Summary: Because there's never been a good consolation prize for failing a mission, until now. GenmaxHayate.

AN: UE gets credit for this one. Sequel to my story Boundless. Beware the random fluff.


It's been said that it's better to die than to leave a mission incomplete, undone, or in shambles. On all counts, Genma would have to disagree. There's a time and a place for dying, and he's got no business doing it on someone else's dime.

As a ninja, he should make it his business, but he doesn't. There's very little an average ninja can control in their life and Genma wants to, at the very least, own his own death. Oh, he's not adverse to dying, if it's for a good enough cause, or a good enough friend, or something that will still have meaning, ten, fifteen, twenty years down the road. Doesn't mean he'd have to like it, though.

And no matter what they were being paid for that damnable super flashy S-ranked mission, the scrawny ass of the man they were protecting was not and would never be worth Genma's own ass and the asses of his compatriots.

Genma's pretty sure he makes a bad ninja, and he's probably right. He thinks too much about too little, doesn't let things get to him, and keeps his cool so proficiently that he's almost apathetic.

And right now he's staring at the ceiling, hands laced behind his head but on top of his pillow, and he's thinking about what dreamland he may venture into if he drifts off to sleep. He'd like to have another taste of the fantasy he'd conjured up once about that leggy redheaded kunoichi, what had her name been…? Nakaru? No, that doesn't fit right. Ah, well.

He's still chewing absently on a senbon, a nice little mindless ritual that doesn't take too much brainpower but is still distracting enough to be a blessing, and he just keeps staring at the ceiling. There's a window right across the room from his bed, and there's narrow shafts of moonbeams that have crept into his humble abode, pooling in quicksilver blotches here and there, casting reflections upwards until they're splashed across his line of vision. And they dance for him, shadow and shade, twining sinuous, skeletal fingers together in something too macabre to be beautiful and too silent to be serene.

Flick, flick, and then he takes the straw out of his mouth and jams it between the pages of a book on his bedside table (because Kakashi isn't the only one that reads Come, Come Paradise, after all…), closes his eyes and doesn't bother dreading the reaming out he's going to get tomorrow for being a screw-up.

Just as he's starting to conjure images of sheep jumping over fences, complete with the little bleating baas that they're so fond of, there's a tapping at his window. He doesn't bother looking, because the tapping is in a rhythmic ninja code, and it's saying 'let me the in'.

Genma is a stubborn ass most of the time. He doesn't go against the rules, but he does things in his own way, and his own way often involves bending said rules until they're formless, like origami as done by a three-year-old. He doesn't go out of his way to please people, doesn't try to make anyone like him more than they should, and yet ever since that day on the bridge, Hayate has…maybe not clung like a limpet, but followed like a dogged and determined puppy, maybe. And he's outside Genma's window, for whatever reason.

When he doesn't get up, Hayate slips the blade of a wakizashi under the latch and flips it upwards, starts to open it and lets out a muffled yell as one of Genma's specially-encrypted seals springs to life. Lazily, Genma lifts both hands and performs the disarming jutsu, and smiles to himself at Hayate's harried yelps.

"Trouble in paradise?" he asks as Hayate scrambles through the window and glares at him. He's dressed in full ninja regalia tonight, vest and bandana and graceful katana and his silhouette is as sharp as his blade, against the wall.

Hayate grimaces in the moonlight. "Heard you failed a mission, thought I'd stop by to-" rub it in "-See if you were all right."

Genma gives him a two-fingered salute, neat and pretty as you please, from somewhere in the vicinity of his forehead. "Sure am. Not a scratch on me." And that's not entirely true, but he'd been well-tended by his team's field medic, and the injury he'd sustained would be faded to the inconsequentiality of just one more scar in a few day's time. Hayate doesn't need to know about that, though, 'cause he's got enough on his plate.

"Ah…all right, then. I'll be leaving now, I guess."

A scramble through darkness and Jounin-level seals, all just to leave ten seconds after you get here? A-hah. I think not.

"What's your rush?" Genma asks idly as Hayate turns to clamber back out onto the rooftop. "I didn't think you were the love 'em and leave 'em type, kid."

He can't see it, but he knows Hayate flushes. Knows because he knows Hayate, and that's about the only reaction the poor kid could actually have.

"I, ah, well…"

"C'mere." He pats the bed beside him and scoots over to make room, kicks his blankets to the foot of the bed and stretches, arching his back like a cat before sprawling out on his side, one arm propping up his head as he watches Hayate, who moves across the room stiffly…and promptly sits on the floor.

Genma leans forward, looks over the edge of the bed and quirks an eyebrow. "And is it comfortable down there, kid?"

Hayate gives him a strange, unreadable look, and that in itself is strange, because Hayate is many things, but unreadable has never quite been one of them, at least not in Genma's experience which is, admittedly, not quite as broad as it could be.

"Actually…" Hayate begins determinedly, stopped only when Genma reaches out and places a firm finger against his lips.

"You talk a lot for being so quiet the rest of the time, did you know that?"

Hayate smiles against his finger, just a little. "Making up for lost time?"

"Ah…" So Genma returns to his former position, snags his pillow at the same time and lightly thwacks Hayate with it. The message it entails isn't exactly a subtle one, unspoken auguries and promises and pledges too honest to say aloud. The boy stands up, retreats several feet until he's outside of Genma's immediate and obviously dangerous range, and slides the strap of his katana off, leans the sword against the wall and then, well. Then he pounces.

Genma hadn't quite thought him the type to pounce on anyone. Hayate has proved him quite pleasantly wrong. He lets himself be pounced, (because really, what's the alternative?) and the pillow to be wrested away from him, and then he lays, quite innocently benign, beneath the boy, just waiting, arms folded behind his head. "Ahem."

And then reality chimes in, and Hayate's blush becomes visible even by moonlight, and he tries to stand, fails miserably when Genma catches and kisses the inside of one slender wrist.

"W-what are you…?"

"Isn't it obvious?" Genma grins lazily, trails his fingers up to the arm of the uniform vest and snags it on a finger, pulling Hayate down for another kiss, though this one is lips against lips, soft and tentative on one end and daring and casual on the other.

When he lets Hayate escape, finally, the boy is trying very, very hard to hide a broad smile. "I…ah, thought you said you didn't swing my way?"

"Yeah, well. I lied. It's a ninja thing, you'll learn all about it when you're older."

"When I'm older…" Hayate echoes wistfully, and then he lets himself smile. "Heh, yeah. I suppose I will."

"That a promise?" Genma asks in something approaching solemnity.

The boy's silent a moment, but only a moment, because he doesn't have enough to spare for silly things like thinking too much about too little. "Of course. By my honor as a shinobi."

"Good," Genma says agreeably, rolling onto his back so he can trace the pattern on the ceiling with one absent hand. "I'll hold you to it, then. Now will you c'mere?"

The answer isn't a vocal one, but it doesn't have to be. And maybe Genma's a little glad that Hayate decided not to wait for true love, after all.