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Pairing: Heiza/Yaichi
Rating: (Hard) R
Word Count: 2,304

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The summer before Seinoshin and Yaichi die is a warm one. At the height of it, nearly everyone is driven into the shade of awnings and whole households are opened up to the night: wall panels removed to facilitate air flow. And while he has never liked the heat before, to Heiza the summer is a perfect one. The dojos all close up early before the heat takes its toll, and there is no reason to practice swordsmanship or to be personable and every excuse to simply stand in the shade of the Saegusa house's yard. He and Sei stand near the rain barrel trading the ladle back and forth, and Heiza regards Yaichi some paces away sitting in the shade where the breeze hits best, mending some torn sleeve. His posture is careful. He sits with his head bowed and the garment spread across one knee.

"What did you damage this time?" Heiza teases Sei gently.

The boy averts his eyes and dips the ladle into the water. "It was an accident."

More frankly then: "Had anyone noticed it?" Meaning, naturally, the boy's mother. Sei does not pick up on the implication, and slightly bewildered says "Yaichi," as if he thinks Heiza must be affected by the heat. Sei offers the ladle to him. Heiza drinks very little. Sei is a good boy, kind and quiet but strangely decisive. Heiza has spent enough time avoiding his duties to know that Sei will not shirk his own when the time comes.

The nights are warm. The girls and the dice games are hot, and the weather breeds short tempers and sickness (there are a few murders, a few cases of summer fever). Once, Heiza comes back from a night of drinking with a bottle of sake tucked safely away and a bruising scrape high on his cheekbone from fighting. He doesn't make it to the gate to see if he's been locked out. He runs into Yaichi in the street, silver in the narrow sliver of moonlight.

Yaichi takes account of the mark on his face, but says nothing about it (Heiza feels a surge of embarrassment and a sick pleasure in the way Yaichi's eyes skate over the scrape and catch his eyes). Instead he invites him for tea and Heiza, who is pleasantly inebriated, submits to Yaichi's efforts to sober him up before he can be taken to task by his father. Heiza bows his head and follows like some half-tame stray and it isn't until Yaichi has poured him a glass, put up the lantern and opened the window to let a cool breath of air in that he asks, "Is it so wild down there?"

Heiza laughs across the surface of the tea and sets the bottle of sake between them. "Wild enough," he says.

He sips at the tea - too hot for the night - and leans back on one hand, his legs sprawled before him off the edge of the step. Yaichi excuses himself, comes back a short time later with a cloth wet from the rain barrel. He takes Heiza's chin like child's - touches softly with his thumb and forefinger, and Heiza gives: tips his head and bears his cheek. His eyelids feel heavy and his tongue seems thick and chalky from the mixed taste of booze and tea. Yaichi dabs the cloth at his cheek. The sting of it is uniquely satisfying - a knot in Heiza's gut like the mixed pleasure of finding the gate locked, the hard lines of his father's face - and Yaichi's touch is very light indeed.

"You should be more careful." Yaichi says it with a fondness and understanding that prompts Heiza to open one eye and take account of him. There is an open easiness to Yaichi's face, the edge of a smile as a dabs at the scrape.

Heiza grins and sets his cup down. "You're a kind hearted person," and then says - not sure if he is speaking to the first or to something entirely separate: "I don't want to be."

Yaichi's hand shifts imperceptibly at his cheek - his knuckles brushing the skin, no longer tending to the cut so much as simply there. He taps Heiza's jaw with his thumb, makes an exasperated noise and smiles - the smallest reprimand. "Don't you have reason to?"

Maybe. He thinks he might - though it comes slowly thanks to the heat and the drink. Heiza grunts and reaches up. He takes Yaichi by the hand with the cool cloth it in, cradling it to his cheek. Yaichi releases his chin and accordingly Heiza turns his face. He presses his mouth to the small bones in Yaichi's wrist and takes the cloth from his hand, setting it aside.

"Your patience is infuriating," he says very mildly against the skin while stroking his thumb across Yaichi's knuckles.

"Heiza."

He doesn't know if it's a warning or an invitation and trying to parse the look on Yaichi face is no less difficult. He advances despite his uncertainty - puts pressure on the things he doesn't understand. So he unlocks his elbow and leans forward to catch Yaichi's knee through his kimono and to touch his thigh. Yaichi shifts, rolls back onto his heels and Heiza feels the tremor in the hand held against his cheek. His fingers still on Yaichi's leg. He takes a moment to order his thoughts, gaze fixed on the line of the servant's arm. "This isn't an obligation," Heiza says, suddenly and deeply guilty.

Yaichi laughs then. With his other hand he touches Heiza's temple, settles on his other cheek. Heiza follows the silent request: turns slightly to look at him and takes a frank account of the man. Yaichi's expression and hands are uncommonly gentle. He avoids touching the bruise and scrape. His fingers are warm on each side of Heiza's face. "You're better than you think," Yaichi says.

Heiza digs his fingers into his leg through the kimono in opposition and, sighing, Yaichi leans down. He presses a chaste kiss opposite the stinging scrape and does not immediately pull away, so after a moment Heiza tips his chin and catches Yaichi's mouth in kiss that is at first slow and tired partially awkward but turns into something else when Yaichi presses gently with his thumbs against Heiza's jaw. He surges up against his mouth then - fingers pinching at the bones in Yaichi's wrist - Yaichi makes a noise and Heiza touches his knee. He pulls him down.

There is a simplicity to the catch of Yaichi's mouth, to how Heiza settles his fingers at the small of his back. Yaichi is all limbs and soft lips, and the points of contact are warm and heady - a pleasant burn low in Heiza's belly. Yaichi's knee catches against Heiza's cup, tipping it. "Oh," he says and starts to pull away.

Heiza steadies him by his wrist. He pants "Leave it be," against Yaichi's mouth.

"You're drunk."

"That's right."

If he went home now the gate would surely be locked - it is late enough, and Heiza doesn't doubt the debauched look of himself: rumpled clothes, a bruise high on his face, looking hangdog and freshly assaulted. It would be useless to untangle himself now, he tells himself - and perhaps says part of it aloud, because Yaichi gives and forgets the cup and must forget something else as well because he says nothing until later when he touches Heiza's shoulder and presses him gently away. Heiza gives reluctantly. "It's late," Yaichi says. "I'll bring you a futon."

"Stay," Heiza murmurs, but Yaichi disentangles himself and Heiza doesn't try to keep him. When he is gone, Heiza rights the spilled cup and uses the cloth to wipe at the damp spot. He touches his mouth. He presses his thumb to the bruise on his face.

It takes longer than it should. It gives Heiza time enough to catch his breath, to settle, to order the teapot (which is cold now) and the cup on the tray, to put the sake he brought somewhere it won't be disturbed. By the time that Yiachi returns grasping the futon to his chest with both arms, Heiza has mustered enough patience to help Yaichi lay out the futon - both on their hands and knees to spread the corners -, before he takes Yaichi by the hand and reels him in to bed like a fish already hooked.

From there is a matter of intuition and Heiza, drunk or not on summer heat, has always been good at knowing other people when he puts any effort toward it (it is how, when he still cared about the sword, he became so good so quickly). Half reclining, he tends to this with a single minded interest: a hand at Yaichi's hip, fingers catching on the edge of his obi. He tugs at it briefly with the intent to pull to knot around where he can undo it more easily, but Yaichi - who is on his knees in front of him - gently bats his fingers away so that he can do it himself. Heiza lets him and instead settles back on the futon, his weight on his elbow and his chin in his hand - slides his other hand to settle on Yaichi's knee - and he watches as Yaichi undresses, unwinding the obi from his middle. Yaichi hands it to him and Heiza folds it carefully. He sets it aside and when he turns back Yaichi has stilled, his fingertips on the floor, and clothing gapping away from his chest. Without sitting up, Heiza catches the edge of the soft fabric and pulls it open.

Despite the open window it is still warm in the room and Yaichi is flush, color creeping up the back of his neck. And Heiza can hear his own breathing rattling low in his throat - his skims the back of his hand against Yaichi's abdomen, presses a thumb against the flesh of his thigh. He says with a little heat, "Take that off," and Yaichi makes a low noise like a laugh - shrugs his shoulders, pulls his arms from the sleeves and is free of it. Heiza takes a handful of the fabric and pulls it from where it is tangled in the crook of Yaichi's knee, pushes it behind him.

When Yaichi leans down to him Heiza shifts up on his elbow. He kisses him and the taste is nondescript, all breath. It is too warm for the blanket, so it gets thoughtlessly shoved out of the way as Heiza catches his fingers against the back of Yaichi's neck. And after that it seems a sort of game to kiss until they are both panting and hot, to press Yaichi over and to settle over him, to see how quickly Heiza can scramble out of his own clothes when his fingers aren't obeying him. He rolls his shoulder shrugs free of first one sleeve then the other - too much fabric at his waist. Yaichi makes a small soft noise that is barely a sound and Heiza's fingers catch and fumble at the ties of his hakama. He swears softly against the curve of Yaichi's neck; he has known the knots lay of those ties since he was a boy, but now when he is in a hurry - they are both young men -, Heiza finds himself clumsy. Yaichi's hand at his hip is certain: steadies him. He catches Heiza's wrist and he bows his head to look to the small space between them, saying nothing. Heiza breathes raw against his jaw as Yaichi picks out the ties to the hakama, of his obi (which, unwinding it, Heiza treats with significantly less care than Yaichi's - he pulls at the silk and throws it where he doesn't care to see it in the same moment that he presses his thumb under the line of Yaichi's jaw and brings their mouths back together).

Kissing him - touching him - is not wholly strange. Yaichi is quiet, body supple and soft under his, passive until he is not: fingers at the line of Heiza's hips, his belly, elsewhere. Heiza makes a pitched noise against him and Yaichi goes still and rigid. Breathlessly he says, "The window is open."

"Damn the window."

"Heiza--"

Yaichi's hands are still. Heiza groans against his mouth, cedes: "Alright."

After that he is careful - careful to subdue the noises he wants to make, careful with the way he touches him, and careful with how he presses open the angle of Yaichi's legs - how he uses his fingers. There is something to it, to the slowness of the pace: Yaichi's sigh of breath and the warmth of his wrist locked against the nape of Heiza's neck. He can understand the benefits of gentle kisses and Yaichi's teeth a soft scrape on his lip, the involuntary shudder in his legs when Heiza hitches up and they come together. Even so, it doesn't last long. Afterwards Heiza rests his fingertips on Yaichi's hip and kisses the sharp line of his collar bone while Yaichi uses his own hands - buries a small sound against the hollow of Heiza's shoulder where no one will hear it, but Heiza feels the hum.

When Heiza later recalls that time, it will seem terribly abbreviated. But then, in the heat and semi-darkness, it seems to him seems as if there is plenty of time to spend untangling their loose limbs and so for a time they don't bother with any of it and instead lay with sweat prickling on their skin and the overlapped sound of breathing slowly regulating. It is a warm summer and a perfect one.

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
madame_oryx
Dec. 31st, 2011 07:39 am (UTC)
Oh my goodness!! I found this while browsing the HoFL tag on tumblr and well... I just couldn't resist reading it~
Five Leaves fic is so rare, and Heiza/Yaichi to boot. Always thought there was something suspect about their relationship... Anyhow, I think you captured the time period really well throughout (particularly in the beginning), and your writing style is very fluid and pleasant. <3 This line especially caught my eye:
"He presses his mouth to the small bones in Yaichi's wrist"
... which is just a beautiful mental image (and very subtle, in the way I wish all HoFL fic was). This is a really lovely piece and I enjoyed it immensely! c:
prosodi
Dec. 31st, 2011 08:27 am (UTC)
Seriously, I am convinced there was something going on there (that flashback scene of Sei walking in on them drinking - the dialogue is so circumspect that I can't imagine someone like Basso, with her writing history and proclivities, isn't doing it on purpose). But mostly: aaaah, gosh! Thank you! I'm so glad you enjoyed it.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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