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Nagi knew it was going to be a long day when Tomoe bit his head off twice over nothing before he'd even rubbed the sleep out of his eyes. She was silent at breakfast until she lifted up the carton of milk, opened it, and said, "Damn it!" She got up and poured the contents of the carton down the sink.

Nagi looked up from his eggs. Tomoe being cranky was nothing unusual. Tomoe almost screwing something up, that was unexpected. "If you'd like to tell me--"

"It's something I saw in the paper," she said. "Will see. Tomorrow."

Tomoe getting upset over a news article? That never happened. "Go on."

"You won't like it."

"I won't like it?"

She nodded. So this was the part she was upset about. "I know you don't always--I know you don't need to know everything. I don't--I try not to tell you everything. But this one's important."

There was something else. Some kind of catch. "Why have you waited half the morning to tell me?"

She picked nervously at the tie of her uniform. "I told you," she said. "You won't like it."

His stomach clenched. "It's not about your mother?"

She rolled her eyes. Ah, that was more like her. The universe was slowly returning to normal. "It's not about my mother. It's that guy you worked for. The politician."

There was only one politician she could be talking about. "A scandal?"

Her face got serious. "No."

 

Mamoru scanned the crowd. The usual bunch of idiots, cowards, and sycophants, with the occasional shark drifting through the crowd. The man he was looking for was nowhere to be seen. Maybe he wasn't well. Maybe Mamoru could get away with just seeing and being seen, a little flirtation, nods to a few of his fellow sharks, and then...hell, maybe he could go to bed early with a nice glass of Scotch.

Mamoru was too old for these stupid games. But of course, he was too old to do anything else, too. Too far along in his career--both careers--to retire. Too old and well-known to disappear.

So instead, he was trying to set up a political deal that would tighten up an obscure legal loophole that let human traffickers evade scrutiny. It should have been easy, but of course it wasn't. Mamoru was increasingly convinced that someone was being blackmailed. His only hope was that it was merely a scandalous affair and that none of the politicians he'd been working with had bodies in the basement.

He snagged a glass of champagne off a tray and pretended to drink it while he scanned the crowd. Sanada was over by the door, with a few lovely women around him, most of whom were probably being paid to keep him company. At least he had a good eye, Mamoru supposed. And the young ladies no doubt needed the money. Perhaps he could just remind Sanada that he had promised to help with legislation about the exploitation of young girls. Sometimes the words had more weight when you were in front the right audience. Mamoru was no blackmailer, himself, but he had no ethical worries about reminding a man where he was vulnerable.

Where the hell had Toshiro gone? He was paid enough, the man could at least appear to care about Mamoru's health.

"Takatori-san," said a voice at once familiar and strange. "It's nice to see you again."

Mamoru turned to his left and his gaze fell on Naoe Nagi.

Well.

"It's been...a few years," Mamoru said, trying not to show the agitation he felt. "Hasn't it?"

"You always had a way with words," Nagi said. He was wearing a three-piece suit, charcoal gray, a black tie with a subtle gray stripe. He looked older. He looked fantastic. Mamoru felt his mouth going dry. "You're well?"

"Yes," Mamoru said.

"If you have a moment--"

"I...could probably take a little time."

Nagi had a little gray around his temples, but that suited him. He didn't look like a little kid any more, that was for sure. "Take a melon ball or something," he muttered. "Look normal."

"I'm supposed to be here," Mamoru said, smoothly. "This is as normal as I'm going to look. What...what are you doing here?"

"Isn't this a fundraiser?" Nagi said. "I'm raising funds. Or something." He took a skewer of yakitori off a plate and bit off a piece of chicken.

"You're not working?"

"No," Nagi said. "I believe deeply in the cause." His eyes flickered toward the banner near the speaker's podium. "Child abuse is a terrible problem."

"We're protecting the white rhino," Mamoru corrected.

"A treasure the world must band together to preserve," Nagi said, without missing a beat. "I'm glad we're here together supporting this important cause."

"What exactly are you doing here?" Mamoru asked.

"Talking to you." Nagi looked at him, measuring his expression. "Shit. Your eyes have lost a lot of color."

"And my hair, though I was already gray the last time you saw me," Mamoru said. "And I've gained weight." He'd never been a magazine model, but he was well aware of how the years had worn on him.

Nagi was unruffled. He took another skewer of yakitori. "Married?"

He shook his head. "She died. Cancer. She's been gone for six years. You?"

"Divorced. Kids?"

He had decided not to make that mistake years ago. He shook his head.

"I've got a daughter."

Mamoru hoped his face didn't look too shocked. "You do? How old is she?"

"Seventeen."

Mamoru hadn't realized it had been that long. But of course it had been. "Is she...she must be pretty."

"You have no idea," Nagi said. "It's a pain in the ass."

"Do you have a picture?" He must. For all of Nagi's bluster, he could be painfully sentimental.

"No time," Nagi said. "You know we're getting attacked in ten minutes?"

"I didn't." So that was why Nagi was skulking around a fundraiser he clearly had no interest in.

"But you're armed?"

Mamoru was almost insulted. "I haven't changed that much."

The ghost of a smile passed over Nagi's face. "They've got a bomb."

"What else do you know?"

"You have to take the south exit."

"To save people or get out alive?"

"Let me do the saving," Nagi said. "Get out."

"I can't--"

"Someone's going to try to take advantage of this," Nagi said. "Watch your back."

"All right," Mamoru said. "But I don't like it."

"Of course you don't. Go."

Mamoru sighed. South. Watch his back. He wondered where his bodyguard had wandered off to. Was Toshiro ready to throw him to the wolves? Hard to say. Ah, there he was, near the canapes.

"Sir," he said, his face wrinkled with feigned concern. "I understand you wanted a private word with...that gentleman, but--"

"Is that the Belgian ambassador over there?" Mamoru said, squinting over by the south entrance at a gray-haired man who was almost certainly not the Belgian ambassador. "I need to speak with him. Come on."

They were halfway across the floor when a young woman screamed. A good, strong, full-throated horror movie scream.

Most of the room flowed in that direction (toward, Mamoru noticed, the south entrance). People loved a good debacle. This one sounded especially exciting. Mamoru went with the crowd.

He couldn't get a good look at the woman. He'd caught a glimpse of dark hair as she went down, but that was all. "She had a blue dress on," Toshiro said, using his height to their advantage. "They...she's saying something. They need to--"

"The white knight will fall!" the woman cried. "We must clear the chessboard!" She sounded impassioned, almost crazed. A few people were eyeing the exits.

What the hell was Nagi up to? Was that his daughter?

The room shook, and the crowd, already on edge, bolted for the exits. Of course. Hard to threaten to bomb a building that's already been evacuated. Sure, there would be property damage, but the whole 'terror' angle would lose a good deal of urgency. Mamoru smiled to himself.

"Sir? Please stay with me," Toshiro said. Usually he had no trouble keeping pace with Mamoru, but Mamoru rarely had such incentive to make it to the door.

"Of course," Mamoru said, not bothering to adjust his pace. It was important to be underestimated, but damned if it didn't wound his pride at times. "But we need to be clear of...whatever this madness is."

"Yes," Toshiro agreed.

There was a bottleneck by the door. This was when things could get bad; a brush on the arm could hide a needle, a blade. Toshiro came closer, and Mamoru was intimately aware of just how close he was, every point of contact.

But they came through the door clear, out into the evening light. "Sir," Toshiro said. "Should we contact Rex?"

"Go ahead," Mamoru said, pretending to watch the door with concern, trying to sense the people around him, wondering who was going to make a move and what the move might be.

"I think we should step further back," Toshiro said, reaching for Mamoru's arm. "It's not safe to--"

Ah. There it was. Mamoru deftly avoided his hand, and the thin needle not-quite-hidden between his fingers. "No," Mamoru said. "It's not."

They stood in a standoff for a minute, neither of them willing to draw the attention of the crowd. Mamoru reached into his jacket for a dart. Toshiro's eyes flickered from Mamoru's hands to the door and back again, and then, making some kind of decision, he ran.

Mamoru couldn't hold back his smirk as he let the dart fly. No one was watching anyway.

Toshiro only got a few yards before he collapsed. Mamoru kicked the dart away and leaned over him, feigning concern of his own.

"I told you," Nagi said, walking up to his side.

"Thanks. Was that your daughter?"

"Mm," Nagi said. "She has terrible 'seizures.' Scary, but harmless."

"The bomb?"

"Isolated. They'll find it tomorrow morning and everyone will get a nice, dramatic shock."

"Good."

Nagi looked at Toshiro. "You want me to help you with him?"

"Depends. Is my driver going to try to kill me, too?"

"Not sure," Nagi confessed. "All she got was what was going to happen out here."

"'She'?"

Nagi glanced at the building for a second. "Powers don't pass on like hair color. It's more...random."

"Oh," Mamoru said. "I...I guess that's helpful."

"Sometimes," he said. "I never caught her sneaking out."

"She'll be all right?"

"She's hoping the cute emergency worker helping her will ask her on a date," Nagi said. "She didn't seem concerned, otherwise." He kneeled down and started pulling Toshiro up. "Go ahead, call your driver. We'll see if he's in on it too."

Mamoru called his driver. Nagi waited at a safe distance.

Bose's eyes went wide. "What...what happened?"

"It's a long story," he said. "We need to get him in the backseat. Now."

"Um, sure," he said. Mamoru tried to ignore Nagi, watching. Waiting.

"Help me search him," he told Bose, once they were in the backseat.

"What are we looking for?"

"I'll know it when I see it." Mamoru's hands skimmed over the suit. It had been a long time since he'd checked someone for weapons. He couldn't see Nagi but he assumed he was smirking somewhere in the background, waiting to see if Bose, too, was trying to kill him.

"Sir?" Bose had his hand on something. "This--this feels like a weapon."

"So it does," Mamoru said, and pulled out the Taser. "Look at that. Now, I didn't buy that for him. Think he went shopping?"

Bose's eyes reflected fear. "What's going on, sir?"

"That's what I'm trying to find out," Mamoru said. "Check his pockets."

"Phone," Bose said. "You want me to--"

"Please do," Mamoru said. Bose seemed more shocked than anything as he handed over Toshiro’s phone. If he'd been in on it, he certainly didn't have a Plan B.

"We keep running into each other," Nagi said, from over his shoulder. "Need a hand?"

"I think we've got it under control," Mamoru said.

"Maybe I should just...ride along with you until you get home," he said. "Tomoe can pick me up."

"I'm sure Rex will be delighted to see you again," Mamoru said, not even caring if he sounded sarcastic.

Nagi just laughed. "I'll ride up front."

"Sure, fine," he said. "Bose-san, there are zip ties in the glove compartment, aren't there?"

"There are," he said. "Um...."

"Naoe Nagi," Mamoru said. "He was my bodyguard...some years ago."

"Twenty," Nagi said. He shot a glance at Bose. "You were probably still in diapers."

"I'm twenty-three," he said.

"That was a good age," Nagi said. "I was working for Takatori then."

"Wasn't that the year you quit?"

Nagi considered. "I think so."

Bose's eyes in the rear-view mirror were clouded with confusion. Mamoru felt a deep sympathy for him. No one deserved to be dragged into the stupidity that had been their years together. He bound Toshiro's wrists and ankles, then shoved him over on the other side of the backseat. He hated dealing with this stuff. It had been too damn long since someone had tried to kill him face-to-face.

"Takatori-san," Bose said. "I know I'm just a driver, but--"

"He tried to drug me," Mamoru said. "Not sure if he wanted me dead or not. Naoe-san's here because he's worried you're going to try something."

"We just met," Nagi said, professionally. "It's nothing personal."

"I understand," Bose said. "Are you all right, Takatori-san?"

"I'm fine," he said. "I've dealt with worse."

"I'll say," Nagi said.

"He's new," Mamoru said. "Don't scare him."

"He looks smart," Nagi said. "He'll learn fast. You from Tokyo? You sound like Tokyo."

"Mostly," Bose said. "My father was American, a GI. Spent some time on Okinawa but after they got divorced, we moved to Tokyo."

"How's your English?"

"Good enough," he said.

Nagi asked him something else, and they spoke for a while in English. Mamoru caught about half of it, mostly about where Bose had traveled in America, and that they'd both been to New York City.

Mamoru leaned back against the seat. He was tired.

But this wasn't a job you left alive. He'd known that when he took it. So what if he hadn't been old enough to drive? The conditions were still the same.

Nagi glanced back at him, at Toshiro, still out cold. "You didn't kill him?"

"Every once in a while someone will have a bad reaction to the sedative," Mamoru said. "But he's breathing. He should be fine."

Toshiro twitched. Had Nagi just...psychically kicked him? Probably. Bose was driving, he wouldn't notice.

"I'll question him," Nagi said. "When he wakes up."

"You don't work for me."

"That's why I should do it. I'm not in your organization."

"You left," he said, maybe more passionately than he’d meant to.

"Why?" Bose asked.

"It's none of your business," Nagi snapped, as Mamoru said, "You'll have to ask him."

"I know it's none of my business," Bose said. "I apologize, Takatori-sama, Naoe-san."

"It's fine," Mamoru said. "This wasn't in the job interview."

"I miss people being rude to me," Nagi said. "Everyone in this country is so fucking polite."

“You still don’t work for me,” Mamoru said.

"I'll do this for free," Nagi said, with a little too much relish. "Because it was so nice to run into you." He took out his phone. "I'll just let Tomoe know I'll be a little late. She's probably not done yet, anyway."

"I don't want you to--"

"I'm not going out of my way," Nagi said. "I'm curious. And I want to know if he's involved with...the other issue."

The other issue would mean the bomb. "I don't really have much choice in this, do I?"

"No," Nagi said, simply. "You don't."

Bose stayed silent, proving himself more wise than Mamoru's last few drivers. "Should I go to the back entrance?"

"No," Mamoru said. "Drive in like you always do. The gentleman’s just...fallen ill."

"Right," Bose said, and there was a hint of a smile in his expression. He might work out after all.

"I hope you're not going to try to kill him," Nagi said. "I like you."

"Thank you, Naoe-san," Bose said, and managed to keep a straight face. He pulled to the front gate.

Nakamura frowned. "Is everything--" His eyes went wide when he recognized Nagi. "Sir," he said, looking back at Mamoru. "Are you--"

"Toshiro-san has fallen ill," Mamoru said, smoothly. "Nagi-kun offered his help. I'm fine."

Nakamura bowed and opened the gates.

"Should I call Rex now?" Nagi said, not bothering to hide his sadistic pleasure.

Mamoru sighed. What was he, forty now? Over forty. And still as petty as a teenager. "I'll let Rex-san know what's happening. You can...do whatever you'd like to interrogate Toshiro. I will remind you that--"

"I know," Nagi said. "I'll follow the Geneva Convention, I promise."

"I want results, not revenge." Mamoru didn't really care what Nagi did to him, but he wanted to know exactly who had wanted him dead or captured and why. He didn't want someone telling Nagi what he wanted to hear.

Nagi looked at Toshiro’s face. "I never met him, did I?"

Mamoru shook his head. "He's just a kid." He tossed Toshiro’s phone over to Nagi. "See if anyone looks familiar to you."

"He didn't even password lock it?" Nagi held it up. "Is there a trigger on this? Is it going to explode?"

Mamoru started flipping through Toshiro’s wallet. "I didn't even know he was going to try to drug me until an hour ago."

"Excuses, excuses," Nagi said. "I think I'll wait until we're out of the car." That meant he'd seen something. "Maybe until Toshiro-san is awake again."

There was a notable amount of cash in the wallet. Oh, and a driver's license in a different name, that was promising. "Try looking this up on your phone. They might be tracking mine." He handed the license to Nagi.

"Hmm," he said. "Promising."

"Should I pull into the garage?" Bose asked.

"Yes, please," Mamoru said. The cash looked unmarked. "How are you doing for money these days, Nagi-kun?"

"I'm fine. I told you, no charge for this."

"Give this to Bose-san, then," he said, handing it up.

Nagi whistled appreciatively.

"I'll appreciate your not mentioning this until there's official word," Mamoru told Bose.

"Of course, Takatori-sama."

Toshiro moaned a little, then jerked awake as if he'd been kicked by an invisible force.

Mamoru looked at Nagi, who blinked his eyes innocently.

There were some things Mamoru hadn't missed.

 

Still, Nagi was useful in an interrogation, and having Toshiro wake up to the face of an angry stranger was rather fun to watch on the video feed. Rex didn't seem particularly pleased to see Nagi working for them again, but even she smirked when Toshiro started crying. Nagi hadn't raised as much as a finger or voiced a single threat; just his attitude was enough to break poor stupid Toshiro.

No, he didn't know who he was working for, it had all been coded messages and dead drops. His original contact had been a woman named Dorian. No, she wasn't Western, but she wasn't Japanese either. He'd assumed she was Chinese but he wasn't sure. She'd had a Chinese accent. She was very pretty and she'd given him a lot of cash, and they insisted they wanted Mamoru alive, just to ask a few questions.

"You realize they always want to 'ask a few questions'?" Nagi said dryly.

"It...it was a lot of money," Toshiro said. "And...and I've seen things, here. Things...I didn't like."

"And you thought giving him over to strangers with money would fix that." Nagi rolled his eyes. "All right," he said. "I've gotten everything I want out of you." He rose. "We'll see what Mamoru wants."

Mamoru didn't have the faintest idea of what he wanted to do. "Just keep him in the castle for a while," he said to Rex. "When we figure out who he's been working for, we'll decide."

She nodded. Always professional, Rex, and she seemed pleased that Mamoru included her in his 'we.' "What about Naoe-san?"

"He'll do what he wants to," Mamoru said, shrugging. "Like always."

"Are you calling me names?" Nagi asked, closing the door behind him.

"Not this time," Mamoru said. "You'd better call your daughter."

"You're married?" Rex said.

Nagi pulled out his phone. "Divorced."

"Oh." Rex had a good poker face, Mamoru noted.

"I promised my daughter dinner," Nagi said. "She's already had plenty of excitement, she'll be hungry." He frowned at the screen. "She's already on her way."

"Rex-san, can you--?"

"Of course," she said. "The guards will be expecting her. What's her name?"

"Tomoe," he said. "Thank you."

She picked up the intercom.

"Come on," Mamoru said. "It's nice out. We can wait for her outside."

Nagi nodded and followed him out.

 

Mamoru was fidgety. He kept staring at his fingernails, which were immaculate and carefully manicured. "She's coming?"

"She's coming," he said. Her visions weren’t as strong or earth-shattering as Crawford’s had been, but she was uncannily reliable.

"She lives with her mother?"

Nagi nodded.

"So...what about you?"

"What about me?" Nagi arched his eyebrows.

He took a certain amount of pleasure in Mamoru's discomfort. "Is there...is it just you?"

"I'm single," he said brightly. "If that's what you're asking."

"I know I'm not what I used to be," Mamoru said.

"Don't pull that shit," Nagi said. He'd gained weight and he'd lost color, but Nagi hadn't gotten any younger in the past twenty years either. And he didn't exactly look bad. He hadn't gotten the Takatori family jowls. Instead there was a certain...dignity there he'd lacked back when they were first working together.

"We were so careful," Mamoru said. "And I--"

"Don't," Nagi said. "It was years ago."

"My whole life," Mamoru said. "What do I have? A few policy changes. At least you have a daughter."

"This is stupid," Nagi said. "Are we really going to sit here complaining about our wasted lives?"

"I was trying to ask you to dinner."

Nagi shook his head. "We always sucked at this."

"Flirting or acting like normal people?"

"Both," he said.

Mamoru sighed. "Yeah."

"Tomoe, she's good at it. Gets it from her mother. She'd have you halfway into bed by now."

Mamoru didn't smile, but his lips twitched. "Would she."

"I don't mean it like--shit, maybe I do mean it like that. Fine. Dinner."

"Not tonight," Mamoru said. "I'm going to have to deal with...all this."

"Knowing her, she'll show up the second we set a time," Nagi said. "So we probably should."

"Friday?"

"Eight," Nagi said. "Are you still wandering around the castle?"

"Generally," Mamoru said. "You can meet me there. It'll be a good test for the new security staff."

"All right."

That was when Tomoe pulled in. At least foresight made you a reliable driver. She rolled down the window. "Are you finished?"

"I should've suffocated you in the womb," Nagi called back. "Come here. You just saved his life, you should meet him."

Mamoru squared his shoulders and checked his posture. Nagi had to admit to himself it was...kind of cute. "Tomoe-san," he said, with the smile he used to charm political allies. "I owe you--"

"Don't bother," she said, but she bowed anyway. "Pleased to meet you, Takatori-san."

"How was the EMT?" Nagi asked.

"Married," she said. "He wasn't as cute up close, anyway."

"Come on," he said. "I'm hungry." He got into the driver's seat.

At least Tomoe waited until they were outside the grounds before she asked. "You're going to dinner with him?"

"Yes," Nagi snapped. "Nothing's going to happen. I don't even know why you--"

"You remember what I can do, right?" She pushed her sunglasses up on her nose. "That's why."

Nagi shook his head.

"I'm doing us both a favor," she said. "You know that."

"What kind of favor?"

"The kind of favor where neither of us have to listen to you sulking."

"I don't sulk. I wouldn't have sulked if he--"

"No," she said, glancing out the window. "You didn't sulk, when I told you he'd died. You mourned."

Nagi's mouth felt dry.

"I'm sorry," she said. "But...I wasn't going to let that happen if I could change it. And I could." She pushed her hair back from her face. "I mean, I can't fix everything. But I knew you didn't want him dead."

He focused on the road.

"It's all right," she said. "I don't care. You're not, you know, less of a man or whatever. You're my dad."

"I know," he said.

"Then why are you so pissed off about this?"

He wasn't sure of the answer himself, but he took a stab at it. "Because I want the illusion of free will," he said. "Because I'd like to think I had some choice in all this."

"You chose all of this," she said. "All I did was tell you what I saw in the paper. I didn't even tell you how you reacted. I just told you who was going to die."

"I can't know that. I can't know--"

She gave him a sharp, disapproving look. "You don't trust me?"

"I trust you," he said.

"Then trust me. I’m not lying."

Nagi drove on.

"He still looks pretty good," she said.

"Don't," he said.

That cheered her up. "What?” She grinned. “You don't want me thinking you have bad taste."

"You know I have good taste," he said. "You know your mother."

"Besides," she said. "You're just going to dinner with him. I refuse to tell you anything beyond that. I just don't want you to think...I'm not gonna be a jerk about it."

"I know you wouldn't be," he said. "But thank you."

She shifted a little in her seat. "Look," she said. "I don't...I understand you and Mom didn't work out. And it's not my business. But I don't think it's because you're gay--"

"I'm not--"

"Or because you loved him more than Mom or anything."

"All right."

"You're a good father," she said. "And he seems nice."

"He seems ‘nice,’" Nagi said. "That's all you have to say?"

"I'm not telling you anything more," she said, crossing her arms over her chest. "You'll just have to figure the rest of it out yourself, like you said you wanted to anyway. Like normal people do."

"I've never been normal people," he said.

"That's why you're such a good dad," she said, pulling her phone out.

 

He wasn't nervous Friday night. He told Tomoe that, and she laughed at him. "That's why you brought me over here to help with your clothes?"

"You told me you were coming over to help with my clothes," he said.

"Sure, sure," she said. "You let me, didn't you?" She sorted through his shirts.

"I'm just trying to make you happy." She'd always liked playing dress-up. Treating her father as her personal Ken doll was clearly bringing her joy, no matter what she said.

"I still don't know how seeing Takatori Mamoru's name on a front page led you to picking out ties."

"I'm better at picking out ties than you are," she said.

She was. "I do have some pride, you know," he said. "And I picked out my own ties before you were born."

"And they weren't as good," she said. "Here, this will work." She handed him a tie that he'd forgotten he even owned. It was brown with little white geometric swirls.

"Really?"

"Yes," she said. "Tan shirt, brown tie. No belt."

"I'll wear a belt if I want to," he said.

"And this jacket," she said, pulling it out. It matched the tie nicely. "And you've got pants that match somewhere, I think."

"Yeah," he said, digging them out.

"You look taller when you wear all one color."

"You're a terrible daughter."

She just laughed at him.

 

Mamoru was waiting, just outside the gate, when he pulled the car up. "I got impatient,” he said, as explanation. “I thought--" Mamoru paused. "I made a reservation at Nodaiwa. Is that all right?"

"That's fine," Nagi said.

Mamoru didn't look bad himself. He was wearing a light gray suit with a deep blue tie. His eyes had lost a lot of color, that was true, but they were still blue. "I ditched my security detail already. Which, you know, they're all busy blaming each other for what happened yesterday, so it was easier than usual. You want to drive? I could call a car, but--"

"Sure," he said. "I don't mind." It would give him something safe to do with his hands.

Mamoru opened the car door. "Do you spend a lot of time with her?"

"A generous amount, all things considered. She's quite focused on her studies, though. We both feel like cram school sees her more than we do."

Mamoru slid in the seat beside him. "You need directions?"

"I've been to nice restaurants, Mamoru."

"I know," he said. "Do you need directions?"

"No," he said.

Twenty minutes later, he let Mamoru turn his GPS on and give him directions.

 

"I wonder if they held your table," Nagi said.

"Probably not. I booked it under Tsukiyono. I thought it would be wisest not to call too much attention to myself." He smiled. "I suppose I could throw my weight around. If you wanted me to."

Nagi hated how much his cock responded to that thought. "Let's...let's just go somewhere else if they haven't held it."

"Sure," Mamoru said.

They hadn't held the table, but the maitre d' decided their clothes were nice enough to get them in anyway. They had to wait a few minutes, but nothing catastrophic. Mamoru pulled the whole ‘to the manor born’ thing off beautifully, like he hadn't spent years learning to hide in the shadows and pull the trigger when no one was looking. He held himself like who he was, a minor politician with a quiet voice, calm manner, and his fingers in half the intrigue in the Diet.

Nagi kept watching Mamoru's hands. Good manicure. He wore what Nagi assumed was his wedding ring on his left hand, the kind of gold band that announces how valuable it is by being simple and understated.

Mamoru was saying something. Oh. Yes.

"Nagi-kun?"

"I'm sorry," he said, and there were those fucking eyes again, and Nagi had forgotten how brightly the intelligence there shone.

"You're all right?"

"Yes," he said. "A little distracted, I guess."

"Me too," Mamoru said. "I--"

"Twenty years," Nagi said.

"More."

"How's Rex?"

"Fine," he said. "She never married."

"Still in love with you?"

Mamoru hesitated. "I don't ask."

But you know, Nagi thought, but there was no point in pressing that question further. "I was never good at small talk," he said.

"You don't need to make any," Mamoru said, his fingers resting gently on his wine glass. Nagi was staring again. Fuck.

He hadn't had anyone in his bed in a long, long time.

The food was good. Never enough of it at places like that, but what there was of it was excellent. "You want to go somewhere, get dessert?" Mamoru suggested. "Or...something?"

"I could ask you up for coffee," he said. "But I think I'm too old for that bullshit. Do you want to come back with me or not?"

"I can't tell you how much I want to," Mamoru said.

"Shit," he said. "Don't talk like that. At least not until we have the check."

Mamoru’s face lit up. "What, am I supposed to say 'yes, please'? 'Yes, master?' 'Yes, baby?'"

"I hate you," he said.

Mamoru laughed at him.

 

The ride home took too long, and Mamoru, that asshole, decided to rest his fingers on Nagi's thigh and make it feel even longer. "You have a parking space? Please tell me you have a parking space."

"I have a parking space. It was very expensive."

"That's the advantage of living in a castle. Drafty, pretentious, bugged floor to ceiling, but the parking's free."

Nagi pulled into the garage. "Some asshole American investors bulldozed two historic treasures and built my building at the height of the dotcom bubble. They lived the high life in Tokyo for six months before the bottom dropped out of everything. Three foreclosures, one high-profile suicide-- like ‘jumping out the top floor’ high--and I got it for pretty much nothing."

"The whole building?"

He grinned. "Yes."

"Including the parking space?"

"The assholes leased the fucking parking lot. How stupid was that?"

Mamoru looked up at the building. It was very tall, very modern, and very much looked like something you could commit suicide from. "About as stupid as the rest of the project, I suspect."

"On the upside, I've leased the rest of the building to tourists and immigrants who don't speak Japanese and don't know it's 'the Ghost Tower' to the locals."

"I'm glad you haven't changed," Mamoru said, pleasantly. "At least, not completely."

Nagi smirked. It was, well, flattering. Tomoe had just rolled her eyes when he'd told her what a profit he was bringing in. She wouldn't complain when she inherited it.

 

The elevator rode up fast and smooth, and Nagi gave in halfway up and pulled Mamoru close, found his mouth, kissed him and felt Mamoru's pulse jump, his arousal so hot it was like something against Nagi's skin. Fuck. Fuck, it'd been too long. Why hadn't they done this twenty years ago? Mamoru found Nagi's belt and started on the buckle, but then the elevator stopped, and they both took a second to smooth down their own clothes and pretend they hadn't been fooling around like stupid teenagers.

The elevator door opened and Nagi all but ran to the keypad. The loft door opened with a click and they rushed through it, breathless, eager. Nagi slammed the door behind them and used his powers to set the locks, his hands to push Mamoru back up against the door so he could start kissing him again. Nagi could feel how hard Mamoru was through his suit pants. Fuck, he wanted this.

Mamoru broke the kiss and licked his lips, like he was trying to be a porn star or something. "You're not going to give me the tour?"

Nagi pulled Mamoru's tie free. "Just shut up."

Mamoru laughed. His fingers were under Nagi's shirt now. Twenty years. Twenty years they'd waited for this. They were fucking idiots.

Nagi pulled his own shirt off over his head. "Bed's that way," he said, but Mamoru was already moving. He always appreciated that Mamoru picked up fast. Nagi followed him in and caught his arm, spinning him around. He pushed Mamoru back against the bed, unbuttoning his shirt. He wasn't wearing a t-shirt underneath. His chest hair was gray. Still thick. Shit, Nagi was hard. Like a fucking teenager. "Do you mind if I--"

"Whatever you want," Mamoru said, "anything."

"Anything? You know--You don't--"

Mamoru's back hit the mattress. "I'm not stupid," Mamoru said, his voice dropping lower. "You think I don't know what you can do? You think I don't want it? It's all I've been thinking about since you walked me out of that party."

"Fuck," Nagi said. He reached down and slid a finger into Mamoru's mouth, because he could, because twenty years was long enough.

Because he wanted this.

He opened Mamoru's pants with his power, and Mamoru moaned around the finger in his mouth. Nagi's cock twitched in his shorts. Fuck. He was going to lose it.

Mamoru stopped sucking for a second and opened his mouth. "Can you fuck me with it? With...what you do?"

Nagi almost came. "Yeah," he said, trying to get his breath. "Yeah."

"Tell me how you found that out," Mamoru said, his eyes almost glazing over. "Exactly how you found that out."

"What, you didn't try jerking off with everything available when you were a teenager?"

Mamoru looked like he was about to go over the edge. "You fucked yourself?"

"More than once," Nagi said, as Mamoru's hands grabbed his shirt and started pulling it over his head. "I'm pretty good at it."

"Fuck," Mamoru said, and he actually looked impressed. "You ever done it to anyone else?"

He'd never dared. The little slice of Venn diagram between who knew the truth about him and who he'd wanted to fuck had never been very big, and somehow it just kept getting smaller and smaller. "No," he said. "So just...tell me if anything feels weird. But I'm good. I can--"

"I know," Mamoru said. "I know what you can do. Remember?"

"Yeah," Nagi said. "Yeah, I do." They'd tested a few things together, playing stupid games, and that was when he'd learned to trust Mamoru, even though the trust had only gone so far. Maybe that was when Mamoru had started trusting him too.

"I'll tell you," Mamoru said. "If anything hurts. Is weird. Whatever. Just do it. Just fuck me." He pulled Nagi closer again and kissed the side of his neck, his ear.

Nagi kissed him, finding his mouth, and his heart was pounding now. He felt like a fucking kid. He was hard, so hard, and Mamoru's dick was still straining against his boxers. He reached down to slide his hand into Mamoru's fly, and Mamoru pushed against him, moaning a little. Yeah, that was good. That was really, really fucking good. One of Mamoru's hands dipped lower and cupped his ass. Fuck. Fuck.

Mamoru had his belt notched too tightly. Nagi wanted to laugh. Still self-conscious, even now. Still vain.

Nagi had made the bed. He'd told himself it had been because Tomoe was coming, not to impress Mamoru. Fuck, maybe they were both vain.

He pulled Mamoru's pants free, then the boxers. Where had his tie gone? Was it on Nagi's floor somewhere? "Fuck," he said. Mamoru looked fine for his age. No six-pack, but who the fuck had those when they were in their twenties, even? He sure as fuck hadn't.

Mamoru dropped down on the bed. "Let me suck you," he said.

"You don't have to--"

Mamoru was naked, and his legs were open, and he looked good. Really fucking good. "Let me," he said.

How could he say no to that? Nagi stood at the edge of his bed and put his dick in his hand, stroked it a couple of times. "Okay," he said. "Come on over."

Mamoru grinned in a way that sent shivers down Nagi's spine. "Okay." He sat up, getting on his knees, then dropped down so his mouth was--

Why had Nagi thought this was a good idea? Why were they--

Mamoru took Nagi's cock in his mouth and the second-guessing stopped. How, when the fuck had Mamoru learned to be so good at that?

Nagi felt like his whole body was going to explode, and he had to count to a hundred just to pull his senses back under control. Once he'd pulled himself together he reached out with his power, half to see how Mamoru really would react, half for his own sake, to feel more, to start touching Mamoru back. Nipples, chest, stomach, cock. Mamoru sucked harder, and Nagi finally felt down the crack of Mamoru's ass, started pushing slowly, gently in. That slowed Mamoru down a little, finally, the suction on Nagi's dick easing a little.

He wanted this. He wanted everything. They'd waited so long. They'd made so many shitty choices. Maybe it didn't matter. He pushed further in, and Mamoru started to shake a little, and Nagi felt the warm heat of his body.

Nagi came first. Mamoru swallowed, and Nagi felt himself shaking, his knees going weak as the aftershocks hit. When he caught his breath, Mamoru was looking up at him, eyes half-hidden under his stupid long eyelashes. Nagi wanted to fucking wreck him. He pushed Mamoru back on the mattress, hard and fast so Mamoru lost his balance.

"Nagi-kun," Mamoru said, and then he couldn't talk, because Nagi was on him, straddling him, in him, not hard any more but he still had his power, his fingers, Mamoru hot and desperate and needy. Mamoru moaned and almost squealed and writhed underneath him, and Nagi was half-hard again when Mamoru came.

"Shit," Mamoru panted, his fingers digging into Nagi's shoulder. Nagi collapsed on to him, his stomach slick with come. They'd glue together if they stayed that way, but fuck it. Using that much control wasn't as easy as it used to be. Mamoru kissed his neck, stroked his back.

Nagi rolled off Mamoru before everything dried to cement.

"Let's do that again," Mamoru said.

That sounded like the best idea Nagi had heard all week. Maybe all month. "Can you stay?"

Nagi caught the flicker of uncertainty that crossed Mamoru's face. "I don't know," he said. "I mean, I shouldn't. But I don't know. You want me to?"

"We're not children," he said. "I'm too old to play hard to get. I won't cry myself to sleep if you don't, but I'd like you to."

Mamoru smiled. "Let me think," he said. "Where's your bathroom?"

Nagi pointed. "Bring back a towel."

They did trust each other. They must, because Nagi was half-asleep by the time Mamoru came back and shoved a towel at him, and Nagi didn't even come close to trying to snap his neck. "I'll stay," he said, putting a hand on Nagi's waist as he crawled under the duvet. Had Nagi moved that? He had, that's right. It had been cold. "Let's see if they can find me. It's good practice."

"Did you even tell them you were leaving?"

He could feel Mamoru's laugh more than hear it. “I told Rex not to worry when we were at Nodaiwa. We'll see what they do." He shifted his weight a little, moving closer. "This is nice. Not drafty like the castle."

"You should've burned that down years ago."

"It's an historical treasure," Mamoru said.

"It's a fucking Western eyesore."

"We're in your giant Western bed."

"It's not the Western part I object to. You'll notice my giant bed is warm. And not hideous."

"Castle's not that bad," Mamoru muttered.

Nagi was too close to sleep to bother rolling his eyes. It had been a long time since he'd dared spend the night with someone next to him. Still longer since it had felt that good.

Mamoru pressed his lips to Nagi's temple.

Nagi pulled him a little closer before they both fell asleep. It felt incredibly stupid, but he didn't really mind.