They held Tsuna and Kyoko's anniversary party at a swanky lounge that Reborn had reserved for the occasion. There had been a pianist at one point, but he bowed out when Hana and Ryohei stumbled onto the stage with a karaoke machine and started serenading Kyoko. Dino took the next turn, then Yamamoto, then Basil, then Tsuna at gunpoint. After Tsuna stuttered through the last of his song Kyoko threw her arms around his neck and planted a kiss square on his lips.
"Where's Gokudera?" Yamamoto shouted at Hibari. Hibari shot him a glare that was somewhat undermined by the fact that his eyes wouldn't focus. "Okay!" Yamamoto said.
The hallway was quieter, music tinny through the walls, and Yamamoto took a second to steady himself before resuming his search for a bathroom. He wove back and forth for a while before he realized he was lost, pondering trying to find his way back when he heard a grunt and "Fuck!" in Gokudera's voice from behind a door.
"Gokudera!" Yamamoto said happily, pushing through the doorway. He froze inside the room because Gokudera was naked, spread out across a table with his wrists tied above his head. The grunt must have been from a punch; the pianist hit Gokudera again while Yamamoto watched, fist digging into Gokudera's side while his cock slid partially out of Gokudera's ass. Gokudera whimpered, eyes slitting halfway open, then wide when he caught sight of Yamamoto.
"Get—out!" he hissed. The pianist faltered in his rhythm but Yamamoto had already backed out into the hallway, face burning. He put his head between his knees and took several gulping breaths before starting off the way he came. When he found the party again, he fell into his booth, deaf to the noise around him.
Banished from the stage, the pianist had sat down and leaned in over Gokudera's drink; Yamamoto remembered that Gokudera used to play the piano and thought it was nice he'd found someone to discuss it with. The pianist's name was Andrei and he was pale, effeminate, long slim hands with swollen knuckles, puffy lips and wax in his hair. He didn't look like he'd ever hit anyone in his life.
The sound of a fist meeting flesh was a very distinctive one, dull and sudden. Working with a sword didn't give Yamamoto much opportunity to use his fists but it wasn't something you forgot, the impact and the yield, personal and inelegant. Gokudera walked back in the room with a flush high on his face and his shirt wrinkled, bending to clasp Tsuna's hand and mouth something into Tsuna's ear. The pianist entered a respectable several minutes after and sat down at the piano bench when it was clear that the karaoke was winding down. Gokudera and the pianist didn't look at each other but Gokudera looked at Yamamoto for a moment, face shadowed, expression unreadable. When he looked away Yamamoto imagined, wildly, taking the pianist somewhere out back and stabbing him in the gut, whisper-slick blood on steel. He clasped his hands in front of himself to stop them shaking.
Yamamoto woke curled up on the floor of his own room, mouth dry and sour, a sharp ache pulsing from behind his eyeballs to his temples. His stomach rolled when he sat up. Clenching his teeth, he breathed through the sides of his mouth until it settled and then maneuvered himself into the bathroom, shedding clothes clumsily and collapsing into the tub with the shower spray set to just under lukewarm. He lay there for a long time before he roused himself into actually cleaning up, wallowing in the white noise of a hangover.
He walked out still damp, a towel slung around his waist, and stopped dead when he saw Gokudera leaning against the windowsill. Gokudera had pulled the blinds open and was taking slow, meditative pulls on his cigarette, sunlight diffuse through the drift of smoke coming out of his mouth. Backlit, he was difficult to focus on, bright and blurred around the edges, the ever-startling green of his eyes the only pigment Yamamoto could make out.
"I'm supposed to tell you we have a Family meeting in half an hour," he said, to which Yamamoto made a reflexively affirmative noise; memories from the night before were tumbling back into his head like shards of stained glass, vivid and unreal, snatches of sensation that had him clamping down on a rising tide of panic. A muscle in Gokudera's neck fluttered. "You have something you want to say to me?" he asked.
Yamamoto blurted, "What were you doing? Last night."
Gokudera brought his hands to his face, pressing them together over the bridge of his nose. "Having sex," he said through his teeth.
"Ah," Yamamoto said. "You—"
"I get off on pain," Gokudera snapped.
"Oh," Yamamoto said. He felt himself blushing, skin tightening as moisture evaporated. He was suddenly acutely aware of how little he was wearing. Gokudera was turning red, too; he flicked his eyes up to Yamamoto's and back down, clearing his throat and arranging his face in an approximation of scorn.
"What, you've never let one of your girlfriends spank you or anything?"
Gokudera flinched. "Right."
"Do you like him? Uh. Andrei?"
"Nevermind," Yamamoto said. Gokudera frowned and Yamamoto looked at the floor. "I'll be there, uh, just let me get dressed. See you at the meeting."
"Whatever," Gokudera said, and left.
Yamamoto had had a couple of girlfriends, all of them nice, but none of them had lasted very long. When he'd turned twenty he'd met a girl at a ball game, big brown eyes and flimsy yellow sundress who'd sunk down on his cock with a breathy little giggle, yanking at his hands and bringing them down on her ass with a smack. Yamamoto had laughed, surprised; said, "What?" and she'd smiled with one side of her mouth and said, "Nothing, baby, you're fine."
Yamamoto thought it was important that people have a good time. He liked to laugh, and he liked it when other people laughed, so he spent a lot of time coaxing laughter out of people, smiles and soft touches, sweet words. Sex was supposed to be fun. Gokudera hadn't looked like he'd been having fun, he'd looked. Terrible.
Yamamoto knew he wasn't exactly the most observant person in the world, but he'd always considered Gokudera one of the easier people to read. Except apparently Gokudera was leading some kind of, of, of secret life where he let douchebag pianists tie him up and smack him around, let them do those things to him when he didn't even remember their names the next day. That was the worst part, Yamamoto thought, and was bracing himself to say something to Gokudera about trust and forming healthy relationships when what came out of his mouth was,
"Is it just men, or, or, or—"
"For fuck's sake," Gokudera said, shading his eyes from the glare off the water in the pool behind the mansion. He looked sort of like Uri, stretching out languidly, all sleek muscle and bright skin, except for the faint bruising on his torso.
"Sorry, um," Yamamoto said.
They lapsed into silence, broken only by the rhythmic splashing of waves against concrete. Yamamoto felt hot, smothered by the loose linen of his shirt. He tugged at the collar. About two years ago Yamamoto had seen Gokudera with a woman in a café in Milan on one of their days off, a severe, handsome woman with a very obviously expensive dress. He remembered it because he'd thought it was strange, because Gokudera was back to wearing ratty jeans and a t-shirt, bracelets clinking on his wrists, pale hair pulled back in a tie and hidden under a fedora. Her laugh, deep and throaty, wound through the air and when she stood she was half a head taller than Gokudera, sliding a proprietary finger down the back of Gokudera's neck.
"Okay, now you're freaking me out," Gokudera muttered. "You never shut up when I tell you to."
"Sorry," Yamamoto said again. Gokudera grimaced and flung an arm over his face.
"Is this some kind of sexual crisis? Is that what this is? Because that is seriously the last fucking conversation I want to have with you right now—"
"I gave someone a blowjob once." As soon as the words were out of his mouth Yamamoto flushed, then grinned, trying to dispel some of the atmosphere. "In a locker room in high school."
"Do you want a fucking prize or something?" Gokudera said.
The weight of his teammate's dick in Yamamoto's mouth had been strange, heavy, and he'd nearly choked on it twice before he'd figured out more or less what to do. His imagination supplied him with the image of Gokudera kneeling in the same way, docile, while someone twisted his head back and fucked his mouth. Yamamoto flushed harder. "It's easier," Gokudera mumbled.
"What?" Yamamoto said.
Gokudera pushed himself off the chair and bared his teeth, not smiling. "To find guys who want to beat the shit out of me."
Yamamoto wondered what that conversation would have been like if they'd been normal—had grown up normally, instead of Yamamoto killing someone for the first time just a couple of days after he turned sixteen, unintentionally, reflexively, stepping out in front of Tsuna and cutting the assassin down while Gokudera stood still blinking in surprise. He thought maybe it would have happened back then, and maybe Gokudera would have been just an exchange student, and maybe they'd have been friends, hanging out and drinking stolen beer and Yamamoto would have leaned over and whispered, Hey, have you ever thought about—
"I need a favor," Tsuna said, grimacing. Yamamoto scanned the specs in front of him and looked up; "By myself?" he asked.
"Well, I need it to be quiet. Hibari could do it, but he wouldn't understand why he'd have to bother, or Mukuro, but Mukuro thinks it's funny to screw with people sometimes—"
"Thank you." Tsuna hesitated, then clapped Yamamoto on the shoulder as he stood up.
The thing was, Yamamoto liked working with the sword. It was a skill set he'd been perfecting for years and he was proud of it, proud of his proficiency, proud of his utility to Tsuna and what Tsuna stood for. There was nothing like the feeling of breathing the still dojo air, hearing the quiet scrape of his feet against the straw mats while he replicated the same movement a hundred times over. He liked the way he had taught his muscles to obey, so they would no matter what the situation, whether he was in hakama behind his father's house or in a business suit on the seventh floor of an Italian high-rise with five dead men at his feet and his target spitting blood in the corner.
"Go on, then," she coughed, shaking her hair out of her eyes and wiping at her mouth. Yamamoto thought of sparring with Gokudera, heart pounding just as it was now, once when he'd knocked Gokudera to the ground and Gokudera sat up and put two fingers to his lips, coming away red and grinning. A shudder ran down Yamamoto's back. That wasn't—he wasn't going to think about Gokudera.
"I heard you got hurt," Gokudera said, popping into the infirmary. Yamamoto started. It was nothing, a graze over one of his ribs; the only reason Yamamoto was even down here was because he'd run out of surgical glue in his bathroom cabinet.
"It's nothing," Yamamoto said.
"Look," Gokudera said. "I just—okay, far be it from me to speculate about what is going on in that pea-sized brain of yours, but in the spirit of teamwork I thought I'd tell you that I can take care of myself."
"In the spirit of teamwork?"
"Since historically that has been the nature of the bug up your ass when it comes to—to me." Gokudera crossed his arms, mouth set. Yamamoto thought about being angry and betrayed, thought about the damp ozone taste of the air after a lightning strike and the same flat line of Gokudera's mouth, Gokudera twisting Yamamoto's shirt in his fist and hissing, Don't get the wrong idea. "This is different."
Do you piss them off to get them to hold you down and fuck you, Yamamoto thought, swallowing the words before they had the chance to come out of his mouth.
"Who I'm sleeping with has nothing to do with the Family, anyway," Gokudera said. "Right?"
"Right," Yamamoto said. Gokudera squinted at the cut on his chest and nodded, turning away.
"Wow, a man of many talents," another one of Yamamoto's girlfriends had said when he'd brought her breakfast in bed one morning. "Hey, this is actually pretty good."
"Thanks," Yamamoto said.
"Maybe you should have been a chef. What is it you do again, exactly?"
"I'm kind of like—the corporate go-to guy. For whatever issues they need me to take care of."
"Sounds like a blast," she said. Yamamoto kissed her slowly, careful of the tangles in her hair. Two days later they broke up.
Not thinking about it wasn't working: it had gotten inside of him and it spread like an infection, blistering underneath his skin. He flinched every time Gokudera walked into a room, the cant of his hips a revelation, the vulnerable curve of his neck—it was making Yamamoto anxious, distracted. A week later he botched up a joint mission so badly that the thugs they were after managed to get a hold of Gokudera and dislocate both his shoulders before Yamamoto ran them through.
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry," Yamamoto said, slicing Gokudera free and putting pressure on the gash on his head. One half of Gokudera's face was covered in blood, tacky and metallic-smelling.
"Shut up, just fix—fix my arms," Gokudera said. Yamamoto knelt and put his hand on Gokudera's elbow, rotating the arm out until it snapped back into place with a wet click. Gokudera hissed, then again when Yamamoto did the other side, slumping backwards and taking a series of short, shallow breaths. A flush had crept up his neck and his lips were swollen where he had been biting them.
"I need to take you to the hospital," Yamamoto said.
"You need to fuck yourself. I don't need a hospital. I'm fine, let's go, let's go back to the hotel."
Gokudera got himself to the car under his own power. Yamamoto gripped the steering wheel and concentrated on the road so he wouldn't hear the hitch in Gokudera's breathing every time he was jostled in the passenger seat. In their room, Gokudera disappeared into the bathroom and Yamamoto sat down on one of the beds, trying to get his heart rate under control. Through the open door Yamamoto could hear the sound of water rushing in to fill the big tub, then splashing and a breathy groan as Gokudera got in. "Fuck," Gokudera said after a few moments.
"Are you okay?"
"Fuck." In the silence, Yamamoto clenched his fists. "I can't lift my arms above my head."
Before he could think about what he was doing Yamamoto shed his jacket and slipped into the bathroom. "Here, let me," he said. Gokudera made a noise but he didn't say no, leaning forward. Yamamoto balanced himself on the edge of the tub and poured water on him from cupped hands. The hotel shampoo smelled like flowers and lathered pink when Yamamoto worked it through Gokudera's hair. Gokudera sighed when Yamamoto shifted, sliding his fingers down the back of Gokudera's neck and over his shoulders where the beginnings of a pair of ugly bruises were already blooming underneath his skin.
"The people you sleep with," Yamamoto started. Gokudera stiffened and pulled away. "I mean—"
"Wouldn't it be easier if you got. You got someone you knew to do it?" Yamamoto asked. "Like, um, T-Tsuna?"
"The Tenth isn't like that," Gokudera said sharply. "And, married."
"I know, just, hypothetically. You wouldn't have to—worry about. Strangers."
Gokudera took a deep breath and let it out, tilting his head so he could see Yamamoto through his hair. It was several long seconds before he spoke. "What, are you offering now?"
Yamamoto stared at him, throat tight. Gokudera snorted.
"You wouldn't have the balls," he sneered, but without any real heat, his eyes quiet and prompting.
A couple of painkillers and sleeping pills later Gokudera passed out on his own bed. Yamamoto stared at the wall, sleepless, and thought about his father, of sitting in seiza while the wooden floors dug painfully into his knees, learning about the rules of violence. See, a memory of Reborn said in his head while everyone gaped at the blood dripping from Yamamoto's sword, while the giddy shock of adrenaline still thrummed through Yamamoto's limbs, you're a natural. Yamamoto dug his knuckles into his eyes.
"Okay," Yamamoto said after they got back. "Yes."
Gokudera lifted his head from the papers spread out over the desk in his room and pushed down his glasses so he could see Yamamoto over them. A cigarette hung, half-smoked, from his mouth. The air felt thick. "Yes—what?" he said.
"Yes, I'm. Offering."
"Don't do me any fucking favors." Gokudera rolled his chair around to face Yamamoto, his knuckles white against the armrests. Yamamoto took a deep breath and stepped forward, easing Gokudera's glasses off of his face and folding them away, then plucking the cigarette from Gokudera's lips and stubbing it out in the overflowing ashtray. Gokudera blinked and sucked his bottom lip into his mouth when Yamamoto ran careful fingers down the stitches by his hairline.
"I'm not," Yamamoto said, and leaned back to slap Gokudera across the face. Gokudera braced his feet to keep from going anywhere and it took him forever to turn his head back around, but when he did there was blood on his teeth and his eyes were black pits with the thinnest sliver of green around them.
"Is that it?" he said.
"No," Yamamoto said and hauled him out of the chair by his shirt, kicking his legs out from under him so he landed hard on his ass on the floor. Yamamoto dropped down with him and twisted him over, yanking his arms back and tying his wrists together with the tie he'd stuffed down his pocket. Gokudera whined and Yamamoto knew his shoulders were still sore. "Fuck," he muttered, thumbing the crease between Gokudera's shoulder blades while Gokudera shuddered, then giving in and biting the mottled bruising on Gokudera's neck.
Gokudera tasted like salt and ash and he was hot, so hot under Yamamoto's mouth, almost as hot as Yamamoto felt. The force of Yamamoto's lust terrified and exhilarated him, blood rushing loudly in his ears, like being in the middle of a fight, awareness narrow and adrenaline-soaked. He loved this, loved the way Gokudera was bucking against him, loved the stiff line of Gokudera's cock straining against his jeans, pushing into Yamamoto's hand.
"Fuck yes," Gokudera hissed, "do it, do it—" the rest cut off in a moan when Yamamoto pulled him onto his back again to work his jeans off; his bare thighs opened around Yamamoto's hips easily, eager, "fuck me or hit me, I don't care, do it, come on—" Yamamoto backhanded him and bit down on his lip, reveling in the sharp taste of iron and the way Gokudera squirmed.
"Do you want it?" Yamamoto asked, pushing Gokudera back onto his bound arms. "Tell me, Gokudera, do you want this?" Gokudera arched up, eyes wild and unseeing, his face bright red.
"Yes, yes, you son of a bitch, fuck you, you're a bastard, fuck!" Freed, Yamamoto's cock slid against the soft skin of Gokudera's inner thigh, and Yamamoto caught his breath. Everything paused.
"I don't—I don't have anything," he said, conviction faltering, acutely sensible of the texture of carpet underneath his hands, the muffled trill of birds through the windows.
Gokudera wrenched his head forward, panting. It took a second for him to focus. "It's fine, I'm clean, it's—okay, please, I want it." When Yamamoto reached up to brush his hair out of his mouth he spit in Yamamoto's palm; Yamamoto sucked in a breath, something inside him slotting into place.
He added his own saliva to his hand and rubbed it over his cock. "Okay," Yamamoto said, pushing inside Gokudera's body.
Gokudera heaved backward, mouth open, every muscle tense. Yamamoto's vision went white for a moment when Gokudera clenched around him. "God, you—" Yamamoto fumbled for Gokudera's cock and it only took one stroke before Gokudera was coming, spasming around Yamamoto, come striping his stomach.
When Gokudera's breathing slowed he shifted away; it took everything Yamamoto had to keep still and let him go. "Untie my hands, you fucker," Gokudera said and Yamamoto obeyed automatically. Arms free, Gokudera hooked them around Yamamoto's neck, trembling, and slotted their bodies together again. "Come on then," he muttered, pressing his lips into Yamamoto's. A few thrusts later and Yamamoto came against the crease of his hip, breathing into his mouth.
The one time they had gotten drunk together, really, spectacularly wasted, had been the night before their flight to Italy on the roof of Yamamoto's father's house; "How did you, how did you, how did you know," Yamamoto slurred, "that you always wanted to be in the Mafia?" and Gokudera rolled over on one side, pushing himself upright, both familiar and alien in the cool moonlight. Yamamoto could almost see him considering answers and dismissing them, possibilities flickering over his face.
"Because," he said finally, over-enunciating, "it complements my disposition."
"Oh, mine too," Yamamoto said. Leaning over Yamamoto's body, Gokudera plucked another beer from the cooler and popped the tab with a soft hiss, taking a thoughtful swallow, Adam's apple bobbing in his throat.
"I could see it," he said, and Yamamoto smiled.