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So the Sun Wouldn't Notice

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He isn’t entirely sure when it first started, or how, only that involved a kind of mutual nonchalance and some kind of comment about how Mikoto was too pure to ask, but in any case, Sakura is long accustomed to getting down on his knees and sucking Hidetsugu off. It’s happened enough times now that he barely pauses at the request – not that he ever was disturbed with any sense of propriety. He doesn’t particularly mind it, really. Sometimes his jaw hurts because he takes his time, but most of the time it’s just not a big deal – he knows he’s good at it, so why not do it? Especially considering the complications of saying no to his boss. Not that anything bad would happen, but it’d just be a little troublesome through it all. And, in any case, it isn’t as if Sakura has hang-ups about sex. So it’s probably better that it’s him to get down on his knees rather than someone else. Not that he necessarily thinks Hidetsugu would ask someone like Hana or, heaven forbid, Tachibana, because that’d be just too strange. So it’s better that it’s him.

(He still remembers the first time, of course. He was shocked, because who wouldn’t be, played it off as a joke. Mikoto was the one to tell him, then, that they were being perfectly serious. That it was for the best. That it wouldn’t matter. That he did this enough on his own time anyway, why should this be any different?)

(Who is he to say no?)

In any case, it isn’t anything to get worked up about. Hidetsugu doesn’t hold his hair in a gentle way, but in reply Sakura kind of holds his hips without any great interest, and for the most part they’re pretty quiet and perfectly discreet, in his mind. And Hidetsugu offered the first time to help him out, too, although Sakura ended up declining if only because he wasn’t necessarily up for it. He just isn’t in the mood nearly as much as Tachibana complains he is (always calling him a pervert, always scowling when he dares to insinuate anything…). But it isn’t just that. Glancing up at Hidetsugu and watching him focus only on Mikoto wasn’t the best of mood-creators, it turns out.

In any case, he finds himself in this situation often enough, and his knees hurt as he kneels down on the floor, swallowing around Hidetsugu’s cock as Hidetsugu holds politely onto his hair with one hand, his other hand stroking Mikoto’s ears gently. Mikoto murmurs something quietly to Hidetsugu and Hidetsugu responds, his words uncharacteristically soft. That’s something Sakura was never really used to – this softer, gentler side of Hidetsugu. It’s especially surreal when he knows that it isn’t meant for him, that it’s part of a secret intimacy that he doesn’t belong to, despite his presence in the situation itself. Sakura can hear Mikoto making a soft sound, something akin to a purr, so he leaves them to that and focuses on, well, the job at hand (so to speak). He suckles around Hidetsugu’s cock, fingers stroking at the base as his tongue presses up against the underside and swirls its way to the top, swallowing around him and taking him deep into his mouth, one hand gripping his hip to keep him from thrusting up a bit too energetically.

When he’s about to come, Hidetsugu tugs politely on Sakura’s hair and he pulls away, fetching a tissue to cup around the head of his cock, and strokes his boss to completion. When he glances up at him, Mikoto is draped over him, expression soft, and Hidetsugu sighs out, hand tangling in her hair, cradling the back of her head, and he leans in just as Sakura averts his gaze, not necessarily out of politeness or for privacy’s sake (since his current position makes that a bit moot), but mostly because it’s too strangely intimate, an experience he isn’t necessarily used to or able to appreciate. As it is, he wipes his mouth and goes to throw the tissue away, leaving Hidetsugu to care for himself. He washes his hands at the kitchen sink, looking out the window at the backyard and sighing out a bit without any real reason for it.

“They’ll want tea, I’m sure,” Hidetsugu says, the sort of conversation starter intended to end the conversation before it begins. Sakura glances over his shoulder, smiles absently as he nods, silent, and watches the two leave the kitchen.

He boils the hot water, taking his time, collecting his thoughts and readjusting his headband, pushing his hair back over his shoulder. He catches his reflection in the window and he looks normal enough, pleasant enough. That’s enough.

He leaves the kitchen, holding a tray with the tea and some cookies, and sets it down on the table. Koujuurou is in the process of settling Date down, who is, as always, fawning over Hana – apparently Sakura missed another loud proclamation of eternal love and honeymoons, which is too bad because he finds it amusing. Chikahito begins to rise, as if to help him, but Sakura just smiles and gestures for him to stay sitting. Tachibana glances up from his phone, looks at Sakura for a moment, and then returns his gaze to his phone, completely disinterested.

Sakura sets the tray down and settles down beside Tachibana. He pours him a cup of tea, which he takes without a word and only a vaguely grumpy look (his default, Sakura thinks with a hidden smile from behind his own cup of tea) and sips it, putting his phone away and returning to the conversation at hand, mostly because Hana says his name.

 

---

 

“What the hell are you doing out here?” Tachibana asks, later that night, hands in his sleeves as he steps out onto the veranda. Sakura tilts his head back, looking up at him from his spot on the edge of the wooden deck, one leg tucked underneath him and the other stretched out comfortably.

“I was looking at the stars,” Sakura says with a shrug, “Now I’m looking at you.”

“Very funny,” Tachibana mutters with a scowl, and drops down beside him, shoving an elbow into his side to make him scoot over. He looks up at the sky, too, for a long moment, and the moonlight touches his hair in a pretty way – and not for the first time Sakura thinks he looks more like the night than he does, it seems to suit him better. Tachibana soon scowls more, however, turning his attention back to Sakura with a sniff, “I bet this has something to do with narcissism, if you’re looking at the moon.”

Sakura shrugs, and leans backwards until he’s resting on his back, tucking his hands behind his head and looking up at the stars – he really was looking at them, not the moon. Staying like that, silent and still in the night, he feels his magic stirring inside him, energized from the presence of the night. He wonders if the opposite is true for Tachibana – if the night sky only makes him feel tired, leaves his energy drained. Although, then again, the moon only glows at night because of reflected sunlight (or something like that… it’s Tachibana who’s the smart one, not him), so perhaps even now he feels a kind of energy from it. He closes his eyes with a sigh – or maybe he’s just over-thinking it. It wouldn’t be the first time. If Tachibana could hear his thoughts now, he’d just call him an idiot. As always.

When he opens his eyes again, he finds Tachibana watching the sky, chin tilted up a bit, exposing the elegant curve of his neck. He’s leaning back on his hands, his shoulders hunched just a little, the moonlight weaving into his hair, his eyes seemingly disinterested and yet not breaking away from the stars.

Sakura smiles a little, thinking he’s definitely too pretty to be hidden in the night. The sunlight suits him much better.

 

---

 

Tachibana makes the weapon and the two of them settle back as Hana dives into the battle, moving with that surefire way of hers, unrestrained and yet trained in her movements. Sakura keeps an eye on her, and he can feel the way Tachibana is tense beside him, but they both know she can handle it. She moves without trouble, simple and precise, and it won’t be long for this battle to finish itself off. Tachibana sighs once the beast falls, dispelling its power and disappearing in an imploding twist of magic, and Sakura lets the curtain of the kekkai drop, bathing the temple grounds in the bright sunlight of an early morning. Chikahito is rushing past them before either of them can move, hurrying to Hana’s side, who remains unhurt, save for a small cut on her arm. Sakura glances over at Tachibana in time for him to cross his arms protectively, if only to hide what’s obviously there.

Sakura just gives him a helpless kind of smile, which Tachibana pointedly ignores, walking over to Hana instead, fussing over her. Sakura follows, but leaves the fussing to Tachibana and Chikahito, who can mother hen far better than he ever could. Instead, he merely pats Hana’s head after she reassures Tachibana for the fifth time that she’s alright.

Sakura waits until they’re back home before he reaches out and takes Tachibana’s elbow gently in his grip, leading him to the bathroom where he sits him down on the lip of the bathtub and rolls his sleeve up, setting to cleaning the wound, shallow as it is, and wrapping it up.

“It’s not a big deal,” Tachibana protests, quietly.

Sakura shrugs. “So, it’ll be done quickly. Just let me.”

Tachibana goes silent, complying. Sakura lets the smile drop as he concentrates. It’s true that it’s shallow enough, barely anything to worry too much about, but it’s still best to clean it and dress it so there’s no danger of infection. Tachibana hisses out softly when Sakura cleans it with the rubbing alcohol, but Sakura ignores it, holding tight to his elbow, keeping him close as he kneels down in front of him, working diligently.

“You’re impossible,” Tachibana says.

“Tell me something I don’t know,” Sakura answers easily, laughing, the words coming easily, following that practiced script – this conversation replayed at least twenty times in the past year. “Although I could say the same about you.”

Tachibana shrugs and then immediately regrets it when it makes the cloth press against the cut a bit deeper. He hisses out, his face contorting for a moment.

“Sorry,” Sakura says, although he knows an apology doesn’t do much good – or that it’s even his fault. But it’s a default, perhaps, to always seek a way to make amends with Tachibana, always wanting Tachibana to relax, to be maybe a little pleased, to be okay.

“Idiot,” Tachibana answers, his answer no less comforting in its predictability.

“Yeah,” Sakura agrees.

 

---

 

Hana is distracting enough with her noodles that when Hidetsugu meets his eye and tilts his head to the side, Sakura knows what’s he’s asking and knows that no one else will have noticed. In turn, Sakura shrugs and nods, and looks away for a moment – just in time to meet Tachibana’s eyes. Tachibana looks at him, silent, his eyebrows knitting together for a moment now that he isn’t busy patting Hana’s head and being in general utterly charmed by her. Sakura just shrugs at him and lets Hidetsugu stand and walk away, disappearing around the corner. He can’t just get up with Tachibana watching him, though, so he has to wait a few minutes, waiting for Tachibana to finally look away and snap at Chikahito. In the end, though, he’s the one to look away, slanting his eyes downwards, breaking contact. Not wanting him to somehow figure it out, although there’s no way in which Tachibana could, just by looking at him. He wouldn’t know what to look for. He wouldn’t even be looking, as it is.

Sakura stands and leaves the room, finding Hidetsugu outside, away from the hustle and bustle in the front room.

Sakura smiles a little, because what else can he do, feeling the sun beat on his back as he kneels down, reaching to undo Hidetsugu’s belt.

 

---

 

Sakura’s busy preparing lunch for everyone when he hears a sound behind him. He sighs out, knife stilling, knowing who it must be and wishing he’d at least waited until after lunch to come in and get his satisfaction. Sakura can’t blame him, necessarily, but it’s still not the most convenient of activities to do when he should be preparing lunch, not sucking cock. Not that he has too much choice in the matter. He sighs out.

He turns and—

“Oh,” Sakura says, “Tachibana.”

“You were expecting someone else?” Tachibana mutters, looking away from him. He pauses, awkwardly, hanging in the doorway for a moment, as if unsure he’s welcomed, before he seems to make up his mind and walk over to Sakura’s side, leaning against counter. Sakura laughs softly and shakes his head, resuming his work as Tachibana pushes his hip up against the counter, crossing his arms and watching him.

“No,” Sakura lies, and smiles at him. “What’s up? Did you need something?”

“Do I have to have a reason to be in here?” Tachibana asks with a roll of his eyes. When Sakura pauses in chopping the vegetables, Tachibana reaches out and snags a small piece of carrot, popping it into his mouth in a way, Sakura thinks, that is entirely too obscene for such an innocuous piece of vegetable.

“No,” Sakura says again, and resumes chopping the vegetables. “I’m glad for the company.”

“Shut up,” Tachibana says, without much venom, looking away as he chews on the carrot. Sakura watches him for a moment too long and catches himself, looking away and returning to work. He almost laughs at his own stupidity, at his own simple-minded eagerness. It isn’t the first time he’s been distracted by Tachibana. He can’t blame himself for it – Tachibana is attractive, after all. He’s someone he knows well and trusts completely. His counterpart.

They don’t talk much, but it’s just as well – often, there isn’t much for them to talk about, and Sakura doesn’t mind the silence, either. Tachibana stares off at the wall but, after a moment, shifts so he’s leaning more towards Sakura, watching him prepare the food instead, eyes downcast so that the overhanging light above them casts little shadows from his eyelashes across his cheekbones. Such an observation lets Sakura know that he’s paying far too close attention to Tachibana’s face. Then again, he can’t blame himself.

And then Hidetsugu walks in. It’s been a while since he last asked Sakura for his services, so Sakura figures it was only a matter of time before he came looking for him again. He seems surprised to see Tachibana, but beyond a slight glance in his direction, he doesn’t say anything that would betray his real purpose for entering the kitchen, for seeking Sakura out.

Sakura keeps chopping after exchanging the absent pleasantries to him and to Mikoto, knowing that as soon as Tachibana leaves the kitchen, he’ll have to set the broth for the noodles down to a low heat so they won’t overcook.

Tachibana shifts beside him, but instead of leaving the kitchen, he pushes himself up to sit on the counter, looking perfectly at ease and casual, and definitely not making a single move to leave. He reaches out for a few pieces of carrots, his fingers lingering before he lifts each piece one by one to his mouth, looking down at Sakura, his expression thoughtful.

Sakura looks up at him and Tachibana meets his gaze, tilting his chin a bit defiantly and says, “I want tea, when you’re done with that.”

Sakura smiles, unsure why he feels a little relieved, unsure why he’s happy that Tachibana is looking at him like he’s the only person in the world. “You might have to wait a bit.”

He glances over at Hidetsugu but he doesn’t say anything, and Tachibana says instead, casually, “I have nowhere to do be. So do what I say, idiot.”

Sakura laughs, and the sound comes easily – he finds that he’s at ease, the tension in his shoulder slackening without much forethought and he smiles up at Tachibana, who snorts and looks away. Sakura realizes belatedly that Tachibana is watching Hidetsugu – although Sakura isn’t sure why, because there’s no reason that Tachibana should know about the arrangement, or be suspicious of Hidetsugu. Well, be suspicious of him beyond the usual amount of suspicion they all regard their boss. Tachibana is always bristly with everyone who isn’t Hana, after all.

After about five minutes of idle small talk, it’s clear Tachibana isn’t moving. Hidetsugu doesn’t drop any hints, doesn’t betray any real reason for being there – and for that, Sakura is grateful. The idea of Tachibana knowing, the idea of Tachibana judging him as he judges all Sakura’s other activities is almost too much. He doesn’t want that – he’d never want that. When Sakura glances over his shoulder towards Hidetsugu, he realizes, belatedly, that he’s left the room some time ago. He isn’t sure when, and he doesn’t seem to mind too much. He looks up at Tachibana, and finds that Tachibana is watching him, a strange look in his eye.

“What is it?” Sakura asks, finding his voice has dropped down lower than he thought it would, pitched low into his throat.

Tachibana’s eyes slant away and he sighs out. Sakura keeps his gaze on him, careful, mindful, unsure what it is Tachibana is going to say – why he gets the sense that it’s important – why he’s even looking at him now, talking to him now like this, his voice pitched down low as it is. Something thuds hard against the inside of his throat, words he’s smuggling down.

And then Tachibana lifts his hand, as if to reach out and touch Sakura, his movements betraying his gentleness – but instead he grabs a loose bit of his hair and tugs.

“I want my tea already,” Tachibana mutters, his voice quiet, taut.

Sakura laughs, softly, a reactionary movement – laughing without really realizing that he’s laughing. His defense mechanism. And he lifts his hand, mirroring Tachibana for a moment before he reaches up and touches the top of his head, a makeshift headpat.

“Whatever you want.”

 

---

 

When Sakura finally notices it, he finds he’s unable to pinpoint when, exactly, it began to happen: Tachibana is spending more and more time with him. He finds him in the kitchen when he’d normally be making the meals alone, demanding tea or just staying nearby, not saying anything at all. He’d go with him to the grocery store, or demand Sakura walk him to class (and blushing like an adorable fool when Sakura teases him about that), or he’d insist on going out to dinner with the kids, with the claim that he was bored of his and Chika-chan’s cooking.

What used to be his nightly ritual of watching the stars, whenever he isn’t with the geisha, soon becomes a joint experience. It’s usually late evening when Tachibana steps outside and makes his way to sit down beside Sakura, and each time he does, he’s greeted with a small smile – reassured, at least for the night, that Tachibana is there. Sakura seeks comfort in that company, finds that he enjoys their nights together, simple and innocent as these moments are. They usually spend that time quiet, until Tachibana’s head begins to nod with his sleepiness and Sakura reaches out, quietly telling him to go to bed. Every time he does, Tachibana lingers, as if debating something, but eventually relents, wandering off to bed.

Sakura lies on the veranda, hands tucked behind his head, looking up at Tachibana’s window and waiting for the light to click out before he returns his gaze to the stars – always making sure he’s sleeping. Always making sure, when he goes back to his own room, that he is quiet enough not to wake anyone. He misses it, most nights – sleeping in his own bed, comfortable and undisturbed, alone with his own thoughts. Not that he’s enjoyed that too much, lately – the way his thoughts wander when he’s alone. He’s grown so used to having someone near him at all times, that being on his own is confusing, but almost thrilling.

He knows how important sleep is. But no sense in lingering on things he can’t have.

On such a night as that, Tachibana is out later than he normally would be. Sakura’s made some herbal tea and the teapot sits beside them as they sit on the deck, overlooking the little garden and looking at the sky. He sips his tea slowly, watching the steam weave its way through the air.

“He’s been here a lot lately,” Tachibana says suddenly, expression unreadable in the relative darkness of the night.

“Who?” Sakura asks, tracing his thumb along the lip of his teacup.

“You know who,” Tachibana says quietly, and pours himself more tea.

Sakura sighs and shrugs one shoulder. “There’s a lot to talk about, lately, with the increase in activity and with…” He trails off, not wanting to disrupt the relative peace between them by summoning up Iemitsu’s name, although the ghost of the word is there – that person already summoned between them. Despite that, he merely shrugs and adds, “everything.”

Tachibana goes quiet, and Sakura fears he really has ruined the mood. But then Tachibana reaches out, pouring Sakura more tea.

“I guess,” he says, his voice sounding weak in the darkness. Sakura leans in a little closer, trying to decipher Tachibana’s expression. Tachibana meets his gaze, surprisingly even in spite of his relative shyness (which he always denies). Sakura holds it for a second too long before he turns his gaze back up to the sky.

A cloud rolls over the sky, blocking out half the stars and the moon completely. Sakura watches its progress, as best he can, that dark outline against a dark black-blue sky.

“Does it bother you that he’s around?” Sakura asks, after a pause to collect his words, unsure what to say – unsure if there’s anything to say at all. “We work for him.”

Tachibana shrugs again, silent, drinking his tea with certain forcefulness.

“You don’t have to worry,” Sakura continues, feeling the strange need to fill the silence with words. “I can handle all the talking. If he bothers you, I’ll take care of it. I always do, right?”

Tachibana turns his head a little, his hair falling across his cheek for a moment, his face in shadow. He’s silent, shoulders tense, and Sakura shifts a bit, leaning in to get a better look at him, unsure what he’s said that’s obviously upset him, but knowing it’s the case. Tachibana mimics the gesture a little, leaning in closer towards him.

Sakura reaches out, palm touching at his cheek, fingers brushing back his hair before he can second-guess the action.

“Hey,” he says softly. He’s suddenly seized with a strange fear that he’s not the only one being asked these things by Hidetsugu, that somehow, maybe, Tachibana is being asked of it, too. “Hey,” he says again when Tachibana doesn’t look at him. “If he’s bothering you, we can meet with him elsewhere, you know? Outside of home.”

Tachibana is silent, but isn’t straying away from the touch to his cheek that Sakura belatedly realizes it’s lasting too long. And that he wants it to stay that way, like this – suspended in time. He pulls his hand away. He leans back, breathing out, his breath misting into a quiet cloud that lifts up towards the sky.

The cloud rolls away from the moon and Tachibana is looking at him, the moonlight touching at his eyes as he looks at Sakura.

“Okay,” Tachibana says after a moment, frowns, and looks away. “Do what you want, dumbass.”

 

---

 

Sakura thinks to himself, as he slides Hidetsugu’s cock into his mouth, stroking slowly, that he should have known that a public place wouldn’t stop Hidetsugu’s requests. The bathroom is cramped, but that can’t exactly be helped either, and Sakura doesn’t particularly mind that he’s doing this, either. Especially if it means that Tachibana is over at the table, not being asked such things himself – he’s protected. It’s unlikely that it would be the case, though. It’s Tachibana. He’d complain too much for it to be pleasurable for Hidetsugu (unless he was into that kind of thing – Sakura couldn’t be sure, in the end).

Hidetsugu is whispering softly into Mikoto’s ear, and Mikoto nuzzles against him when Sakura glances up. She’s purposefully bumping her horns against the back of Hidetsugu’s ear before he turns slightly, kissing her. She makes that soft purring sound, pleased. Sakura closes his eyes, taking Hidetsugu’s cock deeper into his mouth and sucking down, lathing his tongue across the length of the cock, his thumb pressing against the underside as he strokes, bobbing his head in time to the movements, his tongue curling around the tip. Hidetsugu groans softly above him, but Sakura can’t be sure if it’s from his own movements or from Mikoto herself.

Sakura’s swallowing around Hidetsugu when he tenses up suddenly, his orgasm taking him by surprise with a soft gasp into Mikoto’s mouth as he, in turn, comes into Sakura’s. Sakura jerks a bit in surprise, but otherwise doesn’t react, holding him in his mouth and swallowing, stroking him until he’s spent.

For his part, Hidetsugu does apologize, but he’s smiling a bit, leaning back against the wall of the bathroom. Then Mikoto whispers something into his ear and they both laugh, softly, in their own world – a world that Sakura isn’t part of, and doesn’t wish to be. He stays on his knees for a long moment, even as Hidetsugu cleans himself off, apologizes again, but then thanks him, leaving the bathroom first.

Sakura stays there for a long moment, eventually standing up and stumbling to the bathroom’s sink, cleaning himself up and washing out his mouth as best he can, sighing and resting his forehead against the mirror, closing his eyes, enjoying the cool feel against his burning face. His jaw hurts. The taste won’t leave his mouth.

It isn’t that he minds it, he tells himself – not for the first time. It isn’t his ideal situation, but what can he do, anyway? Sakura sighs out, his breath misting across the glass. It isn’t so bad, in the end. It could be worse. At least Hidetsugu doesn’t expect anything else, doesn’t wish for anything else. At least Sakura doesn’t have hang-ups about sex. So it’s fine.

And then the door opens and Tachibana walks in. Sakura straightens immediately, but Tachibana is walking up to him, eyes narrowed.

“That guy just left,” Tachibana says, voice darkening with each word. “What the fuck were you doing?”

“I was just explaining things to him, about the kekkai,” Sakura says, waving his hand, absently, dismissing. “Nothing too important. Figured there was no sense in bothering you with it.”

“Tch,” Tachibana snorts, crossing his arms. He stares at Sakura for a long moment, and then his eyes flicker down to his feet, sighing out. When he speaks, the simple word is soft, disbelieving, “Idiot.”

“Maybe,” Sakura says with a shrug, unsure what exactly he’s done now to prompt the insult, but not really minding, either – he knows how Tachibana is. He knows that being called an ‘idiot’ just means he cares. It’s his idiotic way of showing he’s concerned. Why Tachibana is concerned is beyond him, though. There’s no reason for it.

He reaches out his hand, and touches Tachibana’s shoulder, sliding it up after a moment to touch his cheek. Tachibana’s hands, gripping his own arms tightly, seem to slacken just a bit at the touch, and he feels him relax underneath his touch – sees him visibly slacken in his jaw and his shoulders.

“You okay?”

“The hell kind of question is that?” Tachibana snaps, stepping away from Sakura and holding tightly onto his arms again, that tension immediately flaring up again. “I’m fine, dumbass.”

“Good,” Sakura says, and means it. As long as Tachibana isn’t being bothered, he can’t really ask for too much. It’s better that it’s him – he doesn’t have the hang-ups about sex. Sex is sex. He knows that wouldn’t be the case for Tachibana; as far as he knows, the guy hardly has any experience at all, if any.

“Let’s just go home,” Tachibana mutters, turning away.

Tachibana watches his back, watches the way Tachibana adjusts his vest, fixes his tie, watches the way his back seems to bow into itself when he sighs. Sakura says nothing as he follows him out of the restaurant and heads home with him. Sakura says nothing as Tachibana stays nearer to him than on the walk over.

 

---

 

“You haven’t been going to those women, lately,” Tachibana says a few nights later, as they’re sitting out on the veranda in their typical fashion, dressed up warmly to ward off the night’s chill, the pot of tea between them, Tachibana’s leg tucked up underneath his kimono, hands in his sleeves.

Sakura smiles, wan, looking up at the waxing moon. “Haven’t felt like it, I guess.”

“But you’re tired,” Tachibana mutters, sounding angry. “It’s written all over your face.”

“Maybe,” Sakura answers, shrugging. “But maybe I like our nightly get-together better.”

“You—” Tachibana begins to say, his voice hitching up into a shout, before he smothers the urge, his eyes flaring up in the darkness, his shoulders tense. Sakura watches the way he visibly restrains himself, the way he slowly breathes out, his breath nothing more than a pained hiss. “You… idiot.”

He wishes he could tell if Tachibana is blushing or not. He watches his shoulders tense up and Tachibana turn away abruptly – which means, usually, that he is embarrassed.

“Dumbass,” Tachibana snaps. “It’s not the same thing. You don’t sleep with me.”

“I guess not,” Sakura agrees. He sighs out. “I’m okay.”

“Tch,” Tachibana scoffs, and after a moment his shoulders relax, although he doesn’t turn back towards Sakura.

Sakura sighs out, stretching his arms out and arching a bit, waiting for a small pop in his back as the muscles relieve themselves. He closes his eyes, letting out a long breath, letting himself relax – forcing himself to relax. He is tired. He’s so tired, and yet here he is, instead of with the geisha. He hasn’t felt like it – hasn’t wanted to be touched like that. All he wants is sleep, and that isn’t what he goes to the geisha for.

“Would you ask someone else, if you were tired?” Tachibana asks, his voices sounding far away all of a sudden, as if he can sense Sakura’s thoughts (he knows Tachibana would never read his thoughts, knows that Tachibana respects that privacy too much to ever do so – it’s only a coincidence that he brings it up now). Sakura thinks it over and eventually shrugs. He pours more tea for the both of them, offering it to Tachibana.

Tachibana reaches out, his fingertips touching Sakura’s for a moment, in a way that Sakura could almost believe wasn’t an accident.

Tachibana sips the tea, not meeting his eyes.

“I guess I would,” Sakura answers after a moment of thoughtful, carefully weighed silence. “But it’s fine. No sense in being a bother when there’s an easy solution, right?”

“Hn,” Tachibana scoffs, setting his teacup down, his fingertips tracing along the top of the teacup. Sakura watches him, setting his own cup down, thumb pressing against the lip of his own drink, eyes on the simple movement of Tachibana’s hand, mesmerized by those fingertips. Tachibana sighs out, “What if it’s not a bother?”

“Hmm,” Sakura hums out and shrugs. “Then I guess it’d be fine. But, seriously. It’s alright like this. It’s fine. I like being here with you, like this. I don’t need to sleep.”

“Whatever,” Tachibana mutters, voice suddenly as cold as the night’s air.

Sakura isn’t sure what he did wrong.

 

---

 

The next morning, as he’s in the grocery store, gathering groceries for the dinner he and Chikahito are going to make that night, Sakura’s phone buzzes in his pocket with a new text message. He opens the message:

FROM: Tachibana
SUBJECT: Go to the geisha tonight.

It’s definitely a command. Sakura sighs out, knowing he’s being dismissed – and already missing the night sky he won’t be able to watch with Tachibana tonight, knowing that, even if he stays there, Tachibana won’t be there to join him.

He knows how Tachibana works.

 

---

 

“Where are the others?” Hidetsugu asks a few days later, leaning against the doorway. Sakura didn’t hear him come in, but he’s hardly surprised to see him – just grateful that he’s the only one in the house, so he doesn’t have to worry about making excuses for why he needs to leave the room. Hana and Chikahito are occupied enough, usually, that isn’t too much of a bother. But up until recently, Tachibana had spent so much time with him.

“Tachibana and Chika-chan both have classes and Hana’s not back yet from dropping Chika-chan off.”

“How fortunate.”

Sakura smiles a little, locking the door behind him, already reaching for Hidetsugu’s belt.

It’s a quick, simple fix and Hidetsugu sighs out when he’s finished. Sakura walks him to the door, watching him walk down the walkway to exit the kekkai and the property. Just in time for Tachibana to round the corner, approaching home. Sakura watches the way Tachibana’s eyes meet Hidetsugu’s, watches the way his shoulders tense up, watches the way Tachibana’s eyes cloud with anger.

From his vantage point, Sakura can’t see Hidetsugu’s expression, just watches the way he waves a bit, a dismissive wave, before he rounds the corner and disappears. Sakura’s gaze shifts to Tachibana, who is walking towards him, purposefully, his shoulders rigid in his anger.

“What the fuck was he doing here?” Tachibana shouts.

“He needed to talk about some things,” Sakura says, the lie coming out perhaps a bit too quickly. “Sorry?”

Tachibana seems to only grow more enraged by the words and he shoves past Sakura, saying nothing more. Sakura doesn’t follow him.

 

---

 

It’s almost a month later when Tachibana joins him on the veranda again. Sakura doesn’t realize until that moment just how much he’s missed his company – seeing him sitting down beside him makes his shoulders relax and something thud in his chest – his heart, he realizes, how ridiculously sappy – but it’s hard to be unhappy about it because he’d forgotten, too, just how pretty Tachibana looks in the moonlight.

“Want some tea?” Sakura asks.

“Not tonight,” Tachibana mutters. He’s quiet for a long time and just as Sakura settles himself into the understanding that they will not be talking much together tonight, Tachibana asks, “Why do you come out here so often? You haven’t always.”

Sakura thinks over the question, unsure and unable to pinpoint when he first started spending his nights outside. He ultimately shrugs, playing for nonchalance. “Sometimes it’s nice to just be alone, you know?”

Tachibana visibly hesitates, looking awkward.

“I like the company, too, though,” Sakura says before Tachibana can become self-conscious or scold Sakura for being an idiot. He shrugs again, his expression gentle as he smiles at him. “I just… I don’t know. It’s a nice way to clear my thoughts. So I don’t have to think.”

“You’re an idiot,” Tachibana says, softly, but there’s almost a touch of affection to it, and Sakura isn’t sure why that would be there – but he’d missed it, the way Tachibana’s voice softens when he looks at him, as if he is important to him, as if he is anything more than a counterpart. When he looks at Tachibana, he doesn’t look angry – just thoughtful. He looks away after a moment, turning away from Sakura a bit.

Sakura’s smile wanes a bit, but not from sadness – just a deep understanding. He shifts a bit closer to Tachibana, and Tachibana accepts it, not moving, not even blinking at the shift.

“I don’t want to think,” Sakura says at last, and sighs. He sees Tachibana nod a little out of the corner of his eye.

“Why?” Tachibana asks.

Sakura isn’t sure – can’t pinpoint the stab of something inside himself, that uncertainty he isn’t accustomed to. He should be fine. He has no reason for hesitancy, no reason for feeling this disconnect. He jut sighs out, not wishing to dig into his inner thoughts, not wishing to risk making Tachibana angry once again and have him disappear from his side again. A month is a long time to be without him as he sits outside – even though he never thought he’d miss it so much.

“I don’t know,” he finally says. “I just do.”

He expects Tachibana to insult him, expects him to call him an idiot. Instead, Tachibana only shakes his head, reaching out a hand to touch his back, a gentle comfort he usually only reserves for Hana or when he thinks of happier times with his sister.

“It’s alright,” he says, and the words are awkward but by no means insincere.

They sit in silence until Tachibana’s head begins to bob, and he folds into himself, head resting against Sakura’s shoulder before either of them can think better of it.

Neither of them moves after that.

 

---

 

When he gets up from the table to follow after Hidetsugu and Mikoto, he doesn’t miss the look Tachibana gives him – raw, openly hurt. Sakura freezes for half a second, unable to process such a look, unable to contextualize it. Because he flat-out refuses to believe that Tachibana knows and was hurt by it. He refuses, completely, to believe for a single moment that Tachibana could know. He’d been so careful to keep it hidden, to be subtle about it – but then again, how subtle could he be about going to a back room to give his boss a blowjob?

He stares at Tachibana, utterly helpless, until Tachibana seems to remember himself and the expression is gone in a flash, replaced by a scowl. Tachibana looks away and does not move after that. Does not get up to follow him. Does not call him back. Does nothing at all.

Sakura leaves to do as he’s meant to do, but his heart is even less in it than it was before – he sucks Hidetsugu off to an easy completion, but he doesn’t put any effort into it. Hidetsugu leaves without a word and Sakura sighs, sitting down and leaning against the wall, trying to straighten out his hair but unable to really process anything, unable to fully understanding just why such a look was bothering him so much. He and Tachibana aren’t together. He and Tachibana aren’t anything at all – anything like that, at least. Despite his own thoughts on it, kept to himself. And it isn’t as if Tachibana can know what’s going on – there’s no reason to be hurt.

The ache in his chest only intensifies when Tachibana doesn’t join him on the veranda that night.

 

---

 

Two weeks pass and Tachibana is avoiding him again. It takes him about five days to recognize this. Five days sitting out on the veranda, the pot of tea sitting beside him, untouched. Looking up at the window to Tachibana’s room, the light left on and waiting for him to appear. And he never does.

Sakura isn’t one for pining. After about a week, he goes back to the geisha to get some sleep. There’s no one waiting for him back home, and if he spends the morning with the geisha, that means he can avoid meeting with Hidetsugu unexpectedly when the kids and Tachibana are out. He can be alone, even when surrounded by people. It only lasts for a few days, and he’s back to the veranda, with that vain hope that Tachibana will join him. He doesn’t want to sleep. He doesn’t need it.

It’s just as well. It shouldn’t bother him – it doesn’t mean anything and sex is sex. He and Tachibana aren’t together.

So it’s fine.

He just wishes Tachibana would talk to him.

 

---

 

“You’re usually more enthusiastic than that,” Hidetsugu says as he adjusts his pants. Sakura steps back, shrugging, tossing away the tissue into the trash can. “You can always say no, you know.”

Sakura shrugs, because he knows it’s technically an option but he also knows it’s not a good idea to refuse his boss, not a good idea to cause trouble. Not a good idea to leave him to seek the help elsewhere. It’s better that it’s him. And maybe it can help distract him. Maybe it’s for the best.

“It’s fine,” Sakura says, because it is. He doesn’t really care, doesn’t really have a preference to it. Sex is sex.

Hidetsugu leaves the kitchen, speaking with Mikoto, and Sakura follows behind him after a few minutes – just in time to see Tachibana staring straight at him. Sakura starts in surprise, but Tachibana is already turning away – is already ignoring Hidetsugu’s cheerful call of goodbye before shutting the front door behind him. Tachibana moves quickly, towards the back of the house – away from Sakura. Sakura freezes for a second before he’s following after him, reaching out to grab his wrist before he can stop himself, walking out onto the veranda – of all places – grabbing onto Tachibana.

“Tachibana—”

“Leave me the fuck alone,” Tachibana snaps and tries to jerk his hand back. Sakura stumbles, more than he normally would, if only because the touch of Tachibana’s hand is enough to make him feel sleepy. He’s exhausted from weeks of not sleeping – somehow stubbornly sitting outside waiting for Tachibana to appear each night, and disappointed when he doesn’t appear. As if Tachibana would appear.

Tachibana, of course, notices instantly and he makes a soft, strained noise before he’s shoving Sakura up against the wall of their house.

“Are you out of your mind?” Tachibana snaps, voice shaky with restrained frustration and unhappiness. “Why the fuck aren’t you sleeping?”

“It’s the middle of the day,” Sakura protests, trying to ignore how close Tachibana is, trying to ignore how warm the heels of his palms feel against his bare arms.

“You know what I mean, asshole,” Tachibana snaps, bristling up.

“Why are you avoiding me?” Sakura asks instead and Tachibana starts in surprise, stepping back.

“I’m no—”

“You are.”

Tachibana goes silent, not looking at him, hands on his shoulders, keeping him shoved up against the wall.

“Why?” Sakura asks. “What’d I do?”

“Nothing,” Tachibana mutters, dropping his hands away and stepping back, seeming to curl into himself, hands gripping his arms tightly. Sakura almost reaches out for him, but he’s unsure what to do, what to say. And then, Tachibana sighs out, slumping, as he says, quietly, “Why do you keep going off with that guy?”

“Huh?” Sakura asks.

Tachibana’s shoulders tense up and he mutters, “Why do you let him ask that of you?”

He was an idiot to think Tachibana didn’t know, but all the same, the confirmation is enough to make him feel ashamed, or – something. He isn’t sure. He doesn’t do well with shame and guilt – it’s never been something he’s wanted to focus on. He’s usually better at not letting things bother him.

He doesn’t much like the feeling, unused to it as he is – unhappy with it.

“It’s not a big deal—”

“It is,” Tachibana shouts, suddenly, and shoves Sakura harder up against the wall. “You bastard! You’ll do that and yet you won’t—”

Sakura stares at him, flabbergasted.

Tachibana growls out, letting out an exasperated sigh and then he clenches his jaw tight, takes in a deep, sharp breath.

And then gets down on his knees.

“Wait—” Sakura starts before he can process the action or the words.

Tachibana’s face is bright red and he snaps, “See, you’ll do it with him but not me.”

“It’s not—wait,” Sakura says, softer this time, and he sinks down to the ground, too, reaching out to cup Tachibana’s face. “You don’t… don’t do that.”

The pain on Tachibana’s face is crippling in its force and Sakura feels his words stutter to a halt in his throat, before he can even speak them. Tachibana tries to pull away from Sakura’s hands and Sakura lets him, too tired to fight against him even when he wants to hold him close, even when he wants to reassure him, let him do what he wants – just to have him.

“You… why don’t you just say no?” Tachibana shouts. “You can say no to me, but—”

“I can’t just say no to him,” Sakura protests, his voice weak.

“So you don’t want to do it?” Tachibana shouts, louder this time, more alarmed, looking as if he’s ready to stand up and go personally kill Hidetsugu himself.

“No,” Sakura says, reaching out to stop Tachibana from standing. Tachibana glares at him, hurt and confused and agitated. “I just… I don’t care. It doesn’t mean anything.”

“Fuck you, Sakura,” Tachibana snaps, his voice acidic in his anger, and Sakura knows he’s said the wrong thing yet again and he feels helpless, because he does not know how to navigate this – does not know how to handle emotions or rejections or this confusion. He’s lost. He’s never known how to do this.

“Wait,” Sakura protests when Tachibana goes to stand again, the hurt replaced by his anger. “Wait – just wait, okay?”

Tachibana stands and steps away from him, crossing his arms. But he isn’t doing anything like running away or chasing down their boss. Sakura sighs out, standing up and taking a step near Tachibana. He’d step closer, except Tachibana tenses up at that simple step, so he stays still after that.

“What the hell do you want with me?” Tachibana asks after a moment, gripping his arms tight, his knuckles white.

“What do you want with me?” Sakura asks, helpless, uncertain. “I – you’ve been avoiding me.”

Tachibana looks away.

“Please,” Sakura says, softer this time. “Just tell me.”

Tachibana takes a sharp, deep breath, his entire body tensed up. He refuses to look at him for a long moment and then, slowly, he steps to Sakura, looking up at him, point-blank, his expression murderous in his anger, and that underlying hurt.

“What I want from you,” Tachibana growls out, and suddenly he’s shoving Sakura up against the wall again, hard enough that Sakura lets out a soft breath of surprise, “I want you to tell that guy to fuck off because you fucking belong to me. You got that, you stupid asshole?”

Sakura stares at him in silent shock for a moment, the hands on him hitting him with a sudden sleepiness that’s only briefly overshadowed by the kind of thudding thrill he feels when Tachibana’s this close, when, finally, he realizes how close Tachibana has always been to him – that is hasn’t been just him, all this time.

“I—”

“You should only want me,” Tachibana snaps out before Sakura can speak. He hits his fists hard against Sakura’s shoulders, but it’s clear it isn’t a movement meant to hurt, only to drive home the point. Tachibana’s anger is slowly seeping from his face, replaced with that harsh sadness, his jaw clenched and his eyes tense at the corners. He hits Sakura’s shoulders again, softer this time, the movement forced. “Just me.

“I do want you,” Sakura protests.

“Then why do you keep rejecting me?” Tachibana shouts, his eyes flickering from his eyes down to his lips, and then away again, his face turning away a little.

Sakura reaches out, hesitant, touching at his arms, sliding down until he covers those clenched fists with his own hands. “Hey…”

“You’d rather have that guy than be with me, you stupid fucker,” Tachibana protests, voice quiet, and now the anger is gone completely – replaced instead with that harsh sadness.

“No,” Sakura says, quietly, trying to catch his eyes again, but Tachibana isn’t looking at him. Won’t look at him. “No, that’s not it.”

Tachibana is quiet, and looks as if he will pull away again. Sakura holds tight to his hands, shaking his head.

“Look at me,” he says softly, pleading.

Tachibana slants his eyes towards him after a moment, looking just as miserable as Sakura feels – but there’s that brief spark of hope buried deep in his chest.

“I do want you,” Sakura says. “I am yours.”

“Don’t mock me,” Tachibana snaps, his cheeks burning red almost immediately.

Sakura shakes his head. “I’m not.”

“Then why—”

“You’re important to me,” Sakura protests, and everything is jumbled up and there are so many things he thinks he should say – but he doesn’t know, he’s never known how to handle this. Sex is sex, but this is something entirely different. This is Tachibana looking at him as if he is the only person in the world. This is Sakura feeling as if he can’t breathe, feeling as if everything hinges on saying the right thing. On not letting Tachibana get away.

Tachibana says nothing, but there is the slightest ease to his shoulders now.

Sakura swallows and breathes out, leaning down a bit, watching the way Tachibana closes his eyes. He presses his mouth against his ear, whispering quietly, “I’m yours. As always.”

Tachibana makes a soft sound, disbelieving and happiness in one single little exhale and Sakura feels half-dizzy from the proximity, so tired, but Tachibana’s pulling away to blink up at him, expression taut for half a moment, before he’s shoving Sakura hard against the wall again.

“You’re mine,” he growls out before he’s kissing him. He grips Sakura’s hair tightly, his knuckles jabbing into the back of Sakura’s neck, fisting in his hair and shirt both and kissing him, the movement hungry and possessive, demanding. He takes what he wants, and Sakura feels himself pressing into him, arching up as he kisses him back and Tachibana is making noises into his mouth that he’s never heard before. Tachibana kisses him as if he is dying, tongue tracing the lines of his teeth and mouth, drinking down everything he’s ever felt and ever kept to himself, and Sakura smiles into the kiss, elated, breathing in every soft growl and appreciative sound Tachibana makes, his fingers digging hard into his skin. Tachibana mumbles something but it’s lost in the heat of their kiss, and Sakura laughs out, disbelieving but happy and Tachibana turns his face a bit, his nose bumping against his before he seems to remember himself, his eyes half-lidded, looking dazed but sated.

“Don’t fucking laugh at me,” Tachibana hisses out but Sakura just shakes his head, cupping his face and kissing him again, breathless and just delighting in touching him, in holding him, in having him. He tugs at Tachibana’s bottom lip with his teeth, bites and sucks it into his mouth as if in apology, but the laughter is still in his kiss, and his eyes are laughing when he pulls back – just a sheer satisfaction, a sheer relief.

“Sorry?” he says, or more asks, his voice breathless, heavy. He can feel Tachibana’s hands on him, burning into his skin, sun and moon entwining, and he lifts his hand, tangling it in Tachibana’s hair, just savoring the way he can touch him without fear of lingering.

“You’re an idiot,” Tachibana breathes back, and he blinks a few times to clear the hazed expression. He looks self-conscious for a moment, glancing at Sakura and then away, and his cheeks are turning that deep red again and Sakura can’t help but smile more, helpless now that he’s unlocked each and every feeling he’s ever felt – feeling it all, unable to process it, lost and confused but happy to be in that undaming.

“You always say that,” Sakura says softly. He leans in closer, kisses Tachibana again and delights when Tachibana kisses him back. Sweet and gentle this time, he cups Tachibana’s cheek, tilts it back, lets his thumb trace over his cheekbone, lets his fingertips brush over his hair, against his ear, feels Tachibana shiver. He breaks the kiss, brushing his mouth over his jaw, over his ear, down over his neck, mouthing out words absently against his skin, just reveling in being able to feel his skin like this, even as his eyes bag down with the heaviness of sleep. He shakes his head a little, biting at his earlobe and whispering, “Tell me I’m yours.”

“You’re mine,” Tachibana says weakly, tilting his head back, his voice distant and distracted. He presses close to Sakura, and Sakura can feel the edge of his cock through his pants, can feel how much he’s responding in turn. He grabs one of Tachibana’s hips, dragging him in closer, reveling in the way Tachibana gasps out – those noises. He breathes out, his hands shaking, and when Sakura pulls back to look at him, his eyes almost look misty. “You stupid fucker. You’re mine. Don’t fucking forget it.”

“I won’t,” Sakura says – because how could he forget? How could he forget now, now that he has him, now that he’s here? “I only want you.”

Tachibana makes a soft, strangled noise. And then he’s dragging Sakura away from the wall and instead he shoves Sakura down, pressing him down on the ground, flat on his back, and moves over him. His hands fall to his belt, undoing it quickly.

Sakura looks as if he might protest but Tachibana shakes his head, looking at him, desperate. “Just let me, okay?”

Sakura nods a little, and lifts his hand, touching at Tachibana’s hair, curling his fingers tight and holding still as Tachibana’s hand slides down underneath his pants, hesitating just before actually touching him. He leans in and kisses Sakura. He almost wants to protest, almost wants to say that anyone could walk outside at any moment, anyone could hear them – but the kiss is distracting enough. Each kiss is distracting. He’s never been kissed like this, like he’s the only one, like he’s the most important, like he’s worthwhile and everything. Tachibana’s touch is hesitant and unsure when he finally curls his fingers around Sakura’s cock, but Sakura gasps out before he can stop it – his body arches up at its own accord and he thinks oh.

So that’s what it’s meant to feel like.

Tachibana’s hand is inexperienced, his movements jerky and uncertain as he strokes him with lack of practice, but he’s enthusiastic and his eyebrows knit together in that cute way of his, when he’s determined – and Sakura is mesmerized, just watching him.

His free hand grabs at Tachibana’s tie, and tugs softly. “Come here,” he says softly, not quite begging but something close, “Tachibana…”

Tachibana allows himself to be dragged down and he kisses him, sloppy and uncertain but desperate, passionate – holding his hair tightly in his other hand as he strokes him, tugging hard on that hair and dragging Sakura up closer as he deepens the kiss.

Tachibana pulls back after a moment, but only so he can tug his tie out of Sakura’s hand, smoothing it out a bit before loosening it with his free hand, the other still stroking Sakura.

“If you ruin my clothes, I’ll kill you,” he mutters, face red, and it really shouldn’t be as hot as it is.

“Wouldn’t dream of it,” Sakura says, words breathless and thick as he jerks his hips up a bit when Tachibana’s fingers linger at the head of his cock.

“Hm,” Tachibana responds, his own breathing shallow as he looks away from Sakura, focusing on undoing his tie, curling it into a little coil on the ground beside Sakura. His hands are shaking when he attempts to unbutton his vest.

“Let me,” Sakura says, sitting up a bit, navigating around the uncomfortable tightness of his pants, Tachibana’s hand still snug around his cock. His fingers move quickly to undo his vest and the button-down shirt beneath. Tachibana, despite his shaking hands, manages to fold everything neatly, one-handed (something that leaves Sakura rather impressed, despite it all) and keep it away from Sakura, who keeps bucking his hips up weakly, in motivation for Tachibana to just keep touching him already.

And then Tachibana grabs Sakura’s shirt and basically just rips it off over his head. It’s a nice juxtaposition but Sakura doesn’t get a chance to comment on it because Tachibana’s leaning in again and kissing him, possessive, his teeth biting down on Sakura’s bottom lip and eliciting a soft, pleased sound into the kiss, his lips curving into a smile even as he returns that kiss, deepening it, tethering Tachibana to him, wanting to touch him and be touched and never stop. Everything shifts inside him, it almost hurts to breathe, almost hurts to be parted from him—

Tachibana pushes him down, breaking the kiss to kiss and bite down Sakura’s neck, stroking his cock as he licks and drags his teeth over the skin, never enough to hurt, but enough that Sakura swallows thickly as Tachibana’s lips and tongue press against his adam’s apple, over the hollow of his throat, down over the jut of his collarbone, now exposed. He groans out quietly, encouraging, rolling his hips up against Tachibana’s hand, trying to shake his pants down enough that there’s more room to maneuver, more room for him to touch him freely. The please that bubbles up against his throat, chokes out of him as Tachibana bites at his neck, is enough to cause Tachibana pause, and Sakura swears he can feel a smirk against his skin. Sakura’s hands fall, thumbing at his own belt, squeezing his hips out from under the fabric, and Tachibana’s hand strays away and he misses the heat instantly. He groans out softly, frustration and longing lodging in that simple sound.

Tachibana’s movements flourish in its contradictions – he bites at Sakura’s mouth with that same possessiveness, heat and fire and longing in the slope of his tongue and the slant of his mouth, but his touch is hesitant, uncertain. Fingertips, gentle and light, almost not there at all, map out over his stomach, across his hip, over the briefest part of his exposed thigh, but ignores the way Sakura rolls his hips up, desperate, encouraging. Sakura’s fingers curl around Tachibana’s chin, keeping him close, kissing him with a surprising gentleness he didn’t think he was capable of when this longing seizes around his heart – how badly he wants him, how badly he’s wanted him for so long, so much time spent without realizing.

He touches Tachibana everywhere he can – palms and knuckles grazing over the slump of his chest, his fingertips and the backs of his nails tracing over his shoulders as he draws him in closer, feels the shift and power of those muscles beneath his hands, just wanting him close – closer still.

His hand finds Tachibana’s, guides it down, coaxing Tachibana’s fingers to curl around his cock and stroke, showing him how quickly to move, how softly to touch. Sakura lets out a soft breath into the kiss, biting back the sharp moan that presses against his throat. He smiles into the kiss, nodding a little, encouraging, dropping his hand away and letting Tachibana continue to touch him, stroking down the length of his cock with a surety he isn’t sure Tachibana truly feels. When he pulls away from the kiss, hand going to Tachibana’s hair, Tachibana is looking at him hopelessly – as if Sakura isn’t real, as if he’s never seen him before and still can’t believe it. And Sakura smiles at him, feeling as if he’s never known what a true smile was until that very moment, his expression soft as he looks up at Tachibana over him.

“Say I’m yours,” Sakura whispers, focusing on his face.

Tachibana closes his eyes, blushing, but his jaw clenches in a grim sort of possessiveness, and when he speaks, his words are a quiet growl, “You’re mine. You belong to me – no one else.”

“Never,” Sakura whispers, kissing him. Never again he should say but doesn’t want to – doesn’t want to summon up all those ghosts from the past times, not wanting Tachibana to think that the past somehow lessens the impact of the words, doesn’t want it to color the strength in which he says it. Means it. He knows who he belongs to.

It’s already too much – and perhaps it surprises him how much it effects him, this simple, untrained touch – and yet the friction and the heat and the pressure is almost too much and the soft sounds Tachibana makes are distracting. He doubles over above him, presses his forehead against Sakura’s shoulder, whispers out his name as he touches him, and Sakura rolls his hips up, tilting his head and pressing his lips against his ear, mouthing out words he isn’t ready to say yet but knows are true.

“Again,” Sakura whispers when the movement of Tachibana’s hand is distracting enough to elicit a soft moan. He barely recognizes his own voice, rough and thick with emotion, and Tachibana mutters something about perverts and no one telling him what to do, but he does it anyway, and Sakura laughs, breathless, before it cuts off into a quiet moan, his hands dragging down over Tachibana – just touching him for the sake of touching, without any real authority behind the touch.

He is aware, distantly, that he is writhing beneath him, arching up and shifting and rocking his hips in time to his strokes, one leg bending to press against his hip, half-aware and almost curling around him to drag him down closer. But after so long a time spent concealing how he feels, now he feels that kind of freedom in letting go, in letting Tachibana see just how desperately he wants him, needs him – how completely he longs for him.

“Fuck,” Tachibana moans, pinning him down with one hand and leaning down close, pressing his forehead against Sakura’s chest, lips brushing at the spot just above his heart, “Stop moving around so much, you bastard.”

His voice is soft, deeper and raspier than Sakura can believe, but it just furthers him onward, curving his hips up, high enough to press up against Tachibana for a moment, and he feels more than hears Tachibana’s gasp against his chest.

In answer to that gasp, he curls his arm around his neck and drags him up closer, kissing him with everything he has, pulling Tachibana down closer, unworried by the threat of his weight against him. His mouth is sweet against his and entirely open to him and the sounds Tachibana makes into the kiss are enough to set that low-burning heat in his chest to flame, something roaring.

“Show me again,” Tachibana commands in a harsh whisper against his mouth, kissing him forcefully, teeth scraping over his bottom lip not unkindly but not gently.

Sakura moans and fumbles for his hand, tangling his fingers with Tachibana’s, and shows him – long, hard, straight pulls, not overly rough but not gentle, and he takes the rhyme up quickly like it’s so easy, like he’s done this before, like the slight shake to his hand isn’t there. Sakura opens his mouth in a soundless whisper of his name, arches his neck as his hips settle enough to just feel the touch of Tachibana’s hand, growing surer the more he moves and he knows he’s close and – so much, he doesn’t want it to end – doesn’t want it to stop.

“Wait,” he whispers, pulling his hand away, pulling away from his mouth.

“What?” Tachibana stutters out, the fear gripping his words, as if Sakura will pull back completely, as if the wait is a stop, as if the wait is a don’t do that anymore. Sakura shakes his head a little, fingers tangling in Tachibana’s hair, cradling his face, wanting to be lost in him but wanting to prolong it, too, wanting it all to last.

“Let me…” Sakura begins, and unsure what to say – for once, lost for words. This is what it’s meant to feel like – as if everything is brand new, as if everything is lost except for Tachibana’s name and his touch.

Tachibana’s face is a bright red but he nods anyway, his eyes slanting away from Sakura, pulling away from him, self-conscious, unsure where to put his hands even as he stops touching Sakura – and Sakura regrets that loss almost immediately even as he climbs to his feet, pulls Tachibana up with him – and presses him up gently against the wall, hands tethered to the wall on either side of him, pressing in close, his thigh sliding between Tachibana’s legs and pressing upwards, delighting in that soft, pleased gasp.

Tachibana’s arms curl around him, lips finding his and kissing him with all his strength, his palms pressing down the curve of Sakura’s spine. It is not a hurried thing, perhaps, but even so, Sakura breaks away and kisses down his chest, slowly sinking down to his knees. He does not linger, but savors each moment of Tachibana’s skin. He feels Tachibana’s fingertips drag over his back as he slowly sinks away from his hold, but his fingers find his hair and tug, hard and constant.

“Tell me if you need me to stop,” Sakura says and it sounds strange, almost cliché, to say as much, and yet he finds himself looking up at Tachibana, expression warm and open, as he kisses over his stomach and his fingers find his belt.

Tachibana, for his part, is blushing all the way to his ears and he shakes his head a little, overwhelmed, one hand shifting through his hair to curl over the top of his head, forcing his gaze elsewhere, forcing his head down.

“Shut up,” he breathes out, his breath hitched.

Sakura smiles and doesn’t wait for any other words and instead splays his lips across Tachibana’s stomach, one hand lifting to fist his cock in his hand, once he’s drawn his pants down over his hips. Tachibana sucks in a sharp breath and then the sound he makes is louder, and more prolonged than anything before that – and Sakura knows, then and there, that he’ll always want to elicit these sounds from him.

Tachibana’s breath comes a little harder now and Sakura’s fingers are only lightly touching his cock, and his mouth hasn’t touched it yet. He drags his fingers slowly, thumbing at the head. Tachibana makes another stifled sound, his fingers pulling hard at his hair, and Sakura smiles against his stomach before he shifts, curling his lips around the head of his cock and shifts down, taking him into his mouth.

Tachibana tugs harder at his hair and Sakura can’t resist the little grunt at that, but otherwise doesn’t protest. He focuses on what he’s doing – on how much he wants it, how badly he wants to make Tachibana feel good, to focus on him and him alone. He laves his tongue along Tachibana’s feverish skin, pillowing his lips along his cock and Tachibana’s hand curls tighter around his hair, drags him down closer in a way that only makes Sakura smile around the cock in his mouth, one hand gripping his hip and controlling those thrusts, his other hand still pumping along his cock as he suckles and curls his tongue along the skin.

Sakura,” Tachibana keens out, his voice breathless and almost inaudible, drowned out by all the sounds he’s making in response to Sakura’s movements – the quiet gasps, the sharp moans, the quiet syllables that make up his name as he attempts to speak.

He pulls away enough to smile up at him, not able to control the small amount of smugness he feels, “Good?”

Tachibana’s expression darkens for half a second before he merely blushes, looking away, his hand shifting to cover Sakura’s eyes. “Shut up and don’t look at me, bastard.”

Which probably means he’s doing well. Sakura smiles, turning his head a bit and kissing at Tachibana’s palm, then over his stomach again, and then taking him into his mouth, kissing at the head and pillowing his lips down over the length of his cock again. He kisses along the cock, then along the pelvic bone, the sharp cut of his hip, the bits of his thigh that he can reach without drawing his pants down too far. Tachibana groans, half from frustration and half from longing.

Sakura lets out a soft sigh and tugs Tachibana by his hips, thrilling in the soft sound Tachibana makes, the way he seems to slump against the wall, give into Sakura’s touches. He strokes him with his tongue along the underside, his breath hot and shallow, ducking his head and just kissing him wherever he can reach, lips and tongue and mouth. He traces along the skin, lingers on the head and at the base, taking him deep into his mouth until his nose brushes against his pelvis, his body threatening to choke but just focusing on making Tachibana feel good, motivated by those sounds, desperate and heated and just for him – falls for him, knows he’s long since fallen for him, that it would always be him he’d fall for – all these years of waiting, without realizing he was waiting, all these years of longing—

He swallows around him, paying close attention to each part of him, worshipping him, thinking only of him – smiling around the cockhead, making a soft sound in reply to the soft cry Tachibana lets loose, knowing that Tachibana is close, thrilling that he can make Tachibana fall so close. He feels Tachibana shiver, shudder, his hold on his hair almost impossibly tight as he rolls his hips into Sakura’s mouth, who swallows easily around the cock.

“Sakura,” Tachibana whispers, a quieter sound this time, no demand and no possessiveness to it – just the warning, just the desperate way he grips at his hair, as if unsure what to do next.

Sakura doesn’t let him pull back. He closes his eyes, enjoys the way Tachibana tugs on his hair, swallows and sucks around the cock in his mouth, manages the smallest of moans and pulls back enough to curl his tongue around the head of his cock, teasing him over the edge. He moans again when Tachibana jerks up—

And comes sharply, with a cry that takes him by surprise, his breath stuttering, staccato. And Sakura holds still now, lets Tachibana jerk into his mouth, loosens his mouth to take it all in, tongue pressing against the underside as he comes. He swallows around his cock, laves his tongue over the flesh, strokes from base to the curve of his mouth, laying worship to Tachibana’s cock, leaving Tachibana unable to do anything but weakly jerk his hips up.

Tachibana says his name, or more shouts it – in a flurry of words and phrases Sakura doesn’t catch, focused on making him feel good. It’s a frenzied kind of moan that ripples out of Tachibana as he weakly jerks his hips up into his mouth. He says his name – once more, twice more. Sakura looks up, watching him, no danger of enraging him when Tachibana’s eyes are clenched shut, his mouth slack with his arousal and orgasm.

When Tachibana comes back to himself, blinks his eyes open, it’s in time for Sakura to finish tucking him back into his pants, doing up the zipper and replacing the belt to its rightful place. He’s still on his knees, but they don’t seem to hurt and his jaw doesn’t feel sore, either – all he can feel is that deep, satisfied happiness that Tachibana wants him, still wants him, and that he’s here, with Tachibana. He kisses over his hips and stomach, looking up at him with a smile.

“What about you?” Tachibana asks after a moment, pushing Sakura’s hands away from his hips.

Sakura shrugs. “I’m f—”

“Bullshit,” Tachibana scowls, kneeling down and shoving Sakura onto his back, crawling over him. “But you’re crazy if I’m putting my mouth on that.”

Sakura raises his eyebrows before he can stop himself, face rippling into an amused smile. “That? Are you twelve—mmm…”

Tachibana’s fingers curl around his cock again, stroking with a kind of ferocity that only Tachibana is capable of, expression dark and focused as he strokes him, thumb pressing against the head of his cock. Sakura moans out, rocking his hips up.

Sakura was already close before, and the touch is enough to send him back over the edge. He rocks up, back arching, and moans out Tachibana’s name as he comes. Tachibana leans in close, kissing at every inch of him he can reach – lips and eyelids, cheeks and chin, ears and neck and shoulders. For a long moment, the only sound between them is their shallow breaths, mingling, and Sakura shudders a few times from the pleasure, as he slowly comes back down from his orgasm, turning his head when Tachibana leans, so he can kiss him, soft and slow – taking his time. He has all the time in the world now.

Tachibana keeps kissing him for a long moment before grunting a bit, rolling beside Sakura, curling up next to him out on the veranda. He scowls. “I can’t believe you let me do this out here.”

Sakura shrugs. “No one else is home.”

Tachibana says nothing more, and after a moment his expression seems to relax – almost hints at a smile. Sakura curls his arm around him, holding him close to his side, even as he reaches over for his shirt – thrown aside haphazardly – and cleans off his stomach. Tachibana turns his head, kissing at his collarbone and shoulder. Sakura sighs out, relaxing slowly, closing his eyes.

Sakura turns his head, smiling a bit, feeling his nose nuzzle into Tachibana’s hair, feels Tachibana let him, feels Tachibana sigh.

“You’re mine, too, by the way,” Sakura says, as if it is an easy thing – and all things considered, it’s easy to say it now, something that seems so obvious now, something that was always there across the years.

“Tch,” Tachibana says, but doesn’t protest it. After a moment, he says, “If that guy comes around here again, I’m going to kill him.”

“You will not,” Sakura says, playing with Tachibana’s hair, playing with it only to straighten it out again for him.

“Don’t tell me what to do,” Tachibana says, but seems to relax under the touch, and now that he’s starting to come down from the general movements of before, he’s hit with a renewed sense of sleepiness, with Tachibana pressed up against him, both of them shirtless. He sighs out quietly and Tachibana shifts, looking up at him with a frown. “Dumbass,” he says quietly, lifting a hand to touch his cheek, “When did you last sleep?”

Sakura smiles and shrugs, unable to focus on counting the days, turning his head to rest his cheek in Tachibana’s hand.

Tachibana grunts and shifts, moving to straddle Sakura’s hips, leaning down and cupping his face, kissing him – lingering and gentle, but demanding.

When he pulls back he whispers, “Take me to your room already.”

Sakura obeys him.