Take It Easy (As You Can)
By Sutlers

After the diplomatic negotiations with the Simeone Famiglia went south, Yamamoto blew Gokudera outside of the smoking ruins of the lab Gokudera had blown all to hell.

It seemed like the thing to do when they picked themselves off the floor and Gokudera smiled at him, lazy and heavy-eyed. Yamamoto's hands shook with residual adrenaline when they popped the button on Gokudera's pants and wrapped around Gokudera's cock, the crunch of syringes when he dropped to his knees faint and far away. It hadn't even really registered, Gokudera's fingers tangling with surprising gentleness through his hair, the steady stream of low, sweet expletives pouring out of Gokudera's mouth, "Yeah, yes, fuck—" and "Christ, yeah, like that—" an unfamiliar, lilting rhythm to the words. "God," Gokudera choked, and came in a rush in Yamamoto's mouth.

"You've got—" Yamamoto said when he lurched to his feet, picking one of the little syringes out of Gokudera's shoulder. Gokudera frowned.

"So do you, dumbass." He pulled out two, one from Yamamoto's forearm and the other from underneath Yamamoto's ribcage, hand wandering across Yamamoto's stomach and down to mold over Yamamoto's cock through his pants. "You like that?" Gokudera muttered when Yamamoto started grinding into his palm. "Yeah you do, fuck," and pulled Yamamoto's dick out, hot rasp of skin on skin, hooked a hand around the back of Yamamoto's neck and jerked him until Yamamoto was coming too, braced against the wall and nose buried in Gokudera's hair.

Wiping his hands with Yamamoto's handkerchief, Gokudera eyed the cooling corpse of the doctor in charge, sprawled out no more than ten yards away. "We're probably going to need to tell that fuckhead Mukuro about this place," he said.

"And Dr. Shamal," Yamamoto agreed. Gokudera made a face.

When they got back they did, except they didn't say anything about the sex, because it didn't seem all that important. The head of the Simeone Famiglia had been messing around with human experimentation: they'd come back during the night because Gokudera had noticed a disparity with the sizes of the rooms inside and found a cage full of dead-eyed children who wouldn't move, wouldn't react, lost somewhere in their own minds. Tsuna looked tired and sad, and Mukuro looked like he always looked, like he knew something everyone else didn't, and after they were dismissed Yamamoto steered Gokudera back to his room and fucked him open with some hand cream, easy and slow, until Gokudera started swearing at him to move, faster, you lazy worthless fuck.

"Yes," Yamamoto said, and bit down hard on the juncture between Gokudera's neck and shoulder. Gokudera fell asleep curled around all of Yamamoto's pillows, and in the morning he was still there.


"The fuck is this," Gokudera said. He sat cross-legged on Yamamoto's bed with his laptop balanced on his knees, without any pants on. Yamamoto rolled over and squinted at the screen. E-mail.

"It's a memo."

"I know it's a memo, shit for brains," Gokudera said. "The fuck are team-building seminars?"

"It's probably Tsuna's idea," Yamamoto said. "Building trust and stronger interpersonal relationships among his Guardians. Every Tuesday at 3:00 P.M., barring missions or extenuating circumstances."

"My interpersonal relationships are fucking flawless," Gokudera muttered. He closed his laptop and set it on the nightstand next to his glasses, then turned over and ran a hand up the inside of Yamamoto's thigh, lowering his face to Yamamoto's chest and biting gently at Yamamoto's nipple.

"Hayato," Yamamoto said, and shifted his legs apart to give Gokudera better access, Gokudera's fingers brushing past his balls to press against his ass. The first seminar was a disaster; Tsuna tried to make them all do a Trust Lean, falling backwards and letting Gokudera catch him. When it came to Yamamoto's turn Gokudera gave him a small, secret smile and didn't even make a cursory attempt, nudging Yamamoto's winded body with his foot and lighting up to hide his obvious amusement. Then Hibari knifed Sasagawa and it all devolved from there: "My hand slipped," Hibari intoned flatly, and when Sasagawa broke his nose Tsuna brought his fingers to his temples and started making steady, pained circles.

"That wasn't very nice of you," Yamamoto said to Gokudera later, fiddling with the knobs on his shower to get the water to heat up just a hair past the threshold of comfortable. He could feel an enormous bruise forming right above his left kidney from when he'd wrestled Sasagawa to the ground and sat on him; Gokudera spread his palm across the spot on Yamamoto's bare back, fingers cool against Yamamoto's skin.

"What're you gonna do about it?" Gokudera said. Yamamoto shrugged.

He had gotten used to Western-style showers pretty quickly, and even liked them more than Japanese ones, standing under the spray and letting the hot water pound on his body. Gokudera slipped in behind him and hissed, pressing his face into the space between Yamamoto's shoulder blades. Gokudera had moved a spare suit into his closet but Yamamoto had more pressing things to devote his attention to, like the weekly assassination attempts on Tsuna by the allies of the Simeone Famiglia, or navigating the lethal social waters of the parties Reborn insisted Tsuna throw (even though those were usually when the assassination attempts happened). When Yamamoto was ready to crawl into bed in the evenings sometimes Gokudera was already there, dozing, or once fucking into his fist with his face pushed against Yamamoto's pillow, sliding two fingers into his own ass, catching Yamamoto's gaze, pupils blown.

"I want—" Gokudera said, and Yamamoto said,

"Yeah, yeah, sure, hey," because this wasn't anything new, Yamamoto's inability to say no to the people he cared about, to the pleading wet curve of Gokudera's lips.


"How do I know you're not just faking the illusion to fuck us over?" Gokudera asked, pausing after plugging his laptop into the security system at Simeone Biotech to glare at Mukuro.

Mukuro raised his eyebrows. "You cannot see it," he explained patiently, "because you are part of it. And I am not the one who dropped someone during the Trust Lean."

"He was too tall," Gokudera said, but he seemed satisfied, tapping a staccato beat across his keyboard. Lines of code scrolled by far too fast for Yamamoto to process. Mukuro turned back, strange bi-colored eyes no less unsettling than when they'd been in junior high, his expression thoughtful.

"Are you all right?" he said.

"Haha, um," Yamamoto said, "what?"

"You've not noticed anything," Mukuro said, "off?"

"No?" Yamamoto said.

"Okay, I know this is difficult for people of limited mental capacity, such as yourselves, to understand," Gokudera said, "but what I am doing right now requires a delicate touch and a large amount of concentration. Therefore. Shut the hell up."

"What is that mark on your neck?" Mukuro asked. Yamamoto put his hand up automatically, on the skin beneath the pulse point, and felt the soft sting of a bruise. Gokudera glanced up, and through the fall of his hair Yamamoto could see his pupils dilate, the way his mouth fell open and his tongue darting out to wet his lips.

"I put it there," Gokudera said, voice hoarse. Yamamoto swayed with the sudden force of his own arousal.

Mukuro cleared his throat.

"What?" Gokudera snapped. The instant comprehension dawned was clear: Gokudera went red, and then pale, and his fingers faltered. "What the fuck!"

"I—" Yamamoto said. He remembered that morning, waking up with Gokudera's fingers in his mouth, Gokudera's cock hard against the cleft of his ass, hitching his leg up so Gokudera could slide inside and then taking a shower together and showing up for their assignment in Tsuna's office. He was sore, he realized with a quiet rush of embarrassment, the comfortable burn of muscles well used.

"What the fucking fuck!" Gokudera shouted furiously. "I fucked you!"

Holy shit, Yamamoto thought vaguely, and then decided the situation probably warranted voicing it. "Ha," he said. "Holy shit."

"What the fuck," Gokudera was still shouting. "Why would I—I can't believe I—I fucking forgot, what the fuck?"

"Ladies," Mukuro said. "As fascinating as this discussion is—"

At that moment, the green code on Gokudera's screen started flashing red, laptop emitting a high-pitched, insistent beeping noise just two seconds before a siren started going off above their heads.

"God fucking damn it," Gokudera snarled, slamming the screen down. "Move, move, move, motherfuckers!"

"Hayato," Yamamoto said when they'd burst out of the collapsing building. It was hard to breathe, dust thick in the air. He reached a hand up and Gokudera flinched away.

"Don't," he said. "Touch me."


"It's a virus," Shamal said after they were done being scanned. "When it replicates it emits a low-level Mist flame that burns on a sub-dermal level, very hard to sense—what did you say it did, again?"

"None of your fucking business," Gokudera said. Shamal sighed.

"The sacrifices I make for this Family."

"How do we get rid of it?"

"I don't treat men," Shamal said, raising an eyebrow when Gokudera clenched his jaw. "But, application of the Rain wave should cancel it right out. Try that. You." He gestured in Yamamoto's direction. "That's your affinity, right?"

"Um, yes?" Yamamoto said. Shamal looked at him expectantly, so Yamamoto concentrated on the cool feeling of running water, like sinking into cleansing stream and holding his breath. He opened his eyes with a gasp, a squeezing in his lungs.

"Theoretically it should have gone away by itself," Shamal said, giving Yamamoto a sharp look. "The flame wasn't all that powerful, and given your baseline—"

"Right!" Yamamoto dredged up a smile. "I can fix yours, too, Gokudera, just—"

"I can do it myself," Gokudera said tightly. He frowned and the ring on his second finger lit up dully. He came out of it like a dog shaking off water, a full-body shudder, an unhappy hunch to shoulders. Yamamoto didn't know what to say, so he didn't say anything, twisting the fabric of his pants through his fingers.

"Well," Gokudera said, not looking at him. "I gotta go."


"I'm here for my stuff," Gokudera said, hovering around the door frame, arms crossed in front of himself.

"Of course," Yamamoto said.

Gokudera eyed him suspiciously for a bit, but eventually moved, picking stuff off the floor and counters: his toothbrush, a textbook on applied mathematics, a crumpled pack of cigarettes, his extra a/c adapter, the last two issues of the International Journal of Self-Propagating High-Temperature Synthesis, a copy of the Goldberg variations in a cracked CD case, and a black silk tie, still partially looped around one of the posts on Yamamoto's headboard.

"You want a box or something?" Yamamoto asked. "The rest of the suit's in the closet."

"No," Gokudera said.

"Are we going to talk about this?"

"There's nothing to talk about."

"I don't know; I would think there would be something to talk about."

"Why, because you spent the past month and a half fucking me?"

"Um, yes."

Gokudera's mouth twisted. "You're such a goddamn girl."

Yamamoto's gaze caught on the tie clenched in Gokudera's fingers and he remembered the shallow indentations it had made in the thin skin of Gokudera's wrists, hidden by the cuffs of his dress shirts. When he'd looked at himself in the full-length mirror on his closet door after getting out of Dr. Shamal's office, he'd found another red suck mark on his hip, on his chest, and one on the inside of his knee. Gokudera had looked happy, Yamamoto thought, arching off the bed, ribs heaving. Maybe that wasn't the way to think about it.

"Do you let Bianchi hear you say that kind of stuff?" Yamamoto said.

"Look," Gokudera said. "It's not like I'm—I don't even like you."

"I know."

"It was those fucking syringes. The virus."

"I know."

"So we're not—shit happens, right?"

"I'm sorry," Yamamoto said before he could help himself. A flicker of panic passed over Gokudera's face before he schooled it into a grimace, shifting the stuff in his arms in an approximation of a shrug. He started backing out, shouldering the door open on one side.

"Whatever, right? Uh. See you."

"See you," Yamamoto echoed. Gokudera had forgotten his suit.


"Hi," said Tsuna two days later, in the dojo.

"Boss," Yamamoto said. He wiped the sweat off his forehead and smiled, setting his sword down. Tsuna smiled back, and scratched sheepishly at the side of his face.

"Do you have a minute?"

"Of course."

"You look tired."

"I've been having a little trouble sleeping," Yamamoto said. He'd caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror that morning and he'd looked exhausted, a dark smudges under his eyes and a haggard cast to his mouth. His bed seemed overly large, and he kept reaching for something in the night and starting awake when it wasn't there. "No problems."

Tsuna sighed. "I don't think the team-building seminars are working."

"Well," Yamamoto said. "You have a lot of strong personalities to work with."

"Reborn thinks I should just let everyone work things out among themselves. Um, naturally."

"I think you should do what you think is best," Yamamoto said diplomatically.

"I talked to Gokudera this morning."

"Ah. Is he all right?" Yamamoto asked.

"Um. After talking to Mukuro." Tsuna's ears were turning bright red, Yamamoto noted with a faint frozen despair, resisting the urge to feel his face to make sure his smile was still on. Tsuna started talking very quickly, eyes fixed on a point just above Yamamoto's left shoulder. "I'm sorry, I didn't know. It's my fault. I should have noticed; what is this stupid intuition good for anyway? Um. He didn't really want to say anything."

"Haha," Yamamoto said. "It's kind of awkward, isn't it?"

Tsuna looked straight at him then, tugging on the edge of his suit jacket in a flustered way. "I didn't know—well, actually, I did know. I knew that you and Gokudera were having, um, relations, and even though I don't know much about that sort of thing—anyway, I thought it was, just. Something that happened. I know what Gokudera's like with everyone except me and you were always a good friend to him, so. So I'm sorry."

"Ah, it's. It's not your fault," Yamamoto said. His voice sounded strange in his own ears. Tsuna had gotten taller with time, but the top of his head had never quite managed to clear Yamamoto's chin. He still looked impossibly young, and Yamamoto sometimes thought it wasn't fair, the huge burden of responsibility on his shoulders. "Don't worry about it."

Tsuna's expression cleared. "I'm sure it will be okay," he said.


A good friend, Yamamoto thought later, in the shower. He rested his forehead against the cool tile. He wanted to be angry, but he had never been the type to be disposed to anger. He didn't even really know what to be angry with. A lifetime ago he'd been ripped forward ten years out of his own time and been scared, been terrified and exhilarated and had said to Gokudera: you hate me, in flat disbelief, and watched Gokudera rip himself apart over it.

Then he'd felt angry. Then he'd said, you can't do this to Tsuna. Meant, you can't do this to yourself. Meant, let me help you. Because even then he'd thought Gokudera was beautiful, loud and sharp and brittle; he'd thought he'd like to be Gokudera's friend. He knew the way Gokudera loved, fiercely and with ridiculous sincerity, the handful of people he kept close to his heart: Tsuna, first and always; Bianchi, their pale heads bent together over formulae scribbled across crinkled notebook paper; Dr. Shamal, unexpectedly, spewing invective while tying off a makeshift tourniquet (don't fucking die on me now, old man). Yamamoto had been blindsided by it more than once, watching, a painful tightness in his throat. He'd told himself it didn't matter, that he was doing all that he could do. Maybe he was angry at himself.


"Hey," Yamamoto said, knocking on Gokudera's doorframe. The door eased open by itself and Yamamoto blinked; Gokudera was sitting on the bed with a towel wrapped around his head like a turban and another tucked in around his waist, several open books scattered around him on the sheets.

"Holy shit!" he said, and quick as a flash lobbed a pillow at the door so it clicked shut an inch from Yamamoto's nose. "Grow some manners, freak!"

"The door was open," Yamamoto pointed out. He heard rustling sounds, and then a thump and a bitten-off curse, and then Gokudera opened the door again, red-faced and clothed in an undershirt and some ratty jeans. His hair stuck to his face in damp clumps. Yamamoto smiled. "Nice arm."

"What the hell do you want?" Gokudera said.

"I found your uh, suit." Yamamoto held it out. "I wanted to return it."

"Oh." After a barely noticeable hesitation, Gokudera reached out and took it. "Thanks."

"Gokudera," Yamamoto said. "Can I talk to you for a second?"

Gokudera stepped backwards. Yamamoto had never gotten a good look at his room before: it was sparse and meticulously clean, except for the area around Gokudera's desk, which was piled high with bits of bombs and books about biochemistry. One of the wet towels hung off Gokudera's nightstand.

"What," Gokudera said. Now that he was actually here, Yamamoto was having a hard time keeping his thoughts in order. He could smell Gokudera's shampoo, something sweet and unfamiliar; he'd always just used Yamamoto's when he'd stayed the night.

"I wanted to apologize," Yamamoto said.

"You already did that."

"I want this—" Yamamoto flapped his hand. "To be okay."

"What the fuck are you talking about? There's nothing—" Gokudera snapped his mouth shut, like he was gathering himself together to say something. "There's nothing to be okay about. There's nothing here, you dumbass."

"I know that," Yamamoto said placatingly. "I just—I feel badly about it. I should have noticed."

He willed Gokudera to understand, because he had the feeling he wasn't explaining himself very well. He wanted Gokudera to know that he understood he wasn't wanted, and then maybe they could go back to the way things were.

"I would never have. Done something like that normally. With you."

"Right," Gokudera said thinly. "Great. Get out."


"It didn't change jack shit," Gokudera said. "There, you happy? Nothing changed. We just—work together. All right?"

"All right."



The virus had made him forget, had shuffled stuff around. Yamamoto had always been aware of things like the dexterity of Gokudera's hands, the way Gokudera's hips tilted just slightly to the right when he was standing, or how Gokudera was sort of pointy and twitchy and mostly nuts, but he hadn't devoted much time to thinking about it, about Gokudera's body, about how it might feel against his own skin. Yamamoto had always been extremely careful about his own thoughts, because Gokudera was the kind of person you had to be extremely careful around. Gokudera was volatile like the chemicals he mixed together, so you always had to be wary of introducing something new to the equation. Maintaining the fragile balance that Yamamoto had managed to strike had been the most important thing, not fucking anything up, but then all of a sudden priorities shifted and that didn't matter. It paled in importance next to Gokudera's wide, white-toothed smile, to pressing his own lips to the corner of it. He'd forgotten how easily it could all blow up in his face.


"Yamamoto Takeshi," Bianchi intoned over the kitchen table. "I heard that you fucked my baby brother."

Yamamoto choked. Bianchi waited for him to stop coughing. "That's um. Confidential medical information," he said weakly.

"Poison Cooking, Truth Serum Edition. Pineapple upside-down cake," Bianchi said. Yamamoto had a brief moment of panic where he wondered if this was going to turn out like in the movies, with Bianchi glowering menacingly and saying something like, 'you break his heart and I'll break your face,' except with less fists and more fatal casseroles. Then he would have to explain, but all she did was slide into the chair on the opposite side of the table and rest her chin on her hand. The silence stretched.

"Um," Yamamoto said finally.

"I found him in the infirmary today," Bianchi said. "He put his fist through a window."


Bianchi waved the question away. "Who knows."

"Is he all right?"

"Yamamoto Takeshi," Bianchi said again, enunciating every syllable. She still had an accent when she spoke Japanese after all these years; Gokudera didn't, not exactly, the words clipped and precise in his mouth most of the time. Yamamoto found himself cataloging their similarities in a distant corner of his mind: Bianchi had her brother's eyes and his same loose-limbed grace, but none of his explosive energy, and her face was always impossible to read.

"I have found," she said after another moment, "that Hayato has a bad habit of burning his bridges. He thinks he is protecting himself."

Gokudera had told him the story one sleepy morning when neither of them had had anything important to do, when Yamamoto had convinced him to stay in bed, Gokudera's thigh tucked comfortably between his own and his hand smoothing over Gokudera's warm back. Six years was a long time, Yamamoto had thought, nosing along Gokudera's hairline, to be running away. Waiting to be found.

"That's all," Bianchi said, getting up to leave.


"What happened?" Yamamoto asked. Dr. Shamal finished wiping Gokudera's hand down with antiseptic and unrolled a long, white bandage.

"Next time," he told Gokudera, "try breaking something that won't leave behind so many pieces."

"Fuck off."

"Bianchi told me," Yamamoto said. Gokudera sighed, shoving his fingers through his hair angrily.

"Fuck, she just can't let anything go."

"You're done," Shamal said.

"It was an accident," Gokudera mumbled, inspecting his bandages. "Bomb stuff." He shuffled past Yamamoto and out the door; Shamal watched him go and then spun slowly on his heel.

"What's wrong with you?" he said ominously.

"Aha," Yamamoto said. "Nothing."


Things got better after a couple of weeks. Gokudera showed up at Family meetings with his knuckles bandaged up, and then later not, skin there new and pink. The genetic experimentation thing turned out to be much bigger than the Simeone Famiglia by itself; it had something to do with Carbonari and mind control, widespread and haphazard insurrection against Vongola hegemony. Mukuro did most of the intelligence work and Gokudera ended up spending a lot of time in the lab with Dr. Shamal:

"I'm not a fucking biologist!" he could be heard shouting. "This is bullshit!" But he sounded okay. He sounded good, and if his eyes faltered a little whenever he caught sight of Yamamoto, that was okay, too. It would keep getting better until it was almost normal again.

"I need you to do something for me," Gokudera said, stopping Yamamoto outside of the dojo.

"Sure," Yamamoto said quickly. Gokudera's lips thinned but Yamamoto was glad; there wasn't much for him to do until Tsuna decided to make his move. He was grateful to be occupied.

He ended up standing around in the lab with his hands immersed in a clear blue-tinted goo, electrodes stuck to his chest and meditating on rain while Gokudera prowled around him muttering and fiddling with dials. "Sorry," Gokudera said, "I didn't have enough affinity to do it myself."

"No problem," Yamamoto said. "Whatever you need." When they were done, Gokudera ripped off the electrodes; that was pretty painful.

Squalo showed up again, along with the rest of the Varia, and they hung around the practice rooms waiting and intermittently beating the shit out of each other. Tsuna holed himself up with Xanxus to discuss the intelligence and Squalo stretched out on the practice mat and pulled at his hair where it had wrapped itself around his neck, his expression irritated.

"What the hell is wrong with your face," he said, pointing at Yamamoto.

"Sorry?" Yamamoto said from where he was kneeling, leaning on his sword.

"It's like—" Squalo flapped his hands at his own face, stretching his lips in an entirely mirthless grin. "Creepy. Not that it isn't always creepy. But now it's different creepy."

"I'm not sure what you mean."

"There! That smile thing. You're fucked up about something, I can tell."

"Hey," Gokudera said, banging the door open. "I need test subjects for the airborne cure." His gaze lit on Belphegor and he smirked. "You."

Later, when they were all watching Gokudera making notes and lobbing smoke bombs at Belphegor, who was under the impression that he was Luciano Pavarotti, Squalo frowned and said, "Look, kid."

"Hm?" Yamamoto said. Abruptly, the aria in the observation room came to a halt. The smoke cleared, revealing a purple-faced Belphegor: "Fucking finally!" Gokudera shouted, throwing his hands up. They'd taken away Belphegor's knives but that didn't stop him from trying to choke Gokudera to death; Squalo and Yamamoto had to pull them apart, Belphegor dangling from Squalo's hand by the scruff off his neck like an irate cat and Gokudera warm against Yamamoto's chest. He gave Yamamoto a triumphant grin before he remembered himself and pushed away.

"Get your shit together," Squalo said, an echo of something that would never happen. "Quit waffling about whatever it is."

"I'm not," Yamamoto said heavily, resigned.


"Seven chapters, headquarters scattered around the country," Tsuna said. "It shouldn't be too difficult, but I want you to partner up, for my peace of mind. Please. Details will be in the dossiers."

The assignment sent them to Genoa, Yamamoto with Gokudera: "You're still the one he works best with," Tsuna had said apologetically, "Sometimes Gokudera can be a little—"

"Sure," Yamamoto had said.

The streets smelled like sunlight and people, faintly of the sea, and then pastries when Gokudera stopped in front of a bakery to buy something round and filled with jelly. He crammed almost all of it into his mouth in one go, spewing crumbs as he talked. They scoped out the building they were infiltrating, an enormous abandoned complex, and finally Yamamoto cleared his throat:

"You've got, uh," he said. "Jelly."

"Where?" Gokudera said. Yamamoto reached out before he could help himself, an aborted gesture, fingers halted an inch or two away from Gokudera's face. Gokudera froze, eyes wide.

"On your face." Yamamoto pulled his hand back and rubbed on his own cheek, heart breaking.

"Oh." After wiping off the jelly, Gokudera brought both hands up and buried his face in them, inexplicably, bending into a crouch and letting out a great gust of a breath. His hair fell forward, exposing the nape of his neck. "Thanks," he said, muffled, and then straightened up, shoving his hair out of his eyes.

"It doesn't look like there'll be any surprises," Yamamoto said, smiling. "With the building."

"Great," Gokudera said.


There were dogs. There were security guards, too, but they'd been expecting those. They hadn't been expecting the slavering rottweilers. After dispersing the cure through the vents, they found themselves hoofing it through the backstreets of Genoa and bursting in on the kitchen of the old lady putting them up, startling her almost out of her skin.

The bathroom wallpaper was done up in rows of yellow and pink flowers, making Yamamoto's vision swim. He sat down on the closed toilet and closed his eyes, concentrating on not breathing too vigorously.

"I can't believe you let yourself get brained by a frying pan," Gokudera said. "Hey."

Yamamoto opened his eyes again out of pure surprise at the feeling of Gokudera's fingers on his chin, a soft insistent pressure. Gokudera's features were large in the field of his vision, a crinkle of annoyance on his forehead. He shone a penlight into Yamamoto's eyes, one after the other, and then clucked his tongue, turning back to the first aid kit.

"It was understandable," Yamamoto said, a little roughly. Gokudera rolled his eyes.

"At least it's not a concussion. Here." He shook out some painkillers and handed them to Yamamoto along with a bottle of water. "The back of your suit's ruined, though."

Yamamoto's jacket felt heavy, stained with blood, shirt sticky against his skin. He shrugged the jacket off, but couldn't coordinate his fingers enough to deal with the buttons on his shirt, so eventually Gokudera made a noise of exasperation and batted his hands away. The shirt hit the floor next to the jacket. Straightening up, Gokudera opened the faucet on the sink and steered Yamamoto's head underneath the stream of water.

After drying him off, Gokudera pressed a bit of gauze against the back of Yamamoto's head and began wrapping a bandage around it; Yamamoto kept his eyes closed. Whatever painkiller he'd been given worked fast; the pain was already ebbing, replaced by a feeling of lightheadedness, the soft touches of Gokudera's hands. It took him a moment to realize that Gokudera had finished with the bandages but was still touching him, fingers against Yamamoto's cheekbones.

"Damn," Gokudera said thinly, strained. Yamamoto's eyes flew open.


"Fuck you, I can't—I can't stop thinking about it. You asshole."

"What," Yamamoto repeated stupidly. Gokudera made to move away, but Yamamoto caught him around the hips.

"I liked it," Gokudera bit out. "I liked fucking you. But clearly you didn't, so."

Yamamoto felt the world yanked out from under his feet. "Why would you ever think that?"

Gokudera looked at him like he was an idiot. "Because you said so. You said—you never would have, normally."

"That's not what I meant."

"Well, what did you mean, because I thought that was pretty fuckin' clear—"

"You said you didn't even like me!" Yamamoto said incredulously. Gokudera flushed and pushed him away.

"Forget it."


"Never mind! It's three in the morning." With that, Gokudera slid past him and out of the bathroom.


When Yamamoto had finished cleaning up the bathroom and gone outside, Gokudera was resolutely feigning sleep, stiff in his own bed. Yamamoto lay down and closed his eyes, and thought incongruously of falling, of what it had been like to fuck Gokudera in the shower that day, Gokudera curling in underneath Yamamoto's arms and offering his mouth up in not-apology. Water ran over their faces and into their kiss, diluting everything, the taste of salt and ash on Gokudera's lips, Yamamoto's capacity for rational thinking when Godukera allowed himself to be flipped over and pinned against the tile.

"Come on," Gokudera had groaned, the last word tapering off into a gasp when Yamamoto snapped his hips forward with particular force, and Yamamoto had to hide his smile in the curve of Gokudera's neck.

"What's so funny," Gokudera had said later, red all over from exertion and heat.

"Nothing," Yamamoto had said, pressing his thumb against the crinkle between Gokudera's eyebrows. He'd remembered thinking then, clear as drowning, I don't care. Remembered thinking, I want this more than anything.

"Idiot," Gokudera had said. Yamamoto was an idiot.


"I'm sorry I'm a coward," Yamamoto said, balanced on the edge of the bed and leaning over Gokudera. "Hayato."

"Would you just—stop? Apologizing?" Gokudera said, turning over. The comforter was done in flowers, too, bleached of their color in the moonlight. Yamamoto placed one hand gingerly on Gokudera's far side; Gokudera scrabbled into a seated position against the headboard, eyes dark with alarm. "And stop—stop using that name. Look, I know I'm kind of a prick sometimes—"

"I liked it, too," Yamamoto said, speaking very slowly. "And I would like to do it again. With you."

Gokudera's breath came quick and shallow. Yamamoto crossed the distance between them and kissed him, careful, easing Gokudera's lips apart with his tongue. He'd missed this badly, the smoky wet heat of Gokudera's mouth, apprehension making the familiar strange. He gripped the hem of Gokudera's undershirt with one hand and pulled back, taking a shaky breath.

"You wanna—you wanna fuck or something?" Gokudera's fingers dug into his wrist.

"I like you," Yamamoto said.

"That's dumb. That's stupid. I'm not—" Gokudera took a breath. "It's not gonna be like it was."

"That's fine."

"Fine?" Gokudera said incredulously.

"Just. Whatever you want. We can do whatever you want."

Gokudera studied Yamamoto's face intently, as if looking for any sign of deception, and Yamamoto held his gaze until he dropped his eyes, uncertainty and anger, desire writ clear across his features.

"I want to fuck you," he said, challenging.

"Yeah," Yamamoto said, "yes, okay," and leaned in again, cupping Gokudera's face into a kiss before hurrying into the bathroom to find something to use. He walked out with a bottle of conditioner and set it on the nightstand next to Gokudera, who was waiting, mouth tense.

"I didn't think that—I don't have anything like. Condoms."

"Little fucking late for that, don't you think," Gokudera muttered. He relaxed when Yamamoto sat back down on the bed and kissed him, starting at his collar and working up, pushing his tongue past Gokudera's teeth into Gokudera's mouth, lewd and open. He slid a hand up Gokudera's shirt and Gokudera broke away with a gasp.

"You're a sloppy fucking kisser, you know that?" he said. "Like a goddamn dog or something."

"Ha ha," Yamamoto said, then grinned, because Gokudera was pushing his cock up against Yamamoto's, face flushed, eyes closed. "You want to—"

"I want to see you do it."

"Okay," Yamamoto shucked his pants and pushed Gokudera flat on his back, straddling him. Gokudera's hands came up to grip Yamamoto's thighs as Yamamoto worked himself open. The weight of Gokudera's gaze made Yamamoto's heart twist, Gokudera's face grave and assessing. "Okay," Yamamoto said again, and sank down on Gokudera's cock.

Gokudera's fingers tightened. "Fuck," he hissed. His bottom lip disappeared between his teeth when Yamamoto started to move and Yamamoto thought about the nature of illusions: seeing what you wanted to see, a simple, sanitized reality. Gokudera made a harsh, guttural sound in the back of his throat and pushed Yamamoto down harder. Yamamoto felt heavy, anxious, stretched out around Gokudera, thighs aching with his movements, the pain in his head a distant counterpoint.

"I like you," he said. Gokudera groaned. "I won't let you talk yourself out of it. I won't let you."

And this was the difference, this gamut of complicated emotions, complicated by Gokudera himself and everything they were when they were together. "Hayato," Yamamoto said, and Gokudera came digging his fingers into Yamamoto's hips and throwing his head back, exposing the pale vulnerable line of his throat.

"Fuck," Gokudera said again when he'd caught his breath, then rolled them both over so he was the one on top, wriggling his way down Yamamoto's body and between Yamamoto's knees. He caught Yamamoto's gaze one last time before lowering his head to lick a sloppy wet line up Yamamoto's cock, closing his mouth over it with single-minded concentration, tucking his fingers back inside Yamamoto's ass while Yamamoto's mind unraveled, while Yamamoto held on with everything he had.


"What," Gokudera said into his cell phone, struggling with his tie. "Fuck, okay, fine." He stood still when Yamamoto pushed his hands away and tied it for him, sliding the knot up against his neck. "We have to go to Rome," he told Yamamoto, "God, what a clusterfuck."

"I'm sure it'll all work out," Yamamoto said quietly. Gokudera licked his lips.

"I can be kind of. Difficult, sometimes," he said.

"Understatement," Yamamoto said. Before Gokudera's expression could turn mutinous, he pressed his thumbs into the corners of Gokudera's mouth to push it up into a smile. "Hey, I know. It was my fault, too."

"Fucking right it was," Gokudera said.

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