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And all I'll say is, "Yes."

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Rokuro heard the movements long before he felt the tugging of the yogi spread over him. He had no reason to fear footsteps, for in the humiliating poverty and isolation that they now existed, none would feel need to come attack the Sanada household in the night. Instead, he kept impassively still as he felt the warmth of a familiar body pressed against his after long absence. An almost-shiver passed down his spine as he felt the scrape of stubble at the nape of his neck, thicker and more wiry than he was accustomed to. A feeling of anticipation slinked through his body, although Rokuro would not name whether it stemmed from trepidation or hope.

It was a rare, if not uncommon, thing for his master to share his bed, as could only be expected of Rokuro’s position. His master had prostitutes, and town girls, and the wives of other lords whom he courted illicitly when away from Ueda, all of whom he could play love games with or vent his desires upon as he wished, but when these liaisons did not please or were far from his reach, he always had Rokuro, never farther away than the reach of his voice, obedient, devoted, willing. Their sexual intimacy had begun as Rokuro came into his prime, a few years after his choice to serve the younger Sanada lord, and had continued long after might be considered strictly appropriate, although potential censure was eased by Rokuro retaining his position as a page even to so late an age (and perhaps, more than he realized, by being still blessed with such beauty as he had in youth). Even so, since the failure of Sekigahara and the beheading of the strong-willed but foolish Ishida Mitsunari which saw the Sanada household fall into disgraceful exile and poverty, his master had not come to him, not even in absence of courtly love affairs and the willing women and boys who traded intimacies for fine gifts and coin, things which had once been so readily available even to the eccentric lord of a poor backwater land such as Ueda.

Rokuro thought that most likely he didn’t come because his drunken master was too soused to leave his futon most days, curled up in self-pity, his mood buoyed only by crude sake obtained from local farmers. His master was not naturally weak to drink, having been put to the test many times before by pirates and lords alike, but perhaps the desire to be drunk and numbed to one’s misfortunes enhanced one’s ability to respond to drink more keenly.

A second thought he also allowed, that it might be that his master did not come because their very change in circumstances had perhaps bereft Rokuro of former charms. The moment that the Sanada household was granted to keep their heads if they withdrew into a quiet exile, Rokuro had accepted that he would now carry further responsibilities to match their reduced situation. He accepted that he would see to their living quarters, take up the work once done by the master’s other servants: the washing, the cooking, the cleaning, the mending if necessary, looking after the chickens that ran in the yard and pickling the vegetables that grew in the garden, and perhaps even ensuring the education of the unenviable Daisuke, who found himself raised up to the son of a samurai only to see the house fall within the year.

His master had chosen a fine time to name an heir, right before an attack on Ueda that saw their most important asset taken from them and the Braves fall asunder, while the misfortunes of Lord Ishida with whom Yukimura had cast in his lot fell upon its heels. Although Rokuro initially chafed at the introduction of a second, younger Rokuro into their numbers, since the lord’s poorly timed decision to ennoble the boy, Rokuro had come to feel a duty to his lord’s chosen son, and intended that he be fit to serve as an heir to a much greater house than what they had been diminished to at present.

Without remark, Rokuro had taken on all these duties as the lifelong servant of Sanada Yukimura, the lord whom he had been so determined to correct the ways of when in the bloom of youth, possessed with all its foolhardiness. But perhaps these duties had also taken away his gracefulness, toughened the once smooth skin of his hands, created wrinkles along his visage where there had been none to see before, or left him covered in a grit that never truly seemed to wash away. Perhaps his lord looked at him and saw such things, and had no cause to seek comfort from a man full-grown in such a state.

And so, Rokuro could not be sure what had been taken into his master’s mind to join his futon tonight of all nights. Patient for the moment, Rokuro kept his good eye closed and breathed calmly as he felt his master’s arm rest over him, Yukimura’s nose pressed atop his hair, lips barely brushing at his ear.

“Are you thinking: ‘If I keep my eyes closed, he might disappear’?” Yukimura’s voice breathed into his ear, still rough from drink although he seemed to have dried up somewhat since their quarrel earlier this afternoon. His words were just the sort of playful nonsense his master was so fond of that caused endless irritation for Rokuro.

Nonetheless, Rokuro snapped his good eye open at that, and stared fixedly ahead at the wall lit only faintly by the light his master had brought. Although Rokuro did not move at all as he did so, Yukimura huffed a small laugh against the back of his neck and withdrew a little, knowing without seeing. Perhaps the years of his service, as a bodyguard and as a bedmate, had been long enough for his lord to intuit such things.

“What is your business, young master?” Rokuro said, accepting this would not be the encounter he desired. He kept his temper, for it was always foremost in his mind that he was born to serve, and as idle as his master could be, there was ever something of genius and calculation behind the no-good exterior. It may well be that he was here for a more serious matter than it seemed.

Yukimura laughed and spoke with the levity of a lecher. “What other business could there be for a prodigal, unmarried lord to sneak into the bed of a man his junior in the dark of the night?”

Rokuro scowled at the flippant remark, not least because it seemed a mockery of his own desires. He gave his reply sharply enough. “Only today you claimed you had grown into your own futon. If you have soiled it with wine or worse and expect to come and do the same to mine, I will evict you immediately.”

“You are most cruel to turn away your lord when he comes in his hour of need,” Yukimura lamented.

“And what is your need?” Rokuro said evenly, not wanting to betray his bitterness anymore than his desire. He could feel his master’s breath against his neck, heavy for a moment, before he resolved to speak again.

“To apologize, Rokuro,” Yukimura said. There was little he could have said that would have seemed more unlikely to Rokuro’s ears.

“Young master?” Rokuro said, voicing his confusion.

“Hush now,” Yukimura said, “for while my mind is clear of sake, it seems I might alleviate my conscience. I wished to say that I am sorry to have brought you here with me.”

It was silent, but the sharp intake of breath that Rokuro made at that was doubtlessly felt by his master, whose arm still rested idly about his chest.

“Ah, that didn’t come out quite how I meant,” Yukimura said with sheepish laughter, before adopting that idiotic tone of his that spoke of half-jesting earnestness. “Rather, the fact of the matter is your master is a drunk and always short of money and no better than a common farmer these days, all as you’ve said, and on reflection I thought I might do you the honour of agreeing with you on these accounts and offering my apologies up to your tender judgements. Have pity, Rokuro.”

Rokuro was not very amused by this speech, but his temper and his alarm alike had softened somewhat, and his body became more relaxed than it had been moments before, the gentle pressure of his master against him a soothing weight.

“Then do you intend to give up on your drunkenness for the coming days, young master?” he asked as levelly as possible, wanting neither to condemn the apology nor indicate that he was taken in by it in the slightest.

Yukimura laughed—a laugh Rokuro most despised in that moment. “But how shall I ever be equal to the situation if I am not drunk?” Yukimura said. “I have not your virtues. It’s a relief that Daisuke should at least have you for a model, otherwise there’d be no hope for his future at all. He is already corrupt enough as it is.”

“He is your heir!” Rokuro said. “You should be the one to mould him.”

“Do you wish him to be more like me?” Yukimura asked, quite aware of the answer.

“Which is why you need to reform yourself! Already he is too unkempt in his appearance, and you only encourage him in your current state.”

“I thought you’d long given up on that,” Yukimura said, making little effort to conceal the amusement behind his words. “And why does it matter so much to you now?”

“It matters even more now!” Rokuro said, quiet but vehement in his belief. There was a long silence after he spoke, before Yukimura broke it once more.

“You are right there, Rokuro,” he said, voicing his agreement bitterly. It was never lost on Rokuro that their current circumstances were galling to them both, however much Yukimura hid it behind his laughing façade or drunken stupor. “All the same, you are right,” his master repeated, before moving to withdraw his arm. “…Well, I am sorry,” Yukimura said as he moved away, ready to take his leave.

Rokuro shivered imperceptibly at the absence of his warmth. He intended not to speak, but the fervour of his unvoiced desires had driven him into such a corner that he couldn’t seem to stop himself.

“Was that the only reason you came?”

Rokuro regretted saying it almost immediately, but having uttered such pathetic words the only thing he could do was to stand by them and refuse to divulge anything further of his feelings. He held his entire body rigidly, still looking sharply at the wall opposite him, sparing his master no notice or attention.

Yukimura paused, dropping back down to rest next to Rokuro, though no longer touching him as before. “Rokuro,” he said, “just what is it you were hoping I came for?”

Rokuro was not going to answer, for whatever he said his master would find some way to put him in a fool’s trap, and he was of no mood following such an embarrassing question.

He could hear the gentle humour flood back into Yukimura’s voice as he continued in lieu of any response. “Has my Rokuro grown lonely? Shall I indulge such whims tonight?”

Rokuro startled as he felt Yukimura’s hand creep down to rest on his thigh.

“Return to your rest,” Rokuro said coldly, trying to ignore him. He wanted neither mocking nor pity from his master, and would not unbend to his own desires which he ought to be in control of.

“Whatever is going through your head? I can’t make it out,” Yukimura said, clearly bewildered, in an unusual turn. “I leave and you ask me to stay. I offer you comfort and you to tell me to leave, and the voice you call out with seems not to know what it truly wants. Is this not quite the mystery?”

Rokuro swelled with a kind of anger and anxiety at that moment, desperate to command his master’s attentions and yet aware of his inadequacy and the inappropriateness of his own desires to monopolize his lord. In rare moment of un-guardedness, he spat out one of the few honest answers he had ever seen fit to give. “If you came here with only apologies in mind, then I wish that you would leave at once. I refuse to accept comfort or pity. If this body holds no allure itself then I would that you go. I have no wish to be held for such lukewarm reasons.”

Yukimura laughed far too loudly at that and Rokuro scowled, wrapping the edge of the yogi tightly around himself as if to form a shield, drawing away from his master as much as he could. However, when Yukimura came to speak his words were rather different than Rokuro feared.

“It is a funny thing to hear a person of rare beauty speak not only as though they did not stoke the fires of passion in all those they meet, but even further repelled the attentions of those most at the mercy of their presence.” Yukimura moved his hand up to Rokuro’s cheek, turning his head to meet that bright crimson eye with his own gaze. For the first time that night, Rokuro looked at his master in the dim glow of the lantern light, taking his full expression in.

“I burn for your taste and your touch, Rokuro,” Yukimura said, his thumb stroking lightly against his cheek. “I daresay you are the only sight my sorry eyes have been blessed with in these days.”

Feeling uncommonly vulnerable in such an embrace, Rokuro gazed keenly up into those warm, dark eyes and asked, “Then why have you not come before now, as you used to?”

“I did not think you would welcome such a master. You chide me day and night and I bring you nothing but trouble. And we are no longer young, and you have such beauty more like to a god that you might go looking for desire elsewhere, among women as befits your age.”

It grated a little to hear these reproaches from his master even as they were ones he chided himself with. Nonetheless, he refused to accept such an answer and pressed further. “My devotion for the past seventeen years has been only to you, and I have never even in my most rebellious of moments given you any reason to doubt that I would do anything you asked, that I would wish anything above the wishes I hold as befitting your wishes, that I would stray from my place at your right hand and devote myself to another, even in the passing of a moment. This you have always known, since the day you had me marked by the same tattoos that you bear. Why have you not come?”

Yukimura’s face lost its humour as Rokuro spoke. When Yukimura spoke again, it was hardly above the sound of a whisper, his voice hollow and laden with genuine regret. “I have brought you low, Rokuro.”

Rokuro looked at Yukimura with an unfaltering gaze. If that was the substance of the matter, it was an empty thought at best. “I swore to serve you and only you,” Rokuro said staidly, “whether the fortunes of your house be high or low. Why should you think I resent such misfortunes?”

Yukimura took a long moment to respond, the warmth of those brown eyes resurging as he gazed intently into the chilling red of Rokuro’s, before a lazy smirk broke upon his face once more. He grasped at Rokuro’s shoulder, turning him over fully onto his back so he could better meet his gaze. A hand moved back to Rokuro’s cheek, stroking affectionately. “I suppose for the same reason you would believe someone such as yourself could hold no allure to a man whose body would betray all his lust even in the light of morning. Perhaps a sheer blind pigheadedness.”

Rokuro tried to squirm away from him, cross at his mocking words even though they were coupled with the profession of desire. The threadbare yogi that covered Rokuro shifted and slid off in the ensuing tussle between the two.

“Come here. I will hold you,” Yukimura said with playful determination, “and then my Rokuro shall reap what he has sown in tempting the beast free from his cage.”

“What nonsense are you saying!?” Rokuro said, resisting against Yukimura’s embrace as he tried to press a kiss to Rokuro’s lips, only to brush his mouth against his jaw instead, his stubble scraping coarsely against Rokuro’s skin.

Yukimura just laughed and carried on, careless hands half-tugging at the sash of Rokuro’s nemaki one moment, then leaving it and wresting the fabric away from his shoulders the next. Open-mouthed kisses were bestowed upon Rokuro’s exposed collarbone as Yukimura’s hands continued their wandering.

Yukimura’s way of making love fell much in line with his character—with no care for refinement, inexcusably hedonistic, yet his artlessness a mask to conceal canny insight, one which possessed him with an inexplicable allure. Rokuro had once thought he might cure his master of his flaws given time and severe instruction, but instead as the years passed Rokuro only ended up becoming inured to the uncouth way in which his master insisted on carrying himself as the results of Rokuro’s efforts appeared to be futile. And so, even now, Rokuro let himself submit to Yukimura’s attack, in spite of his vexation, longing for his master’s regard more than he would ever admit to even on his least agitated of days.

Yukimura moved to straddle him, one leg resting in between Rokuro’s own as he continued pressing rough kisses along Rokuro’s neck. Rokuro shuddered at the feeling of his master’s cock pressed against him, swelling with arousal, as Yukimura worked his way back up to his ear. Their intimacy had been so long absent that Rokuro felt keenly every sensation of the moment, aroused intensely by the feeling of his master’s body upon his. He took in the scent of him, finding it strange that for the first time in his experience it was the lingering scent of sake and not smoke that followed his master, so faint now it was hardly there and yet impossible to miss for one who had known him so intimately for so long.

“How you make a man thirst for you,” Yukimura said, his breath hot against Rokuro’s skin, before teasing the shell of his ear lightly with his teeth.

Although he would never say it, Rokuro knew his own desire ran far hotter, far more unquenchable than his master’s, but to hear such words even under the sway of passion was gratifying. If this was only but one more way in which he could serve, he accepted it without hesitation, for the pleasure of being desired felt itself a reward for the unfaltering loyalty he had always given up to his master.

In response to the cock pressing hard against his hip, Rokuro brought one of his hands up to his mouth and licked it lewdly from heel to fingertip before reaching beneath his master’s nemaki to stroke his erection to fullness.

Yukimura groaned softly against his ear as Rokuro’s hand worked over his cock. “You are wicked,” Yukimura said shallowly. Rokuro took this as motivation to move more vigorously, long experience guiding him to stroke and tease Yukimura’s erection the way that his master liked best. Yukimura let out another unstifled moan as Rokuro moved a second hand to massage his balls while he stroked him. Of course, he then followed it with laughter and a whispered warning to be “careful, lest we disturb the young or old masters.”

Rokuro furrowed his brow at that, removing his hands, ready to protest once again about his master’s ill-considered humour. It was mortifying all the more for it being true, that they did not have the luxury of much privacy in this little cottage, and although there was no shame in a page submitting to his master’s advances, to be overheard by the young Daisuke or Yukimura’s own venerable father was too humiliating to contemplate. “If it’s such a concern that we’ll disturb the house then stop this—”

Yukimura cut him off by finally managing to land a kiss on Rokuro’s mouth. It was sloppy and too full of teeth and silenced attempts at protest, but after a few seconds of ire and raised hackles, Rokuro just gave in, letting his master’s tongue into his mouth, the kiss becoming deep and heady. Such intimacy was scarce come by and Rokuro did not want to lose it now for fear of not having such opportunity in the future. If his master’s affections were rare, he should be prepared to accept them when given.

Yukimura’s hands brushed through his fine hair, fingertips skimming lightly along the scalp as he kissed Rokuro powerfully. Rokuro let himself become lost in the feeling. He had long overcome any temptation to test such a thing out himself on Yukimura’s rat’s nest, but the feeling of Yukimura’s hands caressing his scalp had a sharp but stimulating effect that made him almost self-conscious in the sensuousness of it. His erection strained between them, wanting further stimulus than the occasional brush of his master’s body against his own, but while those fingers played through his hair and his mouth was occupied by careless, heated kisses Rokuro lacked the resolve to react.

Having subdued Rokuro’s temper once more, Yukimura pulled back and licked lightly at the birthmark on Rokuro’s jaw, nipping softly at the skin there as had been habit for as long as they had known each other in this way. Rokuro wasn’t fond of being bitten, but as always he let such things slide as long as Yukimura avoided making any asinine remarks about it, grateful that his master did not scorn the little flaws he bore on his body.

Rokuro once again moved his hand to resume stroking his master’s cock, while the other reached around to grab at his ass, trying to pull him down to increase the friction of their movements, especially against his own unattended erection which found only fleeting moments of contact against Yukimura’s body. In spite of his audible gratification, Yukimura would not be guided for long, however, and instead revisited his scattered, careless kisses upon Rokuro’s chest, his scruffy stubble scratching at Rokuro’s skin, a sensation both ticklish and rough.

Yukimura’s right hand moved down to grasp his thigh, massaging it tightly with his strong grip. The pressure, the intimacy of it, the suggestiveness, made Rokuro feel almost helpless to his own desire for his master’s attention and for satiation as that hand stroked slowly upward. Rokuro did his best to stifle his reaction, chagrined to be so sensitive to that teasing touch.

Yukimura, taking in his barely-checked groans with a look more aroused than amused for once, finally gave Rokuro what he longed for. “Turn over,” Yukimura ordered, withdrawing a little to give him space to move.

Rokuro moved onto knees quickly, fingers gripping onto the futon beneath him, his body lightly trembling with arousal. He knew that the orders of his master were his greatest perversion. He lived to serve Sanada Yukimura and the times when his master stopped with his playfulness and simply commanded Rokuro in bed provoked in Rokuro a feeling of fulfillment and ecstasy, however disgraceful it was. It was an ease to Rokuro’s mind to know he was serving well, in every aspect of his work, but even more it created the anticipation for reward—reward for good service, even when the reward was found in the serving. It was perhaps depraved of him, but Rokuro could not resist the desire to fall into the ineluctable depths of such a mire.

Yukimura lifted up the edge of Rokuro’s nemaki, pushing it up above his tailbone, the fabric tracing a soft swathe across his skin, although his master’s explorations from before meant it almost threatened to fall open completely. Rokuro could feel the press of his master’s erection hard and wet against him.

“Take me in,” Yukimura said, his voice husky. Rokuro couldn’t find it in himself to form a true reply to that, a sound escaping his throat that spoke of acquiescence without coherent shape. One of Yukimura’s hands went up to massage the base of Rokuro’s spine as he slowly guided himself in, spreading Rokuro open around him.

Rokuro turned his head and bit at the edge of the yogi beside him to silence himself, the cold taste of the quilted fabric jarring in comparison to the heated feeling of the rest of his body. Although his mouth felt dry, he bit down hard, able to keep his silence better for it as his master penetrated him deeply, hot and thick within him. Once inside, Yukimura left little opportunity for Rokuro to adjust before invading Rokuro’s body over and over again in irregular thrusts, setting his own pace. With so little to ease the penetration the sensation burned, but Rokuro quickly relaxed as the familiar act became easier, the strain disappearing in a tide of pleasure as Yukimura guided his cock deep inside.

Rokuro clung at the futon beneath him vainly with his fingertips, trying to suppress his straining voice by redirecting his focus to anything else. Yukimura’s hands were on his thighs again, spreading him further open and shifting their position to penetrate him more deeply. The angle made him feel far too wanton as he received his master’s thrusts, trying not to writhe too much as his master bucked into him. Rokuro could sense the tension of restraint in his master as Yukimura dropped his forehead to rest on the plane of Rokuro’s back, trying to maintain his own silence out of courtesy for the rest of the household as he continued to fuck Rokuro’s body, unhurried but passionate.

Yukimura snaked one of his hands around to Rokuro’s cock, stroking it with his firm grip. The longed-for stimulation increased Rokuro’s pleasure tenfold as he was overwhelmed by the attention Yukimura lavished on his shameless body, the feeling of surrendering himself to his master’s pleasure heightening his arousal. Yukimura’s brisk strokes had as little regularity to them as the cock thrusting into Rokuro’s ass, but even despite the chaotic rhythm Rokuro felt himself come ever closer to orgasm. Perhaps the simple fact that it had been so long since Rokuro had had his master’s attentions bestowed upon him led him to reach completion far sooner than he wished, biting the quilt beside him tightly as he thrust into his master’s palm and spent himself on his hand.

In the afterglow of orgasm he felt enervated and thoroughly sated, but his post-coital haze was disrupted by the feeling of his master continuing to hump into him, for Yukimura had yet to expend himself. In spite of the tiredness he felt, Rokuro did his best still to meet his master’s thrusts, wanting to give him as much enjoyment of his body as he could, even against his own discomfort. He might not have the skills of a seasoned prostitute, but he was Yukimura’s only page and he would not give his master any cause to grow weary of him. Yukimura’s other partners were far more experienced than Rokuro in the arts of love, no doubt, but Rokuro was determined not to lose in any respect that he could, and so he fought his languor to match the unrelenting rhythm of Yukimura as he drove his cock into him again and again.

His master’s hands began to explore his body further still, one moving to rest at his hip, still wet from his come, while the other teased at his chest, tracing the hills and valleys of Rokuro’s muscles as though he would know every plane of his body intimately.

In spite of both their efforts to remain silent, the erotic noise of skin slapping against skin and the rustle of the sheets beneath them seemed too loud now to Rokuro’s ears in the quiet night as Yukimura’s hips pressed tight against his ass. The obscene sounds of their lovemaking were impossible to ignore once he noticed them and he felt even more exposed from that than from the hands that ran all over his body, remembering and relearning him.

Provoked by the increasing tempo of Yukimura’s thrusts and the exploration of his body, Rokuro felt the stirrings of arousal reawakening in his groin. His master’s breathing seemed to become increasingly erratic as he attempted to check himself while pounding into the man beneath him. Although Yukimura often lightly spoke of his great stamina and lovemaking skills, Rokuro knew his master would not last for much longer as his thrusts gained more force. It made Rokuro feel hotter just thinking how deep inside him his master was reaching, rough though it was. Yukimura’s hands came up to grip Rokuro’s hips tightly as he finally reached his peak. Yukimura bucked into him as he climaxed, riding out his orgasm inside him, thighs trembling against the back of Rokuro’s own as he filled him with his come.

It was a few moments after he had finally stilled that his master withdrew. As gracefully as he could manage in spite of the weak feeling of his legs and the awkwardness of semi-arousal, Rokuro lay back down properly, adjusting to the pain of cramped muscles becoming relaxed as he stretched out. His master lay beside him, likely already asleep from such exertion. Rokuro himself was really not of a mind to move, nor was he the sort of person who could withstand being as messy as he was in this state, and so he warred with himself as to what he should do, especially as there was no water at hand nearer than the well outside. He eventually settled it that he would just have to move, but, of course, no sooner had he determined so then his half-awake, half-asleep master attempted to prevent his going.

“Young master,” he said, his tone conveying that he was not impressed. Although fondness overcame him, there was no reason he should not continue to keep such unnecessary feelings to himself, lest he encourage his master’s spoilt ways.

Yukimura drew closer, catching the sleeve of Rokuro’s nemaki and using it to pull Rokuro to him. For the moment Rokuro accepted the gesture wordlessly, willing to take such closeness as it was, a brief but passing fancy until the shared heat of their bodies became too uncomfortable to sustain.

Yukimura leaned his mouth up to Rokuro’s ear once again, his words cutting into the tranquility of Rokuro’s pessimistic thoughts.

“Thank you,” he said.

“For what?” Rokuro asked, unclear as to how he had earned this unexpected gratitude.

“For choosing me,” Yukimura said.

It was, of course, only seconds before he continued, “I can’t imagine having to live with Nanakuma inst—”

“Get out!”