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A Light That Never Goes Out [3/3] [Kakashi & Ryouma][Jan. 21st, 2012|02:07 pm]

[Follows directly after A Light That Never Goes Out [2/3], the day before Nothing to Fear]

“Ow,” said Ryouma, much later. “I think I sprained something.”

“I think you deserved it,” Kakashi told him, watching narrow-eyed as little Jin walked stumble-footed up the garden path to a ramshackle house, hand in hand with Orin. Makoto and his red-headed friend, Saburo, had already gone. Saki was half-asleep on Ryouma’s back. “Are you sure it’s safe here?” Kakashi murmured.

It smelled like disuse and sweat and something rotten.

On Ryouma’s other side, Hanato nodded decisively. “Orin is Jin’s cousin,” he said. “She’ll look out for him.”

Kakashi glanced sidelong at Ryouma.

Ryouma just looked tired, suddenly, and a little sad. “She does a better job than I could. C’mon.” He turned, hefting Saki, who gave a quiet mumble and kicked one foot against his side. “Where’re you staying these days, Hanato? Still with your uncle?”

“Yeah,” said Hanato, flat. His eyes skated to Kakashi, clearly unwilling to discuss things with an interloper around.

Ryouma’s teeth bit into his lower lip, scent curling uncertain for a long enough moment that Kakashi almost offered to take Saki so that Ryouma could just go and talk to his furious little lieutenant, but then Ryouma came to his decision. “I’m tied down here in Konoha for the next month at least, til I’m mission-fit again and they decide what to do with me. I'll try to come down here more regular, but if you need to get in touch, don’t bother trying talk to ‘em up at HQ. Kakashi's putting me up right now—”

He paused and glanced at Kakashi, and Kakashi realized Ryouma probably didn’t know the address.

“Two-thirteen Cliffside Street. The third apartment block,” Kakashi said, because invasion was probably inevitable and he’d rather not be stalked by children trying to find Ryouma.

Ryouma gave him a grateful look, then turned back to Hanato. “You or any of the kids need me—”

“Let you know. I know.” Hanato looked briefly less sullen, just for a moment, and Ryouma freed one hand long enough to ruffle his hair.

Hanato’s uncle’s house was a one-story bungalow tucked away in the back edge of the civilian distract, with a barking dog chained up outside. Kakashi left Hanato and Ryouma to their goodbyes and went to have a word with the dog.

It threw itself at him, stretching out to the full extent of the chain, and stopped short when he rumbled an inquiry deep in his chest.

“Careful,” snapped Hanato. “It’s mean—”

The dog sat down and panted.

“He’s meaner,” Ryouma said cheerfully. “He’ll be fine.”

Kakashi made a rude gesture in his direction and settled down on his haunches to converse with the dog, whose collar read Bones. It wasn’t quite like talking to his summons or an Inuzuka familiar, but the basic building blocks of the language were similar enough to catch the gist of what he wanted. Masterfoodbring was the first good piece of information. Masterdon’tkick was the second.

He loosened the collar a little, making sure it wasn’t rubbing the dog’s throat raw, and impressed a clear message that Hanato was not for biting, no matter what amusing sounds he made.

“Can’t believe he called you Bones,” Kakashi muttered, scratching briefly behind one floppy ear.

Bones flopped down, huffing a loud sigh. Kakashi quirked a smile and regained his feet, turning just in time to see Hanato catch Ryouma’s waist in a quick, fierce hug before the red-faced teenager darted to the front door and vanished inside the house.

“Guess you were forgiven,” Kakashi said dryly.

Ryouma hefted Saki up his back again—she was almost completely asleep, lanky deadweight—and smiled, soft and warm. “He’s a good kid. Thanks for putting up with him.”

Kakashi shrugged. “You put up with Pakkun.” He tipped a nod at Bones. “The dog doesn’t mind Hanato’s uncle, at least. Gets fed, doesn’t get kicked. I guess that’s something.”

“High standards,” Ryouma murmured, wry. “Not a bad basis for judgment, though. Hanato’s uncle took him in when his dad kicked him out. He doesn’t like me comin’ around, but so far as I know he’s never laid a hand on the kid.”

“Probably figured you’d lay a hand on him back,” Kakashi said, eyeing Ryouma.

“Heh. Guess I would have, at that,” Ryouma said, with a sharp little smile that was nothing nice. “I used to try to swing by their homes every once in a while, see what I could do... Which never ended up being much. You can scare a guy into leavin’ his son alone for a little while, but you can’t make him care.”

Kakashi glanced at Sak, face cuddled down against Ryouma’s shoulder, supported by a hand under each knee, trusting enough to stay dead asleep and drool slightly on Ryouma’s new jacket.

“At least someone cares,” Kakashi said.

Ryouma shrugged a very careful shoulder, easy and casual, but a faint wash of red burned across his sharp cheekbones. “Hard not to,” he said, and cleared his throat. “I didn’t notice you punting ‘em when they got too close.”

“I’m engaged in a Machiavellian game of trying to get into your pants,” Kakashi said dismissively. “And one of them might have bitten me. Are you blushing?”

“Am I— What? No.” Ryouma turned to press his cheek against Saki’s dirty blond curls, half-hiding an even brighter flood of red as his scent did a complicated dance between embarassment and interest—in Kakashi, presumably—and something just a little pleased. He quickened his pace. “Keep it down about the pants. She’ll think you’re a girl after all.”

Kakashi had spent just enough time around genin wannabes recently to know that the society-sanctioned response was to sing-song, “You’re blushing,” and grin as he fell into lock-step with Ryouma. “Saki wouldn’t mind. She thinks I’d be a pretty girl.”

Ryouma raised his head and gave Kakashi a long, lingering once-over. “She’s right. You would be.” His gaze lifted to Kakashi’s masked face. “I don’t mind you this way, though.”

Kakashi shoved his hands into his pockets, still amused, and perhaps just a little tingly under the attention. “Low standards,” he drawled.

Ryouma turned at the outside stairway to a crumbling tenement, but paused with his foot on the first step, turning to look back over his shoulder.

“Not particularly,” he said. “Someday I’ll have to introduce you to a few of my old girlfriends. Let you know what I gave up for you.”

Kakashi was actually pretty sure Ryouma had ditched his girlfriends before Kakashi had even been in the picture, what with his trick of dating for six months and then running for the hills when things got serious—well, except Katsuko, which had been something else entirely—but he smiled slightly and took the compliment anyway.

At least Ryouma had come home for Kakashi.

“Thought you wanted to introduce me to your teacher first?” he said, following Ryouma up the cracked, stained steps. “Or should I just get ready to meet everyone you care about?”

“It's a short list. I don’t even know where the guys from Team Badass are, if they’re still breathin’.” Ryouma reached an upper landing and turned right, walking past rows of front doors, before halting in front of one with peeling grey paint. He turned and added reflectively, “Arata’ll kill me for turnin’ gay now, after turnin’ him down. Though you actually are prettier. An’ significantly less weird in bed.”

Kakashi stumbled mid-step.

“How do you know that?” he asked, which of course was the exact moment Saki stirred and popped a ruffled head up to peer at him over Ryouma’s shoulder.

“Nii-san’s very smart,” she said, and yawned.

Ryouma’s eyes went wide. Shit, he breathed soundlessly, before managing to get enough of a hold on himself to heft Saki around his hip, turning her to cradle against his chest. “Not so smart sometimes, Saki-chan. How long you been awake?”

“Can’t tell you,” she said, with another yawn as she rubbed her face sleepily on his jacket. “Can I come home with you, nii-san?”

Ryouma’s glance at Kakashi was haunted, wrenched right open like his scent and his heart. “I'm just stayin’ with my friend right now, Saki-chan,” he said, low-voiced. “I don’t have a place of my own. D’you need to be somewhere safe tonight?”

Kakashi did not want a flock of children running around his apartment, but if Ryouma had asked right then, he would have said yes.

“No,” said Saki. “Mom kicked Motso-san out last month, an’ I promised to make dinner. I just don’t want you to go away again.” This last came muffled, because she’d pressed her face into Ryouma’s chest.

“I'm not leavin’ for a while.” Ryouma was still supporting the little body with one arm under the legs, but he lifted his free hand to stroke it gently through Saki’s tangled, dust-coated hair. “I’ll be back next week. And I promise I won’t go again without letting you know.”

Kakashi sighed and closed his eye, leaning against the building, and heard himself say, “Saki, can you read?”

“Yeah,” she said, still muffled but fiercely proud. “Some, anyway.”

Kakashi opened his eye. “How about I write down Ryouma’s new address for you, so you can come and visit him when you want?”

The jacket and the housekey had been one thing, but judging by the heartstruck expression on Ryouma’s face and the way he briefly stopped breathing, this was a better present altogether. Perhaps because Kakashi had offered it himself, this time.

Saki blinked, snuffled, and scrambled down from Ryouma’s arms to draw close to Kakashi. “For real?” she said, as if she expected a steel trap to close around her leg any minute. “Whenever I want?”

Kakashi glanced at Ryouma, then crouched down to her eyelevel, exactly as he’d done for Bones. “Yes,” he said simply. “But if you come by before seven in the morning, you have to promise to use all your new moves on Ryouma for me. Okay?”

Saki lit up in exactly the same way Ryouma did, as if someone had turned on the sun inside their skin. Despite dirty hair and grimy skin, ill-fitting clothes that afforded no protection, she glowed. “Okay!” she said, and waited, bouncing on the balls of her feet while Kakashi located a pen and a bit of scrap paper and made two attempts at writing his address legibly.

When he handed the address across, Saki took it and studied it intently, mouthing the words to herself. She nodded decisively. Then she threw her arms around Kakashi’s neck, taking him by surprise, and kissed him noisily on his masked cheek.

“I don’t mind if you’re not a girl,” she said, while he froze. “An’ I won’t tell anyone.”

She pulled a face at Ryouma and skipped inside the apartment. After a second, she stuck her head back out and returned Kakashi’s wallet, then disappeared again.

“She’s going to show up at three a.m., isn’t she?” Kakashi said at last.

“Probably,” Ryouma said, sounding like he absolutely didn’t care. He stepped forward and pulled Kakashi to his feet, then took Kakashi by surprise again by tugging his mask down, cradling Kakashi’s face in both hands, and kissing him.

The low-level tension Kakashi had been carrying around ever since Ryouma had said Never took you down Canal Street, did I? How’d you like to come now? slipped away, vanishing like snowmelt in the sun. He wrapped an arm around Ryouma’s back, slid a hand through his short, clean hair, and kissed him back, hard and pleased until he remembered he was not supposed to be doing this in public.

Not that a ledge outside a civilian slum apartment building was all that public, but even so.

He broke away regretfully and realized they were standing next to a window. Saki’s window, in point of fact, and the little girl herself was grinning at them through it. She gave him a thumbs up and dropped out of sight before he could muster a response.

“Why is it,” Kakashi said, feeling himself go hot all over before he pulled his mask up, “that I turn into a complete idiot every time you kiss me?”

“I’m a really good kisser?” Ryouma suggested, with a lightning-strike grin, quick and warm, as he glanced towards the window. “Don’t worry about Saki. She’ll keep her word.”

I won’t tell anyone.

Somehow, Kakashi didn’t quite have Ryouma’s faith in seven-year-old’s, but maybe Saki would turn out as stubborn as Ryouma was.

Ryouma’s eyes came back to Kakashi’s face, and his smile tugged wider. He brushed his thumb over the prickly scratch of heat flaring along one cheekbone. “Who’s blushing now?” he teased, low voiced, before dropping a hand to catch Kakashi’s, towing him towards the stairs. “C’mon. I seem to recall somethin’ about you gettin’ in my pants.”

Ryouma did subtlety in the same way a landslide did gentle, Kakashi reflected, before he laughed despite himself and freed his hand to grab Ryouma by the back of the collar.

“Whoa, buster,” he said. “Thought we still needed to get you supplies?”

Ryouma turned to give him an incredulous look.

Kakashi grinned. “Gotcha,” he said, and twisted past Ryouma to bolt down the stairs.

“Hey!” said Ryouma. “I didn’t say tag for you.”

“That’s because I cheat better than you do,” Kakashi tossed back, hitting the ground and taking a sharp left just as Ryouma clued in that he was actually running. A flare of ragged chakra coalesced into something much more focused as Ryouma gave chase, following Kakashi back into the warren of side-streets that kept them away from the crowds.

It took Ryouma all of three seconds to remember he knew the area better; he translocated in front of Kakashi, still a little wobbly but far stronger than his last attempt, and grinned wide. “But you’re playing my game, Hatake. And this is my turf.”

Kakashi regained the upper hand by failing to stop. He skidded straight into Ryouma, knocking a startled laugh and half the air out of him, and felt wide, strong hands grab onto him in the same moment that Kakashi grabbed back. He wrapped both arms around Ryouma’s ribcage and translocated them both in a flash-flare of chakra and a crack of smoke.


They landed in a tumbling spill on Kakashi’s apartment floor, narrowly avoiding the desk chair. The apartment’s protective seals complained, sparking bright in Kakashi’s mind, but they settled when he flattened them with an absent flick of chakra. Ryouma was flat on his back and laughing, still breathless, an artful sprawl of leather and long legs.

“Damn,” he managed. “I was all lookin’ forward to using my new key.”

“You still can,” Kakashi said, without relenting his pin. “Just make sure you leave your pants. Then we both win.”

Ryouma’s gape of mock-outrage would have sent his kids into fits of hysterics. “I thought you were all about buying me more clothes! An’ instead you wanna send me out pants-less into the cold, just so you can wear jeans that haven’t been washed in six months?" He twisted, squirming to get his hands between them, and added vengefully, “They'll probably trip you anyway.”

“Don’t mock my hunting trophy,” Kakashi said, deadpan serious. “I was planning to have them stuffed and bronzed and hung over the mantel, and then I will laugh while you spend the rest of the year sad and pants-less and trapped inside the house. It’s a cunning plan.”

Ryouma turned his head to look at the apartment. “You don’t have a mantel,” he pointed out.

“It’s a work in progress,” Kakashi conceded. “But you’re still required to be naked.”

Ryouma dropped his head back to the carpet, stretching the line of his throat and grinning again as he unzipped his fly. “I’m workin’ on it.”

Kakashi lifted up just enough to give Ryouma more range of movement, and shrugged out of his jounin vest, dropping it to one side. He raked his mask and hitai-ate off, feeling his hair crackle with static, and ignored the rest of his clothes in favour of catching the leather jacket’s zip and sliding it down. The black tee-shirt underneath was loose over lost muscle, but emblazoned with a silk-screened skulls and flowers design that probably belonged to a band Ryouma liked. Kakashi skimmed it up, trapping Ryouma inside his clothes, and flattened his palm over the broad chest.

Ryouma’s skin was easily a half-dozen shades darker, desert-tanned against Kakashi’s winter-pale. Ryouma’s heartbeat had already kicked up a notch, interest warming his blood and scent. Kakashi ducked down to brush his mouth over the edge of the fist-sized pinwheel scar punched just below Ryouma’s left collarbone.

Ryouma arched up and shoved his jeans down; he wasn’t wearing underwear. He wrapped his hands around Kakashi’s hips, skinning Kakashi’s pants down and trying to pull him close at the same time.

“Wait, wait,” Kakashi said, caught between laughing and groaning.

Ryouma stopped, frustration bleeding a rasp into his voice. “Wait?

“How’d you like to try something different?” Kakashi asked, thinking of the fingerprint bruises their neighbour had taken such a dislike to. “Your turn, instead of mine.”

Ryouma blinked, giving Kakashi a look that suggested most of his blood was south of his belt and not actually operating his brain, before he said slowly, “You mean... gay sex with you on top, this time?”

“Well, I actually just call that sex,” Kakashi said. “Otherwise everything I do would be gay. Gay laundry. Gay dishes. Gay hair washing—”

Ryouma interrupted his tangent with a kiss that knocked most of the thought out of Kakashi’s head, effectively getting him out of his own way.

“Gay nailing me, I get it,” Ryouma said, pulling back. “Let me up and I’ll get my pants off.”

Now it was Kakashi’s turn to blink. “That’s it? No straight-man panic?”

Ryouma sat up, arousal leashing itself back into something a little more controlled, like fire under glass, and grinned as he registered Kakashi’s confusion. "If I was gonna go into straight-man panic, it would've happened before now. Didn't know if you'd want to—you never brought it up before—but I had a while there to think about it. Besides, you liked it well enough. Must be somethin' to it."

Ryouma had mentioned thinking things over in Suna. Been dreamin’ of this for six months. But he hadn’t mentioned this, and suddenly Kakashi wanted to know what else he’d been thinking of while he’d whiled away his months in chains.

“There’s a lot to it,” Kakashi agreed, getting to his feet and catching his pants when they made a bid to skid down. He held a hand out and hauled Ryouma up. “For me, anyway—not everyone likes it. But the way I was doing things, it was bottom or nothing. Too much like rape, otherwise, to demand sex and take it that way.” Not that he hadn’t been asked a few times, by one-moment-men he’d misjudged. He’d tried being on top once or twice, and liked it just fine, but it wasn’t mind-blanking and control-giving in the way he’d needed, when he’d wanted things to hurt.

And wow, this was not a train of thought leading to good foreplay.

Ryouma hesitated for a moment, then stepped out of his sandals and pants, peeled off the jacket and shirt, and gave his hair a rough tousle. He glanced at Kakashi over his shoulder. “The way you were doin’ things?”

It occurred to Kakashi, suddenly, that the only thing he’d ever told Ryouma about his personal choices had amounted to one line: Men. ANBU. No strings. One night, for preference. He’d never gone into more detail because everything he’d done with Ryouma had been different, starting with halfway-gentle and ending in strings; he’d never asked Ryouma to hurt him. He’d never wanted to.

“You know the old joke that ANBU like it rough because we’re—” he paused, corrected himself, “they’re too hardcore to pay attention to anything less? There’s a little truth in that. And I could go into details, but I think I’m already halfway to killing the mood.”

Ryouma closed his eyes, just the briefest wince, then opened them and looked at Kakashi unflinchingly. “But you paid attention to me.”

“I did,” Kakashi said, with a crooked, visible smile. “Of course, you did jutsu me into a hard-on on our first mission, which I did not tell your kids about.”

“C’mon, it took a lot more than that to land you,” Ryouma scoffed. He stepped closer, muscles sliding under skin, putting Kakashi in mind of a jungle cat on the prowl, and spread his hands over Kakashi’s hips again. Then slid them up under his shirt. “Or were you planning on landing me from then on?”

Ryouma’s guard was so down, it barely took a grab and a twist to pull him around and drop him backwards onto the bed. Wide eyes and gold-scarred skin against dark blue sheets, sharp arousal like a struck match, because Kakashi wasn’t the only one who liked it rough sometimes. Ryouma enjoyed being grabbed—when he trusted the person doing the grabbing.

Kakashi stripped his shirt off, kicked off his boots, stepped out of his pants and underwear, and leaned over Ryouma, pinning one of his wrists to the bed. Ryouma grabbed him back, free hand splaying over the four parallel scars he liked so much on Kakashi’s ribcage, and tugged him down.

“Liked the look of you since that first jutsu,” Kakashi told him, low and rough in his ear. “Liked you when you kept up and cracked stupid jokes and saved my life. When you stayed after Sadao. And when you didn’t punch me for kissing you on the riverbank. You’re wrong, you know,” he added, mouth quirking. “You could have had me for a word. I never thought I could have you.”

Ryouma arched, lifting like a carved bow against the hold keeping him down, gravelling out a challenge that sparked fire down Kakashi’s spine. “Well, you’ve got me. What’re you gonna do with me now?”

“Keep you,” Kakashi said, and meant it.

Ryouma’s pupils were blown wide, like cuts of shadow. He drew a sharp breath that broke in half when Kakashi sucked a blood-hot bruise against his throat and nipped his ear.

“Turn over,” Kakashi said.

Ryouma laughed a little, breathless. “Bossy,” he complained, but he rolled over, turning his wrist in Kakashi’s grip without pulling free.

“You like it when I’m bossy,” Kakashi said. He ducked his head to bite the back of Ryouma's neck, pressing his teeth lightly into a rare area of skin with no scars; swept his free hand down the length of Ryouma's back, drawing out a long shiver. Despite the easy acceptance, there was still tension lurking in the set of Ryouma’s shoulders, undercutting the bright arousal in his scent. A trace of nervousness. “Deep breath,” Kakashi told him, quiet in his ear. “If you hate it, we’ll stop.”

Ryouma dropped his head against the pillows and inhaled, making the wings of his shoulderblades spread. “I’ll let you know.” He was silent a beat, then a flick of teasing crept back into his voice. “So far, it’s not too bad.”

Kakashi snorted. "Smartass," he said, and slapped Ryouma lightly on the butt to punctuate his point, making the older man jump. "Hang tight, I'll be right back."

He slid off the bed, gratified when Ryouma actually listened and stayed put, and padded to the kitchen. The back up medkit was still under the sink; he pulled it out and dug through it, extracting a tube of burn ointment. Lube was another thing that really needed to go on the shopping list, but this would do for now; they’d already used it the first night Ryouma had been home.

He didn’t bother getting condoms. Neither one of them had slept with anyone else in the past six months—unless there was something Ryouma wasn’t telling him—and they’d both had recent clean blood tests. Bloodwork was a staple of the job when strangers had a tendency to hemorrhage all over you on a regular basis.

“Okay,” he said, dropping back down onto the bed. “You’ve done this with me—and I’m gonna guess you’ve done it with girlfriends, seeing as I didn’t have to give you the 101—so just stay relaxed.” He leaned forward and pressed an open-mouthed kiss between Ryouma’s shoulderblades, tasting sweat and salt. “And you should know this is a very good look for you.”

“Naked’s always my best look,” Ryouma said, rumbling and smug. “Fewer scars this side, too.”

But there were still some. Kakashi rubbed his fingertips over the scatter-shot of shrapnel marks carved into Ryouma’s right hip; reached higher and traced a thin white line that cut across one shoulderblade.

“I like your scars,” he said. “Proves you pissed someone off.”

"And lived to brag about it." Ryouma snuggled his head down into the pillows, scent warming and relaxing. "Starting off with backrubs? I'm on board with that."

That hadn’t exactly been the plan, but Kakashi could swing with that. Ryouma had done it for him once, he recalled, and it had pretty much dissolved him. He uncapped the tube and squeezed the burn cream onto his hands, cold and menthol-scented, slightly tingly. Rubbed his palms together to slick his fingers and warm them up a little, and dragged his hands down Ryouma’s back. The cream spread clear and shiny, like oil, putting a glow in already golden skin. Ryouma groaned softly.

Kakashi dug his thumbs into the knotted muscles at the base of Ryouma’s neck, seeking out the places where tension hoarded itself, and won a much deeper groan when something shivered and unclenched under his touch. He swung a leg over Ryouma, straddling him, and set to work on the stacked pressure points running from shoulders to pelvis, mimicking the memory of Ryouma's hands on his own skin. Pairing that with an altered version of the physical therapy medics had given him for old injuries and damaged chakra. Ryouma was warm, sleekly muscled, and balanced somewhere on the line between turned on and blissed out, coming slowly apart under Kakashi's hands.

Except for last night, Kakashi had never really had the chance to just pet Ryouma before. He'd never had the inclination to pet anyone before. But ulterior motives aside, it was its own kind of reward to be able to touch wherever he liked, lingering on broad shoulders and strong arms, the curve of spine leading down to narrow hips. He found new scars, a few freckles he hadn't known about, and something that looked almost like a hook-shaped birthmark in the small of Ryouma's back.

By the time Kakashi focused further south, Ryouma smelled like a banked forest fire, ready to catch at the slightest spark, and Kakashi wasn't exactly unmoved either.

He raised himself up, stretching over Ryouma and braced on one hand, and skimmed his other hand down the—frankly biteable—curve of Ryouma's ass. There was still a faint pink handprint on the skin. Kakashi grinned sharply and grazed his nails over it, just to see if Ryouma would jump again.

There was no jump, but Ryouma gave a full-body shudder and turned to look over the naked curve of his shoulder, barely lifting his head. “Undoing all your good work there, magic-hands.” His eyes were half-lidded, dark and dilated, and a lazy smile curved his mouth, but there was a bladed edge in his voice. “I’m about as relaxed as you’re ever going to get me.”

Kakashi lifted an eyebrow. “I think I just understood what people mean by ‘bedroom eyes’,” he drawled, deliberately teasing. “Feeling a little impatient?”

“I could just go to sleep,” Ryouma said, as if he wasn’t wire-strung and waiting.

“I’d call your bluff, but then we’d both be sad,” Kakashi said. He ducked his head, biting the next words right out of Ryouma's mouth, and skidded slick fingers south, seeking heat and pressing in. Ryouma’s startled sound went from baritone to bass, trapped behind his teeth, breathed into Kakashi’s mouth. The burn cream made all the difference, keeping things slick and easy; Kakashi pressed deeper, slow and careful, crooking two fingers to find the spot that would make Ryouma's vision blank out if he hit it right.

Ryouma’s back tried to arch. “Ah—ah,” he managed, breaking away to inhale deeply. Sweat beaded at his temples. He shoved his face into the pillows again, hands clenching on the sheets. There was more pain than pleasure in his scent, lashing through it like a sting.

“Relax,” Kakashi murmured, remembering the first time he’d ever done this. The shock of invasion, the ache of stretching. He pressed his mouth to Ryouma’s shoulder. “It’s okay. Just breathe. It’ll fade.”

“Mmmnng,” Ryouma said, a little muffled.

Kakashi changed angles, still slow and careful, relying on Ryouma’s still-sharp arousal to work with him—and hit exactly what he was looking for. Ryouma shivered all over, scent flaring hot and startled, cut through with liquid fire; he made a wrecked sound, like a man fatally struck in the very best way.

Must be somethin’ to it.

“Ten points to me,” Kakashi said, quiet and laughing against Ryouma’s shoulder, and set to winning that sound again. Ryouma was already a live wire, achingly tactile; it took very little time before there was nothing like pain in his scent, just want and need and urgent tremors shivering through his hips.

“Last chance to change your mind,” Kakashi told him.

Ryouma groaned, lifting his head to glare over his shoulder. His lower lip was bitten red, cheekbones flushed. His eyes were so dark they almost glittered. “Kakashi...”

His voice was like barbed wire and something wicked, sparking a thrill along Kakashi’s skin. It was almost tempting to hold off and see if he could wind Ryouma up to greater heights, string him out on the razor’s edge until he shook himself apart, but Ryouma had said I’ll look after you and trust cuts both ways, and that pretty much meant Kakashi wasn’t allowed to be a bastard in bed.

Besides, self-control was one thing, but Tousaki Ryouma was naked and beautiful and asking, and Kakashi wasn’t made of stone.

The burn cream tingled cold on his own skin, astringently minty against the scent of hard-working bodies. He pulled Ryouma up on his hands and knees, lined up and sank slowly in, dragging another aching groan from Ryouma and a thin hiss from between his own teeth. There was a flash of pain in Ryouma’s scent, another one of those rising “ah, ah” gasps, but everything was hottightgood and Ryouma pressed back against him, and—

All his birthdays come at once, pretty much. Except a damn sight better than most of them.

He swept a hand down Ryouma’s spine, fighting to catch his breath and keep his control, soothing the jagged shiver out of sleek muscles. It was different doing it this way, when he had to hold his focus and stay together; he couldn’t just fall out of his mind and live entirely in his body, thinking nothing and feeling everything. He had to stay aware, because if Ryouma could still think, Kakashi was doing this wrong.

But staying aware meant he got to see everything: the scar-cut flex of Ryouma’s back, the shadows spilling across the hard-boned architecture of a body burned leaner and harder. Bars of rising silver moonlight made the remaining slick glisten on Ryouma’s skin, and picked the oil-spill darkness out in his hair. Ryouma was panting, hard and raw-throated, and it came as absolutely no surprise that, when Kakashi found a rhythm and moved with it, Ryouma matched it in a heartbeat.

It was technically an abuse of a gift, but Kakashi couldn’t resist opening both eyes and burning the moment into permanent memory.

"Wish you could see yourself," he managed.

Ryouma glanced back, and went just a little wide-eyed. Kakashi rolled his hips, grinding deeper, and wrapped an arm under Ryouma to take him in hand and set up a tight, distracting counter-rhythm, determined to strip him down to the brass studs. Ryouma's head dropped, fists clenching in the sheets, scent igniting like a whirlwind storm. He made a wrenched, wordless noise, like his bones were melting and he didn't care.

Kakashi splayed his free hand around Ryouma's hip, quickening the pace. "Not yet," he said. "I'm not quite—"

But Ryouma was already over-sensitized and past the point of no return, which was either a compliment to Kakashi's skills or a depressing commentary on how long Ryouma had been locked in a desert sandtrap. His scent bottomed out, and Kakashi felt the shaking, clenching wave roll through him as Ryouma went over the edge, muscles locking tight. It was fantastic and just on the edge of painful, and it almost dragged Kakashi along for the ride—until Ryouma's elbows gave out and Kakashi had to sacrifice focus for grabbing. He caught Ryouma by the shoulder, arresting the fall, and was deeply grateful he'd managed to put on some strength in the last few months because that required a feat of balance which pulled on every muscle in his back.

And Ryouma hadn't quite breathed for the last ten heartbeats.

Under any other set of circumstances, that would have been alarming. Right now, Kakashi just lowered him down and ducked his head to press a blood-hot kiss against Ryouma's spine, grinning, before retrieving his hand and easing back into a slower, rocking rhythm. Ryouma groaned soft and low, voice rasping into something that might have been a complaint if it hadn't sounded so pleased with itself. He stirred and folded his arms under his head, sweat-slick and fever-hot and relaxed, and he might have been the most amazing thing Kakashi had ever touched.

Which was a thought Kakashi wanted to spend some time on, when he wasn't half undone and starting to shake.

Heat coiled low in his belly, matching the spill of lightning in his blood. He tightened his grip on Ryouma's hip, digging bruises into shrapnel-struck skin, and forced himself to keep to a first-timer's pace, thrusting deep instead of hard. It took longer, but Ryouma wasn't complaining and Kakashi definitely wasn't complaining, and when the release finally crackled up his spine, stealing thought and breath and a living chunk of time, he had just enough presence of mind left to bite his own biceps instead of carving another scar into Ryouma's skin.


Gay sex coma was another thing to add to the list, Kakashi thought muzzily, as he regained a scrap of self-awareness and realized he was sprawled across Ryouma’s back. So much for staying focused. He dragged his head up, trying to figure out if Ryouma was even awake...

“Welcome back,” Ryouma said, laughing and warm, words thrumming with an undercurrent of delight that brimmed over in his scent.

Kakashi pressed his face between sweat-slicked shoulderblades, breathing deep, and kind of nuzzled a kiss against Ryouma’s back before he could bring himself to move. He levered up on one arm and spilled sideways, slipping free and landing in a tangle of limbs and rumpled blankets, half-blinded by his own hair.

“Mmmwhazzit,” he mumbled. He cleared his throat and reached for actual words. “Okay?”

Ryouma tossed an arm around him, pulling Kakashi in against his side, and dropped a kiss somewhere in the wild mess of hair that was currently obscuring the world. “Amazing.”

He was warm as a firebrand and smelled like liquid sunshine, like there was gold in his veins. Kakashi rolled flush against him, ducking his head beneath Ryouma’s chin to bask in it. “S’n upgrade from ‘nice’,” he said, slightly muffled against Ryouma’s throat.

“Was an upgrade over all,” Ryouma said, breath still coming a little hard, gradually slowing; Kakashi hadn’t been out that long. “Hope I was that good for you, but I kinda doubt it. Even when it hurt, it was good. An’ it got better.”

Kakashi knew all about hurting-good, but better was what he’d wanted to give Ryouma. He grinned, still breathless himself. “Don’t doubt yourself—you’re great for me, both ways. In fact, hang on...”

Ryouma made an enquiring sound. Kakashi pulled up a lazy curl of chakra, opened Obito’s eye and twisted the two together, spinning recent memory into a quick and dirty genjutsu. He raked his hair back, looking up to catch Ryouma’s dark eyes and snared him in it, pouring everything he’d felt straight into Ryouma’s head, slightly filtered so as not to overwhelm.

Wish you could see yourself.

All the pretty mental images, and the rush of fierce pride and fiercer mine behind them, tangled up with laughter and lust and amazement that he got to be this lucky. He let it unspool, then gently broke the jutsu, closing the sharingan and corralling the snapback so it wouldn’t jar them out of the afterglow.

“See?” he said.

Ryouma blinked and gave a quick little headshake, clearly sorting himself back into reality. He drew a breath. “Wow,” he said. Then added, reflectively, “Damn, I’m hot.” He grinned down at Kakashi, laughing and happy, smelling like nothing else, and ducked his head to brush a kiss over Kakashi’s sweaty forehead, nose, cheek, working haphazardly down to his mouth. “You were hotter, though.”

“Don’t be ridic—mph,” Kakashi cut off, interrupted by Ryouma’s attention. He kissed back, reflexive as breathing, licking the salt off Ryouma’s lips. “I’m all pale and pointy and—ouch.”

Ryouma’s eyebrows flew up. “Ouch?”

Kakashi pulled free, rolling off his left arm, and realized why he’d been smelling an edge of copper in the air. His bite had broken skin. “Dammit.”

“When did that happen?” Ryouma propped himself up on an elbow, then sat up entirely. “Nevermind, bite-marks just occur around you, don’t they?” He sounded a little more pleased than teasing, though, as if he’d figured out why Kakashi was the one bleeding this time. He pushed himself sideways, scrambling out of bed—ignoring Kakashi’s protest entirely—and hesitated. Took a checked step, which, judging by the faint wince, hurt a little more than he expected it to, but he forged on and limped determinedly towards the bathroom, switching on a lamp along the way.

Kakashi rolled over to watch, admiring the warm glow on Ryouma’s bare skin; his back was still a little shiny from the burn ointment. He was definitely going to have bruises on his hip.

Ryouma closed the door. Water ran for a long moment.

Kakashi was half-debating getting up and seeing about getting washed himself, when the door opened, bringing the scent of steam and soap. Ryouma came out carrying a med-kit and flannel, still buck-naked but markedly cleaner, and made his way back to the bed.

“An’ you are hot, so don’t argue,” he said, picking up the conversation exactly where he’d left off. “S’a good thing you wear a mask, or people’d be swooning in the streets— Hold still.”

He dropped the flannel in Kakashi’s hands, and set to applying antiseptic to the bite mark.

Kakashi held still. “You haven’t swooned,” he said, amused.

“I’m made of stronger stuff than the common man,” Ryouma said off-handedly, as if this were a piece of practical, every day knowledge, like water being wet, or Mist-nin being psychotic. He swiped a square of gauze over Kakashi’s arm to get the blood off, and slapped a band-aid over the teeth-marks. “Good thing, too, or I’d prolly just sit around starin’ slack-jawed at you all the time. As opposed to my normal very intelligent starin’.”

Kakashi really should have teased him, but it was a little hard to think of anything when he was still half-blitzed and edging into delighted.

He did manage not to say ‘really?’ like a five-year-old, instead restraining himself to ducked grin and a hasty effort at getting clean before the warm flannel went cold. When he was done he tossed the flannel accurately into the laundry hamper, and yanked Ryouma back into bed.

“Pretty good day for you,” he said, redirecting the conversation. “Presents in the morning—your cake is in the fridge, by the way—lunchdate with a pretty lady, new jacket, house key, afternoon beating up little kids, and tonight with me.” His grin widened. “And tomorrow you get to walk funny all day.”

Ryouma flopped onto his back, arms flung wide, heaving a deep, happy sigh. “Best day ever. ...And I have physical therapy tomorrow. That’ll be fun explaining.”

Kakashi laughed, draping himself comfortably across Ryouma’s chest, idly tracing patterns against one heavy collarbone. “Just tell them you got a jump on the physical part. Or got jumped, anyway.”

"Was good exercise,” Ryouma agreed, with a little snicker. He raised his head slightly, looking down at Kakashi. "An' all that new muscle was useful, too, not just pretty."

Kakashi laughed again, a little quieter, and stretched out, feeling the pleasurable burn of a body he’d put to good use over the day. It still made a change to feel capable and strong, instead of just fighting to stay functional—and an even better change to have Ryouma around to say things like that and sound like he meant them.

“Glad you like it, because I plan on keeping it,” he said. “You should come running with me tomorrow morning, before your appointments. I could make breakfast.”

“Only if you watch The Five Rings Cycle with me tonight,” Ryouma said instantly. “It should still be in my bag.”

“Isn’t that a trilogy?” Kakashi said. “Nine hours of film?”

“Well, we don’t have to watch them all tonight...” Ryouma glanced down again, and said more sharply, “Wait, have you seen it already?”

Kakashi snorted. “Nine hours of film. I just remember you mentioning it before. And, y’know, I’ve been babysitting them for six months.” He hesitated slightly. “I didn’t watch any of them. Couldn’t bring myself to.”

Ryouma’s arm wrapped around him, pulling him into a brief, tight hug. “So I can still introduce you to the classics of samurai action cinema. An' my historical tour of the classic shinobi rock scene, which you slept through the first time."

“Oh joy,” Kakashi said, desert-dry, even while he leaned gratefully into Ryouma’s hold. “Why is it only my educational lack that’s being addressed? I haven’t tried to make you read anything.”

Ryouma fell silent for a moment. “Do you want me to?” he asked at last, quiet.

Kakashi glanced at him. “So you can tease me by note, too?” He pushed himself up, splaying a hand over Ryouma’s ribcage as he found something approximating a tailor-seat; looked down to meet the sudden wariness in Ryouma’s eyes, which was so ready to become hurt.

Why can’t you read? he’d asked, the first time Ryouma had mentioned it, trying to wrap his mind around the idea of someone who couldn’t navigate menus or roadsigns or library books. Who wouldn’t know the names on the Heroes’ Stone.

I grew up on the streets, Ryouma had said, eyes flicking away. I was eleven when I got into the Academy, and by then they had better stuff to teach me than something everybody else already knew.

Maybe that was part-reason why Ryouma fought so hard to get his kids into school, and didn’t think he had much to offer them.

“You’ve made it twenty-three years without,” Kakashi said, treading carefully. “Do you want to learn?”

Ryouma sighed, staring up at the ceiling. His eyes were distant; whatever he was looking at, it wasn’t the plaster. "Even if I did, it's too late, isn't it? I've got a couple dozen kanji memorized, but you have to know upwards of a thousand just to read a newspaper. I don't have that kind of time now, anymore'n I did then."

“What about hiragana?” Kakashi suggested, after a moment’s thought. “That wouldn’t get you to a newspaper, but you’d be able to write—at least phonetically. And everything breaks down to phonetics.”

Ryouma’s mouth tugged sideways, almost like a smile. “You really want those teasing notes, don’t you?” he said, and seemed to even think it over for a second, before he sighed again and rolled over, pressing his face against Kakashi’s knee. His voice came muffled. “Let’s talk about it tomorrow. I think right now I need some really fake samurai gore.”

Good day, long week, Kakashi reminded himself. Weeks, even. Months. And Ryouma had just come through something a little world-altering in the last hour, let alone everything else that had happened.

He slid his fingers into Ryouma’s hair, cradling his skull, and bent down to press a kiss to the top of his head. “Sounds good, just so long as I can make fun of the inaccuracies.” He rubbed the back of Ryouma’s neck and eased carefully away. “Get under the sheets while I set up the TV.”

Ryouma scrambled—just a little stiffly—off the bed to find his videos, suddenly bright-eyed and excited all over again, like one of his kids. "Makin' fun of the inaccuracies is half the fun. No—maybe a third. T'other third is quoting it, the next day." His voice dropped suddenly, sliding into theatrical enunciation; he gestured violently with the boxset: "Ho, villain! You shall taste the wrath of my ancestors' sword!"

“And die from tetanus,” Kakashi supplied, fighting down laughter as he swept the medkit off the bed and went to return it to the bathroom. He stopped by the kitchen on the way back, filling two mugs with water and putting them in the microwave, then went to drag the TV out of the back of the closet, setting it up on the desk.

Ryouma leapt back into bed, squirming down under the sheets until he was comfortable, and balanced the boxset on his knees. He said thoughtfully, "I saw a guy die from tetanus, once. Or start dying, at any rate. One of the jounin put him down, eventually. Our medic'd died the day before. Film's not nearly as hard to watch. An' the blood never looks real. Sometimes, the really old ones, you can see the corpses tryin' not to laugh in the battlefield scenes."

Kakashi paused halfway through finagling wires. They’d both been on battlefields, but only Ryouma was the kind of man to want to make something cathartic out of it. “I don’t think your logic is normal-people logic,” Kakashi told him, sticking the plug in the wall socket. The screen flickered to life.

Ryouma tossed his videos over. “Normal-people logic is boring. My logic is awesome-people logic.”

“Didn’t you once tell me that the medic’s hats and collars were locked in a war to see which one of them could eat more face first?” Kakashi asked, putting in the first video. He went back to the kitchen, collecting the hot mugs and adding teabags, and fished Ryouma’s cake out of the fridge, grabbing a plate and fork to go along with it.

“War of attrition,” Ryouma agreed cheerfully.

Getting everything back to the bed required two trips if Kakashi wanted to avoid second degree burns. He settled the cake, plate and fork with Ryouma—stopping to explain the little frosting-dragon’s sign, which made Ryouma cackle—and returned for the tea, side-tracking to the weapon’s chest to grab Ryouma’s knife on the second trip.

He was halfway settled when he realized he’d forgotten the remote. “Son of a bitch.”

“Copy-cat,” Ryouma accused him, sounding delighted.

“You can wear your cake,” Kakashi threatened, getting up again. He grabbed the remote, briefly considered his mask and hitai-ate on the floor, and swept up the hitai-ate, sliding it back into place. The mask remained neglected.

Ryouma was sort of... cuddling his knife when Kakashi returned to bed, along with the boxset and the cake-box. His tea had made it no further than the windowsill behind him. He looked very much like he wanted to jump up and do a little bed-dance, except he was probably still too sore.

Kakashi slid in next to him. “So how long’s it been since you watched TV?”

Ryouma ignored the plate entirely to just fork the cake out of the box. He tucked the first mouthful away and tipped his head against Kakashi’s shoulder, radiating warmth as he licked chocolate frosting off the fork. "Six and a half months, maybe? I ran out of movies a couple days before you woke up. Started in on music—an' poker games with Ginta—instead. Probably still owe him money."

Kakashi hid a reflexive wince.

The cake smelled of rich coffee and dark chocolate as Ryouma carved another bite off, this time offering it to him. “How about you?” Ryouma asked, holding the fork aloft. “Oh, an’ pay attention during the opening credits. That one-eyed guy you see observing the castle is gonna be important later.”

“One-eyed guys are essential plot points,” Kakashi said sagely, eyeing the cake. It looked sweet, but it smelled enough like coffee that it might be tolerable, and he’d promised Ryouma he’d try the theoretical pie, which had somehow become actual cake. Delicately, he swallowed the bite. “That’s... actually not bad.”

Ryouma sniffed, as if Kakashi had personally insulted his firstborn, and had another forkful. “Who’re you kidding? It’s amazing.” He tapped the fork thoughtfully on the box. “Though not quite better’n sex...”

Kakashi snorted laughter, cradling his mug of tea in both hands and keeping an eye on the opening credits. The film was black and white, shot with a slightly jerky quality. When the credits gave way to the actual beginning, Ryouma’s whole scent brightened.

“Okay! Here's Tobirama-dono an' his advisors riding to consult with Abbot Senju. This bit's kind of boring talking, but it sets up the whole plot. Let me know if you don't understand."

“I think I’m following so far,” Kakashi said dryly. “Is that back-left advisor evil? He’s the only one with a moustache.”

Proudly, Ryouma said, “That’s my smart boy.”

The words shouldn’t have warmed Kakashi all the way through, but they did, like falling asleep in a sunbeam. “You can still wear your cake,” he said, because some consistency had to be maintained, but his voice caught a little.

Ryouma gave a regretful sigh and stowed the fork back in the cake box, leaning across Kakashi to set the box aside on the bedside table. “You wouldnt wanna spoil your clean sheets,” he said, despite the fact they’d already gone to quite a lot of effort to ruin the sheets. “That’s it for me tonight, anyway. Too much sugar, after six months of none."

He retrieved his tea off the windowsill and leaned against Kakashi’s shoulder, sipping the slightly spicy mix of herbs with his eyes fixed on the screen. The knife was still tucked in the crook of his opposite elbow, like the much more lethal version of a toy train. After their earlier conversation about weapons, Kakashi suspected he’d be seeing a lot of it.

He swapped his mug to one hand, bracing it on his knee, and wrapped his other arm around Ryouma’s shoulders, lifting his hand up to slide his fingers through short, sweat-stiffened spikes of hair.

“So who’s the stalking boy in the background? That’s the third shot he’s been in.”

“That’s Takeo, youngest retainer of Fujiwara-dono. He’s tryin’ to overhear Senju’s advice to Tobirama without bein’ observed—an’ without doin’ the obvious thing, like disguising himself as one of the monks.” Ryouma took another sip of tea, yawned widely enough to crack his jaw, and replaced the mug on the windowsill, leaning more heavily against Kakashi’s side. “Don’t get too attached to him.”

“That’s ominous,” Kakashi said, amused and starting to feel a little second-hand sleepy from the slow roll of weariness burning through Ryouma’s scent, like the ashes after a fire. “Lie down if you want to. I’m still paying attention.”

“Good, ‘cause there’s a great fight scene with the warrior monks comin’ up in about five minutes.” Despite that lure, Ryouma slipped willingly down under the blankets, turning to curl into Kakashi, with his head pillowed against Kakashi’s thigh. Even with all that height, he somehow managed to make himself tucked up and tidy, almost small, as if he was afraid of sprawling out and taking up too much room—or he was just enjoying being close. His next words came a little hazy. “Kid who played Takeo ended up starrin’ in Blood Tide, two years later. That one’s kind of hilarious, there’re ninja... Ooh, Senju’s speech.” He shut up abruptly.

The plot swerves actually required fairly close attention, especially when the fight scenes kicked in and began mowing down cast members by the dozen. There was at least one new character introduced every ten minutes, each with their own backstory. Ryouma was right; the gore was ridiculous.

But in some strange way, not at all triggering.

They even had a little cheer when the daimyo’s daughter’s attempted rapist went plunging off the battlements, splashing down on the cobbles below in a spray of extremely fake body parts and corn syrup.

"Now they have ten minutes of stupid battle plans anyone with half a brain should know would get them all slaughtered,” Ryouma said, equal parts judgemental and exhausted. He pressed his face against Kakashi’s blanket-covered leg, making a sleepy sound of contentment when Kakashi chuckled and scratched the back of his neck.

“I like the talking bits,” Kakashi said, low-voiced. “They’re interesting.”

"You would. Though actually my favorite part’s Abbot Senju’s second speech, at the very end. Gives me chills every time." Ryouma sighed and curled his head down a little more, baring his neck for better access.

“S’that where you pick up your habit for speechifying?” Kakashi asked, amused.

“Maybe,” Ryouma said drowsily, starting to drift. Kakashi rubbed a thumb down the nape of his neck, returning to the pressure-points he’d abandoned earlier. Ryouma’s voice hitched on something very like a moan. “You’ll hafta let me know if I sound like him. Minamoto-dono calls it a ‘dangerous gift for eloquence.’ Sometimes I’ve talked myself into trouble, too, but usually I talk myself out of it again...”

“I never got the hang of that,” Kakashi said, which made Ryouma snort laughter. He turned the words over in his head, a dangerous gift for eloquence, and decided he liked them. They suited Ryouma.

The politics on-screen caught his attention again, wrapping him back up in the plot. The next time he risked glancing down, wanting to ask another question, Ryouma was sacked out and gone. He was a warm solid weight against Kakashi’s leg, blue-lit and shadowed by the flickering television screen, not even twitching as he dreamed. Kakashi’s fingers had been carding absently through his hair for at least the last half hour.

Kakashi’s mouth quirked.

There were still things they needed to talk about—Ginta, probably; Asuma, definitely; Ryouma’s kids; Ryouma’s reading—but all of those could wait for morning. And maybe a few more mornings after that.

I'll look after you.

He leaned more comfortably against the wall below the windowsill, grazing his fingertips over the old shattered-mask scars that still traced silvery lines over Ryouma's temple, and thought he might be okay with that.
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