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Ichiro had been working as a bartender at Port Harbor for two weeks now. In his totally unbiased and humble opinion, he was absolutely crushing it. Although it'd been a while since he last tended bar, he managed to pick the skills right back up with just a bit of practice. He always smiled, and he had a good memory for long orders and complicated drinks. The patrons liked him, and they tipped well.

It wasn't until the first day of his third week that he messed up.

He dropped a glass.

Now, that certainly wasn't the end of the world. Port Harbor was a bar, and breakage happened at bars. More often than not, it was a clumsy and/or inebriated patron who broke the occasional glass, but bartenders and servers slipped up once in a while too. All Ichiro had to do was put on a pair of gloves and clean up his own mess.

But the timing of and reason for his slip-up were pretty fucking mortifying.

His fingers had gone slack around a fancy highball glass when the hottest guy he'd ever seen walked through the front door. This guy was so hot that Ichiro didn't stop staring even when the glass shattered against the ground. If Ichiro had been a dog, he might have started drooling.

Suffice it to say, claiming this was a pure and innocent accident was out of the question. It was abundantly clear to anyone who'd witnessed it that this was an accident of a biblically impure nature.

The hottest guy on earth raised his eyebrows at Ichiro, which was what finally snapped Ichiro out of his daze. Ichiro hastily ducked down behind the bar and started picking up glass with his bare hands, until the other bartender working that shift slapped him away with a broom.

Mercifully, no one actually called Ichiro out on his immensely obvious thirst. The glass was swept up and thrown away, and business continued as usual.

 

Correction.

No one called Ichiro out on his immensely obvious thirst right away. The callout came later that night, near closing.

Ichiro was working the closing shift, and the night's live entertainment was a manzai comedy act. Port Harbor had a somewhat eclectic range of regular performers, from jazz bands to spoken word poets to the aforementioned manzai comedy duo, which the bar's rather eclectic cliente seemed to enjoy.

Sasara, one of the two comedians, stuck around until closing. Samatoki, the aggressively hot guy whose name Ichiro had learned from the other bartender on his shift, was long gone by then.

Ichiro had already learned one other thing about Samatoki that night—which was that Samatoki owned Port Harbor, making him Ichiro's boss—and he was about to learn a few more.

"You certainly fit his criteria," said Sasara, apropos of nothing.

Ichiro didn't need any clarification to figure out exactly who and what Sasara was talking about, and he didn't see any point in denying his glaringly obvious attraction to Samatoki when it was already, well, glaringly obvious.

He did, however, have some doubts about Sasara's impromptu claim. Because Samatoki had left the bar around an hour ago with a gorgeous, petite, long-haired woman on his arm. One who was just about Ichiro's polar opposite in every way.

That doubt must have been written all over Ichiro's face, because Sasara shook his head and waggled his whiskey tumbler at Ichiro. The melting ice shifted and clinked.

"The young master's tastes are varied and ever-changing, but his criteria stays the same," Sasara explained. He set down his glass and started ticking off his following points on his fingers. "One, he won't spend more than one night with the same person. Two, he won't go home with anyone whose name he knows. Three, there is no three. Two's the magic number, and one's the limit. That's it."

Ichiro didn't find any of that especially surprising. Though hot, Samatoki did sort of carry himself like a living, breathing bag of commitment issues. Not that there was anything wrong with that. Ichiro himself was unopposed to casual hookups with beautiful strangers, but…

"You're advising me to hit on my boss?" Ichiro laughed. He liked Sasara; the guy was legitimately hilarious. But he also really liked this job. The pay was great and the tips were better, and with Jiro and Saburo both off at college now, the late hours weren't a problem. "Thanks for the support, but I think I'd rather keep working here."

Sasara's perpetual grin widened. "No reason not to have it both ways. I've had my one night with our dear owner, and I still have a job."

Ichiro did find that a bit surprising. His eyebrows jumped up. "Huh. Didn't see him being your type."

"Picture my current partner," Sasara said. "Then picture him without his glasses."

Ichiro thought of Tsutsujimori-san, then mentally removed the glasses that the man always wore. After a second, it clicked. "Oh, yeah. I see it now."

Sasara patted the counter and slid off his bar stool. "Give it some thought."

 

Over the next few months, Ichiro did give it some thought. He wasn't sure why Sasara had taken a vested interest in his sex life when they'd only ever had a handful of conversations, but he never completely disregarded well-meaning advice.

Samatoki showed up at the bar again two weeks after the first time Ichiro saw him, then another two weeks later, then once or twice a week after that. According to the bartenders who'd been working at Port Harbor for longer, this was weird—Samatoki usually only dropped by once a month at most.

He didn't always leave with someone when he visited. Ichiro wasn't, like, stalking the guy, so he didn't exactly keep a tally of how often Samatoki took someone home and how often he left alone. At a rough guesstimate, Ichiro would say it was probably around fifty-fifty. And Samatoki really didn't ever leave with the same person twice, so the 'criteria' put forth by Sasara seemed pretty accurate.

During Ichiro's sixth month of working at Port Harbor, Samatoki came in five days in a row and didn't take anyone home on any of those five days. Ichiro had previously noticed, while sneaking peeks at Samatoki, that Samatoki would sometimes be looking back at him. In those five days, Samatoki looked back more often than ever.

Taking all that into consideration, Ichiro formed a theory.

Samatoki was probably into him too.

Ichiro was a confident guy, but he wasn't totally full of himself. He wouldn't come to a conclusion like that lightly, without some sort of proof. But, in this case, he was pretty sure he did have some proof.

Based on his observations, and conversations with coworkers, the only thing that had changed at Port Harbor between Samatoki visiting once a month and Samatoki visiting at an almost alarmingly high frequency was that Ichiro had been hired.

And based on the way Samatoki sometimes looked at him like he was a piece of meat…

Ichiro was starting to think he should just go for it. He was decently sure he wouldn't be fired just for propositioning Samatoki, because there was one other thing he'd noticed over the past six months—which was that Samatoki was actually a really decent guy.

Samatoki wasn't a very hands-on owner; most of the day-to-day management of Port Harbor was left to the two managers. But everyone who worked there had a good impression of Samatoki. He helped out with family emergencies, he enforced strict rules that prohibited detrimental amounts of overtime, and he always kept the bar in tip-top shape—even the slightest potential safety hazards were addressed within hours of their discovery.

If the risk of being fired was low, if his attraction to Samatoki was purely physical, and if that attraction was mutual… then Ichiro really couldn't see anything all that wrong with trying to hook up with his ludicrously beautiful boss.

The only problem he could think of was that Samatoki probably knew his name. Ichiro had never introduced himself, but he'd been working there for six months, and Samatoki owned the place.

But on the off chance Samatoki just didn't look at paperwork or something, 'Operation No Strings Attached One-Night Stand with My Sexy and Commitment-Phobic Boss' seemed to be a go.

Okay, on paper, that sounded fairly ill-advised. Ichiro thought about running the plan by Kuko, but Kuko was on tour with his boyfriend's band at the time, so Ichiro didn't want to bother him.

And maybe, just maybe, Ichiro didn't actually want to hear from anyone that his plan was super ill-advised.

When Samatoki returned for a sixth night in a row, Ichiro decided to just put that plan—ill-advised or not—into motion.

He waited until nearly the end of his shift, then asked one of the servers if he could personally take Samatoki's next drink to him. The server didn't look all that surprised, and that lack of surprise didn't surprise Ichiro; he had received several (mostly light-hearted) complaints from coworkers about the 'constant eyefucking' going on between him and Samatoki.

Ichiro didn't think it was constant, but anyway—the plan.

Samatoki's usual booth was tucked away in one corner of the bar, with a clear view of the stage and the exits. Ichiro dropped by with two fingers of whiskey, neat—Samatoki's traditional last drink of the night.

"Hey," he said.

That was actually the first thing he'd said to Samatoki in six months. In hindsight, Ichiro wondered if he should have tried to make conversation sooner. But based on Samatoki's 'criteria', conversation probably wasn't a huge turn-on for him.

So Ichiro just grinned and got straight to the point. "I get off in fifteen minutes if you wanna wait."

Samatoki was smoking when Ichiro got to his table. He'd had what seemed to be a business meeting with a couple other yakuza guys earlier in the evening, but was now sitting alone. He left the cigarette dangling from his lips as he met Ichiro's gaze.

Ichiro shivered, but he didn't look away. He couldn't really get a read on what Samatoki was thinking or feeling, even though he was usually pretty good at reading people, but he did get the sense that Samatoki was definitely stripping him down with his eyes.

Which wasn't really a problem, since Ichiro was doing the exact same thing right back.

In the end, Samatoki looked away first. He leaned forward and stubbed his half-smoked cigarette out in an ashtray, then took a pull from the glass Ichiro had brought him. Half the whiskey was gone when Samatoki set the glass back down on the table and got up.

"Nah," Samatoki said.

Ichiro blinked. Really, he wasn't full of himself. Honest. But that wasn't the answer he'd been expecting. Unless…

"Go get your shit," Samatoki continued. "Your shift ends now."

Unless Samatoki only meant 'no' to waiting.

Ichiro didn't love the idea of bunking off work early, but the bar was pretty dead, it had been six months of constant (okay, yes, he was willing to admit it was constant) eyefucking, and Samatoki was technically the boss.

So it was probably fine to take off fifteen minutes early.

 

They walked to a hotel two blocks away, and they were kissing before the door to their room even fully swung shut.

Ichiro had done the casual hookup thing before, and he'd done the friends with benefits thing before. But that had never felt like this.

As soon as they spilled into the hotel room, Samatoki shoved him up against a structurally pointless pillar that stood just beyond the door. He kissed like he wanted to scar Ichiro's mouth. It was messy and hot and painful in just the right way.

Ichiro let Samatoki bite his lips and suck on his tongue until his lungs started to burn. He slid his hands down Samatoki's back and gripped his hips, lifting him off his feet. Samatoki growled a protest against his lips, but that didn't stop him from wrapping his legs around Ichiro's waist.

"God, you're gorgeous," Ichiro marveled once he laid Samatoki down on the obnoxiously large bed.

"I goddamn know that," Samatoki snarled. He grabbed a fistful of Ichiro's vest and yanked hard enough that Ichiro heard a stitch pop. "Get out of your clothes, you sexy piece of shit."

This was hands down the meanest bout of foreplay Ichiro had ever been a part of. He wouldn't have thought he'd be into that, but apparently he was. Apparently he really, really was.

He stripped off his vest and shirt before Samatoki could completely destroy them, because he still needed to wear them back to work the day after tomorrow. Samatoki surged up off the bed and latched on to the juncture of Ichiro's throat and shoulder as soon as his chest was bare, biting and sucking with enough force to leave a mark that would last for days. He didn't protest when Ichiro started getting him out of his jacket and shirt, though he didn't actively help either. Ichiro ultimately had to pry Samatoki's hands off his shoulders just to get his shirt off without tearing it to shreds.

"Easy," Ichiro breathed, grinning when Samatoki eagerly sought out his lips again. A part of him had worried that Samatoki would be as cool and distant in bed as he seemed at the bar. He quite literally, physically couldn't be more pleased to have been wrong. "What's the rush? You got somewhere to be after this?"

"What's the rush?" Samatoki snapped. He'd all but climbed into Ichiro's lap at this point. The slightest twitch of his hips dragged his erection over Ichiro's abdomen. "You left me waiting for six fucking months, asshole."

"Me?" Ichiro couldn't wipe the dopey grin off his face. Even if he'd mostly known Samatoki was into him, it was nice to have some sort of verbal confirmation. "What about you? You could've come on to me anytime."

Samatoki laced his fingers together at the nape of Ichiro's neck and leaned back, pointedly meeting his gaze as he rolled his hips and ground his cock against Ichiro's groin. "Look at me," he deadpanned. "Do I look like I should have to lift a finger to get what I want?"

Cocky bastard.

Ichiro's grin didn't waver. His breath did hitch at the friction of Samatoki rutting against him, but he wasn't the slightest bit bothered by Samatoki's seemingly massive ego.

"No, baby." Ichiro had no qualms about stroking that massive ego, among other things. He palmed Samatoki's ass and hauled him closer. "You don't."

"Baby?" Samatoki echoed incredulously, even as his lashes fluttered with obvious pleasure. "Show some respect, brat."

Samatoki's petulant snarls shot straight to Ichiro's cock. Ichiro didn't think he would get off on being talked down to, but he was apparently destined to learn a lot of new things about himself that night.

"Sure," Ichiro promised, right before shoving Samatoki flat on his back and thumbing his pants open. "I'll respect the hell outta you."

He very respectfully yanked Samatoki's pants and underpants off in one sharp pull. He very respectfully kissed and nipped a trail down Samatoki's chest. And he very respectfully sucked Samatoki's beautiful cock until Samatoki came down his throat with a hoarse, obscene shout.

While he gave Samatoki a moment to breathe, Ichiro finally got out of his own pants, which had become punishingly tight. He'd always liked giving head, and he probably could've gotten himself off with just his hand on his cock and his eyes on Samatoki's flushed cheeks and kiss-swollen lips.

But then Samatoki rolled onto his side, reached into the nightstand, and chucked a condom and a pack of lube at Ichiro's face, prompting Ichiro to squeeze the base of his own cock and decide there was no fucking way he was going to come too soon.

Samatoki glared at Ichiro's cock like he was simultaneously angry at it and starving for it. Ichiro couldn't look away from him until Samatoki abruptly reached back into the nightstand and flung two more packs of lube and a larger condom at Ichiro's face.

Which was very flattering, necessary, and just—fucking adorable. Ichiro felt his heart seize, and for the first time, he found himself thinking, I wish this could be more than one night.

That was probably a sign that he should have put a stop to this, right then and there. A one-night stand was perfectly harmless as long as all participants were fully aware and accepting of the fact that it was a one-night stand.

Ichiro had been aware. He'd accepted it. He'd known perfectly well that this wasn't about feelings or romance, and that there wasn't any sort of future for him and Samatoki. He'd been fine with that. But now…

Now, he would have to stay fine with it. He'd known the terms when he got into bed with Samatoki. He'd tacitly accepted them, and now he was going to have to stick to them.

So he ignored the warning signs and the affection that was sparking in his chest. He leaned over Samatoki and kissed him again. He kissed him and kissed him, until Samatoki impatiently pushed him off and rolled onto his stomach.

And just how the hell was Ichiro supposed to say no to an invitation like that?

He trailed his fingers up Samatoki's thighs, then took hold of his hips and lifted him up to his knees. Samatoki grunted, sounding a bit discontent about that position, so Ichiro quickly pressed a reassuring kiss to the small of his back. He flattened his tongue to the dip there and dragged it all the way up to the base of Samatoki's throat, leaving behind a slick trail. Under the overhead lights, the wet strip of Samatoki's sprawling tattoo glistened with a tantalizing sheen.

"Gorgeous," Ichiro whispered. He raked his nails down Samatoki's back, from his shoulders to his hips, watching and loving the way Samatoki shivered. "Can I eat you out?"

"Oh, fuck off." Samatoki buried his face in a pillow and groaned. "How the hell can you say that shit with a straight face?"

Ichiro hummed distractedly as he kneaded Samatoki's ass, lightly brushing a thumb over the hole. "That's a no?"

Samatoki didn't say anything, but he moodily lifted his hips higher, which sent a pretty clear message—that definitely wasn't a no.

Ichiro grinned as he settled between Samatoki's knees. He let his breath ghost over Samatoki's hole before he started to get him wet with his tongue. He supported himself on one hand and wrapped the other around Samatoki's cock, stroking him in time with the first careful, shallow thrusts of his tongue.

It wasn't long before Samatoki was moaning and trembling and spitting obscenities. By the time Ichiro slicked up his fingers and worked two into Samatoki's hole, one by one, Samatoki's thighs were slick with sweat.

"Enough," Samatoki snarled. There was an audible tremor in his voice. "Fuck me or fuck off. I don't need to be treated like some—"

Ichiro patiently scissored his fingers and sucked Samatoki's balls into his mouth. A strangled moan cut Samatoki's words short, and Ichiro allowed himself a self-satisfied grin when he pulled back.

"You saw my dick," Ichiro stated matter-of-factly. "Trust me, babe. You need another."

He didn't slip in a third finger until he'd found Samatoki's prostate. There was a part of him that wanted to watch and feel Samatoki come just like that, on his fingers. Samatoki, trembling and gasping, was a breathtaking sight.

But Ichiro's own neglected cock was practically threatening to turn purple, and he wasn't actually a masochist.

Just as he decided Samatoki was ready, Samatoki hissed, "Put your cock in me right the fuck now before I rip it off."

"I'm gonna fall in love with you if you keep saying such sweet things to me," Ichiro joked.

Though, with a warmth that had nothing to do with arousal burning in his chest, that may have been too close to the truth. He brushed it aside and withdrew his fingers to roll on a condom.

"Don't move," Ichiro warned as he slicked up his cock with the rest of the lube. He smoothed one hand over Samatoki's back to soothe and steady him. "It's mind-blowingly hot how bad you want this, but I'm not gonna let you hurt yourself."

Samatoki growled something unintelligible in a tone that implied he thought Ichiro was overestimating himself, but he did actually hold himself still on his quivering arms. He did actually behave as Ichiro nudged just the tip of his cock inside, before slowly starting to push.

It was an agonizingly slow process. Samatoki was tight, even with all the stretching, and Ichiro was dead set against hurting him. He saw when Samatoki let out a breath, as though relieved that he'd taken Ichiro to the hilt, but at that point—Ichiro was barely halfway in him.

That was nearly enough to make Ichiro stop there, but it seemed almost like Samatoki could read his mind. He whipped his head around and shot Ichiro a scathing glare.

"Don't you fucking dare," he said. "I want it all."

Ichiro really had tried to go slow, but he wasn't a saint. The last tenuous threads of his self-restraint snapped, and he fucked the rest of his cock inside with one rough thrust.

The sound Samatoki made was borderline inhuman. His arms gave out, sending him face-first into the pillow. He gasped like he'd forgotten how to breathe, and Ichiro was alarmed enough to instinctively try to pull out, but one of Samatoki's hands lashed out and caught hold of Ichiro's wrist, squeezing tight enough to convey an obvious command—

Stay.

Ichiro stayed right there, not moving a muscle. He held himself up on his own trembling arms, breathing hard and doing everything in his power to not come right on the spot. Samatoki was unbelievably tight and hot, and the way he practically whined into the pillow was just about enough to send Ichiro over the edge.

"There's no fucking way," Samatoki babbled when the sounds spilling from his lips took on the form of slurred-but-coherent words. "There's just no fucking way you're that big, what the fuck. What the fuck. God, what're you so big for? Bastard. Asshole. Fucker. The hell did you eat growing up? Oh, fuck, it feels like you're in my stomach, it feels like you're in my fucking stomach."

If Ichiro hadn't been using every iota of concentration to keep his orgasm at bay, he might have laughed. He knew Samatoki was just caught up in the sensation and the heat of the moment. More likely than not, Samatoki wouldn't even remember all that senseless babble later on. But it was cute as hell, and it made Ichiro wonder what he could do to get the same reaction out of Samatoki next time—

Not that there would be a next time.

Ichiro bowed over Samatoki to kiss the crook of his neck. He swept a hand over Samatoki's abdomen, but even the slightest shift seemed to make Samatoki groan. Ichiro had the presence of mind to wince in sympathy and murmur, "Sorry. Let's stop here, yeah? You did so good. You took it so well."

Samatoki's grip on Ichiro's wrist tightened. His nails cut crescents into Ichiro's skin, and his voice dropped to a dangerous growl when he stated, flatly, "You're fucking fired if you pull out without coming inside me. Start moving, now."

Ichiro shuddered at that obvious command. He hadn't given much thought to the fact that Samatoki was technically his boss, because he hadn't been sure if he would be into or even okay with that power dynamic, but as it turned out—

He was so fucking into it that the edges of his vision started to blur.

With Samatoki's nails still biting into his wrist, Ichiro wrapped his other hand around Samatoki's cock again and started with slow, shallow thrusts. The bite marks Samatoki had left on his collar seemed to burn and pulse in time with his heartbeat. By the time Ichiro worked up to deeper, harder thrusts, Samatoki was half-incoherent again, and Ichiro was right there with him.

When Samatoki spasmed and clenched, coming over Ichiro's fingers, Ichiro felt his own orgasm hit him like a truck. He thrust in to the hilt again, groaning long and low as Samatoki's body all but milked his orgasm from him.

In the aftermath, Ichiro slumped over Samatoki and couldn't physically move until Samatoki muttered something that sounded like a complaint. Ichiro knew he was going to feel gross if he didn't clean himself up at some point, but he could only tie off and toss out the condom before flopping onto his back, still breathing hard.

Samatoki didn't seem to have any intention of letting him go anywhere, anyway. He grabbed Ichiro's arm and dragged it over his own waist like a blanket. Ichiro was one hell of a cuddler; he wouldn't have taken Samatoki for one, but he wasn't about to complain.

Neither of them said a word. After a long while, Samatoki's breathing evened out. Ichiro also fell asleep some time after that, with his arms around Samatoki.

The next morning, Ichiro woke alone.

 

That was the end of that.

Or, at least, it should have been the end of that. Ichiro really, really wasn't the type to catch feelings after a one-night stand. But apparently there were exceptions to every rule.

Samatoki didn't drop by Port Harbor as often after that night with Ichiro. In fact, for the next month, he didn't drop by at all. Besides that, nothing changed. Well, Ichiro jerked off to thoughts of Samatoki and Samatoki only these days, but nothing about work changed. Ichiro had the same shifts, the same pay, the same everything—Samatoki clearly believed in a strict separation of business and pleasure, which Ichiro appreciated immensely.

Over the course of that month, Ichiro occasionally asked himself if he had any regrets. He did sometimes think of Samatoki with a sour ache in his heart now. He did sometimes catch his mind drifting and reflecting upon all the things about Samatoki that he liked. His looks, obviously. His ass, of course. But also the way his fierceness came off as an adorable sort of brattiness. The way he obviously knew what he wanted and went after it. The way he'd fallen asleep in Ichiro's arms, like he felt safe enough to show Ichiro his unguarded back.

Would Ichiro have said yes to a second night, or even more than that, with Samatoki? Without a doubt.

But did he regret their one night, even with the aches it left behind in his heart? Not really.

If he regretted anything, it was that they'd both passed out before he got a chance to ride Samatoki's dick.

Ah, well. No one could get everything they wanted in life.

Ichiro had already resigned himself to that when he walked out of Port Harbor one night, after his shift, to find Samatoki standing outside. Samatoki was leaning against a car that looked like it cost more than Ichiro's annual rent. He'd just lit a cigarette when Ichiro came out. The lighter was still in his hands, still lit. The golden flame cast a light upon his striking features, instantly stealing Ichiro's breath away.

The two of them stared at each other for a long moment, like neither of them had expected to see the other. But that wasn't possible, right? Ichiro was surprised, but Samatoki shouldn't have been. Because Samatoki had to have come to see him, right? Ichiro wasn't misreading this, was he?

Samatoki moved first. He beckoned Ichiro closer with a sharp nod, then climbed into the back seat of the car. Ichiro blinked, confused for all of two seconds, before he raced over and scrambled into the back, without thinking twice.

He sucked Samatoki off in the back of the car while Samatoki finished his cigarette and lit another. This time, Samatoki came all over his face, and Ichiro came in his pants while Samatoki licked him clean.

Samatoki took them to a different hotel after that, but while Ichiro took a shower, Samatoki left. Ichiro stood in the hotel room for a long while, baffled beyond belief. He waited around for a few hours, in case Samatoki had just stepped out for drinks or ice or something, but ultimately went home to sleep in his own bed.

That had been… something. Ichiro wasn't sure what to call it or how to count it.

But it sure as hell wasn't just 'one night' anymore.

 

The third time came just a week later. Once again, Ichiro got off work and stepped outside to find Samatoki waiting for him. Samatoki was already sitting behind the wheel of his car this time, and Ichiro climbed into the passenger seat without waiting for an explicit invitation.

He had taken some time over the past week to think about what he would say when he saw Samatoki again, because he'd become fairly certain that he would inevitably see Samatoki again.

He'd considered asking, Hey. What is this? What are we doing here?

But then he'd decided against it, because it didn't seem like a very necessary question. Ichiro could only imagine one of two answers. Samatoki would either say they were just fucking around, or he would simply say they were nothing.

Ichiro had also considered saying, Hey. We should stop this. I don't want to do this.

But he wasn't actually sure if that was true. He had some warm and fuzzy feelings that made him think he would be super down to date Samatoki, and usually the existence of those warm and fuzzy feelings meant establishing a friends with benefits arrangement was a bad idea. (To complicate things further, Ichiro wasn't sure if he and Samatoki were friends. In fact, he was pretty sure they weren't.) However, bad idea or not, Ichiro was really enjoying the benefits.

He was pretty sure he didn't want to stop.

The other option he'd debated was to just say nothing and get his mouth on Samatoki's cock again. But, after settling in the passenger seat of Samatoki's car, Ichiro didn't actually get to do or say anything before his stomach let out an obnoxiously loud growl.

Ichiro had worked the opening shift that day, from five to midnight. He usually ate before work or during his break when he had that shift, but he just hadn't gotten around to it that day. Before his shift, he'd met up with his landlord, who wanted to offer him a part-time job managing the building where he lived. During his shift, he'd spent his break on a video call with Jiro and Saburo, mediating their regularly scheduled inane spat of the week.

So, yeah, he was kind of starving. But he still glared at his stomach like it was in the wrong.

"You like ramen?"

Ichiro whipped his head up so fast that he probably came close to spraining his neck. He could practically still count on one hand the number of words he and Samatoki had spoken to each other outside of a bed, so that question—though innocuous—came completely out of left field.

"Yes or no question, Yamada."

And now, there it was—irrefutable proof that Samatoki did in fact know his name.

Ichiro no longer conformed with any of Samatoki's two rules for hookups. So what the hell were they actually doing here?

Before Ichiro could decide to just outright ask that question, his stomach growled again. He looked down sheepishly and ultimately just said, "Yeah."

 

So, they got ramen at a hole-in-the-wall shop a few blocks away. The food was good, the servings were huge, and they sat at the counter with their knees brushing as they ate. After that, Samatoki got them a hotel room and fucked Ichiro against the door before either of them got anywhere near the bed.

Later, after smoking a cigarette in bed, Samatoki sucked Ichiro off for the first time, complaining the whole while about how stupidly, unnecessarily big Ichiro's cock was.

Ichiro didn't usually need, solicit, or even appreciate comments about the size of his dick. Yeah, he was big and he knew it. He didn't need it pointed out by everyone he messed around with. But something about the way Samatoki bitched about his cock—the way it was obviously indignant flattery disguised as scathing insults—was downright sexy.

While Samatoki sucked at the tip of his cock and stroked him off with two hands, Ichiro did half-deliriously say something about how Samatoki wasn't exactly small himself, which was something Ichiro's ass had just learned firsthand that night. But Samatoki didn't seem to appreciate that at all, if the vicious bite he left on Ichiro's inner thigh was any indication. The next day, Ichiro felt the fabric of his work pants rub against that sensitive mark every time he moved. He supposed he was just grateful Samatoki hadn't bitten something else.

Three nights became four, four became five, five became ten, ten became twenty. At some point, Ichiro stopped counting.

He was working five nights a week at Port Harbor, and he was leaving with Samatoki more often than not. Sometimes they grabbed something to eat after Ichiro's shift. Once, Samatoki had taken him to eat at the mall, and they'd wound up hanging out at a 24-hour arcade for a while. Once, Samatoki even took him to see a movie, though mostly they just made out at the back of the empty theater.

They always wound up at a hotel in the end, or Ichiro's apartment on very rare occasions, and Ichiro always woke alone.

They still didn't talk about what they were doing. They hadn't given it a name. Part of Ichiro still believed that wasn't necessary. It was obvious even if they didn't talk about it, right? They were just sex friends. Ichiro was smart enough to figure that out on his own; he didn't need to have it spelled out for him.

On the other hand, they did talk sometimes. Not about their relationship—or, rather, their non-relationship—and not about anything significant. They didn't talk about Samatoki's yakuza ties, though Samatoki didn't hide that part of himself either. They didn't talk about the fact that Ichiro still worked three jobs to pay off the old debts he'd accrued while raising his brothers on his own, though Ichiro was pretty sure Samatoki knew about all that, because Samatoki seemed like the type to at least do a cursory background check on someone before hiring or sticking his dick in them.

And they didn't talk about the fact that Samatoki had, by all appearances, stopped taking other people home. They were having such extraordinary amounts of sex, three to four times a week, that Ichiro couldn't really imagine Samatoki was getting laid elsewhere on the days they didn't see each other.

What they did talk about was meaningless and mundane, and borderline cute—

Samatoki teased him mercilessly when Ichiro asked to stop by an animate to pick up a limited edition light novel on release day.

Ichiro nagged Samatoki about smoking too much and never eating enough, which led to Samatoki actually going to Ichiro's apartment for the first time, for a home-cooked meal.

They talked about whether they were dog people or cat people, about whether popsicles were better than ice cream, and about what they would've studied if either of them had ever finished high school and gone to college.

And that was what made part of Ichiro think it was necessary to give what they had a name. Samatoki treated Ichiro like an equal, even though Samatoki was objectively better than him by every socioeconomic measure, and Ichiro was falling for him.

Ichiro's first instinct was to ask Sasara about Samatoki's alleged criteria, which seemed to have gone out the window. But Sasara had gallivanted back to Osaka a few weeks before Ichiro first hooked up with Samatoki, so that avenue of information was more or less blocked off.

Which meant Ichiro was probably going to have to talk to Samatoki directly. And he really wasn't looking forward to that.

Ichiro was reasonably in touch with his own feelings, and he also knew very well that you weren't supposed to fall in love with your sex friends. If you did, you weren't supposed to keep sleeping with them. So this conversation, whether Ichiro was looking forward to it or not, was essential. Ichiro knew that. He just… really didn't want to stop having sex with Samatoki.

Because it was really, really good sex.

But it would only hurt more in the end if he gave away any more of his heart to someone who probably didn't want it.

They needed to talk.

 

To prepare himself for the fallout, Ichiro imagined all the possible outcomes of the talk he planned on having with Samatoki and wrote those outcomes down on the back of an old grocery list.

1. Samatoki tells him they're just sex friends and says they can continue to be, if Ichiro can accept that their relationship will only ever be physical.

2. Samatoki tells him they're just sex friends and says they'll have to stop fucking around now, because Ichiro went and made everything weird by talking about it.

3. Samatoki tells him they were just sex friends, but since Ichiro clearly likes him for more than just his body now, they can try going out because Samatoki isn't emotionally indifferent to him either.

Case 2 was probably the most likely outcome, and possibly also the best one. Certainly the most straightforward one. Case 1 wasn't exactly awful, but it would leave Ichiro with the unenviable task of deciding whether or not he wanted to keep having great, no-strings-attached sex with a guy he really liked.

Case 3… didn't seem very likely at all. Ichiro was fortunate enough to not suffer from low self-esteem, so he actually thought there was a decent chance Samatoki did like him as a person. But Ichiro wasn't delusional, so he also thought there was an infinitesimally small chance of Samatoki ever admitting that.

Which gave rise to a Case 4:

4. As in Case 1, Samatoki tells him they're just sex friends and says they can continue to be, if Ichiro can accept that their relationship will only ever be physical. However, Samatoki does a piss-poor job of hiding the fact that he does actually have feelings for Ichiro, and Ichiro ends up having to decide whether or not he wants to keep pretending their relationship is purely physical despite knowing damn well they have feelings for each other.

In case of Case 4, what exactly would Ichiro do? Would he try to get Samatoki to fess up and date him for real? Or would he just let the whole thing go, because he was too old to be trying to woo emotionally unavailable men?

The thing that really complicated matters was that Ichiro was already more than halfway in love with the emotionally unavailable man in question.

Ichiro sighed and crumpled up the note. This was getting him nowhere. There were some things he could plan for, and some things he just couldn't.

He was going to have to show Samatoki his cards and let the chips fall where they may.

 

"Can we talk?" Ichiro began.

"Can it—" Samatoki's breath hitched. "—fucking wait until you aren't sitting on my dick?"

Ichiro hummed and lifted himself up, leaving just the head of Samatoki's cock inside him, before slamming himself back down hard enough to make them both groan. Samatoki let him do that a few more times before grabbing hold of his hips and fucking up into him, hard and fast. Ichiro's last coherent thought for the next hour or so was—yeah, okay, fair enough. It could wait.

After two more rounds, Ichiro lay on his side while Samatoki sat up and leaned against the wall behind the bed, grumpily chewing a piece of nicotine gum while carding his fingers through Ichiro's hair. They were at Ichiro's apartment that night, and Samatoki never smoked there. Ichiro hadn't ever forbidden him from it; it was just a habit Samatoki had formed of his own volition.

It was such a nice moment that Ichiro closed his eyes and murmured, "I love you."

Samatoki's hand stilled in his hair.

That wasn't how Ichiro had intended to start their talk at all. He probably should have fired a warning shot into the air before blasting Samatoki in the face with a bazooka, but it was out there now. And it was true.

"I figured you should know, in case you couldn't already tell," Ichiro continued. Unease was stirring in the pit of his stomach. Samatoki's hand was still frozen in his hair. "I know this is just sex, and I know about your 'criteria', though I guess you've already thrown that overboard for me. But I'm greedy, and I fell for you, so I want more. I guess what I'm trying to say is… do you, or would you ever, maybe, wanna be my boyfriend?"

Samatoki didn't move or say anything for a long moment. Finally, his fingers twitched in Ichiro's hair. He nudged Ichiro to look at him, and when Ichiro did, he saw an expression softer than anything he'd ever seen on Samatoki's face before.

"Ichi…"

There was so much affection in Samatoki's voice that Ichiro shivered and began to wonder if there was a Case 5 that he'd neglected to account for. Was it possible that Samatoki would just… say yes?

"I can't," Samatoki said.

"You can't," Ichiro echoed. He sat up, wincing, and furrowed his brows at Samatoki. "But you want to?"

"What do you think, dipshit?" Samatoki's words may have been harsh, but that rare note of affection hadn't left his voice. "I've been screwing you and only you for the past six months, and I spent the six months before that pining for your dopey ass."

"You pined?" Ichiro grinned, then quickly shook his head and reassumed a serious expression, because this was a serious talk. "Then why can't—"

"You know what I am." Samatoki took one of Ichiro's hands and placed it on his inked back. "It's dangerous for you, in this world."

Ichiro frowned. He flattened his hand to the small of Samatoki's back and said, "You're not a fucking vampire, Samatoki. And, like you said, you've been screwing me and only me for the past six months. Do you really think I'm not already a part of your world?"

"Alright, you are," Samatoki conceded. "An expendable part."

Ichiro didn't hesitate to rake his nails down Samatoki's back, hard. Samatoki hissed and slapped his hand away.

"That's how it's gotta look, okay?" Samatoki snapped. "No one can see you as anything more than a casual fuck to me. If the wrong people find out I'm in love with you—"

"You're in love with me?" Ichiro blurted out.

Samatoki shot him a sharp look that clearly stated he didn't appreciate the interruption. "If the wrong people find out, they'll use you against me. It's not safe, for you or for me."

The worst part, to Ichiro, was that he got it. Had their positions been reversed, he might have taken the same stance. Which probably meant he wasn't supposed to argue. If Samatoki really was in love with him, then keeping him at arm's length like this, just to protect him, must have been difficult enough already without Ichiro trying to change his mind.

But Ichiro still couldn't help but protest, "We hook up three to four times a week. You don't think people are gonna figure out I'm important to you?"

Samatoki shrugged. "The people who matter know you're mine. I'm letting everyone else think you're just a really good lay."

"I am a really good lay," Ichiro muttered.

He settled back down, pillowed his head on Samatoki's thigh, and took a moment to think about what Samatoki was telling him and how that made him feel. They couldn't be together because—no, fuck that, they were together. They were sleeping together both consistently and exclusively. Every so often, they went on outings that could only be described as dates. They loved each other. They were literally in love with each other.

Ichiro should have been happy, right?

"So we stay like this?" Ichiro mused, mostly to himself. He absently started to stroke the backs of his fingers up and down Samatoki's thigh as he pictured what 'this', as a prolonged and perhaps indefinite relationship, would be like.

They would continue to meet at night. Samatoki would continue to not talk about the details of his work. Ichiro would probably never wake up and have breakfast with Samatoki. They would never be able to move in and get a dog together.

Was Ichiro okay with that?

He thought about it for a long time, for so long that Samatoki shifted and lay down next to him. As usual, they had a small tussle over who got to be the big spoon. Ichiro won and whispered, "Could I join—"

"No," Samatoki interrupted flatly. "You're not getting in, Ichi. I'm getting out."

Ichiro blinked at Samatoki's pale shoulder. "What?"

"I'm getting out," Samatoki repeated. He let out a long and slightly shaky breath. "Huh. First time saying that out loud to anyone 'cept my old man."

All things considered, it was a pretty vague statement. But Ichiro knew exactly what Samatoki was saying. He just couldn't believe it right away, because that was a huge declaration of intent.

That was Samatoki, offering to leave his family. His life.

"You'd do that?" Ichiro whispered. "For me?"

Samatoki shrugged. "For me, too. Planned on telling you after we'd been together for a year. I was adopted into this life, I didn't choose it. I wanna pay back my old man for the years he gave me and my little sister. Then I wanna find my own path. Mine and yours."

Ichiro had known that Samatoki and Nemu were adopted. Samatoki didn't talk a lot about Nemu, but he was so proud of her—Ichiro could tell—that he hadn't been able to resist mentioning her a few times. This was the most Samatoki had ever said about the criminal aspect of his life, though.

It was also some of the most romantic shit Ichiro had ever heard. His heart was seriously starting to race.

He cuddled closer and hooked his chin over Samatoki's shoulder, trying to get a look at his face. Samatoki had his eyes squeezed shut, adamantly refusing to look back at Ichiro. But that was okay. The flush in Samatoki's cheeks, and the relaxed set of his brows—that was all Ichiro needed to see to know Samatoki meant every word he was saying.

"How long?" he whispered. "How much time do you owe?"

Samatoki tensed, almost imperceptibly. He seemed to hesitate for a moment, for some reason, before he muttered, "Eight years."

"Okay." Ichiro's answer was instantaneous. He barely waited for Samatoki's words to fall before he accepted them. "I'll wait."

"For fuck's sake," Samatoki breathed, with a huff that was something between a laugh and a scoff. The tension that had seized him vanished as quickly as it'd appeared. "Should've known you'd say that. Should've known you wouldn't even think about it. Even though you should, stupid."

"Eight years is nothing," Ichiro insisted. "If you'd said fifty years, I would've asked if there was anything I could do to help cut down your time, but eight years will go by before we know it. It's not like we have to stop seeing each other during those eight years, right?"

Samatoki sighed through his nose. "We might. If anyone figures out how much you mean to me, I'm getting you out of the city. We're probably seeing each other too much as is, but that's your fault for being out-fucking-rageously sexy."

Ichiro grinned and grazed his teeth over the crook of Samatoki's neck. "Then we'll be careful. Worst case scenario, you send me out to a farm or something, and we have super hot phone sex until you can come out to join me."

"Seriously?" Samatoki abruptly twisted in Ichiro's arms, turning to look him in the eye. "Just like that. God, and you really mean it. Even if I shipped you off tomorrow, you'd just sit at home like a good boy and wait for me for eight years."

"Yeah."

Samatoki crushed his mouth to Ichiro's and kissed him until they both caught fire and burned once more.

 

It was only later, after another orgasm each, that Samatoki sat up, frowned, and said, "Wait. What 'criteria'?"

Ichiro was feeling so well-fucked that his bones were like jelly and his brain was like mush. He couldn't imagine why it would be a secret, so he just told the truth.

As a result—

"Fucking Sasara," Samatoki snarled. "I'm gonna mow his goddamn hair like grass."

Yeah, so. As it turned out, Samatoki's supposed 'criteria' was some dumb shit he'd said to Sasara when he was nineteen and drunk.

Sasara had repeated that dumb shit to Ichiro, verbatim, either because he assumed Samatoki hadn't changed in nearly ten years or because he thought it would be funny.

Ichiro had bought it wholesale because Samatoki really did have a habit of leaving the bar with a different person every time he visited, and Samatoki even (grumpily and reluctantly) admitted he had more or less been adhering to his nineteen-year-old self's stupid 'criteria' for one-night stands right up until he got with Ichiro.

All in all, it was a little bit everyone's fault that Ichiro had mistaken Samatoki for a bag of commitment issues for a good, long while.

But as the saying goes—

All's well that ends well.

Though Sasara should probably sleep with one eye open for a while.