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----

 

They meet officially in the top floor of an office high rise after he’s quietly and discreetly inched the door open, back pressed flat against said door as he peers back to make sure he isn’t followed.  When he turns around to survey the presumably empty room - door clicking shut behind him - the barrel of a gun pointed directly at his chest level from across the room greets him.  Attached to said gun and illuminated by the Tokyo night glow behind him is Nakajima Yuto dressed in a sharp black suit and skinny tie, tall and lean and so gorgeous it’s enough to make him pause even without the gun aimed at him.

 

Yamada has half a second to assess the situation, to take in the fact that Yuto hasn’t shot him yet but probably will if he reaches for his gun.  Trying to gain control of the situation, he takes slow deliberate steps towards Yuto until the gun is pressed right against his heart.

 

“Aren’t you going to shoot me?” he asks, amused, almost challenging, knowing deep down that if Yuto hasn’t shot him already he isn’t going to now even when he’s wearing the hint of a smirk.

 

“Maybe.”  The smirk disappears and morphs into a soft smile, the corner of his lips barely upturned but Yamada sees the warmth in his eyes, the slightest bit of interest and attraction in the way he gives Yamada another once over, eyes hovering briefly at his mouth making Yamada’s breath hitch, barely noticeable but the mirth in Yuto’s eyes means he’s damn well aware Yamada had been drawn to him instantly in return.

 

Still, Yamada’s a professional and attraction doesn’t mean anything.  It’s not going to keep him from doing what needs to be done, even if the curve of Yuto’s lips and the line of Yuto’s jaw makes Yamada want to worship him on his knees.  

 

See, Yuto is so new at this he’s practically a baby.  In their line of business it’s all about getting the job done and disappearing as soon as possible, as discreetly as possible but when there’s a new player in the game, especially someone like Nakajima Yuto, news travels fast. Same age as him, twenty-two and fearless but still so young and naive and bright eyed and careless because he only knows the thrill of winning.  When it comes to experience in their world, the difference between that might as well be universes.  Yamada has done anything and everything, has been in it for so long half the time he forgets how long he’s been killing people.

 

So, Yamada knows, when you’re that young and bright eyed and have yet to experience how badly the job can go wrong you’re more prone to making mistakes, not even realizing that you’re making them through all that built up pride and arrogance. Yuto’s mistake?

 

Yuto’s first mistake is not shooting him at first sight.

 

Now he has control of the situation.  “We both know you’re not going to shoot me.”

 

“Maybe not, “Yuto says just as Yamada’s hand reaches up to take Yuto’s gun away from him except Yuto reads his mind, sees his intent in the twitch of his shoulders and takes one step back with those long legs of his, lets off one shot, the bullet grazing Yamada’s side and then there’s only searing pain as he starts falling to the ground.

 

Yuto closes the distance between them, catching him before he hits the tiled floor, and presses a smile right against the corner of Yamada’s mouth, saying, “But then again, I think I will,” as he gently lowers Yamada to the ground.

 

“You missed,” he hisses out through clenched teeth.

 

Yuto smiles so brightly it makes Yamada want to punch him.

 

“I never miss.”  Teasing.  Playful.  Asshole.  Then Yuto steals one single kiss from him, mouth hard and insistent as if he means to claim and then he’s gone and Yamada’s left on the ground clutching his side as his blood seeps out to stain the marble white floor, wondering how the hell he was going to get himself out of this unnoticed with the party going on just one floor below.

 

----

 

Yamada wakes up with a jerk, hissing in pain as his hand palms his side, feeling the roughness of bandage wrap beneath his fingers.  He groans as he swings his legs over the side of the bed, the wooden floor a tad too cold beneath his bare feet, and ventures out into the living room where he spots Chinen who looks up from where he’s washing dishes in the kitchen when Yamada clears his throat.

 

“Looks like you didn’t die.”

 

He grimaces.  “It was only a flesh wound.  Something like that wouldn’t kill me.”

 

A frown morphs onto Chinen’s face as he dries his hands, contemplation marring his features and Yamada knows he’s gearing up for a lecture or a plea or something and it’s going to be painful so he preemptively combats it by acting like he doesn’t have a care in the world, like he didn’t just get shot and wasn’t left bleeding out and having to ask Chinen for help as he snags an apple from his fruit bowl, taking a bite just for good measure.

 

Sure enough, Chinen opens his mouth and the first words that come out are, “This has to be the last time.”

 

“I didn’t plan on it,” he says in response.

 

“You never do.  But I’m the one you call when you’re bleeding out all over some office floor or in some back alley or something.”

 

“Only when I’m in Japan.”  He’s trying his damndest to keep the conversation light while at the same time appear like he’s not brushing off Chinen’s concern even though that’s exactly what he’s doing.  He knows Chinen worries, has worried ever since that first time Yamada had to ask an unaware Chinen for help, but he can’t stop - doesn’t want to - and he doesn’t know how to tell his only friend in the world he doesn’t know any other way to live.

 

And now there’s someone like Nakajima Yuto out there somewhere, some newbie traipsing across the globe like the whole world is his for the taking.  Maybe it is, but not if Yamada has anything to say about it.  There’s something about the way Yuto is stupidly fearless and arrogant that makes Yamada want to take him down, something in the way he said, “But then again, I think I will,” after he’s shot Yamada that drives him a bit mad, pushing him closer to the edge each time he remembers it until all he wants to do is track Yuto down and pin him to the closest surface and destroy that deceptive innocence clinging to him.

 

This is how it starts.

 

He’s so fucked.

 

----

 

“You’re so fucked.”

 

Yamada groans and throws his head back, pressing the palms of his hands against his eyes.  “That asshole stole all my money.”

 

Chinen shakes his head and doesn’t even try to hide his smile.  “Not what I meant.”

 

He knows what Chinen is implying but he is too afraid to ask, too scared to delve further or utter a word about it out loud - whatever it is - because then it might become too real and he’s not ready for that yet, not sure he will ever be.  It doesn’t stop him from packing his bag though, and hopping on the next plane out of Tokyo.  He spends the next three months chasing Yuto from continent to continent, following the flimsiest of leads and taking odd jobs when necessary (now that he’s essentially broke) and finally in some dingy bar in Hell’s Kitchen New York, home of Daredevil, a man who naively believes he can restore the splendor of his city after the Battle of New York, he catches up to Yuto.

 

Yuto, inky black hair swept to one side, red leather jacket over faded gray tee and black jeans had commanded the attention of men and women in the room, seemingly returning the interested gaze of a few until he spotted Yamada hiding the shadows, downed his drink and, with clear disregard for everyone else, he pushed himself off the bar and sauntered his way to the bathroom, Yamada only a few steps behind him.

 

Yamada doesn’t know what he’ll do when he reaches Yuto, doesn’t know what will happen, but he’s not surprised either when the moment he pushes the door open Yuto yanks him inside and pushes him up against said door. He locks it while he’s attacking Yamada’s mouth, and then he drops to his knees,unbothered by the filth, and takes Yamada - half hard - down in one swallow.  He hisses, fingers tangling themselves in Yuto’s hair, torn between throwing his head back and peering through his lashes at the sight below him to watch Yuto work him between those red, red lips, glistening with spit and moaning like the best paid whores.

 

They tumble into Yuto’s overly luxurious hotel room attached at the mouth.  On stark white sheets they wrestle for dominance until Yamada pins Yuto down and he gives in, allowing Yamada to slot in between the vee of his pelvis, working in one lubed finger at a time.  Yamada watches entranced as Yuto writhes on his fingers, driving himself down on them, head thrown back, hissing and gasping and begging, his hair a disarray of knots and god, his pupils are blown so wide, his mouth parted open, and he’s looking at Yamada like he can’t even think anymore, like he’s dying for Yamada to just sink in already.

 

Shit.  Oh fuck.  He pulls his fingers out, rolls on a condom, and lines himself up trying his damndest not to come as he slowly breaches Yuto, both letting out near identical guttural moans when Yamada finally bottoms out.  Yamada rests his head on Yuto’s chest, eyes squeezed shut as he tries to control his breathing because Jesus fucking Christ Yuto is so fucking tight and hot and clenching around him, gripping unrelentlessly like he’s trying to keep Yamada trapped there forever and if he doesn’t fucking calm himself down this will be over in ten seconds flat.

 

But Yuto whines, clawing at Yamada’s arms, saying, “Fucking fuck me, fuck me, fuck me fuck me,” like a mantra and how could Yamada refuse?  He hears himself let out a wrecked moan and then he’s moving, rolling his hips and trying to get deeper with each thrust.  Yuto keeps clawing at him, nails digging into the skin of his shoulder blades as he keeps demanding for more, harder, faster, fuck me like you mean it and fuck he’s trying to give Yuto whatever the hell he wants.

 

Yuto, impatient and young and hot-headed Yuto who’s taking Yamada’s world by storm, lets out a frustrated growl and the next thing he knows he’s on his back and Yuto’s straddling his hips, letting out a silent cry as he sinks down on Yamada again.  Yamada can’t do anything but watch as Yuto rocks back and forth with abandon, driving himself onto Yamada harder and faster each time and god he just- he just-

 

Shit.

 

Yuto just keeps riding him and riding him and riding him and-

 

“I’m gonna come,” he breathes out, voice harsh and raw.

 

Yuto takes that as his cue to sink down on Yamada one last time, this time clenching around him and fuck he’s gone, fingers gripping Yuto’s hips as he comes and comes and comes, spilling and coating the inside of Yuto.  One more thrust, then another, and then Yuto is coming too, come splattering across Yamada’s stomach, head thrown back baring a long, pale neck that Yamada wants to litter bruises on so he surges up, arms wrapped around the small of Yuto’s back, and bites along the juncture where Yuto’s shoulder meets his neck.

 

Yuto moans into his hair, tilting his head further to the side to allow Yamada more skin, and then their slowly rocking into each other again, twitching and over-sensitive but neither wanting to stop.  It starts slow, the rolling of their hips minute as they meet each other halfway again and again until both are shuddering into each other, the release a slow and steady burn.

 

Then again with Yuto on his knees fisting the sheets as he moans into the pillow, in the shower with the spray of hot water sliding down their bodies, against the floor to ceiling window, the glow of New York City night lights illuminating Yuto’s skin just like that first time Yamada saw him in Japan except this time Yuto is bare and infinitely more beautiful, captivating even, with his arms braced across the pane of glass making Yamada want to claim him in front of the whole world.

 

And after, when they finally fall into bed to actually sleep - worn out, satisfied - Yamada watches Yuto breathing slowly - in, out, in, out - once in awhile lashes fluttering, and there’s an ache in Yamada’s chest that he’s never experienced, slow and burning, all consuming, and he thinks to himself, “I want to keep this,” as he falls asleep.

 

When he wakes up in the morning, it’s to a too bright mid-day sun and an empty room.  No note.  No nothing.  Just the lingering smell of a sex and Yuto clinging in the air.

 

----

 

He pretends he’s not a mess for weeks after, that his work isn’t getting sloppy and he’s not getting reckless.  Getting kidnapped and tortured and hurt enough he should be resting to heal?  Part of the norm.  Everyone takes a hit.  Everyone.  Even if they are the best.  So he keeps taking job after job because what else can he do?  If he lets himself stop he might have to admit that the wounds are more than just physical.

 

It’s all so stupid, really.  He had his whole life figured out before this, had been content even, until Yuto shot him and burned a kiss into his memory before leaving him to bleed all over a white tiled floor.  How could he not chase Yuto to Budapest and Beijing and Bangkok and New York after that?

 

What had that achieved other than the bitter sting of loneliness and the realization that he’s so fucking alone though?  (He didn’t even get his money back.)

 

Young and reckless Yuto.  He should have left that red button well enough alone.

 

Now, blindfolded, shackles holding him up, he’s so tired and worn down he can’t even lie to himself anymore.  He’s so fucking in love with Yuto that the farther and faster he tried to run from it the more it suffocated him until it brought him right here - fucked up, captured, chained.  

 

He’s not going to make it out.

 

Of all the ways to go, it’s not so bad.

 

After day who the fuck knows, not him at least, there’s a resounding gunshot piercing through the silence and then there’s only chaos as sprays of gunfire and bullets litter the room.  He’s confused, curious, unable to see a fucking thing but hoping against all hope a stray bullet doesn’t kill him (or maybe it should because then the torturing would stop.)  Less than a minute later there’s nothing but the sounds of his own heavy breathing and someone freeing his hands.  He stumbles into said person’s arms because his legs are too weak.  Like a fucking cliche.  He yanks the blindfold off and lo and behold, standing in front of him is none other than Yuto looking scared and worried.

 

Fucking Yuto.

 

Fucking Nakajima Yuto.

 

He laughs and laughs and laughs, feels a little crazy, gets in one weak right hook, and keeps laughing until he passes out.

 

----

 

Yamada opens his eyes to the blindingly too white walls and blankets, his own furniture even, and to the sight of Yuto’s back, tall figure dressed in a white dress shirt and loose pants, staring out Yamada’s floor to ceiling glass wall, legs shoulder width apart and hands tucked into his pockets.  He clears his throat but Yuto doesn’t turn around.

 

He pushes himself up until he’s sitting, the blanket pooling around his waist, but Yuto stops him from leaving the bed completely when he says, “You should rest.”

 

“How long?”  His voice is scratchy, his throat raw.

 

Yuto shrugs.  “Two weeks maybe.”

 

It’s uncomfortable, the silence that creeps into the room.  Yuto still won’t turn around.

 

“Thanks.”

 

A pause, then, “I called your friend.”

 

“Chinen?”

 

He senses the smile when Yuto asks, “You have other friends?”

 

And they’re back.  The teasing, the flirting, the weird way they get each other, the way they latch on and cling like two magnets unable to resist.  Finally, Yuto spins to face him.

 

“You scared me.”

 

“I didn’t know you cared.”  

 

A war of emotions flit across Yuto’s features until he settles onto something too close to gentle it might just rip Yamada apart, and then Yuto says, “I do.  So damn much,” and it’s over for him.

 

He leans back onto his pillows, dazed, uttering out, “We’re so fucked.”

 

Yuto walks the ten steps from the window to his bed, sitting on the edge, hand on one of Yamada’s cheeks.  “Yeah, kind of.”  Then Yuto kisses him - simple, chaste even - and the world seems okay for a little while after that.

 

When they hear the front door open Yuto slips on a pair of sunglasses, tosses a smile his direction - no need for words - and glides through between Chinen and the door when Chinen enters his bedroom.  Chinen is clearly surprised, gaping, but Yuto doesn’t spare him a glance - just keeps moving and then he’s gone to who knows where.

 

“Who was that?”  Chinen asks even as he’s looking back to sneak another glance at Yuto.

 

“No one.”

 

Chinen doesn’t believe him, he can tell, but he feigns a pained moan and Chinen switches into mother hen mode.  For the next hour he’s subjected to stern (but secretly affectionate) lectures and home made food.

 

Life is good.

 

----

 

Sometimes they meet on the job, sometimes they don’t.  Sometimes Yuto blurs the line between assassin and mercenary.  Money’s too good, he always says but it sounds more like a lie than anything else.  When that happens they’re on different sides - Yuto foolishly trying to save a life and Yamada doing his damndest to end it.  It becomes their own secret game a dozen times over, one after the other, more and more frequently until it’s the only thing they know anymore.

 

Yamada kills an ambassador in China, Yuto saves a scientist in Dubai.  Hong Kong: Yuto.  Myanmar: Yamada.  Brazil: Yamada.  Mexico: Yuto. One for one, competing, seeing which one of them will come out on top.  After the chases and hand to hand combat and the shooting and the litter of bullets in both directions - chaos, fighting for dominance and power - they fall into bed, the rush of adrenaline in their veins, tearing off clothes and devouring each other like drug addicts getting their first fix of the day but god it’s the best kind of high and sex there is.

 

Sometimes Yuto leaves him secret messages (location, time, I need you) in Morse code over unused military frequencies.

 

(“Too easy to break, you moron,” as he nips along Yuto’s collarbone.  That damn collarbone will be the death of him some day.

 

“That’s half the fun, Ryosuke.”

 

“No one listens to radio anymore.”

 

“You do.”

 

He proceeds to break Yuto apart after that, one frustratingly slow kiss at a time.)

 

And then it all suddenly stops and he waits and waits and waits, scouring every radio channel looking for clues anywhere he can but months and months pass and nothing.  He’s left hoping at first, patiently waiting until he slowly devolves into desperate, wondering what the hell he did, wondering how the hell Yuto could leave him like this: devastated and alone after all they’ve been through together.

 

He always gets angry at first when he realizes Yuto isn’t coming back.  But fuck it.  Fuck Yuto.  He doesn’t need anyone.  He just has to cleanse his soul and it’ll be like nothing ever happened between them.  It’s a few drinks at first, mixed with a hit or two of cocaine to numb the pain, to start the healing process, until it becomes full blown benders, bingeing nonstop for days until one night Chinen finds him strung out in some shady club, actual tears in his eyes as Takaki carries him back to their apartment.  

 

He remembers that night clear as day even if he doesn’t want to.  He remembers the shivers and the vomiting all over himself, hair matted against his forehead as he spews out forced-fed water he can’t keep down into the toilet, hanging on to it for dear life, remembers being tossed into the shower by Takaki, the squeak of the shower knob as Chinen turns on the water.  He remembers the shock of warm water hitting his too cold skin and how after he’s vomited everything he could he starts dry heaving, feeling like he might just die after all.  He remembers Chinen sitting next to the tub, sobbing and sobbing, Takaki helplessly watching by the door, nostrils flaring as his anger towards Yamada begins to grow, and he feels like the biggest dick alive.  He remembers resting a wet hand on Chinen’s head and saying, “I’ll be okay,” only to hear Chinen cry harder.

 

He doesn’t drink (or do drugs) again after that night.  Instead he seeks a different kind of high, becomes addicted to it even.  Yakuza, Russian mob, political world leaders.  He takes any and every job offered to him regardless of how dangerous and life-threatening it is because why not?  He keeps going, one after another, nonstop.  His body gets bruised and broken and it makes him smile because finally, something new, something different from the completely empty, gaping void Yuto left behind in his wake.

 

He seeks that high again and again until he feels unstoppable, invincible, but you know what happens to dumbasses who think that?  They get fucked up.  They get captured and tortured for weeks on end, but you know what the most fucked up thing is?  The most fucked up thing is it makes him deliriously happy because it’s the only way he even feels anymore.  It’s the only thing that reminds him he’s still fucking alive, even if barely.

 

And the second most fucked up thing?

 

He hears scurrying noises from above him and breaks out laughing.  It sounds crazy even to his own ears.

 

“Why the fuck you so happy?” thug number one asks.  Yamada imagines they’re always big and bald and has dumb faces and those thoughts just add to the sheer joy that keeps him grinning as a bullet pierces through the air into thug number one, and then another through thug number two.

 

This is the second most fucked up thing.  He puts himself through all this shit because he knows Yuto will come for him.  He might think it’s the last time, might even delude himself into thinking he’ll finally rid himself of Nakajima Yuto once and for all or die trying, but then he’ll hear the sweet sounds of scurrying on the roof or a clanging of a pipe, seemingly inconspicuous but he’ll know.  Yamada always knows and in that instant he’ll realize this is what he’s been waiting for all along.

 

This is why he puts himself through hell.

 

Because on the other side Yuto will be there.

 

How many times is it now?

 

It doesn’t matter.  He’ll keep doing this until either he burns Yuto out of his soul or he dies trying.

 

---

 

They fall back into old patterns, an endless self-perpetuating cycle.  No end in sight.  But they’re in a good place.  At least for the moment.  Yuto sends him a message - Hyatt - Dublin, 2pm, I miss you - and Yamada thinks it’ll be like any other time they meet up after too long apart - quick, fast, dirty - except Yuto is different, desperate almost, like he’s sad.  Yuto holds him gently, looks him in the eyes with something akin to sorrow as he drags fingernails down Yamada’s ribcage.  

 

After, naked and tangled together, Yuto asks him, “If I asked you to stop, would you?”

 

“You’re kidding, right?” He would laugh except Yuto’s eyes are saying he’s not.  He didn’t think this would ever happen, had thought Yuto understood.  They’re so fucked up, the both of them, have been since who knows how long, Yuto maybe less than Yamada but that doesn’t mean he’s not a mess either.  “What am I gonna do?  Live in some small town pretending I’m normal and happy, that I haven’t been killing people for a living since I was eight years old?”

 

“What would be so wrong with normal?  We could try-”

 

This time he does laugh.  “You really think so? Our version of foreplay is putting each other through emotional and physical hell.  Our relationship is so unhealthy half the time we’re trying to kill each other, and the other half we’re on the brink of destruction.  We’re dragging each other down but we refuse to let go.  And you think we could live normal lives in some small town in bumfuck nowhere?”

 

Yuto bristles but there’s a look of devastation that paws at Yamada’s heart and has him saying, “Either you take me as I am or you let me die.”

 

That night when Yuto emerges from his shower with red rimmed puffy eyes he pretends he doesn’t know Yuto has been crying. What else could he do?  Pretend he could be something he’s not?  He’s never wanted to live a life of domesticity, knows people like him aren’t built for it, and neither are people like Yuto.  They’re two sides of the same coin, you see.  That’s how he knows that six months in they would be clawing each other’s throats out with their bare hands, driven mad by the banality their lives had become.

 

----

 

In truth he should have known everything was too good to be true.  He had fooled himself into thinking their little fucked up relationship could last even.  Five years was a good run though.

 

It’s only fitting the charade ends the way it begins - top floor off an office high rise, Tokyo.  They fight after Yamada realizes he has walked right into a trap set up by Yuto and his employers, wrestling and grappling, both trying to get the upper hand.  Yamada is feeling more raw and vulnerable, more angry than he’s ever been before, betrayal burning deep and hot in his chest.  Emotions.  They make him sloppy.  They make him weak.  Yuto has always made him weaker than anyone else in the world, more than Chinen even and he’d do almost anything for that kid.

 

In the mess of tangled limbs Yuto gets the upper hand, able to pull away just enough to grab the gun previously out of his reach.  Maybe Yuto is better.  Or maybe Yamada doesn’t want to have to kill Yuto because it’s the one thing that might just destroy him.  Whichever it may be, what a sight they must make: Yuto on his feet, body in a line, Yamada on his knees, gun pointed so close to his forehead he can feel the metal of the barrel against his skin, full moon just rising on the horizon, glowing and beautiful, illuminating their silhouettes in the dark of night.  He would have loved to see a moonrise with Yuto, just once.  Now why didn’t they ever do shit like that?  It probably sounded stupid back then, but god does it feel like a regret now. One out of millions.

 

“So… Shield agent?” he finds himself asking, can’t not ask.  “As in Shield that works with the Avengers Shield?

 

“Yeah,” Yuto says, quiet, resigned.

 

“All this time?”

 

“Yeah.”

 

“And the months of no contact.  Covert missions, I presume.”

 

“Some.”  At least he sounds a little guilty.

 

“And the other times?”

 

“Trying to quit you.”

 

Fuck does that hurt, hot and searing like that first bullet Yuto sent grazing against his side.

 

“And now?  Are you’re going to kill me?”

 

There is no denial.

 

His throat is closing, feels it tightening and tears welling up in his eyes.  He fights against them and god he hopes they won’t fall so Yuto can’t see how much he’s hurt.  “Was any of it ever real?”

 

The gun trembles in Yuto’s hand and the next thing he knows it’s clattering across the room and Yuto’s holding his face, anchoring him in and answering with, “All of it, every fucking thing,” before kissing him, desperate, like it might be the last time he tastes freedom.  When he falls back, he gives Yamada just one word, sad and broken, wrecked. Run.

 

He’s halfway to the door when it hits him.  He stops dead in his tracks.  “You and me?”

 

Yuto shakes his head once, lips pressed together in a tight line, his eyes expressing, “Goodbye, Ryosuke,” before he hangs his head.  Yamada sees the sorrow in his eyes, the way the light in them starts to dim before Yuto can hide it.

 

Every instinct in him is telling him to make a break for it, save himself, but Yuto, stupid bright-eyed naive Yuto who had turned his world upside down is just so… Yuto.  He’d known from the start he was fucked.

 

“What if I turn myself in?”  Yamada doesn’t know what he’s saying.  He’s grasping at straws but he knows he can’t have a life without Yuto, can’t keep going knowing that they’ll never see each other again, that Yuto might be locked away, freedom ripped away from him because he had the misfortune of falling for Yamada.

 

“What?  Don’t be an idiot.  You’ll never see the light of day again.”

 

“I have a very valuable and specific skillset,” he counters, inching closer to Yuto, wanting to touch him and never stop, never again.  “I could- I could join Shield.” It’s a lie, knows as he's saying it that he's spewing nothing but empty words.

 

Yuto lets out the breath he’d been holding.  “I’m giving you the chance to run.”  To be free.  That’s what Yuto is really saying.

 

“And I’m telling you I’m staying.”  There’s a hard, determined set to his tone.  If he runs now, it won’t be freedom.  He’ll never stop running and running and running - trapped - trying to catch Yuto once more except Yamada will never reach him again.

 

Yuto yanks him down until they’re both on their knees and presses their foreheads together, eyes locked.  “I love you, you know that?  I fucking love you.”

 

----


The first week he’s locked in a metal room with no windows on an aircraft they called the Helicarrier.  No Yuto, no nothing.  Just the slide of food on a tray twice a day.  He sees about ten ways he could escape easily if he wanted to but he endures it all.  That smile after he had told Yuto he loves him back, that smile will get him through anything.

 

Two weeks later Natasha Romanoff walks into his cell and they size each other up, assassin to assassin.  There’s only silence the first ten minutes, Yamada unflinching as he sits on his threadbare sheets, knees up and shoulder width apart, arms resting on his knees, Black Widow scrutinizing as if she’s trying to peer right through his soul.

 

“Yuto is driving everyone crazy asking about you.”

 

He gives nothing away.  He doesn’t trust any of these people, least of all her.  The Black Widow.  He’s heard about her.  Her pretty face and her innocent doe eyes and the way she seduces men into thinking they have the upper hand all the while she’s playing them, extracting information out as they boast about themselves and their plans.  Idiots, really.  They deserve whatever she dealt them.

 

“Is he?” he asks her in return, voice even, sees the barely there tick around her eyes as she realizes she won’t get anything out of him this way.

 

She changes tactics.  “Why Shield?”

 

“Why not?” he retorts.  He doesn’t look at her and instead focuses his eyes on the way his thumbs are circling each other, an air of nonchalance about him that he knows is digging into her skin.

 

“Let’s try it this way,” she says as he crosses her arms.  “I get to decide whether you’re an asset or a liability, so either you answer my questions or you can rot in here.”

 

“You really think this metal box of yours can hold me?”  He looks directly into her eyes through the fringe of his hair, challenging her.  Her silence tells him enough.  “I don’t give a damn about Shield and Shield’s ‘righteous’ cause.  That’s all bullshit.  Good, bad.  That’s shit people like you make up so you can feel better when you beat down the little guy.  You know it all comes down to, Ms Romanoff?”

“Why don’t you enlighten me.”  Her eyes are piercing, her lips a thin line.

 

“The people who win and the people who lose.”  He smirks up towards her, his eyes hardening, can see how unnerved she is.  “America and Shield.  You with your bigger guns.  People from other countries attack your land and you call them terrorists.  But ask yourselves this, what are you when you invade another country, you and your bigger guns, to destroy their way of life, tear down their governments, steal their resources so that you can put your own interests ahead?  You call yourselves heroes and claim that you’re liberating the oppressed but you already know what you really are.”

 

“We’re done here.”  Her words are clipped as she turns her back towards him, hair a bright red, back taut and tense.

 

“Ms. Romanoff,” he says as she bangs on the door, signaling to be let out.  “You can keep your self-righteous bullshit to yourselves.  The answer you were fishing for is Yuto.”

 

She doesn’t say or do anything.  The door opens and then she’s gone and he’s left alone again with his memories of Yuto playing over and over in his head, slowly driving him insane and yet the only thing keeping him grounded to reality.

 

----

 

He wakes up in a panic with a hand pressed against his mouth to muffle his shocked noises in the dark of night.  The first thought that races through his mind is they’re going to kill him (and how the hell did they sneak up on him?).  He starts to struggle and fight back, vision unfocused, because if they want to kill him, he’s going to make them fucking work for it.  The hand presses him back into the pillow and shushes him, lips brushing his ear.

 

“Ryosuke, it’s me,” the person says and the moment it registers that it’s Yuto (that would explain how he didn’t hear someone entering the room) his breathing slows, vision focusing, and his heart stops thudding.  He grips Yuto’s hand with both sets of fingers and yanks it away.

 

“What are you doing?” he asks in a harsh whisper.

 

“Getting you out of here?  Come on.”  He jerks Yamada up and throws him a change of clothes.  

 

“So I take it I failed their little test.”

 

“Spectacularly.  You didn’t even try.”

 

Yamada shrugs.  “She would have seen through it.  No point then is there?”  He pulls on the black tee and zips up the hoodie.  “So what now?”

 

“Now?  Ten minutes to get off this boat before systems go on full alert.”

 

“But-”

 

Yuto kisses him, their first in how long he doesn’t even remember, but god does it remind him he’s alive.  He always gets a little lost when they kiss but he seeks for more when Yuto pulls away. “Look,” Yuto starts a little breathless, sending a shiver of want down Yamada’s spine.  “We’ve got less than ten minutes now.  We can talk later.  All you need to know is I’m with you til the end of the line, everything else be damned.”

 

He leans up to nip Yuto’s bottom lip once, and says against his mouth, “Okay, let’s get out of here.”

 

They make it to the quinjet hand in hand, flying off just as the alarms start blaring on the Helicarrier.

 

“They won’t be able to track us,” Yuto answers before he can ask.  “Stark tech.”

 

Something like guilt scratches at Yamada’s chest.  “You sure about this?”

 

Yuto spins around in his chair to face him, determination burned into his eyes.  “Absolutely.  Fuck Shield.  Fuck right or wrong and good or bad.  Fuck everything.  I’m sorry I took so long but I get it now.  You’re the only thing in this world that matters.  If I have you, I can take whatever else the world throws at me.”

 

Sweet, innocent Yuto who goes all in with everything he’s got, who breaks him apart with his gentle touches and even gentler words, who tears Yamada down only to piece the broken shards back together again.  Yuto who gives Yamada an ever present ache in his chest, one that constantly reminds him no matter what he can never have enough as he steps forward until he’s between Yuto’s legs, index finger under Yuto’s chin and guiding his head up.

 

“You and me.”

 

Yuto peers up at him through long, dark lashes.  “I’d burn the whole world if you asked me to.”

 

Yamada’s never been one for pretty words but damn does Yuto set his heart fluttering.  That’s the most romantic thing anyone’s ever said to him.

 

----