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MIKE

 

Hey! What's up everyone? Name's Cole and today I'm gonna talk about one of the coolest places on Earth!

 

And it's called… Inarishima!

 

Osamu sighed as he wiped down the bar, only half-listening to the white boy YouTuber trying to make his home sound infinitely cooler than it actually was. There'd been a handful of half-baked travel vloggers taking interest in the island in the past year or so, though Osamu hardly knew why.

 

Reason one: The beaches!

 

My dudes, you've never seen a more beautiful beach than the ones on Inarishima. The sand is an incredibly rare star shape that the locals call hoshizuna.

 

He glanced up at the television to see a slow panned angle of a golden sand beach lined with palm trees. Then immediately followed by a shot of a well manicured hand showing off the star sand. The YouTuber was right, he's never seen such a beautiful beach.

 

Especially since these ones weren't even on Inarishima. Hoshizuna, his ass.

 

Reason two: The rarity!

 

Inarishima is over 300 miles from the nearest inhabited island. There’s no airport since the whole place is a nature reserve full of rare and endangered birds. Fewer than a thousand tourists come every year, all by boat.

 

Last year, we were super lucky to charter a yacht willing to bring us there.

 

The yacht on the screen was truly luxurious. All clean white with a spaceship-esque hull. The kinda aesthetic that rich people thought was incredibly gorgeous and poor folks thought was hideous.

 

Osamu kept himself firmly in the latter camp. He’s seen his fair share of megayachts cross into the cerulean waters of Inarishima — most of them horrendous. He couldn’t help but silently cheer every time they departed the mooring field. Sure, the money they brought to the island was nice, but Osamu preferred the peace.

 

After all, the wandering sailors and far flung fishermen had much more fascinating stories than the trust fund rich boys.

 

Check out how smooth this baby was! We had a total blast cruising the gorgeous Central Pacific under the stunning August weather. 

 

His eyes settled on the remote. Maybe he could turn it off or maybe he could bash it into his forehead. Either seemed like a viable option.

 

What sort of thrills did this idiot get out of lying like this? Who in their right mind would go to Inarishima in the middle of typhoon season? If you’re gonna make a quack travel vlog, at least do your research.

 

The front door jingled, heralding a dark-haired man in a burgundy jacket. Osamu shouted his welcome before returning to work.

 

We landed in Inarishima after two beautiful days at sea.

 

That’s enough.

 

Osamu hit the remote, clicking the travel vlog off. He might not have photographic memory, but he was sure he’d remember such an ugly vessel in the mooring field. There wasn’t a single visitor to the island in the last five years that hadn’t strolled through his front door, searching for food and a cold one after whatever journey brought them here.

 

“Oh?” The dark-haired man’s languid, lazy voice snapped Osamu back into reality. “Not a fan?”

 

He had settled in the barstool closest to the wall, head leaning against it and eyes blinking dangerously slow. He’d peeled off the jacket, leaving him in an athletic fit t-shirt that hugged his biceps a little too well.

 

“Just don’t like seein’ my home bein’ misrepresented like that. It’s an insult.” Osamu slid the man a menu before pouring him a glass of water. One of the man’s brows raised as he set a cardboard coaster and the water in front of him. “Drink up. I know ya want a beer, but it’s been a long time since you’ve had ice water.”

 

“How can you tell?” The man leaned forward, folding his hands in front of his face. Despite his clear exhaustion, there was still a lick of humor in his dry voice.

 

“I ain’t never seen ya ‘round here before.” Osamu pulled a beer glass from the cooler. “Ya came in wearin’ a big jacket in the middle of July and ya absolutely reek.”

 

The man snorted, rolling his eyes as he scoured the beer list on the menu. “You treat all your customers with such hospitality?”

 

“Course. They don’t got any other options so they keep crawlin’ back anyway.” Osamu poured him a small bowl of prawn crackers. “Welcome to Inarishima.”

 

The man chuckled, a ghost of a smile playing at the corner of his lips. “Thanks. Name's Suna. Heineken, please.” 

 

“Pleasure.” Osamu said, getting to work pouring a pint from the tap. “Call me Osamu.”

 

“Given name?” Suna’s brows raised, eyes glancing up from the food menu. “How casual. I must be special.”

 

“Hardly.” Osamu shot him a half-grin. “Ya ain’t the first stinky sailor to wash up on my shore lookin’ for a cheeseburger in paradise.”

 

"Medium rare with muenster'd be nice." Suna matched his grin. Osamu felt a twinge of something in his throat as he watched his eyes glimmer with mischief. He'd never seen that shade before. A muted greyish green akin to storm clouds before dawn — flickering with a flash of golden lightning. 

 

"Burger, then?" Osamu said as Suna slid the menu back to him. "One hunk of the finest Kobe beef and a slice of perfectly aged cheese from the southeast of France, comin' right up."

 

"And you say I'm not special." Suna took a long sip of his Heineken, lips pulling taut at the taste. Osamu couldn’t exactly stock the most diverse collection of beers, but he figured most people didn’t care. Beer’s beer when you’re in the middle of the ocean.

 

Osamu fetched a patty from the fridge before getting to work seasoning it and setting it on his griddle. They did get fresh beef occasionally — the supply ships would bring a small selection of cuts every few months — but most stuff was frozen, canned, or dried.

 

Not exactly a lavish lifestyle, but it was home.

 

"If ya were truly special, I'd drag ya down to the docks to see if Kita-san's brought somethin' in." Osamu flipped the burger and spun away to toss some potato wedges into the fryer. "Ya haven't lived til you've eaten raw tuna on the deck of the Amaterasu."

 

"A shame." Suna leaned lazily on one fist, munching prawn crackers. "I'm planning on being out of Inarishima by the end of the week."

 

“Where’d ya come from, anyway? Ogasawara?”

 

“Saipan.” Suna let out a massive yawn, smacking his lips loudly. After sailing as long as he did, Osamu figured he was exhausted. “Nice place, but I think I’ll fly there next time.”

 

“How long’d it take ya?” Osamu plated the burger before fishing the fries out. “Not many folks are ballsy enough to do that route.”

 

Suna’s shoulders slumped miserably. “Sixteen damn days. Never wanna do that again.”

 

Osamu hummed. “I hate to break it to ya, but unless yer plannin’ on livin’ on Inarishima forever, yer gonna have to do that again.”

 

“I figured I’d motor to Ogasawara as much as possible, instead of sailing straight.” Suna sighed in relief as Osamu slid the burger to him. Might not be anything fancy, but Osamu knew the power of a good meal in the belly of a starving man. “Lots of gas, but I’ve got spare canisters.”

 

“Not as far as Saipan, either, I s'pose.” Osamu shrugged, letting the conversation come to an end. Suna deserved some peace and quiet to enjoy his meal, and Osamu still had closing duties to take care of.

 

 

YANKEE



Suna lingered at Miya Brothers Bar and Grill until it was time to lock up, content with resting his head against the wall and sipping at his cold beer. 

 

Osamu didn't mind. He usually worked alone and something about Suna's quiet company was comforting.

 

"Say, Osamu." Suna leaned against the concrete wall as Osamu locked the front door. The sun had dipped below the horizon just half an hour ago, the barest tinges of sky blue and gold still painted above the sea. "I'm guessing you're one of the so-called Miya brothers."

 

Osamu let out a little grunt. "Just figure that one out?"

 

Suna grinned, falling in stride with Osamu as they walked away from the restaurant. "Haven't seen another person in two weeks, gimme a break." He snorted. "Where's the other Miya brother… or brothers?"

 

Osamu tucked his hands into his pockets, letting himself settle into a lazy gait. He wasn't in any rush to head home and he was sure Suna wasn't looking forward to getting back on his boat anytime soon. "Brother. He usedta work with me but he's livin' on the mainland these days."

 

In the corner of his eye, he could see a tiny frown on Suna's lips. "Why?"

 

"Tsumu wanted to go to college. Journalism." Osamu said, kicking at a rock in the sandy street. "Our parents let him with the stipulation he comes home with a wife."

 

Suna's nose scrunched.

 

"Y'know how parents are." Osamu laughed bitterly. "He's graduated and workin' as a sports journalist in Osaka. No wife yet, so no coming home. Dunno if he ever will. I think he's happy."

 

"What about you?"

 

"Are ya askin' if I've got a wife or askin' if I'm happy?"

 

Suna shrugged. "Both."

 

"Yes to one, no to the other." 

 

"No ring but that might not mean much cause I doubt there's a jeweler on the island." Suna's voice deepened, like some sort of overdramatic TV detective. "You seem happy, but they always say the most cheerful people are the most damaged."

 

"What the hell." Osamu snorted. "Ya drink salt water out there? Yer nuts."

 

Suna cackled. 

 

"I like it here." Osamu smiled at his surroundings. The familiar subtropical trees and palms that lined the sand roads. The land snails and geckos eternally clinging to the side of his house. The bold calls of the migratory seabirds and the chittering of bats. "It's like my own lil slice of heaven. But what makes it truly home is the people."

 

"How philosophical."

 

"Nah. Just the truth. The islanders here are my family, if not by blood then by bond. We take care of each other." 

 

Suna hummed.

 

"The visitors, too." Osamu smiled, thinking of all the people he's met over the last few years. "Everyone's got a story to tell. Sailors and their journeys. Fishermen and their catches. Biologists and their findings. I don't need to see the world when they bring it here for me instead."

 

Suna fell quiet, their walk punctuated only by the sound of the wind rustling through the leaves and the occasional crunch of shells beneath their feet.

 

“I can’t help but feel a little jealous.” Suna said, finally breaking the silence with words no more than a murmur. “Never had anything like that before.”

 

“Oh?” Osamu ran his fingers absent-mindedly against the brush they passed — the rough trunks of palms, the bark of trees, the waxy petals of plumerias. “I s’pose I understand. Everyone goes sailin’ for a different reason. Some to see the world, some to run away from it.”

 

Suna sighed. “You’re quite the observant one. Not sure if I like it.”

 

“Sure ya do.” Osamu grinned. “Ya wouldn’t be walkin’ with me if ya didn’t.”

 

“Touche.” Suna glanced his way, keen green eyes narrowing. “Speaking of. You didn’t answer one of my questions.”

 

“Ah, ya caught me.” Osamu rubbed the digits of his ring finger before stretching his arm out in front of him. “No wife. Not on my bucket list.”

 

“Don’t want to get married?” 

 

“Don’t want a wife.” Osamu clicked his tongue, watching realization settle on Suna’s face as they approached the path that led to his house and the lagoon it was perched on. “Couldn’t let Tsumu be the only family disappointment.”

 

“I doubt that’s true.” Suna said, his voice sounding terribly genuine. He had a feeling such a thing was rare. Maybe he should consider himself lucky. “You seem like the kinda guy that makes his parents proud.”

 

“You don’t know me.” Osamu smiled, turning down the path. He faced Suna, resting his elbow on his ramshackle mailbox.

 

“No, maybe not.” A glimmer in green, a sharp flash of a smile. “But I think I want to.”

 

Osamu drummed his fingers on the metal, pondering his options. What's the harm in inviting Suna in? He'll be gone by the end of the week, never to be seen again. The idea of a casual hookup — if he was reading this situation correctly, that is — wasn't ever something he was interested in.

 

His eyes wandered to the curve of shirt over Suna's biceps, the jacket draped over a shoulder, his shorts revealing lithe muscles. The cheeky, dry tone of voice, the superintelligent eyes. A story not yet revealed.

 

"Got a bottle of sake, if yer interested." Osamu tilted his chin, watching Suna's lips curve.

 

 

XRAY



"This is gorgeous." Suna murmured as they settled into the wooden chairs on Osamu's deck. The air was warm and balmy, but the breeze off the lagoon was cool, refreshing. Darkness had settled over Inarishima, bringing out the full expanse of the universe above.

 

"Now ya understand." Osamu took a sip of his beer, leaning his head back against the headrest.

 

A puff of wind blew across the lagoon, the shallow waters crashing and flashing a brilliant blue. He heard Suna's breath catch in his throat as the glow reverberated before fading.

 

Suna sighed, running a hand through his wet hair. Osamu let him use his shower, change out of his salty clothes, and into a set of fresh ones. He figured it was the first proper shower for Suna since he left Saipan.

 

"I've been out sailing for almost half a year now." Suna exhaled. "I've never seen anything like that."

 

"It's bioluminescent algae." Osamu watched as another wave crashed. "Yer a lucky man, Suna. Not an everyday sight."

 

"No?" Suna sipped his beer, smacking his lips in satisfaction. "Why not?"

 

"Only happens when a big storm's brewin'. The algae get pushed into the lagoon 'n' can't get out." 

 

"A storm." Suna whispered, brows furrowing.

 

"Nothin' to worry about. If yer leavin' by Friday like planned, you'll be in Ogasawara safe before the worst of typhoon season hits." Osamu laughed. "Still can't believe yer out sailin' this time of year."

 

"Yeah, yeah. Didn't have much choice. Had to leave when I did."

 

"Why's that?"

 

"Running a delivery, gotta get my boat to Nagoya as soon as possible." Suna scooched his chair forward slightly, letting his feet dangle off the edge. "Made a promise."

 

"I never asked, but where'd ya start?"

 

"Brisbane."

 

"Man." Osamu gaped. That was nearly 10000 kilometers sailed, no wonder he'd been on his journey for so long. "What brought ya to Brisbane?"

 

"Oh." Suna snorted, like the answer was obvious and Osamu was too painfully foolish to understand. "That's where I'm from."

 

"Eh?" Osamu couldn't help but raise his voice. "Don't take this the wrong way but—"

 

Suna barked out a sharp laugh. "I'm as Japanese as you are, just been living down under since middle school."

 

Osamu downed the last of his beer, crunching the can with his fist. "Not bad. Certainly better than me. I went to online school."

 

Suna met his eye, an eyebrow raised. "Do you ever wish you lived somewhere else? You said you liked it here, but that doesn't mean you can't want more."

 

A flash of lightning echoed over the distant horizon, illuminating the lagoon in gold, however briefly. 

 

"Sometimes. I've been to Osaka before, and I see pictures of big cities. Would love to see the mountains, deserts, snow." Osamu stood up, feeling Suna's gaze follow the motion. "But it all moves too fast for me. Couldn't keep up."

 

He picked up his and Suna's empty cans. "'Nother drink?"

 

"Yeah." Suna looked pensive, like he was mulling over a difficult thought. "Maybe that sake you mentioned?"

 

"Maybe not." Osamu grinned. "Yer lookin' a lil haggard. Let's stick to beer."

 

Suna sighed overdramatically. "What a tease. Depriving me of well-deserved sake."

 

"Patience."

 

He returned moments later with a pair of fresh beers to find Suna with his head tilted up, eyes closed. Osamu almost didn't want to disturb the sleeping sailor, but he still had plans.

 

He pressed the cold can against Suna's collarbone. He shrieked, batting him away. 

 

"Look alive, Sleepin' Beauty." Osamu tucked the beers beneath his armpit, holding out his other hand for Suna to take. "Still with me?"

 

"Mostly." Suna grinned, letting himself get pulled up. He wobbled slightly, sealegs not quite worn off. "Where are we heading?"

 

"Not far." Osamu smiled over his shoulder as he led Suna to the edge of the deck and the ladder leading down. At the base was just a simple platform to tie his skiff. He set the beers at the edge and climbed down. "Pass me those." He nudged his chin towards the cans. "Then c'mon down."

 

Suna slid down the ladder, gripping Osamu's shoulder to steady himself. They were close. Close enough that he wasn't quite sure if the heat on his cheeks was the summer breeze or Suna's soft exhales.

 

"What's the plan?" 

 

Osamu didn't bother answering, instead tearing off his shirt, whipping it away, and leaping into the lagoon.

 

The water was warm as he submerged, hair sticking to his skin and salt flooding his senses. He surfaced, lungs eager to regain fresh oxygen and feet finding their footing on the sandy bottom.

 

Osamu laughed as he watched the vibrant glow flashing around him. He pushed the hair out of his eyes to look up at Suna. "Jump in! The water's beautiful."

 

Suna hesitated for a moment, fingers lingering at the bottom edge of the shirt he wore. Osamu wasn’t sure what calculations were coursing through the sailor’s mind, but it wasn’t long before he came to a decision. He peeled off the shirt — giving Osamu a view of two strange scars beneath his pecs — before plunging into the water.

 

The brilliant blue reverberating from his splash reflected off his tanned skin, glimmering through his night darkened eyes. He looked gorgeous — more akin to a bioluminescent merman than a sea weary sailor.

 

He voiced this thought, watching Suna's eyes widen and a healthy flush bloom across his cheeks. Suna’s expression settled into a cocky half smile, quick to hide his true feelings.

 

"Where'd an island boy like you learn how to talk sweet like that?" Suna pushed himself closer through the water — knees bumping with Osamu’s with every swell of water.

 

He tentatively let his hand meet Suna’s hip bone beneath the surface, falling right above the waistband of his borrowed shorts. When no resistance was shown, he settled his other hand on the opposite side. “Got the internet, jus’ like you do, city boy.”

 

A pause. A flash of blue. A pair of sea slicked lips. A sharp wandering gaze. A whispered question.

 

Kiss me?

 

Unsurprisingly, Suna tasted like the ocean. The first sip of bottled water after swimming at the beach, the salt still sticking to your lips. Refreshingly cool and fresh, what you desperately needed. A trace of seawater — bitter, yet strangely sweet in a way it shouldn’t be.

 

Osamu couldn’t help but go pliant under Suna’s touch. His hands were strong, calloused from half a year of gripping lines and handling tillers. Long fingers explored his skin, tracing a map to cruise. He kissed slowly, like Osamu was a lover and not just a stranger. Far more care than he’d expected.

 

A heartbeat. A small voice.

 

“Osamu, I should go.”

 

He opened his eyes to see Suna’s brows pinched together. In concern, in pain, in fear — Osamu didn’t know. Osamu ran his fingers up Suna’s ribcage before letting go.

 

"Can I ask why?" Osamu looked from eye to eye, trying to read Suna's mind.

 

"It's getting late." Suna pulled away. "I might get lost in the mooring field if it gets any darker."

 

Osamu huffed out a laugh. What a fool. As if he’d let anyone fend for themselves like that. “Don’t worry ‘bout that. C’mon, let's get out of the water."

 

He pushed himself onto the platform before kneeling to help Suna up. A cold breeze brought them both to a shiver as it met their wet skin. "Go head inside." Osamu gestured to the ladder. "Ya can take another shower. I'll clean up out here."

 

When he later emerged from his own shower, he found Suna seated on the couch, toweling off his dark hair. "I'm s'prised yer still here."

 

Suna glanced back at him, expression dipping into sheepishness. "Sorry."

 

"Don't be." Osamu settled into the opposite end of the couch, giving Suna whatever space he needed. "You can stay, y'know?"

 

"I don't want to impose." A half-hearted excuse. A tone of voice that said I have to leave and not I want to leave. Something was bothering Suna but Osamu wasn’t so sure it was his own fault. It also wasn’t his business or anyone else’s.

 

"It ain't imposin' to accept hospitality." Osamu sent him a smile. "I've got a futon you can borrow. Ya can head back to yer boat in the mornin'."

 

Suna's brows raised, but he said nothing.

 

"Or you can join me in the loft. Yer choice."

 

A faint flush bloomed over Suna's ears. It was a little cute, how suddenly embarrassed he was despite the earlier confidence.

 

"I know yer mind's jumpin' to the wrong conclusions." Osamu pushed up from the couch, heading to the closet to fish out more comfortable clothes for Suna to sleep in. "Sometimes the soul just needs a good hug, and I'll have ya know I'm a great cuddler." He patted his stomach for good measure — he was fit, but he wasn't ashamed to have a little cookie pouch.

 

Suna stared at him like he'd grown elf ears and a pair of dragon horns. "And you thought I was insane." His voice had lightened, not quite as heavy and melancholy as before. "You're gonna have to prove such a bold claim."

 

 

KILO



Osamu woke the next morning to find the space next to him already empty. Suna had spent much of the night curled up — making himself as small as he could manage — with his head pressed against Osamu's chest. 

 

It certainly hadn't been what he'd expected when he first invited him in, but it seemed to be what they both needed.

 

He slid down the ladder from his loft to find a note stuck to his fridge. The writing was horrible — all crooked and smooshed characters — and Osamu couldn't help but smile.

 

Thanks for letting me stay over.

 

Sorry for last night. Also, I guess for leaving.

 

I had some work to do on the boat this morning.

 

See you around (?)

 

He snorted. Of course he'd see Suna around. It was hard to avoid a person for long in a place as small as Inarishima. 

 

After breakfast, he found himself at the fishing dock to pick up his order from Kita-san before he opened the restaurant. Every day Kita blessed him with a crate full of his finest seafood.

 

"Oh." A now familiar voice came from behind a pile of grimy crab traps. "Are you Kita-san?"

 

Osamu heard the smile in Kita's voice as he responded. "Sure am. Ya can call me Kita, though."

 

"I'm Suna. Osamu told me about you. Something about raw tuna?” Suna sounded like he was in higher spirits after their night. It brought a smile to Osamu’s lips as he approached them.

 

“Ah, I’ve no extra tuna today, I’m afraid.” Kita laughed, gentle and soft like morning waves. “Already sold to the locals. Osamu included.”

 

Suna’s eyes trailed Osamu’s way as he entered his line of sight, expression shifting ever so slightly. “Ah, there’s the man who stole all my tuna.”

 

“Gotta come early, darlin’.” Osamu said with a wink before sending Kita a polite bow. “Mornin’ Kita-san.”

 

Kita’s golden eyes narrowed as he nodded his head in acknowledgement. Ever the observant one. Osamu had no idea what was going through Kita’s brain at any given moment or what would come out of his mouth next. “It’s nice to see you and our new visitor are already well acquainted.”

 

“Ya know how it is. Gotta show that Inarishima hospitality.”

 

“Uh huh.” Kita said dryly, sending him a look somewhere between disapproving and disbelief. A course of heat flared under Osamu’s cheeks and he averted his eyes. Damn you, Kita. “Got a treat for ya, though. Picked up a couple wahoo on the lines. I already promised to split the better fish between the Akagis and the Oomimis, but the other one's quite nice too."

 

Suna’s face remained impassive, but Osamu noticed a clear spark of excitement flicker in his green eyes. “Sounds good.”

 

Kita flashed a gentle smile. “You comin’, Osamu?”

 

“Ya know I can’t say no to ya, Kita-san.” Osamu laid it on thick. Sometimes if he was on his best behavior, Kita would give him some of the smoked belly fat. 

 

“C’mon ‘board.” Kita pulled one of the Amaterasu’s lines, bringing her closer to the fishing dock. Her flawless red hull glistened in the morning sun — perfectly suiting the calligraphic name painted along the bow.

 

Osamu gripped the cleat of the dock piling to haul himself up and over the gunwale and onto the deck. Though Kita-san had spent from before dawn until now fishing, sorting, and selling his catch, he’d still managed to clean Amaterasu. He had no idea how Kita does it.

 

He turned at the sound of Suna’s pocket knife clinking to see him effortlessly climb aboard — no gripped cleats needed and certainly no sweat broken. Show off. 

 

“She’s beautiful, Kita.” Suna said, laying it on even thicker than Osamu had. Oh, so that’s how it’s gonna be?

 

“My granny always said treat yer lady like she’s a queen.” Kita climbed aboard himself, running his hand along the gunwale with a gentle smile on his face. “I’m not so sure this is quite what she meant, but…” He laughed softly.

 

Osamu leaned back against the cabin as Kita hauled a gorgeous silvery wahoo out of the boat’s cooler. He was joined by Suna, who seemed almost hesitant to touch anything. “You can get comfy. Kita-san don’t bite.” He whispered in the sailor’s ear.

 

“Not interested in crossing a man who’s holding a knife as sharp as that one.” Suna grinned, pointing at the shiny fillet knife in Kita’s grip.

 

Kita got to work effortlessly slicing through the wahoo — tender and gentle enough not to bruise the flesh. The knife let out a bright shick sound as it cut close to the fish’s backbone like the world’s strangest instrument. Osamu had joked once that Kita might’ve been better off as a surgeon than a fisherman — taking care of folks instead of slicing up fish all day.

 

He had immediately shot back saying he was still taking care of folks this way.

 

“I think he’d only use it on ya if yer some kinda fish.” Osamu bumped Suna with his elbow, watching his silent laugh in the corner of his eye. “Ya sure ya ain’t a fish?”

 

“You're still on about that merman thing?” Suna said. “Starting to think you have some kinda weird kink.”

 

“Hey now.” Osamu leaned into it, relishing in the wicked smile on Suna’s lips. “Livin’ here surrounded by nothin’ but the sea. A man gets lonely. Gotta fantasize about somethin’.”

 

They were full on laughing now, paying no mind to Kita’s eyebrow raises. He hadn’t known Suna long, but he already knew he'd be sad to see him leave. He was hilarious in a way no one he’s met before was — all dry and sardonic, yet terribly charming. Not to mention the grand stories and secrets he was sure Suna had locked behind those keen eyes.

 

And that was completely ignoring their kiss.

 

He didn’t mind if they never did that again. But he would… certainly enjoy a second round.

 

"Y'all wanna eat these here, or back at Osamu's?" Kita asked, turning to show one of two thick wahoo steaks. "I can pull out my grill."

 

"Wouldn't wanna inconvenience ya, Kita-san." Osamu nodded. His mouth watered at the idea of Kita's grilled fish steaks — the man couldn't cook his way out of a paper bag, but he knew how to grill fish like no other. But he knew the fisherman had work to do. "I better get back to the restaurant anyway. Riseki-kun’s probably gettin’ twitchy.”

 

"Very well." Kita packed the steaks into a freezer bag and passed them to Suna. "Was nice t' meet ya, Suna. Enjoy yer time here."

 

Suna nodded, mouthing a silent thanks.

 

"So, what sorta work didja have to do on the boat this mornin'?" Osamu tucked the crate of fish under an arm as Kita got back to work sorting his catch.

 

"Had to give her a good scrub." In the corner of his eye, he could see Suna silently marveling at their surroundings. It was a gorgeous morning already. "Things get really grody when you can't hose it down. A bucket of sea water can only do so much."

 

"Ah, not too bad, then."

 

"Nah." Suna shrugged. "I'm probably gonna take a look at the engine later today and go up the mast on Thursday to make sure everything's good. That's when I'll really be struggling."

 

"Hard to believe ya struggle at doin' anything with a body like that." Osamu shot him a tiny grin. "Even goin' up the mast. Yer thighs look like they could crush fuckin' watermelons."

 

Suna cackled. " Please, they’re not that strong. Maybe I could crush a nectarine if I tried, probably not a watermelon. Sorry to disappoint."

 

“I bet that’d hurt like hell.” Osamu hefted the crate a little higher, trying desperately to hide how heavy it was. “Since nectarines got that pit, y’know? Watermelon is like one and done.”

 

“You know what would really suck? A cantaloupe.” Suna opened the door of the restaurant, letting Osamu enter first. “Even if you manage to break through the weird hard skin, then you can’t even eat the flesh cause it’s fucking gross.”

 

“Preach.” Osamu said before quickly pausing. “Or… is it honeydew I don’t like… I can never remember.”

 

“Miya-san!” Riseki shouted from behind the bar, making the seated Oomimi Yuna jump. “Oop, sorry Yu-chan.”

 

Osamu laughed, watching her panic shift into relaxation once more. It was always endearing to come into the restaurant every morning to find the two chittering away without a care in the world.

 

“Don’t spook yer girlfriend, Heisuke.” Osamu led Suna towards the kitchen, grinning as the two squawked about how they aren't dating, c'mon Miya-san. “Thanks for preppin’ for me. Go have fun.”

 

Riseki’s smile grew megawatt as he practically ran around the bar before tugging at Yuna’s hand and disappearing out the door.

 

“He’s my junior.” Osamu said as he began unloading the crate into the freezer. He’d have to clean and fillet all them later, but for now his main priority was on the wahoo steaks. “He opens the place for me most days and runs the place twice a week. Good kid.”

 

“They’re cute.” Suna hefted a tuna out of the crate, passing it along to Osamu. “It must be nice, falling for someone you’ve known your whole life.”

 

"Perhaps." Osamu sighed. He couldn't understand the feeling — even if he'd fallen for one of the islanders, they'd never feel the same. "I'd much rather spend the rest of my life learnin' about a person than knowin' everything about 'em from the jump."

 

Suna was quiet for a long moment before responding. "Even if you find out something bad about them?"

 

Osamu glanced his way, tracing the solemn curve of Suna's lips and the wrinkle between his brows. "How bad can that thing really be? There's some inexcusable shit. Cheating, violent crime. But if I've already fallen for them, then they're prob'ly not a horrible murderer runnin' from the authorities." 

 

"Well, I suppose I've never killed anyone."

 

"Are ya insinuatin' I've fallen for ya? How bold." Osamu teased, watching the worry slip from Suna's expression. "We've all got flaws, we've all made mistakes. It's part of bein' human. And part of bein' in love is acceptin' those mistakes."

 

"Unless they're a murderer."

 

"Unless they're a murderer." Osamu laughed.

 

“Say, Osamu.” Suna tilted his head. “When’s your next day off?”

 

“Mm… tomorrow. Why ya ask?”

 

“I wanted to check out Yakoyama before I left the island.” Suna angled his head towards the back door’s window, as if trying to catch a glimpse of the old volcano over the trees. “I figured it might be nice to get a guide.”

 

“I haven’t been up since New Years. Might be nice.” Osamu closed the door to the freezer, ready to focus on grilling the wahoo steaks. “There are some guides on this island, y’know. My buddy Aran would be thrilled to take ya up.” He shot Suna a wink as the sailor paled.

 

“Well…” Suna cleared his throat. “And uhh… I don’t have much on board, but maybe you could come over… for dinner after?”

 

“Ooh, I see. Is this a date, Suna-kun?” He teased as pink flickered over Suna’s ears.

 

“I don’t know, Osamu-chan. Do you want it to be?” Suna bumped him with his elbow, throwing the challenge back. It was all so painfully easy.

 

“Do ya want me to want it to be?” Osamu stumbled over his words, causing Suna to laugh out loud. Green eyes crinkled and grin bold across his lips.

 

“Maybe.” Suna said once he restored his poker face.

 

“Then my answer’s also maybe.”

 

 

ALFA



The next day, Osamu rose bright and early with two important tasks. First, pick up his order of seafood from Kita-san and bring it to Riseki. Second, meet Suna at the base of the trail up Mount Yakoyama.

 

Suna's brows rose as Osamu approached, mouth opening in confusion. "You're wearing that?"

 

Osamu looked down at his own body from his button-up fishing shirt to his khaki shorts to his leather flip-flops. "What's wrong with it?"

 

"Osamu. We're going hiking up a mountain. You're dressed like my damn grandpa." 

 

Osamu swept his gaze to Suna's own shoes — a pair of nice hiking boots he must've brought from Australia. Practical, but a bit overdramatic. Mount Yakoyama was nothing more than a steady rocky trail through the jungle.

 

His eyes lingered at Suna's collar for a brief moment — his v-neck revealed just enough collarbone to unveil a smattering of moles he hadn't noticed the night before.

 

"Sure, but ya look like a metrosexual who accidentally wandered into an L.L. Bean shoot."

 

Suna clutched his chest in mock indignation. "Metrosexual? You wound me."

 

"And yer woundin' my eyes." Osamu pressed his hand to the small of Suna's back, leading him forward along the trail.

 

The northern jungle of Inarishima was gorgeous — neverending brilliant greens punctuated only by splashes of florals. The rainy season had brought out the vibrance of it all. Dampness of rain still lingered below the canopy and droplets splattered their skin every time they brushed against a long leaf. It was refreshing on an otherwise steamy day.

 

They were both mostly quiet as they trekked up the winding path — content to just silently enjoy the foliage. Occasionally they'd come along a cliff's edge, heralding a grand view. Sometimes of the ocean, shimmering brilliant cobalt in the July heat. Sometimes one of the many reef-fringed beaches, completely untarnished by people. Sometimes of the very jungle they were in, teeming with the unknown. Sometimes of the lagoon and the scattered houses lining its shore. And sometimes of the town itself, tucked in a safe natural harbor. 

 

No matter what, Suna's breath would audibly catch in his throat before he exhaled out a quiet woah. Osamu found his gaze lingering on his companion and not on the stunning view. The ever so slight widening of narrow eyes. Pupils reflecting the sunlight — a brilliant yellow-green more beautiful than any of the leaves in the jungle. The way his mouth opened in surprised joy.

 

A strange part of Osamu wished he could've joined Suna on his journey up to this point. To catch this expression, no matter what splendor of the Pacific Islands caught his eye — from the coast of Australia to the atolls of Micronesia.

 

Osamu is no sailor. 

 

And Suna is just a stranger.

 

They reached the crest of the volcano, nothing more than a resurgent dome left after an eruption long ago. All its traces vanished below a jungle flourishing in ash-rich soil. 

 

"Oh." Suna whispered, pressing his hand to his forehead to shield his eyes from the blaring sun. "This is beautiful."

 

The Inarishima shrine sat on the flattened peak, standing sentinel over the entire island. They crossed beneath the crimson torii gate — desperately in need of a repaint.

 

It wasn't a grand shrine, nothing more than a simple wooden structure with a massive poinciana sheltering it. Its tiled roof was covered in vibrant red-toned pink flowers shed from the tree. 

 

Suna exhaled as he brushed his hand along one of the stone foxes. "I missed this. I never realized I would."

 

Osamu stayed quiet as Suna pressed his hands together and bowed his head. When he didn't elaborate, Osamu pressed. "What's that?"

 

"Japan. Being home." Suna brushed some hair out of his eyes, looking up at the poinciana tree. "I hated it."

 

"There's a big difference between Inarishima and the mainland." Osamu said, hand meeting Suna's shoulder. "But um… I'm glad it's givin' ya comfort."

 

Suna nodded, shooting him a tiny, unconvincing smile. "Still, it's been a long time since I've been on any Japanese soil. Never thought I'd come back."

 

"Why'd ya agree to the delivery, then?"

 

"It's my grandpa's boat. He's the one I've been living with in Australia." Suna stepped away from the shrine as a gust of wind mussed up his hair. "He had to move back to Nagoya. I made him a promise."

 

"Will ya head back to Australia when yer finished?"

 

"Don't think I can." There was a finality in Suna's tone that warned Osamu not to push any further. "Doesn't matter anyway."

 

Osamu let his hand trail to Suna's elbow, gently leading him along to a bench at the cliff's edge. He wondered if it was possible to keep going until he could intertwine their fingers. Would he have permission to soothe this man's pain with the brush of thumb on skin?

 

They settled into the bench, Suna's head resting heavy on his shoulder. "Why did you open a restaurant?"

 

"When I was a kid, an older couple ran the bar that used to stand there. There're other restaurants on the island, but theirs was the only one open year round." Osamu could just barely see the roof of his restaurant in the distance. "They retired to the mainland and shut the place down. Didn't have kids to take it over."

 

"So when you were old enough, you took up the mantle?" Suna's hand found his thigh, thumb digging ever so slightly into the flesh above his knee. "But why you and no one else?"

 

"My parents were busy folks growin' up. Ma was an architect on the mainland before she met my pa. Lots of buildings on the island were built or maintained by them." Osamu couldn't tear his eyes away from Suna's hand. "My brother and I had to fend for ourselves a lot. Tsumu cleaned and I cooked."

 

Suna's gaze was steady, listening carefully to his words. Osamu bit at the inside of his cheek. He knew how stupid this was — feeling attached to someone so transient. Someone he'll never see again.

 

"It was fun." He smiled. "I got good at it. Brought me joy to see my neighbors enjoy what I cooked for 'em. You have to be creative in a place like this. I live for that challenge."

 

"Guessing your brother didn't fall in love with cleaning." Suna chuckled.

 

"Hell no. I had to bribe him half the time to get him to even wash the clothes. Tsumu, I ain't gonna feed ya. Worked every time."

 

"Evil. But if it works, it works."

 

"Ya don't know Tsumu. We had to be evil to each other, otherwise we wouldn't listen." 

 

"He younger or older than you?"

 

Osamu bit at the inside of his cheek to stop himself from laughing. "He's my twin, actually."

 

"There's two of you?" Suna looked absolutely incredulous. "Please tell me you aren't the worst twin."

 

"I can cook." Suna's expression dropped into a sullen glare. "I'm handsome." An eyebrow raise. "I don't have blonde hair." A squint.

 

"He has blonde hair."

 

"Yep."

 

Suna's head met his shoulder once more — hair soft against his cheek. "Then it's settled. You're the better twin."

 

 

OSCAR



Osamu realized he was fucked.

 

After a quick beer or two at the bar, they headed back to the docks to get on Suna's dinghy and motor to his sailboat out in the mooring field.

 

Finally seeing Suna on the water was a breath of fresh air. His hair whipped around in the sea breeze and his shoulders relaxed as his elbow rested on the tiller of the motor. He was nearly lackadaisical in the way he navigated — reclining comfortably and not even bothering to use his hand to steer.

 

"Y'know." Osamu called out over the motor's rumble. "Ya never told me yer boat's name."

 

"Ah." Suna's expression curved into a grin. "Her name is Raijin like the god."

 

"Yer pops named it?"

 

"'Pops?'" Suna snickered. "But yeah, Grandpa Suna named it. Back when he first bought it, he flew all the way to New Zealand to inspect it first. He gets to the marina in the middle of a damn storm. And my gramps, he's a stubborn son of a bitch so he insisted on seeing it. As he was stepping onto the deck, lightning struck the mast."

 

"Jesus, talk about an omen."

 

"Right? I still can't believe the bastard bought her after that. My gramps fell off the boat right into the drink — half blinded by the strike — while the seller watched baffled. Once he climbed back up the dock, he immediately bought it. Didn't even inspect it in the end."

 

"So everyone in yer family is fuckin' nuts, huh?"

 

Suna laughed. "I don't think you can be a sailor if all the screws in your head are tight."

 

"Fair enough."

 

They approached Raijin in all her glory — a gorgeous navy hull, a sleek white deck, and a tall mast outfitted with a yellow sail cover. Suna motored the dinghy around and hitched it to the stern of the ship. He killed the motor before effortlessly getting to his feet, stepping onto the swim platform before pushing his entire body up in a single big step onto the deck.

 

"My god. I am not gonna be able to do that. Yer too tall."

 

"You'll be fine, big boy. You're only a few centimeters shorter than me." Suna held out his hand as Osamu pulled himself onto the swim platform. 

 

As he climbed onto the deck, he felt his heart race — half from the exertion and half from the firm grip of his companion. He realized how pathetic he was, brought to a flush by such an innocent thing. It was easy to imagine Atsumu's cackle in the back of his mind. 

 

"Welcome aboard." Suna spread his arms wide, spinning on his heel in the cockpit. "She's about what you'd expect. Just a floating twenty-something's apartment that somehow hasn't sunk yet."

 

It certainly looked lived in. A bike and a kayak were lashed to the lifelines. Several large gas canisters were perched along the deck. A sleeping bag was rumpled up on one of the cockpit seats paired with a scrunched pillow. A few crushed cans were discarded in the footwell. Laundry was strung out across the bow, flapping gently in the breeze.

 

Suna followed the direction of his gaze and cleared his throat. "I'll uh… clean up a bit. Make yourself at home."

 

After tossing his stuff into the cabin, Suna settled into the seat across from Osamu. He stretched his long legs out across the cockpit, giving Osamu a full view of his form. Utterly relaxed, a subtle smile on his lips and his eyes closed.

 

"Ya said bein' on the mountain makes ya happy." Suna raised a brow, not bothering to open his eyes. "Yer happy here too."

 

"This is my home." Suna leaned his head back, opening his eyes to face the sky. "More than Japan or Australia or anywhere's ever been."

 

"Yer like a ronin." Osamu bumped Suna's leg with his knee. "No borders, no masters."

 

"I like the sound of that." Suna's grin was fanged. "No master but the sea herself."

 

"But?" Maybe it was stupid trying to pry like this but he knew there was a truth Suna was dancing around. "Why are ya doin' this if ya don't want to? Yer pops sounds like he wouldn't mind."

 

"He's dead." Suna tapped his fingers on the seat, face expressionless. "Dementia. But before he died, I promised him I'd bring Raijin home. I was on my way when he passed."

 

"God rest his soul… but ya don't owe shit to a dead man." 

 

Suna grimaced — clenching his teeth tight — and Osamu thought for a moment he'd crossed a line he shouldn't have. "My parents apparently got Raijin in the will. I don't believe he'd give it to those fucking parasites in a second, but I've got lawyers hounding my ass."

 

"Can't ya go back to Australia?"

 

"I'd get deported. My gramps was my visa sponsor."

 

"Damn. Ya really are a ronin." 

 

There was a pregnant pause as Suna's eyes drifted shut, his fingers absentmindedly tapping on the fibreglass. "I'm sorry for yer loss, by the way. I never did say."

 

"It's alright. He was 90, lived a long life." Suna said. "I just wish he'd died with me instead of with my parents. Poor guy's ashes are probably stuck in the butsudan when they should be in the sea." He sighed.

 

"I suppose I should get dinner started." Suna stood up, climbing down the steps into the cabin. His voice barely came through the sounds of rummaging around. "You good with onigiri? Like I said, I don't have much."

 

"Fine with me. Tuna mayo?"

 

"Of course. Got some of your Kita-san's fine tuna right here." Through the open hatch, Osamu could see Suna's raised arm clutching a can of Chicken of the Sea tuna. "I only have delicately handcrafted mayonnaise made from eggs from my magical hens I have hidden down here in my cabin. Good with that?"

 

"Yeah, whatever works." He could hear Suna huff out a laugh. "I have high expectations of this grand meal, Suna-kun."

 

"Best onigiri you've ever tasted or your money back."

 

"Don't recall payin' ya."

 

"I'll send you an invoice."

 

 

ZULU



"Oh." Suna sighed, eyes fixed on the horizon. "Not long now."

 

The setting sun had set the world ablaze in purples and pinks. An approaching thunderstorm encroached on the sky, navy puffs of clouds reaching out like fingers. 

 

They'd settled on the same cockpit seat, Suna sitting between his legs and his head resting back against Osamu's chest. Heartbeats steady with the gentle rock of the sailboat.

 

"Have ya ever seen the green flash?"

 

Suna shifted, face coming a little too close to Osamu's lips. "Once. It was the night before I'd planned to propose to my then girlfriend. Never did, broke up with her a week later."

 

"Ain't it an old Scottish myth that the green flash is supposed to help ya read folks’ deepest feelin's?"

 

Suna chuckled, the vibrations reverberating through Osamu's body. "Jules Verne made that up for a fucking romance novel. It was that corny trope where something cool happens but the lovers are too busy looking at each other to see." He gagged.

 

They silenced as the last sliver of sun slipped below the horizon — blazing brilliantly hot red before vanishing into the abyss of night. No green flash, but perhaps that was for the best.

 

"What made ya change yer mind about her?" Osamu settled his hand on Suna's forearm, gently tracing the tanned skin. "If not fate or magic or whatever hokey nonsense Verne came up with." 

 

This time, Suna laughed out loud. "My buddy sent me screenshots. She cheated on me with his cousin."

 

"Cheated. On you ?" 

 

"Yeah, that's what I said too." Suna shrugged. "Guess she liked my gold medals more than she liked me." 

 

"What?" Osamu furrowed his brows, watching Suna shift to face him.

 

A wicked grin. "Guess I never told you, did I? C'mon."

 

Suna clambered to his feet, pulling Osamu along. He had to duck to avoid smacking his forehead against the edge of the hatch as they scrambled down the narrow steps. The cabin was like a different planet — all teak wood and clean white surfaces. It was massive — comparatively speaking — way bigger than he’d expected.

 

Osamu took quick stock of his surroundings. A galley fit with a stove, a sink, and plenty of countertop. The rice cooker Suna’d used earlier was still sitting on the counter alongside the materials he’d made their marginally acceptable onigiri with. A navigation station with Suna’s laptop perched on it, alongside an empty mug and a pile of paperwork. Long shelves above settees on either side — filled to the brim with tools, supplies, and unidentifiable bins and bags.

 

While Osamu had seen gorgeous pictures of sailboat interiors before, they all looked like model homes or magazine shots. Beautiful but terribly impractical for anything more than looking pretty. 

 

This was Suna’s home. Cozy, warm. Full of his belongings and mementos of his life. A rogue stuffed otter looking a little worse for wear after an assumed two plus decades of ownership. A vintage wool blanket half-fallen on the floor of the cabin, full of careful sashiko mends. Books overflowing from a built-in shelf — a mishmash of English and Japanese titles. Tiny bits of paper — tickets and postcards from far off places — wedged beneath panels. 

 

Suna pulled him along — nearly bumping them into the folded up table — before stopping at a solid wall separating the saloon from the head. “There they are.” Suna smacked his hand against the wood, grinning like he’d stolen the pair of framed gold medals. “My gramps always told me I should’ve just sold them, but you can’t fault me for being proud.”

 

Osamu couldn’t help but just stare at it. “What… what the hell, Suna?”

 

Suna cackled, slumping into one of the settees without a care in the world. “You’re looking at the one and only two time gold medalist Suna Rintarou.” He did a mock bow from his sitting position. “Laser sailing, 2012 and 2016. Not exactly the most newsworthy of sports.”

 

“2012? God, ya must’ve been what? Sixteen?” Osamu’s eyes trailed to a photograph of a gangly teenager in a tiny sailboat bearing a Japanese flag on the sail. “Is that a fuckin’ ponytail?”

 

“Eh.” Suna shrugged. “I was a girl back then too, it happens." 

 

Osamu blinked, glancing at Suna before returning to the photos on the wall. And again. And once more for good measure.

 

Who the hell even is this dude?

 

"Take your time." Suna rose to his feet, taking long lazy steps towards the galley. He produced a bottle of red wine from a cabinet and poured it in a couple of plastic cups. He passed one to Osamu before settling back down on the settee.

 

Osamu's eyes trailed along the many photos. Some of Suna and his Laser sailboat. Far older ones of the same man with different people. A recent one of Suna and an elderly man. Hands on shoulders, smiles bigger than he thought possible, standing in front of Raijin.

 

Happiness. 

 

"Suna…" Osamu turned, leaning his shoulder against the teak wall. "Yer about the craziest son of a bitch I've ever met."

 

Suna laughed, taking a long sip of his wine. "Keep talking sweet big boy, I love it."

 

"If ya had just told me you were a damn merman, it would've been easier to believe than a what…" Osamu pieced together the words. "Two time Olympic gold medalist transgender sailor who's been at sea for over a hundred days to avoid a legal battle in a country he doesn't want to return to."

 

"You said it best yourself. Everyone goes sailing for a different reason." Suna offered him a crooked smile, patting the settee in invitation. "I just happen to be the one trying to escape the world, not see it."

 

Osamu settled down next to him, immediately feeling an arm wrap around his waist. He leaned into Suna's shoulder, sighing out a contented breath. "You don't have to keep runnin', y'know?"

 

Suna tilted his head, lips brushing against Osamu's hair. "I've got nowhere else to go."

 

"Stay here." Osamu whispered.

 

Suna met his eyes, narrow pupils flicking around analyzing, scrutinizing. "You've just met me. I'm—"

 

"Look." Osamu watched Suna's expression relax ever so slightly. "Ya don't have to stay forever. Stay until typhoon season ends. Tell yer parents Raijin's engine shit the bed and ya have to wait for parts. Leave when ya get sick of Inarishima or of me. I don't care."

 

Suna blinked, almost taken aback by it all. His green eyes seemed almost crystalline under the cabin lights, shining with a trace of emotion.

 

"I just think ya deserve the chance to stop runnin'. Even for a little bit." Osamu pulled back, giving Suna the space he thought he needed.

 

"I…" Suna opened and closed his mouth several times, trying and failing to voice his thoughts. He downed the last of his wine before setting the cup on the table. "Osamu."

 

"Yes?"

 

Suna's hand met his jaw, eyes resolute and laser focused. A brush of thumb along the corner of his lips, a shaky exhaled breath. "Can I…"

 

They met in the middle, movement far more hurried than their night in the ocean. A swipe of tongue against his own, a nip of teeth over his bottom lip. Playful and eager with just a drop of mischief. Suna's mouth explored his cheeks, jaw, and neck, pressing kisses as Osamu unbuttoned his own top button — giving him access to his collarbones. Fingers trailed and tangled through his hair before exploring elsewhere. Chest, hip bones, further still until both of Suna's hands gripped his ass, pulling him into his lap.

 

Despite the layer of wine on their tongues, Suna still tasted like salt water. Bitter and sweet.

 

"Do you want to…" Suna exhaled when they finally parted, pressing his forehead against Osamu's. His hands found Osamu's hips, thumb brushing gentle circles.

 

"Yes." Osamu nipped at Suna's bottom lip, earning him a huffed laugh. "But I don't… know how it works."

 

"What? Sex?" Suna's eyes gleamed with mischief as he teased. 

 

"No, asshole." Osamu laughed, pressing a far chaster kiss to the corner of Suna's grinning lips. "With whatever you've got goin' on down there."

 

Suna closed his eyes, giggling this horrible, adorable sound. Osamu can't help but think he's perfect in his own weird way. "I prefer to top. I can guide you through it. That okay?"

 

"Yeah. Perfect." Was all Osamu could manage before Suna kissed him once more, fingers fumbling to undo the remaining buttons of his fishing shirt.

 

 

DELTA



Osamu has seen plenty of movies and shows where someone sleeps with another person and slips out in the wee hours of the night. Running off and leaving the person wondering if what happened was special or just a mindless hookup.

 

Not that he wanted to, of course, but he couldn't help but find it funny.

 

None of those scenarios involved a sailboat in a mooring field where the only way to leave would be to motor away in a dinghy and inadvertently leave the owner stranded on their own vessel.

 

He was woken by the first rays of morning light shining through the open hatch above them. The sky was still tinged in the pastels of sunrise, but it wouldn't be long until it was clear blue.

 

Before him was Suna's back — covered in scattered moles, sun freckles, and his own fading scratches. Along the ridges of his upper spine were black tattoos — triangles and diamonds forming a pattern. Osamu wanted to reach out and trace them as he had the night before. Learn whatever deep meaning they held and unlock more of his secrets.

 

He refrained, wanting to let his companion sleep as long as he needed.

 

Osamu tried to shift without waking Suna up, but there was only so much room in the v-berth. He wasn't even sure he could crawl out of the space without accidentally kneeing him in the ass.

 

He rolled onto his back, careful not to jostle his feet too much and bump into Suna. He stared up through the open hatch, letting the gentle sound of waves lapping against the hull around him lull him into a peaceful daydream. 

 

Sleep was on the verge of reclaiming him when Suna groaned, stretching out like a cat and accidentally whacking Osamu in the face with the heel of his palm. “Oh.” Suna yawned, pulling his arms in close. “Sorry.”

 

“S’okay.” Osamu said, watching Suna turn to face him. His normally sharp eyes were hazy, and every blink was slow, arduous. Desire to touch him in the chastest way fluttered in Osamu’s chest. To brush the messy hair out of his face, to rest his hand on his waist, to trace the battle scars on his chest, to tuck his head beneath his chin as he drifted back asleep. “Never expected the Ritz.”

 

Suna’s eyes fell closed once more, a tiny smile on his lips. “The aft berth would’ve been bigger. But a little claustrophobic. I didn’t need you forgetting where you were, freaking out, and bashing your head on the ceiling.”

 

“Thanks for that.” Osamu let his fingers hover over Suna’s forehead before gently pushing the hair out of his eyes. “I’m not a big fan of blunt force trauma this early in the mornin’.”

 

“No.” Suna yawned before rolling and nestling into Osamu’s pillow. “Clearly you like that at night.”

 

“Hey, wait a damn second.” Osamu laughed, wrapping his arms around Suna’s back and pulling him close. He could feel Suna’s grin and the faint buzz of a snicker against his collarbone. “Low blow.”

 

“Thought you liked low blows too.” Nothing more than a teasing whisper.

 

"Rin!" The nickname slipped out all too easy. Osamu flicked him on the shoulder blade as he giggled. "Yer a shithead."

 

"Aw, but you like that." Suna angled his head to face Osamu, the grin on his lips monstrous. "Fell for my charms almost instantly."

 

Osamu rolled on his back, bringing half of Suna along with him — legs getting tangled in the narrow side of the berth. Suna perched himself up on one elbow, placing his other hand below Osamu's pec. His thumb swept in broad strokes over his sternum, matching the rhythm of the boat's rocking.

 

"You say that." Osamu whispered, marveling at the way Suna was haloed by the sunlight streaming through the hatch. "But I seem to recall you fallin' first."

 

Suna pressed his thumb into a bite-shaped bruise already blooming on Osamu's chest. He didn't say anything more — gaze drifting away from Osamu and into nothing. 

 

"Hey." Osamu reached up to cup Suna's cheek. His grin had faded away, replaced by a natural frown. "Everythin' okay?"

 

He sighed, slumping back down to the pillow and his hand slipping off Osamu's chest. His eyes dipped low — not quite meeting Osamu's own. "Let's go back to sleep."

 

"I got a restaurant to run." Osamu ran his fingers along the ridges of Suna's spine, earning him a shiver. "I gotta get back to shore soon."

 

"Your junior will be fine running the place until you get there."

 

"I'm sure you've got work ya need to be doin'." Osamu sighed. "Since yer leavin' tomorrow. Returnin' to the world."

 

Suna's hand met Osamu's jaw, resting his thumb on his bottom lip. He gave in to his desire to lean into it, eyes growing heavier. Perhaps more sleep would be nice.

 

A strange spark of clarity flashed in Suna's hazy eyes as he searched for something in Osamu's face. Irises flicked around every which way before finally settling on Osamu's eyes.

 

Whatever he was looking for, he seemed to find. 

 

Suna pressed a kiss to the corner of his mouth before Osamu tilted his head, letting their lips meet. Once, twice, again and again.

 

The bittersweet taste of salt water. Enough to drive a man insane.

 

“The world can wait just a little longer.”

 

 

PAPA



Friday.

 

Osamu hadn't seen or heard from Suna the rest of Thursday. He'd motored him back to shore in his dinghy so Osamu could relieve Riseki — who had diligently run the place during the lunch rush on a day he wasn't even supposed to work. A hesitant moment where neither seemed too sure if they should kiss the other, despite all the ones they'd shared on Raijin. They'd settled for an awkward hug before Suna vanished.

 

It was his day off once more. He'd considered coming in anyway after the shit he pulled on Riseki the day before, but he had something he needed to do.

 

He needed to see Suna.

 

The first sign of trouble was when he saw Oomimi Ren in his fancy navy suit and officer cap, clutching a clipboard and tapping his pen. He rarely ever wore his uniform, only donning it if a visitor was arriving or departing.

 

"Mornin' Osamu." Oomimi greeted as they passed each other on the dock. "Beautiful weather today."

 

"Mm. Definitely." Osamu tried not to let his disappointment seep into his words. "Have a good one, Oomimi-san."

 

The second sign of trouble was Raijin hitched directly to the fishing dock. Along the concrete lay a pile of Suna's things — his gas canisters waiting to be filled, his kayak and bicycle ready to be reattached to the lifelines.

 

Suna was nowhere to be seen, but Osamu figured he was down below preparing the cabin for departure. Stowing all of his things and making sure nothing goes rogue while sailing.

 

Osamu hesitated, not sure what to do. Does he call out Suna's name hoping he can hear him? Is it okay to climb on his boat and stick his head into the companionway hatch or is that totally boat taboo? Knock on the side like it's a fucking door? All he knew is he wanted to say goodbye. 

 

He angled himself on the edge of the dock as far as he could without falling into the sliver of water or touching the sailboat itself. Just to try and get a glimpse of messy brown hair.

 

Something brushed against his back and he half-leapt, grasping at a piling cleat to stay grounded.

 

A laugh — one that would be cute if it hadn't been attached to a man who just attempted murder. "Startled you, huh?"

 

"Damn near made me fall in, asshole." Osamu steadied himself, sending Suna a glare for good measure. He was the picture of a perfect sailor — worn out flip-flops ready to be kicked off in a moment's notice, shorts with a rainbow of paint stains, and a long sleeve SPF shirt. Tucked under one arm was a pack of cheap beer and in his hand, a bag of ice. 

 

Suna rested his free hand on Osamu's lower back, this time not startling him into the drink. "Aww, it's a beautiful day. A swim might be nice."

 

"Yeah, sure." Osamu sighed. "The perfect day for a sail."

 

Suna grinned, the tip of his tongue poking out between his teeth. "Now you're speaking my language."

 

He effortlessly climbed onto Raijin, despite his load, and stepped over the lifelines onto the deck. He stretched out his hand for Osamu to join him. Reluctantly, Osamu took hold and stepped on.

 

"I see you've been busy this mornin'." Osamu said, taking in how much cleaner the deck and cockpit were. 

 

"She's a gorgeous sailboat when it counts." Suna patted the metal boom, a fond look on his face. "Couldn't ask for more."

 

"Ya nervous?" Osamu leaned against the wheel, watching Suna perch himself on the edge of the companionway and fiddle with a panel.

 

"No, never felt better." Suna nodded his chin towards a small flush hatch on one of the cockpit seats. "Can you open that up for me? It's a drink cooler."

 

Osamu nodded, popping open the hatch and ripping the bag of ice to pour in. He tried to ignore the bubbling feeling of disappointment in his chest as Suna continued to prep. He knew he couldn't force him to stay, but he at least expected a trace of sadness in those green eyes.

 

Instead, Suna was in high spirits. He'd turned on music and nodded his head along to the beat. Fingers tapped on every surface available as he fluttered from place to place on Raijin

 

He'd told Osamu to make himself comfortable in the cockpit, but the ice cold beer in his hand did nothing to soothe his anxiety.

 

"Alright." Suna's voice came from the bow, hands on his hips. He turned to face Osamu, grinning. "I think it's time."

 

Osamu got to his feet as Suna lazily strode down the deck towards the cockpit. "Suna, I…" He wasn't sure what to say. They hadn't known each other long, but he still wasn't ready to let this man slip through his fingers.

 

"Help me out." Suna pulled his hand, tugging him towards the stern. He patted the nearest piling and the line tied around it. "If you could untie the knots here and at the shroud. I'll get the bow."

 

As Osamu got to work untying the knot in the line, his eyes caught on the stack of things still on the dock. "Wait."

 

"Hmm? What's up?" Suna called from the bow. "Everything okay?"

 

"Yer missin' some shit." Osamu gestured. He could pass the bike and kayak as maybe Suna selling them off to a local, but he recalled Suna's plan to motor to Ogasawara. He'd need the canisters.

 

"Eh? Nah." Suna's grin was crooked as he untied the bowline. He pointed to the crab boat next to them. "Kosaku said he'd keep an eye on them for me. Nice guy, by the way."

 

"But yer leavin'." Osamu stood before stepping over the lifeline. "I shouldn't even be on deck right now. I should—" He was about to step onto the dock before Suna spoke.

 

"Stop."

 

"What." 

 

Suna strode back towards the cockpit, trailing his fingers along the lifeline until he was on the other side from Osamu. His hand rested over Osamu's, gliding his fingers through the ridges of his knuckles. "Now who said I was leaving?"

 

"I saw Oomimi-san in his uniform."

 

"Yeah." Suna brushed his thumb along Osamu's cheekbone. "I told him I was extending my stay. Luckily, he promised he wouldn't report me to the mainland." A wicked grin.

 

"But yer… leavin'? Yer gettin' the boat ready."

 

"Yeah, I am." Suna tugged at his shoulder, a silent request for him to climb back over the lifeline. He obliged, still confused. "Beautiful day, damn good wind offshore."

 

Suna entwined their fingers, pulling Osamu towards the bow. With their bodies tucked against the railing and forestay, Suna cupped his cheeks.

 

"You said it yourself. Perfect day for a sail." Suna leaned in — pausing for a heartbeat — before kissing Osamu. "And you're coming with me."

 

"Oh." Osamu whispered into Suna's lips. 

 

"You okay with that?" Something fluttered in his chest as Suna brushed back the hair from Osamu's forehead — touch so gentle it was almost painful. Hesitation caught in Suna's voice as he continued, "If you'd rather stay, you can… I just—"

 

Osamu silenced him with another kiss, huffing out a breathy laugh. "Show me whatcha got, Mr. Gold Medalist."

 

Suna snorted. "You know that was for dinghy sailing, right? My Laser was a little bastard, not even fifteen feet." He gestured at the length of Raijin's deck. "Very different skills, y'know."

 

Osamu wrapped his hands around Suna's waist. "So yer sayin' yer shit at sailin' yer own boat?"

 

Suna gently headbutted Osamu in the forehead — as if that was somehow a proper punishment for his tease — before letting it linger. "What I'm sayin' is we're going to drink beer and enjoy the breeze and the sun on our skin. Nothing more, nothing less"

 

"Well then." Osamu watched Suna's eyes drift down to his lips. "What are we waitin' for?"

 

Suna leaned in, tracing his tongue along his bottom lip — submerging Osamu in that now familiar bittersweet taste. 

 

Salt water.

 

 

CHARLIE