|[May. 22nd, 2014|05:29 am]|
Raidou looked at the tight, miserable line of Ryouma’s broad shoulders and thought, That’s not gonna cut it. |
They’d already bypassed soldierly and silent by a long stretch.
“C’mere,” he said.
Ryouma’s dark head came up, like a sudden reprieve, but he stopped without turning. “You sure that’s a good idea, taichou?”
“I really do,” Raidou said firmly. “Come over here, Ryouma.”
Ryouma hesitated for a fractional moment, barely a beat for a civilian, but enough time for a shinobi to decide whether to fight, flee, or truce. Then he rocked back on his heels and straightened up. The distance between them was only a pace; Ryouma covered it in a quick stride, hesitated again, and folded down into a wary tailor’s seat when Raidou waved him to the floor.
Face-to-face, with less than an arm’s length between them, it felt like the start of a negotiation, or the beginning of circle story time. Raidou had to lift his chin very slightly, accounting for Ryouma’s greater height.
It had been a while since he’d noticed that.
“The first time we met,” he said, which was a better sidestep then: so, the last time we had sex. “You remember what my face looked like?”
Ryouma’s expression turned puzzled. “Beat up, a little,” he said. “Split lip. Black eye. Strong.”
Raidou hadn’t been angling for that last one but it was nice to hear, even if it was a reminder that the ground was laced with landmines. “I was fresh off a mission. Weapons developer in Kumo was getting just a little too dangerous, I guess, since someone paid to wipe his lab, his business partners, and both his sons off the map. Big fire, lots of bodies.”
“I remember that,” Ryouma said slowly. “It was on the news. Enshou factory.”
“That’s the one. I think they had some kind of exploding powder in the works.” Raidou shrugged. “Took the place up like a bonfire, anyway. And after that I came home, showered the blood off, went out again, and found you. I know what wanting to forget looks like.”
Ryouma was silent for a moment. “I thought it was probably something like that.”
There was something faintly brittle in his voice, behind the careful construction of a still face, and Raidou thought, I hope I didn’t just screw that up. He didn’t want to drag up all the emotions of that one good night and spread them around now, when Ryouma was rocky and clinging to old habits, and Raidou wasn’t exactly steady either. But he didn’t want Ryouma to walk away with the idea that it had been nothing, just a roll with a forgettable stranger. Ryouma had left an impression. He was built to leave impressions.
And neither of those were helpful avenues of thought.
“Point is,” Raidou said, trying to find it again. “I’ve been there, most of us have, and there’s no shame in it. And if you tell me right now that sex is the only way to get you through this mission and home, I’ll listen, because shutting you down is probably going to end up with your kunai through that woman’s head. And I’d like to avoid more bodies today. I’ve met my quota.” He looked at the hard-cut lines of Ryouma’s face, still edged with old flecks of blood the shower had missed. The dark, strained eyes, and the mouth with its bitten edges. “But first I want you to take a moment and think, really think, about what you need, and what’s just a bandaid.”
Ryouma shook his head, slow, and then harder, until his hair flew out in wild spikes, like black glass. “I don’t. I told you. I want it—” He broke off, stumbling. “But want’s different from need. I’ll make it home. I won’t kill her and I won’t crack up and kill anyone else, either. I—”
He stopped again, blistered hands splayed helplessly across his knees.
I don’t know what I need, Raidou filled in.
But Ryouma had already said part of it. So long's I wasn't alone. So long's I could forget what I'd done.
Company was easy; Raidou was a long way from sleep. But forgetting… No matter how good the sex was, it was still just a distraction, and the memory was right there waiting for you afterwards. With teeth, usually, to make up for lost time.