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a necessary present

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Jiro is not used to personal requests to come to Otoya’s home no matter how long the two of them have been doing this, whatever this is. He tries not to think too much about it when he finds himself alone with his thoughts, tries to distract himself by hunting down Riki and Ramon or a Fangire to fight. Otoya seems content not to put a label on anything, including himself, and Jiro is content not to disturb the relative peace that has grown between the two of them.

Not that either of them can explain it when asked. Otoya sputters and comes up with some excuse about how men are bound to grow close when they have to work together, and Jiro just snorts and shakes his head. But he never argues with Otoya, either. Easier to keep the peace in Aozora. Shima-san and Yuri seem pleased that the two of them are no longer at each other’s throats or fighting for control of the Ixa knuckle.

Kido passes the note to him across the counter with his usual cup of coffee and Jiro almost ignores the piece of paper entirely when he smells Otoya’s skin on it. But curiosity wins over his annoyance at having handwritten notes delivered to him and he smoothes the paper out on the paper, the creamy texture hinting that the stationery is expensive, because of course it is.

Otoya doesn’t know what sparing the expense means.

Come to my house this evening. I have a present for you, puppy. Otoya.

“Idiot,” Jiro says to him, and though his first instinct is to crumple the note up and throw it in the trash, he folds it back up and tucks it into the pocket of his jacket.

Kido cocks his head at him. “What did he want, anyway?”

“He’s been bothering me to train with him when we have time off from hunting Fangire because he’s not as suited to fighting as I am.” The lie is an easy one, and the two of them have had more than enough practice rolling it out when necessary. “He’s pitiful. It’s taking a lot of time.”

“Well, if there’s anyone who can do it, I’m sure it’s you,” Kido tells him.

Jiro has to agree with this sentiment; no one he knows is as suited to fighting as he is, except for perhaps one person that he hopes he never runs across for the rest of his life. Wolfen grow up playing with teeth and claws, and they learn to fight as soon as they learn to walk. It had been a part of Jiro’s life for as long as he could remember, though he has to admit that all of the fighting skills in his pack’s repertoire had not been enough to stop the Rook Fangire when he found them in the woods. The memory makes Jiro grit his teeth.

Nothing can change the past. He can always pay back the favor when he gets the chance.

The day passes too quickly for his liking and all too soon he finds himself standing outside of Otoya’s door, rapping his knuckles against the familiar wood and waiting for Otoya to come retrieve him. Their relationship— if it can even be called that— is usually like this. Jiro had been adamant that there would be no flowers, no candy, no nothing to make this seem like more than it is. He has no problem with kneeling at Otoya’s feet when the time comes, but the prospect of anything else puts him off. No part of him is ready to consider that.

When Otoya swings open the door and leans out, Jiro wrinkles his nose at the scent of the cologne. Otoya is a man who likes to wear various scents over the scent of his own human skin but this one is unusual, not one Jiro is used to. He might never have smelled it before.

“I was starting to think you might have decided to stand me up.” Otoya smiles at him, and Jiro hates the way his knees feel weak at the sight. “Come in, puppy. I have your present inside.”

Jiro had spared himself no time to think about what Otoya might have purchased with him in mind, though presents are not exactly that touching of a gift. Otoya rains flowers and jewelry and various other gifts down on women that he’s fond of, and Jiro has seen enough of it to know that there is nothing impressive about it. Still, the curiosity lingers. The thought that Otoya might be overly fond of him might not necessarily be what he wants right now, might not be something he ever wants, but still. He can’t help but wonder.

Otoya leads him through the living room and into the kitchen, and Jiro narrows his eyes suspiciously at a pot on the stove. “What did I tell you about sharing meals?”

“I’m not asking you to stay. I didn’t think you would, to be honest.” Otoya pulls out a chair at the table, sighing when Jiro only gives him a long look before lifting his chin. “Will you trust me, Jiro? That should be a familiar request.”

Jiro swallows around the tightness in his throat at the words, rolls his shoulders and drops down in the chair. “Fine, fine, whatever. Show me this present. You’re obviously very proud of it.”

“I have exquisite taste in everything from music to food to presents to the partners I gift those presents to.” Otoya’s hands light on Jiro’s shoulders and even through the leather of his jacket and the silk of the shirt beneath, Jiro can feel the possession in that touch. It makes him think that seeing Jiro so unashamed in his submission had brought Otoya into his own. “Wait here just a moment and I’ll retrieve it for you.”

Otoya leaves him in the kitchen and Jiro sniffs in the direction of the stove. Beef stew, seasoned well from the smell of it, entirely something he would have expected from Otoya. The cologne, the stew, it all makes Jiro think that Otoya might have done this for someone, and if he had taken into account that Jiro was not interested in romance, then he might have a date later tonight. For some reason, the thought makes Jiro agitated. If Otoya had asked him to come here just to chase him off in favor of some woman, he’s going to be pissed.

“Here we are!” Otoya returns to the kitchen and sets a box down in front of Jiro with a flourish. “I couldn’t help but think that you were missing something, and I think I’ve covered that base.”

The box is black velvet, more like an overly large jewelry box than anything else and Jiro sighs heavily at the sight of it, resisting the urge to give Otoya a look for this. They had discussed this at length. Wolfen courtship is not even close to being in the same league as human dating and Jiro has no desire for any of it anyway, at least not with this man. He had made it explicitly clear that things like this were not meant to happen, and Otoya had gone and done it anyway.

“You look sullen.” Otoya’s hand smoothes through his hair and Jiro’s shoulders twitch at the familiar motion, Otoya’s fingers lightly massaging his scalp. “You haven’t even opened it yet and you’ve already decided you don’t like it? That’s very like you, I must say, but also poor behavior.”

“I told you I didn’t want to do the dating thing, Otoya,” Jiro reminds him quietly.

Otoya huffs at him, his hand sliding down to the back of Jiro’s neck, squeezing lightly. “And I didn’t overstep the boundaries you’ve set, either. This isn’t what you think it is. You haven’t even opened the box and you’re already deciding unfair things about me.”

“To be fair, I know you,” Jiro tells him.

“Okay, fine, understandable. Still!” Otoya leans close enough that his breath curls warm against Jiro’s ear with every word, and Jiro’s skin runs with goosebumps at the sensation. “Still, you’re being a very naughty puppy right now. Your master has bought you a present, and you haven’t even opened it yet. That’s very ungrateful. Open the box, Jiro.”

Jiro takes a deep breath to calm himself down and reaches for the box, fingers sliding over the soft velvet finish, telling him that the shop this box had come from is one of the higher-end, pricier stores. Not surprising, given who Otoya is. He slides it a little closer, searches for the seam, and pries the box open. The hinges give way without a sound and he blinks at the contents, not sure what he was expecting but definitely not expecting this.

His fingers pick up the piece inside of the box, smooth black leather against his fingers, soft and flexible, with enough give that he thinks that his transformations between one body and another will not be enough to snap it or tear it. There are visible white stitches running along the top and bottom, and though they look almost perfect to the eye, Jiro has learned to recognize handmade craftsmanship when he sees it. The buckle is silver, the metal cold against his skin, but he can imagine it warming with time. A silver pendant catches the light and Jiro tilts his head so he can read his own name written in thin script.

“There’s another side to this.” Otoya catches the pendant between his fingers and turns it so Jiro can read his other name on the back. “It would lay flat against your throat so no one else knows this name is there. It seemed wrong not to include it in some way.”

Jiro watches Otoya’s fingers toy with the pendant, his mouth dry, before he forces himself to speak. His voice comes out in a slight croak. “You bought me a collar, Otoya.”

“You’re my good boy, aren’t you? It’s not like you’re a stray anymore.” Otoya’s fingers curl against the front of his throat and Jiro’s breath stutters. “You might not want to do the dating thing. I respect that. But you’re mine, in a way. And I wanted to commemorate that.”

The collar might be the most expensive thing Jiro has ever held in his hands, especially given that it belongs to him. He should be furious with Otoya for this, because the nickname has gone more than far enough, but the prospect of belonging to Otoya in this way… Is acceptable. Had Otoya known that, when he purchased this, that this would be the one gift that Jiro would be willing to accept, along with the meaning behind it?

“You don’t have to wear it for anyone but me, of course.” Otoya plucks the collar out of his hands. “I wouldn’t ask you to wear it in public if you weren’t interested in doing so—”

“I will.” Jiro says it without thinking, twisting around in his chair to watch Otoya’s talented fingers undo the buckle; Otoya stops and stares back at him, lips parted slightly. “I won’t take it off.”

Otoya’s lips slowly curve into a smile and he pats Jiro on the head. It should feel condescending, should make Jiro snarl in answer, but it doesn’t. “Such a good boy. Now hold still and I’ll put the collar on you.”

Jiro straddles the chair and tilts his head back, shuddering when Otoya slides the leather around his neck, the buckle cold against his skin as Otoya confidently fastens the collar. He had practiced with this, Jiro can tell, because Otoya always strives to be the best at everything, and this is nothing different. He adjusts the collar until the pendant lays in the hollow of Jiro’s throat, flat against his skin as Otoya had promised with his Wolfen name hidden from view.

Otoya rewards him for his patience with a kiss, long and slow and smooth, before he curls his fingers between Jiro’s skin and the leather and pulls, enough to make Jiro’s breath hitch. “I won’t ask you to eat dinner with me because I know how much you detest the thought. But you should eat so you’ll have enough energy for me to show you just how much fun we can have with this.”

It isn’t a victory on Otoya’s part that Jiro stays. At least, that’s what Jiro tells himself.