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The Persistence of Sunflowers

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“Hey, stretch. Got a minute?”

All things considered, the first real words Shouta Aizawa said to him in the three months since his arrival could have been a lot worse. The guy wasn’t exactly known to be a glittering conversationalist, at least not from Yagi’s perspective, offering no more than a small hum of greeting whenever they passed each other in the apartment halls with his chin buried in one of his scarves. Aizawa looked downright haggard most days, like he hadn’t known a full night’s sleep since middle school.

How he owned a damn flower shop, Yagi would never know. The guy was a raincloud, a black ink stain on a watercolor landscape. He stood out wrongly; too cold, too dark and sullen for his environment.

A LOGICAL ROSE was the brightest damn thing on the block, its windows bursting with seasonal blooms hand picked and arranged by the owner himself. Each time the bell above his front door jingled with the arrival of a customer, Yagi was overwhelmed by the the sickly-sweet scent of rose petals and hydrangea and luscious honeysuckle wafting out from the building. There was a little tortoiseshell cat that liked to nap in a sunbeam on the windowsill, and customers often left looking starry-eyed, their arms overflowing with exquisite bouquets arranged with precision. The place exuded warmth and joy.

Aizawa not so much.

Which was probably why Yagi had grown so damn fascinated by him since his arrival. Shouta Aizawa was a complete contradiction, much like himself, heavily inked and often dressed like an English professor.

“You look like you could both kick my ass and do my taxes,” Hizashi once stated during a session, and Yagi had happily taken that as a compliment.

So, he liked cashmere sweaters and button-downs and loafers. Sue him. The year-long wait list for his work didn’t care what he looked like.

Which was why Yagi wasn’t entirely sure why he was as attracted to Aizawa as he was. The guy was practically half his age and dressed like an art student on laundry day. Tonight was no exception. His mane of lustrous dark hair had been swept up into a messy bun, and his hands were tucked into the pockets of a pair of shockingly pink sweatpants. His sharp jawline was unshaven, as always.

Still, it didn’t stop Yagi’s spine from straightening just a little when Aizawa approached him outside the tattoo parlor with a lit cigarette balanced between his lips. Yagi had his hands curled tight around a cup of coffee, seeking its warmth as the first snowfall of the season trickled down from twilight skies.

“Uh, yeah…” he frowned, wary. He rubbed absently at the spotted koi fish tattooed on the side of his neck. “What’s up?”

Coils of cigarette smoke dripped from Aizawa’s lips as he exhaled into the icy evening air. “I was hoping to book a tattoo with you.”

“Oh?” Yagi’s eyes widened in genuine surprise. “Such as?”

Aizawa shrugged while the snow settled in the folds of his scarf. “Full side piece. Ribs to upper thigh, if that’s good with you?”

“It’s a painful spot.” Yagi whistled low.

“I’m aware that I possess bones in those places, yes.”

Yagi’s mouth twisted with the effort of holding back a smile. He sipped at his coffee, eyeing Aizawa over the brim. “It’ll take a couple sessions, too. Two minimum, eight hours each.”

“I’ll clear my schedule.”

“A year from now.”

Aizawa’s bored expression didn’t even so much as waver. He took another long pull from the end of his cigarette and glanced sidelong at the neon sign buzzing above the shop, the block letters of ALMIGHTY INK bathing his features in electric blues and violets. He looked achingly good in it.

“Right, you’re mister big shot in this city.” His tongue clicked. “A year it is, then.”

“Mind telling me what you were thinking of getting?”

“Surprise me.”

Yagi blinked, all humor cast aside. “Wait… you want me to decide?”

Aizawa nodded.

“You realize that’s a metric fuck ton of responsibility you’ve just placed on my shoulders, here. This is a permanent thing. On your body.”

“I know how tattoos work.”

“This isn’t the kind of custom work I’m used to, Aizawa. Clients usually give me something to work with when they ask for a piece. Something I can sketch and brainstorm with them before the first session.”

“You saying you can’t do it?” There was a slight edge to his tone, a challenging lilt that revealed itself in the barest pull of a smirk.

Yagi crumbled immediately, knuckles whitening around the mug in his hand. “I can do it better than anyone else in this city.”

“Good,” Aizawa nodded and stepped around him to return to his own shop, but not before reaching up and giving Yagi’s skinny black tie a teasing tug as he passed. It was the barest hint at a personality, a playful side, and it left Yagi reeling where he stood. “See you in a year.”

It was the best and most exhausting three-hundred-and-sixty-five days of Yagi’s life.


The plan had been simple, really. He had a year to get to know Aizawa; to observe and determine his likes and dislikes, his passions and hobbies, and then he would take the information acquired and translate it into a tattoo designed uniquely for him and him alone.

Piece of cake.

The thing was… when Aizawa really wanted to keep himself hidden, he did it excruciatingly well.

The first sign of it came on an early morning in February in the form of Aizawa’s mail. Given the fact that they lived across from each other in the apartments built above their shops, accidentally receiving one another’s bills or packages had become a common occurrence. This morning was no different, with Yagi frowning curiously at the bundle of strange envelopes and magazines stacked high in his mailbox. A few were to be expected; telephone bill, credit card statement, envelopes that rattled with various seeds. Foxglove. Peony. Sunflower. Typical for a florist.

And then there were the magazines. A stout stack of them, each one stranger than the last.

Jujutsu Weekly. Birdwatcher’s Digest. Culinary Arts and Sciences.

“So, he likes birds, fighting, and cooking?” Yagi murmured to himself as he rode the elevator back up to their floor. “How the hell am I supposed to design a tattoo out of that?”

Yagi stopped in front of Aizawa’s apartment and made a move to knock. He hesitated with a raised fist, brow furrowing at the muffled music reverberating from just beyond the door.

Country?

Yagi knocked hard, three solid raps to resonate above the melancholy twang.

“It’s open,” Aizawa’s voice called from within.

Yagi gently eased the apartment door open and stepped inside, hoping his quiet astonishment at what awaited him just beyond didn’t translate on his face. Aizawa’s apartment was sparsely furnished; everything crisp and tidy and astoundingly clean. Minimalist art hung on the walls, black and white inkwork on stretched canvas that played off the dark couch and the explosion of yellow from the cluster of sunflowers set in a vase on the counter. The local news was playing on mute on the flat screen, and Aizawa was standing in the middle of the living room on a purple yoga mat, dark shirt riding high as he stretched both arms above his head and bent backward in a long, graceful arc that made something ache in Yagi.

There was country music blaring from the speakers and a bowl of fresh fruit next to the blender on the counter. Plump white strawberries, peeled banana, kale, mandarin oranges, coconut water.

So, he was a health nut, too. A country-loving, birdwatching, health nut that loved modern art.

…Alright then.

“Did you just walk in here to stare?” Aizawa’s voice caught him off guard.

“I…” Yagi felt a soft flush reach his ears and held the magazines out. “Sorry! I, uh… I got your mail again.”

“Oh,” Aizawa straightened and padded barefoot across the floor toward him. His hair was left loose across his broad shoulders, and there was a delicate sheen of sweat glistening on his brow and the sharp juts of his exposed hipbones. His sweatpants were riding low, and it took Yagi every ounce of energy he had to keep his eyes from trailing downward, to keep his hands to himself. “Thanks.”

“No problem. Honestly, I never really pegged you for a yoga guy,” Yagi admitted with a gesture toward the mat.

“Hm,” Aizawa hummed and tossed the mail onto the counter next to the sunflowers, as dismissive as ever.

Yikes. Chilly.

Yagi scratched at the back of his neck, feeling awkward. “Well, I guess I’ll—Oh! Hey there!”

The little tortoiseshell cat from the shop window had made a sudden appearance at his feet, winding herself around Yagi’s calves with whiny little mews. She stretched up on hind legs with the same languid ease as her owner, claws sinking into the denim of Yagi’s dark jeans just enough to make him wince, before beginning a painfully slow climb up his leg.

“Mochi, get off the neighbor,” Aizawa scolded.

Yagi laughed and reached down to scoop the cat into his arms. Her body vibrated as he scratched behind her tall ears, watching him with huge tawny eyes. “She’s a sweetheart.”

“She’s a slut. You should see what she does to the pizza guy,” Aizawa came over and gathered her close, scowling half-heartedly as he dangled her at eye-level. “No, he doesn’t have tuna for you.”

She whined high.

“Don’t back talk me.”

Yagi smiled softly to himself and watched as Aizawa set Mochi down on the back of the couch, scratching her little patchy chin as he did so.

So, he had a soft side.

“Thanks for bringing my mail over,” Aizawa sighed and stuffed both hands into the pockets of his sweatpants, seemingly already bored with the conversation.

“Uh, yeah… Anytime.” Yagi took a step back toward the door. “I guess I’ll see you around?”

“Mhm.”

That night, Yagi filled his sketchbook with drawings of larks and bluebirds perched on blossoming orange tree branches, each one mimicking the ink brushed swirls of the paintings on Aizawa’s walls.

Still, it didn’t feel like him.


The second sign came a month later in the midst of the final snowstorm of the season. The shops had been closed early due to low traffic, and frankly Yagi was glad for it, wanting nothing more than to soak himself in a scalding hot bath and throw on a true crime documentary. His back and fingers ached from the six-hour session that afternoon, and there were two more awaiting him come morning. Teeth chattering, he made for the elevator, and was pleasantly surprised to see that Aizawa had already beaten him there, cradling a monstrous bouquet of sunflowers in one arm. There was a knitted beanie on his head and a single headphone bud in his ear.

“Hold the door!” Yagi called out when the elevator pinged.

Aizawa held his foot out to keep the doors open long enough for Yagi to slip inside with him, his eyes locked on something on his phone screen.

“Thanks,” Yagi murmured and shook the snow from his hair. The wild blonde strands had frozen in some places and he combed his fingers back through them. “Cold out tonight.”

“Mm.”

Ever the conversationalist.

They rode together in silence, the music from Aizawa’s dangling headphone filling the space between them. Yagi frowned softly to himself as he unwound the scarf from his throat, listening closely, recognizing the song as something Hizashi had played during one of his sessions on Yagi’s table.

Heavy metal, now?

Curious, he glanced sidelong at the younger man’s phone screen, hoping to gauge some sort of explanation. What he received, however, was even more questions. Aizawa was scrolling through the comments section of a forum dedicated to collectors of medieval weaponry, looking attentive. When he closed the window to change the song on his playlist, there was a gorgeous image of swirling golden carp in ukiyo-e style as his background.

Yagi wanted to tear his hair out.

The elevator stopped at their floor and Aizawa stepped out first, offering the briefest smirk over his shoulder. “Have a good night.”

Yagi watched him go, feeling as though he was being toyed with in some way. “You, too.”

Still, when he returned to his own apartment and threw his sketchbook open, he filled the pages with depictions of koi and carp, their scales glistening like shifting metal, swirling around the blades of ancient daggers.

No, that wasn’t him, either.


By the time June rolled in, Yagi was ready to repeatedly pelt Aizawa over the head with his sketchbook until something worthwhile fell out of him. He knew the man was a walking contradiction, but it seemed as though each and every encounter brought about a new side of Aizawa that completely went against everything that came before it.

Even now, in the rare quiet hour between clients, Yagi sat at his desk with his head in his hands, a new sketchbook laying open before him on a blank page. Dozens of drawings surrounded him, each one depicting a new tattoo idea that he’d discarded within a few days of its creation. Sighing deeply, he sat back in his roller chair and sipped at his boba milk tea, the cup already stained with charcoal smudges from his blackened fingertips.

He only had five more months to figure this out.

Quietly, he seethed.

“So, you must be the guy I’ve heard so much about,” a voice chimed in from the doorway.

Yagi looked up, having not heard the front door chime at the arrival of a customer. A teenaged boy lingered at the front of the shop, tall and broad shouldered, his hands stuffed into the pockets of his tattered black jeans. His deep-set eyes roamed over the artwork that covered the indigo blue walls of the shop; the strange mixture of exhaustion and intelligence in them reminding Yagi of someone he knew. He wore an oversized hoodie that barely concealed a head of wild indigo hair, eyes lined in black.

“I’m Toshinori Yagi,” Yagi said, standing to round the desk. He held his hand out. “Is there anything I can do for you?”

The kid smirked slightly; a crooked, one-sided thing that also looked a little too familiar. He whistled low and looked Yagi up and down. “Wow, you really are inhumanly tall. I thought he was just exaggerating.”

Yagi blinked, hand still extended in the air between them. “I’m… sorry, who are you?”

“Hitoshi Shinsou,” the kid responded and took his hand at last. However instead of shaking, he turned it over to examine the watercolor lotus tattooed from Yagi’s wrist down toward his knuckles. “Sweet ink.”

“Thanks,” Yagi frowned, drawing back. “Are you here to book an appointment?”

“Nah, just scoping out the dude my uncle hasn’t shut up about while I’m visiting for the summer.”

“Your uncle?”

Shinsou grinned, jabbing a finger over his shoulder. “The grump that owns the flower shop next to you. About yay high, scary as hell, has a weird scarf thing that I’d really rather not ask about.”

Yagi reeled back. “You’re Aizawa’s nephew?!”

“Bingo.”

Suddenly, all the cogs and pulleys started turning in Yagi’s head. Who else would know Aizawa better than his own flesh and blood? He reached out and clasped Shinsou’s shoulders in both hands, mouth splitting into a slow grin. “Take a seat.”

The kid quirked a brow but did as commanded, slumping down onto the chair reserved for clients in front of Yagi’s work station. They even sat the same way, with that same loose, casual arrogance that beckoned every eye in the room right over. Crossed ankles, drooped shoulders, slight sneer. Yagi reached into the mini fridge below his desk and pulled out an orange soda, tossing it into Shinsou’s hands along with a straw.

“I have a few questions for you about your uncle,” he began, planting himself in the roller chair and throwing open a sketchbook.

“Yes, he’s single and yes he’s gay,” Shinsou responded, popping the soda can open with a hiss.

“N-No not… that. Not what I meant,” Yagi chuckled and pushed his bangs back. “Your uncle booked a pretty big tattoo with me a few months back, and I’ve been wracking my brain trying to figure out what to do. He pretty much gave me free reign over the design.”

“Sounds about right,” Shinsou nodded.

“I’ve been trying to pull hints of what to design from his passions and hobbies, but nothing I’ve come up with has seemed fitting so far,” Yagi frowned as he leafed through the book. “I have pages of birds, dragons, battle axes—”

“Battle axes?”

“Cause he likes medieval weaponry.”

“…No, he doesn’t.”

Yagi paused and stared at him, something not unlike realization toying with the edges of his mind, a teasing pull demanding his attention. “He… okay. Then, I have a few pieces inspired by the yoga he does, and—”

Shinsou snorted out a laugh like it was the funniest joke he’d ever heard, cutting Yagi off mid-sentence. “Uncle Shouta?! Yoga?! That’s rich. Doesn’t that health shit usually require a proper night’s sleep? Good luck with that.”

Yagi blinked. “I literally saw him doing yoga in his apartment.”

“Did you, though? Or did it just appear that way?”

Yagi’s frown deepened, the wheels turning and clicking in his head as he thought back to that chilly February morning. “It… may have been more of a long stretch on a mat.”

“Mhm,” Shinsou smirked. “Was the yoga mat purple?”

“Yes.”

“That’s my mom’s. He borrowed it for a day earlier this year. Honestly, it confused the crap out of her. Uncle Shouta isn’t exactly known to take very good care of himself.”

Yagi’s jaw worked, but no sound came out. He stared down at the sketchbook laid open before him, pages upon pages upon pages of meticulously crafted designs. All for one man.

All of them… a lie?

“Oh man,” Shinsou pushed the hood of his sweatshirt off his head and ran fingers back through his unkempt hair, grinning. “Oh man, please ask one more. This is gold.”

Yagi’s fist clenched around the sketchbook page in his hand, crinkling it as he cocked his jaw. “Does he even like country music?”

Shinsou burst into hysterical laughter, and that was it. Yagi tore out of the tattoo parlor at blistering speed and threw open the glass door of Aizawa’s shop with enough force to nearly rip if from its hinges.

“Have you been fucking with me this entire time?!”

Aizawa stood before a monstrous floral arrangement that seemed fit for a wedding in Vegas, his hair pinned high. He was frozen partway through snipping excess leaves off a peony stem, peering at the sudden intrusion over the dark-framed glasses perched on the end of his nose like Yagi was no more than dirt beneath his fingernail.

Slowly, with infuriating calmness, he lowered the sheers onto the table. “You’ll have to elaborate.”

“The yoga. The country music. The fucking kale on your counter!” Yagi tried to keep his voice calm, he really did. “Did you stage fake personalities to throw me off of your tattoo design?”

“Oh, that.” Aizawa pulled the glasses off. “Yeah.”

“Yeah?!” Yagi threw his arms open. “Fucking hell, Aizawa, do you even like birds?”

“I’m indifferent to their existence.”

“Or culinary?”

“I can barely cook as it is.”

“So, you subscribed to random magazines, knowing our mail consistently gets mixed up, just to screw with me?”

“Pretty much.”

Yagi crossed the room in three long strides, crowding Aizawa back against the wooden table he’d been working on. The man wasn’t short by any means, but he was utterly swallowed up by Yagi’s shadow. Still, he didn’t shrink back, chin jutted out defiantly, matching that blazing stare with one of his own.

Yagi growled low. “Why?”

“Because I wanted to test you,” Aizawa responded, leaning up just a bit more. Just enough that Yagi felt the warmth of his exhales feathering at his jaw. “I knew you’d be watching me. Studying me. And I wanted to throw you a few curve balls. See if you could decipher the lies from the truth. See if you were willing to take me at face value, or if you were determined to plunge that much deeper.” He smirked, and Yagi was certain he caught his eyes flicker down the length of his body. Just once. “Honestly, I’m a little surprised you caught on so quickly. How’d you figure it out?”

“Hey, Uncle Shouta.”

Aizawa visibly bristled at the familiar voice in the room, and he took a steady inhale before peering around Yagi’s shoulder. “Hello, bane of my existence. I see your mother dropped you off a day early.”

Yagi glanced back at Shinsou, who leaned against the doorframe of the flower shop, sipping at his orange soda with a grin.

“She seemed eager to be rid of me.” Shinsou said.

“Can’t imagine why.” Aizawa forced a pleasant smile that would have scared the shit out of Yagi had it been directed his way. “You spoiled my fun.”

“Ah, the poor guy was at his wit’s end. Give him a break. I mean… country music? Really?”

Aizawa clicked his tongue and shrugged. “Was worth a shot.”

“You’re a dick,” Yagi grunted, “Maybe that’s what I should tattoo on you.”

Aizawa hummed. “Your moral compass wouldn’t allow it, sunflower.”

Yagi was glad he didn’t visibly react to the unexpected pet name, even as a warm thrill shot through his extremities. “Try me.”

Shinsou whistled low behind them. “Damn, should I leave you two alone for a bit?”

“Shut up,” Yagi and Aizawa said in unison, which startled them both.

Shinsou only cackled.

Aizawa reached up and curled his fingers around Yagi’s tie, tugging just enough for him to almost consider taking Shinsou up on his offer. He imagined pinning Aizawa to the counter and throwing his thighs open, scarring his throat with his teeth, swallowing down his smart words until they were reduced to gibberish gasped against his mouth. He balled his hands up at his sides into fists so tight, he could feel the crescent bite of his fingernails digging into his palms.

“I’m going to figure you out,” he whispered low. A threat. A promise. An oath.

Aizawa’s dark eyes glinted back at him, eager. “Five months, sunflower. Tick tock.”


Okay, so perhaps Aizawa was feeling… somewhat guilty about toying with Yagi, and it didn’t truly hit him until two nights later when a steady knock resounded off his apartment door.

“Hitoshi, can you get that?” Aizawa called from the kitchen as he pulled the hot takeout containers from the bags and set them on the counter.

“Yup.” Footsteps. The squeak of the door opening, and then, “Hey, gangly. How’s it goin’?”

Aizawa paused. Listened.

Yagi’s voice was low. “I’d like a word with your uncle, please.”

“Sure thing. Hey, Uncle Shouta! Your man candy is here!”

Aizawa was going to kill him.

Wincing, he wiped his hands on the front of his jeans and stepped out of the kitchen. Shinsou was leaned against the door, donned in his favorite cat onesie with Mochi perched on his left shoulder, looking smug. Yagi remained out in the hall, wearing that infuriatingly sharp double-breasted trench coat that Aizawa loved on him. The one that accentuated the width of his shoulders and the long, graceful lines of his frame. He was holding an umbrella and a thin spring scarf was tied neatly at his tattooed throat. There was something tucked beneath his arm.

He always looked good. Astoundingly good, and suddenly Aizawa felt a little foolish meeting him while wearing jeans and a plain white t-shirt. Glaring sidelong at his nephew, he stepped out into the hall and shut the door behind him, though he had a feeling Shinsou would have his ear pressed against it in no time.

“I wanted to give you this before I left,” Yagi said, holding out what he’d been cradling beneath his arm.

It was a book, bound in black with no title to be seen. Aizawa took it warily. “Left?”

He was suddenly aware of the large suitcase set outside of Yagi’s apartment door, and something in his chest wrenched.

“I’m headed to New York for two months. My best friend owns a tattoo parlor there and he asked me to be a guest artist. My flight leaves in a couple hours.” Yagi explained, his tone cold, dismissive.

Ouch.

“I see,” Aizawa responded with equal flatness, he turned the book over in his hands before flipping it open to a random page. “And you’re giving me your…” he trailed off, eyes widening.

“Sketchbook,” Yagi said. “The one I filled with designs based on apparent lies. I don’t need it anymore, so.”

Aizawa barely heard him, eyes cast down at the sketchbook in his hand, at the drawings that filled each page from corner to corner. Depictions of Japanese dragons in whirls of curled smoke, golden carp amid waves, songbirds and cherry blossom branches, ancient blades with skull-carved hilts. There were dozens of them, one after the other, each carefully sketched out with precision and care.

So much care.

He could see it in every soft stroke, every fingerprint smudge, every clash of charcoal and ink and watercolor. The intent, the determination. All for him.

Aizawa felt as though someone had come and stomped on his chest. Yeah, there was the guilt.

He looked up through his dark lashes. “Well played.”

“Mm,” Yagi took a step back and grabbed the handle of his suitcase. “See you in September.”

Knuckles whitening around the book in his hand, Aizawa shut his eyes and listened to Yagi’s footsteps fade, listened to the one squeaky wheel of his suitcase roll further and further away, listened to the ping of the elevator being called in the distance, until…

“Wait.”

Aizawa bolted down the hall toward the elevator and threw his hand against the door to keep it from closing. Yagi stood inside, watching him closely, his chest still as though he was holding his breath while Aizawa’s were rocketing out of him in heaving pants. They stared at each other. Just stared.

I like psychological thrillers. I like world history and philosophy. I like classic rock and the way the leaves shift to gold in mid-October. I like extra sugar in my coffee and too much spice in my food. I like cats so much that I have a membership to the cat café across town, and I like sleeping in during thunderstorms.

And I like you… I like you so goddamn much that I don’t know how to handle it. I’ve liked you from the moment you said hello to me for the first time outside my apartment and I don’t know what to do.

Say it. Say it you fucking coward.

Aizawa swallowed and pulled his hand from the door. “Have a safe trip.”

Yagi’s chest deflated and he looked away. “Thanks.”

Heart in his throat, Aizawa watched the doors shut before him before turning and slumping against them with his head buried in his hand. “Fuck.”

“Wow…” Shinsou’s voice was soft at the end of the hall. “You suck at this, Uncle Shouta.”

Yeah, he really did.


“To be totally honest with you, Toshinori, the guy sounds like a jackass.”

Yagi snorted out a laugh as he stirred a spoonful of honey into his mug of green tea, the metallic sound playing off the familiar buzz of David’s tattoo needle at work. “He has his sweet moments.”

David shook his head, voice somewhat muffled beneath the black mask he wore over his nose and mouth for hygienic purposes. “A cactus is a cactus regardless of the flowers it sprouts.”

“You calling him a prick?”

“You said it. Not me.”

Yagi moved to stand behind his best friend, admiring the forearm piece he was halfway through completing. A monochrome bust of a woman with a bouquet of wildflowers for a head, done entirely in pointillism style. David always had the skill and patience for such finely detailed work, ever since they apprenticed together in the same shop in Tokyo. It wasn’t any wonder to Yagi that he made such a spectacular father as well.

Yagi’s first large piece had been from David. A monstrous pointillism cherry blossom tree covering the entirety of his left arm from wrist to shoulder; all gnarled bark and sinewy branches with bursts of blooms in every shade of pink imaginable scattered all around it. Some of it could be seen below the cuff of his rolled up button-down, still as vibrant as the day it was completed nearly thirty years back.

Meanwhile, David’s entire back piece had been Yagi’s doing. A realistic black and white rendering of his favorite renaissance statue from lower back to the base of his skull; Michelangelo’s David, the art piece he’d been named for.

“He’s… complicated. Probably why I had such trouble with the tattoo design at first.” Yagi explained.

David dipped his needle into more black ink. “But, if I’m gonna play devil’s advocate here, Toshinori… it also sounds like he’s pretty into you.”

Yagi frowned. “Aizawa? Nah…” He sipped at his tea and gazed out through the monstrous shop window toward Central Park, striking and green in the midday sun. There were kids soaring kites out in the distance and a sweet scent bleeding in through the open door from a nearby bakery. “I doubt I’m his type.”

“And what do you assume his type is? You barely know him.”

Yagi shrugged. “Younger?”

David swivelled in his roller chair to fix Yagi with a stern look that pulled a laugh from his throat.

“It sounds like he’s pushing your buttons for a reason, Toshi,” David continued while turning back to his work. “Maybe he’s waiting to see if you push back.”

Yagi considered this, thinking back to their confrontation at the flower shop, at the slight way Aizawa had leaned up just a little closer, had curled his fingers around his tie and let his eyes roam over Yagi’s body for the briefest moment. There had been a quiet hunger there simmering just below the surface.

I knew you’d be watching me, Aizawa had said. Studying me. And I wanted to throw you a few curve balls. See if you could decipher the lies from the truth. See if you were willing to take me at face value, or if you were determined to plunge that much deeper.

Deeper.

“You think he’s playing hard to get?” Yagi frowned, unable to mask the hope in his tone.

“I think he’s scared shitless of intimacy and can’t bear to make the first move, so he’s pushing you around to see if you’ll do it first. He wants you to know him, Toshinori, but he’s not just going to hand it to you on a silver platter. You gotta earn it.”

“I was rather cold to him before I left.”

“And how did he take it?”

Yagi thought back to that moment by the elevator, the desperate look in Aizawa’s dark eyes when he stopped the doors from closing between them.

He’d wanted to say something then. He’d wanted to and he’d stopped himself.

“Not well.” Yagi scrubbed a hand down his face and laughed. “Why the hell are you still giving me dating advice like back when we were kids?”

“Cause I’m the happily married one with the family and the picket fence, and you’re still pining helplessly over someone you automatically assume doesn’t return the feelings.”

“Fair point.”

He slipped out of the shop not long after that, desperate for the touch of sunlight and a lungful of late summer air. There was a small flower stand situated not far off, bright and bursting with color, and the sight of it made something in Yagi’s chest twinge helplessly.

And suddenly, he knew exactly the type of tattoo Aizawa wanted.


The phone call came at 6:45 PM on a Wednesday afternoon in late August while Aizawa was wrist deep in an arrangement for an engagement party. Fifteen dozen damask roses in a hundred shades of flushed pink, each one representing a day the client had been in love with his soon-to-be wife. Venturing outside the box, Aizawa took it upon himself to set a glass rose at the very center of the bouquet, representing the lifetime awaiting the couple after the surrounding flowers had wilted and died.

“Sap,” Hizashi called him from across the room, where he sat lounging behind the counter with Mochi on his lap, scrolling through his social media. For the biggest music producer in the country, the bastard sure had a great deal of free time on a weekday night.

“Shut up.”

“For a man who doesn’t do romance, you sure have a lot of mushy feelings inside you lately, Sho. There a reason for that?”

“I will stab you with these sheers and make it look like an accident.”

“Uh huh…” Hizashi smirked at him above the frames of his tinted glasses. There was symphonic metal music blasting from the headphones looped around his neck and tattoos crawling up each of his bare arms, most of which came from the artist next door. After studying that sketchbook, Aizawa could recognize his style anywhere. “Tell me, have you checked in on Yagi’s social media lately?”

Aizawa grunted and snipped a few leaves from the stem of another rose. “No.”

“That tattoo artist he’s hangin’ with in New York is pretty cute.” Hizashi said as he turned the phone screen around to face Aizawa. “David Shield, I think his name is. They seem pretty chummy, don’tcha think?”

Aizawa didn’t bother looking up. He wasn’t sure if he could bear it. Not with the weight that been pressing down on his chest since those elevator doors closed between them two months ago.

Coward.

“Whatever.” He glowered, snipping another leaf off.

“My, my, Sho… is that jealousy I detect?”

Aizawa snipped the head of the rose right off and shot Hizashi a cutting look.

“I’ll take that as a maybe.”

His soon-to-be-former best friend was damn lucky the phone rang when it did. Cursing under his breath, Aizawa reached for it and answered with feigned cheerfulness, his knuckles and forearms stinging in the cool shop air from a thousand little thorn grazes. “A LOGICAL ROSE, Aizawa speaking.”

“I’d like to place an order for an arrangement,” the voice on the other end spoke, the deep baritone of it tugging at the edges of familiarity, though the accent was something he couldn’t quite place.

“Sure thing,” Aizawa flipped open his notebook and pulled out the pen that had been tucked behind his ear, glaring at Hizashi as he forced his anger down for the sake of the client. “Pickup or delivery?”

“Delivery.”

“When?”

“Saturday evening, 5 PM, if possible.”

Aizawa nodded, scribbling the information down. “Address?”

“Across the hall.”

He paused with his pen hovering above the page, frown deepening before realization set in like a jolt of lightning to his heart. Aizawa leaned forward, fingertips seeking out and digging into the cover of the sketchbook he now always kept nearby. He’d memorized every drawing on every page, the sight of them sending longing tearing through his chest with a kind of violence that left him dizzy and unable to catch his breath.

It was happening again now. The longing. The ache. Rattling him to his core. Still, he kept his voice even and professional. “What kind of arrangement?”

“Surprise me.”

He huffed a soft laugh at his words being thrown back at him, fully aware that Hizashi was eyeing him strangely.

“Unless of course you can’t do it,” the voice hummed, fake accent gone.

Aizawa smirked. “I can do it better than anyone else in this city.”

“Good.”

When he hung up, Aizawa collapsed against the desk with a muffled groan of despair, his hands buried in his dark hair.

“Wow. This gay crisis you’re having is worse than I thought,” he heard Hizashi mutter. “Was that who I thought it was?”

“Mm.”

“That’s nothing.” Shinsou piped in from where he had surely been eavesdropping in the back room. “You should see the way he mopes around at home.”

“I fucking hate both of you.” Aizawa muttered.

Hizashi stood and rounded the desk to clasp both hands on Aizawa’s shoulders, dragging him upright into a standing position and shaking him eagerly. “Alright, my man. We need to get you out of here. Nemuri and I are going to hit the new nightclub that opened up down the block Saturday night. Why don’tcha join us? Good music, VIP Lounge. You can knock back a few shots and grind with hot strangers for a couple hours. Get your mind off…” he made a vague gesture toward the sketchbook. “…all this.”

“That sounds awful.”

“And you’re doing it anyways!” Hizashi clapped his shoulder. “Even if I have to drag you! Yay!”

Aizawa grumbled and gave the sketchbook one last sidelong glance, heart jammed in his throat.

“Fine.”


Yagi returned home just as the sun began its slow descent beneath the city skyline, throwing sherbet light in painterly streaks across cotton candy clouds. He slipped out of the elevator with a yawn and a stretch, suitcase dragging along behind him. His body was beginning to protest these annual fifteen-hour flights, limbs creaking with each step, hungry for the heat of a long shower.

He turned the corner and skidded to a halt.

There was a bouquet set down on the floor just outside his apartment door. A bouquet of ten massive sunflowers gathered together in a simple black vase, each one more strikingly yellow than the last, bright enough to rival the golden skies outside. They were cradled by clusters of baby’s breath and leatherleaf fern. Slowly, Yagi approached the arrangement and kneeled before it like it was an alter made for worship. He reached out to stroke the yellow ribbon that bound the stems together in an elegant bow. There was a note attached. Yagi plucked it free and turned it over in his hands, admiring the startlingly neat handwriting.

Sorry I suck. – A

Yagi laughed louder than he expected to and swept the bouquet up into his arms to nestle his nose into the petals and breathe them in.

His heart did something utterly ridiculous in his chest.

“Hey, gangly. Welcome back.”

Startled, he turned just in time to see Shinsou poking his head out of Aizawa’s apartment, the raucous sounds of teenage laughter echoing from behind him. He could hear music and the bangs and whoops of a video game being played on Aizawa’s flat screen.

“Shinsou, hey…” he chuckled softly, wondering how he must look with his face buried in his uncle’s bouquet. “Hosting a party?”

“Gotta enjoy my last week of sweet freedom before heading home for school. How was America?”

“Busy. Rewarding. Honestly, I’m just thrilled to be home,” Yagi swallowed and glanced over Shinsou’s shoulder. “Is, uh…”

“No, he isn’t home.” Shinsou smirked. “He went out with Hizashi to some nightclub that just opened up a block over.”

“Oh.”

“You should go.”

Yagi snorted and pulled out his apartment key. “I think I’m a little too old for nightclubs, kid. Besides, I don’t want to impose.”

“Suit yourself,” Shinsou shrugged and moved to close the door, but paused just long enough to add softly, “he missed you, by the way.”

Yagi stared at the door long after it was eased shut.

Damn it.


Six shots of tequila in, and Aizawa could feel himself giving way to the music thrumming up through the nightclub floor. He felt warm, so warm, cheeks flush with alcohol and limbs loose and languid as Nemuri leaned against his side and ordered one more round. She was laughing loudly about something Hizashi had said against her ear, head turning into Aizawa’s shoulder in a fit of giggles. The body glitter she’d arrived in had rubbed off onto the tight black t-shirt he wore, the sparkles glimmering in the pulsing colored lights, clinging to the sweat gathered on his clavicle and in the tangles of his dark hair.

He didn’t care, slugging back one more shot as he cast his eyes over the writhing crowd. He felt better, better than he had in the last few months. His head was swimming, thoughts muddled by booze and lights and the cloying scent of sweat and perfume. The ache had been pushed down, the longing snuffed out, at least for tonight.

Or so he assumed.

“Hey, hey, look who’s back!” Hizashi screeched, arms flying open to embrace the figure that had appeared at Aizawa’s left.

He turned and choked on his drink.

“Hope you don’t mind me popping over for a bit.”

Toshinori Yagi had the audacity to sport a soft, tentative smile as he stood there with his hands stuffed into the pockets of a red leather jacket. His wild blonde hair was thrown back into a low knot at the base of his skull, showing off his pierced ears and the tattoos decorating that long, graceful throat. Even though his words had been directed toward Hizashi, his eyes—startling and blazing blue—were locked on Aizawa and Aizawa alone.

Fuck. He wasn’t drunk enough for this.

He felt Yagi’s approach before he saw him in his peripheral, his willowy body radiating its own ridiculous warmth, even with the heat of the surrounding club. Aizawa swallowed, lounging forward against the bar with his hands closed around an empty shot glass, terrified to look up.

“Hi…” Yagi’s voice was immeasurably soft, and yet it tore right into him like a blade.

Aizawa stared at the shot glass, hoping to will more tequila into it with his mind. “…Hey.”

“I got your flowers.”

“Mm,” Aizawa nodded. “I hope they were up to standard.”

“Of course.”

There was a long moment of silence where Aizawa wished more than anything to be wearing a scarf big enough to shove his face into. Not this thin black one dangling loosely from his shoulders. Taking a heaving breath, he slid the shot glass away.

“Still think I’m a dick?” He asked.

“Depends,” Yagi responded, elbow leaning against the bar. “Still gonna act like one?”

Aizawa turned to look at him, then, and was caught off guard by the softness of his smile and the warmth in those deep, hauntingly shadowed eyes. His glower melted at the sight, and he was thankful the alcohol had already flushed his cheeks.

“It’s my default setting,” Aizawa admitted with a smirk.

“So, I’ve noticed.”

And then Yagi reached out and slowly, gently, tucked a lock of Aizawa’s hair behind the shell of his ear, touch lingering long enough to trace his thumb over the small silver piercing in his lobe. Aizawa’s mind reeled at the unexpected contact, sober thoughts and drunken desires colliding in a whirlwind that made him sway on his feet.

“So…” Yagi breathed, his grin slow and lazy as his hand roamed over Aizawa’s scarf, giving it a little tug. “You gonna let me in, yet?”

Aizawa’s only response to that was to slip passed him, shoulders brushing and hands lingering for one drawn out, tentative moment, before disappearing into the writhing crowd with a single glance over his shoulder.

It only took a moment. A caught eye. A smirk.

One moment, and Yagi was suddenly there, the long line of his body pressing into Aizawa from behind with enough force to drive a gasp from his throat. Aizawa laughed softly, the sound lost beneath the bass and lyrics thundering from the speakers. Something about losing control, Something about addiction to a body, a person, a kiss. Something about surrendering. He wasn’t listening much. Dark eyes drifted closed while his head lulled back to rest against Yagi’s chest as he began to move against him. Slow, sensuous rolls of his body in time with the beat, his blood rushing with liquid courage.

Sober Aizawa wouldn’t have reached back to wind fingers through soft blonde hair, loosening the locks from the knot. Sober Aizawa wouldn’t have let his head tilt just enough to expose the side of his neck to Yagi’s heavy, trembling exhales. Sober Aizawa would have run.

Thank fuck for tequila.

Feeling bold, Aizawa turned and seized Yagi’s tattooed hands, guiding them to his hips. “You move pretty well.”

“For an old man, you mean?” Yagi replied, leaning down just enough to press their foreheads together. God, he looked good in the pulsing lights. There was a bit of glitter on his sharp cheekbone. “I’ve never been one for dancing.”

“Could have fooled me.”

Aizawa hummed and locked their eyes, letting the rhythm take him, letting the soft, clean scent of Yagi’s skin and the sight of his tiny smile pull him away. Yagi was staring down at him with something not unlike awe on his face. Aizawa’s hair clung to the sweat on his brow but Yagi brushed it off, letting his touch linger, just a little, just enough, while his other hand flattened itself on the small of Aizawa’s back. They swayed close, hips rocking, breaths colliding, as one song bled into the next. Aizawa tried to keep his own hands to himself, but he soon found them slipping beneath the red leather jacket, seeking that warmth, seeking Yagi’s stomach and ribs and side. Aching to memorize the jutted bones and taut muscle and narrow frame. The older man’s breath caught.

Aizawa then felt one of Yagi’s long legs nudge between his own, forcing his thighs apart. Had they not been in public, he would have moaned and ground down against it. Would have given him a taste of just how badly he ached to ride him. Yagi was flushed, panting, breathless, and Aizawa couldn’t help but smile. Perhaps a little too fondly, a little too warmly. He couldn’t tell anymore with the amount of tequila in him.

“How much…” Yagi swallowed visibly. “…have you had to drink?”

“Not much,” Aizawa shrugged.

“Liar.”

Aizawa snorted out a small laugh and laid his head on Yagi’s chest when the room began to spin. “Mm…” he clenched his eyes shut. “I wouldn’t have had the guts to even talk to you otherwise.”

Yagi’s fingertips grazed over the back of his neck. “Am I really that scary?”

Aizawa laughed again, but this time it built, rolling through him in a fit of hysterical giggles muffled against Yagi’s chest. He couldn’t stop, stomach aching with the sounds bubbling out of him, and he covered his face with both hands.

“I’m sorry…” he cracked up, drunk and exhausted and filled with self-deprecation. The grin he sported was nothing short of bitter. “I really… I really suck at this, don’t I?”

Yagi was watching him quietly, a crease forming between his brows. “…You don’t—”

“I need some air.”

Aizawa moved passed him without another word and made for the exit, shouldering through throngs of drunken college kids and couples grinding hotly against the exposed brick walls. He suddenly hated the scent of booze and sweat and sex. Hated the lights, hated the noise. He tore open the side door and stumbled out into the cool night air, suddenly claustrophobic, suddenly panicked, and slumped on the edge of the sidewalk with his head buried in his hands. The world teetered and spun around him. He tore his fingers through his sweat-dampened hair and cursed hard under his breath.

He could hear the soft shuffle of footsteps approaching him, but he didn’t look up. Not even when the figure in question moved to lower themselves onto the sidewalk’s edge beside him, stretching out what he didn’t doubt were impossibly long legs into the street.

No words were exchanged, and Aizawa was grateful for that. He felt awful, wrecked through with guilt and crippling self doubt. Together, they listened to the muffled thumping of the baseline mingled with the roar of distant traffic and the sigh of wind through the trees.

“I like classic cars,” Yagi suddenly spoke softly.

Aizawa frowned in confusion and glanced sidelong at him through his hair.

“And I like period drama films cause I’m a sucker for the aesthetic of the past…” Yagi continued, gaze focused out at the street. “I love to cook, and my favorite downtime activity is running a scalding hot bath and throwing on a true crime documentary.”

Aizawa suddenly realized what he was doing and swallowed hard, eyes clenching as he reached down into his own throat to drag the words out.

“I… like psychological thrillers,” he began softly, and he heard Yagi shift around to look at him. Attentive, like he was speaking the most important words he’d ever heard. “I like world history and philosophy and the way the leaves shift to gold in mid-October. I also really like classic rock. The kind you sing along to on long road trips.”

“Not country?” Yagi smirked.

Aizawa laughed softly and shook his head. “Not country.”

Yagi leaned forward with his elbows on his knees and smiled. “What else?”

“I like extra sugar in my coffee…” Aizawa replied.

“And I like no sugar. Unless it’s tea, then it’s a single spoonful of honey.”

“And too much spice in my food.”

“I like no spice at all. Can’t stomach it.”

Aizawa turned toward him. “I like cats so much that I own a membership to the cat café across town. That’s where I found and adopted Mochi.”

Yagi laughed brightly. “No surprise there.”

“And I like to sleep in during thunderstorms.”

“How ‘bout that. Me too.”

Aizawa couldn’t hold back the small smile that tugged at the corners of his mouth, even as the final words, the ones he’d truly been terrified to say, locked themselves in his throat.

Not yet.

Gently, Yagi reached out and brushed a lock of Aizawa’s hair aside. “Are you hungry?”

Aizawa blinked. “I… maybe. A little.”

Yagi then stood and extended his hand, his smile radiant. He was a sunbeam piercing through the storms of Aizawa’s sky. That was truly the only way to describe him.

“C’mon, asshole. I’ll make you dinner.”

Aizawa felt the ache return, the longing he could barely control, but rather than stomp it down and shove it aside, he embraced it. Let it swell through his chest and pour from his eyes in a look that made something shift between them, crackling within their gazes.

And he took his hand.


“Boy, you really have had a lot to drink,” Yagi chuckled as he led Aizawa out of the elevator and toward their apartments with one arm slung around his shoulders to keep him upright.

“I don’t see how you could possibly know that,” Aizawa grumbled, like he was attempting to not slur his words. “I’m totally fine.”

“You literally just tried making conversation with the houseplant in the lobby.”

Aizawa squinted up at him. “That… wasn’t Mrs. Jirou from upstairs?”

“No,” Yagi grinned.

“Well, fuck.”

As they reached their apartments, Yagi let Aizawa slump against the wall while he fished for his keys. Even at such a late hour, the laughter and music from Shinsou’s party raged on behind Aizawa’s door, but that didn’t stop it from cracking open just enough for a head of wild indigo hair to poke through.

“Heeeeyyy… Uncle Shouta, you’re back early,” Shinsou forced a smile and waved his hand wildly behind him, forcing the party to silence as though the entire building hadn’t already heard them through the door. He’d obviously slung back a few drinks, himself.

Aizawa glared half-heartedly, arms crossed over his chest. “You’d better tidy up and feed Mochi before I get back.”

“Oh… you’re not coming in?”

Yagi threw his own apartment door open. “Nah, he’s gonna hang with me for a bit.”

Shinsou’s eyes lit up like a child on Christmas and Aizawa groaned. “Don’t.”

Shinsou ran out of the doorway and threw his arms around Aizawa, lifting him with ease and twirling in such a way that had Yagi cackling. “Uncle Shouta, I’m so happy for you!”

“Put. Me. Down.”

“You’re finally taking that stick out of your ass and replacing it with a dick. I’m so proud!”

“I know where I’m going to hide your body, brat. They’ll never find you.”

Shinsou dropped him with a grin and turned to Yagi. “Please give it to him good, man. There’s a fuck ton of built up tension that needs to be released. You’re doing a great service to this city.”

Yagi hid his smile behind one hand, which only granted him a glare from Aizawa.

“Fuck you both,” Aizawa grumbled and pushed into Yagi’s apartment.

Yagi made a move to follow, but not before laughing at Shinsou’s overeager thumbs-up. Gently, he eased the door shut and toed off his loafers. Keys tossed to the table, he clicked on a lamp and peered about his apartment, snickering softly when at last he spotted Aizawa slumped facedown on the black leather couch with his feet dangling over the arm.

Yagi strolled up to him, smiling. “Comfy?”

“Mm,” Aizawa groaned, face muffled in the cushion.

Yagi patted at his back, chuckling. “How about I run you a hot shower and grab you some clean clothes to change into. You’re getting glitter all over my couch.”

“Mm,” was Aizawa’s only response.

Yagi took it as a yes.

The bathroom just off the main living area was quite possibly the best part of the apartment; tall ceilings and glass tiles and a stand-up shower big enough to fit at least three people. Yagi got the water running and set forth to laying out some spare clothes on the marble counter for Aizawa to wear, opting for his loosest pair of sweatpants and an oversized black t-shirt he’d been gifted by a client one year. Given their height difference, it would be an awkward fit, but he doubted Aizawa would mind much in his drunken, exhausted state.

There was a soft sound behind him, like a throat was being cleared, and Yagi turned to see him lingering in the bathroom doorway with one shoulder rested against the frame. His cheeks were tinted the softest pink from the tequila, his hair was a mess, but the jeans he wore were dark and tight and sat low on his hips.

God, those hips, Yagi thought as he recalled the way Aizawa had moved against him at the nightclub. He wanted to feel them beneath his hands again, wanted to trace that hipbone with the tip of his tongue.

Shit, he was staring.

“I, uh…” he gestured toward the shower. “I’ll let you get cleaned up while I start the food, okay?”

Something flickered in Aizawa’s eyes, then, and perhaps it was only wishful thinking, but damn it if it didn’t almost look like disappointment. “Sure. Thank you.”

Yagi shuffled out of the bathroom and shut the door, hand scrubbing against his face with a gentle laugh. “Guess you’re not the only one here who sucks at this,” he muttered, though he knew Aizawa couldn’t hear him above the roar of running water.

After throwing on a pair of joggers and a loose button-down himself, Yagi got to work on preparing a simple late-night meal. Heavy booze intake required comfort food, and he couldn’t think of anything more comforting than a hot plate of okonomiyaki smothered in spiced mayo and a splash of soy. A favorite meal after a long shift, tossed in fish flakes and freshly chopped scallions. The pancakes sizzled loudly on the grill, filling the room with a savoury scent that made his own stomach clench with need. He didn’t even hear the shower turn off or the approach of soft footfalls until there was a gentle nudge against his side.

“Whatever you’re making, I need it inside me immediately.”

Yagi started, turning to behold Aizawa leaned on the counter beside him, and damn it if his heart didn’t just backflip all over again. He seemed to have sobered up somewhat from the shower, his clean hair dangling loose and damp across broad shoulders, smelling of the spearmint shampoo Yagi was so fond of. His hands were stuffed into the pockets of Yagi’s gray sweatpants. They were a tad too long, the soft material gathered in bunches around his calves, but he didn’t seem bothered. In fact, Aizawa looked warm, content, and utterly, utterly…

“Gorgeous,” Yagi breathed before he could stop himself.

Aizawa blinked, a soft flush that had nothing to do with the tequila creeping up his face. “What?”

No point in hiding it, now.

“I said you’re gorgeous,” Yagi repeated, a little louder.

“Oh,” Aizawa dropped his eyes, and God… what Yagi would have given to kiss him right then and there. “Thanks. You… you, too.”

Yagi paused, a little caught off guard even as he smirked. “Was that a compliment?”

“No.”

“Did Shouta Aizawa just pay me a compliment?”

Aizawa groaned, defeated. “Don’t spread it around. I have an image to uphold.”

“Wouldn’t dream of it,” Yagi murmured and drew a little closer, crowding Aizawa back against the counter the same way he had in the flower shop. Aizawa’s dark eyes glinted in the kitchen lighting, his lips parted just enough for Yagi to get a glimpse of a pink tongue. He was breathing just a little quicker, just a little heavier. “I’ll just have to hear a proper one. Between you and me, of course.”

He expected something snarky in response. Some smartass remarks poking fun at his height or the wild mane of his hair. “You look like a broom exploded and I don’t hate it” was the first thing that came to mind. It seemed fitting for Aizawa.

Not…

“You’re so beautiful that when I look at you, I can’t breathe.”

Yagi froze, eyes widening as the words hovered in the air between them, ringing through his mind over and over until he was certain it had been real. Aizawa was watching him silently, his own eyes wide like he wasn’t entirely sure why he’d said what he just said, shoulders stiff like his hands were balled into fists where he hid them in his pockets.

Yagi’s hands gripped the edge of the counter on either side of Aizawa’s body, leaning down just enough to press their foreheads together like he had at the nightclub. Aizawa’s eyes fell closed at the contact, mouth parting to release the ragged breaths he’d been holding. Yagi stared at his mouth, at his tongue, his heart hammering wildly above the sizzling of the grill.

“Toshinori…” Aizawa whispered.

Yagi almost moaned at the sound of his own name being spoken. “Yeah?”

Aizawa looked up at him and gave a little smirk. “The food is burning.”

Gasping, he reared back in a panic and quickly moved to turn off the heat. The okonomiyaki was spared from total destruction, thankfully, sporting only a few minimal scorch marks along their edges. Yagi slid them both onto the plate while shooting Aizawa a sidelong glare. The younger man was laughing, one hand clamped over his eyes. The sound melodious, genuine, his shoulders shaking. Yagi wanted to hear more of it.

“You jackass,” he grinned and smothered both pancakes in mayo and soy before handing one over. “Stop laughing at me.”

Aizawa accepted the plate gratefully, looking smug even as he dove in. The moment the chopsticks slipped into his mouth, his eyes rolled back with a sumptuous moan that made him sag back against the counter.

Yagi took his own bite, chewing thoughtfully. “Y’know, I don’t think that was the kind of orgasm Shinsou wanted me to give you tonight, but I’ll take it.”

Aizawa choked.

“Don’t die, now.”

“Fucker.”

They finished their meal while standing against the counter together, exchanging quiet stories about the events of the summer. Yagi raved about New York, about the sights and food the lights running up and down Broadway. Aizawa seemed to cling to every word, his smile achingly soft, interrupting only to ask a question or offer a comment that had Yagi tossing his head back with laughter.

Aizawa then did the dishes, much to Yagi’s insistence that he needn’t bother, throwing his hair half up so it remained out of his eyes as he did so. Yagi lingered behind him, perhaps a little too closely, watching his broad, callused hands work beneath the soapy water as he scrubbed the final plate clean. Yagi sighed, lulled by the warmth of a full stomach and the sound of running water, the exhaustion of an ungodly long day catching up to him at full clip. He leaned down and nosed at Aizawa’s shoulder, lips grazing over the patch of exposed skin at the curve of his neck, and smirked when he felt the younger man instantly stiffen in alarm. Goosebumps skittered over the skin of his throat, clear as day.

“Tired?” Aizawa coughed, flicking off the water. He peered at Yagi over his shoulder, brow cocked. “Didn’t you just have off a fifteen-hour flight today, too?”

“Possibly.”

“And you went clubbing?” He clicked his tongue like a disapproving teacher. “Go to bed.”

“Come with me?”

Aizawa stared at him in shock.

Yagi held a hand up while the other settled over his own heart. “I swear, I’m not trying to trick you into sleeping with me. Not in that sense, at least. My bed is just astoundingly more comfortable than the couch. Trust me.”

“You don’t have to… I do live across the hall.”

“You do, and you’re more than welcome to leave at any time,” Yagi smiled softly and tucked a tendril of hair behind Aizawa’s ear, letting his thumb graze over the sharp cut of his unshaven jaw. “But, to be honest, Shouta… after what happened at the nightclub, all I want to do right now is fall asleep beside you.”

Aizawa released a long breath and turned his head into Yagi’s touch, mouth finding his palm in an almost kiss that had Yagi’s heart stalling. “Well, how could I say no to that?”

Okay, so perhaps the bathroom was actually the second favorite part of the apartment, at least when the bedroom was taken into account. With a monstrous glass window leading onto a balcony that overlooked the glittering cityscape, it was Yagi’s own personal oasis. One of a kind artwork gifted to him by tattooists around the world lined the slate gray walls next to rows upon rows of various awards and accolades. The bed, however… yeah, the bed was the crown jewel. Yagi had splurged on the biggest one he could find, fitting it with only the softest mattress and warmest sheets available. He slept with multiple pillows as well, each one plusher than the last.

And judging from the sound Aizawa made the moment he laid down, Yagi doubted he’d be rid of him anytime soon.

“Holy shit…” Aizawa star-fished across the mattress. “I might have to move in.”

Yagi didn’t know why, but the thought of that made him feel entirely too warm. He shrugged out of his casual button down and tossed it aside, flicking off the lights as he did so. Slowly, shirtless, he climbed up onto the mattress, crawling over where Aizawa had laid to peer down at him through his bangs. In what little lighting the city outside provided, Aizawa’s eyes gleamed like onyx, dark and deep and devouring Yagi right back. His black hair was fanned out across the pillows like a halo. He looked so distressingly soft.

“Hi…” Yagi whispered.

Aizawa smiled softly. “…Hey.”

Reluctantly, Yagi rolled over onto his side next to the younger man. Aizawa’s eyes followed him as he went, roaming down his exposed body with furrowed brows.

“You are… way more inked than I initially thought,” he commented.

Yagi chuckled. “Is that a problem?”

“Fuck no.” Aizawa turned over onto his side and reached out with the intent to touch the tattoo on Yagi’s chest—three hannya masks he’d received from a guest artist visiting from Korea—but paused with his hand in mid-air. “…Can I?”

“Please,” Yagi murmured.

Aizawa’s fingers were gentle, almost like he was scared to rub the ink from Yagi’s skin if he pressed down too hard. He traced each tattoo with astonishing care, from the hannya’s on his chest to David’s cherry blossom branches on his left arm, all the way over to the dragons coiling around his right from shoulder to wrist. His thumb brushed almost lovingly across the spotted koi on Yagi’s throat, before roaming lower, running a single line down the center of his stomach. Yagi waited for him to notice the inevitable, breath held.

“Is that…” Aizawa frowned deeply. “Is that a scar?”

Yagi smiled sadly. “Mm… car accident when I was in my twenties.”

Aizawa sat up on his elbow and turned Yagi over in the light, letting his eyes and hands roam over the monstrous starburst that made up the entirety of Yagi’s left side. The tattoo’s he’d had there before the accident were misshapen now, broken and warped by scar tissue and places where he’d been desperately pieced back together on a metal table.

“It’s not as bad as it looks,” Yagi soothed, noting the concern in Aizawa’s eyes. “Doctor’s removed a couple ribs and my left lung, but other than that…”

“You don’t have a left lung?!”

Yagi smiled and shook his head.

“And you let me smoke around you?!” Aizawa was horrified.

“Shouta, it’s fine.”

“It’s not fine,” Aizawa flattened his hand at the very center of the scar, his touch warm, desperate, like he would have given the world to heal what had long ago left its mark. “Does it hurt?”

“Not like it used to.” Yagi swallowed hard and reached for Aizawa. “C’mere.”

Aizawa sunk into his embrace without hesitation, tucking himself against Yagi’s side with his nose and lips nestled against his throat. Yagi held him close and gathered one of his hands into his own, leading it to lay flat on the left side of his chest. Slowly, intently, he breathed in, letting his one lung swell with air, before exhaling just as slowly. There was no rattle, no pain, no blood sputtering up from his throat. Not like years ago.

“See?” He whispered. “I’m okay.”

Aizawa kept his hand on his chest. “Your heart is racing.”

“That’s for a different reason.”

He felt Aizawa smile against his neck and burrow even closer, even so far as to hook one leg around Yagi’s hip. Yagi let him, pulling him in, right in against his body, protective and possessive all at once. He buried his face in Aizawa’s hair and sighed, letting his exhaustion take hold and carry him away at last.

“Toshi?” He heard Aizawa murmur sleepily.

“Mm?”

A soft kiss. Right there. Right on his neck. He was certain of it. “I’m ready to let you in, now.”

Yagi fell asleep smiling.


Aizawa awoke in the warmth of an unfamiliar bed with the gentle patter of rain beating steadily against the windows. Thunder growled softly in the distance, accompanied by the roar of traffic moving across soaked streets, a soothing Sunday morning symphony that threatened to lull him right back to sleep. Pale light bled itself over the dips and planes of the bedsheets beneath him, and he stretched languidly with a soft sound, only vaguely aware of the feeling of fingers brushing aside his hair.

“G’morning,” Yagi murmured beside him. He was seated on the edge of the mattress, hair freshly washed and sticking up every which way as he brandished a mug of what smelled like the best damn coffee in the world.

Still shirtless, too, thank God. Aizawa let his eyes roam over the depiction of a red phoenix inked across Yagi’s back, its blazing wings spread over his shoulder blades.

“Morning…” Aizawa sighed and rubbed the sleep from his eyes.

“How’s the hangover?”

Aizawa thought about it, measuring the pounding at the base of his skull and the ache behind his eyes. “Tolerable. Coffee would help.”

“What do you know. Look what I have,” Yagi smirked and handed him the mug as he sat up. “Extra sugar. Just how you like it.”

“You’re a fucking saint.”

Yagi smiled and watched as he drank deeply, savoring the buttery flavor, the warmth and sweetness, before speaking. “Can I ask you something, Shouta?”

“Mhm,” he hummed into the mug.

“Why’d you push me away for so long?”

Ah, they were getting right into it then. He swallowed down his mouthful and considered his next words, watching the ripple of his reflection on the surface of the coffee. “You remember the day I moved in? How we met?”

“Of course. You had a thousand things in your arms and you dropped your key right outside the apartment. I picked it up for you.”

“The first time I saw you, you were kneeling in front of me with my keys in your hands, dressed in a goddamn sweater vest and a tie, your tattoos sticking out of your shirt collar and beneath the rolled cuffs of your sleeves. You were smiling brightly and looking at me with such kindness that I immediately felt something inside me that had been closed off for so long begin to unfurl, and it scared the shit out of me.”

Yagi said nothing in response, even as he scooted just a little bit closer.

“I’ve never been interested in relationships,” Aizawa continued. “And my one-night stands have been few and far between. It all felt like a waste of time. Time better off spent doing something worthwhile, something I knew wouldn’t turn around and gut me in the heart when I least expected it. And then you showed up and my heart felt like it had been left on the floor outside my apartment between us. All you had to do was smile once and I bled out.”

“Shouta…”

“So I closed myself off for those three months, barely acknowledging you when you said hello in the halls or tried to make conversation in the elevator. I built my walls, but the ache wouldn’t ease. No matter what I did, all I could think about was how badly I wanted to get to know you. You can’t imagine how terrifying it feels when you’ve spent so much of your life relying on yourself, and suddenly someone comes along that makes every cell in your body desperate for companionship. Something in you was calling to something in me, and just… Fuck.”

He had to pause, letting Yagi take the coffee from his hands and set it aside. His throat was thick with emotion, but he couldn’t stop. He couldn’t stop now that he’d started or it would never come out.

“When I asked you for a tattoo, I wanted to test you,” Aizawa admitted. “I wanted to see how far I could steer you in different directions, throw you off from who I really was to see if you would catch on. I pushed you away, Toshinori, to see if you would push back. If you would reject the lies I’d thrown in your face, the versions of a person I pretended to be, or if you’d just take me at face value and come up with something half-assed. Then I saw that sketchbook…” he laughed softly and buried his face in one hand. “…That fucking sketchbook, filled with so much intention and care. You’d been so determined to get to the real me, to give me something wholly and uniquely my own, that even the designs for the lies struck a chord in my heart. When I let those elevator doors close between us before telling you how I really felt, it killed me.”

Yagi gathered his face in both hands, drawing Aizawa’s gaze up. There was moisture glinting in those striking blue eyes. Aizawa’s heart wrenched at the sight of it.

“You can tell me now, Shouta,” Yagi breathed. “Tell me how you really feel. Let me in.”

“I like you… so fucking much, Toshinori Yagi, that I don’t know what to do with myself. I don’t know how to care for you the way you deserve, but I want to… I want to so badly. And I’d give anything for you to care for me, too.”

“Oh sweetheart,” Yagi leaned in and ghosted their lips together. “Oh, my sweetheart, I already do.”

Aizawa made a broken sound and crushed his mouth against Yagi’s in a kiss that sent all his walls tumbling down. He threw both arms around the older man’s neck, desperate to be close, desperate for his skin and his touch and his dizzying heat. Yagi eased him backwards onto the mattress, kissing him deeply, so deeply that it drove the breath from his lungs and left his mind whirling.

“Finally…” Yagi moaned into his mouth. “Oh God, finally.”

Aizawa almost laughed, but then Yagi was pushing his thighs apart and easing his narrow hips between them, letting Aizawa feel his weight as he caged him down with his arms and chest and wild blonde hair. Enveloping him, consuming him, overwhelming him in the best way possible. Aizawa’s mouth fell open as he shuddered, inviting the hot press of Yagi’s tongue inside to stroke over his own, and he flattened both hands on those tattooed shoulder blades, blunt nails scratching just enough to pull a sound from Yagi’s throat that Aizawa wanted to store in his memories forever.

“Toshi,” Aizawa breathed, eyes rolling back as Yagi’s mouth went for the side of his neck, suckling hot bruising kisses over his pulse point. Marking him with a graze of teeth and a swirl of tongue. His back arced off the mattress. “Oh, sunflower…”

“Fuck,” Yagi growled against the hollow of his throat. “I love it when you call me that.”

In a moment of boldness, Aizawa locked his legs around Yagi’s hips and flipped them over in one fluid motion. Yagi landed hard on his back with a grunt, eyes wide, mouth splitting into a delighted grin at the sight of the younger man now straddling his lap. Aizawa seized the hem of his own shirt and yanked it up and off his body, the balled-up fabric barely having time to hit the floor before Yagi’s broad hands were all over him, exploring each bump of rib and swell of muscle, every dip and plane of skin.

“You’re astoundingly buff for a florist,” Yagi commented, which made Aizawa crack up laughing. Yagi’s hands roamed slowly, teasing at the dark hair on his chest that trailed down to disappear beneath the waistband of his sweatpants, eyes hungry and adoring at once. “Mm… I can’t wait to mark you up with my work. Your body is a blank canvas aching for my vision to be realized. I know exactly what I’m going to tattoo on you, Shouta,”

“Oh?” Aizawa’s brow arched. “Have me figured out already, have you, sunflower?”

“Yeah,” Yagi smiled and let his hand trail higher until it was cupping the side of Aizawa’s face, thumb grazing over his lower lip. “Yeah, I do.”

Aizawa smirked and parted his lips just enough to take that thumb into his mouth, sucking gently while keeping their gazes locked. Yagi’s eyes blazed as he watched him, his breath hitching, his hips lifting off the mattress just enough for Aizawa to feel the long, thick line of his cock pressing against his ass. Aizawa grinned in response, teeth scraping over the pad of Yagi’s thumb before pulling of to settle a kiss against his palm, then his wrist, then his forearm. He made his way higher, settling soft open-mouthed kisses over every tattoo he found. Aizawa kissed up his arm, along the curve of his shoulder, mouth following the sweeping bone of his clavicle and along the side of his neck, making Yagi shiver beneath him. He could feel Yagi’s fingers skittering up and down his spine, his chest swelling with a heady, breathy moan as Aizawa’s teeth sunk ever so slightly into the hollow of his throat, eager to mark.

Mine, Aizawa thought.

Aizawa’s mouth travelled slowly, lips and tongue dragging across overheated skin, tracing the inked patterns and swirls of vibrant color. Some might have called it worshipful, the way his exhales bathed one of Yagi’s nipples in wet heat before his mouth latched on, suckling until long fingers wound themselves through the back of dark hair.

Yagi made a soft sound beneath him, fingers pushing Aizawa’s bangs back to get a good look at his face as he moved his kisses even lower, pausing to lavish attention to the scar running up Yagi’s left side. Aizawa’s throat felt tight as he beheld it in the morning light and nuzzled a long kiss to the rough scar tissue, eyes clenching shut. Before the emotions he was too afraid to name could take over, he slipped lower to nip at the sharp juts of Yagi’s hipbones and the sensitive patch below his navel.

“Shouta…” Yagi’s eyes were heavy-lidded and hazy with lust, his cheekbones flush. He stirred restlessly against the bedsheets, cock hard and straining against his sweatpants.

“Patience,” Aizawa scolded softly and curled his fingers beneath the waistband, drawing it down ever so slowly. He feathered his mouth against the soft blonde hairs revealed to him. “I’ve been aching for this since the first time you smiled at me, and I’m going to savor it.”

Yagi laughed breathlessly, the sound breaking off into a shaky gasp when his sweats were tugged just enough to allow his cock to spring free, settling heavily against his stomach.

Aizawa stared with wide eyes, and it had almost nothing to do with the size of him.

“…Toshinori?”

“Yes, kitten?” Yagi was smirking. The fucker was smirking.

“Am I seeing things, or is your fucking dick pierced?”

Yagi’s smirk grew as he tapped at his chin, feigning innocence. “Huh. Did I never mention that in passing? Feels like I did.”

Aizawa deadpanned through his bangs. “What kind of fucking conversation did we ever have that would have allowed you to segue into this topic? It’s so cold tonight that there’s an icicle on my dick stud?”

Yagi clamped both hands over his face with a hysterical bark of laughter. Aizawa joined him, warmth swelling through his chest.

No, it was happiness. Real happiness. Something he’d been so terrified to feel for so long.

Silently thanking whatever force in the goddamn universe decided to make him gay, Aizawa leaned down to flatten his tongue along the underside of Yagi’s shaft, turning that laughter into a startled groan as he licked a long, sensuous line right up. He hungrily sought out the silver studs embedded into his crown, teasing at them with gentle flicks while he curled his hand around the base. Yagi practically jolted beneath him at the contact, teeth sinking into the heel of his hand in an attempt to muffle the keening sounds bubbling forth.

“What was that? I didn’t catch it.” It was Aizawa’s turn to smirk, now.

“Oh, f-fuck!” Yagi arced his hips desperately. “Oh, kitten, do that again. Please…”

“Mm… Do what?” He kissed sweetly at the pulsating vein on the underside, grinning as Yagi immediately twitched against his palm. “This?”

Aizawa folded his lips over Yagi’s crown, tongue swirling and tugging at the piercing before dipping into the leaking slit.

“Fuck!”

Yagi threw his head back with a sound that went straight to Aizawa’s cock. Unable to hold back any longer, he took the older man fully into his mouth, hungry for the stretch and the salt and the delicious weight of him against his tongue. Hungry to pull more of those sounds out, to make them his and his alone. Yagi bucked up, crying out as Aizawa swallowed him down, refusing to cease until he felt the cool press of that piercing nudge the back of his throat. Over and over and over again without pause, gag reflex nonexistent. His own little delicious secret.

Yagi curled one fist into the back of Aizawa’s hair, gripping hard enough to sting, and fuck if it just didn’t make him hollow out his cheeks and quicken his rhythm.

He’d wanted this for so long. Imagined it on long nights stretched across a cold bed, his arm thrown over his eyes while the other worked beneath the sheets, Yagi’s name spilling desperately passed his lips. Reaching down, Aizawa palmed at his own cock over the fabric of his borrowed sweats, desperate for friction, letting the rumble of his own groans vibrate straight through the cock in his throat.

Yagi suddenly gave his hair a sharp tug, forcing Aizawa’s head back until he popped off him with a breathless gasp. The older man was sitting up, now, eyes blazing wild and possessive, and Aizawa could do nothing more than stare back with parted lips that glistened and dripped.

Yagi growled, teeth scoring up the line of Aizawa’s throat until he found his ear. “My turn.”

Aizawa yelped as he was suddenly picked up and thrown over the mattress like he weighed next to nothing, cock twitching in immediate response.

“How the fuck are you that strong?!” Aizawa panted.

Yagi’s only response was to prowl over his body and latch his mouth onto the side of his throat, lips and teeth working to pull a bruise to the surface. Aizawa could only whine and writhe beneath him, a curse bursting forth as Yagi reached between them to cup him through his sweatpants. His hips bucked, seeking contact.

Yagi pulled off his neck with a suckling pop, before soothing the blossoming mark with swipes of a warm tongue and kisses tender enough to make his insides ache. The kisses moved upward, following the sweep of Aizawa’s unshaven jaw, his cheekbones, the bridge of his nose, his brow. Yagi even kissed each of his closed eyelids, his smile sweet against dark fluttering lashes, before finding Aizawa’s mouth at last. Aizawa made a soft sound into it, half pleading.

“Turn over, kitten,” Yagi whispered and nipped at Aizawa’s lower lip. “On your stomach for me.”

Aizawa did as he was told with quiet eagerness, rolling onto his belly and tucking his head into his folded arms. He felt Yagi’s hands skimming over the broad planes of his back, tracing muscles while warm lips pressed barely-there kisses over each freckle he came across. Aizawa chuckled softly when Yagi grabbed two handfuls of asscheek and squeezed possessively through his pants, kneading the muscle and fat while nipping at the dimples at Aizawa’s lower back.

“Mm, hips up.” Yagi commanded in nothing more than a whisper over the pounding rainstorm outside. “Higher. Put your weight on your knees and your ass in the air. Just like that.”

Aizawa could feel his breath quickening as his sweatpants were shucked clean off his body and thrown clear across the bedroom. He felt immensely exposed this way, his face pressed to the mattress and his ass in the air, thighs spread wide. Yagi was kneeling behind him, hands caressing the trembling muscles of his legs, thumbs stroking over the baby-soft flesh of his inner thighs as he hummed in what Aizawa could only hope was approval.

“God, look at you, kitten…” Yagi breathed and placed a kiss on one cheek, teeth catching the skin just enough for Aizawa to feel his cock twitch where it hung heavily between his spread legs. “You’re a vision with your back curved like this, all spread open for me. Do you know how gorgeous you are?”

Aizawa whimpered, wishing he could reach between his legs to stroke at his neglected cock, but he had a feeling his hands would be batted away the second they made contact. He was leaking onto the bed sheets. His hair was clinging to his brow. He felt his breathing grow more ragged, waiting for what was sure to come.

Yagi didn’t even offer fair warning before the hot, slick swipe of a tongue pressed against Aizawa’s hole, driving a sharp gasp from his throat. Aizawa keened, stars exploding behind closed eyes as Yagi did it again, wet pressure from the sweetest tongue he knew. Broad hands gripped Aizawa’s ass on either side, spreading him wide as he worked him open with his mouth, slowly at first, but with growing eagerness that left Aizawa bucking and crying out beneath him. The sounds in the room were salacious, wet slurps and swipes, hungry growls like Yagi was starved mad and feasting for the first time in years.

“T-Toshi…” Aizawa whined, fingers curling into the sheets. “Oh fuck… oh, fuck, fuck, fuck!”

He could feel the soft tickle of blonde bangs on his lower back as Yagi pushed his tongue inside, fucking him open with gentle probes. Aizawa writhed, sounds muffled into the mattress as he pushed his hips back, desperate for more. Always more. Yagi chuckled against his skin and drew back just enough to sink his teeth into the curve where his ass met his thigh, making him moan.

“So eager,” Yagi purred. “Tell me what you want, kitten.”

“Y-You…” Aizawa’s breath hitched as Yagi circled his thumb over his hole. “F-Fuck me… God, fuck me, please baby… please…”

“Patience,” Yagi kissed his lower back before leaning off the bed to fish for something in the drawer nearby. Aizawa heard the pop of a bottle cap being opened. “I’ve been aching for this since the first time I looked at you, and I’m going to savor it.”

Aizawa snorted out a small laugh into the mattress, but the sound was cut off when a single slick finger pushed itself inside him, just a little, just enough to send his mind spiraling. Yagi was careful, so damn careful with him, and Aizawa groaned loudly, drunk on the stretch and burn he hadn’t felt in too long. One more knuckle sunk into his body, easing him open bit by bit, curving and caressing at his walls as they squeezed and trembled around the welcome intrusion.

“Are you okay?” He heard Yagi whisper. His finger curled just enough to find Aizawa’s sweet spot, making him jolt with a cry. “Talk to me, sweetheart.”

“Y-Yes!” Aizawa whimpered through gritted teeth. “Baby, please… please do that again. Please.”

“Do what?” Yagi drew his finger out just enough to ease a second one in alongside it, pushing into the tight heat that ached so much to be filled. His fingers scissored and stretched with insurmountable care, working him open before seeking out the gland and giving it one more teasing brush. “This?”

Aizawa’s legs nearly gave out under him.

“I’ll take that as a yes.”

“F-Fuck!”

Yagi leaned over his body, kissing along the trembling curve of Aizawa’s spine as he fucked him open with his fingers, a little quicker, a little deeper each time. “I bet I could make you come just like this, huh kitten? Get you all warm and worked up with just my fingers buried in your ass. God, you’re so tight. So good for me.”

“B-Baby… baby… I can’t… p-please…”

“Let me hear you ask,” Yagi kissed between his shoulder blades. “Ask me again, kitten.”

Aizawa peered at him over his shoulder, seeking his eyes through the damp curtain of dark hair plastered over his face. “Fuck me… please? Please fuck me, baby? I want to come on your cock.”

Yagi shivered above him, fingers stilling. “Shouta…”

“Fuck me, sunflower.”

That’s all it took. Aizawa was rolled onto his back in a single motion and devoured in a desperate kiss that made his heart take off at a gallop. He groaned, hands buried in Yagi’s hair as he tasted himself on the other man’s tongue, a dark heady musk that had him shuddering. Yagi hiked one of Aizawa’s thighs up over his hip, while the other drew his second leg higher until it was thrown over his shoulder, spreading him wider than Aizawa thought possible. He heard the slick sounds of Yagi lubing himself up between them, coating his cock generously, and Aizawa dragged his teeth over Yagi’s bottom lip with enough force to make him groan into the kiss.

“Toshi,” Aizawa whispered against his mouth. Their eyes met amid the mess of blonde and black hair, gleaming in the pale morning light. Yagi was gazing at him adoringly. Aizawa’s look was just the same.

There was a nudge at his entrance, a slick touch, an incredible pressure. Aizawa’s fingers tightened their hold on Yagi’s hair, mouth falling open in a silent cry, eyes rolling back into his skull. Yagi pushed in slowly and the stretch was almost too much, pain and pleasure igniting beneath the surface of Aizawa’s overheated skin. Yes… yes… It was everything he’d thought it would be. Thick and heavy, hot and slick, and Yagi was watching his every expression with blazing intent. Aizawa could do nothing more than choke on his breaths when he was filled right up to near bursting, flush with Yagi’s pelvis.

“G-God…” Aizawa gasped, nails clawing over sharp shoulders. Yagi wasn’t moving, giving him a moment to adjust around him. He could feel the twitch of his cock buried deep. Could feel the tremble of strained muscles holding back above him. “Baby, I can f-feel you in my throat…”

Yagi grinned smugly, adoringly, even as his own voice shook. “My, my, so many compliments lately, kitten.”

“Toshi, I s-swear to god if you don’t start moving…”

Yagi smirked and pulled out entirely in one slow, smooth motion, before slamming back in hard enough to rock the bed beneath them. Aizawa’s voice cracked through a cry, back arcing off the mattress. Yagi swallowed the sounds down in a fierce kiss, barely giving Aizawa time to think before his hips began to move, rhythmic and punishing and oh, so good. Aizawa held on for dear life, nails biting into tattooed skin, head thrown back against the pillows. Yagi was lavishing his throat in kisses and bites, marking him up, claiming him.

“Mine,” Yagi growled against his skin. “Mine, mine, you’re mine, Shouta.”

Aizawa whined high and shameless. “Toshi…”

“S-Say it.”

Aizawa turned his face into Yagi’s shoulder, heart ready to burst. “Yours.”

Yagi sat up a little, arms caging either side of Aizawa’s head. The angle shifted somewhat, and Yagi drove into him faster, sweat running in rivulets down a tattooed chest to fall onto Aizawa’s skin. Aizawa couldn’t form coherent words any longer, each thrust forcing more nonsensical blabber from his mouth. The headboard was striking the bedroom wall nearly every time Yagi found that sweet spot inside of him, over and over and over, and Aizawa practically sobbed with pleasure. It was too much. Too much. He couldn’t catch his breath. Couldn’t think. Couldn’t get enough. Aizawa reached up and grabbed either side of Yagi’s face, drawing him down into one more kiss. Hot exhales collided in the air between them, and Yagi locked their eyes again, that same adoration pouring from his gaze. Aizawa smiled breathlessly at him, especially as Yagi tenderly brushed his sweaty hair from his face and tucked it behind his ear.

His heart was going to come out of his chest at this rate.

It would be so easy, Aizawa thought as he looked up at him. It would be so easy to fall in love with you.

Yagi’s hand was suddenly between them, taking Aizawa’s aching cock in a firm grip and stroking, wrist pumping in time with every snap of his hips. Aizawa moaned loudly, hips shuddering, the pressure in his abdomen building higher. He was coming undone and he didn’t know what to do, how to handle it. Yagi was driving him mercilessly into the mattress. He was sure every one of their neighbors could hear them at this rate.

“Toshi, I’m…” Aizawa choked out, eyes rolling. “I’m gonna come… I’m gonna come, baby…”

“Yeah?” Yagi’s teeth nipped his unshaven jaw. “I want you to. I want you to come on my cock, kitten. Do it… do it for me, sweetheart. Come on.”

The thrusts drove deeper. Harder. Aizawa couldn’t take it anymore, hands scrambling over Yagi’s arms and chest and shoulders. “Oh, fuck! Oh fuck, oh fuck, oh fuck… Toshi… T-Toshi I’m coming! Toshi!”

Aizawa’s orgasm struck without mercy, gushing in hot spurts of white across his stomach and chest. Yagi pumped him through it, crooning soft praises in his ear as he rode the waves of pleasure that rocketed through his limbs, throat raw from crying out the other man’s name into the warm bedroom air. Aizawa writhed, thrashing and keening with overstimulation as Yagi kept pumping every last drop out of him, his own hips stuttering, his own orgasm building fast.

“Shouta…” Yagi panted against his rough cheek. “Fuck, where do you w-want me to… c-come…”

Aizawa turned his head and bit at Yagi’s pierced ear. “Inside me. Come inside me, baby. Fill me up.”

Yagi whined and fucked senselessly into Aizawa’s overused body, the slap of skin on skin resounding louder than the creaking of the bed.

“Give it to me,” Aizawa whispered into his ear. “Come for me, sunflower.”

“Ah, f-fuck! Shouta!”

Aizawa felt Yagi’s entire body tense up as he came hard, head thrown back with a broken cry, and Aizawa devoured the sight while scratching trails down the older man’s chest. He took in the way Yagi’s muscles clenched and shuddered beneath taut tattooed skin, the way his mouth fell open, the crease that formed between his brows. Aizawa felt himself getting filled with wet heat, and he groaned, drawing Yagi down into one last kiss, soothing his shakes with warm caresses across his neck and back.

“So beautiful… I can barely breathe…” Aizawa murmured against his mouth, repeating the words he’d spoken the night before in Yagi’s kitchen. The one’s he’d meant with all his heart.

The entire weight of Yagi’s body collapsed on top of Aizawa and he welcomed it, chest heaving. His arms locked possessively around Yagi’s shoulders, holding him close, caring little about the sticky mess between them as they rode the delicious high of afterglow together. Yagi was making soft sounds of contentment against his neck, little whimpers and sighs, and Aizawa feathered a sweet kiss to his sweaty temple.

“Holy… wow…” Yagi panted.

Aizawa hummed, limp and loose and breathless beneath him. “Yeah.”

“Shinsou is going to be fucking thrilled.”

Aizawa burst out laughing and smacked Yagi’s arm, which only made the other man join in until their shoulders shook and stomachs ached. With a small parting kiss, Yagi drew away, climbing slowly off the bed on trembling legs and padding toward the bathroom. Aizawa laid there with his eyes closed, too cold, too empty, listening to the sound of running water before footsteps approached the bed once more. A warm wet cloth was suddenly pressed against his stomach, wiping at the mess in slow circles, cooling the sweat that had built on his skin. Aizawa groaned gratefully, watching Yagi through exhausted eyes.

“Mm…” he purred and opened his arms. “C’mere.”

Yagi fell into Aizawa’s embrace immediately, kissing at his chest and neck and jaw as he settled in close. They laid in the opposite position as they had fallen asleep the night before, Yagi nestled against the younger man’s chest, now, with Aizawa’s fingers stroking tenderly through the back of his hair.

“Shouta?” Yagi broke the sleepy silence.

“Mm?”

“I got a call this morning while I was preparing coffee,” Yagi began softly. “One of my clients cancelled their session for tomorrow due to an emergency, so their eight-hour slot just blew wide open.” He lifted his head and smirked. “Want your tattoo early?”

Aizawa’s brows shot up into his hairline. “Really?”

“Mhm,” Yagi nodded and skimmed fingertips up along Aizawa’s side, from ribs to upper thigh, right where he would mark him. “I’m down if you are.”

Aizawa smiled wide. “Yeah… let’s see what you got, hot shot.”


“How’s the pain so far?”

The leather cushioning on the client table creaked as Aizawa shifted a little beneath Yagi’s hands. “Not bad.”

Yagi smiled beneath the black mask shielding the lower half of his face and dipped his needle into the cup of black ink for what felt like the thousandth time that day. The sun was hanging low in the sky, spearing through the parlor windows in sheets of crimson and gold, the light cascading over the planes of Aizawa’s half-naked body laid out on the table before him. Shinsou hadn’t moved an inch from his spot behind Yagi’s shoulder in the six hours he’d been working, watching every mark take form on Aizawa’s skin with incredible intentness. His ribs had already been done, the skin pink and swollen and speckled with blood in some of the more sensitive spots. His hip and upper thigh were nearly complete.

“Are you going to leave it as linework?” Shinsou asked.

Yagi shook his head. “There’ll be color added at the second session, but the black will need time to heal first. Only for a week or two, before I dive back in. How’s it look?”

“That looks fucking sick, man,” he murmured, hands stuffed into the front pocket of his hoodie. “Uncle Shouta, are you sure you don’t want to know what he’s putting on you?”

“Nope,” Aizawa responded, face turned away. “When I said ‘surprise me’, I meant it.”

“Your uncle has too much faith in me,” Yagi added as he worked the needle into the curve of Aizawa’s hip, other hand swiping at the excess ink and blood blooming to the surface. “Especially for someone who’s going to be sporting a giant dick on his side forever.”

Aizawa shot him a look which made both him and Shinsou cackle.

“Kidding, sweetheart.” Yagi pulled down his mask just enough to press a soft kiss to Aizawa’s bare thigh.

Shinsou made a retching sound behind him. “I said I just wanted you guys to bone, not be gross.”

“Well we’re doing both.” Aizawa stated.

“His dick was that good, huh?”

“Yep.”

“I’m tuning you two out, now,” Yagi cut in loudly as heat crawled up his cheeks.

By the time the final details had been added to the tattoo, night had descended across the city. Slowly, Yagi assisted Aizawa to his feet, mindful of his aches from being in the same position for so long. Aizawa was barely clothed, standing shirtless in the middle of the room with a single pantleg on while he held the remaining fabric over his cock for modesty’s sake. Yagi wouldn’t have cared, but Shinsou was another story altogether.

“Gimme a sec to wash it,” Yagi murmured and grabbed a bottle of warm soapy water from his station, spraying the fresh ink generously before giving it a wipe with soft paper towel. He was careful, stroking slowly over the heavily irritated flesh, a smile growing once he could finally take in the entire sight. His art, his mark, forever on the man who’d stolen his heart out from under him. “…Wow.”

“Yeah, holy shit,” Shinsou whistled low.

“Alright, alright, just show me already.” Aizawa grinned.

Yagi led him to the full-length mirror on the other side of the room and stood aside, heart climbing into his throat as nerves took hold. He watched Aizawa step before it, body turned, arm lifting high so he could take it all in.

Anyone else would have said that Aizawa had no reaction, for all he did for the first few minutes of the reveal was stare. He made no sound, said no words, his breathing didn’t even so much as change.

But to Yagi, who latched onto the gleam of emotion welling behind dark eyes, who saw the bob of a throat swallowing it down… it was more than he could have asked for.

“Sunflowers?” Aizawa breathed at last.

Yagi nodded and moved to stand behind him. He laid his chin on Aizawa’s shoulder, watching him through the mirror’s glass. “Mhm… I got the idea in New York. Not only because I know they’re your favorite flower—”

“How’d you figure that out?”

Yagi smirked. “Because through all those months of you fucking with me, they were the only thing that remained consistent. You always had some on your table or in your arms. Like you were sending me hints of who you really were amid all the trickery.”

Aizawa smiled, head dropping shyly until his face was hidden behind his bangs. Yagi brushed them aside and tucked the strands behind one ear.

“Sunflowers are resilient and strong. No matter where they are, they will push themselves further and further toward the sky. They will turn their faces to the sun and track it as it moves throughout the day, seeking its warmth. Needing it more than anything else in the world. Kind of like how nothing could have stopped me from reaching toward the light you tried so hard to keep hidden away.” Yagi kissed the side of his neck, voice lowering for Aizawa’s ears alone. “I’ll never not be drawn to you, Shouta Aizawa, the sun to my sunflower.”

Aizawa made a soft sound and turned his head to kiss him hard, his lips tasting of salt from freshly spilled tears. Yagi deepened it, crushing the younger man to him from behind while still being mindful of his healing ink.

Shinsou piped in from across the room. “This is too gay, even for me.”

“Shut up,” they said in unison, and their shared smiles could have rivaled the sun itself.