Yamamoto Takeshi knew perfectly well that his friends thought he was crazy for, well, a lot of reasons, actually, but they especially wondered about his taste for wandering down to the Varia's headquarters whenever he was in the mood to scare up a good sparring match. That was fine; Takeshi didn't care that they didn't understand. Fond as he was of Tsuna and his fellow guardians, he knew that most of them didn't really enjoy a good fight. They saw fighting as a necessary evil (Tsuna) or as a means to an end (Gokudera and most of the rest of them). Even Ryouhei mostly just viewed fighting as a sort of extreme form of training. Hibari understood, of course, and Takeshi could count on him for fights whenever he was around, but the sad truth was that Hibari just wasn't around as often as Takeshi happened to be in the mood for a good fight. He was the Cloud and spent a lot of time out doing Cloud things and being an independent carnivore.
But the Varia—the Varia were always there. And they were always ready to entertain a good fight. A challenge. Takeshi liked that, liked how simple the Varia were in their own ways. Everyone in the Varia honed his or her skills all the time, because they were all the best or at least aimed to be. Anyone who didn't have that kind of drive—well, they didn't last long.
Takeshi could respect that. In another life, maybe if things had gone in a different direction, he thought that maybe he would have been part of the Varia. He wondered about that sometimes. In any case, it felt right to stalk through the corridors of the Varia's headquarters, heading down to the training halls. (That was where most of the Varia did their intramural fighting, since the structure of that part of the building had been reinforced to withstand the destruction that the Varia's members were capable of unleashing, but Takeshi had fought a few battles in the tight quarters of the corridors, too. He thought of those running battles in cramped spaces as particularly good practice.)
The thing was, the Varia kind of thought he was crazy, too, though not for the same reasons that his friends thought he was. Sometimes when Takeshi strolled through the corridors of their headquarters, he had to do it like a fish swimming upstream, because the Varia were streaming away from the practice halls. His pulse always quickened when he found that happening and came close enough to hear the muffled sounds of gunfire.
This was one of those times.
Takeshi knew he was grinning when he bumped into Carlo, one of the Varia's squad leaders, who shook his head when he caught sight of Takeshi. "Boss is in a mood," he said. Carlo was a good man to try and warn him like that; he even touched the pommel of one of the curved knives he wore in his belt and said, "Come fight with me instead."
Carlo was good with those knives; Takeshi considered it for a moment. Then he heard the crack of another of Xanxus' shots and shook his head. "Naw," he said. "Think I wanna go take a look in on 'em."
"Your funeral," Carlo said, shaking his head again, and kept moving.
The thing was, Takeshi kind of thought it was the Varia who were the crazy ones. (Well, a different kind of crazy, since even they admitted that they were a pack of psychopaths.) All of them claimed they wanted to be nothing but the best, to deal in nothing but the best. And if that was what they wanted, Takeshi thought, then they should have been clamoring to watch Xanxus and Squalo sparring.
The last few Varia had trickled away by the time he got close enough to let himself into the training hall. Takeshi slipped in quietly and picked a handy bit of wall to lean against. Neither of them had their boxes out; it was an old-fashioned fight, guns against steel. Xanxus did seem to be in a kind of a mood, that much was apparent. His teeth were bared when he and Squalo crashed into each other; he caught Squalo's sword on one of his guns, turning the blade aside, and fired the other again. Squalo catapulted himself away from the blast of Flame with the kind of flip that most people couldn't have dreamt of matching.
Squalo landed in a crouch and swept a foot around to catch Xanxus' ankle, but Xanxus wasn't there any more. He was in the air, both guns firing down to leave a pitted, smoking crater in the floor where Squalo had just been. Squalo was propelling himself off a wall and crashed into Xanxus as he landed; his sword screeched against Xanxus' gun.
Xanxus' laughter rose up over the sound of that.
Takeshi held his breath, watching them, because there—there it was, something fine and perfect and so sharp that it cut his soul a little bit just to witness it.
They strained against each other for a moment, intent on each other. Then they broke at some silent, tacit agreement and stood a little apart from each other. That was when Squalo's gaze flicked Takeshi's way; he jerked his chin an infinitesimal bit. Xanxus turned just enough to glance Takeshi's way and rake indifferent eyes over him. "What do you want?"
Takeshi contemplated all the ways he could answer that question. He shrugged and settled on saying, "To watch you, if you don't want to let me play along."
It was always tricky with Xanxus, but Takeshi had been doing this for a while and had gotten some of the trick of gauging Xanxus' moods down. He'd done all right this time; Xanxus snorted at his response. "Suit yourself."
When he brought his gun up and fired, Takeshi was already moving, Shigure Kintoki singing in his hands as he dove into the fight. Maybe someone else would have expected it to be a two-on-one fight, Varia versus Takeshi or swords against guns or something, but Takeshi knew better than that. Xanxus fired on Squalo too, and Squalo was there to meet Shigure Kintoki's sweep on his own blade, his teeth bared in a shark's grin. Takeshi knew he was grinning as well, was maybe even on the verge of laughing like Xanxus was, and dropped beneath Squalo's blade as he danced out of the way of Xanxus' kick. Maybe he was every bit the adrenaline junky Gokudera accused him of being, but this was living, pushing himself right up to the edge of the possible and laughing at the abyss beyond. He thought that Xanxus and Squalo understood that, too, and that was why Squalo fought with his lips pulled back from his teeth and why Xanxus laughed over the roar of his gun, alight with furious pleasure.
Or maybe Takeshi was just thinking about it too hard. That was always possible, too.
They ranged back and forth across the room, trading the advantage among them; it bounced from Xanxus to Takeshi, back to Xanxus, then to Squalo, then to Takeshi, until he lost track of who was leading and the air was hazy with smoke and dust. It didn't end till he was wrapped around Squalo, holding Shigure Kintoki to his throat, and Xanxus had his guns on them both while Squalo pressed a knife to Xanxus' stomach. They froze for a moment, making what was probably a strange tableau, all of them panting and bleeding from their collections of cuts and both Takeshi and Squalo scorched in the places where they hadn't been fast enough to escape Xanxus' Flame fast enough.
Then Xanxus snorted. His eyes were still hot, but they'd come back from the place where they had blazed with a mindless sort of joy. He holstered his guns; Takeshi lowered Shigure Kintoki as Squalo sheathed his knife. All three of them were still breathing fast, and whatever else a person might have to say about the Varia uniforms, he'd have to admit that this much was true: they didn't leave much to the imagination and they didn't do a damn thing to hide it when someone got hard. Not, his conscience reminded Takeshi, that his slacks did a much better job of the latter.
Xanxus caught him looking and snorted again. "So," he said. That was all—that was enough. Squalo flowed to him like water; Xanxus sank a hand into his hair, winding the length of it around his fist and pulling his head back. There were teeth in their kiss, Xanxus' teeth white and sharp as they bit Squalo's lips to redness. Squalo arched into that, skinny body framed by the solid shape of Xanxus' body. Takeshi breathed faster just from watching that, just from hearing the way Squalo sighed for his boss.
"Knees," Xanxus told Squalo. Squalo went, just like that, hands going to Xanxus' belt as he did. Xanxus glanced at Takeshi, something flaring in his eyes—maybe amusement or maybe satisfaction. It was difficult to say. He gestured at Squalo. "Open him up."
So Xanxus was going to include him this time. Takeshi ducked his head to hide his grin and knelt behind Squalo, reaching around him to unfasten his belt and fly and push the leather down his thighs. Xanxus made a satisfied sound over him as Squalo shifted forward—yeah, he had Xanxus' cock out now; Takeshi could hear the soft, wet sound of it sliding between Squalo's lips as Xanxus' breathing turned deeper, harsher. He wanted to watch, to see the way Squalo's mouth stretched around the thickness of Xanxus' cock and the way he'd be watching Xanxus, but that wasn't really going to happen, not at this angle. Takeshi contented himself with imagining how it looked instead—wasn't like he hadn't seen it before when Xanxus had told him to keep his hands to himself and watch.
Squalo groaned when Takeshi first pressed slick fingers against him. Takeshi grinned; yeah, it was totally worth it to carry that little foil packet around, just in case. Not that working Squalo open with his fingers and his mouth alone wasn't fun, too, but this—this worked a little better. He set his free hand against Squalo's hips, holding him still, and worked his fingers in as Squalo whined around Xanxus' cock. Squalo's body opened up easily, fast and deep; that was the kind of thing that made Takeshi's breath come fast and heat curl low in his gut when he thought about the reason for that.
Xanxus curved a hand around the back of Squalo's skull, holding him in place as he rocked his hips forward. Takeshi stared at the blocky shape of Xanxus' hand, the burns and scars and calluses that marked his skin, dark against the bone-pale color of Squalo's hair, and the casual way he cupped Squalo's head. Xanxus made a sound—no, another snort—above them; when Takeshi chanced a glance up, he saw that Xanxus was watching him.
Takeshi shrugged at him and pushed another finger into Squalo, twisting them when Squalo jerked between them. Xanxus grunted; Takeshi saw his fingers tighten in Squalo's hair. Takeshi worked his fingers deeper, wrenching another moan out of Squalo's throat, and wet his lips at the sounds Xanxus made in reply to that, deep and approving. His slacks were getting way too tight, but he didn't want to take his hands away from Squalo long enough to undo them and ease the pressure on his cock.
Xanxus pulled back from Squalo then; Squalo panted for breath and swore raggedly as Takeshi twisted his fingers again. Takeshi was only half-listening; he had to swallow hard at how Xanxus looked with his pants undone and his cock flushed, dark and wet, against the whiteness of his shirt. He was smirking, pleased as a lion surveying its territory, and gestured at Squalo. "I'm going to fuck you now."
Squalo moaned. "God, Boss, yes, please."
Takeshi had heard that kind of devout gratitude before, though generally not in circumstances quite like this one. Squalo was quick to rearrange himself, too, pulling away from the last flourish of Takeshi's fingers and shoving his pants down past his knees as he turned. Xanxus watched him do it, arms folded across his chest and his eyes hot.
Takeshi settled back onto his heels and reached down to palm himself through his slacks as Xanxus knelt to cage Squalo's hips in his hands. He pushed into Squalo on one long stroke, burying himself all the way inside Squalo with a satisfied grunt. Squalo groaned, eyes squeezed shut and his mouth hanging open, red and panting. Xanxus ground against him, growling a little low in his throat. Takeshi had to unfasten his slacks so he could reach inside and stroke himself, because damn, they were something beautiful together—not in spite of everything else they were, he thought, but because of it.
So yeah, maybe people were a little bit right when they told him he had bizarre tastes, Takeshi thought absently. He gasped a little when Xanxus pulled back and thrust himself into Squalo again, hard. But as Squalo cried out, flexing with that, Takeshi decided that he was okay with that.
Xanxus cut his eyes sideways and smirked, teeth showing white between his lips. He jerked his chin. "Get over here." He leaned over Squalo's back, tugging on a handful of long hair as Takeshi scrambled to obey. "Suck him."
"Yes, Boss," Squalo gasped, hoarse, as Takeshi knelt in front of him. His jaw flexed under Takeshi's fingers when he splayed them against it; his mouth was shockingly hot when he wrapped it around Takeshi's cock. Takeshi groaned as heat swept up his spine, almost too sharp to bear, and cupped his hand around Squalo's jaw, cradling it as he looked down at Squalo, cataloging the pale sweep of colorless lashes against the color blazing across his cheekbones and the redness of his lips stretched around Takeshi's cock.
Xanxus snorted and drove against Squalo hard enough to lift him up off his knees. As Takeshi set his other hand on Squalo's shoulder, bracing him, Xanxus said, "Think you get off just on watching."
"Nothing wrong with that," Takeshi managed between gasps as Squalo bobbed his head up and down his cock, his mouth vibrating around Takeshi with the sounds he made every time Xanxus' hips snapped against his. It was difficult to decide what to watch, though: there was the movement of Squalo's mouth over his cock, or the shape Xanxus' hands made against the blades of Squalo's hips, or the thickness of Xanxus' cock working in and out of his ass, or the fierce, gleaming curve of Xanxus' smile as he fucked them. Takeshi tried to watch it all, rubbing his thumb over the line of Squalo's jaw absently as pleasure blazed through him. Then Squalo arched between them, mouth sliding away from Takeshi's cock as he cried out and orgasm swept his face blank. Xanxus growled something wordless and slammed against him again, hips working in short jabs, until he went still against Squalo and filthy words tumbled from his mouth.
Takeshi dropped his hand to his cock as he watched them both and came after two quick pulls, pleasure narrowing his world down to a point before it expanded again in a rush as his cock pulsed over his fingers and Squalo's mouth, and oh man, that was almost enough to pull another flash of heat through him. Takeshi collapsed back on his heels when he finished, wrung out and breathless, while Squalo panted between them and Xanxus leaned against his back, sucking in deep breaths of air. "Fuck," he said when he finally pulled out of Squalo and began cleaning himself up.
"Jesus, Boss," Squalo said in reply; he made to pass a hand over his face and grimaced. Takeshi passed him the handkerchief he carried, since it was just about the least he could do, considering.
Xanxus gave them both a glance, one Takeshi couldn't read, before his mouth kicked up at the corners. He regarded them for a moment longer, then pushed himself to his feet and stalked out without another word.
"Pretty good mood today, huh?" Takeshi said when he'd gone, as he and Squalo got themselves put back together.
"Got the word to go against the Pozzo Nero," Squalo said, which, yeah. That would do it.
Takeshi rubbed his chin. "Picked a good day to come over, then."
Squalo rolled his eyes. "And they tell me I'm crazy."
"I just figure I know a good thing when I see it," Takeshi told him.
And Squalo had no good retort for that, since they both knew it was true.