When they first meet each other, it was the opposite of love at first sight. Inami Akira thinks Tamaru is too straight-laced and stiff. Tamaru Saboru thinks Inami is too sloppy and unreliable.
But Inami is assigned under Tamaru's care. "Teach him well," Yoshinaga-san tells him. "He has potential."
And Tamaru sees that potential on their first few cases together. Professionally, Inami has good instincts; like everyone else on the team, he could put himself in the enemy's shoes. He is a little flashy, but he isn't afraid to fight dirty. On the other hand, his personal life's a mess. Inami has a habit of picking up random women and staying over at their place. And he gets drunk all the time.
Then Tamaru notices a pattern. Inami takes stupid risks with his own life, such as taking leaps off of trains or high buildings. Maybe that's Inami's way of dealing with his past. He hasn't said anything about it, but it’s evident in his every gesture. Tamaru leaves it alone. For now. Everybody on the team has a past they're trying to run away from.
But that reckless attitude is unacceptable to Tamaru. He is the one who makes sure everyone shows up to regular sparring sessions. Oyama partners with Kashii and they switch with Yoshinaga, while Tamaru fights with Inami until they trade partners.
A hungover Inami is pretty easy to take down. And maybe it isn't really effective in making sure he's in shape. But it reminds Inami that he's part of a team now. That he has comrades to rely on, and who rely on him in turn. That he's not just responsible for himself.
Tamaru tells him once. "In order to part with your past self, the important thing is who is by your side." We’re here. He wants to say. I’m here.
On days that Inami is actually sober, Tamaru takes him on for one-on-one sessions.
Those are good days. Tamaru teaches him a few moves, and they learn to fight together even as they're learning each other's strengths and weaknesses.
Then one day, while pinned on the ground, Inami presses up into Tamaru, his arousal evident. Tamaru catches his eyes, and there was something like a dare in them. It is a distraction technique that almost works, as Inami swings his legs up to kick Tamaru away. But Tamaru recovers quick enough to pin Inami again, this time face down on the mat.
"What, haven't you gotten enough last night?" He growls into Inami's ear. Oyama had told all of them where exactly Inami has spent the night. Another anonymous woman's place.
Inami laughs. "I don't know. Maybe I'm just getting bored."
Tamaru twists his arm higher, but Inami's moan is a mixture of pain and pleasure. He lets go. Then grabs Inami’s elbow and hauls him up until they’re face to face. “You should try falling in love,” he says softly.
Inami opens his mouth, but doesn’t answer. It is too late to pass it off as a joke. And they both know it.
Tamaru considers himself an ethical man. For all his high morals, however, he's very good at navigating the seedy underbelly of society. His time at Public Security helped introduce him to a network of informants and people with useful skills. He has his share of sins, compromises, failures, and they weigh heavily on his shoulders.
While undercover as a thug, Inami asks him once, what his guiding light was. What gives him a reason to come home from an undercover mission?
“I don’t remember,” Tamaru answers. It’s not that he can’t. It’s that he doesn’t want to. Whatever it was, it’s useless now. He's not sure he can do another mission and not lose himself.
Tamaru wants to say, "I'll be yours." But they never talk about feelings like that. Since that one-on-one sparring session, they’ve gotten closer in some ways, and further apart in others.
At the disaster of a drug bust, when Tamaru sees Inami barely holding back tears surrounded by dead bodies, he is afraid for him. He grabs Inami's arm, until he relinquishes the gun into Tamaru’s hand.
Inami is close to breaking, he knew. Tamaru offers him a place to crash, but Inami refuses. Tamaru monitors his whereabouts that night. When Inami’s tracker moves from the headquarters to his apartment, Tamaru is relieved, or at least, that’s what he tells himself.
Inami has to accept that his actions got people killed. Tamaru can only stand by his side. These days, it feels like they lose more than they win.
Meanwhile their boss dangles a promise in their faces, of finding a way to get rid of this filthy system.
Aren't they just like those kids? Being seduced by beautiful words?
Once upon a time, he had beautiful words to spare. He loved a woman, and she loved him back, and he thought that feeling could weather everything. He was wrong.
These past few years, he watched over a woman, taking responsibility for tearing her family apart to serve his needs. She gave him solace, and he came to rely on her, but he never spoke those words out loud. He is wise enough to know that whatever they have between them, it would always be tainted by his guilt. He is tied to her, but he begins to pull away.
For Inami, he tries, and he keeps trying. Words come. And maybe they aren’t declarations of love, but they’re not empty words. And between the lines are unspoken promises.
It was late when he hears the front door open. Tamaru looks down at his phone and grabs the baton on his bedside table and rolls off the bed into a crouch. But he straightens when he sees the familiar silhouette framed by the doorway.
“Please,” Inami says, a pair of handcuffs dangling in one hand. “Please.”
Tamaru hears the desperation in the other man’s voice. “Strip and get on the bed,” he says, trying to keep his own voice even.
He goes to the bathroom and wets a hand towel, wringing it with trembling hands. When he turns back, Inami is naked and face down on the mattress, wrists tied above his head.
It hurts a little, seeing that face turned away from him. But Tamaru ignores the feeling and wipes down that expanse of skin. It is covered in bruises in various stages of healing, but nothing so bad that would require a hospital visit.
Inami inhales loudly but doesn’t protest. Tamaru knows what he is here for. (Pain. Punishment.) But that doesn’t mean he’s willing to give it. When he reaches between Inami’s legs, he takes extra care to clean there. Inami’s head is bowed, but he shifts his legs open, giving him better access.
Tamaru grabs a bottle and straddles Inami. He rubs some oil in his hands and starts digging into the tense muscles around Inami’s neck and shoulders.
Inami groans then, and Tamaru reads both anger and relief in the sound. With Inami’s hands restrained in that position, it’s not the easiest way to get him to relax, but Tamaru tries his best. He moves his way up those biceps to the forearms, and even to individual fingers before moving down to Inami’s lower back. He skips the glutes entirely and goes down each leg, to each foot. Inami is boneless by now, and Tamaru notices that his legs are shifted further apart and his back is arched a little.
He presses his thumbs below the curve of Inami’s ass, and then holds them apart, exposing that spot to the air. Inami’s breath hitches, but Tamaru doesn’t give him time to worry. He bends down and licks a stripe up, once, twice, before drilling his tongue into that hole. He repeats the pattern.
Inami’s moans turn garbled. Tamaru lets his oil-warm fingers play with Inami’s balls, and then with the merest touch, trace the length of his cock, as it grows hard and leaks on the mattress. Inami’s on his knees now, lifting his ass closer to Tamaru’s face.
Tamaru flips him in one move, right hand pressing down on his chest. Inami looks up at him, and under the lust, there’s still that expression on his face. Loss, desperation, guilt.
Tamaru snakes up and kisses the other man, wild and rough, hands roaming over that skin.
Inami surrenders to him.
He is still clothed, but he slips out of his shirt and sleep pants in seconds, grinding his own erection onto Inami’s. They are both gasping now, and Inami’s bound hands are wrapped around Tamaru’s shoulders.
“Please,” Inami murmurs, but this time, he’s not asking for pain.
Tamaru gives it to him anyway, just a little, when he fucks him slow with only a little lube, then going faster and harder until they are both desperate. It feels like that one-on-one session all over again. It feels like trying to find where he ends and the other man begins as flesh strikes against flesh. Inami comes like a gunshot, loud, out of control, and Tamaru finds himself helplessly following. It has been years since he had done anything like this, so his own orgasm feels like a trainwreck.
He is boneless afterwards, draped over the other man. Inami laughs, and at first Tamaru stiffens. But Inami only rolls him to the side and grabs for the washcloth abandoned by the bed. He’s the one that cleans them up. Tamaru opens his eyes long enough to note that the other man is no longer wearing the handcuffs.
“I thought you were gonna spank me,” Inami murmurs lazily as he splays out on the bed beside him.
“Next time,” Tamaru answers, then he puts steel behind his words. “Don’t ever leave your tracker behind.”
Inami is silent for a moment. “Oyama knows where you live,” he says softly.
“She knows when to be discreet,” Tamaru tells him. “Your safety is more important. Promise me.”
Inami turns and presses his forehead on Tamaru’s shoulder. “I promise.”
Tamaru rests a hand on the back of Inami’s head. He thinks of beautiful words, but he doesn’t say them. He thinks, This is a weakness. But even that thought doesn’t dim the feelings bubbling in his chest. All he knows is he’s tried to be a beacon for Inami, and in the process, he’s found his own light guiding him home.