick and gives it a stroke, rubs the head over his lips, spreading slick fluid. Catches the end of the barbell between his teeth and tugs until Kaoru moans and gives a full-body shiver. 

Kojiro releases the barbell and sits up. “Hey, look at me.”

Kaoru does, his glasses askew, face shining with sweat. Wisps of pink hair cling to his damp skin. His lips are red, kiss-swollen, and he’s glaring again, looking grumpier than any guy who was just having his cock serviced has any right to be.

He’s the most gorgeous thing Kojiro’s ever seen.

Kojiro stares him dead in the eye. “There’s no bullshit between you and me. That’s a promise.”   

After a few seconds, Kaoru nods. “All right.”

“Great.” Kojiro grips his hips, shoves him farther up the mattress. “Then let me please you and tell you how beautiful you are, douche.”

Kaoru laughs, startled, and lets his head fall back. He rolls his wrist, waving regally. “Very well. Proceed.”

Grinning, Kojiro resettles between his parted thighs. Kaoru’s legs are long and shapely, toned muscle under silky-soft skin, and Kojiro is admittedly a bit obsessed with them. He spreads them wide, leans down to kiss a path from one of Kaoru’s knees to the spot where his thigh meets his pelvis. He bites there, just hard enough to mark the skin, leaving impressions of his teeth as he moves on to scatter kisses across the trimmed patch of hair above Kaoru’s dick. He finds the piercing, gets the head into his mouth again.

Kojiro prides himself at being good at sucking cock. Also, his absolute lack of a gag reflex. He takes Kaoru to the base in one smooth motion, and his throat doesn’t even flutter at the intrusion.

Kaoru hisses and flails out a hand to grab at his hair. Kojiro lets Kaoru guide his movements, lets him thrust up into his throat with sharp cants of his hips. When he feels Kaoru grow even harder, feels the shaft pulse and flex against his tongue, he knows Kaoru is getting close.

He pulls off and reaches up to shove a couple of fingers into Kaoru’s gasping mouth. “Come on, Cherry baby, get them nice and wet.”

Kaoru knows what’s coming, of course. He doesn’t hesitate to grab Kojiro’s wrist and suck until the digits are slick and almost dripping with spit.

“Yeah, like that,” Kojiro says. “Look at you. You’re amazing, Kaoru.”

Kaoru moans, and Kojiro regretfully takes his hand back. He traces the sensitive stretch of skin under Kaoru’s balls, down to his hole. The muscle is still soft from earlier, and his slippery fingers slide in easily. He crooks them, searching for the spot that’ll drive Kaoru crazy.

He knows he’s found it when Kaoru cries out sharply and bears down, silently begging for more. Kojiro gives him what he needs, taking him into his mouth once more.

He sucks Kaoru’s cock, works him with his fingers as Kaoru writhes and rolls his hips.

It’s a matter of moments before Kaoru hits his peak. “Ahhh. Joe. Kojiro.”

Kojiro hums around his shaft, and Kaoru tosses back his head, loose pink waves wild about his face. His entire body goes rigid, jaw clenched and tendons pulled taut.

Kojiro tastes salt, feels Kaoru’s inner muscles clench and release in time with the spasms of his orgasm. He slows his movements, then gingerly withdraws his fingers before Kaoru gets too sensitive.

As Kaoru comes down from his release, Kojiro strokes soothing palms along his inner thighs. “You okay?”

Kaoru nods, still breathing hard, a forearm braced across his eyes. His glasses rest on the sheets next to his head.

“Let me get something to clean us up.”

Kojiro visits the bathroom, washes his hands, and wets a small towel to take out to Kaoru. If he was on his own, he’d snag some tissues from the box on the nightstand and then roll over and go right to sleep after he came, but Kaoru is more fastidious than he is. Kaoru doesn’t like to be dirty or left covered in tissue lint, and Kojiro doesn’t mind taking the extra step to oblige him. Seeing to Kaoru is one of his favorite pastimes, after all.

He wipes sweat from Kaoru’s face, his chest, cleans the lube from between his legs, and tosses the used towel toward his hamper.

“Will you stay for a while?” he asks.

Kaoru leans up on his elbows and meets his gaze. “Yes.”

“Good.” Kojiro grabs the glasses from the bed and carefully sets them on the nightstand. “Don’t want those getting smashed.”

When he turns back, Kaoru is staring at him, open and vulnerable. He looks younger without the eyewear. Softer, too, as if he’d feel like flower petals if Kojiro touched him. Blossoms pink and delicate, gathered like silk in his palms. 

“Thank you,” Kaoru says, and Kojiro understands he’s not talking about the sex. Or not just about the sex.

It’s gratitude for picking him up off the ground and cradling him on the way to the hospital with Shadow driving like a demon behind the wheel. For every meal, every conversation, every argument big and small that served as a distraction while his injuries healed. For being there when Kaoru needed him, as Kojiro always would.

“Anytime,” Kojiro says, and only that. Anything more and Kaoru will get all skittish and revert to prickly mode. He knows this well.

He switches off the lamp, stretches out in bed, and holds out his arm. Without hesitation, Kaoru slots into place beside him, his cheek pressed to Kojiro’s chest, right above his heart.

Kojiro tugs the blanket over the two of them and stares up at the ceiling as Kaoru’s breathing slows, falls into a steady, even rhythm. Someday, they’ll talk about all of this. About Adam and this thing between them and the future. For now, Kaoru here, sharing his bed, is more than enough.

“Good night, Kaoru,” he whispers into the dark. He buries his face in the tangled mess of Kaoru’s hair and follows him into sleep, inhaling the scent of sweat and the shampoo he keeps a bottle of in his own bathroom, just in case Kaoru ever decides to spend the night. And underneath it all, another smell, as familiar to him as his own and more beloved to him than any other. Kaoru.