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closer now than ever.

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Majima towered over him, feet firmly planted on either side of him. Kiryu’s vision spun as his eyes traveled up his legs, his exposed chest, the width of his shoulders, to Majima, looking down with that crazed smile he sometimes got when the game was getting good.

“So, Kiryu, whaddya got to say to that?”

Kiryu wasn’t quite sure what he had to say, so he didn’t say anything. He felt sore and tired, headache brewing that he hoped wasn’t a concussion. He felt like he could sleep for a lifetime, and he felt just past tipsy.

From above him, Majima clicked his tongue. Kiryu blinked as the man’s face lowered, for a second wondering if it was disembodied. But Majima was still in one piece when he sat into a crouch over top Kiryu’s chest, gloating smile still shimmering across his face.

“You were so easy this time! You know I don’t like it when you play dumb, Kiryu.”

He was so handsome, was the only thought running through Kiryu’s mind. His hair was a little longer now, some of it hanging over his eyes as he looked over Kiryu. Without realizing, Kiryu’s hand had lifted, floating to touch Majima’s jaw. He spread his palm out, watching his thumb as it brushed Majima’s lips.

Majima stopped.

“Hey, buddy.” he said, softly, touching his hand to Kiryu’s. He sighed, all his ecstatic glory replaced by a sad smile. “Come on.” He said after a moment, and stood back up. “Let’s get you home.”

He now leaned over Majima as they walked back, taking alleys Kiryu hadn’t seen since his old days, back when everything seemed new and exciting. Maybe it still was exciting, in a different way. But not in one he cared much for.

Kiryu breathed in slowly, trying to steady himself. Truth be told, he wasn’t that far gone. But he let himself be held, let himself watch Majima’s profile dim and brighten in the streetlights. Maybe it was out of a moment of weakness, maybe curiosity, but he wasn’t sure that he cared.

Majima’s bad eye was on his side, but he smiled like he knew Kiryu had been watching.

 

“Thank you, Majima.” Kiryu said when they reached his apartment, ready to let go and crash in bed. “I don’t deserve it.”

“Nonsense.” Majima said, arm still tight around him. “You’re a pal. Least I can do.”

Kiryu could feel his heart quicken. He closed his eyes, trying to imagine himself asleep in the comfort of his room, and not in the comfort of Majima’s arm. He tried to imagine himself cooking, or at the batting cages, or anywhere but here. At that thought, Majima clapped his shoulder.

“Well, I guess I leave y’here, right?”

“Right.”

Majima nodded. “Okay, well,” he stepped back, “watch your back.” he said, a half-assed threat.

Relief hit him like a gloved fist. “Yeah.” He replied, “I’ll- do that.”

Majima laughed at that for real, breaking the tension, “Oh, Kiryu, you have such a way with words. See ya later, Kaz.”

“Bye, Majima.”

He turned and entered the building, the scene replaying on loop as he climbed the stairs, jostled the key in the lock, quietly found his way to his bed. He set himself down on the sheets, gently, still able to feel the texture of Majima’s skin under his hand. How often had he wanted to do that- to touch him.

Touch with Majima was a constant, they were always fighting, and though the usual fight meant swinging bikes and bats, desperate clawing and hard punches were not uncommon. Simple non-violent touch, however, was.

They shared the occasional hand touch, a pat on the back. Sometimes Majima would light his cigarette by pulling Kiryu’s head close to his and using Kiryu’s cigarette instead of a match. He’d be looking down, but his eye would always flicker up, like he hadn’t noticed Kiryu was there. Thinking about it made Kiryu want to close in on himself.

He chalked it up to his lack of physical contact for such a long time. Ten years in prison was enough to make him stiffen up at the prospect of being touched, no matter how gently. But now that he was out, free again, and the initial shock had worn off, he craved it badly. Or at least he thought he did. Anyone would work, he told himself, Majima just happened to be the closest to him.

And he was close. He had been, for a long while.

 

 

About a month after he’d gotten out of prison, Majima had cornered him in a bar, strangely friendly, and had light conversation. He was funny even when he didn’t mean to be, talked with his hands, expressions, made punchlines hit hard. Kiryu watched him, a half smile on his lips, just happy to be there. Majima had scowled, imitating an officer, rolled his eye, punched the air. Kiryu wondered what it would be like to take his hand in his own, run his fingers over his knuckles.

That’s always how it started, he’d take his hands. Simple, a platonic gesture, if a little intimate. Before he had really called it what it was, this affection, he had allowed himself to imagine this. It was the least he could ask.

But as time bore on he found himself thinking about Majima’s hair, how it would feel to touch. How would his skin feel? How would Majima feel if he leaned up against him, if he laid in his lap, if he kissed him?

There arose the problem, their closeness. It was easy at first to say that the interest was not mutual. Kiryu could easily pretend that he was the one who wanted something more, and that whatever Majima was doing was charades. That every forward suggestion, heated brawl, karaoke song was just for fun, a part of the game. But Kiryu knew better. He knew Majima better than that.

That was one of the things he liked about Majima, after all, it was easy to tell that he was wanted. Maybe sometimes he’d be distant, hard to reach, maybe sometimes their fights seemed wrong and less light hearted than usual, but someone was out there thinking of him. He had to be, if all these elaborate get ups were anything to go off of. Majima cared. Despite everything, he was a sincere person at heart.

But it didn’t matter. Kiryu took himself back into reality, chuckling when Majima cackled at his own joke.

“I wish you’d been there, Kiryu.”

“I wish I had been too.”

It didn’t matter if Majima cared for him the same way. It didn’t matter.

Majima was the last to have known Kiryu before everything fell apart. Kiryu couldn’t let him ruin whatever it was that they had.

 

...

 

Majima looked unlike Kiryu had ever seen him before. He was soft around the edges, ears pink from the fall air and ocean breeze. Majima was a man of emotions entirely built of his own volition. Facades on facades. Even in his more manic moments, he seemed to be putting on a show. It was almost terrifying to see him so small and still, eye across the bay, hands jammed in his pockets. He must be cold, Kiryu thought.

“You’re a nice guy, Kiryu.” he said, absently. “How’d you ever last so long?”

Kiryu didn’t respond. He didn’t need to. Majima was more than capable of filling the gaps in their conversation by himself. He reached inside of his jacket for a cigarette, but the box was empty. He clicked his tongue and slid it back into his coat, frowning now at the sea. “I never thought of myself like that. Or maybe I did,” his voice was strange, halting and unusual, “Shit, I don’t know.” he shook his head.

“Maybe-” he continued, “Maybe I did and that’s why I got used. I cared. That’s why.” he said, so quiet Kiryu could barely hear him over the water. “How’d you last so damn long, Kiryu?”

Majima was looking at him, expecting an answer Kiryu didn’t have.

He didn’t particularly think of himself as nice, either. Hell, he was constantly smashing noses in, and had destroyed lives left and right for years now. So maybe it was because of how stubborn he was, unwilling to change. But it caused him his fair share of problems, problems he could’ve easily fixed, and spent a lifetime regretting.

“Well are ya gonna respond or what?” Majima growled, but there was no bite in it.

He thought hard, he always thought before he spoke. He could get lost for an eternity before he remembered to speak. But this time, he couldn’t find it in him at all. There was nothing he could have said. So he moved forward.

Kiryu wrapped his arms around Majima, pulling him up to himself. Majima flinched in his grasp, stiffened, and then finally relaxed. Slowly he set his head down on Kiryu’s shoulder.

He closed his eyes and felt how cold Majima was, all that exposed skin and gaudy fashion. If he stilled himself, he could feel his breath too, his heartbeat.

In a small corner of Kiryu’s mind he felt a thought rising. It was something old and unpolished, an idea that had been hidden away. Majima’s breath-, Kiryu translated the thought, Majima’s breath meant he was alive.

“I want to tell you something.” he finally said, and felt Majima pull back.

He remained in Kiryu’s arm, streetlight hitting him just right. He was handsome, Kiryu thought, and not for the first time. “I don’t know if I always thought of you as a friend.” he began. “But I do now.”

Kiryu looked away, breaking eye contact. “You- well, Majima,” but his gaze drifted back to him, “You mean a lot to me. Thank you, for being close.” he could feel his heart shaking up his throat, so he took a deep breath. Collected himself. “I- I needed you. I need you.”

Majima’s face didn’t move, didn’t react. He looked immaculate, calm, maybe bittersweet. Gradually he rested his chin back onto Kiryu’s shoulder, letting himself be enveloped in his arms again. Kiryu felt him smile. “Oh,” his words shivered into his skin, “Kiryu needs me?” His voice was high in the way it sometimes got, but without any of the play. And then, his it returned to normal, “I think I need you too, Kiryu.”


Awhile later they stood before Kiryu’s apartment, side by side. He felt taller than building, taller than the city. He looked over to Majima and found himself just the same height he’d always been.

Majima must have noticed his fall, as he grabbed his hand, his cold gloved fingers woven into his. He bumped his shoulder into Kiryu’s, and they stepped into the alley, out of the main road.

“I could go for a cigarette.” Majima said.

“I’m out too.”

Majima sighed, and then laughed. “Hey, Kiryu.”

“Yeah?”

“I meant what I said. I feel the same way.”

Kiryu nodded.

“So I wanna ask a favor.” he said as he lifted Kiryu’s hand, opening his palm to size up Kiryu’s.

The least Kiryu could’ve asked of Majima. His hand.

“Anything.”

Majima laughed, “Dangerous of you to respond so fast.”

Kiryu let himself laugh too, “I think I can handle it.”

“Yeah, I’m sure you could.” Kiryu saw a fond look on Majima’s face, “Would you kiss me?”

“Oh.” he said, stupidly, as if he hadn’t been thinking about it. “Oh.” he said, like he hadn’t wanted it, as if he had only just realized how much he wanted it.

He nodded and Majima leaned over, free hand to his chin, guiding them together. His lips weren’t so cold as his hands, and his breath was hot against him. Kiryu tilted his head and pressed himself against Majima, hands finding their way against his chest, his sides.

When he drew back he felt warm, soft, intimate. Kiryu was gooey inside, his chest a broad cage of sap and static, unsure of when he had last felt this way. In his heart of hearts, he was content.

“Well,” Majima said after a moment, “I guess I leave now, huh?”

Kiryu looked down, he had slipped his hand back into Majima’s.

“No,” he said, “Not if you don’t want to.”