"Poker Night" -- Sidefic to demented_dee
Raidou/Genma, Izumo/Tetsu, Itachi/Kimi/HakuWord Count:
Language, adult situations, m/m sex references.Spoilers:
Rai and Gen are hosting Poker Night again, and a surprise guest drops by uninvited...
Note: this is a side story that goes along with my story, Deprivation
, (link takes you to LJ Main Entry Page).
Shiranui Genma stood in the two-car garage shivering in the chilly late afternoon air that seeped in through every crack and crevice and stared at the empty shelf in the beer fridge. The thing was mistaken: just days before in that exact
spot sat the sacred liquid of life without which Poker Night could not exist. No way could Genma get through losing his pants without being properly lubricated.
"If he drank the last one, so help me…" Genma muttered, shutting the refrigerator and trotting up the three wooden steps and back into the modest suburban house he shared with his partner. "Crisis of epic proportion," Genma announced, closing the door and hugging himself as he walked into the kitchen.
"Already?" Namiashi Raidou asked, looking up from the seven-layer dip that was on its way to the oven.
Genma grabbed a toothpick out of the holder on the small kitchen island and popped it into his mouth. "Uh-huh. Fuckin' gnomes stole the last of the Sam Adams Winter Ale."
Raidou paused, mouth twitching. "Gnomes."
"You heard me."
"I thought they were restricted to the garden?" Raidou said as he slid the Pyrex dish onto a rack and kneed the oven closed.
"Not in the winter," Genma said, setting the timer on the microwave.
"Hm." Raidou paused, hands on his hips in an overdone pose of consternation that made Genma swallow a laugh. "Well. Good thing I put a twelve-pack on ice, then, isn't it?" He kicked the red cooler sitting next to a stool on his way to a cabinet.
Genma sighed in relief both real and exaggerated. "Thank God. Last time I sent Asuma out for more beer he came back with enough Blue Ribbon to float a town of rednecks, and I'm not about to leave you alone once Tetsu and Zumo get here."
"Do I want to know why that is?" Raidou asked, putting out chips, a can of nuts, and the usual snack foods that went along with the hot wings Asuma always brought.
"One word: Tetsu's ass."
"You do know that's technically two words, right?"
Genma snorted, Asuma pounded on the front door with his usual pattern before walking into the adjoining living room, and Genma brushed a kiss to Raidou's shoulder on the way to greet their friend. "Just like I know, 'Responsive sub' is another of your favorite two-word phrases, Sir."
"Gen," Raidou admonished.
"Just teasing." And he was. Mostly.
"You guys need privacy or what?" Asuma asked. He set three containers of wings -- mild, medium, and fuck-your-mouth-over-for-a-week -- on the island and opened the top one.
"Nah," Genma answered. "Just reminding Rai how sweet my ass is."
"I remember." Raidou paused and waited until the perfect instant when Asuma popped a bite of chicken. "Tasted it this morning, after all."
"Jesus H., I just got
here." Asuma rolled his eyes.
"Yeah? And?" Genma asked, walking over to pound Asuma's back in a friendly hello.
"And I'd love it dearly if you assholes would wait 'til I've had one or two before you start in on who ate what off who."
"It was really more out
of--" Raidou began.
"So the Pats are playing," Asuma interrupted, turning on his heel to head to the big screen in the living room.
"Beer?" Genma asked Asuma's retreating backside. Kurenai was one lucky bitch.
"You have to ask?"
Genma chuckled, grabbed two beers out of the cooler, and cracked them with his keychain opener -- a bright purple metal disk shaped like a guy with his mouth in a giant "O." He followed Asuma over to the couch and plopped down next to the burly man, handing over a bottle with his eyes on the screen. "Who they playing?"
Genma sucked air through his teeth.
"Don't give me that. My team's indestructible."
"I do not think that word means what you think it means," Genma mused.
"Never go up against a Sicilian when death's on the line."
"Wait… you're Italian?"
"Go fuck yourself," Asuma said sweetly.
"We're fucking already?" Raidou asked, joining them by flopping into a chair. "What ever happened to foreplay?"
"Wait… you like foreplay?" Genma quipped, grinned at Raidou, and the other man playfully kicked at Genma's knee before bending to one side to retrieve his phone out of a back pocket.
"Zumo?" Genma asked as Asuma cheered at the TV.
"Nah… it's… uhm…" Raidou glanced at Asuma, wincing.
"Seriously?" Genma asked, shocked.
"What?" Asuma said without taking his eyes off the screen while Gostkowski scored the extra point.
"I didn't think they'd actually come," Raidou said, chagrinned.
"Who?" Asuma asked, finally tearing away from the game. He took one look at Raidou's face and cursed.
"C'mon… you know you love losing to that pretty boy toy," Genma said.
"They freak me out," Asuma muttered. "All that lowered gaze and As You Wish attitude. You two are bad enough with the fucking Scene shit as it is."
"Haku's sweet," Raidou insisted, and Genma didn't have the heart to tell him Haku was about as sweet as a barrel of those poisonous tree frogs that seemed all cute and cuddly until you were thrashing on the ground on your way to the pearly gates.
"Kimimaro coming, too?" Genma asked.
"Apparently so." Raidou's mouth opened, closed, and he slumped against the sofa. "I'm kind of glad. Haven't seen them much at all ever since--"
The doorbell rang and a second later Hagane Kotetsu burst into the house. "Sorry!" he said, shucking coat, scarf, and shoes. He was flushed, wearing jeans, a sweater, and his collar, and Genma's face hurt from the wide stretch of smile. "The raid lasted way longer than we thought it would," Tetsu clarified as Kamizuki Izumo wiped feet on the welcome mat and nodded at Raidou.
"Uh-huh," Genma said, getting up to circle the sofa and hug Tetsu.
"Look, if we were fucking, I'd tell you we were fucking," Tetsu said, returning Genma's embrace and flashing a warm look in Raidou and Asuma's direction. Genma noted the not-quite eye contact and the way Tetsu flinched as Genma's arms brushed his back.
"Uh-huh," Genma repeated, and Tetsu blushed an adorable pink.
"He's right. Raid ran over." Izumo and Raidou slapped each other on the back. "Brought more beer as a peace offering." Izumo held up a case.
"Cooler's in the usual spot," Raidou said, following Izumo into the kitchen.
Genma caught Tetsu' arm and wrapped it up with his own. "Not just
fucking, huh?" he murmured, words buried under the sound of football.
"Not anymore," Tetsu answered, smiling, and Genma loved the sight of Tetsu happy so much he could have shat rainbows. Kid deserved that much at the very least.
"Good," Genma said with uncharacteristic enthusiasm.
"Damned defense," Asuma snarled, draining the last of his beer and getting up for another. He wiped his palm on his jeans before shaking Tetsu's hand. "How's life among the rich and crazy?"
"Weird," Tetsu answered, laughing as they gathered in the kitchen. The timer beeped, and Raidou rescued and set out the dip.
"Yeah?" Genma asked. "How so?"
"Just busy as hell, mostly," Izumo said. "Lot to learn and manage. And it still freaks Tetsu right the fuck out when he gets a call from 'Hyuuga.'"
Asuma snorted but Tetsu pointed an accusatory finger at Zumo, eyes on the food in front of them. "Hey, don't start with me: I saw the way you looked when you had to talk to Kakashi the other day."
Izumo shrugged, smile tugging at his lips as he gazed with naked affection at his lover, partner, fiancé, and submissive. "What? He stopped by… said, 'Hi, how's it going, by the way we need you to sit in on the security staff meeting for our little BDSM club.'"
"They've got you taking care of Break, too?" Asuma asked.
"Oh yeah. All of it," Tetsu answered. Proudly.
Genma threw his battered and crooked toothpick away and reached for another. "Well, at least he wasn't there to ask when you two'd be back to play after the last--"
"Genmaaaa," Raidou groaned in warning, but it was too late. Genma blinked, hunched his shoulders, and did his best impression of apologetic. Though, honestly, Asuma was going to figure it all out sooner or later. The guy had
to know something was up with that collar that had nothing to do with the bands around Tetsu and Zumos' ring fingers. The man worked with Hatake at Glow, for fuck's sake.
"Aw, shit," Asuma sighed. "Not you guys, too?"
"Uhm…" Tetsu shoved a chip loaded with refried beans and lettuce into his mouth.
"Guilty?" Zumo said, hand coming up to the back of Tetsu's neck, the thumb stroking the collar. Tetsu practically purred, and Genma rolled his eyes. Such noobs.
Asuma slumped, head shaking as he sighed and slapped his beer on the counter. "I swear to God," he muttered. "What the fuck is wrong with this city?"
"What do you mean?" Raidou asked.
"Everybody's a damned freak!" Asuma exclaimed, gesticulating. "Or gay! Or both!"
"Wait… you're gay?" Genma asked after a second of uncomfortable silence, and Raidou elbowed him in the ribs.
The look Asuma gave Genma should have melted his soul. Good thing Genma really didn't have much of one to begin with, he supposed. "You know what?" Asuma said, pushing away from the counter. "I don’t think I'm up to this tonight."
"Oh come on, man," Raidou started, ever the peace-keeper.
"Nah, it's all right." Asuma stalked to the front door. "No harm or anything. I just… I don't know. It's one thing with you guys, but I don't think I can take the Twins of Servitude and
you four being all…"
"Being all what?" Izumo asked, and Tetsu hugged his lover, whispering quietly into Zumo's shoulder. Probably trying to calm him down, and Genma didn't blame Tetsu: Asuma didn't exactly pull punches when it came to opinions. It was Genma's personal belief that Asuma was drowning in a lake of denial populated by pining piranha, but whatever floated -- or didn't float -- Asuma's boat was none of Genma's business.
"Look," Asuma said, hands in his pockets. "You know I don't care what you guys do on your own time, and I'm all about a dirty joke, but I'm not… I just…"
"It's okay," Raidou soothed, approaching Asuma like a spooked horse.
"Yeah," Genma put in. "Go on home. Play with your cat or something."
Asuma snorted, gave Genma the finger, and went to grab his coat. "You guys clean Haku out for me, would you? Personal favor for the last time."
"No promises," Raidou said, hovering to make sure their friend was really all right, and Genma reached to brush the plain chain he wore around his neck in lieu of a collar. More appropriate for work and public; fewer questions.
"Who's Haku?" Tetsu asked.
"Oh shit, that's right: you've not met him." Genma felt like the dumbass who forgot that there were still people in the Scene who didn't know every player.
"Uh, no?" Tetsu said, munching on a wing. Genma glanced at Raidou, who quietly talked to Asuma near the front door.
"Haku's this guy who hooked up with Kimimaro -- you remember him? One of the performers at Break?"
"The guy who can bend in half?" Izumo asked.
"You would remember that," Tetsu said.
"Like you don't."
Tetsu snorted. "Fine. The guy with all the piercings? Pink hair?"
"Yeah," Genma said. "That's the one. Well… it's sort of a long story, and I don't know all the details 'cause most of it's just rumor, but apparently both of them were slaves to assholes -- and I don't mean your standard kind of asshole. Like, bad motherfuckers."
"Wait -- slaves?" Izumo interrupted. "Like full-time subs or…?"
"Kind of." Genma frowned and tried to adequately explain Kimimaro and Haku and their need to serve a greater human cause to the point of personal pain and possible death in a single word and failed. He didn't really understand it that well, himself, and trying to explain such a crazy position in life without making it sound either desperate or depraved didn't seem possible. Not without a lot more time and a stiffer drink or three.
"Go on," Tetsu said, waving one hand in dismissal.
"Anyway," Genma paused as Asuma laughed, and something eased within Genma. Raidou: working his magic on the uptight straight guy who could freakin' use a good flogging. "They got away, some shit went down, but a few weeks ago they hooked up with Uchiha Itachi."
"That's Sasuke's older brother?" Izumo asked.
"Sasuke -- Uzumaki's husband?" Tetsu asked Izumo.
"Yeah, that's him," Izumo answered. "And the older brother's the former heir to the Uchiha's fortune."
"Right again," Genma said.
Tetsu crossed his eyes. "God. Fifteen million people in this city, and I swear to Christ they all know each other."
Izumo grinned. "And Itachi's kind of insane from what I hear."
Genma shifted his weight, swallowing. "Yeah… I guess. He, uhm… he's sort of famous in the Scene."
"Later guys!" Asuma called.
A chorus of good-byes rose and fell, and as the front door shut, Raidou rejoined the group. "What are we talking about?"
"Itachi," Genma answered.
"Oh. Yeah… sad story."
"How the hell do you guys know all this shit?" Tetsu asked.
"Ibiki," Genma and Raidou said at the same time.
"Does the guy give classes?" Izumo joked.
Genma choked at the idea of Ibiki… teaching
…anything. "No. Don't even go there. But Itachi's story's short: you heard of Haze, right?"
Tetsu shuddered, and Izumo hugged him sideways. "Yeah. Ran into it when we were doing our research for the Scene. Didn't read anything good about it."
"It's where Haku and Kimimaro's old masters hang out," Genma explained. "And it's owned by this guy who goes by the name, Pein. Seriously somebody you do not
want to fuck with. Imagine the ultimate Scene guy you never want to meet in a dark alley, mix it with a drug lord gangster, multiply it by infinity squared, and yeah… that's Pein."
"Sounds charming," Tetsu deadpanned.
"Yeah, well, get this." Genma leaned in, loving it probably way too much when both Tetsu and Izumo bent closer. Then again, this was sort of like ghost stories at camp, though, in this case, the fire was in the form of chicken wings and the spooky shit could really kill you. "Itachi played with Pein." He paused. "For eight years
?" Izumo asked.
"No clue. But that's the rumor." Genma stood up straight and grabbed a chip.
"I hear he's covered in scars," Raidou said softly, and immediately Genma's hand found Raidou's and squeezed. He swallowed the lump in his throat as he remembered Raidou in the hospital, covered in gauze and bruises from a mugging that left him broken and doused in acid burns.
"Jesus," Tetsu whispered. "Must… really want to… hurt to do that."
Izumo kissed Tetsu's temple, and Genma opened his mouth to crack a joke and lighten the mood, but Tetsu's eyes comically widened, frown marring his face. "Uh… guys?"
"What?" Genma asked.
"Why is there a Bentley limousine parking in front of your house?"
"A what?" Raidou asked as all four men gathered at the sink to look out the window. Sure enough, a long, black car eased to a stop with roughly two inches between side mirror and mailbox.
"Must be Kimi and Haku," Genma said with a roll of toothpick from one side of his mouth to the other.
"No more giving us shit for being members of the elite," Tetsu said.
"Not taking that deal," Genma muttered, distracted and fascinated as a tall, thin man climbed out of the vehicle and briskly walked around the car. The uniform was kind of cool: gray and complete with cap, which the man removed before opening the back door. The driver offered a hand to Haku, whom Genma had only seen once, and memory didn't do Haku justice at all. Acres of long, shining, black hair fell to a tiny waist, and Haku wore a dark gray chunky sweater with a huge collar and sleeves that fell to his painted fingernails. It came down to mid-thigh, the front was open in a deep vee, exposing a nice expanse of creamy skin, and his legs were covered in gray tights under high-heeled black boots that came up over his knees. Haku laughed and clapped his hands while they watched, and the driver flashed the petite man a grin.
"Uh," Izumo said, sounding like he'd been hit in the gut. "Who's, uhm… that?"
"Haku," Raidou answered.
"I thought you said Haku was a guy?" Tetsu asked.
a guy," Genma said.
"No… no fucking way," Izumo murmured.
"Get your tongue back in your mouth," Raidou said, and Genma chortled when he actually heard the clack of Izumo's teeth.
Following behind Haku was Kimimaro, whose white-blond hair was still tipped pink. Kimi wore jeans, boots, a black shirt, and long leather coat. Much more mundane if you could get over the brilliant red rose on the shirt or the flash of metal in his face, ears, lips, nose… everywhere.
"They're both wearing collars," Tetsu whispered, and Genma glanced to see Haku wore a choker that looked like solid diamonds, and Kimimaro had one with black band and big dark stone in the middle.
"Forgot to mention: Kimi and Haku never really leave
the Scene," Genma said. "Fair warning."
"Even when they're out without their--" Tetsu stopped talking because a third figure emerged from the limo: tall, lean, with long, black hair drawn into a tail at his nape, and wearing a heavy coat over dark slacks and silky black shirt. "Master?" he finished.
"Oh my God," Raidou breathed, and Genma whipped around in alarm at the high-pitched tone he only rarely heard. "That's… that’s…"
"Itachi?" Izumo suggested.
!" Raidou moved fast enough to make Genma's head spin. Trash vanished off counters, good plates replaced plastic ones next to the food, and Raidou dashed toward the bathroom with a container of Clorox wipes before the limo driver even got the door closed behind the Uchiha.
"Uh… babe?" Genma called, nerves fluttering in his gut.
"We didn't even clean
Tetsu started to laugh, but Izumo shushed him. "We have about three seconds. What can we do?"
"Get downstairs and put out the good chairs!" Raidou yelled.
"Roger." And Genma watched in perplexed bemusement as Izumo flew down the basement steps.
"Did I miss something?" Tetsu asked.
"Close off the goddamned bedroom!" Raidou hissed as he rushed back into the main part of the house. Genma started to obey, but Tetsu was quicker.
"Rai, what's wrong?" Genma asked as his lover shoved dish sponges and dirty pans under the sink with clangs and the slam of a cabinet door.
"It's stupid," Raidou panted, and two big, panicked, dark eyes met Genma's. "I know it is. But… this guy's a legend in the damned Scene on both
sides of the board, connected to every major person in this goddamned town, is possibly out of his mind, has got more money than ten fucking Hyuuga's, and… and…"
Light laughter muffled by the front door rang out just before the bell chimed. Tetsu trotted back into the room and started frantically arranging couch cushions and coffee table books, stashing the porn mags under a chair.
"And what, babe?" Genma whispered, clasping Raidou's shoulder and shaking the other man to jar some sense.
"He's… he's a survivor, Gen. Like… like… God. I'm a fucking moron." Raidou closed his eyes, and Genma hugged him. "Feel like I'm about to meet some damned crush instead of a perfect stranger. I'm sorry."
"It's okay," Genma soothed, tucking hair behind Raidou's ear.
Izumo clamored back into the kitchen, panting. "Rearranged. Good chairs. Unbent cards. Took down that poster of Orlando Bloom."
"Oh God," Raidou whimpered.
A polite knock rattled the door, and Izumo strode over to Genma and Rai. "Go answer it. I've got him."
"Right," Genma said, unable to argue the logic of an actual owner of the house greeting the guests but wondering how in the hell he was supposed to deal with some über
Dom and the man's two slaves. Sure he knew about
Itachi, and he knew Haku and Kimimaro, of course, though not as well as Rai. But that didn't provide a fucking clue as to how he was supposed to… interact.
Thanking every god he knew that he wasn't wearing a collar or some other clear indicator of status, Genma grabbed the handle and threw back the door. He gaped at the trio of beautiful people on the stoop -- thought crazily that their shower drains must seriously suffer with all that long hair -- and caught that Itachi's fist was wrapped around the neck of a bottle of wine before a giggling, gleeful Haku wrapped and dangled from Genma's neck.
!" Genma coughed, catching the slight man about the waist.
"Gen!" Haku said in a rich voice thick with pure delight. "It's so nice to see you!" He let go and kissed both Genma's cheeks in a flourish.
"Uh…?" Genma tried to scramble thought processes and got lost with the smell of lip gloss and cologne wafting off the delicious, effeminate man. Genma was only fucking human
after all, and the last time he saw Haku, the kid was practically a robot.
"Hey, Genma," Kimimaro said with a slower smile and offered hand.
"Hi," Genma said, staring down at clasped fingers and remembering to squeeze at the last second.
"My Lord?" Haku chirped. "May I please have the honor of introductions?"
For a second Genma didn't know who the guy was talking to, but a rumbling and oh-so-faintly accented voice sent chills up Genma's spine and made him stifle a submissive squeak. "Of course, lovely boy. I could never deny you pleasure, but perhaps we should wait until our host has invited us inside?"
"Shit --er, crap. Darn. I'm sorry." Genma stepped aside and couldn't peel his eyeballs off the cheap carpet to save his life. "Please come in?"
"Thank you," Itachi said, walking ahead of the other two men. The next awkward moment came after Genma shut the door, and he couldn't decide if he should get Itachi's coat or whatever the hell. But Haku took the bottle of wine complete with red ribbon from Itachi, and Kimimaro deftly slipped the coat from the Uchiha's shoulders.
"Thank you, sweet boy," Itachi murmured, and all be damned but Genma's cock twitched.
While Genma blushed and Kimimaro shrugged out of his jacket to reveal nicely-muscled bare arms, Tetsu inched closer from the living room and Izumo and Rai came out of the kitchen.
Haku scanned the room without really looking at anybody, much to Genma's sympathy and amazement, and smiled. "We're all here?"
"Yes," Izumo answered.
"Wonderful." Haku handed Kimimaro the wine and clapped his hands. "My Lord? May I present our gracious hosts: Master Namiashi Raidou and his faithful and beloved partner and boy, Shiranui Genma." Haku inclined his head to each man in turn and never looked higher than anybody's sternum. "And because genteel reputation and word of good deeds done to men of esteem travels faster and lingers longer than any news of ill intent, I assume I have the pleasure of presenting our hosts' friends and occasional friendlier companions, Master Kamizuki Izumo and his fiancé submissive, Hagane Kotetsu."
"Whoa." Genma couldn't agree with Tetsu's summary any harder if he tried.
"My thanks," Haku said with a deeper nod. "And, now, gentlemen, may I present with humble, unfettered delight, Lord Uchiha Itachi. I am only as service and love require to My Lord, and enjoy the name, 'Haku.' And this is my fellow lover and brother in eternal submission, Kimimaro." Haku and Kimimaro stood straight in sync and bowed from the waist.
For a very, very long few seconds, nobody said a goddamned thing. Raidou clutched Izumo's arm, Tetsu stared in something like horrified shock, and Genma knew his chin was hovering about an inch over the floor.
"Thank you, lovely boy," Itachi murmured, and he touched the bases of both his slaves' spines, which apparently was the signal to stand up and look adoringly at Master. Genma gulped.
"As you like, boys." With the words, Kimi and Haku nearly morphed into different people: postures drooped, Haku raked fingers through his hair and produced a tube of lip stuff from somewhere, and Kimimaro shoved a hand into a jean pocket. "And it's very nice to meet you," Itachi said, taking the wine from Kimimaro and holding it out to Raidou. "You must forgive me for attending uninvited."
Raidou stared at the bottle like it was a Molotov cocktail. "It's no big deal," Izumo tried, glancing from Itachi to Rai and back again. "You… uh… play poker?"
"I do," Itachi answered as Genma got it together to take the bottle so Itachi didn't have to hold it out any longer.
"Really?" Raidou barked in disbelief. Itachi didn't respond except to blink.
"We have an empty seat," Tetsu said. "Asuma had to, er… go."
"I see," Itachi said.
"Hey Gen?" Kimimaro said, hesitant. "Is the beer in the cooler?"
"Oh. Yeah. Fuck. Sorry." Genma stalked into the kitchen, Kimimaro and Tetsu following. The moment they were around the corner, Genma carefully set aside the wine and grabbed Kimi's elbow. "The hell's all that about?"
"Haku enjoys his protocol," Kimimaro answered, mournful and biting at the metal in his mouth. "And we hate to tell him, 'No…'"
"Yeah, I get that," Tetsu whispered.
Kimimaro smiled. "Kotetsu, right?"
"Just Tetsu's fine."
"And I'm Kimi."
Tetsu nodded. "Cool. And Izumo's just Zumo to us, usually."
Kimimaro frowned, the dermals in his forehead moving in mesmerizing ways. "Ah. Well. Thanks."
"You can… talk to other doms, right?" Tetsu asked nervously.
Kimimaro blinked at them both, hesitating, and Genma smacked his forehead. "Oh Jesus. What does Itachi drink?"
"Beer," Itachi answered, and Genma flinched so hard he felt something pull in his lower back. Rai, Zumo, Haku and Itachi gathered around the island, and Haku sifted through the bowl of nuts before producing a Brazilian and delicately chewing at it.
"Not wine?" Izumo asked, gesturing to the bottle.
wine," Haku said with a smirk. "My Lord is re-gifting." And Genma thought his heart was going to stop at the cocked brow Itachi threw at Haku. Just that much and Genma wanted to prostrate himself on the floor and maybe offer up a first born… plant or something.
"It's a perfectly fine wine," Itachi said in what was apparently his version of protest: his voice elevated slightly on the final word.
"Sasuke keeps giving it to Itachi," Kimimaro explained, grabbing beers from the cooler. "He inadvertently forgets his brothers' tastes from time to time."
"He buys it because it annoys me, Kimi," Itachi said.
"Well… we'll drink anything," Tetsu said, and Izumo snorted before elbowing his lover.
"We have… uhm… other…" Raidou stumbled for words as the Uchiha took the Sam Adams. Something about the look he gave Rai made Genma simultaneously nervous and comforted, which was confusing as all hell. At this rate, Genma was going for the whiskey before they even shuffled the cards.
"Winter Ale's a favorite," Itachi said softly, and Raidou looked away. Genma was at his lover's side in an instant, and he threw a dark look at the Uchiha. Cool eyes met Genma's, appraising.
"I've heard good things of all of you," Itachi said, staring at his finger playing with the lip of the counter. Haku made a quiet noise and ducked under Itachi's arm. "Thank you for welcoming me into your home."
"Of course. It's nice to meet you," Raidou said, but Genma didn't like Rai's frown. Zumo and Tetsu inched closer to Rai's other side, and Kimi flanked Itachi along with Haku. It was crazy: like some sort of Mexican stand-off over beer and wings, but Genma wasn't about to back down. Especially not when a tremble went through Raidou.
Itachi set down the unopened beer. "My driver -- Merek -- is circling to occupy himself. I'm happy to leave my--" He stopped, his eyebrows danced, and he sighed. "Leave Kimimaro and Haku here for the game while I manage errands."
"Itachi…" Kimimaro whispered but stopped when a single, slim digit elevated from the Formica in a silent signal for quiet.
"If you play cards, then you should stay," Izumo said, sounding bewildered, and Genma didn't blame the guy. Genma wasn't sure he could have put his finger on what was wrong, though there was an undercurrent of pain in Itachi's mannerisms and speech that made him hurt.
"Uh… right?" Zumo asked the group.
"Definitely," Raidou said. "I'd love to talk to you… about…"
Genma's heart fluttered when Rai didn't finish the sentence, and he rubbed his Sir's lower back. He suspected he knew exactly what Raidou wanted to discuss with the Uchiha, and it wasn't something one could casually bring up to someone you just met. Hell, it wasn't something you could break out on the sixth date or tenth round of drinks with friends.
As Raidou threw a glance at the men in the room, and Genma thought about hospital beds, recoveries, how time could heal wounds but not scars of any sort. He wondered if there was something he missed somewhere: some thing
that he was supposed to do to ease Raidou's pain over the years of recovery. He didn't think it was a failure; more just inability to understand on a gut level that transcended the pain of seeing a loved one hurt. Raidou had been through a lot -- more than Genma, for sure -- and maybe… maybe that was why Rai was friends with the likes of Kimimaro and Haku. Maybe that was why the man was so good at soothing hurts and calming a crowd.
Maybe that's why somebody like Itachi was appealing -- sort of the ultimate holy grail of pain to compare and coping mechanisms to share. Genma didn't know for sure and wouldn't until later when they could curl up and talk, but for now, he wanted to make sure Raidou knew Genma supported any and everything his partner needed or wanted. So he crept closer and brushed his lips against Raidou's shoulder; nosed at the collar of Rai's shirt.
Immediately Raidou relaxed, and the rest of the room took a collective breath. "Yes?" Itachi asked, head tilted and eyes uncomfortably focused. Genma found it unnerving, but Raidou met the stare head-long: fearless as always.
"Discuss… uhm… single tails," Raidou finished at long last, smirk tilting his lips as the partial truth found daylight. "I hear you're a master with them."
Itachi's naked surprise stunned Genma, and the smile made his breathing stutter. Faint lines formed around Itachi's eyes that showed a kindness entirely unexpected, and Genma's knees felt weak. He didn't want to entertain what it would be like to play with that man. No. Definitely… not.
"I have some experience, yes," Itachi said.
"He's wonderful," Haku murmured.
"Really?" Tetsu spoke up, and Genma couldn't help it: he laughed at the incredulous look on Izumo's face.
"What?" Tetsu asked, flushing and hiding behind his hair. "I'm just curious," he muttered.
"Why don't we get the food, the beer, the whiskey, and head downstairs?" Genma suggested. "See how good Itachi's game really is?"
poker, but the chuckle that erupted from Itachi's chest filled the kitchen, and was entirely too wicked for a mundane hand of cards.
"Sure," Raidou answered.
"Sounds delightful," Haku said.
"Very," Kimimaro agreed.
"I'd be honored," Itachi said with a slight bow.
"Right." Genma reached for a new toothpick. He'd bit the other one in half. "Then let's get this party started."
And Genma tried to ignore Itachi's smile as they gathered provisions and headed for the basement.
: Howdy ya'll! This story probably won't make a whole lot of sense unless you've read Deprivation
. I think you can still *enjoy* it, but hey... :)