September, Yondaime Year 4
Raidou made it home with blood in his hair, grit between his teeth, and a powerful desire for a shower, shave, and some kind of shindig.
Except no one said shindig anymore, so scratch that last one.
The barracks’ water pressure was temperamental at best, but it ran hot and long and very, very red before he was done with it. Heartblood spiraling down the drain. Well, there were worse ways to end up, he thought, making a clone to scrub his back. One day he’d be the crimson under someone else’s nails.
“Are you having a moment with yourself?” his clone asked, picking a ragged bit off the sponge.
“I might be,” Raidou said. “If myself would shut up.”
The clone raked through his hair, stripping out dried blood and other unmentionable things until Raidou felt re-sterilized and a little scalped. He elbowed it in the throat, making it bamph out of existence, and experienced a weird moment of looking at himself from both sides as its memories unfolded in his head. ˙
The black eye wasn’t doing him any favors, but the split lip could be rakish in the right light, and—well, he could probably live with the eyebrow scar. The rest would fade soon enough, and next time someone tried to rip his mask off, he’d duck.
He shaved, brushed his teeth, wrapped a towel around his hips while the rest of him air-dried, and wrote his report. Bandaged the cuts that still wanted to bleed. Cleaned his armor. Ate a rat-bar to line his stomach and ease the few lingering shivers. Drank a glass of water.
After three years, it was all muscle memory.
The next part was where he got to choose—fall into bed and wake up sore, hit the gym and work out the kinks, or go out, see some people, and play in the village he was supposed to die for.
Easy choice, really.
He traded the towel for jeans and a shirt, something dark red and button up, easy at the throat. Added a watch, his dogtags, his rings; raked a palmful of gel into his hair, grabbed his wallet and his keys. Tucked a kunai into his boot and his belt, safe at the small of his back.
Left, locked up.
Came back, put deodorant on.
He dropped his report at the administrative office on his way out, and took the quick route down the Nidaime’s stony face towards the village. It was already late; the sky was star-strewn and glittering, lit by a sliver-moon. Konoha lay beneath him like a scattered handful of jewels.
Raidou grinned, breathed the night air, and went to pick up something shiny.
The Green Pig wasn’t generally considered one of Konoha’s best bars. It probably wasn’t even one of the mediocre ones. It was a shinobi bar: the shinobi bar, as far as Ryouma knew. He was fairly sure Senju Hashirama’s name was carved up on the smoke-blackened ceiling beams, along with eighty years of new names and grime. The pool tables probably dated from Shodai’s time too, assuming they’d had pool back then; Ryouma was certain the felt hadn’t been replaced in his lifetime, at least. The booths were sticky and torn, the furniture mismatched, the bathrooms truly terrible.
Shinobi folklore said if you drank at the Pig before you left for a mission, you’d come back unharmed. Ryouma had plenty of scars to prove that wasn’t true, but the beer was cheap and the company was good, and nobody ever went to his death grateful he’d gotten a solid nine hours of sleep the night before.
So far the evening looked promising. There were a couple of long-legged chuunin up at the bar, a devil-eyed special jounin very carefully picking out the intricate steps of a Wind Country pattern-dance on the open floor by the jukebox. A few daring civilians, sizing up the shinobi like dishes on the menu and whispering to each other. Ryouma was waiting for one of them to gather up the courage to buy him a drink. In the meantime, he was shooting pool.
“Seven, top corner pocket,” his opponent said, sliding down the table to set up her shot. Ryouma moved obligingly out of the way. He wouldn’t have gone for the seven—the nine had a better angle, if you spun it right—but he’d tried offering advice earlier and gotten a cue stick to the instep for his trouble.
“I’ve been playing pool longer than you’ve been alive,” Minami Izumi had informed him tartly. Ryouma suspected that wasn’t strictly true, but you didn’t pick fights with Academy teachers, on-duty or off.
He leaned on his cue stick instead, and scanned the crowd again. The special jounin had finished his dance and was accepting beer and kisses from his audience. All young women, Ryouma noticed. Ah well. There were always more kunai in the holster.
There was one stepping through the door now, in fact. Tallish, reddish-haired, broad-shouldered and square-jawed. Shinobi, even if you hadn’t seen the split lip and the black eye. His eyes flicked to check sight-lines and exits, automatic as breathing. After a heartbeat the hard line of his shoulders eased a little. He nodded to someone across the room, and headed for an open spot at the bar.
Ryouma slapped two thousand ryou down on the tattered felt of the pool table. “Sorry, Minami-sensei,” he said. “I forfeit.” He handed his cue to a bystander and took the three steps down from the pool-loft to the main floor of the bar. A dark-haired civilian girl smiled at him; he smiled back, distractedly, and fetched up against the bar at the shinobi’s elbow.
“Buy you a drink?”
That was easy.
Raidou glanced sideways, then up. There weren’t many men who could make him tilt his chin, but this one was worth the look. Rough-spiked dark hair shading even darker eyes, the kind of cheekbones that’d make an angel cry; no scars, but that nose had been broken at least once, and the wide, reckless mouth curving beneath it promised dangerous fun.
Hot interest kindled under Raidou’s ribcage.
“Shouchu,” he said. It’d been that kind of day. “And you’re—”
The civilian girl caught his eye, mostly by the way she was staring at the back of his new friend’s head.
“Popular,” Raidou finished.
“Missed her chance,” said the man dismissively, without looking. “I’ve been playing pool with Minami-sensei for twenty minutes.” He signaled the bartender, holding up two long scarred fingers—”Shouchu.”—then braced his elbow on the bar, leaning easily. “Tousaki Ryouma, by the way. Jounin.”
Jounin’s ego, too, Raidou thought, amused. He’d guessed Ryouma’s rank from the sleek chakra signature, but nice to have it confirmed.
“Raidou,” he said. “Special-jounin.”
Ryouma gave him a long once-over, dark gaze lingering on Raidou’s arms and shoulders. “Taijutsu?”
Raidou grinned. “It wasn’t going to be genjutsu.” He returned Ryouma’s attention, following the line of broad, rangy shoulders down to lean hips. There was muscle, definitely, but also speed in those long legs and clever-looking hands. Jounin were harder to pin down to a specialty, being the definition of a well-rounded ninja, but if Raidou had to guess… “Ninjutsu, right?”
Ryouma sighed. “Well, I told ‘em in the Academy I wanted to specialize in gnawing off knee-caps, but they said I was already too tall for that. Had to make new plans.”
Raidou’s laugh was interrupted by the drinks arriving. Ryouma slid a handful of bills across the counter, with a generous tip tucked under his thumb; the bartender made it vanish with quick sleight of hand and moved onto his next customer.
Twin shot glasses sweated gentle beads of condensation onto the bar top. Raidou picked one up, turning the glass to the light.
“Your good health?” he suggested, wry.
“Until tomorrow, maybe,” Ryouma said easily. He tapped his glass to Raidou’s and threw back the shot, baring the long line of his throat.
Raidou drank his own just to cool the flames. The shouchu was good and rough, burning all the way down. He set the glass back down and rapped twice on the bar. “Mission tomorrow?”
The bartender swept by, racking up two refills. Raidou put the money down this time.
“Mangrove Country,” said Ryouma, picking up his second. “Swamp and swamp-lizards and mosquitos the size of young crows.” He grinned wickedly, catching Raidou’s eyes dead-on. “One last night for no regrets.”
Very deliberately, the dark gaze slid down Raidou’s chest, coming to rest on his belt-buckle.
Subtle man, Tousaki Ryouma.
Raidou was no stranger to a back-alley hookup, or even a hasty bathroom grope—when the adrenaline was still scraping through your veins, any decision seemed like a good one. He didn’t regret them afterwards. But this guy—
This guy, Raidou wanted to pin down to a bed somewhere and take him apart piece by piece, until that cocky mask cracked.
He drank his second shot and grinned. “Want to go somewhere else?”
There was a mission in the morning. 0800, outside the east gate, leading a three-man team on a two-week trek with an A-rank stamp on the paperwork. Ryouma should be looking for nothing more than a quickie in the bathroom, on his knees or braced up against the filthy sink, but there was a light in the dark eyes and an edge to the white grin, and Ryouma couldn’t remember why it was important to get a good night’s sleep.
“My apartment’s two blocks from here,” he said, and tossed the second shot of shouchu back. The alcoholic burn turned his voice a little husky. “Want a bottle to go?”
There were very faint lines winging the corners of Raidou’s eyes, legacy of years staring into the sun; they crinkled with his grin. His bruised left eye was colorful, but not swollen. “On me, seeing as you’re the guy heading out tomorrow.” He stepped in, settling a broad hand casually on Ryouma’s hip, and signaled the bartender. “Same again, or something better?”
His hand was heavy, warm, even through the tough fabric of Ryouma’s jeans. Ryouma let himself lean against the pressure, just a little, and felt the fingers curl over his hip, the tendons in the wrist tighten. The hand stayed steady.
Those muscles weren’t just for show.
“Better,” Ryouma said, recklessly.
“Bottle of Blue Mountain,” Raidou told the bartender, without hesitating. “And a free drink for the next person who looks like they need it.” He flipped his wallet out one-handed, passed over the payment and tip, and looked back to Ryouma. “Might as well spread my good luck around, right?”
“Gettin’ ahead of yourself, there,” Ryouma said. “Who said it’s good luck?”
The bartender set a squat, green-glass bottle of shouchu on the counter and turned away. Raidou crooked two fingers around the bottle-neck, but didn’t lift it. “Have you seen you?” he inquired. “Made my night just looking at you. But if you want to go play drunken checkers, I think I could swing that.”
Ryouma smirked. “Guess luck’s on your side after all.” He pushed away from the bar, ducked his head to brush his lips near Raidou’s ear. “I was thinking something a little more naked.” He paused. “Strip poker, maybe.”
The back of his jacket and shirt twitched up; calluses scraped warm against his skin. “I’m thinking that sounds like a lot of effort I’d rather put toward other goals,” Raidou said, sounding amused. He swept the shouchu bottle off the bar and turned, flattening his palm over Ryouma’s spine. “But I’m flexible. How about you show me your place, and we see what we feel like?”
Two shots of shouchu, and a beer before that; Ryouma wasn’t drunk yet. But the strong hand pressing against the small of his back was intoxicant enough that he had to concentrate on weaving his way between tables, shouldering the door open and not tripping over the short, plump kunoichi outside. “Watch it,” she said irritably.
Ryouma waved a distracted hand at her and led Raidou up the street, through the thickening evening crowds. His apartment was on the third floor of a shabby block rented mostly to single chuunin and jounin. Hardly anyone used the stairs, which were concrete and crumbling, poorly lit. He paused at the second landing, where a single yellow bulb cast swaying shadows, and then turned.
“Practice round,” he said. “Just so you know what you’re getting into.”
He slid both hands up the strong, clean-shaven angles of Raidou’s jaw, and kissed him.
If this was Ryouma’s plan to put him off at the doorstep, Raidou thought he’d detected a subtle flaw. It was hard to put his thumb on it, distracted as he was by a warm, firm mouth and calloused, cradling hands, but he thought—he thought—it might have something to with the skillful kiss lighting his nerves up like firecrackers.
Apparently it had been a while.
Ryouma pulled back, letting go, and yeah, okay, that was not acceptable. Raidou followed him, crowding the long, lean body against the wall—carefully, because ninja reflexes—and pinned him there by his hips, tilting up to return the kiss, harder, with interest.
His split lip stung, but didn’t re-open.
A rough-rasping noise scraped out of Ryouma’s throat and tense muscles shivered, then partway relaxed. He ground his hips against Raidou, testing the hold, but opened his mouth when Raidou pressed him. The slick points of teeth tasted like recent mint and sharp alcohol. Raidou bit Ryouma’s lower lip gently, just because he could, and eased back, breaking the kiss but not the hold.
It took a second, then long, dark lashes flicked, and Ryouma’s eyes opened, a little storm-dazed. “You convinced me,” he rasped. “Let’s skip the poker.”
Raidou laughed. “Good plan.”
It took one more flight of stairs to get to Ryouma’s place, which was the lucky apartment built into the corner. Raidou hung to the side while Ryouma got his key in the lock and pressed his hand to the door, palm faintly glowing with a veneer of chakra. Raidou wasn’t sensitive enough to feel the traps disengage, but he assumed they did because nothing swung down to blast his head off when Ryouma let him in.
A table lamp gave them enough warm yellow light to see by—helped somewhat by there being really nothing much to look at.
Konoha’s landlords dealt a good trade in small white studio-box apartments for the shinobi on the go, and Ryouma had found himself a factory standard. There was a tiny kitchenette built against one wall; a wide bed; a sliding door left half-open to the bathroom, which looked far too small to contain an actual bath. Some homely details caught his eye—one of the small TVs that had finally gotten cheap enough for regular folks to buy, a decent stereo, a box of colorful tapes. No pictures, but a few wild band posters taped to the cinderblock walls. A jounin vest thrown on a rack in the corner below the single window, next to the weapons chest.
No clothes on the floor, but some definite kunai marks in the walls. The bed, Raidou couldn’t help noticing, was made, though not to a standard that’d let you bounce a coin off it.
The whole assessment took him a quick glance and ended with a floorplan filed away in the part of his mind that kept track of Plan B, where it could hopefully stay. He returned to Ryouma, who’d shucked his black jacket onto a wall hook and crouched to unlace heavy boots.
“Take your shoes off and stay awhile, shinobi,” Ryouma said, glancing up with a curling, playful grin. “Or keep standing, if you want me to stay on my knees.”
Through great effort of will, Raidou achieved a sound that wasn’t hng. “I had a plan,” he said. “And you just derailed it.”
Ryouma stripped his boot off, switched knees, and started on the laces of the other. “I like plans. Let’s hear yours.”
“The thing I just said, with the de-railing? Not a lie. You’re very distracting.” Raidou didn’t have a jacket to lose, but he shed both boots and offered a hand to Ryouma, who took it, and pulled him back to his feet.
Without the jacket, Ryouma looked like he’d lost a layer of armor, standing in a burnt scarlet band tee-shirt, torn jeans, and a flash of silver where a looping chain hooked from belt to wallet. He still looked dangerous, leaning balanced and easy on one hip, but just a little more approachable now. And the kissed-red curve of his mouth sure didn’t hurt.
Raidou held the bottle up. “How about a drink for good mission luck, then you tell me three things you love, and I’ll make sure to do ‘em.”
Well, that sounded…very planned-out. Ryouma raised his brows. “Just so I’m clear, here, and nobody ends up with an elbow in the eye later. I’m layin’ back and thinking of Konoha?”
“S’that cunning code for ‘do you want me to bottom?’” Raidou asked, dark eyes crinkling. “Sure, if you want to. If you don’t want to— Well, I don’t generally, but we can work something out. Whatever’s in your comfort zone.”
“I’m a bossy bottom,” Ryouma said, and kissed him again. Raidou’s laugh graveled out into something lower. His free hand settled on Ryouma’s hip again, not nearly so casually as at the bar.
Experimentally, Ryouma teased his tongue around Raidou’s, then bit his lip.
Raidou growled into his mouth, and dropped the bottle to the carpet with a thumping slosh. Both hands slid up Ryouma’s back, under his shirt. His calluses scraped over the ridged scar above Ryouma’s kidney and went higher, lifting the shirt with them.
Ryouma lifted his arms. Raidou broke the kiss, half-laughing again, and pulled the shirt off entirely before capturing Ryouma’s mouth again.
No alarmed reaction to the tattoos, though perhaps he hadn’t seen them. Ryouma relaxed a little more anyway, and tried a slow roll of his hips against Raidou’s. “First thing,” he mumbled against Raidou’s mouth, between kisses. “I like biting.”
Raidou’s head tipped sideways; teeth grazed along Ryouma’s jaw. “Me too.”
Ryouma’s breath hitched. He found a random button of Raidou’s shirt, eased it open. “When I bottom, I like being held down.”
Strong hands dropped down to bracelet his wrists, fingers pressing down lightly against bone. “I can do that,” Raidou said. Heat kindled low in his voice.
Third thing. So many to choose from, and here was one of the hottest shinobi he’d ever hooked up with, promising him any fantasy… He groaned, rocked his hips again, and met Raidou’s answering grind. Sparks ignited up his spine. Raidou’s teeth scraped from his jaw down his throat, wet tongue laving the sting away.
He’d do it, Ryouma thought.
“Don’t let me come,” he said. “Not til I’m begging for it.”
Raidou was pretty sure he’d already had his birthday last month, and yet.
He bit Ryouma’s throat lightly, barely leaving a mark, and pulled back. Ryouma tried to follow; Raidou caught his jaw with one hand, fingertips brushing the light rasp of stubble, and rubbed his thumb against Ryouma’s lower lip, holding him until he stilled and focused.
“I can do all of that,” Raidou said. “On two conditions. One, you tell me if you change your mind about anything, because I will listen. And two, condoms are non-negotiable. Agreed?”
Ryouma’s dark eyes searched Raidou’s face, pupils all the way blown—then he nodded, voice scraping deep enough that Raidou could feel the rumble of it in his own chest. “Knew I chose right.”
That was pretty clear consent by any measure, but Ryouma followed it up with a turn that pulled Raidou’s thumb into his mouth, bracketed by twin crescents of teeth and a hot tease of tongue. Raidou had never been much a fan of finger sucking, but that did something to him.
He exhaled, slow. “The things you make me want to do to your mouth. Quit teasing, tall guy, and help me out of my shirt.”
Ryouma laughed softly and pulled his other hand free, giving Raidou’s thumb a gentle nip before he let go. “Tell me about ‘em?” He’d already made a start on Raidou’s shirt; he made a swift finish, undoing the buttons and sliding it off Raidou’s shoulders. “You still want that drink?”
Raidou had clean forgotten about the bottle. “Maybe not,” he said. “I’d rather be clear headed. You?”
Ryouma started to drop the shirt, caught Raidou’s eye, and tossed it on the back of a chair instead. His hands went to Raidou’s belt. “Don’t need it.”
“Good answer,” Raidou said, and caught Ryouma’s wrists again before Ryouma could undo the buckle. “I didn’t ask for that.”
One dark eyebrow winged up, and Raidou could see the moment Ryouma decided to test him. The mouth curved, the eyes sparked, and something very subtle shifted in Ryouma’s stance—the bare edge of a tell, because Ryouma wasn’t suicidal enough to startle an unknown ninja in his bedroom.
He broke Raidou’s grip, eel-quick, flicked the belt open, and got his hands on the zipper before Raidou grabbed him, laughing, and shoved him backwards onto the bed.
Ryouma hit and bounced up like a jackrabbit, but Raidou was already there to drop him down again, slipping between long legs and pinning Ryouma down by the shoulders. He leaned over Ryouma, bringing his slightly greater weight to bear. Ryouma gasped and locked his legs around Raidou’s waist, trapping him in place.
“So you do like it rough,” Ryouma said, half-laughing, half-breathless, like that had ever been a question. His hands ran up Raidou’s chest, flirting over muscles and scars, and paused when they reached the left shoulder. Ryouma smirked. “C’mon, ANBU-san. Give me an order.”
One day, Raidou was going to ask why ANBU ever bothered classifying anything when they made a point of tattooing their agents for all the world to see.
Ryouma had his own artwork: a bright, vicious-looking dragon coiling on his chest, surrounding the silver gleam of a nipple ring, and an abstract black design stretching from elbow to wrist on the outside of his right arm. Both designs flexed in interesting ways when Raidou caught Ryouma’s wrists and stretched them above his head, locking them together with one hand.
He put his mouth against Ryouma’s ear. “I’ll give you orders,” he said, softly. “When I’m ready.”
Ryouma’s hips bucked, denim rasping in good ways. He strained against the wrist hold—just enough to make Raidou put a little more pressure on, not nearly enough to break free. “What do I have to do to get you in the mood?”
“You could try begging,” Raidou suggested, and set his mouth to Ryouma’s throat, raising a dark red mark against the pulse point. They hadn’t negotiated bruises, but Ryouma’s long shiver said he didn’t seem to mind. Raidou left another mark on the hard arch of Ryouma’s collarbone and kept moving down. He had to let go of Ryouma’s wrists. “Keep your hands there.”
First order. Ryouma obeyed it.
Raidou slid all the way down, freeing himself from the cage of Ryouma’s legs, and turned his attention to Ryouma’s waistband. Belt, button fly, and black trunks underneath. He took the belt, considered it, put it aside—too much for a first time, for bondage or otherwise. Jeans and trunks slid down easily, assisted by Ryouma willingly lifting his hips. Raidou folded them and tucked them under the edge of the bed, out of the way.
Slightly incredulous eyebrows greeted him when he returned his attention to the bed.
“Really?” Ryouma said.
Raidou cupped a palm over one lifted knee, tracing gentle fingertips over the edge of the joint. Muscles twitched. “You have a problem with neatness?”
“Not so long as you pay as much attention to me as to my pants,” Ryouma drawled.
Guy was a brat.
Actually, Ryouma was a little younger than him, Raidou thought, though not much—he had all his height, but there was still room to add muscle. Not that much was needed. Ryouma was any medic’s anatomical lesson, laid out on his back for Raidou to admire. Broad shoulders, lean-cut hips, arms stretched up and fingers laced together, legs sprawled with no hint of shame—and why should there be? Ryouma was pretty everywhere.
Though only half-interested in proceedings. Raidou intended to fix that.
He slid his hand around to the inside of Ryouma’s thigh, grazing sensitive skin with short nails. “I was thinking of getting my knees dirty,” he said. “But then you got snarky, so maybe not.”
“You could shut me up,” Ryouma suggested. “Or distract me.”
“I’m getting that,” Raidou said, mouth quirking sideways. He pulled back, straightened. “All right then, sit up for me—without using your hands.”
That wasn’t tough. Ryouma curled up in a smooth flex of stomach muscles, hands locked at the back of his neck. Raidou stood at the foot of the bed, just between Ryouma’s knees. A scattered starburst of scars dimpled the hard plane of pectoral muscle at Ryouma’s eye level. More scars lashed his chest and abdomen, most white-faded with age, a few still red and raised and angry. Muscles wrapped solid and heavy over bone, framed his navel with mathematical precision and cut down into the low waistband of his jeans. He had a bandage high on one arm, where ANBU armor wouldn’t have covered, but it didn’t look like any red was leaking through.
Ryouma was beginning to wonder if maybe he should have asked to be allowed to lick.
“Lock your hands behind your back and grab each opposite wrist,” Raidou said. His voice was even as polished stone.
Ryouma had long fingers and narrow wrists; twisting and gripping was easy as sit-ups. He strained just a little more, to see if he could meet finger and thumb together over the knob of wristbone. Painful, but possible. He tightened his grip.
Raidou’s thumb brushed over his cheekbone, approving, and then fell away. Ryouma lifted his head, straining after it, but Raidou stepped a measured quarter-pace back. He stopped just within the wide bracket of Ryouma’s knees. His hands settled on his waistband, thumbs hooked through belt loops. “You’re so interested in getting my pants off, I’ll give you the chance. And a reward, if you can do it without your hands.”
There was no room for Ryouma to slide off the bed and onto his knees. He had to bend down, flattening over his thighs, and tip his head at a savagely awkward angle. “Bed’s too high,” he muttered, teeth skittering over the button fly.
“You bought it,” Raidou said, amused.
Ryouma bumped his forehead against Raidou’s navel and bent his neck again. He managed to get his teeth around the denim flap on the edge of the buttonhole, bit down, and twisted. The button slid and caught. He jerked, impatient, and the button popped free.
He’d already tugged the zipper down half an inch earlier, before Raidou caught him. The tab was loose, easy to bite and jerk down the rest of the way. Weighted by the heavy belt, Raidou’s jeans skidded down.
Ryouma laughed, low in his throat. “Commando. Of course. S’that my reward?” He rested his head against the warm juncture of Raidou’s hip and thigh, and decided, “I’ll take it.”
A hand wrapped warm around the back of his neck. Ryouma’s muscles tightened automatically, resisting any attempt at downward pressure, but Raidou didn’t shove. His thumb stroked up the side of Ryouma’s throat, gentle over the jugular and the corded tendons. “Smart guy,” he said, with the crooked smile in his voice. Ryouma shivered, and relaxed.
He almost protested when Raidou stepped back, but one step wasn’t far, and the hand didn’t slide away. “You can kneel, if you want,” Raidou offered.
Ryouma slithered down off the side of the bed, a little unbalanced with his hands still locked behind his back, and thumped to his knees. “You wanna sit?”
“You need me to?”
Ryouma shook his head. The angle was better here, and the thin, barely padded carpet was softer than some floors he’d knelt on. He wasn’t quite steady yet, shoulders pulled askew, but spreading his knees to widen his base helped.
It didn’t do much for the heat swelling in his groin, but that was another kind of pain, far more pleasant.
He tilted his head to seal a quick, stinging bite to the inside of Raidou’s thigh, then opened his mouth and took Raidou in.
Raidou’s startled hiss ground itself out in a slow, shivery exhale as heat replaced teeth. This clearly wasn’t Ryouma’s first rodeo—even with his hands locked behind his back, he was still clever and confident, starting with a warm tease that actually helped settle Raidou back into his skin.
Raidou had all the advantages here, standing over Ryouma with his hands free, but still—that was delicate anatomy to trust to any qualified killer. He had to watch his own reflexes. Nothing quite ruined a moment like accidentally breaking someone’s jaw.
And then the moment to catch his breath ended.
Ryouma hummed, making nerves tingle in fantastic ways, and ducked his head, relaxing his throat; he took everything in one easy move, sending licks of fire up Raidou’s spine. He eased back almost immediately, slow; cool air brushed wet skin. Then Ryouma swallowed him again, all the way, before catching a rhythm and keeping it.
Was he eros?
No, Raidou doubted it, not with that many scars. Just well-practiced.
Carefully, Raidou slid a hand through that sleek black hair, weighing Ryouma’s reaction—a little tension, ready to resist if Raidou forced his head down, but cautious relaxation when Raidou just rested his hand there, cupped around the curve of skull. There was product in Ryouma’s hair: the light, slippery kind that created spikes without gluing them. After another moment, Raidou let his free hand settle on Ryouma’s shoulder, thumb rubbing the sensitive skin at the throat, feeling every swallow.
“Do you have any idea what you look like right now?” he asked, voice sliding low.
Dark lashes flicked; darker eyes looked up at him. And wasn’t that just something, all that deadly skill kneeling at Raidou’s feet, mouth stretched, cheeks hollow, sharp cheekbones stained with a faint flush, willing to let Raidou manhandle him around, trusting that Raidou wouldn’t take it too far—
Which was a frankly insane level of trust for a one-night-stand, but no one had ever called shinobi sane.
Ryouma made a questioning sound.
“Handsome, I was thinking,” Raidou said. “Unless you’d actually prefer pretty, because you’ve got the bone structure for—ngh.”
Maybe a little eros.
Ryouma pulled free with one long lave of his tongue, and tipped his head back against Raidou’s hand. “You can call me anything you like,” he said hoarsely. “D’you want to come now?”
They needed to put a warning label on this guy, Raidou thought distantly.
He hadn’t planned to this soon, but Ryouma was complexity to tackle clear-headed, without the distraction of blood pounding red in his ears. And Raidou was in touch enough with the baser parts of himself to acknowledge that he really wanted to defile that cocky, clever mouth.
He lifted his chin, mouth curving, and challenged, “Can you make me?”
“If you’ve gotta ask,” Ryouma said, “you haven’t been paying attention.”
From this angle he could catch only a foreshortened slice of Raidou’s face: the strong line of his jaw, harsh angles of nose and cheek, the hint of dark brows rising. “Have I come yet, smartass?”
There were at least three answers to that, but two of them might get him smacked, and he wasn’t sure he was ready for that, yet. Maybe he’d ask later. He took the third option for now, tilting his head against Raidou’s thigh to tease around the base of the shaft with light sucking kisses. “Have I earned my hands back?”
Raidou tugged lightly at his hair. “You can have them on credit, if you really need them.”
“That doesn’t even make sense,” Ryouma complained, releasing his grip on his wrists. He worked his shoulders, flexed his fingers, and curled one hand around the hard line of Raidou’s hip. He slicked the other hand with spit, wrapped it around the shaft, and took the head into his mouth again.
This time he didn’t start off with the showy stuff. He moved slowly, using lips and tongue and hand together, swirling, stroking, slipping his hand down to cup and cradle, flicking his tongue against the sensitive spot just below the head. When Raidou’s hips jerked, he relaxed his throat and took it.
Raidou groaned, soft and deep in the back of his throat. His grip tightened in Ryouma’s hair, on Ryouma’s shoulder. Muscles flexed under Ryouma’s fingertips, then deliberately, carefully relaxed.
Here on the floor of his bedroom, thin carpet under his knees and dim lamplight gilding his skin, Ryouma could hand over control and get off on doing it. But if Raidou was going to dial it back again, refuse to take what Ryouma was offering—
He couldn’t speak, but he dug blunt fingertips into Raidou’s hip, pulling him closer. Raidou made another rough, breathless sound and rolled his pelvis again, not quite a thrust, but nearly there. Ryouma took it down, pulled back when Raidou did, and met the next movement with lips and tongue again. His hand slipped, slick with saliva. His jaw was beginning to ache, but he didn’t pull off.
Raidou’s slow, shattering rhythm was beginning to quicken. Nearly there. He was harder, hotter. This time, when Ryouma took him deep and held him, the back of Ryouma’s throat rebelled at last. He gagged, eyes burning, and Raidou made a strangled sound. His hand tightened in Ryouma’s hair.
“Ryouma—” he said, a bitten-off warning, and that was all.
Ryouma eased back, before he choked, and swallowed salt and bitter until the end.
Raidou wasn’t prone to going weak at the knees, and he didn’t now, but in another life he might have.
It took a long, red-thrumming moment for his vision to come back. He didn’t rush it, enjoying the sparkly aftershocks fizzing through his nerves. Ryouma swallowed one last time, throat flexing, and drew back with a final flick of his tongue, leaving Raidou clean.
And then he sat there, catching his breath.
Raidou had never had trouble separating work and fun, but goddamn, Ryouma was starting to shape up as someone he wanted to take home and keep.
But that way misery lay, so if he wanted to enjoy what he had while he had it, he needed to get his head back in the game. His right hand was still clenched around Ryouma’s shoulder, gripping hard enough there would be fingerprint bruises tomorrow. He loosened the grip, rubbing the blanched white marks, and used the anchor-hold in Ryouma’s hair to tug Ryouma’s head gently back.
That last gag had made Ryouma’s eyes tear up; his lashes were stuck together, wetly spiked. The heat in his cheeks had spread, staining down his throat. His mouth was red and hard-worked, lips shiny, a smear of white at one corner. He looked a little like he’d been hit.
Which was a thought Raidou didn’t actually have a problem with, assuming there was consent.
He offered his hand to Ryouma. “Come up here, beautiful.”
Ryouma took the hand and levered himself up, letting Raidou steady him. “I like that one best,” he said, leaning close enough to kiss, but not taking it.
Raidou did, cupping a hand around Ryouma’s jaw and an arm around his waist, pulling him in. And down, because tall. Ryouma tasted like salt and musk and a sharp-bitter hint of something almost bleach-like, which would be Raidou. It was base, but not unpleasant, and the way Ryouma pressed against him, hot and eager, was more than worth it.
Raidou licked into that willing mouth, just because he could, and tasted the sharpness of Ryouma’s teeth. He won a little noise, dragged low from Ryouma’s throat; Ryouma pressed even closer, rubbing hard and hot against Raidou’s hip.
Definitely interested in proceedings now.
Raidou broke the kiss and considered his next move.
Don’t let me come. Not ‘til I’m begging for it.
“Lie down on the bed for me,” he said, sweeping his thumb over Ryouma’s cheekbone. “Face down.”
Ryouma turned his head and licked a hot wet streak across Raidou’s palm, then broke away, grinning with a feverish glitter. He stretched out on the bed with his elbows raised above his head, wrists crossed, hands gripping the back of his own neck. A dark, complicated tattoo writhed over his shoulder blades, almost like two jagged wings framing an abstract central flame. Scars caught Raidou’s eye: a knotted tangle halfway down Ryouma’s left flank, and a cleaner cut above the right kidney, faded white with time. There were more, but Raidou had better things to catalogue.
Like the way Ryouma shivered when Raidou bent over him and pressed a kiss between his shoulder blades, followed by a pinching nip. Ryouma twitched.
“S’it okay if I look in your bathroom?” Raidou asked him.
Ryouma shifted, craning a little to look back over his own shoulder, but didn’t move otherwise. “Lube’s in the cabinet over the sink. Don’t mix up the hair gel.”
Raidou laughed. “Noted,” he said, and swept his hand down the naked length of Ryouma’s back, raking blunt nails lightly across the round of one asscheek. “Stay here for me.”
He left Ryouma to his own devices and went to investigate the bathroom. It was barely bigger than a closet, with a single-bulb light and a stall shower. The usual clutter of a solo-occupant bachelor was scattered around the small sink: razor, shave cream, toothbrush. A bar of virulently orange, strong-smelling soap was a little strange, but maybe Ryouma worked a lot of messy missions. The lube was scentless, at least, and exactly where Ryouma had said it would be, standing next to a box of condoms.
Smart man. Raidou had his own supplies, but he preferred protection that hadn’t been warmed and rubbed in a pocket for hours first.
There was a plastic bowl in the shower, holding another block of soap and a washcloth—perfect.
He ditched the soap, kept the washcloth, and filled the bowl with hot water. Grabbed the lube and a condom on the way out, and returned the bedside, where Ryouma had turned his head to watch curiously. Raidou set the bottle and the little foil packet aside, and sat on the bed, making it dip.
Ryouma eyed the bowl. “I showered earlier today. Before the bar.”
“Me, too,” said Raidou, and squeezed the washcloth out, letting a thrum of chakra build in his fingers to keep the wet cloth warm. He set it to Ryouma’s tense shoulders and dragged it down his spine, leaving a gleaming streak over tanned skin and the complex blackwork tattoo.
Slowly, Ryouma dropped his face back against the pillow and mumbled, “That feels really good.”
“Good,” said Raidou, pleased, and repeated the stroke.
He worked over the entire length of Ryouma’s back, shoulder blades to hips, and even went over the tightly held arms, shoulders to fingertips, until Ryouma had entirely relaxed, urgent lust guttered down to a slow-burning ember. It was a lot like tending to a sleek predator— No, scratch that, it was exactly like tending to a sleek predator. Strange service turned into a selfish privilege, to have all that power and grace laid out in front of him, with free reign to touch wherever he wanted.
He followed each wet stroke with chakra-warmed hands, heating the water away before it could cool and chill. Muscles unwound beneath his touch like pulled taffy.
Ryouma’s breathing was deep and even by the time Raidou got down to his hips, and it barely hitched when Raidou slid the cloth over his ass, tracing two crescent sweeps, and down the long, lean muscles of his thighs.
“Missing the good stuff, there,” Ryouma murmured, sounding half-asleep.
Raidou chuckled. “Patience is not actually one of your virtues, is it?” he said, despite a little evidence to the contrary. He re-wetted the cloth and slid it up Ryouma’s inner thigh, over the cross-hatchings of old scars, until he reached the join of Ryouma’s legs and the exceptionally sensitive skin between them.
Ryouma’s breath shivered between his teeth.
The cloth was rough and warm. Raidou dragged it over the perineum and back up the crack of Ryouma’s ass, intimate and careful-handed. Ryouma’s fingers clenched on the back of his own neck.
Raidou leaned forward and exhaled gently over a thin silver scar set just to the left of Ryouma’s tailbone, where a quick dodge had prevented a life of paralysis. “Tell me,” he said, and gave into his impulse to bite the tempting curve of Ryouma’s ass, making Ryouma twitch. “Have you ever been rimmed?”
For a moment Ryouma was sure he’d heard wrong. He lifted his head and caught the gleam of Raidou’s dark eyes over the edge of his arm. The cloth dripped blood-warm water between his legs, and Raidou’s hand rested heavy on the small of his back, just above his stinging ass.
“Tried it once,” he said. “She’d read it about it somewhere, got curious, but she didn’t like it. We didn’t get far.”
“I like it,” Raidou said, with a dangerous, tilted grin. “Want to try it again?”
He was going away in the morning, Ryouma reminded himself. Two weeks to Mangrove Country, and he might not come back. It didn’t matter what he did tonight, or what he let Raidou do. Even if he lived, he’d likely never see the man again.
He hitched his hips up, drawing his knees under him, and dropped his face back to the pillow. “Make it good,” he said.
Raidou laughed, low and rumbling. “No pressure, then,” he said. He dragged the cloth down between Ryouma’s legs again for a final healthy scrub, and tossed it into the bowl, splashing Ryouma’s thigh. Raidou shifted, stooping to move the bowl off the bed, and settled down on the bed again just behind Ryouma’s feet. His spread hands cupped lightly over Ryouma’s ass.
His touch was beginning to feel familiar; the rough ridges of callus on his fingers and palms, the square shapes of his fingers, the slow, taunting gentleness as he began to rub. Too teasing to be just a massage, too much pressure and focus. Embers began to kindle again in Ryouma’s groin. He flattened over his thighs, fingers tightening on his neck. A knuckle cracked.
“Relax,” Raidou murmured. Ryouma untangled his fingers, laced them together again, and tried.
At last Raidou seemed satisfied. He settled his palms, slid his thumbs down, spread Ryouma open. The bed creaked as he shifted forward. Hot, moist breath ghosted over Ryouma’s skin, tickling. “What kanji do you use to spell your name?”
Ryouma caught his breath. “Ryou as in dragon. Ma as in horse.”
“I’ll start there, then,” Raidou said, and flicked his tongue against Ryouma’s hole. Ryouma nearly jumped; Raidou held him down. One short vertical stroke, a horizontal one below it, two vertical strokes angling in…
Ryouma began to laugh, helplessly. He ducked his head into the pillow, shoulders shaking, hips still held rigid in Raidou’s strong hands. “You’re unbelievable,” he choked out. “You are—gyuh.”
Raidou finished the tenth stroke. “I’ll quote you on that,” he said, laughter brimming. He shifted, bit a kiss into the curve of Ryouma’s left cheek, and sucked a bruise. Ryouma caught himself somewhere on the edge of a laugh grinding into a groan.
He wasn’t too good at keeping quiet; it never made much sense, when you weren’t in the field. Raidou didn’t seem to mind. He made encouraging noises of his own as he traced out the ten strokes of ma, as nerves sparked fire under Ryouma’s skin and up his spine, and his cock twitched hard and leaking between his thighs.
The next kanji was one Ryouma didn’t know. Or maybe it was something else altogether, a random pattern of licks and nibbles his brain was too sensation-ridden to parse; he couldn’t tell the difference anymore. There didn’t seem to be room in his chest for both heart and lungs. He tried to spread his knees, opening wider, and gasped at the new movement of Raidou’s tongue.
A broad hand slid around his hip, brushing the bone, anchoring him down. “You’re doing really well,” Raidou said. His voice thrummed deep, approval and arousal together. “You can drop your hands down if you need to brace better.”
Meaning he would need to brace. Ryouma unclenched his hands from his neck, flattened them on the duvet below his face. He looked back—easier now, without his own arm in the way—and saw Raidou’s head dip down again, reddish-brown hair gilt-edged in the lamplight.
Raidou’s stiffened tongue slipped inside him, drew out, and in again.
Ryouma’s breath stuttered. He groped for a hold on the edge of the duvet, didn’t quite find it before the third penetration, harder and faster, drove the air from his lungs. Then it was slow once more, a wet, easy in and out, opening him up. He buried his face in the pillow and gasped for breath.
Not much longer, Raidou judged. He could probably push Ryouma over the edge in a minute or five, if Ryouma’s control stretched—but he didn’t want to, not yet.
He drew back with a last flick of his tongue and slid a hand between Ryouma’s legs, grasped him firmly at the base. A heavy pulse beat against his fingers.
“Breathe,” he said, rubbing his free hand soothingly over Ryouma’s hip. “You’re not there yet.”
Ryouma dragged a breath like he’d forgotten how, long shivers running down his legs, then another one, rasping in his throat. The third was easier. He turned his head against the pillow. He was all-over flushed now, hair tousled and damp with sweat. “I can take more,” he said, raw.
“I know you can.” Raidou moved his hand up, rubbings his palm across the small of Ryouma’s back, feeling the little hitches of hips that wanted to flex. He grinned. “I’m going to make you.”
That won him a frustrated, laughing groan, and Ryouma pushed back against him. “Any time soon?” he demanded.
“Patience,” Raidou said, and laid a light, stinging slap across Ryouma’s ass.
Ryouma jerked like a live wire had zinged him, a strangled sound catching in his throat. The muscles of his back leapt into high definition. Pinkness bloomed into the rough shape of a handprint.
“Correct me if I’m wrong,” Raidou said, tightening his grip around Ryouma’s cock, holding him in check, “but did I detect some slight enjoyment there?”
“Gold star for the bright lad.” Ryouma still sounded strangled; he dropped his head down, and bit his knuckles, which was worth a gold star all by itself. His voice came muffled and a little reluctant: “You can do that again. If you want.”
“I want,” Raidou said.
He’d had plans to grab the lube and finish what his tongue had started, fingering Ryouma open until he was slick and shaking and begging for it—but no reason not to multitask. Raidou had two hands.
Though he really needed three. Ryouma would just have to hold himself in check. “Do not come,” Raidou told him, and released Ryouma, underscoring the order with a broad-handed slap over the same spot. Pink flared to red.
The noise Ryouma made was fractured and beautiful.
Raidou stepped off the bed, leaving him alone for the fifteen seconds it took to return to the bathroom and rinse with mouthwash—hygiene in all things—and then back to the bed, picking up the lube along the way. Ryouma was still in the same position, tense with thwarted arousal.
Raidou twitched the lube at him. “Fingers okay?”
Battlefield ninja had sounded less irked. Raidou laughed. “Just checking,” he said, and wasted no time slicking his fingers up.
Ryouma was nearly thrumming with impatience when Raidou laid hands back on him. The handprint had faded away. Raidou rubbed his palm over it, warming the skin back up, and let his fingertips graze Ryouma’s hole. Ryouma shivered. Raidou gave him the gentlest of slaps across one cheek.
“Seriously?” Ryouma said, releasing his knuckles to snark.
“Little harder?” Raidou inquired.
“A litt—ah!” The words cut off in a burst of sound too low to be a yelp, as Raidou put a little effort into it. Ryouma jolted forward, catching himself instantly on his elbows.
Raidou smoothed his palm over the hot red mark—the other cheek this time—and did it again, crisscrossing the angle. Now Ryouma was ready; he only hissed. Raidou gave him three lighter hits, varying the sensation to see how he took it, then hooked a hand around Ryouma’s thigh, pulling back.
“Down,” Raidou said. “Onto your stomach. Pull a pillow under your hips.”
With entirely gratifying haste, Ryouma obeyed. His backside was shiny with lube, but not where it counted. Raidou nudged Ryouma’s legs open wider and settled between them, brushing lubed fingertips over the spit-slick hole. Time to write his own name, maybe.
Or just make Ryouma yell it.
He slid two fingers in, deep and easy, and crooked them. Ryouma gasped. Raidou rewarded him with a hard slap across the back of one thigh, grinning when Ryouma clenched and made himself gasp again.
“I should make you do this,” Raidou said, sliding his fingers out and back in. “I could watch while you work yourself open for me.”
“Don’t stop,” Ryouma said, and bit his hand again while Raidou laughed.
It’d been a long time since he’d bottomed. Longer still since he’d let someone hit him, and the stinging sensation of both at once hurtled him dangerously close to the edge. He tried to breathe slower and deeper, lost the rhythm when Raidou’s fingers slicked inside him again, and dug his hands into the sheets. “There,” he panted, dropping his head down, trembling. “That’s it, that’s—hnngh.”
“There, is it?” There were teeth in Raidou’s voice, a predator lurking in the dark. The stroke of his fingers slowed, then eased out. He dragged short nails around the inside of Ryouma’s thigh. “I don’t think you’ve earned that yet.”
“I could kill you,” Ryouma said, into the sheets. He turned his head again, blinking sweat out of his eyes. “No one would blame me.”
“You could try,” Raidou said, and slid three fingers into him, not gently at all.
Ryouma cried out, and bucked back. A hand on his hip pressed him down. He braced his forehead on a bent arm and wormed the other hand down beneath his body to grasp his cock at the base, gripping hard. Raidou’s fingers were enough to burn him with the stretch, but they didn’t fill, and their taunting curl deliberately avoided the right place. Ryouma swore at him.
He earned an eye-stinging crack of an open palm across the back of one thigh, then the other, hard enough to welt. Painful enough to wring another cry. He’d lost control of his breathing, couldn’t find it again, wasn’t sure if he wanted to. Control of anything seemed very far away.
Raidou’s hand settled back on his thigh. Ryouma flinched, but Raidou merely rubbed, gentler now, soothing the sting away. The broad palm swept up his side, and Raidou’s chakra rose with it, brushing against Ryouma’s, warm and solid and grounding.
“Easy,” he murmured. His fingers crooked again, and this time they did tickle Ryouma’s prostate. Ryouma shuddered, and Raidou’s other hand patted his ribs. “Breathe for me.”
He tried. It grew easier, after a little while, while Raidou smoothed lazy circles on his ribs and stroked carefully below. Then, just as Ryouma drew his first deep, even breath, Raidou tweaked the nipple ring.
Ryouma groaned. “You can do that harder, too.”
“You weren’t kidding about being bossy,” Raidou said, on the edge of a laugh. He flicked the ring with his fingernail. Nerves flared like sparks. Raidou curled his fingers inside Ryouma one last lingering time, then pulled them out. He caught Ryouma’s hips with both hands, the right sliding slick on already-sweaty skin, and tugged him sideways. “Turn over. Let me look at you.” He eased back off the bed to give Ryouma room, then settled down again, between Ryouma’s spread legs.
Dilated pupils drank in the lamplight, rimmed with only a hint of lighter brown. The faintest flush burned across Raidou’s muscled chest and his broad cheekbones. He wasn’t quite breathing easy, either, and his cock was thick and hard.
Ryouma reached for him. “C’mon,” he said, hoarse. “You’ve looked. Come on and take.”
He’d never get a better invitation than that.
“Condom,” Raidou said, because that was non-negotiable, no matter how hot everyone got.
Ryouma gave a thin little groan of impatience, but jerked his chin in a nod. His hands dropped back to the bed. Raidou stepped away, found the abandoned foil packet where he’d left it, and achieved latex protection in record time. The faint blunting of sensation could only help him here. He slicked himself with lube and returned to Ryouma.
And took a moment just to admire.
Sweat pooled in the dip between notched collarbones, and gleamed in the lines of definition between shivering muscles. The bright dragon tattoo flexed with each unmanaged breath. Ryouma’s hair was a tousled mess, raked up in inky spikes. His pupils were fully blown, mouth bitten red, skin burning with a hectic flush. His cock was painfully hard, and untouched.
Raidou dipped his head and brushed his mouth over the inside of Ryouma’s thigh, grazing his teeth gently over a barbed-wire scar. “You can still change your mind,” he murmured, just to lay down absolute clarity.
The sound Ryouma made was of a man reaching the absolute bedrock of his own frustration, and realizing there were still more strata of annoyances underneath.
He visibly snapped.
Stomach muscles clenched as Ryouma surged up, grabbed Raidou by the shoulders with strong, scarred hands, and yanked him down. Raidou could have resisted, but he didn’t. Ryouma’s mouth caught his with a crushing kiss, nearly re-splitting Raidou’s lower lip against his own teeth, and Ryouma’s hips ground up.
A shatter-storm of urgent lust made Raidou groan.
Ryouma broke away. “What do I have to do to get you to fuck me?”
“That’ll do it,” Raidou said roughly, and grabbed Ryouma by the hips. They were already lined up, and Ryouma was willing-eager to spread his legs and shove down, asking for no gentleness. Raidou got his knees better braced, found the angle, and pushed.
Even with the prep, Ryouma was tight, but slick enough to yield.
Raidou didn’t give him gentleness. One smooth thrust was all it took to slide in, sheathed to the hilt in scalding warmth. Ryouma’s mouth opened soundlessly, head dropping back against the bed as he fought to accommodate the stretch.
A kind man would have given him a moment.
Raidou rolled his hips, slid out and back in again, then again, forcing Ryouma to take it—and keep taking it.
“Hands up,” he ordered tightly. “Cross ‘em above your head.”
Ryouma didn’t move immediately. Raidou slapped him on the outside of one leg, timing it to the apex moment of a deep thrust. Ryouma’s back arched; he let go of Raidou’s shoulders, fumbled, then got his arms up, crossing them at the wrists. He was tall enough to reach the wooden headboard slats and grab them, anchoring himself. His knuckles whitened.
Raidou found his rhythm, going for slower and deeper over hard and fast, in the interests of making it to a longer finish line. Ryouma began to ease up around him, hips flexing into a matching pace. After a moment, Ryouma actually remembered to breathe again.
His eyes were closed.
Raidou reached down and wrapped slick fingers around that angular jaw. “Look at me,” he said, voice panting low.
Ryouma dragged in a deep, rasping breath and blinked his vision back into focus. Raidou was breathing hard now, too, shiny with sweat, thick hair clinging damp-dark to his temples and forehead. His split lip was swollen and beading red, and Ryouma wanted to kiss him so badly he could taste it.
He strained up, shoulders creaking. Couldn’t quite make it, and groaned in frustration—and then lower, as Raidou snapped his hips in, slow and deep. The stretch and the burn and the spine-melting heat were far too much and not nearly enough. He writhed, heels digging into the duvet, and gasped, “Faster! Give me— Ah, shit, no, stop teasing, just give it to me—”
His foot slipped on the duvet as Raidou pulled out, and his hips arched, trying to follow. The headboard slats bit into his fingers. Raidou grinned like a tiger and drove deeper, faster, and this time he hit the angle that set off explosion tags behind Ryouma’s eyes and wrenched a yell out of his throat.
“Gotcha,” Raidou gasped, triumphantly. He slammed in again, and again, faster and harder until Ryouma couldn’t even breathe in between, couldn’t ground himself, could only grip the headboard and shake and fall apart beneath Raidou, ripping his throat on noises he’d never heard himself make.
And then Raidou slowed down, and pulled out.
The cold emptiness hit Ryouma like a knife beneath the ribs. He lost his grip on the headboard, on whatever was left of himself. “Please,” he begged, and broke. “Please, don’t— Don’t go—”
Raidou’s eyes widened. He pressed back in, one long, smooth, searing slide that flooded sparks straight up Ryouma’s spine, and groaned low in his throat. Then he curled one hand around Ryouma’s cock, thumbing over the head, and leaned down to kiss the edge of Ryouma’s mouth and rasp in his ear, “Why would I go, beautiful boy, when I’ve got you right here?”
There was a cry caught somewhere in Ryouma’s chest, and fire in his blood. He wrapped his hands over Raidou’s shoulders, blunt fingers digging in, and let himself shake, sob, plead with the only word he could find: “Please.” He ground up onto Raidou’s thighs, rutted into Raidou’s hand, turned his head to catch Raidou’s mouth. “Please,” he begged, and found one more: “Raidou.”
“I’ve got you,” Raidou said, rough-edged. “You can take more. I know you can.”
“You got—a lotta faith in me,” Ryouma managed, getting the words out in broken, bitten gasps. His grip was bruising-tight on Raidou’s shoulders, yanking like Ryouma wanted to climb up into him—or like he wanted Raidou down, hauled closer. Long legs wrapped around Raidou’s hips, heels pressing into the backs of Raidou’s thighs. “I’ll take it,” Ryouma gasped, glassy-eyed. “Give it to me, let me come. Please.”
The rush of affection went back-to-back with the urge to strip Ryouma down further, push him harder, force him right to the edge and hold him there. Broken was good, shattered was better.
There was no room for self-deception in a shinobi’s world. Raidou could look his own shadows in the face and own them—had to own them, if he didn’t want someone to turn them against him. Ryouma wanted to give; Raidou wanted to take.
He tightened his grip around Ryouma’s cock, and drove into him, hitting the angle that made Ryouma clench and yell, head dropping back against rumpled pillows. Nails dug into Raidou’s shoulders with a sting that felt purely good. He found his rhythm again—fast, then faster, until the bedsprings squeaked and the headboard shuddered against the wall. Until Ryouma was incoherent beneath him, hands scrabbling against the back of Raidou’s neck, words coming out in shards. Please, please, oh god, please—
When Raidou changed his grip, slick fingers sliding up the length of Ryouma’s cock, Ryouma keened.
“If you come,” Raidou rasped, “I’m going to fuck you through it.”
Ryouma barely looked like he’d heard that. His eyes were half-closed, cheeks flushed hectic red. He gasped when Raidou gave him a rough stroke; groaned when Raidou stopped. The bare stretch of his throat was completely undefended.
Dangerous killer, laid wide open.
Raidou leaned down and bit him hard on the join between neck and shoulder. Ryouma yelled, eyes flying wide, and arched up, trapped by the cage of Raidou’s arms. Raidou didn’t even have to say come for me—Ryouma just went, and the nerve-burning clench almost took Raidou with it, as Ryouma’s whole back almost came off the bed.
Wet warmth broke over Raidou’s knuckles, splattered Ryouma’s lean stomach. Raidou didn’t give Ryouma a grace second to catch his breath or even spiral back down; he went harder, and took what he wanted.
When he came, a few moments later, he bit Ryouma again and lost himself to the beautiful, shattered sound his teeth yanked out of Ryouma’s throat.
It took a long, long moment for Raidou to fall back into himself—longer than it should have. And when he did, he found himself lying on Ryouma’s heaving chest, wondering when the hell his elbows had given way. Ryouma still wasn’t with it, which Raidou took as a sign of a job well done.
Carefully, he freed himself.
Ryouma’s hands tightened once on the back of Raidou’s neck, a pleading noise slipping out of his mouth. Raidou hushed him, dragging a quick, soothing hand through the sweat-spiked black hair, and gathered wits and sense enough to deal with the condom and grab the cloth again, now mostly cold. He wiped the mess from Ryouma’s stomach, cleaned himself and his hands, tossed the cloth back into the bowl, and went to the tiny kitchenette to fetch two glasses of water. He drained one, set the second on the bedside table, and climbed back onto the bed, hauling Ryouma into his arms.
Ideally, they’d be under the covers, but the room was warm enough, and Raidou’s blood was still hammering in his veins—though starting to calm now, slowly.
He got Ryouma settled on his chest, rubbing one hand over the tattooed, sweat-slick shoulder blades, and waited for Ryouma to come back to him.
“Hope you’re a cuddler,” Raidou murmured.
“Mm,” Ryouma said.
That was probably the first coherent noise he’d made in minutes. He had a vague feeling that he ought to say more—you generally complimented your partner, or at least the ones you weren’t planning to immediately kick out of bed. Raidou was far too warm and solid and comforting to kick out of bed, and Ryouma was too boneless and wrung out to try.
He hurt, too, though he’d undoubtedly feel it more in the morning. The stings and aches were still skating the nerve-shattering edge of pleasure right now, little rippling aftershocks as Raidou arranged them more comfortably together. Actually moving seemed unimaginable.
It’d been a long time since he’d bottomed, but he wasn’t sure anyone had ever used him like that.
Or held him like this.
He could feel Raidou’s thumping heartbeat under his cheek, the rise and fall of hard breathing as it slowly began to steady. It was odd, but not entirely unpleasant, to realize that his heartbeat was already in sync.
He could fall asleep like this, he thought. For once, the thought didn’t frighten him.
“I haveta leave,” he said, slurring a little, with the corner of his mouth flattened against Raidou’s chest. “In the morning. Not till then.”
Gentle fingers carded through his hair. “Want me to leave before then?”
Yes, he might have said, but he shuddered before his mouth ever found the words, and pressed closer, shoulders curling, scrabbling fingers finding a grip over the curve of muscle-sheathed ribs. “Don’t—” he said, and caught himself just in time.
He was tired, that was all, and he’d given up too much of himself to be quite steady yet. He pressed his face against the firm rise of Raidou’s pectorals, while Raidou’s hand waited, patient, in his hair. After a moment the ache in his throat eased, and he turned his head again.
“You don’t have to,” he said. “It’s late. An’ you were a little too good to kick out of bed just yet.”
Raidou’s quiet laugh rumbled through his chest and into Ryouma’s bones. “Good, because I’m not moving until someone makes me.” He tapped Ryouma’s shoulder. “Come up here.”
“So I have to move instead?” Ryouma complained. He’d done less-possible things in his career as a ninja, probably; he just couldn’t think of any right now. It certainly took more effort to unseal his cheek from Raidou’s chest and haul himself up onto one elbow than it had to drag a fallen comrade one-handed up over the edge of a cliff, though at least this time he didn’t have an arrow embedded in the back of his other shoulder.
Raidou was reclining back on pillows, like a daimyo at his leisure. Ryouma hitched himself up a few inches to be level, and Raidou met him with a kiss, closed-mouthed and gentle, broad hand cradling the back of Ryouma’s head.
The tears took them both by surprise.
“Sorry,” Ryouma said, pulling roughly back, scrubbing at his eyes with the side of his hand. “It’s not— I don’t normally do this.”
Raidou’s hand slipped down from Ryouma’s hair to cup his cheek, thumbing an escaped tear away. He caught Ryouma’s shoulder with the other hand and pulled him down again for another kiss, lingering. “You’re doing fine,” he said, against the corner of Ryouma’s mouth. “This is a good bit, too. Ride it out however you need to.”
Easy enough to say for the man who wasn’t crying. Ryouma’s throat hurt again, worse than the stinging in his ass and on his thighs and the side of his neck. He put his head down there in the hollow between Raidou’s throat and shoulder, where Raidou had bitten him, and he thought about biting Raidou back, and about the way Raidou had hit him and held him, and then about nothing at all.
Eventually he stirred, and turned his head. Raidou was rubbing his back again, slow circles over the tattoo and down lower along his spine, with a few gentle pats to break the monotony. “You could have a second career,” Ryouma told him hoarsely. “Sex therapist and masseur. I’d pay.”
Except he wasn’t going to see Raidou again, when—if—he came back. It was harder than it should have been to remind himself of that.
“Paying for sex kind of takes my brain to a different place,” Raidou said, though he sounded amused. “But I’ll bear that in mind.” He reached for a glass of water on the bedside table.
Ryouma propped himself up to drink it. The water was lukewarm and metallic, as always, but it soothed his ragged throat. He stretched over Raidou to set the glass down again, and said, without looking down, “Thanks.”
Raidou’s shoulder was wet, and Ryouma’s face was flushed raw, with eyes that didn’t want to meet Raidou’s. This was a tricky part, too, when relief gave way to shame, and all the treacherous parts of the hindbrain crowded up and said you gave too much.
Carefully, he reached up and tipped Ryouma’s chin down with two fingers, until Ryouma looked at him.
“Thank you,” said Raidou, and meant it.
That brought a grin out of Ryouma, wry, but glass-fragile at the edges. “I was pretty good, huh?” he said, like there was any doubt. “So were you.”
Raidou laughed and hauled Ryouma back down, employing a little bit of shinobi sleight-of-hand to get them both under the blankets without too much effort, now that they’d cooled down and a chill was creeping in. “You were great,” he said. “I was fantastic, obviously, but we knew that going in—”
Ryouma’s elbow dug into his ribs. “I’m a good judge of character,” Ryouma said smugly, rearranging himself in the loose hold of Raidou’s arms. He didn’t press as close this time, preferring to sprawl, with one arm thrown across Raidou’s chest. “And hotness.”
“Congratulations on having eyes,” Raidou said, highly amused.
Ryouma actually snickered, which was a hilarious sound coming from a man built like a panther. “Usually I’m the one saying that.” He settled down, pillowing his head comfortably on Raidou’s shoulder, and added drowsily: “You’ve set a new gold standard, anyway. How many of your former lovers kill themselves in disappointment when no one else measures up?”
That had to rank as one of the most alarming compliments Raidou had ever gotten.
“Hopefully none,” he said. “Don’t feel compelled to do that. There is other sex worth living for.”
Ryouma yawned. “If I come back from this one, I guess I’ll see. D’you drink coffee?”
Raidou hesitated. That didn’t sound like the beginning angle for a date invitation, but they hadn’t actually covered the morning after conversation yet. He’d just assumed Ryouma was on the same page. The ANBU tattoo wasn’t exactly subtle.
“On missions,” Raidou said.
“I won’t leave you any, then.” Ryouma was getting heavier, warmer, eyes drifting shut. “‘f I’m gone when you wake up, just shut the door behind you; it’ll lock itself. Y’can use the shower if you want. Eat anything.” He yawned again. “Guess you can do that if you wake up before me, too.”
Or maybe they were on the same page after all.
“Nice of you,” Raidou said, and settled his hand on the back of Ryouma’s head, sliding his fingers through the dark, rumpled hair. He’d read once, somewhere, that well-balanced people needed eight good touches in a day for maintenance, and twelve for growth. Unpaired ninja got—well, a lot less than that, especially if you didn’t count sparring. Given the chance, Raidou liked to share what he could.
Ryouma gave a deep, relaxed sigh, and shifted a little closer. “‘m actually a nice guy, deep down,” he mumbled. “Shh. Don’t tell.”
A quiet laugh rumbled in Raidou’s chest. “No one’ll hear it from me,” he said, and kept up the gentle carding of Ryouma’s hair until Ryouma’s breath slowed and settled, his tired chakra signature banked down to a sleepy ember, and the faint lines of his face smoothed out.
Everything before this had been a charge—one that Raidou was still coming down from, slowly, getting back in touch with the parts of himself that had varying opinions about twisting other people up until they both came. He’d have to be careful with himself tomorrow, but he’d had some practice at not hating himself the day after. Hopefully Ryouma did, too.
And there was still this part to enjoy. Raidou had been with men—and a few women—who’d lay themselves bare in the heat of the moment, and run the moment clothes came back on. Shinobi, unsurprisingly, weren’t good at extended vulnerability. Not many could relax this thoroughly in the arms of, for all intents and purposes, a stranger.
Though, from the hints Raidou had picked up, Ryouma had some serious doubts about coming back from the mission he was heading out on tomorrow, so maybe he just didn’t care anymore.
Raidou hoped that wasn’t true.
Carefully, he brushed his thumb over the blade of one sharp cheekbone, making sooty black lashes flicker. Ryouma stirred; his fingers twitched against Raidou’s ribcage.
“Sorry,” said Raidou, very quietly, and held still until Ryouma settled again.
When he was sure he wouldn’t disturb the other man, he reached over and switched the bedside lamp off. Darkness flooded the room, giving way slowly to bars of moonlight filtering through the blinds.
He’d leave before the sun rose. He already had plans to turn on Ryouma’s rice-cooker, send him out for his mission with a decent breakfast, write a good luck note, maybe, if he was feeling particularly ridiculous. Or maybe that was too much, and rice was enough.
Either way, for now, he was happy right here.
He settled down in the darkness, ducked his head to rest his chin on top of Ryouma’s head, and slipped into a light doze that held no memory of blood, or dying men, or anything but comfortable warmth and temporary trust.