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I have scarcely left you

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It’s probably not the best idea for a ghoul to go to a human pub. It is, probably, the worst idea, when the human pub in question is brimming with celebrating Doves.

Yet here she is.

Smiling.

Because Sasaki Haise is here. Sitting next to her. Sitting so close that their hips touch, which is, to be honest, something that she herself initiated, very surreptitiously. But he hasn’t pulled away yet.

His squad accepts food and the rounds of food and drinks that cheery coworkers and grateful civilians lavish upon them, but Sasaki Haise remains sipping his single first pint.

“I’m a lightweight,” he admits, scratching his head, and Touka makes her smile sweeter, brushes her hair back shyly.

“Me too.”

He laughs. “I shouldn’t be so surprised.”

In the past hour they’ve confirmed that they both aren’t foodies, that they both have an interest in martial arts and coffee, and that they both like Takatsuki Sen. So, he is right — he shouldn’t be surprised, but not for the reasons he thinks. She has guided him into every coincidence, and relished watching his interest in her pique.

It’s so easy it’s almost unfair, and she would feel worse about it, if he hadn’t abandoned her for three years. She can feel him practically leaning in against her. His eyes drift down along her body, and she thinks, I have you now, but then his expression turns into one of shock.

“Kirishima-san — you like rabbits?”

Her old, ratty keychain is hanging out from the pocket of her slacks. Before she can think, she shoves it out of sight.

“Don’t be embarrassed,” he says excitedly. He rummages in his coat, and to her shock brings out a couple rabbit keychains of his own. “I like them too. It’s strange! Whenever I see one I feel sort of compelled to buy it.”

Touka stares, stiff. Realizing there are goosebumps on her arms, she rubs them.

“Kirishima-san? Are you cold?”

“U-um — yes,” she agrees. “The door — a draft —” She glances back to see if the door has even been opened, but it doesn’t matter. Sasaki Haise is already taking off his coat, and in one swoop has draped it over her shoulders.

It’s warm.

She swallows.

It smells just like him.

Air is leaving her, and not returning.

And —

:::

And this is not how it’s supposed to go.

These three years have gone by so slowly, so painfully, like centipedes dragged up out of her throat, leg by leg, day by day, minute by minute. Sometime in those three years she cried out all remnants of the stupid girl she was, and though blood still moved through her body, though her heart still technically beat, some deep and dreaming portion of it had quit moving, had given up.

So what if people always leave? It doesn’t matter. She doesn’t care. They can go wherever they want.

But fuck if she’s going to spend another three years searching for his face on every person she passes, or summoning the memory of his arms around her at night. When Hinami mentioned Sasaki Haise and his rinkaku kagune and his left kakugan, Touka felt relief. Finally she could fulfill all those disturbingly lustful dreams that keep her up and wishing he was back with her.

All she needed was to try and get into bed with him — just once — and — and then — and then all the thorny regrets wrapped around her ribs would dissipate. She could be done.

Finally, she could be the one leaving.

:::

She steels herself. This is still possible. She can still move on, she can still live without being trapped by the all the words Kaneki never told her, all the touches he never gave. She puts her arms into the sleeves of his coat and makes an expression that she hopes looks like the one Rize gave him once, the one that had the power to charm him before anything had ever happened. She raises her glass, and he raises his, and they both take a little sip.

Alcohol tastes like shit, but it can still conjure a pleasant buzz. Half a glass is all that’s needed to make it easy to put her hand on Sasaki Haise’s thigh, and she only needs to ingest the rest before she can lean up and murmur, “Do you want to go somewhere?”

His hand tightens on his glass.

Come on, she thinks. She’s already checked: there are a couple love hotels within walking distance. She sees his throat bob with a swallow, and turns her head obligingly so that he can whisper his reply.

“How about my apartment?”

“Okay,” Touka agrees. She leaves first, and waits down the street outside while he wraps up his farewells. It’s raining, which she did not expect, and when he catches up with her she pushes herself under his umbrella. She plays up being somewhat drunker than she is, giggling and stumbling on the slick sidewalks, and with some surprise she realizes that he is playing at it too, being drunker than he could have possibly gotten from the half-drink that she watched him grimace down. They laugh at passerby, at advertisements; he snickers about raining cats and dogs and poodles on the road. At some point the umbrella goes flying and needs to be fetched. They finally wobble up to his door, draped on each other, and winded by their own laughter, and drenched.

Here we go. While Sasaki Haise searches his slacks for the keys, Touka thinks bitterly of all the days she’s spent curled up, alone — all the times she chased after someone only to see it wasn’t him — and then, the worst, the single time that he turned his back on her and walked away.

No more.

The door rattles open, and after they blunder in, she shoves him against it, closing it with a crash. Sasaki Haise blinks at her and she jumps up, wraps her arms around him, holds herself with her feet off the ground and her whole body pressed to his. Her lingering buzz makes his face somewhat blurry; she kisses him, messily, and her lips land on his cheek and his chin before finally finding his mouth.

He is stiff; and then he is pliant, wraps his arms around her and helps hold her up and against him. The buzz in her brain intensifies, transforms into a different kind of buzz that scintillates to her fingertips and toes. His tongue joins hers and she inhales deeply, and —

And Touka freezes. Drops down onto her feet, and then grips him to keep her balance as the apartment floor wheels beneath her. This apartment...

Smells like him. It — it should, of course, but she wasn’t expecting — wasn’t expecting it would be exactly the same. All at once she’s back in Anteiku, with Kaneki painstakingly pouring out latte art — in that old chapel, with Kaneki’s skin trembling and breaking in her teeth — in that broken-up old building, with Kaneki holding her wounded body tight and aloft.

“Kirishima-san,” Sasaki Haise calls softly. “Are you alright? You’re shaking.”

“Just cold,” she manages, and he reaches over and takes his coat off her, rubs his hands up and down her arms.

“We don’t need to…you know,” he says quietly. She ignores him and takes off her shoes, indicating that she means to stay, and he clears his throat.

“I’ll get a towel,” he offers. “Just make yourself comfortable.”

She follows him in, but stays in the main room when he goes off into another one. There are shelves upon shelves of books, and, on a table, a pair of glasses. These she picks up, feeling a stab in her belly. Kaneki doesn’t wear glasses. Who do these belong to?

“For reading,” Sasaki Haise explains, coming up behind her, and she jumps.

“Sorry,” he apologizes.

“N-no, it’s fine...” So they’re his after all. She tilts her head at him, then holds the glasses up. He allows her to put them on.

“They suit you,” she realizes, and he smiles faintly and holds up the towel.

“Can I?”

“Ah...sure.”

He gestures for her to sit on a couch, and then wraps the towel gently around her head and dries off her hair. Even through the towel the sensation of his fingers feels nice on her scalp, and she leans in. Sasaki Haise is so kind, as kind as Kaneki had ever been, or even more. And he’s so handsome, even with glasses. And so fun to watch laugh. And he seems to like her. Maybe this time is different. Maybe he will be the one to finally, finally stay with —

NO.

Did she seriously forget what she came here to accomplish? Is she seriously doing this again? She controls her fury as best she can and swipes the towel away, rests her hand on his thigh. She gazes up at him, firmly. And he just picks up her trembling hand and removes it.

“We really don’t have to,” he says, almost laughing.

“I want to!” Touka snaps, and to her horror and fury finds that her eyes are beginning to burn with tears. She stands, paces, bites her lip. She’s flustered. Too flustered.

“Do you have more alcohol?” she asks, and Sasaki Haise grimaces.

“That...um, I don’t think that...”

But she’s already at the kitchen side of the small apartment, and is rummaging around, opening cabinets. Nothing, nothing, nothing. She has her hand on the handle of the fridge when he grabs her, stopping her from pulling it.

“There’s nothing in there,” he coughs, and Touka realizes that he’s probably speaking literally, and that this is a detail that a normal human — what he thinks she is — shouldn’t be privy to.

She is not drunk enough to make a move on him, but is drunk enough that her frustration escapes unsuppressed. She hisses and leaves the kitchen, pacing the room furiously before finally banging her forehead on the books lined up on a wall shelf. Behind her, the floor creaks as Sasaki Haise follows and shifts his weight from foot to foot.

“Are you alright?”

“Yes,” Touka answers, for whatever it’s worth.

Sasaki Haise reaches for her hands and laces his fingers with hers. His chest presses against her shoulders, and his grip tightens briefly as he sways, catching the balance that his own buzz keeps losing for him.

“I don’t have any alcohol, but if you want, I can help get you in the mood for things,” he murmurs. Startled, she says nothing, for too long, and he groans and rests his forehead in the crook of her neck. “Sorry — that — sounds really awful — that’s — probably worse than any pun I’ve ever said —“

“No,” she interrupts. “Do it.”

Their fingers flex against each other, make bulky fists. Still holding her hands, he crosses his arms over her waist and pulls her close. She hears him swallow, and then his sigh blows the hair from her neck, exposing a patch of skin that he lays a kiss on.

Touka sucks in a breath. She never knew the skin there was that sensitive, never knew that contact there could reverberate down and down and weaken her knees, and her hands clench his as he continues kissing a line back and forth across the dip of her shoulders. He hesitates, then flicks his tongue against the top bone of her spine, and she gasps.

Her face is incredibly red, and her breath incredibly short. She can’t bring herself to look at him as she shakes her hands free from his and grips the bottom of her shirt and pulls it off over her head. He takes it and flings it onto the couch, and then sets his face on her back again, his glasses cool, his mouth kissing and blowing down every vertebra. Touka’s back arches with pleasure, and she sets her hands on the shelf edge as he unclasps her bra and throws that aside as well. Her fingers scrabble at nothing as he palms her breasts, working them in achy circles until she moans.

By now Sasaki Haise has accomplished more than any number of drinks possibly could have — her whole body is trembling — that buzz has reached a place between her legs, and intensifies as he nudges and squeezes her nipples into peaks. Her back arches further, pressing her ass against him, and he pauses to groan a little, and —

And in this moment, with her eyes firmly shut, with only his touch and his voice and his smell, it’s not Sasaki Haise that says it, but Kaneki. Kaneki. Here. Back. She bites her lip and reaches behind, and after some fumbling finds the hard bulge of his cock and rubs it briskly through his slacks. He whines; his belt buckle rattles to the floor. He leans up against her, hard this time, hungry, flattening her against the shelves, and she feels the pressure of his erection against her sex and fights to keep breathing. With one sweep of her hand, she topples the books out of a shelf and crosses her arms into the empty space left, steadying herself as Sasaki Haise claws off her pants and underwear.

All the days she’s spent waiting, all the nights she’s spent curled up alone — she feels sick with wanting, like she’s eaten cake, or cookies, or pure sugar. She buries her head into her arms when his fingers graze her sex and find it practically dripping.

“P-please,” Touka gasps, and the next thing she feels is his cock against her slit, startlingly hot. He rubs the length of it against her, and she shakes as its firm tip nudges her clit at the apex of every stroke. Once he’s lubricated, she reaches back and guides the point of him into her slit, and he thrusts in.

She cries aloud — she can’t help it — he fills her completely with heat and light and the moment he’s inside her all she wants is for him to do it again, and he does, and he does. Her body grinds up against the shelf with every thrust, breasts heaving, and his loud groans in her ear make goosebumps rise up across her whole back.

“Kane —”

She cuts herself off right on time, crushes her palm over her mouth.

“What?” Sasaki Haise asks, but his voice sounds dizzy, like maybe he didn’t quite hear her properly, and Touka grinds into him.

“I said, harder,” she says hoarsely, and he obeys, he obeys, until the pleasure of her body becoming one with his is so suffused in her that she forgets what it was like to feel alone.

With a moan, Sasaki Haise finishes first, his arms constricting around her. It’s only when she hears his voice cry out that Touka herself comes, the buzz becoming a roar in all her veins as she spasms on her tiptoes and rakes her nails on the shelf. Afterward, she slumps, completely spent, and doesn’t have the energy to protest as Sasaki Haise half-carries, half-drags her to his couch and collapses onto it with her.

“Thanks,” he mumbles, sounding both exhausted and embarrassed, and Touka huffs.

“Yeah,” she says weakly.

“Did you…was it good for you?” he asks quietly, and Touka swallows.

“Y-yeah…it was really…” Not what she expected. Not even close to anything she’d dreamed before. Amazing. Wonderful. “Yeah.”

It’s over. It’s over.

She’s free.

Blearily, she eyes the room, struggles through some kind of plan: collect her clothing and shoes, put them on, begin to make her way home. She forms the words she’s going to say.

I should go is all it would take, probably, and she opens her mouth, and Sasaki’s arm folds over her waist.

“You’re beautiful,” he breathes into her ear, and —

And against all logic, all reason, all strategy, her heart gives a little throb.