Akira was aware that it was possibly, maybe, definitely futile to go after a man twice his age.
However, the futility did little to deter him. Akira was not one to dither, no matter whether something may be dangerous or a bad idea or not; if he knew what he wanted, he would see it through until the very end. Perhaps it was such stubborn determination which led him to shoulder the burden of the infamous Phantom Thieves, he supposed - he may have unthinkingly put his life on the line many a time despite being a mere young adult - and yet he was still alive. That counted for something, right? His stubborn and calculating nature appeared to lean more towards being a valuable asset rather than a fatal flaw.
And so, if his gut told him to pursue a certain surprisingly-attractive old guy, then so be it. He saw no grounds to refuse himself.
“Why don’t you go home early and get some rest today, kid? It ain’t gettin’ any cooler, and no one’s comin’ to pick anything up,” Iwai offered, clapping a firm hand on Akira’s shoulder.
As far as appearances went, Iwai looked like the kind of guy you definitely would not want to associate yourself with unless you had a deathwish. A deathwish, Akira may not have had, but he was just a little partial to the adrenaline rush.
Although, in the end, it turned out that the danger was just so - an appearance. Akira quickly came to understand that the man underneath that gruff appearance was extremely doting, and at times, even gentle. In spite of their employer-employee relationship, Iwai was trusting enough of Akira that it honestly had not been all that hard to progress that relationship into a sweet kind of friendship. Frankly, the polarity of his appearance and his nature drew Akira even further in. His firm hands and his piercing eyes were fiercely protective, and underneath all those layers of clothes, it was apparent that he could crush Akira in a second if he wanted to.
But he didn’t.
“Are you sure that’s okay? I wouldn’t want to be the reason your business goes under,” Akira gave him a smirk, which earned him another slap to his shoulder, along with a breathy chuckle.
“You will be the reason it goes under if ya keep comin’ in all tired an’ unfocused. Trust me, ya need some rest,” Iwai said before turning his broad back to Akira, bending over to deal with a bunch of files stored at the back of the shop.
And even though Iwai no longer had dodgy business taking up his time in the shadows, he still maintained that powerful physique somehow. Akira wondered if he had a private gym or suchlike; he couldn’t imagine there was any normal gym out there that would allow him membership, what with how absolutely covered in tattoos he probably was. Not that Akira had ever seen them - besides the gecko tattoo crawling down the side of his neck. Unfortunately.
Akira silently cursed society’s prejudice towards such tattoos; it meant that Iwai was covered from head to toe in fabric, and he hadn’t even gotten so much as a glance of what were probably taut, strong forearms. And boy, did he want to see them.
Such selfish thoughts wormed their way to the forefront of Akira’s mind, calculations already underway in his subconscious.
“Hey, Iwai-san?” Akira called out.
“Mmm?” Came his gruff reply, haphazardly throwing a file onto the desk without looking up at Akira.
“How do you manage to keep in such good shape when all you do is sit at the counter all day?” Akira knew he was being cheeky about it. For some reason, he just couldn’t keep his big mouth in check around Iwai.
No reply came for a few seconds.
“Heh. Not sure ‘bout that backhanded compliment, but I’ll take it,” Iwai finally looked up at him, an amused smirk dancing in his piercing grey eyes. “I work out, tha’s all. Ya never know when someone from the past might come back an’ bite you in the ass. Why?”
“Just thought I might be able to get some guidance,” Akira hinted, a semblance of something wicked flashing through his eye. It didn’t pass Iwai by. He sighed and put the file down, but a kind smile settled on the corners of his lips.
“You’re not gettin’ into anything dangerous, are ya kid? Now’s the time you gotta focus on studyin’ for uni, not gettin’ big enough to rough someone up,” Iwai lectured him, a stern expression on his features. Akira almost wanted to blush with how touched he was that Iwai genuinely cared for him - but he didn’t let himself. He couldn’t back down; couldn’t let Iwai see his weakness. Akira took a breath.
“Too late to worry about that. It’s like you say - you never know who might turn up for revenge. You’re not the only one who’s got a past you’re trying to run away from,” Akira assured him, giving him direct eye contact that he hoped he couldn’t refuse. Iwai looked back into them curiously for a few moments, and Akira had to try and hold off the fluster as he realised their proximity had shifted somewhat closer; only the counter kept them separated. He was even close enough to smell the sweet, fruity scent of the lollipop resting between Iwai’s teeth.
Iwai let his eyes fall shut as he put a little more distance between them, and an accepting smile ran across his lips.
“Alright, kid. What d’ya wanna know?”
Akira had subsequently asked Iwai to work out with him at the weekend, hoping that a heart emoji stuck nervously on the end made it clear enough that he was interested . Iwai seemed to ignore it, or perhaps didn’t think much of it, but either way, he accepted Akira’s request and sent him the address of a batting centre in Kita-ku.
It was a Saturday, and the powerful summer sun was scorchingly hot on Akira’s skin, just as it had been all week. Perfect. He could already feel a sheen of sweat settling across his back, hoping it wouldn’t show too much through the thin t-shirt he’d decided on. Or, maybe it would be a good thing... if Iwai was into that.
Akira was getting ahead of himself; he didn’t even know if Iwai was into guys, nevermind whether he’d be into sweaty, skinny guys like him.
Still, he could hope. He didn’t know whether it was wishful thinking, or a genuine flag that his subconscious had picked up on - but Akira got just the slightest inkling in the pit of his stomach that perhaps Iwai wasn’t at all averse to relationships with other men. Who knew what - or who - he’d gotten up to in the yakuza?
Iwai was already waiting outside the building, leaning coolly against red brick, arms crossed, obscured by the shadow of the rooftop. Incredulous, Akira realised he was yet again wearing the turtleneck, coat and hat combo, despite the absolute sweltering heat. Not once breaking composure, he raised a palm in Akira’s direction as he approached.
“Hey,” Iwai called out in a low tone. Akira mirrored the action.
“This heat is really starting to get to me,” Akira commented, grabbing the fabric of his t-shirt to fan himself. “Are you sure you won’t pass out like that?” he gave Iwai’s coat a very pointed stare.
Iwai shifted his eyes away from Akira’s form.
“Eh, it’s nothin’ I can’t handle,” he mumbled, tipping the brim of his cap over his eyes.
“If you say so,” Akira rolled his eyes. “What’s the deal with this place, anyway?”
Iwai finally met his eyes again.
“A friend’a mine from a long time ago owns it. He ain’t bothered if I come to use the equipment he got in the back,” he explained. “He’s a good’un. No issues with keepin’ his mouth shut if he… y’know. Sees anythin’,” he hinted in a nondescript way, with a slight quirk to his eyebrows.
“O-okay… What do you m-”
“Well? Shall we?” Iwai interrupted him, gesturing towards the door. I guess that’s a subject for later. Shrugging it off with an amused sigh, Akira smiled and stepped aside.
Iwai’s old friend was not the kind of person Akira had been expecting at all. He was extremely short and wore unassuming glasses, but his body very obviously belonged to a successful athlete. Upon seeing Iwai, his face erupted into a beaming smile, all handshakes and bad jokes. Akira had to wonder again: in what kind of situation did these two possibly meet? Then again, being in the yakuza must bring in all kinds of contacts and business, even with the most unsuspecting of characters.
Considering the fact that it was about forty degrees outside, and that the facility’s air conditioning was half-broken, most of the regular customers had common sense. The place was extremely empty. One singular batting cage was in use, and a satisfying thwack resounded throughout the high, airy ceiling every time the bat came into contact with the ball. And then, the sunlight-soaked hall was doused in pure, open silence once again. Despite the heat, it was really a rather therapeutic atmosphere.
“You wanna try hittin’ a few before we get into the heavy stuff?” Iwai offered, gesturing to the cage on the furthest end of the hall. Akira nodded.
“Sure. You any good?” he asked. Iwai gave a hearty chuckle.
“I’m good enough, kid. Think ya can take me?” he challenged, taking the lollipop from his mouth with a sweet pop, then nonchalantly tossing the stick into a bin nearby. Akira had never expected that a lollipop could make someone really hot, but he found himself suddenly wanting to get a taste of it on his lips.
“Bring it,” Akira goaded him on with a self-assured grin. “Show me how it’s done.”
... Even though I can only usually hit a couple of balls. Not that he needs to know that.
To Akira’s delight, the hat came off just before they stepped inside.
His silvery hair was cut short, shorn close to his scalp, and honestly, Akira had expected nothing less from his masculine image. If he had been hiding a mohawk or something as equally as ridiculous under that hat, there’s no way Akira would have been able to keep himself from laughing. Instead, being given the privilege of seeing him with his guard down made his chest fill with warmth.
Trying to keep his cool, Akira silently paced over to the machine next to Iwai’s, a flimsy green net now coming in between them. Akira tightly grasped the heavy wooden bat in his palm, attempting to dispel some of the tension by spinning it around with his fingertips.
“I ain’t keepin’ score, kid, so you’d better count for yourself,” Iwai called out as he switched his machine on, a grin clear on his face as he readied his stance and clasped the bat with huge hands. “Though it’ll be obvious on your cute face if ya try an’ cheat.”
Akira allowed himself a blush, considering Iwai was facing forwards, and Akira could safely look to him through the net at the side. Was that flirting? Or condescending? Akira had a very hard time telling which one it was whenever Iwai teased him like so.
“I wouldn’t do that,” Akira protested with a mumble, turning towards the machine with a composed glare.
Bat poised in hand, he pressed the ‘on’ switch.
The first ball came hurtling towards him, and he surged forwards with all his power swinging into the bat in his hand. He barely even scraped the surface of the ball, and had to promptly reset his balance to prevent falling flat on his face. As expected.
He turned to slow down the speed of the machine. It may have seemed like he had no ambition or pride - but honestly, being unable to hit any fastballs was possibly even more embarrassing than choosing to take it a bit easier. He closed his eyes, and hit the button with a sigh.
He opened his eyes to an absolutely wonderful, breathtaking view.
Iwai had taken off that godforsaken coat at some point, and his tight black turtleneck, quite frankly, left next to nothing to the imagination.
The outline of taut biceps stretched his sleeves wide, and his pecs strained against the fabric pulled across his chest. And when he surged forwards to meet each whirlwind serve with a grunt, Akira could see the muscles working across his vast shoulders.
Sweat prickled under the collar of Akira’s t-shirt, and he wondered whether the air conditioning had completely given up, or he really was just that thirsty over seeing a middle-aged guy in a close-fitting turtleneck.
He didn’t think it could get any worse, until Iwai turned off the machine with a worn out huff, bringing his arm up to wipe the sweat from his brow. He pinched the neck of his sweater, trying to fan away all of the sweat that dripped down his jaw. Then, he grabbed the hem, and pulled upwards.
No way - he was really going to take it all off, right here??
Akira started to feel slightly woozy as a sliver of tanned skin revealed itself at Iwai’s bare stomach - he’s really-
To Akira’s dismay, the turtleneck came off to reveal an equally tight-fitting, thin white t-shirt. Akira let out the breath he had been holding onto for dear life. However, he then remembered to take another look at what he was aiming for.
Akira had always known via common sense that they would be there. Still, that didn’t quite prepare him for the swathe of tattoos sheathing his left arm. Dragons, flowers, patterns - his arm was wrapped in an explosion of faded colour. And also, he could drink in those trained muscles in all their bare glory.
All of a sudden, Akira was very grateful that he had ever been born.
Iwai started up the machine again, and Akira strained his neck trying to get a good look at his tensed biceps through the green netting. He flinched with a start when Iwai’s low voice sliced through his trance-like state.
“What’s holdin’ you up, kid?” He punctuated with a teasing smirk and a thwack to the ball. Still, Akira couldn’t quite bring himself to look away from the body he had never been witness to before, and he could feel that his pants may have felt slightly tighter than was comfortable.
“Yeah, I’m just- just-” he tried to retort with some kind of excuse, but his dark eyes were absolutely transfixed on a bead of sweat running down Iwai’s neck, his chest heaving, and then another droplet running over his tattoos and into the crook of his elbow; but if only he could just have a taste-
A huge wham to the side of his head brought him well and truly hurtling back to earth.
He had been ogling Iwai, he knew that, so complete, utter confusion rattled about in his throbbing head as he found himself staring up at the sunlight pouring in through the ceiling. The next thing he knew, Iwai’s concerned eyes stared down into him, and he could feel pressure pinning both of his wrists to the floor.
“-kira? Akira. Can you hear me?” Iwai’s lips were moving. Gradually, the sound of his voice filtered into his perturbed consciousness.
“I hear you. Why…” Akira started. To say that he had a splitting headache would probably be an understatement. Pain thundered throughout his entire skull, shaking all his thoughts around even though his head was completely still. Very slowly, his surroundings began to make more sense.
He was still inside the batting cage, however he was now laying flat on the floor. Iwai was bent over him, his face heart-wrenchingly close to Akira’s own, and those two muscular arms strained at either side of Akira’s shoulders as he pinned him securely to the ground.
“Look at me, Akira,” Iwai commanded. It was clear enough in Akira’s sea of misguided thoughts that he was able to draw his eyes up to meet Iwai’s searing gaze. “You’ve only been out for a couple’a seconds. Stray ball. But you might have concussion, and I bet it hurts like a bitch.” Iwai gave a somewhat gentle smile.
“Ah…” Akira provided ever-so unhelpfully, grimacing once again in response to the pain. Iwai sighed, finally unpinning one of his arms to bring a palm to his own face.
“I guess this really wasn’t one of my best ideas, huh,” he mumbled to himself. After another defeated sigh, he shifted his gaze back to Akira. “I’m taking you home.”
Through the haze, Akira at least remembered that that was the last thing he wanted to do right now.
“What? No, I don’t want to,” he protested. Iwai quirked an eyebrow at him.
“Well we can’t sit on the floor here forever, as much as I want to,” he said, amused. “I’ll take you back to mine.”
That, Akira could easily accept.
“C’mere. Let’s get up,” Iwai said with a strained voice as he carefully hooked an arm around Akira and hoisted him to his feet. Akira let out a pained groan, and leant his weight into Iwai’s side as they walked. Iwai stopped by the front desk, talking to his friend in whispered tones.
In his disoriented state, Akira ogled the huge arm encircling his torso. He was reminded yet again that Iwai could very easily shatter him into a million pieces. Yet instead, his muscles remained firm around Akira’s shoulders, protecting him, letting him know he was cared for. It was heavenly.
As they arrived at Iwai’s apartment, Akira quickly found himself being ushered into bed.
“You stay here,” Iwai commanded with a point of his finger, then promptly left the room. Akira had started to feel a bit more with it; the hammering pain had subsided, and had given way to a constant ache instead.
He peered around the room inquisitively. It was dark, as the curtains were closed, and the air conditioning was tumbling over his skin from where it whirred above him. The cool air made it a lot easier to bring himself back together. He was a little shaken up, but all in all, Akira couldn’t imagine it being too serious.
The sheets were made of a soft cotton, comforting his bare skin, and the plumped up pillows smelled strongly of what Akira assumed to be Iwai’s shampoo. He unabashedly took a deep breath through his nose, consuming the fresh, familiar scent. As situations go, it really could have been a lot worse.
Iwai reappeared in the doorway with a tall glass of water in one hand, and what looked like an ice pack in the other. He carefully sat on the edge of the bed, offering Akira the glass of water.
“Take a few sips’a this,” he instructed. “You need it.”
Akira gratefully took it, eagerly gulping down half of the glass. Iwai chuckled.
“Go on then - where does it hurt?” he asked, holding out the ice pack this time. Akira blinked at him, reaching out to take it.
“I can do it myself, you know,” Akira protested. Iwai shook his head.
“Nah, it’s fine. You just concentrate on sittin’ there, lookin’ pretty, and restin’,” he smiled.
Akira raised his eyebrows pointedly. Really, is that supposed to be a joke or not?
“Honestly, kid, ya really need to take better care of yourself,” Iwai sighed with a slightly exasperated kind of smile. “And once you can, get y’self to a doctor, alright? I thought it probably wasn’t good to take you there myself, since I know you’ve had some business with the cops. Y’ain’t at risk of gettin’ ratted out for hanging about with a dodgy old guy like me.”
Of course he’d think that far ahead. Akira was really thankful that he wasn’t on his bad side (...as of yet). Even more thankful that Iwai spoiled him so much.
“Thank you,” Akira said, hoping that he could get just a little semblance of how much he was thankful for into just one look. Iwai shrugged, humbly brushing it off, if he did at all catch that Akira imbued a subtext to the simple phrase.
"It's nothin', really. I just worry 'bout ya," Iwai slapped a fond palm firm to the side of Akira's upper arm. “And y’know, even if you like what ya see, you should learn to be aware of what’s happenin’ around you,” Iwai told him sternly, shuffling further onto the bed.
They stared at eachother, an unsaid something settling in the tense air.
“W-what?” Akira stammered.
“Kid, I wasn’t born yesterday, unlike you,” he joked with a small smile. “I know the look of a guy who’s takin’ an interest.”
So he had noticed.
“Then why didn’t you say anything?” Akira gaped. Iwai pressed the ice pack gently to the poorly side of Akira’s skull, and smirked.
“I am sayin’ somethin’ right now,” he teased. Akira rolled his eyes.
Iwai hesitated for a second, looking through Akira’s eyes into the wall, rather than truly looking at Akira himself.
“Suppose you’re a bit young for me. I may be connected t’some shady folk, but I still got morals, y’know,” he pursed his lips. “Sometimes.”
Akira grasped the wrist that Iwai had held to his head in a tight fist, and ripped it away. Leaning forwards, he captured Iwai’s lips in an eager kiss. In shock, Iwai didn’t respond for a moment, a low sound of surprise ripping through his throat.
I got there first.
Soon after, he responded just as enthusiastically, taking control of Akira’s mouth as he brushed his tongue with controlled, passionate movements. As expected, Iwai’s lips were not all that soft, but the stubble scraping across the soft skin of Akira’s face provoked an unexpected sensation of excitement. Akira leant even further over, grasping Iwai’s rough cheek with one hand, and slung the other one around his shoulder as he submitted to surging, wet pressure through tongue, teeth and lips. In the hand which wasn’t still grasping onto the ice pack, Iwai secured Akira’s waist in his grip and held him there. Akira fervently seized his lips from Iwai’s, and instead planted them onto Iwai’s neck, just in the space where the gecko was painted. A deep moan escaped Iwai’s glistening lips as Akira’s tongue traced the pattern there, breaths becoming heavier as Akira rubbed a palm over the top of his left thigh.
That moment snapped him out of it.
“No, kid, wait-”
“Why?” Akira retorted immediately.
“I really wouldn’t like it, to think I’d be takin’ advantage of you,” he said seriously, seizing the hand which touched his thigh with a solid clasp. Akira pursed his lips and gave an indignant sigh through his nose.
“Right then, old man, tell me this,” he said before leaning over to Iwai’s ear. “Surely you’re not taking advantage of me if I’m the one asking for it,” he hushed, taking the hand which wasn’t trapped in Iwai’s fist. He breathed very deliberately around the shell of his ear, letting the warm air cascade around it. Iwai shivered. “ Begging for it, even,” he emphasized, finally taking his free hand and pressing it against the outline of his cock through his jeans. Iwai twitched - he was undeniably hard underneath Akira’s touch. He swallowed. Hard.
“Alright kid,” he conceded, voice a little unstable. “You got me, huh…”
Akira was just about to take it further, when Iwai swiftly entrapped the hand which was reaching for all that he wanted.
“You got me. But I’m tellin’ you, I’m not boutta fuck a kid who probably couldn’t even count to ten before I’ve even started,” he laughed, eyes glistening in amusement. “Get better first. Then, I promise I’ll indulge all your wishes.”
He pressed kisses to both of the hands that he had encaptured. Akira blushed, permitting himself a moment of appeasement.
“Okay,” Akira promised in a gentle tone. “One more thing, though.”
“What more could ya want?” Iwai sighed in mock irritation.
“You called me Akira, before.”
Iwai narrowed his eyes.
“If we’re dating, couldn’t you call me by my name instead? I mean, it gets a bit weird, if you keep calling me ‘kid’...” he explained. Iwai considered him for a moment. Then, he picked up the ice pack, and pressed it back to Akira’s head once again.
“Alright,” he said in a tone which was much softer than anything Akira thought he’d ever heard before. “Only if you stop bein’ so damn polite. Get rid of -san, just call me Munehisa. Aight?”
A gentle tone. The ice pack pressed caringly to the side of his head. His thumb rubbing over Akira’s fingertips.
“Alright,” Akira pressed a sweet kiss to his cheek. “Mu-ne-hi-sa.”