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Lights Out

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Uzaki knows he's drowning, but he doesn't care. He's almost thankful for the raging thunderstorm that has knocked out the power, since the pitch darkness of their makeshift hideout does well to mask shaking hands, flushed faces, and once carefully coiffed hair come down with a bad case of bedhead. But what the darkness can't disguise are the ragged pants and urgent kisses, the hard heat pressed between them, and the sweet stickiness of rain-slick skin spiked with the sharp musk of sweat and grit and blood.

Blinded by the darkness, thoughts clouded with desire, and heart hammering with all the adrenaline of a no-holds-barred brawl, Uzaki can't come up for air long enough to figure out what should go where. Up above, his hands seek out every exposed inch of Shinohara's skin because his trembling fingers are far too clumsy to tackle complicated notions like shirt buttons and belt buckles. Down below, his legs are tangled with Shinohara's, weighed down with wet fabric that's starting to chafe in places where he's aching to feel the stroke of calloused fingertips instead.

But that thought flies from Uzaki's head when Shinohara closes his lips over a bruise on his collarbone and nips, then sucks, then lathes his tongue over the bite like he's searing a brand. Uzaki swears there's no breath in his lungs, yet somehow there's a keening moan vibrating in his throat. Through the static, he hears Shinohara gasp his name, sinfully soft. Uzaki can't help but grin when he realizes belatedly that those are his fingers stuttering slow circles just above the waistband of Shinohara's slacks, pulling those breathy gasps from his mouth.

Uzaki is overwhelmed with a dizzying rush of warmth as Shinohara presses closer, his hips chasing Uzaki's teasing fingers. It's a shame, he thinks, that he can't make out his friend's expression in that moment, but the gravelly moans muffled against his neck and the nails digging into his shoulder paint a vivid picture in his mind.

Just when Uzaki has finally plucked up the courage to let his hands wander lower, he's caught off guard by the electrifying sensation of Shinohara dragging his teeth inch by inch up the line of his jaw.

"Oh, oh, God, Shino, don't, that's--" He squirms, toes curling in his shoes, and clings to Shinohara like a raft in a storm when he feels his tongue flick over the shell of his ear, then teeth sink into his earlobe--

Uzaki yelps, his body jerking up and sideways, and his knee catches Shinohara square in the stomach. Shinohara grunts and his body buckles, his full weight collapsing onto Uzaki, who freezes when he feels something give way beneath him. But it's too late. One moment there's a sharp, splintering crack and the sound of rending fabric, and the next, Uzaki's back hits the concrete floor and he's seeing stars, disoriented and pinned down with Shinohara's elbows digging into his throat.

"What the hell...?" Shinohara mumbles, his voice tight with pain.

"Ugh, Shino... Can't...breathe..." Uzaki pushes lamely at his shoulder, all the strength sapped from his limbs.

"Uh, sorry. Hold on." With a wince, Shinohara eases himself up onto his knees and fishes his cellphone out of his pocket while Uzaki gingerly hauls himself upright. The dim glow of the phone's screen in the dark room may as well be the blazing light of the midday sun for the way it makes them squint and shield their eyes until they have time to adjust.

When they do, the faint light illuminates the wreckage of the cheap beach lounge chair that Shinohara had gone to great pains to liberate from an abandoned surf shack in the first days of summer. The chair, which hadn't been in prime condition to begin with, is now little more than a heap of ratty fabric and bent plastic twisted around them.

Uzaki can't decide whether to laugh or cry. His body has come crashing down from its high (in more ways than one), and he feels cheated, like someone's just snatched a birthday present away from him after shaking it under his nose. He runs a hand through still-damp hair and settles for a sigh. "The beach chair? That’s the best we could do?"

Shinohara looks away and mutters, "...we don't exactly have many other options, do we?"

Given the spartan furnishings of their dilapidated clubhouse-turned-hideout, he makes a valid point: The only other items of note, apart from the week-old sandwich that really should find its way to an incinerator, are a listing TV with a cracked screen, a secondhand DVD player, and a pile of Togashi's heirloom DVDs that he has "cleverly" hidden under an even more suspect magazine.

Realities aside, Shinohara's sullen response earns him a laugh and a good-natured shove from Uzaki. "Well, now we don't have any options! And how're we supposed to explain this to the guys?"

Even as Uzaki laughs, a pesky little voice in the back of his head pipes up to remind him of what he's just done--with his best friend, no less--and what they almost surely would have done, rickety furniture willing. When he closes his eyes, he can still feel the warm pressure of Shinohara's body over his, the tingling spark of teeth on skin, the eager heat under his fingertips. And while he's sporting an array of cuts and bruises from their scuffle earlier with Kurokawa's thugs, the pleasant ache lingering in his neck and jaw is a reminder not of the fight, but of something else entirely.

Uzaki casts a tentative glance over at Shinohara, a nervous flutter in his stomach. Maybe it was just a fluke. Maybe Shinohara thinks it was a mistake never to be repeated, a product of fighter's high and teenage hormones. Maybe he even regrets it.

But then their eyes meet.

Shinohara leans over and brushes back the hair from Uzaki's forehead to press a shy, feather-light kiss to his temple. Uzaki's heart jumps straight into his throat.

"Next time, I'll commandeer a sofa," Shinohara whispers.