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be sweet, i need you

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He wakes up and the bed is empty, the spot behind him leaving a faint chill despite the vestiges of heat lingering on the blanket and pillows. There's a dull ache on the back of Squalo's head from having his long hair pulled and laid upon through the night but the pain will pass almost as quickly as he noticed it. This is the quietest he'll be for the rest of the day; he arches to stretch his back out and revel in the faint popping of his vertebra (like steel, but still so weak) and the sunlight spreading warmth through his skin. He gives the sheets tangled about his body a few precise kicks and slides out of bed to get dressed.

Lussuria will make tea but never breakfast and the dirty work is always left to Squalo, who instinctively ties his hair up in a taught, strong ponytail before leaving the comfort of his room and he never makes enough for everyone in the manor to eat comfortably. It's a deliberate decision on his part, and while he admits there is a sort of perverse delight in listening to the squabble downstairs as his boys fight over the remains, it's mostly due to a lack of any real time. Xanxus expects his breakfast early and at the most particular of temperatures, and Squalo knows better than to deny or test him in the morning if only because he himself finds his irritabilities to be heightened with the brightness of sunlight.

The two don't exchange looks for a long while when Squalo enters with restrained hair and a subdued tongue to match, a tray balanced on his gloved prosthetic. Xanxus is already set to work, reclined in his chair, a stack of folders and papers pinned together set with a surprising neatness on his desk that allowed just enough room, conveniently enough, for Squalo's tray.

Squalo says nothing about this little coincidence, simply sets the food down and tugs at the hem of his shirt with a few quick motions before leaning over the desk and taking what he knew was intended for him. Xanxus says nothing at first, lets Squalo take his liberties for the sake of efficiency. As the swordsman straightens the two finally exchange glances, though the looks are hard and professional.

Xanxus mutters something about a meeting and cants his gaze towards a stray note on his desk, which Squalo automatically reaches for before following up with wheres and whys and whens. The conversation is brisk and quick, but still somehow a little warm, painfully familiar in a way Squalo has no time to think about.

When they finish talking, boss to subordinate, Squalo straightens and gives a small sneer, chiding Xanxus for his supposed lack of memory and taunts him with a glance to the almost forgotten breakfast, insisting he eat his fiber lest the ravages of aging dull his senses any further, and Xanxus frowns hard at the jab, replies with something cool and even despite the underlying growl in his voice. It makes Squalo's expression soften slightly but it's more out of complacency than anything; he gives his boss a final once over and their eyes linger upon each other for a moment, tense and a little awkward, before Squalo turns around leaves.

A smirk tugs at his lips when he feels a pair of eyes lingering on the tail end of his hair, which swings conveniently at the small of his back. His expression of good humor fades almost immediately after he closes the door behind him, however, for a hard and handle-rattling thud against the woodwork follows immediately after.

He unties his hair, rakes a hand through his bangs and doesn't take a moment to rest all day; he has calls to make and meetings to reschedule, an elite team of assassins to micromanage and lecture and clean up after and scold and scream at and babysit in every sense of the word; so much to do, and it's a wonder he fits sparring in at all throughout his busy day but that's just how it is. This is the life he's chosen, his ideal of a domesticity meant only for him and it's a little strange because Squalo detested the very idea of marriage in his youth, pledged his love only to the sword but he had the misfortune of locking eyes for a moment, brief and tense and a little awkward, with a boy who would later become his boss, and ever since his life has steadily taken a steep decline towards unimaginable stress and a gentle sort of ruination only headstrong mafia wives seemed to know.

He doesn't know if he's getting weak or getting old, but he pulls his hair over his shoulder when evening has long since passed and, at an hour skirting against tomorrow, returns to Xanxus' office.

The man's still there, though his tray is gone as well as the orderliness of morning; the whiskey cabinet set against the wall is left open with a lazy sort of carelessness that Squalo makes a note to complain about later. For now, moonlight is glinting off a half-empty glass of liquor and Squalo won't admit that Xanxus looks rather enticing as he sits there, sedated but brimming with vitality and heat all at once.

Squalo does what he usually does and doesn't pay any real mind to how Xanxus' eyes linger on the curve of his jaw and at his ears and neck and the hint of clavicle as he leans over the man's desk to better reach for papers and folders relevant to their conversation. The two speak of the day's events, the tasked silently delegated to Varia's commander and eventually small things, mundane things completely unrelated to work and before Squalo knows it he's tucking locks behind his ear and corralling his hair back around his shoulder once again with a mix of a sneer and a grin.

"What the hell are you even doing up still?" Squalo stands tall, hips jutting forward in a show of exasperation. He glances over Xanxus' desk once again before giving the man a distasteful look. "Do you even know what time it is, you drunk bastard?"

"Maybe if someone didn't take their fucking time getting these papers approved I wouldn't be awake right now," Xanxus' voice is a slow and deep rumble, still sends chills up Squalo's spine when they're within reaching distance and no one is watching them. The man glances between his unfilled glass of dark liquid and the pale figure next to him, doesn't hide the fact his eyes, red and ember-hot, are trailing up and down the familiar body as a small noise of mocking disgust rises from his throat. 

"Voooi!" Squalo crosses his arms, his river-like hair crinkling beneath his wrist and scrunching against his side as he looks down at the other man with an incredulous expression, brows knit in half-hearted anger. "Why is this my fault!? I'm not in charge of running these damn things, you know that! Get them signed sooner next time!"

"I have work to do," and that's all Xanxus says as he shifts his gaze and returns it to the papers in his hands, like an inferno settling into a steady blaze and that ardent sort of pull is gone from his tone. The two remain in silence for a few long moments before Squalo uncrosses his arms and moves behind the man's desk, a calloused hand pressed to the leather of Xanxus' chair.

"Just go to bed," he begins, eyes following the trail of broad shoulders down to his boss' wrists though Squalo makes a point to avoid looking at whatever Xanxus is holding. "I'll finish this shit up for you."

Xanxus gives his head the faintest of tilts upwards, eyes lingering once again on the surprisingly delicate slopes and curves of Squalo's neck and jaw, before finally their eyes meet once again. The two don't speak, don't fight or quarrel or even think because enough time has passed between them, just like this, to where this thin silence has become almost ordinary. Squalo can't say he knows exactly how long they stay this way, trapped in time and perhaps trying to commit this warm familiarity to memory; it feels like a long time and he wonders if it honestly is, wonders when they got into the habit of watching each other like this because there's no way they had this kind of worn and savory patience as boys.

It can't be too long because Xanxus seamlessly breaks their gazes by leaning back in his chair and giving Squalo's stomach a swat with his papers.

"What are you, my fucking wife?" the bite in his voice is very much real and he sneers at the weakness in Squalo only he can see.

The swordsman doesn't miss the irony, however, and jabs right back at the very same thing. "Voi--! Even if I fucking married you, you still wouldn't listen to me and you know it."

Xanxus doesn't move for a long while but eventually he does push himself out of his chair and rises, tall and proud and Squalo secretly really likes standing next to him; it's a nice sight and it brings a nice feeling with it, something like a rush of pride and accomplishment warming his face and making him a little more aware of the angles of his body.

"Which is why you should think twice before telling me what to do," after that rough and stern suggestion, Xanxus brushes past Squalo, half-hearted in its aggression but it's enough to get a frown out of the smaller man.

"Che! I wasn't telling you to do anything, asshole!" he shouts back as he sidles into Xanxus' chair, which is still hot and comfortable from the barely missed presence. As Squalo moves towards the desk, elbows resting on the surface, he tucks a few unruly locks back into place behind his ear before glancing up to see Xanxus lingering at the door, light pouring in from the crack just large enough for the other man to slip through. While he doesn't look up, Squalo still watches the dark figure, awaiting commands and orders and harshly worded requests whether they be spoken verbally or through their eyes.

Xanxus speaks, though he doesn't turn to face Squalo when he does. "That shit better be done by the time I get out of the shower, trash."

As he leaves, Squalo rolls his eyes and gives his head a light shake. He's in bed and surrounded by familiar warmth once again within the hour.