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Trying to blink the searing, blinding light of explosion out of his eyes is startling, dazing, but Ogata knows he got away again—if he didn't step out of their trench ten minutes ago to take a piss and scour the lines through his binoculars, he’d have been blown to shreds alongside the men in their makeshift shelter. Takeshi, Ariko, Watanabe, Kikuta and that supply chain brat who stuck with them the day before are definitely mincemeat now—and if he’d come back just a minute earlier he’d be now too. 

His own ringing ears are no bad fate, compared; blind luck and his deeply engraved habit of keeping an eye out saved him even in this shitty mudhole of Mukden. He’s momentarily sightless and deaf, cold mud under sapping heat from his body. He’s trying to get as far as possible, and a part of him can't help being almost impressed by the haphazardly fired Russian howitzer actually hitting something; so late in the night the fight’s been off for hours, barely a sliver of the moon is out. Definitely not enough to take proper aim across no man’s land, and if Ogata is to be honest with himself, he doubts he could easily hit a man now in the pitch dark. A lucky hit, then.

He blinks once, then again, to get his eyes to adjust to the dark and see if there’s any cover he could use to hide. He probably has no chance to get back behind secure imperial lines; with their own trench blown to shreds, the area between where he is and the rest of the forces is exposed and flat. Ogata’s doesn’t feel like taking his chances attempting to cross that, night or not. All it takes is for a damn Russian to put another shell in the artillery gun, to keep with the nasty habit of firing twice in one place, aiming at possible survivors and medics rushing in, and Ogata is fucked. 

He’s stuck here for now, and his cover literally blown. 

He can still see the flash of the explosion, burning his whole optic nerve right to the back of his very skull. He hopes it’s gonna be gone soon. Few things as useless as a sniper who can’t see shit, and Ogata does not like having no control over the way he lives or dies. 

He wipes his eyes; they are caked with ash and dirt. He feels his body up, moving toes. The freezing ground is sapping his heat even through his army-issue coat. He has no supplies on him; his rations, water and blanket are all in the smoldering ruins now, and he curses himself for not bringing them out even for just those few minutes. He was gonna finally get something to bite once he got back, and now he’s stuck alone in the freezing Manchurian night, half-blind and ears already freezing off even under his cloak, hungry.

At least he has his own rifle: if nothing else he won’t need to get a new one issued in who knows what condition when he gets back. 

To think that that idiot Watanabe laughed at him: can’t even take a piss without your type-30 helping you out, Ogata? Look who’s alive now. 

Not Watanabe. A voice in his head supplies that Tsukishima had gotten lucky too, when those stray pieces of shrapnel hit him in the shoulder a few days ago, and had to be carried to the medical tent; otherwise he’d be dead now too. 

After a few minutes of blinking and rubbing his eyes in a poor attempt to get them functioning, his vision comes back and Ogata can finally assess his environment. He was right—his way back to the army is fucked, but there are some abandoned trenches on his right that have been emptied out or destroyed as the lines moved, and getting there won’t leave him as exposed. With a bit of luck, he might find a secure one and hide there for now.  

Not half bad as plans go.

Ogata spends the better part of the next half an hour carefully inching forward while trying not to fall into any of the deep craters marring their abandoned trenches; scars on the battlefield’s body. Probably their very own sappers blew them trying butter up the Russians a few days ago, and it just figures that even when they finally manage to blow up something else other than their own fingers, they still manage to indirectly fuck with Ogata’s plans in life. He also curses higher command for still stationing them on this far right ass of the lines; what is even their use here when their left flank is the process of pinning down the 2nd Russian Manchurian Army. They are only here as living targets for the Russian rearguard to shoot at.

Pieces of old, broken duckboards are lying left and right, doing everything but their original job of keeping the cold and mud pooling at the bottom of the trench out of his boots. All they do is trip him over—by the time he finally reaches the relatively damage-free old trenches he’s so pissed he’s seriously considering just turning back and taking his chances with the Russians. The shelters here are in bad shape still; most of them are  blown open with the sandbags torn and exposed like guts. There are probably body parts in there, too, and crates, Ogata thinks, there’s always goddamn crates, always devoid of anything even remotely useful. 

By the time he passes six ruined shelters, his hope of finding a good one is all but gone. He jumps over another hole, a frozen puddle of god-knows-what reflecting back the faintest sliver of moonlight, and if he’s to continue he’ll have to get around that crater that’s—

Wait.

Something next to him catches his eye, and he’s squinting in the dark now, trying to make out the lines, and there: a seemingly intact trench, opening so small and dark that he almost walked past it. His luck seems not fully have run out after all. It was probably made as an extra storing space for ammunition, sensitive material, not even for soldiers, really. It’s smaller than the usual ones, but just what he needs—tighter the space, the more secure, an animal part of his brain supplies.  

He ducks under the low opening into the almost complete darkness and throws himself down on the ground, rifle first; an old habit.

“Fucking finally,” Ogata mutters into the dark.

A vague shape in the corner across stirs with a groan. 

It takes all that Ogata has not to shoot all 5 of his rounds into him.

The man—because it is a man—sees the weapon very much aimed at the center of his chest, safety off, bolt cocked; Ogata’s hands automatically moved to kill.

“The hell is your problem?” he yells, the sound of his voice ringing very loud in the quiet, small space, making Ogata wince. 

That’s just great, isn’t it: that’s it for his single night of not having to listen to any idiot’s babbling. And isn’t this what all the army songs are about, brothers-in-arms and company? Ogata almost wishes he’d just shot him instead. He considers it for a moment but—

No; he’s had his fill in sleeping in blood and dirt lately. It’d be a waste to mess this place up.

He lowers his rifle. “Not my fault you were playing dead in the corner here. This is how people get shot, you know.”

The soldier doesn’t sound reassured by that; in fact going by the sounds, he sat up straight and is gesturing wildly in Ogata’s direction. It’s very hard to make anything out. “What kind of excuse is that? It’s our trenches. I could have almost stabbed you too, you know? You could have been a stray Russian. Or even worse, a superior.”

Ogata almost snorts. He flicks the safety back on with a loud click. “It’s good that I wasn’t a Russian, then,” he says mildy, “or you’d have been shot in your sleep.” 

Even through the silence he feels a glare. Then the man sighs. 

“You that much of a bastard to your own allies? I don’t even wanna see how you treat your enemies.” 

Ogata’s lips twitch upwards at that. “Of course. You know how this war business goes.” He carefully puts the rifle to the side, propping it against the wall. 

He’s about to ask him which division he is from when the man shifts in the corner and Ogata realises that the trench is not so intact after all; that there is a faint trace of moonlight illuminating the soldier’s face now. That his face is horrifically pale, deformed white features, the bones itself out and exposed— 

but it’s the wrong shape. It can’t be, and no one could just converse with their face missing—

and that’s when Ogata registers that it’s not the soldier’s skull he’s seeing after all; the mid-section of face is all but covered by bandages, their almost-pristine white a stark contrast to the rest of the soldier’s shape.

Oh.

He tries not to laugh with rush of delight that fills him, but the sound escapes his lips anyway; he throws his head back with it. That sure would be have been fucked up, to be stuck here with a faceless man, talking through the night, and he briefly wonders about the others in his trench, if any of them stayed alive for long enough to see the flesh melt off the others’ skulls; if they all died in an instant after all.

“What’s so funny now?” the man grumbles, hearing him chuckle.

Now that Ogata’s eyes are somehow adjusted to dark pit their trench is, he can see the man’s slouched on a sandbag on the furthest corner, crates covering him from sight if one was to come in through the door. He’s not so stupid after all. Ogata stands and moves a bit further inside, sitting back on a bag himself, right across from the man, close enough that their bent pulled up knees are brushing. The man makes a face; but it’s not like he could say no to a few extra degrees of warmth, and the space is small. 

“Your face.”

“My face?” 

“Yeah,” Ogata rolls his eyes. Idiot. “Why are you so bandaged up and out here? Trying to scare the russians to death?”

“What? No,” the man frowns. “I’m not tall enough for a yokai like that away—”

Ogata waves a hand. When it comes to mass-grave haunting skeletons, size is the last detail to pick apart. He doesn’t know if the Russians even have those, though. Probably not. “We really must be in shit if higher command sends out cripples like you to fight.”

“Come on now, it’s not so bad,” the soldier says, touching his face with a gloved hand, smearing dirt into the gauze with the same move. “It’s nothing, it’s just cosmetic. Couldn’t shake the nurses off without it.” And after a moment, he snorts, “As if my mug wasn’t scarred enough already.”

Ogata makes his voice ring with mock-compassion. “Then it won’t make you any uglier.” He puncuates his point with a knee nudge. 

“Shuddup,” the soldier says. “Bet I’m still more handsome than you.” Not so good with insults, is he? Still, Ogata can’t help but be curious. No one should be in this part of the line, so far from the main forces, and definitely not while injured.  

“Seriously,” he asks, “what are you doing here? Field hospital’s not that far. You should probably be there with those.” The man avoids his eyes. Ogata tilts his head to the side, understanding dawning. “I see. You are trying to desert.”

“What? No—why the fuck would you think that?” the soldier seems genuinely offended: that’s a no then. A pity; it would have definitely made the night more interesting. “Why would anyone in their right mind come here trying to—wait. Are YOU trying to desert?” he asks, suspicious now. 

Ogata shrugs and leans back, shifting against the wall. “Nah.”  It’s goddamn cold. His limbs are getting rigid and numb, aching with it. He really wishes he had even that thin, frayed, good-for-nothing standard issue blanket. Goatskin lining or not, the coats are not worth much on their own. “Didn't you say it yourself? No one in their right mind would think they can desert from here.” 

The soldier considers this. “...Fine.”

“You didn’t answer my question though.”

The soldier snorts. “Which is? I kinda got lost at you accusing me of being a deserter there,” he says, a dry tone.

Ogata sighs again. “What are you doing here? Besides looking like an idiot. I bet you make a nice target in the dark.”

As an answer, the soldier kicks Ogata in the shin a little. “Fuck off. Why don’t you tell how you ended up here first? I was here before you. And you are an asshole, it’s the least you can do to make it up,” he teases, half-serious.

He seems satisfied with his own retort. Okay then, Ogata thinks, two can play this game. 

“Alright. Trench I was in got blown up while I was taking a piss. Everyone else is dead.”

It’s a right thing to say: the soldier seems mortified, Ogata can tell that even with most of his face covered. It’s almost embarrassing how easy it is to press his buttons.

“I’m sorry. Didn’t know,” he says after a beat and Ogata’s taken off guard by how genuine he sounds, like he means it, nothing like the forced capitulation he expected. So far into the war, even after he’s obviously had his fair share here, and he still manages anything other than resignation?  

He’s either a sap or insane. Possibly both. 

Ogata lets him think he’s heartbroken over the demise of his brothers-in-arms; an upper hand in the army if there was ever one. He lets out a calculated, pained sigh and runs a gloved hand over his buzzcut, under his cap. It’s getting long again, a part of him notes. “Anyway. Satisfied now?”

The man mutters something too quiet to make out. A flash of annoyance washes through Ogata. “What?”

“It’s my friend,” the soldier says, “we enlisted up together. And when I got injured again I wasn't gonna leave him out there, alone, so I slipped out of the hospital. Toraji’s a good guy but it’s not like I can leave him just because my face is a bit scratched up, can I? You know how it goes,” he says, like it’s obvious, like it goes without saying that you’d follow someone to the carnage, to get shot at. 

He really is a sap; Ogata wonders how he’s not dead yet. Guys like that don’t usually make it this far, not while remaining this kind. 

“Touching,” Ogata says. He can understand the man’s sentiment about hospitals, if nothing else: it’s hard to get a good night’s sleep in a tent full of delirious, pain-torn men sobbing for their mothers, breathing the foul stench of shit and rotten flesh. ”Don’t exactly see him here though.”

The man grimaces under all that gauze. “We got separated when they started shelling during the last attack. I’m pretty sure he’s back behind the lines but I could only reach this side.”

Ogata hums in a long exhale. His breath curls in the cold like a spectre, and he watches it fade into the chilling, sub-zero air. It’s freezing even with the two of them here, their single point of contact, their legs tangled together in the only source of something resembling heat; a lack of cold, if anything. He pulls off his gloves and rubs his hands together, a futile attempt to spur some warmth. But it’s like rubbing two cold, dead fish together; he can barely even feel his own hands.

“Got a blanket?” he asks, even if his chances are low. If the guy had any he’d be using it. See? Nothing ever useful in the crates.

Predictably, the soldier shakes his head. “Nah. I don’t have anything. No food either. You?”

A sliver of hope in his eyes. He must be hungry too; they all are these days. It’s hard to see through the bandages but the man’s face seems to be sunken in the same way Ogata knows his is, and he’d bet money that if he saw under his thick coat he’d find his uniform is too loose, ill-fitting too. It’s a particular type of bad fit that all soldiers far into ill-supplied military campaigns have; the fit of shoulders and sleeve length are still right, loose fabric around the the limbs and torso the tell-tale signs of the weight melting off them. They all look like brats trying on their father’s clothes; a sick irony—most of their fathers are either sitting home by the fire, or are the very men who send them out to crawl in the mud. Ogata knows which of these is his own; and he hopes Yuusaku still hurts, hurts his father so much he can’t sleep at night, as if he was freezing in a trench too.  

“I got nothing,” Ogata says. If he had food he would have probably eaten it already before reaching this place. “I barely got my gun on me. Didn’t exactly pack extra clothes for a piss.” It’s rare to see troops loiter around without any supplies after all; most guys seem to be welded to their poor rations, an extra pair of gloves, guarding them like a dog its bone.

The soldier laughs at that, lifting his own Arisaka from the corner, hand on the cold, hard wood stock. He gives it a pat, showing it off to Ogata, its dull echo loud in the silence. “Oh yeah, look at this. Great. Will do us good freezing to death.”

Not only a sap: insane too. Ogata scoffs. “We are on a battlefield, idiot. What a few rags’d do against bullets? I’ll pick a few shitty blankets over a type-30 when Arisaka starts making them bulletproof.” Not that he ever would. Ogata likes to be on the shooter side of a conflict, and covering in a ruined icy shell of a trench isn’t his ideal way of warfare, bulletproof or not, thanks very much. “I’d rather be freezing to death than getting shot by an incompetent rosuke infantryman’s stray bullet when I could have just fired back.”

The soldier snorts and there’s a newfound steely determination in his eyes, a light that says he means it, and he leans forward, closer to Ogata now, their pale breath mixing. It’s warm then cold on Ogata’s face as the thin weak body heat evaporates from it, leaving only cold humidity of an exhale between them.

“Speak only for yourself here. If I have to cut up and hide in a Rosuke’s body for warmth, I’m gonna. I’m not gonna die in the mud here.” His voice is firm, not a sliver of doubt; but there is a strange mix of unease and resignation under the usual soldier bravado.

Interesting. 

“Brave words for a man huddling in wreckage. I don't see any Russians to cut up here,” Ogata points out, eyebrow raised.

The soldier gives him a sleazy look. “I don't either. Maybe I’ll cut you up instead. Take a bite too while I’m at it.”

He seems pissed now. Good, Ogata thinks. Let him be angry.  If he is gonna be stuck in here for the foreseeable future, he's not gonna tolerate a wuss’s company. Suddenly he’s glad that the other man seems more exhausted and annoyed than anything else. He’d seriously consider crawling back out to no man’s land in hopes that he’d reach their lines if he was stuck here with a cryer. Or just shoot him after all. 

(Not that it's surprising. Most men who would be scared by some mud got themselves killed by some stupid panicked stunt anyway. Most men wouldn't sleep in circumstances like that; and most men wouldn’t flee medical care just for the chance to get blown up out here.)

Ogata’s lips twitch upwards. “You can try me,” he says. 

The soldier scoffs, looking away. “I just might. Maybe I’m not that desperate yet,” he mutters. 

Is he embarrassed? Can’t be: most infantry guys definitely took that “bite” already. Especially if—

Ogata taps his pocket down, looking for the cigarettes he lifted off Kikuta earlier. “Sure, tell me if you do. Which division are you not deserting from, anyway? 4th?” he asks. Last time he checked, those guys had the right flank, but fuck knows what’s going on in war; after the insane incompetence at Port Arthur Ogata witnessed first-hand, he doubts anyone from higher command actually knows.

The soldier makes a pouty face. “4th? Now you are just insulting me. 1st.” Ogata can’t see it right, but the skin around the corner of his lips are pulled in a strange way: one of the scars he must have talked about. 

The 1st Division, huh. He was also at Port Arthur.

“Awh,” Ogata coos. “A Tokyo boy.”

The soldier sighs. “You really can’t tune it down, can you?“ He tries to scratch his nose through the gloves and bandages; a futile attempt. He gives up quickly. “You? So that I know which division I’m gonna tell my guys is full of dickheads.” It’s an insult some army guys would take too seriously, but lucky for him, Ogata never gave a damn about that kind of bullshit. 

“7th,” Ogata says, grin widening, “and I can confirm; we are full of assholes over there.” The soldier’s mouth twitches up. Good. 

“I can see that,” and then he catches Ogata fishing a pack out from his pocket.

He reaches for it too but Ogata yanks it out of his reach. “Fuck off, I only got one left.” That stingy bastard Kikuta; at least Ogata won't have to give him more in the future. He places it into his mouth and throws the pack aside. Now the matches. 

The soldier kicks him again. “You really are a bastard, aren’t you?” 

Ogata doesn’t care, it’s not like he’ll ever see the guy again. “Didn’t you say it yourself just now? Whole division’s assholes." He’s looking for the box of matches but he seems to have lost those. Dammit. 

The soldier notices. “See? This is what you get for being a dick,” he says with glee, legs stretching out further into Ogata’s space. Damn him too. It’s too cold to kick him away. “I’ll tell you what. I’ll give you matches if you share.”

Ah, he's sneaky after all. Well, okay then; Ogata’s not stupid, he knows when to give in, and he capitulates with indifference. “Fine,” he says, and holds out a hand to catch the box of matches.

He lights it up with a quick, practiced move, and from the corner of his eye he catches the soldier watch the way his fingers move in the flicker of orange flames. Feels the soldier trace his face with his eyes, and he watches him back too; finally a good look at each other. 

He takes a long, deep drag, and enjoys the burn of smoke in his throat and lungs; the way the hollow feeling of hunger in his stomach is dulled with every breath. It’s a nice, small luxury, afforded by the same brass that sends them out into the shelling without giving them a damn metal helmet, but one he’s learnt to appreciate. Danger or killing people does not bother Ogata; only if someone’s incompetent at it. He wishes the cigarette would last longer, that he could savour it a little longer; but there’s more important things to do now. 

He takes a deep breath and blows the smoke right into the soldier’s face.

“Ugh,” the soldier wrinkles his nose. “I hate this. Smells like shit.” His problem of  being still so prissy and not doing his best to kill his sense of smell after so much time on the battlefield. 

“No, shit smells like shit.” Ogata says. “Why don’t I just keep it the rest to myself then?” 

The soldier just rolls his eyes and takes it out of his mouth with a growl and Ogata lets it; good, do it, he thinks. It’s his half. Ogata can see the glow of embers reflect in his eyes, the only part of his face visible; they are a pretty, almost hazel color. His hands are nice too; under the dry skin and nails caked with dirt, they are big and rough but long fingered, a pleasant shape.

The soldier takes a deep drag of the half-burnt cigarette and immediately breaks out in a fit of coughing, eyes tearing up; he doesn’t seem to particularly enjoy it. Who knows—many guys, even ones with a sweet tooth, pick it up here in the trenches, to kill the barren time between attacks that get on the nerves more than the bloodshed itself. It’s a quick and easy way to dull the hunger and boredom too, while the other options are either to get drunk or fight another idiot. Too much energy to waste. Not to mention the smell; part of Ogata picked it up so the stench of the battlefield and the reek of unwashed and dying bodies in his nose is replaced by the stink of tobacco.

Their breathing is the only sound as they watch each other. The dying glow of ember is barely illuminating their faces and mingling breath; some of the faint winter clouds must have covered the sliver of moon. There’s a quiet, animal tension in the air between them, one that Ogata’s intimately familiar with; the last exhale before pulling the trigger. A final side-glance before disappearing into a dark corner with another man. Waiting for someone to bleed out.

A tension he can never help himself not to break. 

He leans forward with one quicksilver move, taking the stump of the cigarette out of the soldier’s mouth and placing it back to his own. It’s barely wet between his lips; they are both parched.

“Hey, what are you—” the soldier raises his voice, indignant. 

Ogata smirks and leans even closer, inhaling one last time before throwing the butt to the side, letting the smoke curl out of his mouth. He’s almost straddling the soldier’s thighs. “Come on, let’s cut the chase,” and he reaches for the buttons on the soldier’s coat, belt-height.  

The soldier grabs his wrist, iron-grip on Ogata’s arm, but he’s wild-eyed. Ogata could probably feel his heart drumming if he’d place a hand on his chest. “What the hell are you doing?”

Ogata laughs into his face, rusty and amused. “Please, don’t try to tell me you’ve never done this. Following a friend to the battlefield? As if any idiot would believe that. What was his name, Toshirou? Tanjirou? Are you gonna try and tell me you are just his pal?”

He really must be an idiot to think anyone would buy that story; as if camaraderie and friendship weren’t just concepts made up to raise troop morale. No one would actually risk their lives for empty words like those. Love? A bedtime story made up for kids; it’s all the veiled desire for a good fuck. A stupid reason, but something Ogata could at least understand.

The soldier’s mouth falls open like a gaping fish, grip loosening. “What—me and Toraji? Are you out of your—It’s not like that, we—”

Ogata keeps talking. “I’m sure he wouldn’t mind. Don’t tell me he’s the jealous type. Or is he? Don’t worry; I don’t kiss and tell, ” and he goes back to unbuttoning the lower half of the coat, ignoring the soldier’s shudders at the cold seeping into it. He’ll get warmed up soon.

The soldier puts his hands on Ogata’s shoulders but doesn’t push him away when he undoes his pants, hands on his fundoshi now. He grits between his teeth, “We really don’t— he’s my friend. Dammit, your hands are fucking freezing.” He flinches when Ogata palms his cock, and no wonder: his hands are so numb with the cold he can barely even feel them himself. 

The soldier shudders and makes a sound—something between whine and pained whimper—but doesn’t protest, eyes shut closed.

After a moment, he opens them up again as if remembering something and says, “Wait, lemme—” and makes a vague move towards Ogata’s own coat, as if trying to decide if he’s to undo it, even as he’s getting half-hard in Ogata’s hand. “I—you give me a hand, I give you one, right?” he mutters, fingers awkwardly trying to work the buttons, jaw set in determination; a bravado of a man pretending to know what he’s doing.

Maybe he wasn’t lying after all; maybe he’s not fucking his friend, just wishes to. What a joke that’d be. 

Ogata can’t help but ask, “Don’t tell me you’ve never done this before.”

Now that’d be a shock; he’d be surprised if there was a single Port Arthur veteran who’d never had another man’s hand down their pants. It’s all he remembers; the venting of fear and tension between battles, in the dark, men fighting and fucking anyone for a moment of release. He definitely took part in it—desperate men make good fucks.

“None of your business.” The soldier gives him a glance, even as his eyes are becoming hazy. Take it or leave it  his look says. With most of his face covered Ogata can’t tell, but he’d bet he’s flushed red already. He’s definitely almost completely hard despite the cold, and he shudders again as Ogata moves his thumb over the head of his cock. 

Well, Ogata was really just gonna give him a hand, as the soldier put it, but if it’s really the man’s first ride, it’d be a pity not to make it memorable. Besides, he hates when people assume they know what he wants to do. So, he bats the soldier’s hands away that half-heartedly fumble with his fly, and shuffles a bit further back.

The soldier gives him a confused look, “What are you—”

He starts when, with one smooth motion, Ogata slides his cock into his mouth. He feels the soldier’s body jerk and his hands grab for Ogata’s head with a long, shuddering breath, clumsily hitting the cap off his head.

“Oh fuck,” he breathes.

He’s hot and hard in Ogata’s mouth as he takes it in deeper, sealthing it with a well practiced ease. The soldier moans; his hands feel rough and big on his head, fingers palming the nape of Ogata’s neck. It’s loud gasps, it’s pants in the silence as Ogata sucks him off, working with quick efficiency. 

The soldier’s eyes are clenched shut; every twirl of tongue and slight touch of teeth wrings another small sound or twitch out of the man. It’s more fun that he hoped for: Ogata lets himself soak in his dazed helplessness, and the way he squirms.

It doesn’t last long—one throaty whine is all he gets before the soldier finishes, his come hot and salty in Ogata’s mouth. He sucks him through it and watches the soldier’s struggle to keep his composure. After it’s done, Ogata just sits up and doesn’t spit it out into their small space, but swallows and wipes his mouth. He’s not feeling like sleeping in drying cum tonight. 

The soldier’s still shaky and panting as he tucks himself back into his fundoshi, his trousers, hiding his wet, shrinking cock from the cold. He opens and closes his mouth, as if to say something; maybe a thank you, maybe a fuck you, Ogata doesn’t know.

Then opens it up again, vaguely gesturing at Ogata, “I, you didn’t have to...” Suck him off? Swallow? 

The soldier straightens up after a moment too, still a bit breathless. He pulls himself to his knees. He doesn’t look into his eyes as he mutters, “C’mere,” and reaches for Ogata’s trousers, undoing it with shaky fingers and dragging his tenting fundoshi to the side. His hands are warm and dry on Ogata’s cock, the curl of his fingers delicious; a good suck-off really got his blood pumping. He works Ogata’s dick carefully, as if trying to get a good grip. And maybe there’s some practice there; maybe he’s done this a few times after all. Ogata leans back against the wall, hard sandbag in the small of his back, letting him have his way.

There’s a look in the soldier’s eyes, half lidded still, in the set of his jaw; it’s something similar to the bravado from earlier, a do or die, one that Ogata knows from the uniformly ashen and sombre faces that makes all soldiers look the same before battle. But it’s so startling here, so out of context, that it takes a moment for him to recognise; it's almost a dare, asking for a challenge, as he tentatively leans down, his huffed breath humid and unexpected on Ogata’s cock, causing him to shiver. His body is shockingly warm and solid between Ogata’s legs, exposed skin radiating heat, a pressure against his own body.

He clumsily takes Ogata’s tip into his mouth, his tongue wet, the cave of his mouth searing hot in their freezing trench; it sends a surprised jolt down Ogata’s spine. It’s good. It’s been a while since he got to have this. It’s great. The heat of the soldier’s mouth around his cock, the velvet texture of his tongue circling his cock with a curiosity, trying to find a rhythm. Ogata lets out a sigh. His hand drifts to the soldier’s face, curling a thumb under the bandages there, face hot to touch. He feels the prickle of a few-day old stubble under his finger, the rough edges of a healing scar here; and there, an old and smooth one, healed by time. The soldier wasn’t lying when he said his face was scarred up. 

He digs his finger into the wound, into the inflamed skin, making the soldier hiss with surprise, teeth and fingers unwittingly closing tighter around Ogata’s cock, the touch of pain and pressure delicious. It makes Ogata want to rile him up, drive him insane till he swings him against the wall, eyes dark with fury, but—no, it wouldn’t work. And there’s pleasure in this; fulfilling the urge to trample in fresh snow, the soldier’s mouth figuring his way around him. 

The soldier’s is tentative, but sweet and eager to please, and Ogata guides him with his hand, making an appreciative grunt here and there when he does good; the soldier seems to pick up his signs, encouraged by the reactions.

His eyes are closed; Ogata wishes he could see his face now, in the dark, under the gauze, cheeks flushed red and hollowed out around his cock. He rests his other hand on the soldier’s head, short buzzed hairs under his fingers like cut grass parting. The soldier shivers under his touch, and looks up, eyes glazed over and pupils dilated, and there’s a surprise and embarrassment there at finding Ogata’s dark eyes staring back.

Ogata’s still looking at him when he comes, a quiet exhale between his teeth, and catches the exact moment the soldier realises it too—eyes widening in surprise with the hot come filling his mouth. He coughs and pulls back for a moment and Ogata thinks he will pull away, but then that look is back in his eyes; and he mouths Ogata’s cock again with determination. He sucks him through it sloppily, obviously having trouble swallowing, feeling foreign. But he manages—Ogata feels his face get even hotter under his fingers before he lets him go.

After it’s done the soldier coughs again, sitting up now, wiping his mouth. He doesn’t look Ogata in the eyes. Ogata tucks himself away and waits for him to storm out or get defensive, like some men do after getting their rocks off.

He does neither. He’s still panting a little, glancing up at Ogata, and it’s almost cute how obviously he’s straining to say something to fill the silence. He can tell the soldier wants it to be special, to be nice, and he’s so earnest and honest, charming, that Ogata feels the sudden urge to tell him off; what gives him the right to think it’s more than what it is: two men wringing half-boiled pleasure out of each other in the dark, nameless and ignominious.

In the end, the soldier just gestures to Ogata to scoot over with a murmur. 

“What,” Ogata taunts. “You wanna cuddle?” If that’s what he wants, he’s sure knocking on the wrong door. 

“No,” the soldier says, tone sulky, hurt. He’d have wanted to. If Ogata was just a bit of better man, he’d consider indulging him; but he isn’t. “It’s cold, and I’m not freezing to death because of you,” and pushes Ogata to the side, sitting beside him on the sandbag with a dare in his eyes: what are you gonna do about it

He turns his back to him, curling to his side. Ogata huffs, amused, and lies back too, picking his rifle up from the corner, letting it loosely rest in the crook of his hands. Back to back; the way soldiers huddle in the cold.

I’ll leave early in the morning, he thinks, and lets himself drift into the half-awareness where the mind’s empty, but awake, body resting. The soldier shuffles behind him, and there’s blind, searching moves in in the dark, some fumbling. 

Something dropped on him. “Your cap,” the soldier says. “Asshole,” and he lies back to how they were, but closer, pressed more tightly.  

Ogata smiles. “Thanks.” He slips it back on his head. Really a sap, he thinks.