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It was raining. Rainy days happened a lot this time of year, but Mumen didn't mind them, especially when he was with his favourite person.

Unfortunately, his favourite person hated rain.

"Does this rain ever fucking stop?"

Mumen's lips quirked at the comment, spoken with weary irritation by the man beside him.

"It will dry up later," he said lightly. He adjusted his grip on the handlebars of his bike, his supposedly rainproof gloves starting to feel damp. "The forecast is dry for tonight."

Wrapped up in a pac-a-mac and huddled beneath his duck-print umbrella, Garou pouted. "That's tonight," he said. "Not gonna be walking the streets with you tonight."

"No, because it's the Star Voyager special tonight."

"Hmph. You sure you really wanna watch it at my place?" Garou arched a brow. "Not like it's fancy or anything."

"I like it there." Mumen could only base his opinion on the one time Garou had invited him, but it was the truth. Garou's apartment building was run down, and the apartment itself was sparsely furnished, but it was clean and cosy. "Besides," he said, seeing that Garou was unconvinced. "Weren't you going to cook tonight? I was looking forward to trying that legendary stew of yours..."

"Heh." Garou's gaze shifted away, and he rubbed the back of his neck. "Yeah."

"So your place it is!"

Garou's brow furrowed at that and Mumen frowned behind his goggles. Why was he being so weird about this? He'd been eager to have him over last time--and apologetic, in the most adorable way, when it turned out he didn't have any coffee to serve him.

"Alright, what's up?" he asked gently.

Sighing through his nose, Garou scowled at nothing in particular. "It'll be late when you head home," he muttered. "And I live in a rough neighbourhood."

Warmth flooded Mumen's chest. Trust Garou to be worried about him. "I'll be fine," he said. "Hardly anyone lives in your area. The most trouble I'll find will be monsters, and it's my job to deal with them."

"That's exactly my point!" A strong finger jabbed at Mumen's arm. "You got the cast off three days ago. How many breaks've you gotta get before you stop picking fights you can't win, huh?"

"We've talked about this. I'm a hero. It's what I do."

Faced with Mumen's stubborn patience, Garou could do little more than let out an aggravated growl. "Just don't want you getting hurt," he said. "It's not good to go wandering around where there's nobody to back you up, Rai."

Mumen's breath caught in his throat at the use of the nickname, and the warmth in his chest spread lower, growing hotter the further it sank through his tingling body.

"Well then," he said quietly. "You can walk me home after the show." Squeezing beneath the umbrella, he tucked a hand into the crook of Garou's arm and gave a gentle smile. "...Or I could stay over?"

His words were tentative, and he peeked at Garou to gauge his reaction. He hadn't stayed over before. Garou hadn't stayed at his, either. This whole dating thing was kind of new to him, so they were taking it slow.

But it had been nearly two months and Mumen wasn't used to things going this slow.

Garou had fallen quiet at the suggestion, heat creeping through his cheeks. His teeth worried at his bottom lip as he fought to maintain his habitual scowl, and Mumen waited for him to decline.

Then Garou raked a hand through his hair, and grinned. "Yeah, you could."

"Only if it's okay with you. We don't have to do anything you don't want to."

"And what if I wanna?" Garou's grin morphed into a smirk, and Mumen got the impression he was trying to tease.

He smiled. "Then we shall."

Garou gulped, face growing pinker and the smirk softening into the sort of breathless, tentative smile that always turned Mumen's heart to mush. "Cool," he said.

Mumen let out a soft giggle. "Cool," he agreed, giving his arm a little squeeze.

"Ugh, that was so uncool of me," Garou rubbed a hand over his face. "Fuck, I'm turning soft."

"There's nothing wrong with showing your softer side. I like it. We'll have a good night together, Garou."

"Yeah. Now if only this rain would piss off, I could go grab some shit while you're doing your dumb hero meeting thing. Stuff for tonight."

"You could anyway, whilst I'm having my dumb hero meeting thing." Mumen prodded the umbrella canopy above them. "You have your ducks."

Garou effected a glare. "You teasing me?"

"Never." As they reached an intersection, Mumen slowed. "I'd better go. Meet outside the cycle shop later? We'll pick up some snacks on the way to yours."

"Fiiine." Garou's lips twitched. "s'lucky you're so cute, y'know."

"You like cute things, huh?"

"Now you're definitely teasing!" Garou grabbed for him, trying not to laugh as Mumen squeaked and attempted to dodge away. He caught him by the strap of his armour, and surrendered to the urge to smile as he reeled him in. "C'mere."

Mumen was already reaching for him, and curled his arms comfortably around Garou's neck as they kissed goodbye. He sensed a little of the tension ebb from Garou's shoulders, and pressed closer, privately wishing the meeting was optional.

"I'll see you later," he whispered, lips still tantalisingly close to Garou's.

Garou peered at him through heavy-lidded eyes, his cheeks flushed. "Damn right you will."

Mumen really wished the meeting was optional. But it wasn't, and if he didn't leave now, he'd be late.

"You're cute too, for the record." He reached up, ruffling Garou's hair. "I'm happy you've stopped wearing those hats all the time," he said sincerely. "More people should see your handsome face, Ga-kun."

"Would rather nobody paid it any attention," Garou said, tone gruff as he scowled at the ground.

"Including me?"

"You're the exception."

It was nice to be the exception, but in this instance, Mumen didn't want to be. He wanted people to recognise Garou for who he really was: a good person with a strong heart and a clear view of justice.

Mumen pouted. The way Garou spoke didn't bode well for his self-esteem. He'd been trying to work on it for months, but Garou still didn't seem to believe he was a good person.

"...Are you okay?" His hand found Garou's, enfolding it gently. "Have people been making trouble for you again?"

Garou shook his head. "Nah, just..." Shrugging one shoulder, he opted for another shake of his head. "Not used to not getting into trouble with folks for just walking around."

"You'll get used to it," Mumen brought Garou's hand to his lips, and kissed his knuckles. "Keep doing what you're doing. People are starting to recognise you for doing good things now."

"Yeah. Guess life's pretty good," Garou smiled. "You're gonna be late, Rai. Don't let 'em keep you too long, okay? We've got plans tonight."

The smile was a flustered grin by the time Garou was done speaking, and Mumen couldn't help but lean in for another kiss.

Then, with a softly-spoken 'See you later!' he climbed onto his bike and cycled off for his meeting.

 

Garou watched him go, his heart feeling light.

Mumen was really fucking great. Not a day went by that he wasn't amazed that he didn't only know the guy, but was with him. Considering all that bullshit from the past, it was the weirdest ever twist of fate. If Garou believed in any of that shit, he'd think the gods had been playing a huge prank on him.

Except life really was going good. He had Mumen, he had a roof over his head, and he had a job--a proper one, with regular shifts and a bunch of benefits and stuff. It only at a convenience store, but way more respectable than the bounty hunting (which he kind of still did on the side, because old habits died hard and the rewards were fucking huge).

Plenty of people came into the convenience store. Some of them gave him strange looks, as if they recognised him, but nobody had said anything. Not directly to him, anyway. There had been some comments to his boss, but she'd dismissed them as foolish. 'I don't employ criminals,' she'd said. Garou had spent the whole week hoping that didn't mean he was getting fired, but it had never happened.

The rest of the customers were alright. Normal, really. Short ones asked him to reach stuff off the top shelves. Old ones asked him to carry heavy stuff to their cars. Young ones insisted they were old enough to buy cigarettes and alcohol, but Garou wasn't having any of that shit, and kicked them out.

Some of the customers hit on him. Garou didn't really know how to respond to that, just knew that telling them to fuck off wasn't an option, so he just told them he had a boyfriend.

Mumen was the best boyfriend.

Who'd have thought the former Hero Hunter would've ended up dating a hero?

Garou surfaced from his thoughts as Mumen disappeared around the bend in the road. Then he turned away, mentally composing a to do list. If Mumen was staying over tonight, there was stuff he had to see to. Things to buy, things to get done...

He grinned to himself. This shit was new to him, but he'd watched videos. He'd read stuff. He'd messed around with some of the guys back at the dojo, too, but they'd never gone that far. And yeah, he was kind of nervous, but fuck nerves. He wanted this. With Mumen. He was ready. Totally ready. Really. 

...Fuck, he really couldn't let himself mess this up. Unlike the guys in the dojo, Mumen was experienced. He knew what was good and what was bad.

He'd know if Garou was no good.

Frowning, Garou tightened his grip on the umbrella and shoved his free hand into his pocket, fingers grasping at nothing. Shit, why didn't he bring his beanie with him? Alright, not wearing hats made Mumen smile at him in that sweet way that made him feel weak at the knees, but damn if Garou didn't want to tug a hat all the way down over his ears right now.

Fucking rain. It had better not ruin tonight.

Garou marched off down the wet street, his shoulders hunched. He'd go pick up supplies for tonight and dinner for the evening, and then head home. He'd have enough time to change the sheets on his bed and give the place a quick clean, then he'd go meet his boyfriend. They'd stop to buy snacks on the way home.

Dinner, Star Voyager, and a night of passion with Mumen: it sounded perfect, but that didn't change the fact Garou was nervous as fuck.

 

Mumen reached his meeting late, and entered the room with profuse apologies to the executive running it.

"Not to worry!" the man said. He was in the middle of giving a presentation, Mumen realised. "No doubt you were busy fighting for justice. Keep up the good work, Mumen Rider!"

Mildly irked by the assumption, Mumen slid into a seat towards the back of the room. He knew it was wrong to be annoyed, as usually any lateness was due to his work. It just bothered him that even among fellow heroes and the Association executives, everyone assumed that 'fighting for justice' was all he ever did.

He did far more than that. And thanks to Garou enforcing at least a half-day off each week, he had much more time on his hands now than before. He tried to fill that spare time by spending it with Garou, and gradually those half-days off were turning into whole days.

Aside from the meeting, all he had on his agenda for the rest of the day was a short patrol (he just couldn't help himself) and his evening - his night - with Garou.

Mumen rested his chin in his hand, and tapped his fingers over his mouth to hide his smile. His gut felt all twisted up with nerves, but it brought with it a pleasant kind of tightness and tension, like being at the top of a rollercoaster.

Whatever happened tonight, Mumen wanted Garou to have a good time. He deserved it. Underneath the bravado and gruffness, Garou was a really sweet guy. A good guy, despite what people thought. His actions in the past was no more than those of a hurt, misguided, powerful guy. Someone who had never been given the guidance and attention he needed, let alone the understanding, the love.

Mumen gave it to him. Or at least, he did his best. Garou had changed so much, and was actually kind of incredible. Mumen considered himself lucky to be able to call Garou his boyfriend.

And to think they'd met on a dating app!

Fate really did work in mysterious ways.

Jigging his knee distractedly, Mumen tried to pay attention to the information being presented at the front of the room, but ended up daydreaming about Garou, about what they might do tonight.

However things went, his sole aim was to make Garou feel good.

 

Garou should've known life was going a little too well.

The grocery store had been all out of ingredients for the meat stew he'd planned, as had the next three he'd gone to before he'd given in and decided to cook a less-than-exciting omurice.

Then there had been the whole condom thing. Buying them wasn't an issue - just slap on a smug smirk and hand over the cash - but he hadn't realised there were so many different sizes. How the fuck was he supposed to know if he was an XL or an XXL? And what if Mumen wanted to be on top? Garou had no problem with that, but damn he hoped Mumen had this size thing figured out and brought his own supplies, because trying to buy condoms just for himself had took too fucking long. There was too much fucking choice! He kind of figured why there were different flavours, but why the fuck were there different textures? Did that shit really make a difference? As for the character-themed ones, Garou thought that shit should be thrown onto a bonfire. Who the fuck wanted fucking Justice Man's face on their dick?! Geez, people were messed up!

Eventually leaving with three different sizes of condom, a bottle of lube, and the distinct impression the sales assistant thought him a pervert, Garou had gone home, promising himself he totally wasn't flustered.

And home was where things really started to go wrong.

It should have all been fine. He should have been able to put his groceries away, pop tonight's supplies beside the bed, and change the sheets before he headed out to meet Mumen again.

The first two jobs were easy enough. The groceries got shoved in the cupboard or crammed into the fridge alongside numerous bottles of cola, and the other stuff got placed beside the bed.

It felt crass to set it all out ready, like he couldn't wait to shove Mumen down and fuck him. Alright, so he had been daydreaming about it for too fucking long, but he didn't want Mumen to think he was some kind of sex maniac weirdo. Or to feel pressured. Or like he only wanted sex. There was a whole lot more that Garou wanted from Mumen. Sex was just a part of it.

Leaving the condoms in their non-descript paper bag, Garou stripped the bed.

He smiled to himself as he bundled the old sheets into the laundry hamper. A month ago, he'd not even owned two sets of sheets. Hell, he'd not even owned a laundry hamper. But somewhere along the lines, amidst a conversation with Mumen about how fast they wanted to take things, he'd figured he should clean up a little more and get some more stuff for the apartment to make it less like a squat and more like a home. He decided to allow himself to be a little more normal.

Garou's heart swelled. He was doing pretty good at being 'normal'. Even if dinner plans were messed up, and it was still fucking raining, and shopping for condoms had been excruciating, he was doing good. Tonight would be great.

Sliding open the cupboard door, Garou reached in to grab his spare set of sheets--only to snatch his hand back at the cold, slimy texture met his fingertips.

Garou shuddered, nose wrinkling, and yanked the sheets from the shelf.

They were sopping wet!

He looked up into the cupboard, saw the dripping, brown water stain on the ceiling, and let out a groan.

Great, the fucking roof was leaking. Again. Right on his clean fucking sheets.

Well, he had no time to fix it now. He'd got other shit to do. Like remake the bed with the old sheets, which hopefully weren't too grubby.

He shoved a bucket under the leak, then fished the old sheets out of the laundry hamper and put them back on the bed, guiltily smoothing out a few fresh creases. They didn't smell, at least, and he couldn't see any dirt or anything. But it had been nearly a week since he changed them.

Ugh, why did he agree to Mumen staying over? If Mumen was down to fuck, couldn't they have done it at his place? It was far nicer. All homely and warm and with no fucking leaks in the roof.

Damn it.

Well, he couldn't sit here sulking. He could buy new sheets on the way to meet Mumen, from that department store around the corner from work. Mumen wouldn't judge him for the whole fucked up sheets thing. He'd probably find something positive about it, like 'Hey at least you've got extra sheets if you have a guest'.

Mumen would also tell him he was getting way too worked up over this.

Garou's lips quirked into a smile and he took a slow breath. Alright, so he was worked up. That wouldn't do. When they met later, he was going to be calm.

Which meant he should probably hurry the fuck up and go buy those sheets.

Passing the kitchen on his way to the door, he glanced at the counter and decided to give it a quick wipe down. He wanted the place to be fucking sparkling for Mumen's visit, and it wouldn't take long.

So he grabbed a cloth and some surface cleaner, turned on the kitchen tap, and waited for the water to run hot.

And waited.

...and waited.

And then he turned the tap off again, because clearly his fucking water heater was on the fritz and needed a good kicking.

Which he gave it. Figuratively, at least. Tried the usual switch-it-off-then-on-again method, gave it a good thump, and squatted down to check all the connections.

And the damn thing was dead.

"Fuck." Garou gave it another thump. No hot shower before meeting Mumen, then.

No hot shower tomorrow morning, either.

"Fuck!" Garou swore again. He couldn't have Mumen here with no hot water!

Nor could he cancel right now. Mumen was at his meeting, so wouldn't be able to check his phone, and Garou figured he'd head out to meet him immediately afterwards.

Great. He'd have to cancel when they met up, then.

As he crouched there, a drop of water landed on the floor in front of him. Garou stared, mind going blank as he watched another drop fall, and then another. Then he lifted his head to see a new leak, and a hot rage burned through him. Punching the floor so hard he smashed the floorboards, he jumped to his feet.

"I live in a shithole!"

Scowling, he shrugged on his raincoat, grabbed his umbrella, and stalked back outside. Being out in the rain was better than being in his shitty excuse for a home. At least the rain wasn't full of nasty surprises.

 

By the time he'd been walking for five minutes, Garou's rage had simmered down to what it truly was: disappointment.

He'd been looking forward to his night in with his boyfriend, and now everything was ruined.

It was definitely time to look for a new place to live, because he really did live in a shithole. Good thing had had a stable job now. It'd make it easier to rent somewhere half-decent.

Garou took a few deep breaths, focusing on staying calm. He'd stop by the convenience store on his way to meet Mumen, he decided. If he grabbed some snacks and stuff there, he could give them to Mumen as an apology for their plans being ruined.

They could watch Star Voyager at Mumen's place.

Maybe Mumen would let him stay over.

That'd be cool.

A commotion reached Garou's ears, and he glared out from beneath the canopy of his umbrella. Was someone trying to start shit? In his neighbourhood?

Not. Fucking. Happening.

He jogged towards the noise, and rounded a corner to find a group of monsters in the street, one of which looked weirdly like a tangle of spaghetti.

Of course it was monsters. Those fuckers showed up everywhere.

The spaghetti monster was laughing, long tendrils of its body slashing against a building whilst another, some kind of anthropomorphised bulldozer type thing, head-butted the wall. Beyond them, a third had a bunch of civilians cowering beneath its teeth-edged tentacles.

Garou cast his umbrella aside, ready to fight.

Then he realised what building the monsters were attacking, and who the civilians were, and his earlier rage returned afresh.

That was his convenience store! And those were his co-workers!

Fucking monsters!

Racing towards them, Garou tore off his raincoat - damn thing was too restrictive - and attacked.

The bulldozer monster noticed him first. It swung for him, but was far too slow. Garou reflexively dodged beneath the attack, aimed a swift kick at its midsection and threw the monster over his shoulder, heart pounding.

He had to get these bastards away from the store, and save his co-workers! Sure, some of them were lazy assholes who left all the work to him, but they weren't bad! They didn't deserve this shit!

As the bulldozer monster groaned on the ground behind him, Garou's attention flickered from the spaghetti monster to the tentacle monster, weighing up which to go after first. They'd both noticed him now, and leered at him with fanged smiles.

"If it isn't the Hero Hunter," laughed the tentacle monster, edging closer to Garou's co-workers.

"Human Monster, wasn't it?" The spaghetti monster snorted, tendrils snaking across the ground towards Garou's feet. "But you turned on us. I, Forgetti, will make you turn back your old monstrous ways!"

The tendrils lashed towards him.

Garou leapt, using the monster's head as a springboard and landing between the tentacle monster and his co-workers.

"Hero Hunter? Really?"

"Always knew he was weird."

Garou ignored the mutters from the people behind him. He'd tell them to shut up later, but right now he had more important things to deal with.

First on the list was the monster before him, whose teeth-edged tentacles looked razor sharp.

"You want to fight me, huh?" the monster goaded. "Think you're strong enough?"

"Do you?" Garou glared.

"I'm stronger than you!"

Multiple tentacles flew towards Garou at once, and he grunted, deflecting them in a swift series of movements.

He ignored the way the sharp teeth tore into his flesh. Scratches didn't matter, and the sting barely registered. What mattered was defending his store, his co-workers.

Narrowing his eyes, Garou defended against the attack, tracking the monster's movements.

He noticed the pattern.

He saw an opening.

And with the next barrage of attack, he took advantage.

The monster's tentacles went limp and it crumpled to the ground.

Garou shook blood off his hand, nose wrinkled. He hadn't expected to find teeth there.

"Hah!" snorted Forgetti, as the bulldozer monster scrambled to its feet. "You may have killed Teethticles, but you haven't killed us!"

"It's your turn to die right now!" Garou launched himself at the monster, and was thrown back by a whiplike tendril. He hit something, heard a crash, and suddenly found himself on the floor of the convenience store, surrounded by broken glass.

Fuck, he'd cleaned that window yesterday!

Garou shook shards of glass from his hair, and rolled aside just in time to avoid another attack from those unfriendly tendrils.

"Garou?!" A voice hissed from behind the counter.

Garou looked over. "Boss?"

The woman looked terrified. "What's going on out there?"

"Monster attack."

"You're fighting them?"

"Yeah. You should get out of here, sneak out the back whilst I--"

With a crash, the bulldozer monster tore away the front of the store and stomped inside.

Garou's boss screamed, cowering beneath the counter.

"Dead yet, Human Monster?"

Hearing his boss gasp, Garou's heart sank. He was so fired.

He rose to his feet, feeling blood dripping down his face and wiping it away with his fist.

"Human Monster's long dead, asshole."

"No," Forgetti slithered up beside Bulldozer. "But you'll wish you were, once we're done with you."

Garou didn't reply, only let out an angry yell and attacked.

He grabbed Bulldozer first, hopping over lashing tentacles and grasping around the closest thing to legs that it had. Then he heaved. The monster flailed, and Garou stumbled backwards a few paces, nearly tripping over more of the spaghetti monster's damn tendrils. Then he smashed Bulldozer straight into Forgetti.

The tendrils fell slack on the floor, and Bulldozer expired with small explosion of flame.

Then the fire alarm began to scream and the store sprinkler system kicked in, Garou awoke from his rage and looked around himself.

The store was wrecked. The front wall was reduced to rubble, a huge crack ran through the ceiling, the floor was all torn up, and half the stock was crushed into the ground by the weight of the two monsters.

Spying his co-workers staring in at him, Garou's shoulders slumped. If there was any chance that he wasn't fired before, he was definitely fired now.

Slowly, his boss stood up from behind the counter. She looked pale, her usually stern gaze replaced with fear.

"I-I'm calling the Hero Association," she said in a trembling voice. "Garou, you--"

"I was never here," Garou snarled, closing his hands into fists. He stalked out into the rain, and pretended not to see the way his (former) co-workers stared, or hear the things they said about him.

His boss didn't need to tell him he was fired. He fucking knew it.

He knew he'd be in a ton of trouble if he stuck around, too.

Wiping the blood from his hands and trying to ignore the way his arm hurt, Garou raced down the street. His apartment was shit, he'd lost his job, and he looked like shit, but at least he still had Mumen.

Mumen would understand.

He'd go to their meeting place, and wait for him to arrive. If anyone could save the day, it was him.

 

The area around the cycle store was busy. Conscious of how beat up he was, Garou tugged the hood of his hoodie up over his hair and wished he had a baseball cap with him, or at least his beanie. He was a mess, and didn't want to draw attention to himself. He'd left his pac-a-mac and umbrella somewhere too, but couldn't remember exactly where--only that it was near the store, where he didn't want to go.

So much for grabbing some snacks.

Hunched up beneath the store awning, Garou paced back and forth, keeping a wary eye on those around him. If anyone did so much as look at him in the wrong way, he'd--what? Scowl at them?

Garou sighed. It wasn't as if he could punch someone for looking at him funny. He'd never do that. Not even when he was bad. And he was good now. Mumen had said so.

He definitely couldn't start doing shit like punching people.

Hands in his pockets, Garou peered out from beneath the awning of the cycle store, and watched people pass by. It had stopped raining now, and the sun was shining through the clouds, reflecting off puddles and making the pavements shine.

The best thing about rain, Garou thought, was when it had stopped. He didn't mind the world after the rain.

Across the street, two kids on bicycles laughed as they wove between the pedestrians.

"Stop in the name of justice!" cried the boy.

"Never! Woo-ha-ha-ha!" yelled back the girl, effecting the worst villain laugh ever.

Garou grimaced. Kids still played heroes these days?

...Heck, at least they were both enjoying it.

Garou allowed himself a smile.

It was kind of nice to see kids play nicely instead of being assholes to each other.

"I'll catch you, evil villain!" The boy stood up in the saddle, pedalling faster after his friend.

"Noooo!" Laughing, the girl reached the pedestrian crossing in front of the store, and turned onto it, too busy looking back at her friend to see that the light was red, or that there was a car approaching, too fast to stop.

A horn blasted, and finally the girl looked up.

But it was too late.

Garou's blood ran cold, and he leapt forward to the scream of brakes.

 

Mumen was having a good day. The morning's mini-patrol had been productive, and his lunch and second mini-patrol with Garou had been fun (not that he let Garou think they were patrolling). The meeting had been... Well, he'd not really taken much in, but there was a handout, which he'd read later. Or tomorrow, as it would be now: he'd left it at home, after popping back to grab an overnight bag.

After one last mini-patrol, during which he gave directions to the cinema, broke up a fight between a pair of teenagers and ended up posing for selfies with them, Mumen headed for the cycle store, eager to see his boyfriend.

Tonight was going to be amazing. Garou was an incredible guy, and taking that next step forward when it came to intimacy was pretty much all Mumen had been able to think of all afternoon.

They'd have a nice evening together, too. He'd make everything perfect for Garou. He'd eat every mouthful of the stew Garou had promised to make, and he'd insist on doing the dishes afterwards. He'd cuddle close when they watched Star Voyager, and feed him snacks, and make out with him on the couch before they moved things to the bedroom.

It had been some time since he slept with anyone, and he was nervous, but excited. He knew Garou was nervous, too, which was why he couldn't let his own nerves show.

Tonight, he'd be strong. Tonight, he'd take the lead.

Mostly.

Mumen smiled sheepishly, thinking of the box he'd picked up at the pharmacy on the way home. He hoped he'd guessed Garou's size right...

Turning into the street where the cycle shop was, Mumen saw a car stopped on the crossing, hazard lights flashing, and a group of people clustered together on the pavement.

His gut clenched uncomfortably as panic rose in the back of his throat.

Had someone been hit?!

Leaving his bike in front of the cycle shop, Mumen hurried over to the group.

"Of course it's your fault!" A woman's shrill voice cut through the grumbles of the crowd. "You're a monster!"

"Not like I fucking pushed her in front of that fucking car!"

Mumen's heart sank when he heard Garou's voice. He squeezed through the crowd, pulse thumping. What on earth had happened here?

"You hear that?!" a man gasped. "He said he pushed her!"

"Yeah, he pushed me!" whined another voice, much younger and beyond the wall of people.

"Yeah, out the way of the fucking car you stupidly rode in front of!"

"Oi don't swear at my sister, stupid monster!"

"Or what?"

"Are you threatening a child, Hero Hunter?"

"I told you, I'm not the fucking Hero Hunter!"

"But you are. Obviously."

Mumen couldn't take any more. Caught in the press of people, he raised his voice. "What's going on here?"

The crowd immediately parted.

"Mumen Rider!" gasped a man. "We've caught the Hero Hunter!"

"You should arrest him!"

"He tried to kill a child!"

Mumen could finally see what the crowd was clustered around. A girl with bloodied knees sat on the ground, being hugged protectively by a boy who looked a little older than her. Siblings, Mumen guessed.

A mangled bike lay at the kerb, and beside it knelt Garou, apparently held down by two civilians.

Mumen's heart broke at the sight of him. Garou's clothes were torn, his hair mussed up and he was clutching one arm with a bloody hand, his head bowed.

"I didn't," he protested, teeth clenched.

"Monster!" cried a voice from the crowd.

"Murderer!" yelled another.

"Arrest him, Mumen Rider!"

"He's evil!"

Garou lifted his head, gaze resting upon Mumen. Blood had dried in streaks down his face, and his usually bright eyes were narrow and dull. He looked like a wounded animal staring down the barrel of a huntsman's gun, and as Mumen stared at him, he saw all of the fight leave Garou's tense form.

"You know what?" Garou spoke quietly, expression speaking of nothing but pain. "Fuck this entire day."

In an instant he was on his feet, shrugging off his would-be captors. As the crowd gasped, he shoved people aside and raced off down the street.

"Get him!" someone yelled.

"After him! Mumen Rider, you must catch him!"

Mumen looked after Garou, chest aching. He wanted to chase him, and tell him everything would be okay.

But first he needed to know what had happened--and set right any misunderstandings.

Hands on his hips, he turned his attention to the crowd. "Can anybody tell me what happened here?"

"The Hero Hunter tried to kill--"

"No." Mumen held up a hand. "The Association insists upon eyewitness reports. Can anybody tell me what they saw happen?"

The crowd looked at each other, mumbling amongst themselves.

"Excuse me?" A pale-faced old man raised a trembling hand. "The little girl there rode her bike in front of me. Thought I'd hit her," he signalled to the huge dent in the front of his car. "I guess it was that Hero Hunter fellow. He pushed her aside."

"He broke my bike!" sobbed the girl.

"Did nobody else see what happened?" Mumen looked at the crowd to clarify.

A woman shrugged. "I saw the Hero Hunter pushing the girl onto the pavement, and that's good enough for me."

"How about you?" Mumen crouched down to the girl and her brother, and gave his best Hero Smile. "I'm Mumen, what's your name?"

"Mia," the girl said, expression sorrowful.

"Well Mia, your knees look painful. How about we clean them up, and you tell me what happened?"

Mia nodded, and Mumen retrieved his first aid kit from his bike, conscious of the crowd watching his every move.

"The scary big man pushed me off my bike and yelled at me," Mia whined, as he dabbed at her knees with antiseptic. "A-and the old man over there broke my bike, and the scary big man yelled more a-and a-asked if I wanted to get killed!"

All at once, Mumen understood what had happened.

"Did he say it like he was upset with you? Like your Mom or Dad might?" he suggested.

The girl pursed her lips and nodded, tears rolling down her cheeks.

"So, don't you think he was worried?" Mumen took out some pocket tissues and gently started mopping up her tears.

"...Maybe..."

Behind him, the crowd began to murmur.

"And maybe he saved you by pushing you off your bike?"

"But he's the Hero Hunter isn't he?" Mia's brother finally spoke up, frowning. "He hurts heroes!"

Mumen shook his head. "The Hero Hunter isn't the Hero Hunter anymore."

"How do you know?"

"I'm a hero, and he saved my life. And today, he saved yours, too." Mumen gave another of his Hero Smiles, and showed Mia a selection of band aids. "Justice Man or Amai Mask?"

The girl pointed to Justice Man. "Please," she said quietly.

Mumen applied the band aids and patted her head. "Is that better?"

"Yes thank you, Mumen Rider."

"I'm glad. Make sure you look before crossing the road from now on, okay?"

She nodded. "Sorry Mumen Rider."

"It's okay. We all make mistakes. It's how we learn." Mumen helped her to her feet, and turned to the crowd. "I think we can all learn from this," he said. "It's obvious to me that the man you accused of harming this girl actually saved her life."

"But he said he wanted to kill her!"

"As Mia has just explained, what he said was, 'Do you want to get killed?' He was obviously worried for her safety."

Members of the crowd exchanged glances. "Well, when you say it that way, it doesn't sound threatening..." someone mumbled.

"Because it wasn't," Mumen said. "Right, Mia?"

The girl nodded. "I'm sorry, I was scared 'cos he's big and scary."

"But he's a good person," Mumen smiled. "He's like a hero, because he saved your life!"

"Huh, guess he really did save her life!" someone exclaimed.

"What a change!" said another.

The driver of the car rolled his eyes. "That's what I've been saying all along, if anyone had listened. He pushed her aside to save her."

Along the street, a police car pulled up, and Mumen let out a sigh of relief. He could pass this matter over to them--once he'd made it clear that Garou hadn't been at fault.

It only took a few minutes to introduce the police officers to the people actually involved in the accident, and to clarify what had happened. The police didn't seem to care that one of the people involved had run off, only that nobody was seriously hurt. They took brief statements from Mumen, Mia and her brother, the driver, and one person who had actually seen everything that happened, and were back in their car before Mumen had even got back to his bike.

Now all the drama and excitement was over, the crowd dispersed. Mumen felt a little guilty for not seeing the injured girl and her brother home, but it appeared that the owner of the cycle shop knew them, and he trusted her to make sure they were alright.

He was more concerned as to whether Garou was alright--because when Garou had run away, there had been tears in his eyes.

Lips pursed, Mumen cycled for Garou's apartment as fast as he could.

 

Garou lay flat on his back on his bed, one arm over eyes that absolutely weren't stinging.

It was too early for bed, but as far as he was concerned the day had gone to shit and wasn't worth putting up with any longer. His apartment was literally falling down around his ears, he'd lost his job - not that there was a store to work at anymore - people hated him, and worst of all, Mumen had been there and heard everything.

It wasn't fair.

No matter how hard he tried to be good, people still treated him like a villain. He'd rescued his co-workers, but lost his job. He'd saved that kid, but been treated like a murderer.

Day in, day out, he worked to be a better person, but it all ended the same way, and he was tired of it. There was no point in trying if he was still going to be treated like a criminal. People would never see him as he was now. They'd only ever remember him as he was back then.

Hero Hunter.

Human Monster.

Murderer.

Not that he'd killed people. Only a few monsters.

But it didn't make much difference, did it?

"Garou?"

Floorboards creaked beneath soft footsteps, and Garou rolled onto his side, away from the bedroom door. Of fucking course Mumen had followed him. He was too decent a guy to finish with someone by text.

Well, it had been a good couple of months. Would be easier on his conscience to go back to being a troublemaker, if he didn't have Mumen to disappoint.

"You left your front door open." Mumen was in the room now, his voice soft.

Garou grunted in response, and the bed dipped down behind him.

"Do you want to talk about what happened?"

There it was. That carefulness, that hesitance, as if Mumen was afraid of what he might say.

Scowling, Garou shook his head against the pillow. "No."

"Okay."

Mumen drew a breath, and Garou waited for what came next. He was totally dumped, wasn't he?

He lay there, listening to the irritating little plink-plink-plink of water dripping from the ceiling and into the bucket below, and sure he was going to go mad with tension if Mumen didn't do it soon.

Except Mumen didn't. "I see you've got a leak in the roof," he said.

"Two," muttered Garou.

"Oh. That sucks. Well, at least it's not winter yet. It would be harder to fix if it was snowing."

Garou clenched his jaw. It was typical of him to find something positive in what was actually pretty shitty.

Silence fell between them, broken only by the drip of water into the bucket. Garou didn't know what Mumen wanted, or why he was here, but he wished he wasn't. He didn't want Mumen to see him like this.

Damn it, why wouldn't Mumen leave?!

"Hey..." Mumen's hand rested on Garou's arm, his touch light. "Are you okay?"

"Why wouldn't I be?"

"Um. You got hit by a car?"

"Nope."

"The driver said--"

"I hit the car. It didn't hit me."

"Oh. But it looked like you were hurt, back there..." Mumen sounded hesitant again. Scared.

Curling into himself, Garou let out a quiet huff. "Was from earlier."

"Earlier...?"

"I--" Garou clamped his mouth shut. I fucked up, he wanted to say. But there was a lump forming in his throat, stopping the flow of words, and his eyes stung again. From dust, or something. Nothing else. "Leave me alone," he forced out lamely, too late and too quiet for his words to have any venom behind them.

It seemed to work anyway, because Mumen let out a sigh, and the mattress rose as he stood up.

Garou closed his eyes, the heaviness of defeat weighing upon him. His arm hurt thanks that damn tentacle monster, but it was no more than he deserved. His chest felt weird too, kind of empty and sore and ready to implode.

Mumen would leave now, wouldn't he? He'd leave him in this shithole of an apartment, to go back to being a shit person. He should have known it was too good to be true.

A series of clinks came from behind him, followed by rustling and a soft thud. Garou frowned in confusion and peeked over his shoulder to see Mumen with his back to him...taking off his armour...?

Garou blinked. Why was Mumen undress--oh.

He faced the wall again, throat constricting. Mumen was going to fuck him before he left, huh? Get what he could before it was over.

The bed dipped again, and Garou froze as Mumen pressed up against him from behind.

He didn't want it. Not like this. Not if Mumen was going to leave.

Mumen wrapped an arm around Garou's waist, squeezing gently. "You okay?"

Garou drew a breath. He could get through this, if this was what Mumen wanted. He owed him this much, after all the goddamn patience and support and everything.

"That mean you wanna fuck?" he asked coarsely. He grabbed Mumen's hand, dragging it down towards his crotch.

"No!" Mumen snatched his hand away. "I mean, of course I do, but not right now."

A sigh echoed in Garou's ear, and warm breath ghosted against the back of his neck as Mumen curled his arm around him again.

"Just stay like this a little, Ga-kun," he murmured.

"Why?"

"Shh. It's okay. Relax."

"But--"

"Shh."

Mumen pressed closer, his hand splayed against Garou's chest. Garou clamped his mouth shut and frowned, wondering what the hell this was about, if not sex. He could feel Mumen's breath on his neck, Mumen's chest against his back, thighs against his thighs, calves against his calves. He could feel every breath that Mumen took, and his body heat seeping through their clothes.

Mumen was warm. He was always so warm, and laying together like this felt good. Far better than he deserved.

Did Mumen know that? Was this one last kindness before goodbye? How could something so simple, so innocent feel so...so...

Garou screwed his eyes tightly shut against the sudden onset of stinging, and forced himself to take a breath that was only slightly tremulous. 

Safe. It felt safe, and intimate.

"Tough day, huh?" Mumen whispered.

"Yeah." Garou's voice cracked when he mumbled back, and he took another shuddering breath.

"It will be okay."

The first drop of water and Garou told himself it was just another leak in the roof.

Then Mumen's arm tightened around him, and he realised not only was he being held, but he believed what Mumen said.

Turning his face into the pillow, Garou cried quietly, and trusted that Mumen wouldn't judge him for his tears.

 

Mumen had known Garou was upset the moment he reached his apartment and found the door open. He'd confirmed it when he found him, and now it had come to this: being spooned up against him, holding him as close as he could whilst silent sobs shook Garou's body.

It hurt to see him so upset. Mumen had never seen Garou like this before--not pushed beyond breaking point. It seemed as though much more had happened this afternoon than a simple misunderstanding with some civilians.

But now wasn't the time to ask about it.

Garou needed comfort.

Keeping his touch light yet firm, Mumen rubbed Garou's chest in slow, soothing circles.

"It's okay," he whispered. "You're okay, Ga-kun. Things will get better. They always do. I'm here for you, okay?"

Garou sniffled, and Mumen took the slight movement of his head to be a nod. He smiled, and pressed a kiss into his hair.

"I'll always be here for you, Garou."

A shaky sigh escaped Garou's form, and he caught hold of Mumen's hand.

Mumen waited, but Garou didn't speak, just squeezed his hand and held it to his chest. Mumen could feel Garou's heartbeat there, strong and steady despite the raggedness of his breaths.

"I'm here," he murmured again.

Garou may have told him to leave, but Mumen knew that wasn't what Garou wanted, not really--and he wouldn't leave him when he was needed.

Closing his eyes, he tilted his head against Garou's, and waited quietly for the silent sobs to subside, and Garou's breathing to become steady.

Then when it did, and Garou's body had relaxed and almost melted against his own, Mumen waited some more.

 

"Everything's fucked."

It felt like forever before Garou finally dredged up the energy to speak. He felt kind of numb inside, but he didn't feel like he was going to implode anymore.

Mumen gently rubbed his chest, unwittingly setting off a little spark of warmth. "Is it?"

Garou sighed. "Lost my job."

"I'm sorry. What happened?"

"Monsters outside the store, on my way to meet you. They recognised me, I fought them 'cos they were hounding my co-workers, and now they all know I'm the...the Human Monster."

"You were the Human Monster."

"I'll always--Yeah..." Garou couldn't deny it. He wasn't that person anymore. Problem was, Mumen was the only person who could see it.

"It doesn't mean you've lost your job," Mumen's voice was gentle, optimistic. "I'm sure they're grateful that you saved them."

Garou snorted softly. "I'm definitely fired. Even if I wasn't, there's barely any fucking store to go back to. Monsters wrecked it. And maybe I did too. Right in front of the boss."

"Well, you have work experience now. We'll find you something else."

"Not a great reference, is it?" Garou grumbled. "Relevant skills: demolishing Z-Mart Local using monster as a club."

"I think you mean, Relevant skills: strength, creativity, problem-solving."

"Rai..." Sighing, Garou pressed back against him and closed his eyes. "How are you always so positive about this shit?"

He felt Mumen shrug.

"I find it easier this way." Mumen nuzzled his hair. "The fight's where the blood is from, isn't it? Not all yours, I hope."

"'Fraid so. Already healing though..." Garou loosened his grip on Mumen's hand, and rubbed his arm.

"Does it still hurt?"

"...A little."

"Do you need a doctor?"

"No. It's not that bad."

"Okay."

Garou had started to grow tense again in the face of Mumen's questions, but he relaxed at that. He should have known he could trust Mumen not to push for the details of how or when or why. That shit didn't matter. It was in the past already, and talking about it wouldn't make his arm hurt any less.

With a rustle of fabric, Mumen propped himself up on one elbow and looked down at him. "How about I run you a nice hot bath?"

Garou grimaced. "Water heater's fucked too."

"Oh. Well, let's call someone in to take a look at it tomorrow."

Finally lifting his head, Garou stared at him. "You actually want to stay here."

"Yes?"

"...why?"

"I told you, I like it here."

"It's a shithole. There's two leaks, the water heater's fucked, and it's...shit."

"It's cosy, and those things can be fixed." Mumen smiled, fingers smoothing over Garou's blood-streaked hair. "Anything else on your mind?"

"Sheets aren't clean."

"You have spares, don't you?"

"They're wet 'cos of the leak."

"Then these will do."

"But they're not clean," Garou pouted.

Mumen kissed his forehead. "We're already laying on them. It doesn't matter."

Gaze sliding away from Mumen, Garou thought of everything else that had gone wrong today. "Couldn't get the stuff for the stew."

"That's okay. We'll do that another time."

"Omurice sucks though."

"It's filling and delicious and I'll eat every bite."

"You're amazing, Rai."

Mumen hesitated, brow crinkling. "Is...that a problem?"

"Dunno." Garou rubbed a hand over his face. "No. Just... You're fucking great and I love you but how the fuck did we end up together? People're never going to accept us being together. You're fine, but they hate me."

A flush of pink spread across Mumen's face. "I'm not dating 'people'. I'm dating you," he said. "They can't change how I feel about you, but I can certainly change how they feel about you."

"Those assholes today didn't seem to think much of me."

"They misunderstood the words of a frightened little girl, and their own fear blew things out of proportion. It's alright now, Ga-kun. I talked to them, and they understand. You saved that little girl. You're a hero."

"I hate heroes."

"Didn't you just say you love me?"

Heat rushed into Garou's cheeks, and he swallowed. Damn it, two months in and Mumen could still take his breath away with no more than a few words.

"You're more than just a hero," he insisted. "You're Rai."

"I am. And I love you too, for the record."

Mumen beamed, and suddenly Garou's day didn't feel so bad anymore. Shifting onto his back, he pulled Mumen into his arms and hugged him tightly.

"Feeling better now?" Mumen squeezed him, a smile in his voice.

"Yeah. I mean life's still kinda shit but...I've got you, right?"

"You have." Mumen nuzzled at his jaw and pressed a kiss there. "And things will get better."

Garou rubbed his back in response, eyes sliding closed as he enjoyed this closeness and let the shit parts of the day go. His roof was leaking, his water heater was broken, his spare sheets were wrecked and he'd lost his job and his umbrella, and people hated him, but he still had Mumen. And when Mumen said things would get better, Garou believed him.

"...shit." Garou let out a sudden groan.

"What?" Mumen pushed himself up, looking at him in concern. "What's wrong?"

"Lost my umbrella."

"I'll buy you a new one tomorrow."

Garou pouted, the newfound loss a little raw. "Wouldn't be the same."

"Even if there are ducks on it?"

It was hard to voice why it still wouldn't be the same, so Garou mumbled it instead.

Mumen blinked at him. "I didn't catch that."

"Had that umbrella since I--" Garou cleared his throat and huffed. "Was carrying it when I realised I liked you," he said. "It's dumb, but that's why it wouldn't be the same."

Mumen smiled at that, but there was a thoughtfulness in his gaze that assured Garou he wasn't about to be teased.

"Alright," Mumen said. "Then how about this? Tomorrow morning we'll go to my place to shower, and I'll cook breakfast. Then we'll go out shopping for a new, duck-free umbrella. It will remind you that even the worst days will get better."

Garou arched a brow. "That's really fucking cheesy."

"I guess so," Mumen chuckled, sheepish.

"I like cheesy when it's from you."

"Then we have our plan." Mumen gave him a peck on the lips. "Do you still want to carry on with tonight's plan...?"

"Fuck yes."

"Great. Let's get ready for Star Voyager?"

"Yeah."

They were halfway to the couch when Garou face-palmed. "Forgot snacks."

Mumen grinned and pulled something from his overnight bag. "I didn't."

"Fucking love you Rai."

"Because I brought snacks?" Mumen's smile was playful.

"No, 'cos you're you, now c'mere." Dragging him to the couch, Garou plonked down and switched on the TV just in time for the start of Star Voyager.

Then his phone beeped.

Grumbling, he pulled it from his pocket and glared at the screen, brows slowly rising as he read the message.

'Store is closed for repairs for a month. You'll get paid regardless. Thanks for today. Hope you're okay.'

Cuddling close to him, Mumen peeked at the screen and smiled. "I think that means you're not fired."

"I think you're right." Grinning, Garou set the phone aside and held him close.

His day hadn't turned out so bad after all.

The Star Voyager special turned out to be everything they'd hoped for, complete with a final, positive finish to an ongoing redemption arc for the now ex-villain Zeta. Garou cooked dinner once it was done, and he and Mumen talked excitedly about what the show's next season would bring, and Mumen ate every last morsel of his omurice, as promised.

After that, they curled up together in front of the TV.

Perhaps it was inevitable that somewhere along the lines, they ended up making out, lips and hands exploring as their bodies pressed closer. Mumen's hands felt hot against Garou's skin as they crept beneath his shirt, and his cheeks were flushed pink, eyes heavy-lidded and hungry.

Smirking, Garou leaned in and nipped at his neck.

Mumen groaned, pushing him back--but only so he could clamber onto Garou's lap. He straddled his thighs and cupped his face in his hands, gazing at him. "So," he purred, slowly rocking his hips into Garou's to show his growing arousal. "How do you want to do this?"

Breath hitching, Garou stared at him. "Uh..."

"It's all up to you." Mumen's hand slipped down over Garou's chest, rubbing slowly. "Just tell me what you want."

"You," Garou blurted. He blinked, an embarrassed heat filling his cheeks. He'd fantasised about this, and all the ways he could have his way with Mumen. He'd watched porn and made mental notes, he'd jerked off to the thought of fucking him here on the couch, and over the kitchen counter, and right in the goddamn window so any passer-by could see.

But it was all a lot different when it came to actually doing it, and he hadn't done this before, so he didn't have the first fucking clue about what he actually was supposed to do. Which meant he said something really dumb.

"Hey," Mumen smiled. "I'm right here..." He tilted his head, skimming his fingertips down over Garou's abs. "Let's start with whether you want to do me, or whether--"

"I want to fuck you."

God, if that didn't sound crass and hungry.

Finally regaining his ability to speak coherently, Garou cupped Mumen's ass. "I wanna take you to bed, and fuck you," he clarified, voice husky as he recalled a fantasy that he'd returned to time and again. "There's all kinds of shit I wanna do to you, Rai, but tonight I just...just wanna fuck you. No kinky shit or anything. Just sex. With you. In bed."

Mumen beamed, and leaned in for a kiss. "Then let's go to bed, Ga-kun."

 

It was Mumen who took the lead. Climbing off Garou's lap, he took his hands and pulled him up, planting a kiss on his lips before he led him to the bedroom. Garou stood there awkwardly, unsure of what he should do next. In porn, guys just started making out and were suddenly naked. That didn't seem right in real life. Porn didn't show putting on condoms or any of that shit.

Garou glanced at the paper bag beside the bed. He still didn't know his size.

Catching his expression, Mumen stepped in close, the smile never leaving his lips. "This is your first time, so let's take it slowly."

"Okay."

"Want to start by taking my shirt?"

Gulping, Garou nodded.

"It's okay to be nervous." Mumen took Garou's hands and placed them at the hem of his shirt. "I am too."

Garou bit his lip and took hold of Mumen's shirt, slowly drawing it upwards. He kept his gaze lowered, attention fixed on the slowly-revealed, firm contours of Mumen's body. Mumen shot him a smile as he pulled it off over his head, and the instant he'd dropped the shirt to the floor, Garou tugged him into a kiss. Seeing Mumen's bare flesh set him aflame, and his cock twitched when he felt Mumen's hands sneaking beneath his shirt. He wriggled out of it, nerves dissolving in the wake of an intense desire to be naked, to get Mumen naked, to lay with him. Shoving down his pants and boxers all in one hit, he reached to do the same for Mumen only to find him already undressed.

Garou stared, cock hardening as he drank in the sight.

Mumen was erect, his skin flushed as he smiled at him. "You okay?"

"Fuck yes." Garou's voice was hoarse.

"Me too." Mumen drew him onto the bed, kneeling up to kiss him.

Garou held him close and kissed back, subconsciously grinding against him and moaning against Mumen's lips. He ran his hands over Mumen's ass, squeezing, and smirking when Mumen bucked against him.

"Ga-kun..." Mumen shivered, fingers sliding into Garou's hair as they rutted against each other. "Do you have lube?"

"Mhm..." Garou nipped at his lips. "And condoms."

"Ah, good. I brought some too, but--" Mumen broke off with a moan. "...I wasn't sure of your size," he finished, breathless and red-cheeked.

Garou blinked. Then he snatched the paper bag from beside the bed and upturned it. "Me either."

A soft giggle escaped Mumen's lips. "We'll figure it out," he said. Licking his lips, he reached down between them and grasped Garou's cock, eliciting a moan. "You're big."

"Uh..." Brow wrinkled, Garou bucked into Mumen's hand. "Y-yeah?"

"I like big."

Garou's eyes widened, lips parting in surprise. "Fucking great that I'm big then huh?" he sputtered.

"Yeah." Mumen grinned and pecked at his lips. "But it's been a while since I was with someone, so I'll need preparing really well, okay?"

"Preparing...?" Garou had a vague idea about that, and had certainly stuck his fingers up his own ass a few times, just to see how it felt and to figure shit out. But doing it to Mumen? What if he hurt him?

Mumen tilted his head. "I'll do it, this time. So watch closely, okay? Sit back and just...watch."

Garou did as he was told, sitting up against the head of the bed. His cock ached, and as Mumen shot him a secretive smile and knelt on all fours in front of him, Garou wanted nothing more than to ram his cock into the pert, perfect ass.

Swallowing, he circled his fingers around his arousal and gave himself a few tugs. Mumen would feel really tight around him, wouldn't he?

"You have to start slow, and careful," Mumen's voice broke into Garou's fantasy, and he glanced behind at him as he slicked his fingers with lube. "Just one finger at first. And plenty of lube. Too much is better than too little."

Garou nodded, torn between looking at Mumen's face and his ass.

"Then you just..." Mumen arched his back, pushing his ass in the air. He reached behind himself, rubbing lube-slicked fingers against his entrance. "You push it in," he said. Taking a breath, he pushed a finger into his ass, and let out quiet a moan. "The aim is to...to stretch it out," he murmured, voice breathy as he drew his finger in and out. "To get your partner accustomed to the size..." A wave of pleasure hit him when he pushed in another finger, and he collapsed onto his elbow, which only served to push his ass higher. Moaning, he continued to draw his fingers in and out, lube sliding down his thighs.

Eyes trained on the movement of Mumen's hand, Garou bit his lip and stroked himself slowly. He could get off just watching Mumen finger-fuck himself, but what he wanted more was to fuck him.

Mumen was silent now, face red and glasses askew and cock dripping precum as he drove his fingers deeper into himself. He gulped, adding a third and giving a shudder as he sank them all the way to the knuckle.

"Fuck, Rai," Garou let out a soft moan. "That's fucking hot..."

"Mm," Mumen glanced at him over his shoulder, lips twisted into a smirk. "You want to try it?"

Garou was kneeling behind him in an instant. He gripped Mumen's hips, all too aware of how easy it would be to take his cock in his hand and push it in that hot, lube-slicked hole.

But that wouldn't be a good move. He couldn't fuck Mumen until he let him. Until Mumen was ready.

"Here," Mumen handed him the lube. "You saw what I did, right?"

Garou grunted, focused on pouring it onto his hand. "Uh. One finger first?"

A giggle rose from Mumen's form. "I can take three right now..."

"'kay."

Drawing a breath, Garou rubbed his fingertips against Mumen's entrance like he'd demonstrated. Mumen moaned in response, and that was all the encouragement Garou needed to push his fingers inside.

"Oh. Garou, that's good..." Mumen's head dropped onto the blanket, and he began to stroke himself. "Now--ah, yes!" He let out another moan when Garou drew his fingers out and shoved them in again, and jerked his hips backwards, impaling himself on them harder. "You get it," he breathed. "That's right. Keep going..."

Garou continued, marvelling at the heat of Mumen's body. This was nothing like finger-fucking himself. His cock brushed against Mumen's thigh, and he rolled his hips, desperate to release some of this tension.

Clutching onto the blankets before him, Mumen groaned. "F-fuck me," he bit out, shivering.

The instant Garou withdrew his fingers, Mumen was up on his knees, limbs quivering as he began sorting through the boxes of condoms.

Garou watched, tense. His heart no longer trembled through nerves, but excitement. This was really happening. They were going to fuck.

"Here," Mumen smiled, holding up a condom. "This is definitely your size..." He began to unwrap it, gaze sliding from Garou's face to his arousal. "May I...?"

Garou blinked, then realised what he was asking, and grinned. "Sure."

He kept a close eye on what Mumen did as he rolled it on, and clenched his teeth to stop himself moaning at the sensation. Mumen's hands were warm and skilled, and when he smirked at him and gave him a gentle tug, Garou couldn't hold back his moan anymore.

"Fuck, Rai," he gasped. "You tease."

"Mhm," Mumen kissed the head of his cock. "Just want to make tonight special for you."

Garou's heart melted. "Already did," he murmured, pushing him back onto the blankets. He lay between Mumen's legs and leaned in, capturing his lips in a slow, heartfelt kiss, and smiled inside when he felt Mumen's arms wrap around him.

"You need more lube," Mumen said when they parted, his voice low.

Garou kissed him again. "I get how it goes from here." He hadn't watched all that porn for nothing.

Pulling back, he poured lube over his aching cock and gave himself another quick tug. Then he rubbed more lube against Mumen's entrance, for good measure.

"Is it okay?" he asked.

"Better than okay," Mumen sighed ecstatically, drawing up his legs. "I want you inside me, Garou."

"Rai, I--" Breath catching in the back of his throat, Garou pressed up against Mumen's ass and guided himself inside.

They moaned in unison, Mumen's fingers digging into the blankets whilst Garou's pressed into Mumen's flesh. Mumen's body was hot, far hotter than it had felt against his fingers--far tighter, too. Garou took a slow, shaky breath and met Mumen's gaze.

Mumen breathed hard, one hand snaking down to grasp himself. He arched a brow at Garou and smiled. "You okay?"

"Yeah. You okay?"

"Yeah. You can move, Ga-kun." Mumen's tongue darted out to swipe at his lips. "Fuck me."

A grin formed on Garou's face. "Yeah."

He bucked his hips firmly, just once, and choked out a groan at the way Mumen tightened around him. Beneath him, Mumen whimpered in delight, stroking himself. Garou took a breath and thrust again, and again, slowly building up a rhythm.

God, Mumen felt so good on his cock, so hot, and tight, and fuck, this was nothing like fucking his own hand.

He jerked his hips hard, ploughing deeper into him.

A moan tore its way from Mumen's throat. "Do that again!" he cried. He arched his back as Garou thrust again, pushing himself harder onto Garou's cock.

Garou twitched inside him and he grunted, giving another hard snap of his hips. Every part of him quivered, and a strong, electric-like sensation coursed through his veins, urging him onward. If Mumen wanted it hard, he'd give it to him hard. This felt incredible, and Mumen was incredible, and he'd give him anything he wanted.

"Garou!" Mumen gasped out. Sweat gleamed on his flushed skin, and he rubbed a hand over his chest, pinching a nipple between thumb and forefinger as he pumped himself harder. "Ga-kun, so good! You're so good, don't stop..."

Garou didn't. If anything he thrust harder, gaze fixed on Mumen's flushed face, every little tremble of his body etching itself into his memory as the bed creaked beneath them and the electric feeling grew stronger, and Mumen's body grew hotter, tighter.

And then Mumen was coming, seed painting his stomach in glistening streaks. A moan escaping his lips as he stroked himself through it, and Garou thrust feverishly against the sudden tightening of his body

Then his vision went white. Buried to the hilt in Mumen's ass, Garou climaxed, muscles twitching involuntarily as he spilled his load into the condom.

From beneath him, Mumen let out a satisfied sigh, body falling limp against the sheets as he smiled a relaxed smile.

Garou bent down and drew him into a kiss. He didn't want to pull out yet despite his softening dick. Mumen was warm, and this was the closest two people could ever be. But he slipped out a few moments later, when Mumen reached up and pulled him down on top of himself.

"You're amazing," Mumen murmured. His fingers were sticky against Garou's skin, and his cum was smooshed on their stomachs between them, but Garou didn't care. They were both pretty sticky, after that. If only the damn water heater wasn't fucked, they could shower. Together. Maybe fuck again. Garou had a few fantasies about fucking Mumen in the shower.

"You're the amazing one." Garou pressed closer, already missing the feeling of being inside him. Why the hell had he put this off for so fucking long?

Mumen nipped at his jaw and gently rolled him onto his back. "Let's clean up," he said, nuzzling him. "Then I want to make out with you some more."

"But the water heater..."

"I know." Mumen sat up. "Wait there, okay? Let me handle it."

Garou lay there, watching as Mumen carefully disposed of the condom and padded from the room, still naked. He shivered in the cool air, listening to the sound of the leak dripping into the bucket, and water running from the tap in the kitchen, and Mumen humming a tune to himself.

A smile worked its way onto Garou's features, and he relaxed back on the bed, limbs tired and body sated. His pulse was still racing, and his breathing felt heavy, but damn if that hadn't been one of the best moments of his life. Definitely worth doing again.

Grinning to himself, Garou took a deep breath, inhaling the scent of sex and sweat. Of Mumen.

Rai, he thought, heart fluttering. He was going to hold on to him. Not just tonight, but for as much of this damn life as he could. Mumen gave him so much. Garou could only hope that he could give him as much in return.

As if summoned by his thoughts, Mumen returned to the room. He'd wiped himself down, and held a washcloth in his hand, smiling as always.

"Here, let's clean you up," he said.

His touch was gentle, and if Garou hadn't just come a few minutes ago, he might have started to get hard again, for the careful way Mumen rubbed the cloth over his dick.

He shivered instead, transfixed by the movement of Mumen's hands. "It's warm...?"

"Heated some water on the stove," Mumen replied, leaning in for a quick kiss. "I'll be right back."

Garou caught him by the wrist as he pulled away, tugging him back for another kiss. "Don't be long," he said.

Mumen grinned. "I won't be."

He was much quicker this time. Garou listened to his footsteps pad to the bathroom and back again, and then Mumen was climbing into bed with him. Garou drew him close and held him there, secure against his chest.

They talked for a while, murmuring to each other, naked bodies comfortable and warm.

Mumen fell asleep first. Garou carefully slid his glasses from his face and set them aside, then cuddled him near, grateful to have him there. After all the shit that had gone down today, it hadn't ended up so bad after all. He still had his job, and more importantly he still had his incredible, patient, understanding, kind-hearted boyfriend, who he had just had amazing sex with.

As he drifted off to sleep, Garou couldn't stop smiling.

Life was pretty fucking great.

(And he was an XXL).