Takeshi thought he and Gokudera were making good progress. When Reborn stopped by their practices to work with them, these days, they actually made him move pretty briskly.
Of course, he made them flat, exhausted, dripping with sweat and repeatedly, if virtually, dead. But it was progress.
"Hey," he said, rolling over, halfway between panting and laughing as he watched Gokudera eye a handful of muddy, paint-dyed hair glumly. "Come back with me today. Tou-san will feed us and the bath is bigger than the one at your place."
Gokudera only hesitated a moment. "Okay." Takeshi smiled.
It was definitely progress.
Gokudera hissed when he tried to reach his back with the sponge and Takeshi looked up from rinsing his hair and shook his head at the black and blue starting across Gokudera’s ribs and shoulders. "You’re going to have a lot of bruises."
"Yeah, I got that part," Gokudera grumbled, twisting gingerly on the bath stool.
Takeshi shook his head with a wry grin and came to take the sponge away. "Here."
Gokudera twitched. "You don’t have to," he muttered.
"Why shouldn’t I want to?" Takeshi asked, reasonably.
Gokudera didn’t answer, sitting stiff and hesitant as Takeshi ran the sponge over his back, and Takeshi sighed to himself. Every new touch needed new reassurance. He could do that just fine; he just wished Gokudera didn’t need it. He leaned down and pressed a kiss to Gokudera’s neck, where wet hair parted over his nape. "I do want to."
Gokudera shivered. "Yamamoto…"
"Let me?" Takeshi asked, softly, hands sliding down Gokudera’s arms, one still full of the sponge.
After a moment Gokudera nodded. He didn’t make a sound as Takeshi gently washed his back, though he settled back slowly when Takeshi pressed against him, reaching around to soap his chest. He was a little flushed, but almost anything could still cause that.
And Takeshi still thought it was adorable.
The flush turned deeper when Takeshi scooted around to run the sponge down his legs and Takeshi was careful not to tickle. He didn’t want Hayato tense. Gokudera kept his head down and didn’t look at Takeshi as he set down the sponge and reached for the water.
"Here. Hold still." Takeshi washed the suds away, fingers stroking over the fine, lean lines of Gokudera’s body. It felt good to be able to do this for Gokudera, something simple and caring.
The one thing he didn’t like was how flustered this made Hayato, how unfamiliar it seemed to him. He was definitely going to have to think about hunting a few people up–or down–the next time they were in Italy. Carefully smoothing away the hard line from his mouth he turned off the water and regarded Gokudera.
He knew touch would reassure if he was clear enough. But maybe it was time for something else, too.
Gokudera still wasn’t looking up. Takeshi took a slow breath and set his fingers under Hayato’s chin, lifting his head. His eyes were dark and hesitant.
"Hayato," Takeshi said.
Gokudera’s breath drew in and his eyes widened. After one shocked, still moment, he reached out a hand and Takeshi promptly gathered him up, holding him close, hands sliding over damp skin. "Hayato," he murmured again.
Hayato pressed against him, almost huddled into him, and Takeshi’s arms tightened. "You didn’t think I would?" he asked, softly. Hayato made a noncommittal sound, and he had to smile; Hayato went to such trouble to seem casual, even when he was pressed tight against Takeshi and breathing quick and unsteady. "Shh," he soothed, one hand spreading warm against Hayato’s back, over his heart.
It took a while for the tightness of want and fear to ease out of Hayato’s muscles, and Takeshi’s knees were complaining a bit about the hardness of the tile, but he ignored them. This was more important. Feeling the clutch of Hayato’s hands loosen and his breath slow as Takeshi held him was much more important.
Finally Hayato stirred and Takeshi felt the slow intake of breath against his shoulder. Quietly, a little shyly, Hayato murmured, "Takeshi."
Takeshi couldn’t stop the smile that pulled at his lips. "Yeah."
Hayato was quiet in his arms for another breath before he lifted his head and pushed a little against Takeshi’s chest. "I want some hot water before all these bruises stiffen up," he said softly, still not quite looking at Takeshi.
"Good idea." Takeshi eased back onto his heels, a bit slowly. He had to laugh at the way they both creaked, getting to their feet. "Here," he held out a hand to Hayato. "So neither of us falls getting in."
Hayato looked at his hand for a long moment before taking it, face flushed again thought a tiny smile tugged at his lips. "Yeah. Okay."
Takeshi smiled back, satisfied.