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Tangled twine and echoing halls

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  Most people would probably not enjoy sharing a house with their twin in their mid-twenties. Especially when said twin was the most annoying and passive aggressive thing to ever roam the streets of Tokyo. But, well, it wasn’t like he had a choice.

  Atsumu followed his brother with his eyes, carefully not taking his feet off of the kitchen table. Osamu glared but didn’t say a word, just slammed the door of the fridge hard enough that the magnets trembled and lifted the juice box to his lips, maintaining eye contact. Juice. Wait a minute…

 - Hey ! – He kicked his chair back and reached for the box. But it was too late. His brother had already left his gross mouth bacteria all over it. The bastard didn’t even like black currants. – Give me that.

 - What are you going to do, wipe it ? – That was exactly what he was going to do. And, he glanced at the clock, he might end up doing it right when the third member of their household got home, and then Osamu would regret putting his hands on his juice. – What are you, twelve ?

 - What are you, eleven ? – Got him. – What kind of a slob drinks from the carton ?

 - What kind of a slob puts his feet on the table ? – The little…

 - Aren’t you supposed to be above such petty childish things, Mr Lawyer ? – Osamu’s eyes narrowed but just before he jabbed back, both their phones beeped. And only one person texted them both at the same time.

  Juice forgotten, Atsumu unlocked his phone with one hand while his brother frowned at his own. It wasn’t something good, then.

 We’re going out in half an hour. Nothing fancy, but make sure to be ready when I get home. Wear green.

   “We’re going out”. No question, no suggestion. No options. Atsumu dropped his hand to the counter. Sometimes, he wondered…He was still sweaty and gross from practice, he realised. And the text had said half an hour. With a deep sigh and a last look at Osamu, he headed for the bathroom on the first floor. If his brother wanted to shower, he could walk to the second floor.

   Under the scalding spray of water, he considered his life. Shower thoughts. Sometimes, he wondered. How him and Osamu had ended in the current situation. How simple teamwork in high school had led to whatever they were doing. And what the media would say if they learnt what one of the stars of the National Volleyball Team did in his private life. Good thing he had a good lawyer. He snorted which ended up a mistake since he felt shampoo lather go in his mouth who knew how.

  Spitting the foam, he rubbed his head, trying to rinse as fast as possible. Half an hour always meant exactly half an hour. Not a minute earlier or later. It was comforting to have something so predictable in his life. Yeah, right. Like anything about their arrangement was normal.

 A few minutes later, he pulled on the super smooth pastel green t-shirt he’d stolen from Osamu’s closet a couple of weeks ago and his ripped jeans for good measure. Gel, earring, his dog tag necklace that went under the shirt. Watch, ring and wallet. He paused by the mirror in his room. Oh, yes. He looked every bit the successful young athlete he was. Confident, hot and just the right amount of “bad boy”. Perfect.

  He checked his watch. Twenty five minutes. Right on time. Down in the living room he paused because Osamu was just coming in from the other door. They looked at each other. How dared his brother…because that was definitely Atsumu’s dress shirt with the sleeves rolled up. The shirt he’d bought a couple of months ago and then lost somewhere… In the club. He’d taken it off in the club and then they had gone home with both of them naked to the waist. When had Osamu taken it ? Was nothing sacred anymore ?

  His brother was a touch more overdressed, though the sport jacket and tight pants were not formal by any means. They were both wearing black and the same shade of pale green. He knew people often talked about twins’ connection but this was ridiculous. And while he was used to it, having lived with Osamu throughout his entire life, that didn’t make it okay.

  His brother had the same chain around his neck, tags under the shirt, a watch, earring on the opposite ear and, he would bet, his tongue piercing, the visible one. He almost laughed.

 - This is stupid.

 - You noticed just now ? – Osamu shrugged.

 - Did you even think about wearing that t-shirt ?

 - Guess. – His brother raised an eyebrow. – I just grabbed it because it was green.

 - It’s also mine. – Atsumu walked the few steps that separated them, reaching to pluck at the collar.

 - Look who’s talking. – Osamu slapped his hand away though it was light enough to be just for the tradition. He was worried, too, Atsumu could see it right beneath the skin and behind his brother’s eyes. No matter what everyone thought, he wasn’t completely oblivious and dense. – How’s that model ?

  It worked. Osamu blinked in confusion. Frowned. Rubbed the fabric of his coat between his fingers.

 - What model ? – The dog.

 - Your girlfriend ? – His brother sighed and dropped the corner of the jacket he’d been wrinkling.

 - We separated. – Atsumu whistled, which earned him another half-hearted glare.

 - She dumped you because you’re a terrible boyfriend ? – Osamu shook his head with that sounded like an exasperated sigh and checked his phone.

 - Since you, for whatever reason, seem to care so much, no. I broke it off. Happy ?

  He actually wasn’t. But he’d gone too far with the poking and he’d never been one to apologise. Or at least not with his words. Osamu dropped his phone in his pocket and crossed his arms.

 - She kept asking when I’d go and meet her parents. – Well. That was new.

 - Didn’t you see her, like, twice ?

 - Three times. And I declined the offer for breakfast all three of them.

 - What can I say, brother ? You’re irresistible. – Another snort. Did he sound like that ? Maybe he had to work on the ways he expressed his feeling because that was so not cool.

 - Maybe I should take a page from your book and start telling everyone I am in a serious relationship.

 - Yeah, but then the idols wouldn’t want to invite you home. – He heard the lock turn and he knew Osamu did, too, because while his brother hadn’t turned as fast as him, he head his breath catch. They really weren’t that different.

 - Maybe it won’t be such a big loss. – He actually turned to look at Osamu because that was new. Huh. He would mull over it…Later. Now…

  Now he had other things to focus on.

  The man who came in the living room looked at both of them, serene expression somehow matching the black on black three piece suit he was wearing. Lighter-blond than both of them, shorter than both of them and, he knew, definitely calmer than both of them.

  Shinsuke Kita, their captain in high school, a friend, a man who had made sure their old team was okay and happy and at their best at every game. Owner of a club that housed both regular patrons and the BDSM crowd. A successful businessman.

  Shinsuke walked to where both of them stood and slid his palm down Osamu’s cheek and around his neck, only to rest it under his chin. And then pulled his brother, nothing forceful, just a miniscule twitch of his arm, but Osamu went like he was hypnotised. Atsumu had a front row view of their lips touching once, twice, and then another, Osamu blinking in what looked like confusion while they were sharing breath. The other man turned to Atsumu and, as always, he almost made a step back, but the warm hand resting on his own neck stopped him. Calmed him. Drew him in without even moving. He was easier than Osamu, after all.

  The only man, no, the only person, he’d ever been with.

  Lips caressed his and he went willingly, feeling the day just drain away. The tension, the insecurities. The lousy practice. The coach who, he was sure, hated him. The kid who had tried to steal his Switch while he’d been basking in the winter sun during one of their breaks. The cat that slept in front of the convenience store that refused to let him pet her today. It all went away when he felt the touch around his throat and let his eyes close. Lips on his, barely there. And then pulled back. He chased, but the warning tightening around his neck stopped him. So he parted his lips in a plead and waited.

  Shinsuke kissed him again, just a press on the corner of his mouth, and then up. His cheek, his cheekbone, and then down. When he finally stopped peppering small kisses all over his face, the other man parted his lips just a little and licked. Lightly. Nothing more than a greeting. He guessed he’d looked like a big enough of a mess to deserve more of a greeting, but that’s all that was. The warm fingers slipped from around his throat.

 - Gorgeous. – He opened his eyes. Shinsuke, smile nonexistent and serenity in his pale eyes, looked him up and down. – Both of you are more than gorgeous.

  And then he pulled on Osamu’s silver chain just enough to make the dog tags jingle.

 - Let’s go. We have a friend to visit.


  Three hours later


  That had gone well, Atsumu thought. Much better than he’d expected. True, the couple were regulars in Shinsuke’s bar but Semi, a rather chill and cheerful man, had thrown the first punch. At least he’d been as apologetic as possible, and, as always, the food Kawanishi had made had been more than perfect. His coach didn’t need to know about his cheat evening. Technically, it wouldn’t even be a cheat evening. Not eating food made by Kawanishi Taichi was a sacrilege and an insult and a complete disgrace. He liked to think he was better than that.

  And Semi had looked good even after taking a beer bottle to the knee the night before. Atsumu had no idea who his companion was but the man whose name he’d already forgotten had looked more than suspicious. Of all three of them. Rude. Just because their relationship wasn’t conventional. Or, depending on what he’d thought, legal. Or, again, depending on…Actually, no. Or moral, because that wasn’t such a grey area, no matter how much he pretended it was sometimes. Just because it wasn’t legal or moral or anything, that didn’t make it bad. Though there’d been some touching happening that had reminded him way too much of the three of them back when they were trying to understand what they were to each other. Huh.

 Still. Asking a man who worked in a police station not to raise charges against the guy who’d probably dealt lasting damage…It was good Osamu had been with them. Though the stranger whose name he really couldn’t remember had gone toe to toe with him in the arguments. Another lawyer ? How did Kawanishi stand it in his house ? At least they had reached a consensus. No charges on either side, and Semi would try not to punch any other patrons, while the guy who’d gotten his face smashed would not be allowed in that part of the club. Win – Win.

  And now, while he was kneeling beside the couch and being literal centimetres from where his own twin was showing off his skills in fellating their old high school captain, he considered their arrangement again. With the carpet barely making the floor tolerable on his knees and his back to the couch, he wondered what would anyone think of them. They’d never talked about it, about Osamu’s endless string of girlfriends who never even scratched the surface while he never stopped doing…that. About his own revulsion of ever getting that close to another person’s sweaty, moist, gross flesh. About how it had taken him months to actually try and peck Shinsuke on the cheek, and years before they’d actually had sex. About how the hand tight in his hair right now grounded him and allowed him to think clearly because no matter what Shinsuke was there and he would take care of everything.

  About how his brother had never gotten even remotely close to another man aside from Shinsuke.


  About how they both melted under his careful hands and gentle fingers. How the three of them lived together in their huge house and walked with dog tags that had his name on them, and showed those tags off in his club. About how they never felt the need to talk about it.


  About how happy it all made him.


  The fingers in his hair pulled back and he looked up. In the low light of the TV Shinsuke’s light eyes looked translucent, almost ghostly. Osamu had moved to kissing the inside of one thigh and Atsumu felt his Master guide him until his chin rested on his other thigh, and then simply pet his hair.

  Life was good.