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Sometimes, he waits outside of Tatsuya's old home. He has been for the past six years (damn, been so long already), parked in his car, watching an older woman with greying hair go in and out of it. Maybe Masahiro hopes to find the right words to say, the best explanation possible about Tatsuya (I killed him) and what he was doing and tried to do (kill myself, but some guy yanked me out of the water). Maybe the words will come to him, Mrs. Yamaguchi will understand and drag him back, and it'll be simple. It'll be simple and quiet--

But he's not oblivious, and Masahiro gives up after about ten minutes this time. He drives away from the apartment building and doesn't look back.

He convinces himself he'll try again another day, that he'll try again tomorrow and think of what to say.

But Masahiro knows just as well that it doesn't matter. It'll be twenty years from now and maybe Mrs. Yamaguchi will be dead and he won't even say the right thing at her grave.

Regardless, he can lie to himself, lie that he'll try again another day, that the words will come and everything will be fine.

So he drives on, heading across town. It's the same little spot in the corner of town, more like a shack than a bar. Windows are practically boards and the smell is horrid, but he doesn't care, hasn't cared for a few years now, and won't care ever again.

He parks, steps out, raises his hand to knock on the door to see if Uekusa is open. The door isn't locked, it's ajar, and he hears a crashing sound and Uekusa practically squealing like a pig,

"FUCK! What the fuck?!"

Masahiro would rather walk away, but he steps inside instead.

Uekusa is looking over at something on the floor. "Who the FUCK put a dead body in here...?! Shit!"

Dead body. Huh.

That doesn't manage to faze Masahiro in the slightest. Curiously, he approaches, tilting his head to get a good look over Uekusa's shoulder, who's spitting and cursing.

The man is face-down, wearing a dark jacket. Jeans, shoes, black hair -- average guy. Probably got brown eyes, too.

Breathing? Doesn't look it. Masahiro pushes Uekusa out of the way and struggles a moment to turn the body over. When he presses it to its back, he stares at the face.

"Nagase?" he mumbles.

"Shit, you know him?" Uekusa stammers out.

"Yeah. He's just." Masahiro isn't sure how to react. "Out of it. Not dead." Probably is. Why? "I'll help him out."

"Friend of yours?"

After shifting part of Nagase's weight against him, the body limp, Masahiro mumbles, "Yeah. Sure."

For a moment, he thinks that maybe Nagase really is dead. He's pale, and he recognizes the sight of blood immediately on his shirt -- he's damned cold and he listens for breathing. Masahiro is almost sure there's nothing until he hears a gasp and a coughing fit.

Good, good.

Masahiro hesitates a moment, and locks the door to the bathroom.

It's not a flattering room; windows are stained and chipped and nailed to the wall, the smell is rancid, and other patrons have taken the time to spread lies and rhymes on the walls with ink. It's a sight he's adjusted to, and naturally he has seen much worse; this doesn't bother him.

He helps lean Nagase against the sink, practically in a way that the other man is sitting on it. He doesn't hold his head up very well, so Masahiro presses his hand against the side of his face to support him. There's practically no warmth in him, and it shows the way Nagase groans a little and presses towards the touch.

A part of Masahiro twitches. The reaction makes him horridly tempted.

"Nagase?" he calls faintly, but it doesn't seem as if the other man hears him.

He starts to pull his hand away, but there's a noise of desperation; Nagase grabs onto Masahiro's sleeve in a grip that's so pathetic that a kitten could beat him down. It's, at the very least, pleasant insistence to keep his hand there, so he does.

It gives him a sigh of relief from Nagase.

Masahiro shivers, not because Nagase is cold.

Slowly, he turns his hand to gently tip back the other man's head; he leans forward, placing his mouth over part of Nagase's throat. The younger man breathes in suddenly, maybe surprised at the sudden heat, and makes a murmured plea for more. When Masahiro slowly sucks on his skin, Nagase shudders under him.

It's not like he's gay, Masahiro thinks. Of course, he's only fucked one guy, and that was Nagase. Hell, what was it--definitely six years ago. He hasn't seen him ever since, never expected to again. God, though, after Tatsuya got ill, fucking Nagase was--

Not. Exactly something he should have done. Masahiro has no explanation for it.

But at the moment, he can think--he'd probably seriously do it again, if Nagase let him.

He pauses and readjusts where his mouth is, where he feels the beat of the other man's pulse -- he sucks harder and Nagase moans softly. Hearing him respond like that makes him... hell, it makes him want to do more. He can barely even remember what it was like, having Nagase under him. He was confused then, he's a bit less now.

Besides, Nagase is cold. Masahiro can lie to himself again, that Nagase needs this, because Masahiro is so good at lying to himself.

There's more kissing to the other man's throat, warming the skin and making little sounds come from Nagase, who either doesn't mind, doesn't care, or just isn't aware enough to be anything but receptive, which Masahiro takes full advantage of. Part of Masahiro hates himself for it, but he feels almost as he did before: repressed as hell, and getting too horny to care about the consequences, but he gets the feeling that Nagase is too nice of a guy to hate him for anything.

That makes him feel guilty, too, and maybe he hasn't learned a damned thing since being at that fucking village.

He's sliding his hand under Nagase's shirt, and the younger man is sensitive enough to groan a little at a simple touch (it's been six years since he's touched or been touched by anyone else, maybe it's the same for Nagase). Hands hold into his upper arms, no further strength to be anything tighter. He hasn't a clue why Nagase is so weak, but he doesn't ask himself, doesn't ask him, just touches in right spots to make the other man moan. Sometimes it sounds lustful, in some spots painful, but Masahiro can't find any traces of Nagase being injured.

Masahiro presses for a kiss, completely invasive and Nagase not giving an ounce of struggle, shuddering into his mouth and letting him be as rough or gentle as he likes. The lack of resistence is appreciated; he can bite, his tongue insistent at tasting, but he isn't violent.

Not. Not like last time.

"Oh God," he listens to Nagase whisper when Masahiro cups him between the legs, head jerking away from the kiss. "Please," is more of a moan when he starts to squeeze and tease him.

It's not as if Masahiro can wait long himself.

It takes too long to undo their flies and fold down their trousers just enough, just enough that Masahiro can roll his hips and hiss softly when he presses his dick up against Nagase's. The younger man is groaning louder and Masahiro can't give a damn if the barkeep can hear them on the other side of the door and wall; he's too wrapped up in this. It takes him a moment to find a way to properly hold onto both of them in one hand and not squeeze together too much, but he doesn't regret hearing how Nagase responds and finds the strength to squirm a little against him, starting to pant already.

Masahiro doesn't think they'll both last very long, doesn't think it'd be a good idea if they did anyway.

The stroking--it sounds much more wet than when it's just he, himself, and his hand alone, but with company there's more. There's the panting and sounds getting stronger being moaned and helpless in his ear, hands holding onto his arms a bit more tightly and more desperate, hot breath against his own skin. There's more, and more, and Masahiro would like even more of it, but he's not going to press his chances.

This is plenty. This is enough. He already feels how sweaty and wet they both are, and how much his hips are merciless against poor, weaker Nagase, and how much apologising Masahiro is going to have to do when they're done.

When Nagase comes, it's a desperate noise that's not quite a yell, but louder than what he's been, leaning his head back with more strength than before. It takes Masahiro a moment to follow him, but it's not very difficult.

He listens to Nagase pant, still clinging on. Quietly and almost gently, Masahiro is cleaning off his hand from a sink next to them before he sets back buttons and zippers the way they should be for both of them.

Suddenly, Nagase jerks and shoves him away. It hurts a bit more than it should, and he watches the other man clutch at the edge of a nearby sink, lurching and vomiting (is that... is that blood?) into it.

"Shit," Nagase mutters, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand. "Sorry."

What the hell is Nagase apologising for? Masahiro stares at him a moment; Nagase moves away from where he was leaning against, then stumbles, apparently not yet having the strength to hold himself up. Wordlessly, Masahiro catches him by the shoulders and helps him up, helps him lean against his own body.

"What's wrong?" Masahiro figures asking 'are you okay' would be the dumbest thing to do at the moment.

"I dunno," Nagase mumbles. "My head hurts." His eyes slide shut, not that he was really looking at Masahiro to begin with.

He isn't really sure why Nagase is away from his place. That's a bit far off from here, and Masahiro knows it'll take too long to take him back there.

He might manage just a night with him in his rotten, hole-in-the-wall type of apartment, far enough away from the Yamaguchi residence. Far, far enough.

But just close enough that he can keep lying to himself.

"You'll feel better," Masahiro says, not really knowing if Nagase will. "C'mon."

It's not as if Masahiro can help him, but it's worth a shot. The guy did save his life once (maybe twice), so Masahiro owes him plenty.

He'll take him home, until Nagase feels better.

(was that blood?)

If wishes were horses.

Beggars would ride.

It's at the middle of the night when he thinks that Nagase ought to be sleeping--and why the hell not, the guy slept on the way home, and seemed pretty content to be dead to the world when they got inside the apartment. (And he'd have given up his bed for Nagase, but Masahiro admits he's not quite as nice as him and dumped him to the couch, see you in the morning evening afternoon dawn dusk but he owes Nagase better than that saved his life twice.)

He thinks he should be sleeping, but when he hears a loud thud, he figures differently.

Masahiro is up and out of bed, shoving away sheets and ignoring the stick of sweat from the heat and humidity. Out the bedroom and around the corner, and he's at the kitchen, observing the light leaking away from the open refrigerator.

He hears the sound of something sloppily munching on whatever; it's loud and crackling and juicy and soft, and Masahiro tenses a bit. It's been six years since the village, but the instinct to swing or shoot has yet to die away.

Carefully, he walks as noiselessly as possible and reaches to rummage through a drawer, finding a knife (Inohara you can't have it back) and holding onto it tightly as he raises it and approaches the fridge.

But he stops, and he stares down.

It's Nagase; he's crouched in front of the cool air of the refrigerator, and he's shoving the remains of an old ready-to-eat, pre-roasted chicken dinner that Masahiro had picked up from the grocery store three weeks ago--meat's probably long since been spoiled--and it occurs to him that Nagase is devouring it all, bones and meat and skin and fat and all.

Something is wrong, the way Nagase is staring at nothing in particular, but moving as if aware. His eyes are the right color, but he doesn't seem to be awake and he reaches for a pack of uncooked hot dogs and tears away the plastic and starts eating that, too.

Masahiro wonders why he doesn't feel all that sick to the stomach. Maybe he's tired, or maybe he's just that fucked up in the head.

"If you were hungry, you should have said something," Masahiro finds himself mumbling.

Nagase jerks his head, dropping the package of hot dogs and actually stares at Masahiro. He finishes swallowing, and that out-there-not-looking-at-anything gaze is gone and away.

Nagase shivers.

"I'm cold," he mutters. "What... what the hell was I...?"

"It's not a big deal." It was about time to throw out that chicken anyway and he's never really even liked hot dogs, but he can't really cook either.

Nagase stands and stumbles away from the fridge, as if it's a lurking monster ready to tear off his flesh; Masahiro shuts the door, a little disturbed at himself by how calm he's feeling, as if this is typical behavior from the other man.

"Matsuoka...?" The younger man's eyes are darting, confused. "Matsuoka, what--"

He cuts him off, kissing him and tasting the ugly mix of raw meat and rotten meat; that makes him feel a little ill, but a little excited too. It's bizarre how cold Nagase really is, and he wonders why (but Masahiro will warm him up just fine). He leans his head away and licks around Nagase's mouth, who's shuddering and looking unsure, but not shoving him away. Nagase's too damned nice to do anything like that.

Quickly, he's licking over the fingers of Nagase's left hand and tasting that awful awful taste and hey, he figures, it could be worse, and he doesn't regret it because of the way that the other man is making little noises in return.

But damn, Nagase is cold.

"Masahiro." The way that Nagase says it sounds like he's got something important to say.

Honestly, Masahiro doesn't want to hear it. He feels so damned selfish, knows he is, and would rather just fuck the other man right now, but he pulls his head away and looks at him. Because he seriously owes Nagase. "Yeah?"

"Where the hell am I?" Nagase tugs his hand free from Masahiro's grip, and his eyes are wider. There's worry. Masahiro barely remembers that, yeah, Nagase's got a kid and maybe he's seriously worried about her.

"Kanagawa. Found you in a bar," Masahiro replies evenly enough.

Nagase looks absolutely baffled. "Kanagawa? But I was... I was just at home! In Fukushima! I was waiting for--oh shit. Shit." He steps back, just enough that he bumps into the counter and holds his head. "That woman, and then that monster oh fuck--"


"It stabbed me in the fucking chest! How the hell did I--" Nagase somehow gets paler and looks sick, which--considering what he just ate--isn't a big surprise, but Masahiro somehow doubts it has to do with what he just devoured. "Phone. I... I need to use the phone. Matsuoka--"

"Yeah. Okay."

Ten minutes later, Nagase is looking absolutely miserable.

He had attempted to call home, see if his daughter Ayu (Liv) was there. According to the phone, the number was discontinued. He tried again, and again, and again, and nothing. No, he said, his daughter didn't have a cell phone, isn't working anywhere right now, school just go out.

Masahiro gave him a stare, and pointed out it was late September.

Apparently, according to Nagase, it was December 20th.

It's quiet, Nagase is on the couch shivering, and he says nothing more.

Logically, Masahiro should be doing something useful. Consoling, helping, whatever. But it isn't in him to give up much, because last time he was ready to give up his life completely to be with Tatsuya, and then Nagase dove in to rescue him.

A part of him isn't so sure he's entirely grateful for it, but he knows that he should do something to pay back the other man.

And no, fucking him isn't an option. At times, Masahiro honestly hates himself and his body.

"In the morning, I... I've gotta find a way to Fukushima." Nagase's voice is too damned quiet, but Masahiro can hear him fine. "Matsuoka, thanks for you help, but... but I..."

"I'll take you there." Why the hell not? What's he got in Kanagawa, save for a friend's wife he can't find himself facing ever anyway? He works in some corner store just a few blocks away and has nothing for himself but memories.

What the hell does Masahiro have to lose? Not a fucking lot.

"Are you sure?" Nagase asks, concerned.

Masahiro wants to laugh. God, isn't that why he wants him so bad. Tatsuya, before he got sick, was almost just as kind, but that disease made him ugly in so many ways, in and out, and Nagase's got that painful kind of niceness. And Tatsuya, Tatsuya always wanted kids--

Yes. He's incredibly sure. What the hell does Masahiro have to lose? And he owes Nagase anyway, why is Nagase questioning if it's okay.

"Yeah," Masahiro answers. "Not a big deal."

Nagase smiles at him, like nothing's ever gone wrong between them, like they're the best of friends and always have been. "Thanks, Matsuoka."

"Don't mention it." Please don't. What a stupidly nice guy.

Nagase doesn't question why he gets the couch. Doesn't complain.

Which is why Masahiro is surprised when he's starting back to his bed, but finds that Nagase is right behind him. It nearly gives Masahiro a heart attack, because he swears he didn't even hear the other man step inside. How the hell did he do that?

"Cold," Nagase is muttering.

When Masahiro touches his face, he knows it's true; it's like ice.

Wordlessly, Masahiro drags him to bed, and is throwing the covers over both of them. It works for Masahiro, because it's too hot and Nagase is just cold enough for him. He's wrapping his arms around him and pushes his hands under a shirt and touching cool skin. Giving heat, taking cold.

He's shivering against Masahiro and doesn't try to squirm away, not even when Masahiro forces his hand down the back of his pants and squeezes his backside; it makes Nagase suck in air sharply and suddenly hold onto Masahiro, but the key part is that he's not pushing him away.

Lets him touch, lets him do as he'd like.

Nagase's nice enough to give, and Masahiro is selfish enough to take.

But he doesn't fuck him, doesn't pound him into the mattress, but god he wants to and the temptation remains. The idea here is just to keep Nagase warm, so Masahiro only touches him, squeezes in the right spots, pinches in others.

Even when Masahiro kisses Nagase, the other man is cold. His mouth is wet and everything it should be, but it's so damned cold.

Masahiro starts to honestly wonder what happened to him, starts to really be curious.

Maybe even care a little.

If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.

The meaning is strange. Wishing for something or wanting it is not the same as getting or having it, or some such.

Something like that.

He's a songwriter, and he doesn't really know.

Nor does he know why the phrase seems so important.

When he wakes, he hears a hiss and something slithering by his feet. Instinctively, Masahiro kicks and wriggles out of the sheets, staring into his bed.

There's nothing there. Just his bed.

He can't think immediately, but he still remembers that Nagase is here. He frowns and sits up, glancing around until he sees him. Gets a good look at him.

Nagase is crouched in the middle of his bedroom, back to Masahiro. He's got that familiar brown jacket, but it's worn and bloody, stained like the rest of him, and he's willing to bet that the other man is cold, too. He can see him shiver, rocking a little as he moves and mumbles something nonsensical to himself.

He sees him move, digging a knife into the carpet, carving away.

Perfect circles, symbols that don't mean a damned thing to Masahiro, and he can't follow it.


Immediately, the other man drops the knife, then stares at Masahiro, just as baffled.

He hears the hiss again and jerks his head to find the source, but he doesn't see anything wrong.

"Let's just." This is fucked up, but Masahiro figures that's not new. He doesn't really think that he can do anything to truly help Nagase, especially that desperate expression the other man is giving him, as if Masahiro is going to know what the hell is going on. But he doesn't, and Nagase probably knows that, too. "Let's just get going, all right?"

Hopefully, Fukushima will have the answers they want, but Masahiro knows better than to be optimistic.