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homsan toft ([personal profile] tofsla_fic) wrote2014-02-21 10:46 am

And Moving Onward (Sanada/Yukimura)

Prince of Tennis, Sanada/Yukimura, E
6,500 words
Futurefic. Set after [Ad Interim]. Time alone for Sanada and Yukimura to work things out, if they're lucky.

Let's go somewhere at the weekend, Yukimura had said. It had almost sounded simple, and it had reminded Sanada abruptly of how long it had been since they did anything together; either the two of them or with Renji to make three. They used to spend a lot of time together, not just in school or even just at practice, although originally most of that time had been spent playing tennis. Once upon a time everything had been about tennis.

Even if that was gone, he felt a great deal of nostalgia for the closeness that'd accompanied it.

So he agreed.

In reality, organising a weekend away with Yukimura took rather longer than the few days they had left of that week – in fact, it was close to a month later before they found themselves waiting at the train station on a Friday afternoon, wrapped in coats against the chill of late Autumn, light bags standing on the concrete beside them. Yukimura fidgeted around with the kind of impatient energy that always seemed to take hold of him these days when he was being made to wait, and Sanada watched him, feeling peculiarly close to indulgent, until the train pulled smoothly in and hissed to a halt.

“Ladies first,” Yukimura told him, bowing – and Sanada, not missing the teasing edge to Yukimura's voice and expression, shoved him lightly so that he stumbled forwards and onto the train first.

“If you insist, ma'am,” he deadpanned, and wondered just how much his younger self would have sulked at the whole thing. One of the effects of growing up, he had come to realise, was that you stopped trying quite so hard to be an adult.

The thought stayed with him as he boarded the train, stowed what luggage they had carefully out of the way, settled in his seat beside Yukimura. Yukimura was already staring out of the window, even though this was the same area they'd lived in and around for years – nothing new.

“It looks different when you're going somewhere,” Yukimura murmured, and then settled back in his seat. His expression was unguessable, as it all too often was.

The train pulled slowly out of the station, rumbling on its way.

The air was colder when they arrived, crisp and fresh – the shock of it as they stepped down onto the platform made Sanada feel more awake. He'd been dangerously close to drifting off on the train.

Mist clung to the mountains, fading their outlines away and hiding the peaks entirely so that they could stretch up forever for all that could be seen. Outside they caught one of the buses which wound their way up along a narrow road away from the station area and all its little tourist shops, towards the clusters of houses and ryokan that huddled together higher up the slopes between the dark green of conifers and spectacular red-orange-gold of deciduous trees.

Yukimura talked easily all the way up, about projects and work and scraping through university at the same time. He seemed to just say whatever came to mind, as though he was trying to fill the silence, but Sanada couldn't say why. They were often silent together, and it wasn't especially problematic or unnatural. But as Yukimura talked Sanada realised just how much of what was being said he hadn't even known about: Yukimura had a new publisher, Yukimura was thinking about working on some other kinds of stories, Yukimura was wondering if he should use a different pen-name for some things to avoid people's preconceptions.

“What do your family think?” Sanada asked as the bus jolted to a stop, letting an elderly couple off. “About the writing, I mean.”

Yukimura hummed thoughtfully, slouching a little, arms stretched out to rest against the seat in front of him. “They think I'm doing a remarkably sensible degree, which is more than they ever expected of me.”

“I assume you didn't mention how often you sleep through lectures and have to borrow notes.”

“It seemed like a minor detail.” Yukimura smiled, but a little uneasily. “I told them I have a part-time job, of course. I think they think I work in a department store.”

Sanada bit back a habitual comment about irresponsibility. Yukimura was well aware of what he was doing and this was entirely his business, and if he'd decided he was going to be a successful writer instead of an accountant then it didn't seem very likely that anyone would stop him. Also, for all he felt the instinctive urge to disapprove, Yukimura's mother worried him in her own neurotic, overprotective sort of way. It had been more understandable when they were fourteen and Yukimura was driving himself too hard too soon after illness, but she seemed not to have acknowledged that Yukimura was older and stronger now. Even Sanada could see that it must be infuriating.

Not that Yukimura seemed to think much more of Sanada's family and their attitude towards him.

He let Yukimura talk for the rest of the journey, and let himself think, in a circular sort of way.

The ryokan they were staying at was small but looked expensive. It wasn't what Sanada had expected. Not that he was entirely sure what he had expected.

“Seiichi,” he muttered, staring at the well-maintained building and its neat garden area in front setting it back from the road. “You're doing unnecessary things again.”

“You're questioning my financial management,” Yukimura told him. “That's very impolite of you. I'll waste my money how I please. And I think this is my first holiday since... hmm... well, I've got several years of them owed to me, anyway.”

Yukimura didn't have much money to waste, as far as Sanada knew. But he was also quite aware that he was not going to change Yukimura's mind about this whole thing. Yukimura's mind was entirely his own, and his decisions all too often weren't up for discussion. At least not when they were about things like this. Sanada could choose his battles.

They went to speak to the owners. It was expensive. Yukimura had booked ahead, and wouldn't allow him to pay; “I dragged you here, Genichirou, and I picked somewhere expensive to stay. I won't burden you.”

He made a mental note to get monetary revenge later, rather than getting into a disagreement in the entrance hall – and then they were all checked in, being shown to their room and given information about meals and bathing and everything else they might conceivably need.

“It's so peaceful here,” Yukimura said when they were alone in the room, and then he fell silent, abruptly, unexpectedly, padding around the room, sliding open the door out to the balcony that overlooked what could be seen of the mountainside. Perhaps it was the mist deadening sound as they stepped outside, but nothing they did seemed to make a real noise.

They didn't speak. Somehow it would have felt wrong, Sanada felt, although he wasn't sure why; it seemed enough just to stand side by side here and stare out into the haze, even with his skin raising into goosebumps now that he had no coat on.

He didn't know how long they could have stood like that if they hadn't been interrupted by the woman who'd shown them to their room bringing them cups of tea. Half the evening, maybe, until the cold soaked deep into their bones and forced them inside or around to the public baths to get clean and warm. But instead they stepped back inside and accepted the tea, changed into yukata and settled themselves comfortably to drink.

“You look as though you needed this very much,” Sanada concluded at last, watching Yukimura unwind and only realising as his friend became less tense just how much tension had been there to begin with.

“I thought I was doing unnecessary things,” Yukimura told him with a quirk of his lips.

“Hm.” Some things just did not deserve answers. But it was always good to see Yukimura like this, however insufferable he sometimes got.

When Yukimura tipped his head back and gave a contented sigh, staring absently up towards the ceiling, Sanada found his gaze drawn down the line of Yukimura's neck and towards his chest and the paler skin where his robe was hanging loosely open. He had to glance away quickly when Yukimura came back down to earth, alarmed at even coming close to being caught... well... caught doing what? He wasn't entirely sure.

Making himself look back and meet Yukimura's eyes was a little difficult.

“So,” Yukimura said. He sounded serious. Sanada watched him almost warily, afraid of what he might say – although he was aware that the fear was fairly irrational. The moment dragged.


Yukimura hesitated, as though weighing up his words, and then, “perhaps a bath before dinner?”

I've been had, Sanada thought, though not especially bitterly. Again.

But it made him wonder whether Yukimura knew anything, or if it was just a blind shot which hit a little too close. It was the sort of thing Yukimura often managed to make him wonder, and with his easy teasing and lack of propriety which could well extend to anyone he was friendly Sanada really couldn't say what some of his statements meant.

“Asshole,” he grumbled, which only made Yukimura laugh. "One day you'll really want to tell me something serious and I won't pay any attention. Who thought it would be a good idea to let you live with Niou?"

“Almost no-one,” Yukimura said, with a hint of self-satisfaction, “except Niou's parents, who seemed to think that as a former club captain I must be a good influence.”

“And more fool them,” Sanada told him, reluctantly affectionate. Yukimura was a great many things that he felt he should not approve of, but he had also always been able to command Sanada's full respect in an apparently effortless sort of way.

He also specialised in filling Sanada's mind with contradictions.

That was what he kept thinking about as they walked to the baths, which were out in the open, steaming in the weak late afternoon light. One other man was in the water, apparently half asleep at the very least; he didn't seem to notice them washing, and didn't look up when they got into the water. It was blissfully hot, just on the edge of too much and not quite beyond it. He stretched himself out, feeling the heat seeping into his muscles, and only realised belatedly that this time it was Yukimura watching him, damp hair clinging to his skin, skin flushed from the hot water, eyes seeming to darken as the sun faded out again behind clouds.

“What?” Sanada mumbled. “I'm not allowed to enjoy myself?”

“Many people wouldn't believe you capable, you know,” Yukimura murmured back, keeping his voice quiet and shifting himself a little closer, perhaps trying not to disturb the bath's other occupant. “Aren't you meant to be a rock?”

“This is an approved activity for rocks to enjoy,” Sanada told him indistinctly, feeling as close to lazy as he ever did. “Didn't you know? There's a list.”

Which wasn't quite literally true, but his grandfather had always been a rather forceful and proper sort of man. There might as well have been a list.

It certainly wouldn't have included stealing curious looks at his best friend's body as they dried themselves off before getting dressed as an approved activity, if it had existed. He could have pretended he was looking at the network of old scars on Yukimura's skin, paled with age but still clearly visible. It was true that for a long time Yukimura would have been far too selfconscious to let anyone see them like this. But all the same, the excuse didn't sound entirely right even inside Sanada's head.

The rest of the day was full of good food and beautiful scenery, and conversation that could go from the easiest thing in the world to painfully awkward in moments.

They really hadn't been as close as they used to be lately. There were reasons, and he knew these things were bound to happen to a lot of people, but in this case he found himself resenting it. He kept thinking that Yukimura wanted to say something that he was holding back from and then thinking that he'd imagined it, and second-guessing this much was enough to send a patient man mad. Sanada was not a patient man; but for Yukimura, he tried.

He woke up at five o'clock in the morning out of habit and couldn't get himself to go back to sleep. Yukimura was sleeping in a sprawl of limbs, hair falling across his face; less poised and less perfect but still almost intimidatingly attractive. It made Sanada ache in a strange sort of way, afraid to breathe or to move, guilty just for looking at something that felt as though it should be very private. Guiltier still for wanting to reach out and brush the hair away from Yukimura's eyes. But not guilty enough to hold himself back from doing it, apparently.

Yukimura shifted, face turning towards him so that Sanada's fingers brushed unintentionally across his cheek, making him jerk back – but Yukimura's eyes didn't open, and his breathing didn't change.

Sanada couldn't stay sitting still anyway, too uneasy and too conscious of Yukimura's presence. He got to his feet as quietly as he could, pulled on warmer clothing and stepped outside, sliding the door shut behind him to give himself a little safety and a little distance. The chilly air helped his thoughts to settle, although that left him with the strangeness of being awake and ready to start his day – and having nothing to do. Relaxation was a nice concept, but it was not one that came naturally to him most of the time. He felt as though he'd had his time off the previous day, and his body was telling him that now it must be time to be productive again.

But there was no cleaning to do, no swords to practice with...

In the end he went back inside to rescue a book from his bag, and took himself through to sit on one of the chairs in the entrance hall, well out of Yukimura's way; it was something of a guess, but he didn't think Yukimura was likely to be an early riser these days. At least not a happy one. There was a hot water dispenser and cups for making tea in the public area, so he took advantage of that and settled himself comfortably to read.

Yukimura found him still there a few hours later, and more or less crept up on him, crouching in front of him to peer at the cover of his book.

“Oh Sanada-san,” he said, raising the pitch of his voice, “how can you read such boring, traditional things?”

Sanada snorted, remembering the earnest confusion of the girl who'd commented on his choice of reading material a few months ago. Yukimura had been struggling to keep a politely neutral expression at the time, and apparently he hadn't forgotten about the whole thing. “You can borrow it when I'm finished if you'd like.”

“Please,” Yukimura said, face breaking into a grin, so different to the way he looked when he was asleep.

He shouldn't be thinking about that.

They spent the morning exploring the area, walking along little paths through the woodland, finding obscure, out of the way places where they could spend hours and never see a sign of another person.

It was odd how you never realised just how dirty the air in the cities was until you left. Sanada almost imagined the air here felt different in his lungs, as though it was cleaning them, taking away some of the urban grime.

Yukimura still seemed restless, and Sanada wondered how long this had been going on, if he'd been this fidgety for months and he just hadn't noticed or if something new was going on that had passed him by entirely. Either seemed more or less possible.

“Is there a particular reason you wanted this break?” he asked eventually, as they made their way down a narrow path back towards the town and the nearest shops. “I mean, why now.”

“It seemed like as good a time as any,” Yukimura said. “I'd never realised I was the sort of person who would just put things off and put things off but apparently I've been doing it a lot lately.”

He glanced back at Sanada over his shoulder, and smiled, then gave a faintly undignified yelp as one of his feet slipped on fallen leaves – though he was still Yukimura, and too damn graceful to actually fall on his backside. They laughed it off.

Sanada only realised later that the moment had interrupted any questions he might have been about to ask. But the opportunity seemed to have been long since missed by then.

He wasn't entirely sure what he would have said anyway.

Evening settled in again, and found the two of them sitting outside. Yukimura sat cross-legged at the edge of the balcony, hands wrapped around the railings, while Sanada stood beside him, leaning on the top of the rail to watch as the last of the light faded.

“You really do say no every single time someone asks you out,” Yukimura said, sounding thoughtful.

“Why shouldn't I? They don't know me. And I do have other things to worry about.”

It was true enough. Why on earth would he want to go out with someone he'd never spoken to before except for polite greetings and who he knew nothing about? And there were always other things. More of an omission of details than a lie.

“There's never been anyone you were interested in? I don't think I even know what type of girl you'd go for.”

“I don't either,” Sanada said carefully. “I suppose I would know if I met her. But I haven't.”

“No-one at all?”

He wasn't sure how to answer that, so he was silent.

“Rock,” Yukimura muttered, and Sanada nudged him with his foot.

“Why do you care, exactly? If you're trying to play matchmaker then I suggest you find a better passtime, and stop taking advice from your sister. Perhaps you should find a girlfriend for yourself.” He was feeling uneasy about this line of conversation, and close to embarrassed, which didn't happen often. Yukimura could needle at him on most topics and it wouldn't make him blink, but right now he was glad of the growing darkness. The last thing he needed was Yukimura's observation skills getting to work on every detail of his facial expressions.

To his surprise, Yukimura didn't have a quick answer.

Dry leaves rustled in the silence, lifted by a breeze that they couldn't even feel here, sheltered by the building behind them.


“I think I'm just curious.”

“You think.” He was ready to say something teasing, but Yukimura's shoulders were a little hunched, as though he wasn't entirely happy about something, and he was staring down at the ground below instead of out into the woodland, head bowed, hair falling forwards to hide his face from sight.

“Mm. And I don't want a girlfriend.” He laughed. He didn't sound very amused.

It was Sanada's turn to be silent, hoping that Yukimura would just keep talking and say whatever he was getting at. A suspicion was forming in his mind, but it felt a little too much like desperately wishful thinking. He kept it to himself, tried not to even think it so he wouldn't have to deal with being wrong.

Yukimura seemed to read something or other into his silence, and glanced up at him, almost reluctantly. “What, you didn't even suspect?”

“Suspect what?”

“I'm gay.” He shrugged. “Or something like that. Like you said, maybe one day I'll find a girl who does it for me, you know? But it hasn't happened yet.”

“I...” Sanada began, and then realised he had no idea at all what he was planning to say. He paused to collect his thoughts.

“Problem?” Yukimura asked, as though he didn't care what Sanada thought. His shoulders were still hunched.

“No. Wait, no!” Sanada glared across at Yukimura, bordering on indignant. “Don't make me smack you. Why would it be a problem?” It actually might have been, a few years ago. But that thought made him ashamed, and even more indignant – but this time at himself. Yukimura was just Yukimura. It couldn't possibly be a problem.

Yukimura was laughing. Really, really laughing, like he meant it, slumped forward to rest his head against the railings to support himself. It sounded loud in the night air.

“Don't choke,” Sanada told him.

“That-- that's not the response I expected,” Yukimura gasped, still laughing. “I don't know what I expected. I-- you-- I worried. For nothing. Bastard.”

“You're my friend,” Sanada said, stern. “What kind of a person do you think I am?”

“I think I need a drink,” Yukimura said. His shoulders were still shaking, though he wasn't laughing out loud any more.

“I don't think you ever need a drink. You're bad enough like this.”

He held out a hand to help Yukimura up, and supported him for a minute while he stretched feeling back into his legs.

Yukimura's hand tightened on his arm for a moment before he pulled away, and Sanada tried very hard not to read anything into it.

"Thanks," Yukimra told him, and then vanished inside their room almost alarmingly fast. Sanada stared after him and then followed him inside, shaking his head.

“Sometimes you're incomprehensible, Seiichi.”

“At least I'm not Niou.”

“A fact,” Sanada muttered, “for which I am eternally grateful. If that's the choice, please never change.”

“Niou's alright,” Yukimura said.



“I have no problem with Niou,” these days, because I don't have to deal with him, “but I assure you, I infinitely prefer your company.”

Yukimura flopped himself down on the floor, inelegantly for once. It was as though a lot of the awkwardness had gone from him. “Are you flirting with me, Genichirou?”

It was almost certainly a joke. Sanada couldn't quite bring himself to treat it as such, against all his survival instincts; perhaps Yukiumura's unexpected honesty had done something strange to his brain. He looked away, made himself look back again, frowning slightly.

“Do you want me to be?”

Yukimura stared, and Sanada had a sudden feeling of having said exactly the wrong thing, an overwhelming urge to take it back and pretend he'd never said anything.

“Don't just say things like that,” Yukimura whispered. He looked painfully close to vulnerable, wide-eyed, stunned. “Just because I'm--”

“--gay? I don't think you should be interested in me just because you're gay, Seiichi. But that's the last clue. Are you telling me you haven't been trying to drop hints?” It had only started to make sense in hindsight, and his brain had been working overtime to process things Yukimura had said, little moments and gestures and alright – sometimes he could be slow on things like this. But he wasn't entirely oblivious. Sometimes he just needed something to nudge him in the right direction.

Of course, he could be spotting a false pattern.

He didn't want to think about that. What he wanted was for Yukimura to stop just staring at him and react, one way or another.

“Oh,” Yukimura said, and Sanada thought this might just be the first time he'd seen Yukimura lost for words since... well, since they were a great deal younger and things were a great deal stranger.

“Oh?” Say something. Let me breathe again.

“That's... good.”

Sanada took a carefully steady breath, though he almost felt as though he needed to gasp for air. Yukimura hadn't moved from where he was sitting, but he was watching Sanada intently.

He made himself walk slowly as he crossed the room, trying to gauge Yukimura's reactions, and knelt carefully in front of him, pausing before leaning in: built-in escape routes and chances for Yukimura to pull away.

There was no sign of that happening.

Hoping and hoping that this was the right thing to do, Sanada closed the space between them and pressed his lips to Yukimura's.

Yukimura made a sound into the kiss that was almost surprised, for all the warning he'd had, and there was a moment when they just stayed like that – mouth to mouth, frozen. Then Yukimura's hand came up to rest on the back of Sanada's neck, and Yukimura opened his mouth.

Sanada didn't know what he'd expected from kissing Yukimura because until five minutes ago he'd never even allowed himself to dream that it might actually be a possibility, but he didn't think he could ever have imagined this sort of heady rush just from lips and tongues pressed together and the barest, lightest touches of skin against skin.

When they stopped kissing they leaned into each other, Sanada still kneeling over Yukimura. Sanada found his hands sliding up Yukimura's back to wind through his hair, fingers rubbing at his scalp. Yukimura made a softly contented sound, and somehow it was that which brought home just how unreal this all still felt: not quite a dream, but almost something that could be happening to someone else. Yukimura's eyes were closed and his lips had quirked into a smile. It didn't seem possible that he could look like this, especially not because of Sanada.

But there he was. Here they were.

“This wasn't what I planned on,” Yukimura said, slumping further forward so that his head was resting against Sanada's shoulder. His hand stroking idly at Sanada's hip kept Sanada from panicking about that statement, at least mostly.


“I was going to tell you about this stuff, and then you were going to freak out, and we were going to talk about it and agree to forget about it all and then at least it'd be out of the way.”

“Did you really think that?”

Yukimura's fingers tensed, tightening against his side, slipping on fabric. “I don't know.”

“I don't believe you,” Sanada grumbled. “Since when do you aim for anything less than total success?”

“This isn't like anything else,” Yukimura said, but there was a faint, faint hint of laughter in his voice. “Mm. Genichirou...”


Yukimura just shook his head, and didn't say anything more. Eventually their mouths found each other again, in a way which felt entirely natural, as though there was no other way this could have gone.

They lay in the darkness listening to each other breathe, on their own futons, not touching any more.

“Is this alright?” Yukimura asked, and it would have seemed like a ridiculous question if Sanada had missed the context it was being asked in.

“Not at all,” he said, very quietly, imagining his family's reactions.

“Thought not. Probably not for me either. But...”

But that isn't going to stop us, is it?

It wasn't as though this was a formal relationship, with dates and little gifts and hand-holding in public. This was just them, with a newly added element that they still needed to understand properly. Presumably it would change things.

Presumably other things would stay the same. He hoped so. He didn't think he would have the faintest idea how to start dealing with actual romance, and he was fairly sure that he didn't want to anyway; and there were other things he was more than happy with as they were.

There were a lot of things to think about, but somehow his brain wasn't really processing any of them properly right now.

He drifted asleep and woke up with Yukimura sitting beside him in morning half-light, close enough to be warm against the line of his back.

“Did you sleep at all?” he asked, or possibly mumbled into his bedding. Yukimura hummed by way of not-response, one hand toying with the sheets that were covering Sanada. He looked tired, but not as though he was about to collapse, and when Sanada rolled over to look at him properly he leant down to kiss him, firm and confident, holding Sanada still with a hand on his shoulder.

“I haven't brushed my teeth,” Sanada muttered. Yukimura just shrugged.

“I don't care if you don't.”

Yukimura didn't smell of sweat or sleep; he just smelled clean, like soap. Sanada breathed the smell of him in deep when he leaned in closer, and felt something stirring in his chest, then lower.

The world hadn't gone back to normal at the stroke of midnight or whatever was meant to happen in those kinds of stories, he thought, and recognised his own lingering drowsiness in the bizarreness of the idea.

Yukimura kissed him again, hand sliding firmly over his stomach, pushing the sheets aside and taking control in a way he hadn't the previous night. Sanada was already hard. This could make him forget about responsibilities and obligations, at least for a few minutes at a time, and it was almost frightening that Yukimura had that much power over him. But Yukimura had always had that much power, over what sometimes felt like half the world. Not just over him.

There was a level on which it was something of a relief when they went out to explore the area that day and things felt normal. Yukimura teased him and he was affectionately sarcastic in response and they didn't fawn all over each other. But occasionally their hands would brush or Yukimura's expression would have a little hint of something else in it and Sanada would feel a moment of lightness that he didn't quite have the words to properly describe; like nothing he'd known before.

By evening Sanada felt more tense, although in a different way to the day before. They were leaving the next morning, and that meant all sorts of things. Yukimura, who'd yawned his way through the afternoon, seemed to have worked his way beyond that and back to being almost fidgety, his hands never quite still. It was a habit that'd started when he was recovering, years ago; Sanada could remember him moving about constantly as though amazed that he even could. As though if he stopped moving for a few minutes he might not be able to start again. It'd settled down quickly, but sometimes in private...

“Do you want to go out again?” Sanada asked. It was a clear night, and out here you could actually see the stars. Perhaps they should be doing something, making the most of the space and the peace.

Yukimura seemed to consider this for a moment, then shook his head. “I think I'm going to go back to the baths, actually.”

It was beginning to get late and the ryokan was a long way from full at the moment so far as Sanada could tell. It wasn't too surprising to arrive and find the baths empty, but it surprised him how much the fact that they were alone changed the way he felt. It was just bathing, he'd seen Yukimura naked before more times than he could count, it really wasn't something shocking and new.

And yet.

“You're staring,” Yukimura commented happily. “In a minute someone is going to walk in on you looking at my backside and you are going to be mortified. I look forward to it.”

Sanada shoved at his shoulder and walked off to wash before going to the main baths, pointedly not looking anymore, amused. He swore he could feel Yukimura staring at him, though; that prickly sensation of being watched didn't leave. When he finally glanced around his suspicions were confirmed.

“Double standards aren't nice, Seiichi.”

“Mm. I don't know. They seem quite nice from here. You have a very attractive back. And other things, too.”

“I see.” Sanada scowled at him because the alternative was getting flustered, and tried not to feel selfconscious as he walked the distance from the washing area to the bath.

Nobody walked in on them. Yukimura sat close beside him, but they didn't really do anything; Sanada found it incredibly pleasant just sitting like this with no need for conversation and no pressing need for action, although the interest was there, filling him with a pleasant warmth which wasn't entirely to do with the temperature of the water.

When they got out he could see that Yukimura was hard, though he wrapped his towel around his waist quickly, casting Sanada a smile which could have been inviting or could have been apologetic. He got dried and dressed quickly, although Sanada couldn't quite think it would be out of embarrassment – especially not when he took his time to watch as Sanada dried himself off.

Yukimura's smile when he was done sent something like a shiver through Sanada. He had a fair idea of what he could expect when they got back to the privacy of their own room.

He wasn't wrong.

Yukimura was pressed up against him perhaps less than five seconds after the door slid shut behind them, hands pulling the front of Sanada's yukata further open so that he could dip his head to kiss Sanada's chest then sliding further down to tug at the loosely knotted belt. Sanada's hands went instinctively to Yukimura's waist, slid back and around to rest on his backside, making Yukimura arch a little in towards him, their hips pressed together. He could feel Yukimura's erection against his thigh, and swallowed down a quiet moan when Yukimura started rocking his hips gently, moving against him. Even through their thin robes it was enough to make him bite at his lip, shocked at the strength of the sensation and still wanting more. He'd never done anything like this before, and Yukimura must suspect, but he didn't say a word about it.

When they made it entirely out of their clothing Yukimura's skin was fascinatingly soft from the water, warm and smooth to touch, though when he looked at it he could see all those scar-lines. They did nothing to make Yukimura less attractive; they were just a part of him, and fascinating. He traced some of them with his fingertips, and was taken by surprise when Yukimura shivered, clutching at him, and then kissed him forcefully on the mouth.

They still hadn't spoken since they'd got back to the room. Sanada wasn't sure there were any words that were relevant. Instead he let his hands run over Yukimura's body, feeling clumsy and inexperienced, and let himself feel a little rush of gratification every time Yukimura reacted – hitched breathing or faltering hands, and quietly pleased sounds.

Eventually they lay down together on one of the futons, Sanada on his back and Yukimura lying on top of him, staring down at him all dark-eyed and determined, and kissed, and touched each other more – explorers in a strange land.

Yukimura's hand on his cock made him come to a fumbling halt, and Yukimura must have thought he'd gone too far, because he stopped, began to pull back. Sanada caught him by the wrist before he could go far, managed a small nod.

“Sure?” Yukimura asked.

“Why wouldn't I be?”

Yukimura flushed ever so slightly, and started touching him again, hand curled around his erection, stroking at it with care. Sanada did his best to return the favour, tentative out of inexperience rather than lack of desire, made unsteady by arousal.

It didn't take him long to come, head rolled back against the futon and hands slipping on Yukimura's skin, body tensing over and over. It was warm in the room; they were sweating a little, panting, and Yukimura stared down at him for a moment before shifting his weight a little further, wrapping a hand around his own cock, pumping at it desperately, his face shifting and contorting with pleasure, his chest rising and falling heavily, until he came too, head falling forward to rest on the sheets beside Sanada's. His breath was hot against the side of Sanada's neck, and when he was done he laughed shakily, stretching himself out on top of Sanada, not seeming to care about the sticky mess between them.

“God,” he muttered. “Why didn't I tell you I liked guys years ago?”

“Because I really would have panicked and not had the faintest idea how to deal with it,” Sanada told him, trying to sound dry and matter-of-fact, which was difficult at that exact moment in time.

“Then I guess this works,” Yukimura conceded. “Would you really have?”


“Just as well times change, then.”

There didn't seem to be a suitable answer, but Sanada found himself privately agreeing.

Sanada had to coax Yukimura into getting up to clean off, and it was true that it seemed like a shame to move from the comfortable heap they'd found themselves in, but he felt messy and just a little bit disgusting, and in the end he managed to find the motivation to get them both into the bathroom.

“What time do you want to wake up?” Yukimura asked. “We should get a fairly early train, I suppose.” The last words turned into a stifled yawn.

It was a fair enough question, but it brought the fact that they were going home so soon to the front of Sanada's mind, and the reminder was not entirely welcome. “Whenever you think is best,” he settled on. “I have no urgent plans for tomorrow and my family don't expect me until the evening.”

Yukimura looked tempted for a moment, then pulled a bit of a face. “I've got a meeting with one of the lecturers after lunch. I'm going to have to be the boring responsible one. Sorry.”

“No-one will ever believe it,” Sanada told him. “Don't worry. Anyway, I'm sure you only have a meeting because you annoyed someone by missing their deadline to get your own work done.”

“You can't prove that,” Yukimura told him, and leaned lazily against him, yawning again. “Mm. Good weekend. Thanks.”

Sanada reached up to comb his fingers through Yukimura's messy hair, and nodded his agreement.

Good weekend. Yes.

He spent the journey home wondering whether his family would be able to tell what was going on straight away, and knowing that it wasn't a particularly realistic worry. It nagged at him anyway.

“Smile,” Yukimura told him. “The world might end tomorrow and then they'll never find out.”

“You really shouldn't be allowed to live with Niou,” Sanada said, eyeing him. “I'm not even sure which of you is being more of a bad influence on the other sometimes.”

Yukimura laughed, glancing away to stare out of the window at the fields rolling past as they left the mountains. Sanada looked at the line of his neck as he turned his head, at the way his hair fell in waves around his face, at the line of his shoulders; remembered him looking entirely different the night before, open and unguarded. It made him want to reach out and brush the backs of his fingers against Yukimura's neck, to see if he would respond; made him want to pull Yukimura closer and kiss him.

He settled for the former, content that no-one could see them well where they were sat, and half-smiled as Yukimura leaned back a fraction towards him at the touch, shifting in his seat.

“You shouldn't worry so much, though,” Yukimura said after a while. “You'll go grey and then people will really think you're an old man. Anyway, we'll work something out. We always do.”

And it wasn't really that simple, but the last few days had been good enough that Sanada could just nod, and settle himself more comfortably, and pretend that there wasn't a thing wrong in the world.

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